There is no mystery that Albania is one of the most corrupt counties in all of Europe. Before the 21st century, Albania served home to corrupt companies and large charitable foundations for a Ponzi scheme. The companies promised investors that they could double or triple their money within a few months. However, in 1997 everything began going downhill one company could no longer keep up with payouts after it was unable to receive enough deposits to pay earlier investors. Soon all the other major schemes failed and Albania went up in flames. Government institutions collapsed, looting of thousands of weapons from military compounds, protesting, and civil disorder took place. Thousand’s of lives were lost during this time.
Government institutions; we’re created to keep law and order, but Albanias’ governmental officials and agencies are in deep with organized crime syndicates. This in turn has created major distrust between the citizens of Albania and the government. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Albania has less than thirty percent of women within its ranks and just over thirty percent of citizens who are under forty-five. Many government officials have tried to speak out against such corruption but have been silenced with suspenses or with death threats to themselves or their loved ones. In the end, when communism failed in the ‘90s organized crime took over and many governmental officials aligned themselves with the gangs and other criminal enterprises. In 2017 protesters alleged that because government officials were not actively fighting crime that the general election in that year was influenced by criminal organizations. Police agencies have also come under fire as they do not enforce the current laws nor do they arrest the criminals. They do, However, harass local citizens and take hefty bribes from those committing unspeakable acts. The current ruling party has denied these ugly allegations of government corruption.
Organized crime has also taken control in media companies, which makes it hard for true journalists to do their jobs and keep the country informed. According to an article written by Attila Mong/CPJ Europe correspondent, she was covering stories on organized crime and its influence on politics. Ms. Mong’s home where her children lived was riddled with bullets and more than a year later in 2019, no arrests have been made in her case. In Albania, a journalist must walk a fine line as to not cross someone of importance as they will find themselves without a job or worse dead. Many journalists feel that it’s not worth their time or life to report on crime or politics. Mainstream media has some pull that not even freelance writers or writers from other countries have been accused of painting dark pictures regarding Albania and have been fired from their media post.
Much of what is happening in Albania we see in other parts of the world. Especially in the United States with former President Donald Trump and his attacks on the media. Calling for media personalities to lose their jobs, encouraging his followers to attack journalists, and referring to everything that he and his party did not like as fake news. Now there were never reports of American journalists having their homes shot at, but they defiantly endure some of the same aggression and criticism as their European counterparts. On the world stage, Albania has received international criticism from small and large media companies however, Prime Mister Rama has vowed to take action against media outlets that speak ill of the government. Prime minister Rama has pushed forward legislation that he calls “anti-slander”. The law would introduce mandatory registration requirements for online media companies and create an administrative oversight committee to levy increased fines, be able to shut down media companies in Albania, and restrict foreign online media companies without having a court order.
Albania can have a strong democracy but first, they must get out from under-crime syndicates, and big business. Going into their tenth election the country must vote out Prime Minister Edi Rama to end their long run of democratic erosion. During his election in 2013, Rama made serval promises but in the end, his leadership became a huge setback for the country. Rama allowed individuals with past criminal backgrounds to be elected into office, this, in turn, was a major win for organized crime to prosper in the country. This led to a 2015 law created by the democratic party known as the “de-criminalized package” which aimed at removing those with a criminal history from public office.
Although Albania has been through so much since the early 2000’s it is still very important that they get out and vote; if they do not then it’s a win for the current regime. Albanian citizens need to muster up the willpower to get off the sidelines and keep their country from sliding further into democratic erosion, hold government officials accountable and establish democracy for themselves and future generations.