Confrontation with the past helps in the consolidation of freedom

Confrontation with the past helps in the consolidation of freedom

IBNA Special Report

Tirana, March 19, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

Parliament in Albania has started to discuss the bill “On the Right of Information about Documents of former Secret Services”. The draft brought for approval by the government for the opening of the files of former Secret Services has been drafted based on the German expertise and experience. This experience has been considered as the best one so far in the process of the opening of files. The government says that it has no problem in resolutely confronting with this issue.

It says that this is not a lustration law and not a model of revenge, collective punishments or cleansing. According to it, the project for the opening of files has started in the first weeks of work of the left wing government in the autumn of 2013.

The new bill also enables institutions starting from Parliament, President, Government, public administration, justice system and independent institutions, to recognize the relations of their personnel with former Secret Services.

The Albanian government seems to be determined to finalize its incentive for the opening of files. This was also confirmed in the recent hours by PM Edi Rama and other state officials. They say that the opening of former Secret Services’ files must be based on the German experience in handling the STASI files.

The government’s draft

The government aims at offering access to the files of former Secret Services for the people directly persecuted by the activity of former Secret Services. This includes not only people persecuted by former Secret Services, but also collaborators and former employees of Secret Services, who based on the provisions of this bill, must be entitled to full access in all the information collected against them or by them during the years of the activity of Secret Services.

Access will also be provided for research with the aim of assessing the activity of former Secret Services or the evaluation of the figure and role of historical people of that time, for as long as this information serves the announced scope.

The law entitles public institutions to be informed on the relations that a person, who is promoted or appointed to a senior state position, constitutional or public, has had with former Secret Services, in case they request such information, in line with the 2010 ruling of the Constitutional Court and the Opinion of the Venice Commission.

In order to finalize the opening of the files, a committee with five members will also be appointed, to handle every case or request coming from individuals or state institutions.

Rama: This process can no longer be postponed

PM Edi Rama says that the opening of files could no longer be postponed. Therefore, he promises that the government and majority that he leads will approve this incentive in spite of skeptic voices.

Rama IBNA

According to him, “confrontation with this unknown part of the communist dictatorship, is a process which Albania can no longer avoid”.

Rama says that this bill offers a chance to society to examine documents in order to shed light upon the darkest area of the past.

He hopes that the “use of files as an instrument of political pressure comes to an end once and for all with the introduction of the legal basis on this process”.

Veliaj: Most of the files are still there

The opposition has not been that involved in the debate for the files. Several of its senior officials have declared that most of the files have gone missing. The same thing has also been declared by several analysts. One of them is also the head of secret services, Fatos Klosi.

Veliaj IBNA

Minister of Social Welfare, Erion Veliaj says that most of the files are there. “From the inventory that has been made, it results that the majority of the files of Secret Services are still there. There are many people who say that the files must not be opened because they do not exist. The truth is that over 90% of the archive material ready to be opened is still there”.

Veliaj says that the files will be opened next month. He says that “this will be a historical year”.

Neubert: This process must serve for the clarification of history

Hildigund Neubert is chairwoman of the Board of Konrad Adenauer Foundation. She has served as a Commissioner of the Federal Commission for STASI Archives of the Land of Thuringen in Germany.

Hildingund Neubert IBNA

Neubert says that this process must serve for the clarification of history and to teach young people how dictatorships function, but also to honor those who in difficult periods decided to fight against them.

Germany has managed to successfully overcome and intelligently handle two terrible dictatorships which have been the two sides of the medal of last century’s barbarism, Nazism and communism. In both cases, Germany has been successful more than any other country for the simple reason that it has never feared confrontation with the truth and has not accepted to view the future as a path to be traversed along with the shadow of the past.

25 years were not enough

For two decades in a row, Albania could never cleanse public institutions from people who had collaborated with the Security Services. Some sporadic efforts were made, but political sides claimed that they were being made for political or electoral gain.

In circumstances of a country that suffers a great deal from daily problems, among which is the endless transition and poverty of the majority of Albanians, the decision to start the process of the opening of files, has been continuously seen not as a priority, but as an extra burden amid the problems that have been inherited and with which the state and the citizens must deal with.

This way, Albanian society has failed in resolutely confronting and in knowing the truths of communist dictatorship, the cruelest one in Europe.

Around 25 years after the fall of communism, Albania remains the only country, unfortunately alongside Russia and although a NATO member and EU candidate member, not to have offer transparency for the past of Secret Services.

Up until today, no person persecuted in this country, rightists or leftist, communist or nationalist, who in an ironic way were made victims of the unprecedented violence, know what this Service plotted against them.

This failure shows a lack of courage to face the bitter truth that still holds Albanians tied with the past. After 25 years, perhaps it’s now time to secure a fundamental right: the right of every victim of dictatorship to know the truth, to investigate and know every source of violation, which still remain covered by the confidentiality of archives that covers the activity of former Secret Services. /ibna/