The drug plane enters Albanian politics

The drug plane enters Albanian politics

IBNA Special Report

By Edison Kurani

A plane arriving from Greece, destined to Italy, made a forced landing in the beach of Divjaka in Albania. Besides it there was around 500 kg of marijuana. The plane was damaged and remained stuck on the sand. Police admitted that it had to do with an attempt of international drug traffic and arrested the Italian pilot and the drug supplier.

If this event was not connected to the denouncements of the opposition for international drug trafficking through the use of planes, then there would be no political echo. But, it’s been several weeks that the opposition has launched suspicions that small planes land in the military bases and other areas, including Divjaka and then they are loaded with drugs and set off for Italy, Greece, etc.

These accusations were rejected by the government. Prime minister Edi Rama and speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta used ironic tones saying that these were small planes which disinfect some areas for mosquitoes. The minister of Interior, Saimir Tahiri and the minister of Defense, Mimi Kodheli also rejected the accusations.

The opposition continued to insist until this weekend, the drug plane was discovered. The government claims that the discovery was made following a “super operation”, while the opposition insists that traffic continues and that the discovery of this plane was pure luck.

In fact, denouncements would continue and the majority would continue to deny them, if the plane hadn’t sustained technical problems. In this vortex of denouncements and denials, the plane of Giorgio Rformato didn’t only enter the air space, but also the Albanian politics.

Berisha: The use of planes for drugs means the country is involved in traffic

Former prime minister, Sali Berisha says that the phenomenon of drug traffic through the use of planes is not a new phenomenon, that it’s a regional and worldwide phenomenon. “In 8 years, my government has been accused of everything, from socialists to non socialists, but never for the use of planes for drugs. Never. Because this was never the case. The use of planes for drugs means that the country has been involved in traffic, but with the arrival of the friends of crime in power, this phenomenon has taken unimaginable dimensions, Columbian like dimensions”.

Berisha says that “this government has offered to drug traffickers airports, ports and territories of the country”. He says that drug traffic from Albania to neighboring countries has grown by three or four times.

Former prime minister suggests that the priority of the citizens must be the rescuing of country from the drug government.

According to him, this is a battle with crime. Therefore, Berisha calls for protests: “Thursday marks the protest to rescue the country from the drug government. The opposition will use all kinds of means to save the country from this government. The means are certainly democratic”.

As far as the request of the DP addressed to prime minister Rama to step down is concerned, Berisha says that “he will never resign” and adds: “Forget it, he will never step down. It’s in his nature not to resign. Democracy offers all its instruments”.

Asked if the protests will be peaceful and democratic or whether all means will be used to make the government leave, Mr. Berisha says: “All democratic means. I demand to police forces not to provoke, but respect demonstrators”.

In contrast to Berisha, the current prime minister, Edi Rama criticizes the strategy of the opposition. Rama says that to compare Albania with Columbia, in circumstances when the country is expected to be granted the EU candidate status, “means not to support your country, but inspire crime”.

Rama and Tahiri allude for an orchestrated event

First the minister and then his superior. Both of them have launched in the recent hours a courageous theory: Could the drug plane be orchestrated by the opposition?

Mr. Tahiri implied this when he said: “I take full responsibility when I say that the history of this event is the fatal proof as to how criminal instincts of individuals are incited by the irresponsible politics of the criminalization of the country, institutions, of the incitement of crime and drug traffic, of irresponsible and absurd declarations from the mouth of those who a few months ago were not in charge of the country’s affairs, but some other affairs”.

Rama spoke immediately after Tahiri. In contrast to Tahiri who made political accusations, Rama spoke with direct suspicions: “A plane which to the surprise of all, landed on sand, by an Italian professional pilot on Saturday, in the middle of the day and after he flies to that extent as to be noticed by people, to be filmed or photographed from all sides. A car which to the surprise of all, had been stuck on a nearby road and caught by police in the forest of Divjaka. And a party which up until yesterday in power, which since the very first second when TV captions appeared on this interesting movie, launches itself at full rage against me, against minister of Interior, against State Police, against the simple logic of Albanians, against the minister of Interior, against State Police, against the simple logic of the Albanian people, against the national interest at this moment”.

“I pity whoever links my name to the drug traffic”

In a speech in front of the nation, Mr. Rama said on Tuesday evening that his name had been tied to drug traffic. He rejected this allusion and said: “There’s nothing true in any of the words that ties my name with the evil things against the country. I didn’t become your prime minister to become rich at your detriment, but to make it richer, safer and more normal, our fatherland, betrayed and ruined for so many years. I pity whoever links my name with drug traffic. But, whoever links today’s Albania with yesterday’s Columbia deserves the despise of every dead person who loved this country and every living person who loves this country”, said Mr. Rama.

Bare: The drug was planted during Berisha’s time

Socialist MP, Besnik Bare said that the opposition is conducting a “disgusting attack” to police, to the process of European integration, image of the country. “Without facts and with disgusting lies, the opposition tries to misinform the public opinion”, says Bare.

He points out an interesting fact: “Cannabis is planted in the summer. The drug which was seized by police has been planted when Sali Berisha was prime minister. But in contrast to Berisha’s time, police today is stopping drug traffic. 19 tons of cannabis seized from September to April of this year, only 14 tons seized a year ago”, says the socialist MP.

Figures interpreted differently

The data reported by the previous government indicated that from January to September 2013, Greek authorities have seized 430 kg of marijuana, while from January to March 2014, 10 tons and 500 kg have been seized. From January to March 2014, Italian authorities have seized 40% more than in the period from January to September 2013. The former prime minister considers these figures as a rise of drug traffic. Meanwhile, the current government considers them as a rise of vigilance.

Analysts, in favor and against the resignation of the prime minister

Writer and journalist, Fahri Balliu, publisher of a daily newspaper close to the opposition and strong critic of the left wing, says that the prime minister must step down. According to him, with the involvement of planes in drug affairs, the degradation of law and order in the country has reached its peak.

“Edi Rama must step down because the highest coefficient of national security, the air, has been breached. In these circumstances, Mr. Rama must give way to transparency to clarify if there’s involvement of the government in this international drug traffic through the use of planes”, says Balliu.

Analyst Albert Rakipi shares a different opinion. He says that cases of drug traffic are constant, known to Albania and to the world. In these circumstances, Rakipi says that to demand the resignation of prime minister Rama because a plane attempted to traffic drugs is the same as to as US president Barack Obama to step down because the arrival of a large amount of drug coming from Columbia was discovered.

Artur Zheji, prominent analyst in Albania, says that it’s now time for the country to take the issue of drug traffic seriously. Zheji suggests seeking international assistance to destroy the cultivation and trafficking of narcotic substances.

While politics is debating about the issue of drug traffic, one thing is sure: It’s a disgrace that an entire village in Albania is the main source of the drug traffic. It’s a disgrace that Albanian police, under both the left or the right wing, doesn’t dare to enter Lazarat.

A village that cultivates freely over 300 hectares of marijuana without being bothered by the state. Marijuana which is then trafficked inside and outside the country with a thousand and one ways, by thus giving Albania the unfortunate status of the first country in Europe for the traffic of marijuana. /ibna/