This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.afp.al
By Roland Qafoku
Edi Rama may agree with Ilir Meta on the love that they share about the Osum canyons, but not about the maritime space with Greece. He may agree that the region where Meta comes from many natural beauties, but he doesn’t agree about the red lines imposed on Thursday 20 February concerning the maritime border with Greece. We just need to read four passages from what Rama and Meta have said at different times to understand that their ups and downs have now become a normal thing:
Edi Rama said on 22 June 2014:
“I felt very bad about the fact that I had to turn 50 to see the canyons, but I felt condoled when they told me that Ilir has seen them this year too”.
President Ilir Meta said on 24 July 2017:
“I collaborate with everyone and without any doubt, I shall collaborate with Prime Minister Rama, with every prime minister, every government and every opposition. This is the president’s job, to collaborate with everyone”.
President Ilir Meta said on 20 February 2018:
“I respect the stance and the incentive of the government to provide a conclusive solution for this issue through these fresh negotiations, but I must say that there is a special decision of the Constitutional Court on this issue, which is a ‘red line’ for everyone, starting with the President of Republic”.
PM Edi Rama said on 23 February 2018:
“I share the same love as the president about the canyons and I offer all of my support about the canyons in order for it to be one of the key locations for the development of tourism in the area of Berat.”
The time of peace has ended and nobody has any dilemmas now as to how things are going between Edi Rama and Ilir Meta. After the tsunami of June 2017 and after the peaceful period between president Meta and PM Rama which lasted five months, the two big players of Albanian politics have gone back to the old conflicts. What he did through Thursday’s press conference, some consider to be as a “casus belli” that Meta is using to start a tough and frontal battle against Edi Rama. Others consider it as a righteous pretext, as they believe Ilir Meta could not remain inactive in his den. We’re sure on one thing: On the horizon there appears a new battle between Meta and Rama, which in spite of the reasons, it is expected to bring many effects on politics. There are at least 4 scenarios which appear on the horizon and as such, they will impact the political situation in the country.
SCENARIO 1. META-RAMA ENGAGED IN A WAR OF PRINCIPLES
This is the most fortunate scenario for both sides. Everyone would be happy to see PM Edi Rama and President Ilir Meta engage in a political battle based on principles. But this would happen only if politics was romance. Not only politics is not romance, but Albania is dominated by the unwritten rule that the one who endures more pressure, who plays and is more patient, wins. The one who falls and rises is the one who survives. The insatiable one, the one who never withdraws and is always on his feet, wins. They fight based on principles, but above all, what’s important for them is the political survival and political victories. This is why even in the new battle which has already started, everything they do they do it based on personal interests.
Meta’s resignation as President
Given that Ilir Meta will be secluded for five years in the president’s office, he’s more interested on the long-term political project of the Socialist Movement for Integration. Therefore, the post of the President seems like a conditional sentence to him, handed out to him by chief justice Edi Rama. Therefore, it would not be a surprise if he resigns one day from the post of the head of the state and goes back to the party.
A war to replace the opposition
The local government elections are near and they are expected to be a test of fire for the new SMI in opposition. If SMI loses votes in these elections, this means that this party would lose ground in the local government, but this would also serve as a signal for the 2021 general elections. The elections will clearly define the existence of SMI in the position that it finds itself in. Therefore, Ilir Meta always does the necessary calculations as a politician who has the ability to forecast. Under these circumstances, he needs to be tough in opposition, in contrast to the opposition led by the chairman of the DP, Lulzim Basha, who, in order to hold a protest in February, he issues the announcement in December.
A war against witch hunt
If Meta has a priority in this history, this is the reason why he is engaging in this confrontation. Meanwhile, during the campaign, it goes without saying that the reason was only political and to win as many votes as possible for SMI. Now, Edi Rama seems to act as a trap. A master of political schemes and a master in exploiting situations, the scales in Ilir Meta’s body are thicker than in Edi Rama’s body, who, in a 20 year career, has only been 1 year in opposition. Meanwhile, Meta has been used to permanent ups and downs. With threats for immunity revoking and being a politician always in alert, Rama’s pirouettes seem to him like a war game. Therefore he’s prepared for a witch hunt, without conducting such hunt. He’s unpredictable in his moves and it would not be a surprise if Rama sought a life line himself, like he did in April 2013. But he has forgotten about that time. Perhaps, in 2018 he may recall him like a new rescue boat, which we don’t know if it can drown or not. We need to wait and see.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy