This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By ALFRED PEZA
The news that Albanian police caught over 3.3 million euros and 80 thousand Swiss francs in the port of Durres, was as much anticipated as it was unexpected. However, besides prompting a series of accusations and debates, it could not generate what the Albanian political class has been voted for: alternatives, programs and development projects.
Media reported that a considerable amount of money was found inside a Toyta Yaris coming from Belgium. This vehicle along with seven other vehicles had departed in Belgium, crossed through Italy and then to Durres through a ferry leaving from Bari. The search carried out in the port led to the discovery of the other quantity in a second car. Four people were arrested, while two others, who are believed to have ordered the cars, were declared wanted.
At first, it was said that the money was counterfeit and that it was ordered by a merchant in Kosovo. But the Bank of Albania soon confirmed that the money was not counterfeit. On the other hand, the people who had ordered the goods were from Tirana and Peshkopia.
When was it mentioned for the first time?
As it often happens in such cases in Albania, a political debate has been prompted by this case. Everything relates to the declarations that the democrat leader, Lulzim Basha made in parliament on Thursday, when he launched serious accusations against the socialist whip, linking him to the amount of cash that was seized, while offering details about the model of the car that the money was going to be found in. According to Basha, this money was drug money.
This declaration was not taken very seriously by the media. However, several days later, his declarations were aired in full again and again.
What did police say?
Police revealed that their sources had obtained information regarding the transport of several vehicles, including one with a considerable amount of money in it, on June 20. Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon, after Mr. Basha had made his declaration in parliament, “an Albanian law enforcement agency (it’s believed that the agency in question is State Informative Service) has informed police at 5 pm about a cargo of Toyota vehicles expected to arrive from Germany and inside of these vehicles, there was a significant amount of undeclared euros.”
What happened after the 3.4 million euros were discovered?
Even after State Police came out with its official statement revealing the source of the information, which in this case it was the Albanian intelligent service, the leader of the opposition continued to maintain that the money was related to Taulant Balla. According to him, “the money belongs to one of the most dangerous gangs of the drug traffic, mainly operating in Elbasan, but in other parts of the country too”.
Secondly, according to Basha, Taulant Balla was going to guarantee the entry of this amount of cash in the Albanian territory.
Thirdly, according to Basha, Albanian police have been pressured by one of our partners, to take action. The democrat leader said that this is one of the partner countries which is skeptic about the Albania’s progress in delivering its integration criteria, especially the requirements regarding the fight against crime and corruption.
Mr. Balla reacted on Facebook refuting the accusations, which he considers to be part of the daily lies that the democrat leader tells.
What will happen afterwards?
Regardless of the conclusions that investigators will come up with, regardless of the fact that police came up with the names of the involved people, regardless of the fact that some of them have been arrested and some have been declared wanted, politicians here continue to accuse each other.
It looks like the truth is not really relevant. What’s important for our political class is to make noise about anything.
Prior to this, we also had the so called “Babale” case which was a disgraceful bluff. The prosecution is investigating the case in question and this institution is expected to indict those people who orchestrated this mis en scene. Prior to Babale, we had the case of the 613 kg of cocaine which was also seized inside a shipping container filled with bananas in the Port of Durres. In all of these cases, we have political accusations. Politicians politicize everything, accuse everyone and they’re even ready to compromise any source of information.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy