This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Plator Nesturi
Politics is still being made with narcotics. Accusations for the spreading of cannabis all over the country have only remained political accusations and nothing else. Even the new Interior minister is being accused in the name of the fight against narcotics, but that’s it. Meanwhile, accusations have started to be launched about the 620 kg of cocaine seized in Durres. After the opposition which connected the seized quantity with relatives of current officials, the SP responds saying that the public needs to wait a few more days to learn that the drugs were connected to senior democrat officials.
Political declarations fill our day with appearances in front of the cameras, but nothing more. The prosecution is not prosecuting anybody in particular and we’re not yet seeing any big fishes fall in the net. Apart from this, the prosecution seems to have isolated itself in its own “tower”, without issuing any declarations, giving way to all sorts of abusive statements by politicians. While the sides continue to accuse each other about connections with the underworld, the traffic of drugs continues with the same pace. Recently, German police caught another Albanian gang and seized 56 kg of cannabis and several millions of euros. While the international community is looking for results, crime continues to operate in Albania and abroad. Instead of dealing with crime, Albanian politicians accuse each other.
Traffic of narcotics by Albanian gangs occupies once again a special place on European media, at a time when we’re trying to convince member countries to take a positive decision about the opening of negotiations with the EU. First, authorities in Spain seize a ton of cocaine arriving from Columbia, where two Albanian nationals are arrested as part of a structured criminal group dealing in the traffic of narcotic substances originating from Latin America to Europe. Along with the amount of drugs, authorities also seized 1.5 million euros, which was the payment for the transport carried out through a charter. At the same time, another large amount of cannabis is seized in Italy. Two tons of marijuana coming from Albania, while Albanian nationals are once again on the spotlight. According to police, these people had criminal records for previous involvement in the traffic of narcotics. As if these weren’t enough, the US State Department places Albania for the second year in a row in the list of countries where drug money is laundered. The laundering of this money is a result of the weakness of state institutions to fight this phenomenon, the fact that financial institutions allow such big amounts of money to enter the country and also a result of the fact that this money is easily laundered in the construction sector, mainly through constructions in the coastline for purposes of tourism and gambling sector.
In fact, this problem that relates to the traffic of narcotics and the use of dirty money in the economy, the connections of crime with politics, have been a real concern in the past few years. The media and political debate has recently focused on the levels of crime in the country, not only as a matter of public order, but for crime as a phenomenon which is closely tied to politics, used by politics and the fact that the political class facilitates criminal activity in exchange of support in electoral campaigns. All of this becomes a cause for the growth of insecurity on the streets and public spaces, but also for the failure of state structures to prevent crime and the traffic of narcotics. Let us recall the video footage in Elbasan where the city’s “tough guys” defied police forces by crashing their vehicle, while police had no courage to react. This situation, which will also lead to a rise in street crime, has mounted concerns among citizens and it must be said that reactions have mainly come from public opinion and the media. The opposition too has joined public’s outcry by launching direct accusations from parliament. Of course, this is a good thing. When there’s abusiveness and undermining of the state’s authority, everyone should react. But all of this looks like a cowardly reaction.
Crime and the world surrounding it were not invented today. They’ve been there for ages and their aim is not to embrace political ideas, but make a quick profit. Therefore, while the comments made by the US ambassador or some other international institution refer to a growing threat that crime is posing in the country saying that there are four mob clans and 20 crime families in the criminal world, this shows that this sort of reality has been shaped over a relatively long period of time, where all the political sides have closed their eyes in front of criminal activities which have enriched and made these clans or families more powerful.
Therefore, the opposition’s reaction about the growth of criminality seems rather apathetic and not sincere. This is why the approach that the opposition is taking about the growth of criminality, seems insincere. By addressing street crime and not the essence of the problem, it looks as if it wants to open up a window of cooperation with the underworld once the latter sees that the balance of power is aiming toward today’s opposition. In this case, crime opens up for collaboration. Therefore, what we need to see is whether there’s truly an action to fight crime and traffic of narcotics, or whether all of this is just a pretext to keep the political debate heated?
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy