OP-ED/One year from the agreement between Rama and Basha

OP-ED/One year from the agreement between Rama and Basha

This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al

By Plator Nesturi

On  May 18th  last year, when every legal deadline for a normal start of the parliamentary election campaign was expiring and when the opposition had threatened that it was going to boycott them, a meeting between Rama and Basha managed to solve this gridlock. At that time, it was talked about a broad based agreement, although the text and the details of the agreement were never revealed. However, the elections were saved. The opposition entered the elections, while Rama temporarily gave the opposition a few ministerial posts until he won another term in office.

Usually, agreements are made to find a sustainable solution until the conditions of the agreement are fulfilled. Given that it is still not known what the points of the agreement were, it’s reasonable to think that it cannot last very long. It was not the first time that such agreements were made. The meeting between Nano and Berisha calmed the situation down, it legitimized the 2001 general elections and produced a president proposed by the opposition. We need to mention the fact that during this period, there was a détente, which did last a while and the SP  mainly dealt with its internal conflicts between Nano and Meta. A fresh agreement was made in 2008 when Berisha and Rama agreed to make changes for the electoral reforms and special laws. Despite the objections made by small parties, the SP and the DP respected the agreement that they had made. And this was a period that did last a while, although later, Rama said that he had made a mistake to enter such agreement.

Now, let us recall that a year ago, the two leaders who are archenemies today, sat down and signed a document which at that time was considered as a long-term solution of the political crisis. At that time, the media said that the sides would collaborate for the reform in the justice system, for an adjustment of the territorial reform and a new election reform. So far, nothing has been done in any of these three areas. In the justice system, the reform continues to be blocked, while Parliament has not yet exerted its function to appoint the Board of Judges and the Board of Prosecutors, which would give way to the creation of new institutions. Meanwhile, as far as the electoral reform and adjustments in the territorial reform are concerned, no steps have been taken and no new incentive has been launched.

Two months after the agreement, while he was “frozen” as chairman following the defeat in the elections and while the Democratic Party was waiting to hold elections for the party chairman, Basha declared that Rama had not respected the agreement, therefore he would not recognize it. But if Rama was the only one to be blamed, then he could have made the text of the agreement public in order for everyone to be acquainted with it. It looked like this was a poor agreement and its only aim was to help the DP come out of its impasse. The agreement had no elements of guarantee which would enable cooperation between the two main political forces. The argument that proved this was Rama’s position during the election campaign, immediately after he had struck a deal with Basha, when he declared that he would not share power with anyone and that he would govern on his own. And this was the case.

Now, a year later, the political situation in the country is once again aggravated. The DP cannot threaten that it will block the electoral process. Elections are still far, but the accusations about the high levels of corruption and organized crime have caused problems for the majority. Although the opposition is weak and it inspires very little trust, the cases that have been denounced by it have not only caused conflicts in parliament, but they have also given a blow to the credibility of the political class in the eyes of the public opinion. And this is no small matter.

But what is the opposition trying to achieve? New elections, a technocrat government or a new deal with Rama? No opposition representatives talks about fresh elections, because they know that the opposition is still weak for this battle. Sometimes we hear ideas about an anti-mafia government or for a government which is led by a socialist other than Rama. But this does not depend on them. Despite this aggravated situation, Basha does not hesitate to wink at Rama every once in a while. Whether they are made in the name of the integration process or in the name of a new consensus for the reform in justice, all of these are indirect invitations to sit down and find a common language. Although it was Tahiri who was accused yesterday and Xhafaj today, the only accusations being launched against Rama relate to the support that he’s giving them. What this does is that it opens a channel of communication through pressure. But, nobody knows how successful could a new deal be.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy