This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Roland Qafoku
When everyone was thinking that this young generation had become lethargic, that it would rather buy a ticket out of the country than face reality, that the only library for them was the local café, when everyone believed that the country had died, we saw something unexpected happen: Students protested not only against exam fees. This protest swept the country like a hurricane and nobody knows how long these protests will last and what effects it will have on the country’s political and social life. One draws several conclusions from this movement, which may be considered as the biggest one since after 1997. These conclusions seem to reflect the situation that Albania is in and that this massive reaction by students acts as a starting point. This was even seen when students did not allow their protest to be politicized.
SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY IS WORSE THAN BEFORE
It was a massive reaction to the situation that the country was in. Economic hardship has affected a large part of the population. 330 thousand Albanian students have left the country in the past 7 years, according to INSTAT. This youth has realized and felt the situation that their parents and they, themselves, were going through. It’s a real disappointment when we think of the great expectations that existed in 2013 when the left came in power. What they had was not only 1 million votes, but a hope that was never seen in the past 28 years in the country.
On 8 August 2015, PM Edi Rama was very lucid when he addressed a long letter to his ministers, saying that they had become arrogant. 4 years and 3 months have gone by and this arrogance has become even greater. Now it’s too late for Rama to make them leave. It’s not only the ministers who are risking now, but the whole ship. “You have become arrogant against each other and against people. Either you change your attitude, or you should get off the boat”, Rama wrote on 8 August. Given that he could not get them off the boat, the boat itself is now sinking.
WILL DP RUIN THE SPIRIT OF THE PROTEST?
Students say that the protest is not a forbidden area for politicians. However, many people ask: Will the Democratic Party ruin the spirit of the protest as it did with the protest of Kukes? And this question was somehow answered on Saturday, when on the 27th anniversary of the 8 December 1990 movement, the chairman of the DP Lulzim Basha could not even gather more than 200 supporters in a rally hosted on this occasion. The opposition is also one of the reasons for this “hurricane”. Students have clearly realized that the government is the problem and that the DP is not the solution. The historical leader of the DP, Sali Berisha was the only one to say that the protest of the residents of Kukes at the beginning of this year caught the Democratic Party unprepared. So, will the Democratic Party also ruin the spirit of this protest?
POLITICIANS HAVE LOST TOUCH WITH REALITY
The most surprising thing is that this is happening in both camps, majority and opposition. Politicians from both sides, DP and SP have lost touch with reality.
ATTEMPTS FOR A POLITICAL SOLUTION
It’s clear that for PM Edi Rama, it’s easier to offer a political solution to this protest rather than through a direct confrontation with students. His genius consists of the fact that he looks forward to the opposition becoming part of the game, because this way, it will be easier for him. If we look into Rama’s political discourse and the comments made by his supporters, then everyone will understand that an attempt is being made to make this protest a political one. If this happens, then Rama is in his own habitat. The spectacular solution that he offered for the political crisis last year is still in the minds of many Albanians. Therefore, every political solution which has two sides: the government and the opposition, will make Rama a winner. Otherwise, the government will be in serious difficulty. For this reason, the politicization of the protest is seen on one side as a manoeuvre of political parties and on the other, it’s an open defiance on the part of the students.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy