Strong suspicions on an energy affair stir Albanian politics

Strong suspicions on an energy affair stir Albanian politics

Tirana, 29 September 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The Albanian public opinion and the international opinion have been recently “bombarded” by numerous suspicions that suggest an alleged corruption affair with electricity. The affair in question has to do with a scandal, which according to public accusations, is enormous and it relates to the sale of the state owned company of the distribution of power supply to the Czech owned company, CEZ.

It was the former opposition that accused the government of being involved in a corruption affair amounting to several hundred millions of Euros.

The media alleged that the speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta, was involved in this affair. In this wave of accusations, the Socialist Party, the largest one in the governing coalition, is trying to distance itself by not making any comments.

Meanwhile, the opposition demanded an international inquiry on the “CEZ affair”.

Ilir Meta backed the DP, by saying that he supports the voting of a law which enables an international inquiry on CEZ.

The prime minister has not made any public comments on this movement, but in the next parliament session, there still remains to be seen if the bill will only be voted by the opposition and a part of the governing coalition or by the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Rama.

Ahead of the parliamentary session, the speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta, met today with the head of PDIU, a former opposition party which is now part of the majority coalition. Through this meeting, Meta is believed to attempt and secure the 71 necessary votes in  the 140 seat parliament, in order to launch an international inquiry on the CEZ affair.

And to gather 71 votes, several parties must join together, if the SP, which has 60 seats, is against.

“Meta” once again

It seems that the CEZ affair is bringing fresh memories of the same conflict of several months ago, which had to do with the alleged attempt against Doshi, which involved in it Tom Doshi MP and speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta.

At that time, Doshi publicly accused Meta of plotting his murder. Doshi also revealed the name of a witness which issued a contradictory declaration. He first admitted the murder plot and then denied it.

This whole story became extinct when the General Prosecution came up with an official stance, saying that there was no evidence that incriminated Meta in a plot to murder MPs.

And now, at a time when the Doshi affair is still fresh, Meta is targeted again.

But Mr. Meta seems calm. He also demonstrated this today: “I must admit that I am not worried about any kinds of intrigues. My highlander origins have taught me not to get worried about the swarm like intrigues”.

The three phases of CEZ

The CEZ affair has three phases which deserve a deep inquiry. First of all relates to how the agreement with the Czechs was made in the light of Albania’s application to launch talks for the EU candidate status.

The second phase relates to the eventual illegal lobbying, relating to the stories that relate to CEZ after its entry in Albania.

The third phase is the division agreement, CEZ’s compromise to leave Albania.

All three of these moments must be investigated.

Brahos’s letter: A plan to destabilize the country

A letter signed by the chairman of the parliamentary security committee, Spartak Braho, sent to Albanian state leaders, warns that “a destabilization plan for the country” is being contrived and that “pressure is being put on Ismailaj to accuse Ilir Meta”.

According to Brahos’e letter, who is a former socialist MP, Tom Doshi and the former SMI lawmaker, Dritan Prifiti, are the two people who have prepared this scenario to destabilize the country, by making up false accusations against the speaker of parliament.

In his letter, the SMI lawmaker mentions the suspicions and the information that he has secured for the meetings between Doshi and Prifti with the wife of the businessman who is now in prison, Kastriot Ismailaj, accused of laundering large amounts of money. Within a short period of time, Ismailaj is accused of investing large amounts of money in real estate. For the money that has been spend, there are doubts that they may have come from illegal sources. One of Ismailaj’s companies, worked for CEZ for the collection of the debts of different companies and businesses in Albania.

Braho suspects that Doshi and Prifti have put financial pressure in order to ask Ismailaj to accuse the speaker of parliament, Meta, to be incriminated in the Czech company CEZ affair.

According to the letter, Doshi and Prifti have spoken with Ismailaj’s wife using the name of PM Rama, US ambassador, Donald Lu and leader of opposition, Basha. Braho insists that Ismailaj’s family should be put under protection and that the people who issue these threats must be investigated.

Prifti and Doshi comment Braho’s letter

Tom Doshi MP admitted his meeting with Kastriot Ismailaj’s wife, but he denies of having demanded this meeting: “I have known Ismailaj’s wife for 15 years. Yes, I have met with her upon her request. Let my phone records be checked and let the authorities find out who demanded the meeting”.

Doshi says that he has no knowledge on the possible businesses that Ilir Meta may have had with Kastriot Ismailaj.

Meanwhile, former minister of Industry and Energy, Dritan Prifti says that he is not acquainted with Ismailaj’s wife.

According to Prifti, no pressure would make him withdraw from the truth. Prifti declares that if a serious inquiry on CEZ and DIA is launched, he will testify on the truth, especially about the fact, according to him, that 130 million euros are being attempted to be robbed to the country.

Prifti also comments on Braho’s alarm on the destabilization of the country.  He says that he wants this country more than Ilir Meta does and that he wouldn’t want any instability.

Kopac defends “Rama”s pact for CEZ: He unblocked the reforms and Czech Republic veto

The head of the Secretariat of the European Energy Community, Janez Kopac, backs the Albanian government.

Janez Kopac said that the agreement between PM Edi Rama with CEZ was needed to solve a conflict which was blocking the reforms and investments in the Albanian energy sector.

Kocap, who has brokered this deal, says that “the agreement was a condition in order for the Czech Republic to lift its veto against Albanian’s EU candidate status”.

“Reforms and potential investments were hindered and should have waited for the settlement of the dispute. The arbitrage procedure lasts up to 10 years and Albania would remain a hostage of the Czech Republic in the talks for Albania’s status as an EU candidate country. After this agreement was signed at my office, the Czech Republic lifted its veto”, Kopac said.

Kopac said that he admits the fact that this is a very complicated issued with 10 rounds of talks in the secretariat offices. Kopac admits that the agreement is never a perfect one for all sides, because “the agreement is compromise and compromise must serve to both sides”.

Minxhozi: Meta is trying to incriminate Rama

Prominent analyst, Skender Minxhozi, who is also the editor in chief of “Java” newspaper, says that CEZ’s affair has three phases which deserve a detailed investigation. He suggests that in this case, the political views must not be taken into account and what should be punished is “theft and the thief”.

As far as the Socialist Party is concerned in relation to this affair, Minxhozi says that socialists speak through their silence in this case.

In the recent days, the opposition has demanded several times for Meta to resign. This request received a surprising answer by Meta. He told Basha that he should ask the Prime Minister to resign and not the speaker of parliament.

Minxhozi believes that Meta is trying to involve in this story belonging to his past, Edi Rama too and says that relations between Rama and Meta have long become tense. “This affair has acted as a burden of what we have seen so far as cold relations between the two sides. I don’t base myself on the collaboration in the local government elections and the defeat in several cities, where SMI didn’t receive what it was expecting. Thus, the accusation are also addressed to the socialist camp. I’m under the impression  that this is a physiological distancing, which comes after two years in government.

In the recent elections, Meta’s party received 260 thousand votes and its tendency to be expanded within the coalition has been seen as an accepted and natural result of what it gained on June 21.

I believe that Rama’s refusal for a government reshuffle, has made relations between the two sides cold  This has deteriorated relations and now, we’re dealing with the publication of the CEZ affair, an affair which is bringing new elements on a daily basis”.

Minxhozi says that relations between the two heads of the coalition are not good and adds: We must now see how far this deterioration of relations goes, but one thing is sure, Meta is trying to involve Rama in a past story of his”.

For Minxhozi, “Rama’s reluctance not to be involved in this story, shows that he’s clear about his idea and his vision relating to this scandal”.

But will there be an answer to this story? Minxhozi is skeptical:

“From what we have experienced during these 20 years in this country and seeing other similar events, which are more serious, we conclude that the higher corruption is, the wiser its protagonists are. I fear that by complicating this story, there will be a political game and not a legal one. In the end, nobody ends up in prison”. /ibna/