Growing up in a country where breakfast consists of a double Turkish coffee and the political pages of at least four journals, it is no wonder one might become tired of politics. Apathy makes sense, at least when you realize that you are going to opt for studying and working abroad, far from the corruption, the recent memories of a civil war, and the national violent outburst after the collapse of the pyramid schemes. It is the right way to go, you might reasonably think, focusing on your life, your tranquility outside the chaotic cries of the Balkans.
Yet, in the back of your mind, you still have that constant dilemma. If things get better, I might return. It is home after all. Recently, I started intensifying my daily clicks on Albanian online journals interested by its “progress” and I was slowly rebuilding my confidence, a confidence that stemmed from the idea that now we are a NATO country, we are the fastest growing economy in Europe, and we managed to get a Schengen visa free regime.
And then, I clicked on a video, a popular one at that, showing the face and, in this case, the “uncensored” thoughts of a political leader with whom Albanians have been very familiar in the past. To be honest, it didn`t come as a complete shock hearing the corrupt orders and demands, the sums of money involved in order to secure the “deals”…it was just that when faced with a truth revealed in one of its purest forms, you can`t help but gasp. The person in question had prepared his road to this recent situation in Albanian politics.
His name is Ilir Meta; he has been a member of the Socialist Party and one of his first jobs on his CV was “Member of Parliament!” He has been a minister, a prime minister, up until he decided to create his own party called The Socialist Movement for Integration, a leftist party in ideology, a “run as the wind takes us” party by concrete actions.
Then, all of a sudden, when the votes couldn`t add up for the Democratic Party to stay in power, a deal was offered to this “leader.” He forgot that his own party was different in ideology, forgot all the accusations he had previously made against the Democratic government and joined them- as a vice prime minister! It didn`t end here, of course; many corrupt deals went on, many positions were offered and then the truth was revealed: a concrete deal in which he agreed to award a bid to one of his friends in the energy sector, with the colossal compensation as a “gift” of 700 thousand Euros. In a country like Albania, where poverty is so tangible, where can these politicians get such money? How come they become the Mubaraks of the country, with titles such as the second richest man in the Balkans? It is indeed a mystery!
After the video showing his deals was made public, all the chaos started. But I wasn`t expecting this. I wasn`t expecting such a brutal return of some of the most feared memories of my life. I wasn`t expecting murders.
On the 21st of January, I clicked again, this time on a video that would be forever burned into my mind, showing how the threat of a shot from a gun is still real and present in the modern Albania, how exercising your democratic freedoms can be quickly translated into the utter denial of the most fundamental right- the right to live!
And I got angry, sad, I cursed, and then, as it normally goes, I felt this sober rational disgust for the double-take on the Albanian democracy, for the ease with which years of building up a stable society can be turned into ashes. I don`t know where I have heard it before, but it kept coming back to my mind, a phrase so utterly and sadly true that it made me go cold: “As a nation, we forget too fast!” We do forget too fast. Without getting into the discussion of whether the elections were conducted in accordance with democratic standards, it is mind-boggling to think that we still have the same leader as we did in 1997, the same leader who saw the nation in its craziest state and let it be, the same leader who saw the economy collapse and let it be, the same leader who doesn`t age, doesn`t change, doesn`t mature, doesn`t care!
It is this exact same leader who, having forgotten what shame and political dignity means, went openly against the orders of the Prosecution organs to declare that he doesn`t intend to follow them, and then, as Albanian magical political rhetoric , a.k.a. daily prime ministerial nonsense, requires, questioned the very authority of the organ!
Talk about rule of law, separation of powers, democracy, all those terms that we set as safeguarding principles, all that constitutional framework that we consider sacred.
I can`t help but wonder, what has remained sacred in my country- freedom of association, fair elections, stability, democracy, the right to live? What?
As of present, I cannot find the answer to this question. I am confused, hurt, ashamed, and just like my country, I am at a crossroads!