Lushnje, public meeting as part of “The Municipality We Want” campaign

Prime Minister Edi Rama at public meeting as part of “The Municipality We Want” campaign in Lushnje:

Thank you very much for the hospitality!

Thank you very much for your trust and support!

I am delighted to be here today in our journey as part of this round of public meetings for the Municipality we want, because we have our obligations to you and one of the obligations is that we talk and listen to you and then remember everything you tell us and, above all, help us better understand in which area we should do more and how we should do things and what might have gone wrong.

We are not perfect and no government is unmistakable. Our government has made mistakes and we are very proud of knowing how to reflect, apologize and react. Just like I am very proud of the great transformation we have achieved in this territory, both in the Municipalities of Lushnje and Divjake. Yet such a transformation would have been mission impossible if it were not for two men you have elected and should we haven’t had worthy representatives of the Socialist Party here, who represent this community in the parliament and who are closely linked to you all.

I am pleased that Erion is today my right-hand man in the government, because I know his honesty and great determination pretty well and I think it was about time to separate him from Divjaka, which became the focus of our energies. In fact, the truth is that transformation either here or in Divjake speaks for itself. It is an unquestionable fact that much remain to be done both here and Divjake. Of course, problems are not over, but it would suffice to look back and recall the poor state of this territory just four years ago and whoever has no time to think carefully and a lot about things let try to figure out the difference between us and those who have abandoned their duty to represent Lushnja’s and whole Albania’s Democrats, despite the fact the Democratic Party supporters here in Lushnja are not totally unrepresented, because, in spite of what happened and I don’t know how it happened, but the only wise man seemed to be MP Myslym Murrizi. However, I would have wished it was I rather than him to say the quotation: “They sought to oust Edi Rama, but they ousted me instead,” because this was actually their so-called revolution. It would suffice drawing the comparison between the reality of today and that of yesterday.

Who could do it better?

They can revive the past, while we are the only united force that can shape the future.

The Mayor listed a number of accomplishments at a local level, whilst the Deputy Prime Minister focused on what has been achieved at a national level in our efforts to relieve hardworking people from taxes and provide support to them. The same goes over the transformation of the territory and the changes to everybody’s lives. It is an undisputable fact that nobody earns a salary everybody would have wished for or we would have wanted to provide. Salaries should definitely be higher, yet it would take for every teacher, nurse and everyone else to make a basic calculation on the taxes they had to pay before we took office and how much they pay in taxes today. Nurses and teachers used to pay higher taxes than the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. It would take a simple calculation on the salary they used to receive and the one they receive today. Of course, we will work step by step to make sure that salaries increase in the future.

On the other hand, I would like to assure each and every one of you that I feel and understand every message I receive or listen from various people I meet and who fear that we may backtrack. What can we retreat from? From the contract with you?! From the contract we have with the majority of Albanians who gave us the vote to govern alone, just because the day has come for us to co-govern with people and not with the political parties.

We can’t backtrack on such obligation!

Just like we can’t backtrack on our obligation under the election contract to finalize the justice reform. This is what those who have left the parliament and now protest in front of the parliament building fear most. They were inside the parliament, while now they gather in front of the building claiming they represent the people, running away with the idea that they will be hiding among the people when the day to be held accountable before justice will come. But this is not going to happen.

Many may rightfully grow impatient and angry as they expected things to move much faster and expected many of them not to roam free, but instead be there where they deserve to be for everything they have done. However, in the system we have chosen it is not the government that does this, but justice system. The government either does or it doesn’t do what is needed to build a fair justice system. We have done what is needed, but also what nobody could have imagined previously and we have done it thanks to your support.

We have launched a judiciary reform and we were even willing to break the governing coalition with our previous allies in the government, because they didn’t want the justice reform. But today, although no politician has been held responsible before justice, yet dozens of judges and prosecutors, who had turned justice into lucrative business, have been removed from the justice system.

Many could ask: “Was this all? Just removing them from justice system? No, this is not all. This is the stage when the palace of justice is being cleaned and judges and prosecutors with moral and professional integrity will take over the new justice system, while the rest will be held responsible before the new system for whatever they have done, be them either judges, prosecutors, politicians, businessmen or whoever else, because Albania can no longer be the country where wrongdoers go unpunished, while the honest and fair people struggle to make ends meet.

They chose to leave. We can’t help but wish them safe travel, although their journey is sinister and they will regret a lot on their sinister journey.

They chose to leave, but I believe Albanians have lost nothing. Quite the contrary.

In the meantime, we have opted not to engage in no TV or radio debates with them. People are really fed up with those fruitless debates with terrible slanders.

Enough is enough!

We are not going to debate with them.

We will debate with the citizens.

They are not our opposition.

Our opposition are the citizens’ woes, plights and problems.

Our battle is to employ more and more people.

Our battle is to lift everyone out of poverty.

Our battle is being fought against ignorance and the wounds they inflicted on Albania’s body. Our battle is not against them.

They withdrew from the battlefield, which is the battle between ideas, programs and alternatives in the Parliament. They fled because not only they want to plunge the country into chaos and cause mayhem so that they blend in with the crowd and avoid being picked out and unexpectedly look like the people’s representatives, but also because they know well they can’t win battles with us.

We are on the eve of local elections, but they can’t win the race against us. They can’t win, not because we rig the vote, but because we are simply the best and stronger.

It was just a year and half ago when we granted everything they asked for. They constituted half of the cabinet, including the Ministry of Interior, and every other ministry and state institutions with a key role in the management of the electoral process and that could influence elections. Like never before, the public administration stayed in its offices and whoever joined the election campaign was punished. They were granted everything they asked for. They could have asked for more, but they were given exactly what they asked for.

We agreed to run these institutions under one condition: whoever wins would take over the government, while the loser would stay in opposition. Elections cannot be contested and Albania can’t be reviled in foreign languages. That’s why we agreed to grant them the government posts. They lost elections. They spent summer utterly baffled after election defeat. Then they started to settle scores with each other and the same old election rigging and vote buying story began.

What happened and whatever is done with wasted money and energies will not harm the government, but they will hurt every Albanian who earns honest living by working hard, every Albanian who runs a business or owns a shop or a hotel, every citizen who expect consumption to grow and tourist numbers to surge. They harm everyone here in Divjaka, Berat, Fier, Vlora, Saranda, Tirana and elsewhere across the country, because they discourage those who want to visit Albania. Tourism industry has significantly grown over the past years and tourism growth means economic, employment and consumption growth. If tourism is hit, people are hit, the economy is hit and all of those who earn living by tourism-related enterprises.

Hopes and prospect for high paying jobs run dim and higher-paying jobs could be created only through more investments and economic growth. Everyone would be hit regardless whether they are Socialists or Democrats, regardless they have voted for SP or DP. It doesn’t distinguish among your political affiliations and it badly affects your household economy and the daily bread of your children. Those blind people who hit their head on the government’s building, encouraged by other blind men behind them, can do nothing to the Prime Minister’s office, but they have hit the economy, hampering it to further progress over these past days and weeks and sending a very bad message outside Albania, telling people not to visit or invest in Albania. This is the harm they can cause.

That’s why I am asking the people who follow them.

Are you following Lulzim?

Are they the leaders that people should follow? Where to? To follow the crowd? Why?

We should really do whatever it takes to open these people’s eyes to this problem and the damage that is being caused, the damage to the quality of democracy and government when dealing with such a confused opposition. However, we can’t pick the opposition.

It is time for us all to come together and defend what we have already built and not defend the government. They can do no harm at all to the government. They can harm only you, the common citizens of this country. They are up against you only, just because they know to do nothing, but what they were used to do before. They have ruined everything whenever they have been given the power to do something. Tell me a single place, a single thing they have fixed and built. Tell me a single city they have been running and built. Tell me whether they built Albania when they seized power.

Of course, there is a long way to go before we build Albania we want and it takes hard work, time, patience and more sacrifices. Of course we are not perfect, but it would be wrong to draw any comparison with them and it would be contrary to your own interest, no matter whether you are a Democrat or a Socialist. It is not a matter of distinguishing between the right-wing and left-wing parties. This is not the case. This is a matter of distinguishing between people who listen, see and know how to govern and other people who refuse to listen, see and are incapable of running the country, but they are like a drowning man that can drown you too.

They are drowning people and how could you rescue them.

I know quite well we can’t take pride regarding the state of the government service offices here and in Lushnja.

Many of them operate effectively, others operate not properly. The same goes about the situation in whole Albania, but we are working hard to significantly improve service delivery. I haven’t forgotten our campaign pledge to remove all parasites from the public administration and hire individuals who deliver deserved services to the citizens. I haven’t forgotten this promise, although I know quite well that things haven’t changed a lot. However, citizens are no longer alone whenever they address to the state offices asking for a public service to be delivered.

It takes just sending a signal to the online platform www.Shqipëriaqëduam and the government sides with you and acts instantly. Prior to this meeting, we visited Lushnja Congress school, a former renowned school music. Music classes have resumed in that school after a parent addressed the co-governance platform. Ideas are sometimes like the “Columbus’ egg. One may ask, why it took for a parent to file a complaint with the online platform and why it was not the government or the MPs that are paid on taxpayers’ money to think about it. But this is the beauty of democracy. The beauty of democracy lies in the very fact that the citizens are powerful not only on the election day, but all the time. The ruling majority, MPs and the Parliament should not think about citizens on the election day only, but all the time, and those who govern should listen to the people, because they can’t know everything and it often happens that a common citizen may give you a brilliant idea. This is how the school music and the music tradition of this city was revived. This is just an example, but I can provide a lot more examples to illustrate how the co-governance platform has been operating and effectively working.

– Hello everyone! I am Rudina. I addressed the co-governance platform to tackle a problem regarding electricity overbilling. The electricity meter recorded 540 kw, while we were billed for 4000 kw. We filed a series of complaints and problem was not addressed even after the verifications made by the specialists from the power distributor operator. We came across the co-governance platform and it was my son who accessed it about the problem concerning our family. We received a reply in two weeks and the problem was finally solved. I would like to thank the co-governance platform coordinators.

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much! The platform coordinators are very good at their job, yet the platform would have not existed should you have not voted for the Socialist Party to govern the country alone. Should we be governing in coalition with others, the latter would have not been caring about people’s plights, but about things they have been always caring. It will be definitely always like this. The administration will react faster and better in delivering better public services. But how could you address such problems in the past? You couldn’t. Either you had to grease the palm or seek the support of influential people or find someone who had access to Mona’s and Luli’s political parties. While today it is quite easy. It takes just three minutes and the government or the relevant minister, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in this case, act instantly to tackle countless inherited problems. This is what we will be doing every single day. We address hundreds of cases each day. Thousands of problems have been already tackled since the platform was launched.

– Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. My daughter was unable to sit an exam due to health issues. She failed to sit the mathematics and literature test and we couldn’t find a solution. We addressed the platform the problem was finally solved.

PM Edi Rama: This is the latest example of two most recent protests: a protest launched by the boys and girls of this country, and a protest by these “fugitives.” The student protest sought to address true problems and we listen carefully to the students’ plight and reacted accordingly. The student protest included something very important on the government’s work agenda. Today, thanks to the fact that Albania has now government that doesn’t kill protesters, but instead it respects their rights, Albanian families pay halved tuition fees for their children in universities. The government covers the entire tuition fee for the best performing students and provides them a monthly scholarship of 100 000 lek. Students from families that receive the social welfare benefits pay nothing in tuition fees and the government provides them a scholarship of 100 000 lek a month. This is the government born on the willingness to govern together with the common citizens. Meanwhile, the student protest clearly showed the difference between the government and the opposition.

Students stated it clearly. The government is on their side. There are deficiencies in the government and it hasn’t done as much as needed for us, yet we are not asking for this government’s resignation, because it is only this government the one that could solve our problems. They also asked the opposition not to dare and join them. This is the first case ever in Albania when the opposition is not accepted by the protesters. Because it is not the opposition of the people, for the people and with the people, but a handful of individuals who have come together, dreaming to retake over the government and escape justice.

This is the reason they are doomed to fail and although they can harm Albania, they can do no harm to us, because they can’t stop us. By us I mean us all, the government and the citizens. United with all Albanians who want to succeed in this long war between the good that we can build together and the evil that has been standing on our way for so many years.

Thank you all!