In the Assembly for the Vetting, the boycott and the reforms

Speech of Prime Minister Rama at today’s plenary session of the Assembly

There are no easy debates, but the easiest debate today, in the eyes of the public opinion, is the debate on the State Police which today, after three and a half years, is considered by citizens a completely reborn, respected and trustworthy authority.

The confidence citizens have in the State Police has been confirmed by the European Union’s annual survey, according to which in 2016 it was the most reliable institution as per public ranking. While, according to the same survey in 2013, the State Police was the most unreliable institution by the Albanian citizens, along with the prosecution and the courts. This credibility is a very clear reason for us to feel proud of what we have done with the State Police.

Our pride is neither complacency nor lack of awareness of the fact that there is still much to be done because our ambition, announced since the first day of governing of this coalition, was not simply to build a State Police that is very different from what we have inherited, but to build a State Police that meets the standards of the higher average of the European Union.

If we look at the State Police today, with the eyes of three and a half years ago, there is no possible comparison. If we look at our ambition for the Albania that we want, there is still plenty to do. And precisely because there is still much to be done, everyone is seeing that the State Police is in a new phase of the realization of our ambition. In a new phase to give a crushing and final response to the challenge of fighting the cannabis cultivation. In a new phase to give an overwhelming and definitive response to anyone inside the State Police body who abuses the uniform of the employee of the State Police. In a new phase to give a clear and every year most complete answer to the public about the quality of the service provided by the State Police.

If we refer to the figures of these three and a half years, they are eloquent and do not need debate because in these three and a half years we have had the lowest historical level of murders. We have had the lowest historical level of robbery with violence, and small criminality is decreasing steadily. Whereas, it is out of question, that today the State Police’s capacity in view of fighting organized crime is much higher than it was three and a half years ago, and our ambition is to have this capacity increased along with that of fighting corruption.

All this said, I want to go back to current politics because I believe that every day is an important day to continue all the way with the efforts for dialogue, and for paving the way to reason at the point where the relationship of the Democratic Party and some parties others around it with our democratic system has been disconnected.

There is no discussion that as far as we are concerned, there is something we don’t negotiate. We don’t negotiate the Constitution of the Republic of Albania that sanctions the freedom and the right of the people to choose, and which forces political parties to appear before the people on the date defined by the Constitution.

Just as we do not negotiate the mandate given to us by the people, and we do not abuse the contract we have with the people, which expires on the day of the creation of the new government. Which means that all efforts to hit the government and to hit June 18 are basically efforts to hit the stability of the country in order to take the democratic process hostage and to put Albania on a path of ambiguity where anything can happen.

Meanwhile, I want to assure all the citizens that nothing else will happen except for what has been laid down by the Constitution, as an obligation for their representatives to appear before them with the offers considered by them.

We have been engaged from the outset to make an exhaustive election reform with regard to all the recommendations made by the international arbitrator, not that of the elections in Albania, but of all elections everywhere in the world, the OSCE/ODIHR. Although time has expired, we have been and remain still today open to any other amendment to the election law or to other laws of this republic, which could psychologically relieve the Democratic Party, and may pave the way for attending the elections all together before the Albanians.

This means that we have not only agreed long ago with the OSCE, which has assisted the Electoral Reform Commission since the very beginning, on every point required by the OSCE/ODIHR report, but we have had all the patience and all the generosity, beyond any limit comparable to the past years, in order to let the Democratic Party have the opportunity to sit at the table, say what it has to say, propose what it has to propose, and vote the Electoral Code.

We have also had the other way. We have it also today, to vote the Electoral Code unilaterally because we have the votes to adopt neither more nor less but the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR, one by one, but we did not prefer this path. We did not want to break a tradition, which for the sake of truth has been imposed also by the fact that the qualified majority has not existed, and that is why this tradition was created. However, we want to abide by this principle all the way, so that we change the election law together, we can vote it together because the law of the rules of game requires so. And with regard to the rules of the game, it is the duty of the majority to guarantee the minority all the space to feel equal in the legislative process, but above all to feel equal and to be truly equal in the electoral process.

I have heard a lot of nonsense about the letter we have sent as a coalition, I repeat and underline, as a coalition, to the CEC. That letter does not intend to force the CEC – God forbid! – to make a unilateral decision or make it with its majority, in order to affect the election deadlines, but its only intention is to express the will of this coalition to finally allow the Democratic Party and the parties around it to attend the elections.

We had no reason to register the coalition, thus eventually closing the path for the Democratic Party and other parties because it would be the same as mobilizing the entire anti-fascist front to fight against some collaborator left in the field.

We are here to confirm once again what we have repeatedly expressed also in different ways: we are not a party, we are a coalition. The strategic axis of this coalition has been, is and will be the axis of the Socialist Party with the Socialist Movement for Integration. Those who have hoped and have done their best to hit this axis since the first day, are now disappointed and will continue to be disappointed. This is not a strategic axis to have the seats guaranteed, but it is a strategic axis to guarantee the reforms. If there has been in this process a different approach on our part and on the part of our strategic partners in the coalition, this does not imply for any second any shift from the contractual relationship with the one million people who voted for us to govern with this coalition, but it has been an expression of two different opinions about how to ease the path to take the Democratic Party out of the dead end where it has entered not because of us, but because of itself.

It’s not us who put the DP in the tent. We didn’t give the DP any reason to be terrified by the justice reform and to avoid the session for the voting of the Vetting like the devil avoids incense. It’s not possible that any reasonable Albanian citizen, whether he is socialist or democrat, whether he has voted or not, or even if he is never going to vote, can accept that his representatives not meet a need that is there for more than a quarter of century to end a situation where justice in this country has been gabbed by the throat by a caste of corrupt judges and prosecutors who are closely connected to the DP, and the DP fears precisely this separation which is in essence the separation of the Albania we want with the Albania we had.

Everything is but alibi, as they are trying to sing out loud in the forest of fear to convince themselves that they are not afraid, whereas actually the essence of all this is the fear of justice. And precisely because they couldn’t vote the Vetting due to this fear, they are afraid to go in front of the people because it’s very difficult for them to explain to their own people why they want another term, when they refused to represent them with dignity, which would have been to vote the Vetting and pave the path for the implementation of justice reform. It is pretty clear that this is the main reason because there can be no other reason for which a great political party takes on the adventure to clash with the whole planet, the adventure to clash with all our friends and partners, the adventure to rail against everybody, thus showing for the first time in these 27 years that it is ready to separate Albania from Europe once again.

Be assured that if they were given the chance to choose between voting the Vetting and dissolving Europe, they would choose to dissolve Europe, unfortunately. If they were given the chance to choose between the implementation of the justice reform, with everything that it brings, and the building of a new separation wall between Albania and the EU, they would choose the wall.

Be assured that all this is connected to this, and the fear of elections is not simply the fear of losing the elections. You can come out of the elections as a winner, but also as a loser, but what they fear is the confrontation with their own people as they will go before them, or they would go before them without voting the Vetting, hence with justice being taken hostage by them. People would look at them in the stands not as the representatives of the people but as if they were the spokesmen of the corrupt judges and prosecutors. Undoubtedly, this makes the election challenge very difficult for them. Of course, there is no chance of compromise if the Vetting is not part of the compromise. And the compromise is to accept it.

The compromise is to accept and modify the rules within the Constitutional Framework of the Republic of Albania, and to go to the polls after we have voted them together, and together with the Vetting. Not without the Vetting, because I believe that no friend or partner of Albania would accept it. However, this is my opinion.

Again, I want to emphasize that ours is a joint decision-making. In this joint decision-making, which is a decision-making of our coalition which has the responsibility to continue to govern Albania, to continue to make reforms, to guarantee free and fair elections for all those who want to have free and fair elections, and of our friends and partners. If we find with them the path of reason that the first thing to vote in the first session of the upcoming parliament is the Vetting, then everything is open.

As for where this effort can lead, many people talk nonsense and say things that are not related. For instance, that here all parties are alike, no party wants justice reform, no party wants elections to take place, and the ones to blame the most is us because we want to go to the polls without the opposition. This is untrue!

We don’t want to go to the polls without the opposition because we have done nothing that can be considered as hindrance, anything that we have put forth to make the opposition’s path to the polls difficult. The contrary is true. We’ve gone beyond by proposing not only legal amendments, but also mechanisms which we can find together in order to monitor the police, to monitor the administration and everything else that can make things for the opposition easy.

The Democratic Party does not have the opposition monopoly in Albania because it is not the Democratic Party that produces freedom in Albania, it is freedom that has produced the Democratic Party and many other parties, and will continue to propose offers as long as space is free to offer people an alternative.

And in that sense, I am convinced that all the threats, all the insinuations, all the efforts to tell the Albanians that if the Democratic Party doesn’t go to the polls, not because we don’t allow it but because it doesn’t want to, something catastrophic will happen here, all this is only an expression of the fear of the drowning one that tries to make everyone else drown. But there is no chance this will happen, there is no chance that Albania will be destabilized because it’s not 1997 anymore, and the economy of the people is not ruined due to the state’s unfaithfulness. But, meanwhile, the opposite is true. Even yesterday, the latest IMF projection ranked Albania among the first in the region in terms of economic growth, and the projection for this year put Albania first in terms of economic growth in the region, predicting 3.7%. 3.7% is not enough, but is far more than 0 point something it was in 2013.

You cannot give the Albanians a new history of breach of the Constitution, breach of the law, breach of their right to vote, by getting them into a nonsense vortex where you don’t understand who represents whom, and who rules what. We will continue to serve the Albanians as a coalition, in order to fight together until the end, as we are fighting for justice, also for the economy, for the further growth of employment, and in order to exceed 5%.

Our “1 billion for reconstruction” program has started. The Arber Highway is in its final procedural stage, and investment will begin once the procedure is concluded. There are 3 other infrastructure projects that are under review on this program, and there are 6 schools of excellence in vocational education, designed not only in terms of infrastructure but also management, in cooperation with partners.

There are 3 other infrastructure projects that are under review within this program, and there are 6 vocational education schools of excellence, designed in cooperation with our partners not only in terms of infrastructure but also of their management. They are schools of excellence that will be managed jointly by Swiss, Germans, Italians, according to the profiles, and so on. Procedures are underway also for them, and their construction will begin soon. Part of this program are also 20 new schools in Tirana that will end the two-shift tuition and will guarantee a completely new education standard for nearly 1 million inhabitants in the whole new municipality of Tirana. There are dozens of other schools in the process of being rebuilt.

All of these mean economy, employment, future, and we don’t question them by negotiating what is unnegotiable. We don’t question them, although a media hamlet with a tent and some losers and killers of the truth, who are paid by the black canals that connect the tent with the media hamlet, are in the mood of causing a firestorm here otherwise we enter a hopeless era, because this ruling force is unbreakable.

We will be unbreakable as long as we are able to give people what people expect from us. We will be unbreakable as long as we are able to continue, being fully aware of the shortcomings and of the gaps, to fight together with the people in order to increase economy, to increase their quality of life, to integrate the communities where they live in the new municipalities, which since now have shown that they are success stories.

Our being unbreakable does not depend on who is against us. Whoever is against us, with the arguments they use, their efforts, is simply out of today’s history, they are simply out of the reach of people. And we’re here because of the people, we’re not here because of our opponents, whether big or small who see themselves as big. We’re here about the people, and in this struggle we have no reason, quite the opposite, not to rule, not with the example of strength, but with the strength of the example. There’s also the fact that we haven’t elected yet the President of the Republic, although we could have elected him yesterday, or today, it is the strength of the example, not the example of strength. It is the strength of example to say that we don’t want to use the numerical power, which is not merely numerical but it’s the power of a popular mandate which we will reconfirm on June 18, in order to take everything for ourselves, or make those who think differently from us think that they have no room to give their opinion or to deal with us. We don’t have this inclination at all.

Unfortunately, we have never faced in this Parliament in three and a half years the challenge of confronting visions, programs and arguments. We have never encountered any normal proposition, but this has little importance. What matters today is that we still want to give a chance to those who are missing today to be part of the president’s election process.

We don’t want a president for ourselves. We could have chosen him yesterday. We don’t want a biased president, or perceived as such. We want a president who has at least a relative impartiality. A president who is able, when the country needs him or when the political parties need him, to have everybody sit all together at the table, who is able to communicate with all the representatives of the people in Parliament, who can represent the parties elected in parliament by the people, without being hampered by bias. A president whose agenda is that of national unity, a common agenda of everybody, not an agenda that is half visible and half invisible of the party that has elected him.

For all of this, we have no reason to elect the president under these conditions, by using the overwhelming majority we have in Parliament, but we have all the reasons to expect and invite our colleagues to come to work and give up on their foolishness to start a global warfare from a tent. They should give up on their foolishness to declare enemies of Albania those who have stood by Albania in its worse days, and those who are guarantors and the biggest advocates of Albania, ranging from Germany to the whole European Union and certainly to the United States of America. This kind of war and this kind of madness, with the ridiculous idea that the internal battle that is stimulated by the fear of justice will be transferred to the European Parliament, to the US Congress and to every corner of the world, is a hallucination.

Our Foreign Minister was received last evening at the White House by the Vice President for National Security of the President of America, and what is very clear is the request, inter alia, besides the fact that there is no need for a request as we are alongside the US in every effort as a NATO member and as a loyal US ally, to implement justice reform which is considered by the White House vital for the continuation of the democratic process and the stability of Albania, as it is also considered vital for the regional stability. Justice reform and fear of justice have lit the fuse also in other countries of the region, not only in Albania.

We are here to guarantee justice reform, and we are here to say that not one day, but neither one minute will we delay the formation of a new parliament which will start work precisely to restore the dignity of this country, the dignity of this people, by taking forward justice reform.