Prime Minister Edi Rama at public meeting with Vlora citizens as part of national campaign “The Municipality We Want”:
Thank you very much for this warm welcome!
Seeing at this overcrowded square as if election day is set for tomorrow, I was thinking that in few years’ time, this very square will bring together all Albanians to mark the 110th anniversary of Independence and it is about time to think about removing this building from here. I know that Sulo has done a lot for the Democratic Party, yet he is a good Vlora citizen and I am confident we will reach understanding that this is the Flag Square. This is the square of Vlora and all Albanians. Vlora and all Albanians deserve having the most beautiful square that would welcome everyone on the days when history honours Vlora and Vlora honours history.
We hosted this meeting as part of the national cycle of meetings about the Municipality We Want, but we were broadly advertised a day ago and things went awry. So the number of people gathering here today is much higher than we expected. However, we haven’t come together here just because others have rallied elsewhere. We are together here because since we gained the voters’ backing we have promised to move forward step by step together with you, the common citizens of this country.
We have come together here because since we received your vote to rule without anyone else in our lap, we’ve been clearly aware that we can properly govern the country only if we do not break away from you and we always bear you in mind in every step we take. We are here because that’s what we have done.
To us, listening to the people, placing attention to the people and better understanding the problems that concern our citizens, but also learning from the people is part of our daily work.
Today we are certainly here to speak about Vlora and Vlora is the right place to properly distinguish the difference not only between the past and the present, but also between the present and the future.
Is this the city of Vlora I want?
No, this is not Vlora I want.
Vlora I want is the city where the new airport is not a promise, but a reality.
Vlora I want is not a city where its port is not a phantom of the past, but the coastal and maritime tourism destination.
Vlora I want is the place where tourist activity thrives and the visitor numbers see exponential growth along the whole territory of the Municipality, stretching from Orikum to Karaburun.
Vlora I want is the place where Sazan from a ghost island has now become one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful tourist destinations.
Vlora I want is the place where Kanine castle is not what history and poetry inspires us, but it is now one of the most beautiful points of reference and one of the excellent destinations in the Mediterranean.
Vlora I want is the place where not only the road provides the opportunity to travel along the entire stretch of Vlora river, but where agritourism and various landmarks become the reference point for many visitors and sightseers to enjoy rich tradition and taste traditional organic food, locally-grown fresh produce and hospitality of local residents.
Vlora I want is the city that offers ample opportunities to immigrants to come back home not only to celebrate the New Year’s eve, but invest their savings in tourism and agritourism enterprises in the city and the countryside and generate much more income than they earn while working as emigrants.
Vlora I want is the city where its University and the student campus are no longer in their current state, but just like Vlora students and other students across Albania rightfully want them to be.
Vlora I want is a place where the vocational education school is a space of excellence for all of those who develop skills and find a job and support their families.
Vlora I want is the city where employment is an opportunity granted to some people only, but it is the only alternative to everyone.
So, if we were to compare the today’s Vlora with Vlora we want to build in the future, we are still far from reaching there, yet, on the other hand, if we want to understand and every Albanian citizen has eyes to see, ears to listen and mind to judge, should figure out the difference between us here and those in Tirana today, it is the difference between the present and past Vlora.
Vlora of the past was a place of the darkness, it was a city where everyone came to leave immediately, where many travelled through without stopping by. The city where people couldn’t carelessly walk without risking falling into a pit. The place where no new businesses were opened, where hope was dim and there was no future, because for years Vlora was abandoned, because those we are rallying today, repeatedly doing the same thing again and again, had abandoned Vlora once and for all.
We have taken the responsibility for Vlora and Albania today.
But today Vlora and Albania have a long way to go, yet they are on the right track.
Ask the small business owners in Vlora or elsewhere in Albania about the tax rates they used to pay and how much they pay today. Ask them about today’s consumption compared to few years ago. Ask them whether it could be better, but at the same time don’t forget asking them that who could still do much better.
Ask the big business owners how they were treated yesterday and how they are being treated today. Ask them about consumption. Ask them about the problems they face today and how far better they wish to be in the future, but don’t forget asking them who can still do and serve them better.
Ask everyone you know and those who pay no health insurance contributions to find out whether they could receive medications for free previously and whether they receive them now for free. Ask them about the problems that concern them, but don’t forget asking who can solve their problems in the future.
Ask parents of the schoolchildren how much they used to pay for the textbooks and they will tell you that they receive them now for free.
Ask the young couples too who now receive 8-fold increased baby bonus to 40,000 lek for the first child, doubled to 80,000 lek for the second child and trebled to 120,000 lek for the third or more children since 1 January 2019.
However, don’t forget the great lesson we learned from the student protest, including the “Ismail Qemali” university students.
It was a great lesson for many reasons, but I would like to recall only one of them. Students took to protest for their legitimate rights, but like never before and like nowhere else they drew a red line, making it clear that the political opposition had no place in their protest. Meanwhile, the students repeatedly underlined what you will randomly hear wherever you ask, from whoever you would ask: Yes, we have a lot of problems to tackle; yes, we have a lot of woes and troubles to tackle; yes, there is still a lot to be done, but it is only us who can address the problems, the citizens’ concerns and do what is needed to be done.
I would like to assure every student across Albania that their protest was not a three-day wonder and that I and we all won’t be satisfied with halving the tuition fees only, or with granting scholarship to best performing students or the most socially and healthy vulnerable students only. We won’t be satisfied with the university digital library and the restoration of the student dormitories, but we will launch the biggest site ever to reconstruct the whole university infrastructure and equip universities with labs and didactic tools and clean the country’s higher education system of charlatan lecturers who have received PHD degrees although they don’t deserve to cross the university’s threshold.
On the other hand, I would like to assure you dear friends – because we are here in Vlora today – that if together with Mayor Dritan Leli we did what we had pledged to do in Vlora, and we have done more than what has been done during all years of the long democratic transition combined, we will do a lot more in the next four years.
If you all and everyone else I have met while visiting Vlora say today the phrase ‘we really didn’t see anything”, I want to assure you that “you have seen nothing yet” here in Vlora. We will do a lot for Vlora, because Vlora has sacrificed a lot for Albania, but, above all, because you all here today and everyone else who are not here today – because we don’t make month-long preparations to bring together crowds of people – you all deserve a lot more than. Moreover, you and all Albanians deserve a government that doesn’t say it knows everything, a government that doesn’t ignore its citizens and instead it tackles every problem concerning them after they address us via the online platform Albania We Want.
Here today there are some people I would like to invite them as they represent the very essence of the vote and the moral of our government, the co-governance with common citizens. I am proud that our opponents have allied themselves with each other to keep repeating same old story and plunge the country into chaos and confusion, while we have allied ourselves with each other, the Socialist Party with Albania’s honest people.
I am the most tormented and unhappiest mother in Albania. Throughout my life I have been taking care of my two ailing sons. My youngest son died six years ago at age 31. The oldest is now 42. Over the past 20 or more years since democracy was established in the country, I have been constantly asked state authorities for help. But nobody lifted a finger. My son has been through serious health problems. That’s why I addressed the platform www.shqiperiaqeduam.al. After 42 years, it was this platform that provided a wheelchair for my son and the ambulance to transport him to Tirana whenever necessary. Thank you very much!
PM Rama: Just imagine the difference between being in a podium with the “doctor of science” or with this mother whose problem has now been finally tackled! Since we are speaking about the healthcare service and the emergency care service, I would like to highlight that the air ambulance, or the ambulance helicopter used to take to the air only to transport influential and powerful people, while the National Emergency helicopters make hundreds of flights each year to transport and provide assictance to anyone needing emergent health care.
The problem concerning me could have been tackled well before I took to the platform www.shqiperiaqeduam.al. I have been denied the ownership certificate for my house since 2010. My son accessed the Platform www.shqiperiaqeduam.al and the due certificate was provided in five days only. Thank you for making this possible.
PM Rama: Whenever I come across stories like this, I always think about thousands of people we have helped and solved their long-standing problems after being constantly ignored. How many thousands other citizens are still being ignored by the public administration that is still fare from living up to the dignity, honour and the needs of these people. This is another reason to say that Vlora I want and Albania I want is not the one we see today with the state and public administration offices where the common citizens are often routinely mistreated and badly ignored, but on the other hand it is for sure that if the past was worse than today and these citizens had nobody to address to, it now takes just three minutes and the whole government becomes available and every cabinet member and the Prime Minister work to tackle their problems.
After receiving the legalization permit, I applied with the immovable property registration office for the property ownership certificate in February. I was told that the document will be provided and be send via mail within ten days. But, this was not the case. I was then told that the file was being processed and it took many more months. Finally, I took to the co-governance platform. As soon as I arrived home I received a phone call, telling me to report at the property registration office as the ownership certificate was not ready.
PM Rama: This lady was telling me that the conditions and the work performance in delivering services by the property registration office has improved 100 % compared to what it used to be. Everything has improved compared to what they used to be. That’s why we are here to work, unite and govern together so that we build a 100 % better country than today.
I would like to express my appreciation for the platform www.shqiperiaqeduam.al, as it helped me to fix the problem affecting my pension payment. I have been working for 34 years, yet my pension was estimated for 23 years of social contributions. I have been wandering the state offices for years, but my problem was fixed thanks to the platform.
PM Rama: Whoever faces a problem with any state office should not hesitate but contact the platform immediately and stop seeking other ways through political parties or influential people.
I would like to express my appreciation to the Prime Minister for launching the platform and allowing citizens to complaint and fix their problems. My parents faced water shortage for 20 years. But the problem was tackled as soon as I addressed the platform. Then I filed another application for a job position. I now have a job. I want to thank Mr. Prime Minister, his staff for helping us to tackle our problems.
I have been living and working abroad for 28 years. In 2010, I bought a property in full compliance with the laws and the Constitution of Albania. I was provided the due property ownership certificate. But, four years later, my property was stolen by the regional Immovable Property Registration Office in Vlora. I was expropriated according to a court ruling after a trial where I was not a party.
PM Rama: I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on a painful aspect that has to do with the justice system. Vlora is one of justice hotspots. We have launched a judiciary reform that nobody had ever imagined as the entire public debate took place around the politicians, but no one dealt with judges and prosecutors. Nobody said a word and criticized judges and prosecutors who did the worst thing that all enemies combined couldn’t have done over the past 20 years. They were untouchable.
Why we keep talking about big or small fish? This country’s biggest sharks were right at the helm of the justice system. They had occupied the key positions and used to make a pact with these (opposition) who claim that they are seeking to save Albania from crime and corruption. The pact was to nominate these judges and prosecutors to the justice system and they had then to defend them from justice and do whatever they wanted to do with the ordinary people.
This is not just one story, but dozens and thousands of stories. Around 8000 people have been killed over property disputes since the democratic processes started in Albania.
But something that only Socialist Party could do is now taking place in Albania after we made it clear to our former allies that we were ready to break the then governing coalition just to press ahead with the justice reform. Do you remember? The entire opposition rejected the reform, but they were then forced to unanimously voted to overhaul the justice system.
Of course, impatience has reached its peak, but one should not forget that dozens of these corrupt judges and prosecutors have been removed from the justice system although there are still other judges who killed the four police officers again, because they know pretty well they won’t pass the vetting and are rushing to profit whatever they can. That’s why we have had and may still have serious events like this. But be sure, remember this as time will show, these people are not done with justice yet. The justice we want and what Justice Reform is aiming for is not simply to dismiss them, but it is first and foremost to clean up the Palace of Justice, to establish a new justice system with people with integrity and dignity and these will then be brought before justice one by one to be held responsible for every injustice they have committed. Just like it will happen with the opposition politicians who keep making allegations and slanders over alleged crime, corruption and drugs trafficking. They accuse us of vote buying but everyone knows that SMI is the factory that has constantly bought votes. They are just thieves calling to “catch the thief”; murderers calling to “catch the assassin”, rapists who shout “catch the rapist!” They are in a state of panic, because they know quite well that they can’t win the peoples’ vote, and they know that new justice is becoming a reality step by step and many of them will go before justice. Be sure about this!
Yesterday, acting under the prosecutor’s order, police raided the houses of judges who reduced the prison sentence a killer who took the lives of four police officers is serving. It had never happened before.
So, things will happen step by step. But, please bear always in mind that we have launched a state-building revolution and this revolution is not like making a voyage or taking a stroll along the boulevard. On one hand we are making as much as we can to transform the country’s cities, transform areas of strategic interest in terms of development and, on the other hand, we are also transforming the whole state structure. And it is not easy at all to build a new justice system from scratch. It is not easy to build a state administration from scratch. Thanks to the student protest, every vacancy in the state administration here in Vlora too will be made available to the best performing students.
Thanking you wholeheartedly for this extraordinary welcome, I would like to reiterate that what we have done for Vlora is very little compared to what we all together will do for Vlora and whole Albania!
Thank you very much!