Posted: 12 May 2019

Communication of Prime Minister Edi Rama with reporters

Prime Minister Edi Rama in a communication with reporters in the wake of most recent events during the opposition rally:

This is one of those moments when every Albanian citizen, both in the country and abroad, are impatiently watching the TV screens and the news channels in the wake of what was showed last night in the form of a chain demonstration of violence and, first and foremost, we should maintain calm, show restraint, as well as determination not to allow a grouping, which guided by the blindness of despair, influence more than acceptable our way of daily life.

Secondly, I would like from the very outset to express greatest of solidarity and deepest respect for every police officer and the entire State Police workforce.

I believe that in this whole chain of protests, the State Police, just like it was the case yesterday, when the protest turned into a brutal and protracted demonstration of violence, have shown admirable professionalism, admirable self-restraint and calm, setting a whole new standard in the history of the country’s police force since the fall of the communist regime and rightfully earning admiration of every honest citizen of this country.

We don’t see the fact of our governing majority being at a whole new and completely different level vis-à-vis the past as a reason for complacency and of course in this aspect, I mean the State Police’s conduct, the aspect of the State Police’s approach to the protests, the aspect of this political and governing force’s approach to protests, no comparison with the past is worth to state and tell everyone: “look how good and how decently the State Police workforce behave today, because the past, and not so a distant past, brings back very serious memories that have nothing to do with any standards, value or principle of functioning of the State Police in a democratic country. But I think today because of the hysteria with which the organizers of the violent manifestation and certain media treated the incident with one of the violence organizers –I call it an incident and I will explain why – I feel obliged to remind you that not a single stone, let alone fire and petrol bombs were hurled at this very building some time ago in 2011, whereas the killing of four innocent protesters was ordered. The order to fire live bullets to the unarmed protesters was issued from this building. More than 40 people were injured while the whole politically misused rapid intervention police unit brutally intervened to massacre everyone crossing their path. More than 130 people were physically injured due to unnecessary violence when, as everyone knows, the protest had ended.

We housed many people in our own homes as they rightly feared to go to hospital. One person – I don’t want to mention his name – completely uninvolved in that wave of violence, a TV channel owner back then, had to travel abroad in order to receive medical treatment for broken ribs and shoulder. I am recalling all these for every Albanian citizen – and I don’t mean those citizens who have decided not to listen, but instead just speak whatever they want to incite violence – just for a simple reason that, yes the State Police’s conduct would have been absolutely perfect during the yesterday’s seven-hour long protest and attacks if two police officers would have not used their batons against someone who ran away to flee the policemen. Someone who flees the police has a reason to do so and allow me to state that in other countries with a more consolidated democracy than ours such a person would had suffered worse consequences. And don’t forget that finding yourself under such conditions, under fire, stone attacks and brutal pressure for seven hours long, wearing the State Police uniform, is not the easiest of things as you face the least optimum conditions to maintain calm and show restraint constantly. Therefore, I understand the two police officers, who definitely acted excessively, when we judge while watching such scenes on TV. However, there can be no greater disgrace, hypocrisy and ridicule of the Albanians than the efforts – in terms of technical and ethical conduct of police – to turn that incident into a hysteria in order to show that the State Police were the perpetrators of all what we saw during those seven hours.

On the other part, I want to highlight this aspect since I have received an incredible number of text messages from people who are worried, desperate and outraged by the scandalous images produced a day ago by an Albania that is not Albania of the Albanian people. That was Albania of a small group of people out of control, people who have lost control over themselves and are seeking to take whole Albania out of control. A lot of citizens have sent me messages, complaining why we don’t react and counterattack by using force and send them to jail. I want to state it clearly. First of all, we are not like them. We have never been like them. We are not and will never be like them. We haven’t taken office to do what those, as I said, who from this very building issued orders to take lives of innocent people. Meanwhile, those involved in yesterday’s actions are culprits and guilty, yet they certainly do not deserve a bullet. Nobody should think they deserve a bullet. Yet they deserve punishment that is exacted by the law and justice system, and not by the government. It is not the Prime Minister who decides punishment, but justice system, which is being transformed. A justice system cleaned of judges, who know quite well that their time is over and they career has no longer a single chance to continue to absolve and release criminals in exchange of money, or reduce the prison sentence of notorious assassins. Which means this is not an easy process at all, but a process where no deficiency, loophole or shortcoming in law implementation cannot be replaced by a government that exerts force unlawfully.  It is an unlawful force what people rightfully ask for the punishment of these disoriented individuals, who think that they can take hostage and take Albania out of control precisely because of their anxiety vis-à-vis the justice. By saying “them” I mean those who are the mastermind of this entire and disgraceful activity and those who never wanted and will never want the justice system reform in the reality of its implementation as they fear justice as the devil fears incense. And on the other hand, in the most short-sighted way they think they would win by blocking Albania’s European integration and by blocking opening of the EU membership negotiations. They will win this much. They will win nothing! On the contrary, they will certainly lose a lot of what they enjoy today and a lot of the minority’s support.

Sooner rather than latter, time will show this. I want to reiterate that the government won’t be shaken neither by seven, 70 nor 7000 hours of attacks by fireworks, petrol bombs and other unlawful projectiles. The men and women in the State Police and Albania itself are badly hit. Who could possible emerge as winner from the dissemination of information and world-wide broadcast of images of Albania during those seven hours. Who won? Could you tell me, who won? Nobody did! Who lost? Everyone! All those who joined the protest not to throw Molotov bombs, neither to set fires not to pelt stones, but because they believe in something else, they lost too.

Everything goes okay with their disoriented leaders.

None of those who draw people in such a protest remain sleepless because they have nothing to lay on table for their family and kids.

None of those who, blinded by the despair of being chronic losers, draw people who have 1001 or reasons not to like this government, goes back home with the existential question of the future of their family. The economic life of everyone dealt another blow last night. It was not those who brought people there and armed them with petrol bombs, or spend millions in buying crackers and fireworks, who dealt a blow last night. They face no problem at all as they spend holidays abroad. Those who welcome and accommodate foreign tourists to feed their families, and every small and big business operator dealt a blow last night.

Those who open the doors of their factory, shops and greenhouse every morning dealt a blow as the consumers who won’t rush a day latter to buy things, but instead will stay at home.

I am saying all these not because people don’t not it, but to tell everyone that practically and theoretically there is no chance for anyone to oust a legitimate government that is product of elections when you yourselves were part of the cabinet.

There is no chance for it to happen.

It has happened nowhere and won’t happen here either. I do of course know that their goal is somewhere else. Their goal is to plunge country into chaos and destroy the foundations of the constitutional order.

They won’t succeed. I assure you of that.

The number of participants in each protest is lower, because there is an increasing number of normal and reasonable people who, although they want this government to leave today, yet they don’t want violence and they don’t support deterioration of protests to descend into violence and that’s why they withdraw. Meanwhile the majority has been and will clearly remain against the violence. But the less in numbers they become, the more violent they become. And they are less and less every day because they are not the people, because if the people were to protest against the government, than they would gather there in hundreds of thousands and wouldn’t leave from there. Should the Albanian people would have thought like them and would have believed their nonsense than the government of course wouldn’t have remained in office. But it is not like that and will never be as long as I will be here and as long as this political force will be in office. Do you know why? For a very simple reason. Because the majority of Albanians know quite well that we are not infallible, but on the other hand, we are the only ones trying as much as we can to do the best possible things. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t and, on the other hand it incurs a high cost indeed to make a contrast, but the contrast is clear and the difference is obvious. We are two different worlds. This has been always the case. We are two different worlds, but this is very clear today. Just imagine for a moment – everyone watching and every one of you here – just imagine as if I was standing on that tribune and the flames were thrown up here to this very window while I was delivering a speech to the crowd. Would I’d have been here speaking with you today? Would I’d have been on earth alive, or I would have been in the other world by now? The answer is clear as my predecessor has stated: “the only thing I regret is that I didn’t give a bullet to the head on January 21.” So, not only he doesn’t reflect that people were killed right under his office when he was serving as Prime Minister, but he regrets.

Just imagine for a moment yourselves in front of the TV screens watching the news, if it was me down there last night. But I don’t want to go over details on this and I want to comment on nobody who have made their choice in the media world. You will no longer hear me saying anything else but praise only. 

The last thing I want to say, although it may sound a preaching in vain and probably it is like that, but I want to send a message to my short-sighted and lost friend Lulzim Basha, urging him to recall the message I have sent him when he decided to embark on this path. It has been long time ago and I am reiterating it again as it is not too late to give up and come back for quite a simple reason, because, sooner rather than later, all those who follow you as a leader will hold you responsible, because there is no leader in the world – but you are not a leader indeed – to move his own party from the station of an alternative government to this new station, where with the hoarse voice you ask the government “please leave!”

And, of course, I’m always here, ready to dialogue, ready to sit and discuss and fortunately, with Lulzim Basha as their leader, they say they no longer need power. They have resigned from their mandates and now claim they have joined people. So since they do not even need chairs, we have no reason why not to sit down, as they are not seeking to seize power. So that we can sit and talk and we certainly are committed to turn all their concerns as ordinary people into legal initiatives in order to improve the country’s life. Definitely, no problem at all.

If this is not a nasty struggle for power, something I believe because I tend to believe whatever Lulzim says, then everything is ok! Let’s sit and talk about every concern! Let’s discuss, negotiate and make a decision. Otherwise, disgrace will haunt every one of those who still have the opportunity to feel ashamed. Because one feels no shame at all when this country’s biggest international partners totally abandon him.

This is all I had to say! But of course I have invited you to make questions!

-Hello Mr. Prime Minister! You just said you were ready to sit and dialogue with the opposition, yet the opposition’s main condition for dialogue is that you resign from office. Has there been a proposal package from the international factor for dialogue? Has the President of the Republic communicated with you in order to call a round-table discussion between all opposition and parliamentary parties? The opposition claims it will block the June 30 local elections. I would quote Mr. Basha’s remarks at a meeting in Pogradec, where he stated “no voting process will be held and no ballot boxes will be allowed.” Do you fear a blocking scenario of the election day and how would you react should such a scenario takes place?

PM Edi Rama: Thank you for the questions and one of the questions in particular as it provided me the opportunity to say something I forgot to say. Yesterday, or last night more precisely, the OSCE Ambassador has received threats shortly after a clear statement issued by the OSCE Presence, noting that protest organizers are responsible for the criminal violence. OSCE is an organization that weighs everything carefully before speaking up, which means that when the OSCE issues such a statement, we should all ask ourselves a question: are we really aware of what is this? Unprecedented criminal violence, because someone now in the shadows,  someone who feels completely excluded from the course of economic and social development just puts on a yellow vest and goes to the Champs Élysées, or attempts to go to the National Assembly doors, as French Parliament is called, and does this, which is unacceptable and intolerable, yet he might be someone who feels totally excluded  and has nothing to lose, but a parliamentary group that have the constitutional obligation to represent others who have voted for them and instead they walk out of the parliament and appear then in the dark of the night in front of the Parliament with the yellow vest on, this is unprecedented! There could be no international factor or partner who would propose a package of negotiations with these people. They simply don’t exist. No negotiations are being held with the yellow-vests, let alone with politicians who have now put on the yellow vest. What would you negotiate in the eyes of the internationals? As for us who are here, for me, that I am here to dialogue, of course, but to negotiate the mandate? So they think we are like them and consider the mandate granted by the citizens as a useless cloth that they can tear and trample easily?! It would have been completely normal that a Prime Minister mulls over plans to resign. And that’s not me, but a Prime Minister when facing serious domestic problems and is unable to secure support from his parliamentary group on a certain reform, or faces a certain situation always concerning the integrity of the governing mandate. But is there a Prime Minister on the planet to think even for a single second about inflicting an incredible damage to the country by accepting such a precedent?! If this precedent – which is not actually a precedent for this political party when it comes to violence as it has a long history of violence since its creation – would become a precedent in the political culture of a country as any opposition would do the same; gather in front of this building and hurl petrol and then declare battle for freedom. Who in the world would do that? You should be totally irresponsible to allow this happen. A broader coverage and TV broadcasting time is dedicated to Sahit Dollapi, while the action of blackmailing the OSCE Ambassador by elements clearly with criminal records is reported as a minor incident. This should make us think and reflect.

As for the President of Republic, I would say that at this time of protests I feel sincerely and express my solidarity friendly. And I mean not politically, because it is beyond my capacities to figure out his political situation, but I feel really sorry and express solidarity with him. I would have never wanted to be in his position. He is in trouble. Therefore, I think he is right for never calling me to discuss this issue. I fully understand the President! Despite everything that has happened in terms of the relations between the institutions – something I don’t want to comment on – I express my solidarity with him anytime I think about the opposition protests because, given his situation, he deserves such a solidarity.

With regards to the elections. I stated it earlier and I reiterate it again. Those who gathered here outside and exercised violence and wandered aimlessly about Tirana for seven hours just like drunk football hooligans, they do not represent Albania and they do not represent Albanian democrats. You can find a lot like them once you pay them and you can manage to gather as many people as there were protesting yesterday. Yet, as many as 5500 polling centres open all over Albania on the election day and, above all, many of them will be clearly informed about consequences they would face if they harm the electoral process. This is stipulated by the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Albania. It is very clear as it has been written jointly with the Democratic Party, when the latter was in the cabinet and it is one of the most solid products of the political consensus about what should happen to someone who dares to harm the electoral process. However, I avail myself of this occasion to reiterate my appeal to everyone that they will face harsh penalties if they try to affect the electoral process. Do you think that the opposition leaders are the ones who think even for a second about you? Do you really think like that? Poor you! Do you really think that? You may have 1001 of reasons to not wanting to see me. I am sure about that. Yet you have not a single reason to follow Lulzim, because he is not the tram that would take you to power. If you want them to seize power and take office so that you pay no electricity bills, then this is something else. If you want them to assume office so that you no longer pay water bills, or build illegally at “Rinia” park, or roundabout at “Astir” neighborhood, then I understand you. But we can’t help you about that, because they can’t seize power. There is no way they can. Their entire journey is an anti-historic one. The today’s history of Albania is the path towards opening the EU membership negotiations, the path towards building a better and stronger state, as well as to become better and economically stronger citizens.

-Mr. Prime Minister, taking notice of what you just said it is obvious to us and the Albanian citizens that you keep insisting on your position. I would like to know whether you personally and the governing majority have developed a mechanism to throw water on fire of Molotov bombs and not to further kindle the fire?

PM Edi Rama: There is a saying that we Albanians often use: “Don’t stand in the way of the fool!” It makes sense in the everyday life, but not when it comes to the mandate … OK, would imagine yourself for a second in the position of those who have trusted me and who represent the majority? They undoubtedly represent the majority. Would you put yourself in the position of those who might haven’t trusted me, yet they still believe that rule of law should prevail in this country and not who plays the fool, the role of the one who says: “I will blow myself up if you don’t grant this to me.”  How would he feel if this path leads to nowhere? This path really leads to nowhere. It is a path with no way out but to a dead end. It has led any political party to nowhere, because indeed no other political party as tried to embark on this path, but the Democratic Party, which has done so previously too, when we are talking about a system with an elected parliamentary majority and a political opposition. So it is not that I remain constant in my position. The thing is that the constant of a democratic system is that the majority governs, whereas the minority acts as opposition. The democratic system has no other constant. The majority, as long as it remains a majority, is obliged to ensure equality for the minority. I don’t want to comment on what they have done or what we have done in this aspect, but the majority has neither the opportunity, nor the obligation to force other political parties to take part in the elections, and it has also neither the opportunity, nor the obligation to cancel the elections since the others do not want to participate in the electoral process and instead let’s sit and talk. What are going to talk about? The previous local polls were held 4 years ago and now it is time for the citizens to elect their local authorities again. Of course, the attempt to personalize everything aims at creating the idea that “he is the problem.” Of course, I am the problem because they can’t defeat me. On the other hand, by creating such a situation they are seeking to make people more desperate and call for a solution. But the majority of the voters think differently. What I worry about when it comes to the majority is what are they telling me at 02:00, 03:00, and 04:00 in the morning. Some of them tell me “you better go.” But why? “Since you can’t send these to prison tonight, you better go!” I can’t do this. This is not the task I am assigned to. This is not my responsibility. Thanks God we live in this system and thanks God this is neither my task, nor my responsibility, because I am afraid that if it was like that… So, this is my answer. As for the use of water cannons, they have been dosed with water all the time yesterday. They will be dosed with water according to protocols. Ah, I want to add something else too. How about this story about the use of the tear gas? Does anyone think that the tear gas used by the police has been invented in the laboratory of the Socialist Party’s programme? Or someone else probably thinks that oligarchs have produced it specifically for us?! The tear gas used by the police is an import item to be used in any democratic country. I have seen the protests in France and I have heard every kind of weird things there too compared to what I used to hear when living in France years ago, prior to Facebook invention, as Facebook is being widely used there too, yet I haven’t come across or hear anyone saying “the government is poisoning us with tear gas.” I haven’t heard the opposition there, which is in a fearsome political battle with the President, but the French opposition has not backed the yellow vests and on the contrary has asked the President “why he is hesitating to settle this situation.”  So it is something I haven’t heard from the protesters themselves. None of them has called for sending the President to court on crime against humanity charges, because he is using tear gas. Why do you then throw Molotov cocktails at police and institutions? What would happen if the police do not use the tear gas? The tear gas has been produced for this reason. It is a peaceful mean, something that brings tears and it used to disperse crowds when they seem to attack and destroy the institutions physically. They say “we want to set institutions on fire and we use the Molotov cocktails because you don’t allow us to storm the institutions.” What are the Police supposed to use in such a case? Police officers were under attack for seven hours. 

What would have you done to me right at this moment here – although we have reached a stable and long-lasting peace – if so many of your colleagues were injured and hurt by my party supporters when in opposition?! Do you imagine what would have happened in several TV studious last night should all those colleagues were to be injured during our protests while in opposition? But I know this is not a problem. It is always okay when it comes to them, because there is always worse with them! They killed 4 people, but there could have been killed more! Some 40 people were massacred with bullets, but it is okay since it could have been 400! Some journalists were under attack yesterday, but it is okay because it could have been much worse and they could have been killed.

While it is quite different when it comes to us, that’s why thing could always become better and increasingly better. To me this is an honor and a compliment as people ask for more from me and our government.

– Did you have a meeting with the Chief Prosecutor, the Head of the Albanian National Intelligence Service and cabinet members at your office earlier today? If yes, what was the meeting’s topic?

PM Edi Rama: Yes, another media source, we have actually included on the list of the office tasked with addressing the issue of defamation and this office is working around the clock and a series of cases have been refereed to the court against the Democratic Party’s professional slanderers, but it will continue with many others just because of such speculations, suggesting that I have summoned the General Prosecutor here and asked her to illegally transfer the investigation into yesterday’s protest to the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office, but she had rejected. This is completely defamatory. Yes, I have summoned the Chief Prosecutor along with other heads of the law enforcement agencies, not to talk about the yesterday’s protest, but underscore the indispensability for the attention of every law enforcement agencies in a process where a threatening message to the constitutional order has been sent yesterday and make sure that such a message won’t hinder the elections in the country. The elections are not mine, nether of the Socialist Party, nor of the government, but the elections form the very foundations of this house we have decided to build in a system of coexistence when we decided to annihilate the old coexistence system. Touching these foundations would influence our whole common building.

– It is a fact that over the past 30 years, the frequent political crises have held the country’s integration perspective hostage. Why is it so difficult for a leader, or a Prime Minister to step down, especially when he thinks he enjoys the support of the majority of the people and can easily win the citizens’ backing again? I believe nobody would be felt betrayed!

PM Edi Rama: Because, the Prime Minister, my dear, as an institution is not the captain of a small team that takes on another team. He has been granted a mandate and he has signed a contract he cannot terminate, because he is to be held accountable for that contract vis-à-vis the people who have voted him. If he was to do that, as I already said earlier, the Prime Minister would then do a great injustice to his country and, secondly, he would then, in an unacceptable way, oppose those who have tasked him with governing the country and, third, he would oppose the future as others would do the same thing tomorrow. So, there is a basic rule. It is not a small game when you can tell the opponent we defeated them. Do you think we didn’t win? Let’s start the game over then! This is not the case. This is the case of a great responsibility where the expression “Don’t stay in the way of the fool” doesn’t work. No, it doesn’t work, because it is all about the country’s life. It is not about me personally, or whoever else in my position. This is not the case. You and everyone else are in your right to think that being in my position is quite fun, or it is, so to say, something personal that you don’t give away. This is not the case when it comes to me. For me, this is a mission I have been tasked with by the majority of the Albanian citizens. If it was for all these aspects of being in office, which many see it as a privilege and favor, I would invite you all to drink a coffee or a tea, because I am leaving. But I am not here for such aspects. I haven’t been that kind of PM from the very first day, although everyone is free not to trust me. I am here for other stronger reasons that have to do with the reason why I am this person and not somebody else.

– Mr. Prime Minister, during your speech you acknowledged that the policemen somehow lost control only during the incident with the DP Secretary Mr. Dollapi. Can you assure everybody that the Police won’t lose control again as the opposition has called another protest in front of your office and the situation may further escalate? A little earlier, you invited us to imagine what would happen should Lulzim Basha was in this office and you were protesting outside.

PM Edi Rama: No, I would like to correct you, if in this office was the big boss (former PM Sali Berisha), not the current DP leader.

– Okay! My question is what would you do if you were in Lulzim Basha’s position today, facing a Prime Minister who enjoys the majority in the Parliament at a time when the country lacks the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and in the meantime there are a number of wiretaps and investigation files on alleged vote buying? What supposedly your political action would be if you were in place of Lulzim Basha today?

PM Edi Rama: It is needless for me to imagine as I have been in his position once, and let’s look back again and refer to the time when we in opposition launched the entire opposition action. It is important to recall it. Why did we launch that opposition action? What we were calling for?! Do you imagine how many times it would have been done should the Democratic Party was to demand this thing?! What were we demanding back then? We called for a parliamentary investigative committee to open and probe all election materials, not to change the election final result, but to improve the process and punish everyone who might had falsified the final minutes. Do you understand what we asked for?! Do you understand why we at a point were forced to stage a hunger strike?! Of course it was not easy at all. It was a tense process, including every situation that may arise when an opposition boycotts the parliament …. Then it was the turn of 2011 local elections. You remember quite well what happened in Tirana back then. I do remember it clearly. I am not going to comment on other aspects of the process. We won the elections with a ten-vote lead. Yet we emerged victorious. Do you imagine what would happen should the Democratic Party secures a 10-vote lead in the elections?! Lulzim Basha was a co-prime minister in a political sense. He had half of the cabinet during the election process. He had the majority in the Central Election Commission. He controlled the Ministry of Interior and the Prison System Directorate and many other important directorates he demanded! Since you are supposing with the expression “what if,” although I have never answered with an “if” previously – but we are determined to build peace with the media – I am asking you, “what if it was different?” What did we do? Do you recall the situation at the Central Election Commission with the epic photo showing MP Taulant Balla overhead the special policemen? Which was our goal after all? And thanks to our opposition a series of amendments to the Electoral Code and the Criminal Procedure Code were adopted in a comprehensive process that involved all political parties. So we raised the public awareness to ensure a fair and free electoral process? What did we do then?! We drafted the political program, an electoral campaign and took office after wining the general elections. This is what I would do if I was him. If he was me, he would have won the 2017 general elections. If I was him, I wouldn’t win the 2021 general elections either. This is the problem! I don’t know how to fix it. It is impossible to fix it.

I want to add something else regarding the police conduct and performance. If it was not for that moment, which, to put it clear, I fully understand – the police conduct yesterday was perfect. It would have been a perfection in all aspects. Bujar Nishani called it “a reinstatement of the public torture,” meaning that “the then public torture when people were tortured in the public eyes has been reinstated.”

I have great and complete confidence in the police workforce.

I feel sorry for them, sincerely sorry and I want to express my solidarity and support. Respect for each and everyone of them. On the other hand, I want to add something else. There used to be an expression: “no longer now that the files have been opened.” It’s regretful that some very simple things turn into unending legends.

Which wiretaps?! First of all, no wiretap is considered an evidence, even if the person intercepted says all those alleged things, which, when intercepted may sound and may be criminal. Wiretaps are not considered as evidence. It is impossible to refer someone to court by providing tapes. It takes an investigation to prove the allegations.

Secondly, as for the famous files, the political party was put under an illegal phone-taping operation. A whole political party was being eavesdropped as if it was a structured criminal organization. And the wiretap offers no evidence to show involvement of all individuals who have been mentioned in political speeches and in the media. There is no evidence of whatsoever. You would have released such evidence if there was any. I don’t have them and nobody else has. This is an issue under investigation and it can’t be solved by hurling Molotov cocktails.

Let’s talk about the alleged wiretaps in Durres. They speak about a Mayor, whose name is mentioned in a single sentence during a conversation between two criminals, while he is not involved at all in supposed talks about alleged vote fraud and vote buying. How on earth these two things can be a reason to go on with an endless story. I understand their despair. It is a lack of arguments and facts, yet politically okay. But why it should be amplified in the media here and there. This is the reason why I have reacted to the Voice of America, because the Voice of America, in my view, operates according to a set of standards it cannot avoid. Its standards are unavoidable. I haven’t heard a single Congressman or Senator to comment on the matter.

It is impossible for a political party to transform into a yellow vest-like movement. It is impossible as it would no longer be a political party.

Don’t forget the entire trash wiretapping experience that led to the request for Saimir Tahiri’s arrest within 24 hours. A series and unlimited conversations were intercepted, yet the Italy’s anti-mafia prosecutor’s office proved no direct link to them. Which means that people cannot be crucified for alleged conversations released and published then on TV channels, web-portals and amplified through propaganda. Of course, investigations should be carried out into everyone. The country has no Constitutional Court, not because we, thus the government, have eliminated the Constitutional Court. I am looking forward to seeing the Constitutional Court created, because if the Constitutional Court was in place then I wouldn’t have been now signing in my capacity as the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs too, because my cabinet has not a Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs with full-fledged competences. I am looking forward to seeing the Constitutional Court in place, yet it is not that we eliminated the Court, or that the Court is not being formed because we don’t want it to form. No. This is something that has happened since the entire justice system is being overhauled. What is this supposed to mean? The country has no Constitutional Court and therefore we are not going to participate in the elections?! Why is that?! Is there any relation between the Constitutional Court and the elections?! The head of the Central Election Commission represents the opposition. He still there acting as CEC head. I sincerely don’t understand this claim. I do understand that the Constitutional Court, the Special Prosecution Office, SPAK, should be formed. But this has nothing to do with the Constitutional Court. It is because of SPAK that they are doing all this. Don’t forget this. Because they imagine SPAK as the devil haunting them while asleep and I don’t understand why. But they of course know well why. They know a lot more than we do. They know a lot more about their-selves.

-Mr. Rama, I listened you carefully while speaking about the Jan 21 events. What I don’t agree with you is that you said that no petrol bombs were used during the then opposition protest on January 21. I don’t actually know where were you at that time, but I have been reporting as a journalist on that day and I can confirm that petrol bombs were thrown at the Prime Minister’s office on Jan 21 protest. You can watch the videos. However, what I can say as a reporter providing full coverage of the protest on that day, except for the guns – you are right indeed no guns were used by the police yesterday – yet both the protesters and the police have used the entire arsenal of violence yesterday. What worries me as a journalist and as a citizen is: What is going to happen tomorrow? We have addressed same question to the Democratic Party and the answer we have received is that “the power now is in the hand of people and it is now difficult to manage the crowd and we have warned the Prime Minister about that.” On the other hand, how the police are going to act when other means, which we knew nothing about, neither in Jan 21 nor in yesterday’s protest – are going to be used?  This si a very direct request. I think every citizen would want to hear a response from you. So, how the police are going to react. Secondly, I would understand the use of the tear gas by the police to disperse the crowd, yet what about other people who reside and live in their own homes just 300 meters away. I am talking about the quantity of the tear gas that is being used. And third, when transparency is going to be made over the sort of the tear gas used to disperse protesters since February 16, because those in France might haven’t experience the gas used here in Tirana.

You can make irony about my question, but I am a journalist and I want to know the kind of gas I, my colleagues and everyone else have inhaled yesterday?

PM Edi Rama: Please, I smiled at this, yet before jeopardizing the fragile peace we have reached, allow me to say what I have to say. I smiled not for irony, but because I was thinking what would have happened if I was not to turn down the chemical weapons? Can imagine what people would have been saying today? They would say that the “chemical weapons were transported to be dismantled in Albania are now being used against the Democratic Party.”

Secondly, despite my readiness to provide an answer, actually I am not the Director of the State Police. In fact, from what I gave seen, I am absolutely confident that the State Police officials are on top of the situation, in the sense that they doing things right. They have done the right thing and will always do the right thing. Even what happened yesterday, I repeat, was just an incident, not that violence was excessive, but because it did not have to happen as it ruined that perfection – it was not a plan either order, but just the reaction of two concrete persons under tension. I do not know what to say. I don’t know what else to say, yet I know that I am fully confident that the police will the right thing. As for the use of tear gas, I want to repeat it, no gas is produced in Albania, neither is the gas imported.

So, it is impossible to import any kind of gas to be used by the police and that might have critical health consequences.

With regards to the Jan 21 protest, I can say I have been here together with Pandeli Majko and many others and we just had crossed the bridge when gas and water were used to disperse the crowd, although protesters had not gathered yet and everything plunged into chaos due to a scandalous management by the police forces at that time. However, I have seen, as everyone did, the entire protest and it turns out that no fire was set at the door of the Prime Minister’s office on January 21. I can’t say for sure whether firecrackers and fireworks were thrown, but it was the time when fireworks were not banned. They are now banned by law. I do remember that a car was burned down, but I don’t recall seeing any flames – I apologize if I am not properly describing that event – but I am afraid that it hasn’t happen, because if fire was to be set, then the Socialist Party Headquarters would have been burned down by my predecessor. This is how things worked back then.

As for the arsenal, I don’t know how, but I think we all share the opportunity to watch many images showing both the policemen and the protesters in many democratic countries. The police batons have not been produced so that the policemen dangle, but instead use them when at some point they should be used. I have seen images of protests in France – and I am not talking about France of Louis XIV era but France we see every day on TV – and I have got the impression that the French police would ask “whether any police officers have been deployed here” when it comes to the police arsenal. I would very friendly suggest everyone of you just to show respect for the police.

I will conclude by reiterating what I said earlier. Shame on everyone who joined the hysteric voice of the protest organizers, who were about to say, and they almost did, that how comes that Mr. Dollapi didn’t become a martyr.

Thank you very much!