Published on : 14 April 2017

Ready for dialogue

Press conference of Prime Minister Edi Rama:

 

In the surreal situation that the DP has created in an attempt to undermine the very foundation of democratic life, liberty and the right of its voters to choose, something that has never happened is happening in Albania. It is the official opposition rather than the government that refuses dialogue.

Albania has experienced real political crisis, even severe ones, all of which having a strong or a very strong reason connected with the people or with a substantial part of it, but never has this country seen such an artificial crisis where the people are not at all a part of it, and where the crisis has been provoked and promoted by a corrupt, isolated and frenetic elite of politicians, judges, prosecutors and analysts.

Even in the most severe crises, it was the opposition that has persistently sought dialogue whereas the government has refused it, prevented it or avoided it when things were brought to a head, thus forcing the international community to intervene with force. But so far it has never happened to have the government beg for dialogue, and the opposition brutally refuse dialogue, fear dialogue like the devil fears incense, and sabotage any attempts by the government for dialogue.

I have personally expressed my readiness for dialogue since the first day of our government. I have insistently sought dialogue when things were stalled, and I have urged our party to dialogue as much as I could in every instance. Let me recall here the path of the judicial reform, or the path of the efforts to have an electoral reform that at least addresses the recommendations of the OSCE / ODIHR as key moments of the legislative process that needed these two major reforms in this term.

Unfortunately, I didn’t succeed; we didn’t succeed in having a dialogue which can be considered worthy of this basic concept of democratic coexistence. Because the opposition has never wanted to benefit from our willingness, and it has badly abused the unknown space it had previously available in parliament for three and a half years, by promoting old divisions and an ongoing conflict.

However, here I am again for dialogue and for the need to sit at the table without conditions. Although the opposition's demands and the way it has chosen to impose them have never been heard of in 27 years of pluralism, and are unknown in the modern history of European democracy, yet I have accepted to discuss those demands at the table. Without putting any conditions on the time, venue or format, and ready to have this dialogue with or without the media, according to the wishes of Lulëzim Basha, the Democratic Party and those who are there, pinned down in the tent.

I have mobilized my office to communicate with the office of the chairman of the Democratic Party. They’ve been tirelessly contacted for days, without success. I have shown readiness to support the initiative of the President of the Republic for dialogue, despite the big reservations I have with regard to the biased stands the President has taken at key moments when the country needed his impartiality. But apparently the good-willed initiative of the President is not having any success to persuade Lulëzim Basha to sit at the table, although Lulëzim has been given a free hand to decide what to discuss at the table.

I am really saddened for everything I hear from the friends and partners of Albania with regard to this completely unacceptable and incomprehensible stand of the Democratic Party. Not only because this artificial crisis is blocking the implementation of the Vetting, and therefore it is threatening the opening of negotiations for Albania’s membership, but to be honest, also because I just don’t like at all that a major Albanian party has become ridiculous in the eyes of the world, and it is threatening to make us all ridiculous as a country, as a state and as a nation!

The biggest problem is that in this way this artificial crisis creates however a negative perception of Albania, it discourages not only our friends and partners who want to help and who have shown and keep showing that they want Albania at the table of the united European family, but it discourages also investors and Albanian consumers, it hits the country's image and economy, it promotes lawlessness, it definitely inspires crime, it feeds the imagination of those who don’t love this country, in addition to opening the paths to target a possible destabilization and to set Albania back many years.

Despite the belief that we will definitely close these path, having zero tolerance for any constitutional or law breach; although we will not tolerate any stepping back in the gloomy times without a state, without law, without safety for our citizens; although we will never allow the sovereign people of Albania be taken hostage by anyone, whether at home or abroad, who may want to benefit from this situation to hit Albania and transform it into another crisis hub in the region - dialogue remains a necessity.

So, once again, I urge publicly Lulzim Basha and I tell him, don’t fear dialogue; don’t walk blindly on a path that leads the Democratic Party to an abyss, and creates an undeserved smokescreen for our common homeland, by inspiring forces that do not want the best for Albania; don’t see enemies where there aren’t any, and don’t make us all feel ashamed by attacking the friends and partners of our country with the vulgar language of the Cold War, and don’t hinder our joint struggle, the struggle of this people with your struggle for power, don’t hinder the Vetting and the European path of Albania.

Sit at the table. You determine how we will sit at the table. If you are afraid of me, put forth a dialogue path that seems easier to you. You’ve said you want others to sit in order to prepare your sitting with me. It is absurd, but no problem. You name these people, you tell the venue and the time, whenever you want. Then, let us know and our people will be there. Just don’t be late, and don’t let us be late! Because, whereas I’m not at all concerned about your political destiny Lulzim, as I am not concerned at all about the destiny of the DP, you and I, the socialists and the democrats, all the Albanians should be concerned about the peace and safety of the voters of this country who are people who deserve first of all to be treated as such, first of all by us, by the political leadership, whether it is the majority or the opposition. We should be concerned about the image and the stability of Albania, and definitely about the respect for this country by our friends and partners. We should be concerned about Albania, then about the party, first about the Albanians and then about the mollycoddles and the reporters (I don’t mean you, you know very well whom I mean), about the freedom and the right of our people to choose and to be ruled by the ones they have chosen, then about our freedom and right to go to an unknown direction.

You have my phone number Lulëzim. Your office has the phone number of my office. Make up your mind and let me know as soon as possible. For the sake of everybody first of all, but definitely also for the sake of your voters, of your party, and for your own sake.

Forget about keeping hostage the people, justice, and the state!

You will never be able to stop the elections, neither will those who might follow you every time you invite them.

You will never be able to bring down this government, if the people do not decide to dismiss it by the vote of June 18.  Neither will you be able to get the stain of this artificial crisis out of your consciousness, nor will you avoid the tremendous cost charged to the DP, provided that you do this through dialogue, reasonable choices, the agreement on Albania rather than on your seat at the DP, or on the seat of those who have put you in the tent, on behalf of the DP, but who actually did this only for their own benefit.

I’m waiting Lulëzim. Don’t make everybody feel ashamed because really the world is laughing at us. Dialogue is the only way where we can find some common ground, and no path that avoids dialogue can take the DP and the official opposition gathered in the tent in the right direction. I can assure all of you about this, given that I know a little more than you about the right direction.

Dialogue, dialogue, and only dialogue, No conditions, and certainly without wasting time.

* * *

When you talk about scenarios by people who don’t love Albania, are you talking about the news that became public yesterday regarding a scenario to execute the leader of the opposition? What measures has the government taken that this does not happen and instability does not affect Albania?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: There is no scenario to execute the leader of the opposition. There was a piece of information which was handled with the utmost seriousness, and although the expertise has shown that the information is not sufficiently reliable and the source is contradictory, all the measures have been taken as if it were something true. Because certainly the safety of everybody, and definitely that of the chairman of the Democratic Party is the priority number one, if he is threatened. But beyond what is pumped in the media hamlet, I assure you that the chairman of the Democratic Party is more protected than ever, and he will be always protected by all the means the state has a duty to use.

If you don’t succeed in convincing the opposition leader to sit down with you, will you seek help from the international community to facilitate a dialogue table? Also to avoid the shame you mentioned earlier, are you ready to make a sacrifice in order to satisfy any of the requirements of the opposition?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: Satisfying the requirements of the opposition is not a sacrifice, it is an obligation. All requirements of the oppositions going in the right direction, with respect for the Constitution and the right of the sovereign people to choose those who will rule them, all these are all feasible, and we are ready to discuss and to vote them. This is a duty. It is not a sacrifice.

While with regard to our friends and partners, I am not accustomed to asking for help because I believe that we can solve things by ourselves. Of course their help is always welcome, and I can tell you very frankly that today they are in a very difficult position because they are being hindered from providing their help. Their attempt to provide help is being refused, and this of course puts the Democratic Party in not a very positive light in the eyes of friends and partners, and certainly in the first place in the eyes of the family of the European People's Parties where the Democratic Party belongs. And it certainly does not put Albania in a very bright light. So, they have been with Albania, they are with us, with the Albanian people, and I assure you that they are making every effort, but now they are desperate more than ever because so far they have been talking to a wall.

Thank you!

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