Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks in parliament

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks in parliament:

 

Immanuel Kant has said:”When someone accuses you of wrongdoing, he has either committed it himself, or he is going to commit it if you were to be in your position.”

When facing such accusations, the burden of proof actually rests with the plaintiff and not with the defendant, who is not obliged to present evidence to prove he hasn’t committed what he stands accused of. But the previous speaker, due to his proverbial incompetence when it comes to the facts and figures, provided me the opportunity to reply very simply. What if the funding earmarked by the European Union for the post-earthquake reconstruction of new educational facilities turns out to be higher in terms of spending than the government’s state budget? If so, what are we going to do about this whole “sheet” that was just hanged right here on the parliament’s podium?

What will the previous speaker say if it turns out that all Albanian government-funded investments in schools’ construction, in terms of cost, are lower than the investments backed by the European Union under its programme in terms of cost, regarding the same aspects and criteria?

What the previous speaker is going to get is what he has been actually always getting; the defeat. The defeat lies with his very own constitutionality since day one of his involvement in politics.

It is him who prepares his own defeat with his own hands and the statements he issues on a daily basis.

I really like the EU funds, Mr. Lulzim (DP opposition leader), and I am immensely grateful, not only to the European Union, but to all partners that not only assisted and keep assisting us in this process, from Brussels to Abu Dhabi, from many European capitals, where certain countries have committed to contributed to schools construction, to Ankara. But I am telling you that in terms of budgeting and resourcefulness, I am very grateful to all of those who have been working on this project, as they have made sure that we build more with less. Same standards are applied to reconstruction and repair of the apartment buildings.

Therefore, the word “thief” that you on the tip of your tongue and are quick to claim, it would be best for you to swallow and make your tongue take a turn towards the esophagus and when you take the floor here next time, weigh your words  when you claim and allege how the bribes in exchange for construction permits are distributed at the Mayor’s office, weigh your words when claim about a long line of relatives and friends, who are allegedly involved in sharing the indulgences by exploiting the Mayor’s office.

I invite you to weigh all these best, at least once. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to seize and become a real man, but you are not taking advantage of it. You can’t tell me how close to the people I am standing. I have told you previously and I am telling you again. I am proud and this is not to say I am better than others, but none of the previous prime ministers since foundation of the Albanian state can compare with me regarding the number of people I have met, while you can’t even your party members. You can’t walk out home and meet your supporters, your party supporters and as such you can’t tell me what it is about being close to the people. To be close to people is something you can’t learn, because it is too late for you to do so, but become the master of your own supporters, since 95% of them support you –according to you – and don’t abandon them and instead come here to deliver lectures on moral and stain the house of Albanians, anytime you show up here by alleging over thieves, criminals, chiefs and bosses.

Nobody owes you this Lulzim and the reason why you never win is not the criminals, the bosses or the ones you list here. The reason why you don’t win is you, because no one trusts you when speaking this way. You lie to yourself and you can lie to others for a while too, but it is time for you to change sooner rather than later.

I have told you once, I am here to respect this institution, to respect this responsibility we all together have taken over, to respect you together with your party, but claiming that this is the best party to be ever born, give me a break. You can be the born mister today, as you are finally being born.

Be a man and stop coming here to spout a load of pretentious nonsense, accusations, slanders, but provide arguments instead.

As for the people still waking up in tents, I don’t know where you have seen such people as you wake up very late, and those still living in tents are at work by then.

I am telling you again, you know but I am reiterating it here for those who still believe in you to hear – I mean the 95% of people who support you – that a total of 400 families are living in tents since day one, and they still live in tents, but just like you have been seeking and digging previously you can do it again and discover whether the quake-affected families still living in tents are denied the monthly rental bonus. Why do they live in tents? They do so, not because we have left them there – for you Lulzim to know – they live in tents, because, unlike you, they work hard.

They live in tents, because, unlike you, they earn their living through their hard work, and not at others’ expense. They keep living in tents, because, unlike you, nobody has promoted them as someone doing what you are actually not doing at all.

They live in tents, because their agricultural land, farms, and domestic animals are far from the locations where they can be housed in apartments. Therefore, it is a hypocritical for you to pretend as if being sympathetic to the plight of the people, because even those here in this hall, who support you, find it really difficult to cope with it, because they too have lied to themselves in believing that you are their leader, so they wake up and live through the day with the idea whether it is really you doing so.

This isn’t my job. My job is just that; to remind you once again that when you come here it makes you strong, first remember what you did, and remember it well.

Second, when you claim here that “whole Tirana, whole Albania knows”, think first how many things residents in Tirana and whole Albania knows about you Lulzim and how many things know the ones around you.

You have an opportunity to avoid all this nonsense and focus on issues, facts and arguments. If you have facts, let’s face them, definitely. There are many facts, which show why the government is not living up to its mission in a certain area or in another domain.

There are many arguments that can be dealt with civically and can become an added value.

But please stop acting as a strongman here. Spare us of this and spare Albanians of this. And please don’t repeat the saying “being close to people.” Don’t ever repeat it again until you are able to bring together only 50 DP supporters at once. Once you gather just 50 supporters outside of the DP headquarters walls, only then can we discuss how one can stay close to people.

* * *

I was forced to take the floor again, because it is necessary to do so and since you Lulzim asked us to refer to Freud, among others Freud also says: “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” I consider the time spent with you as a very effectively used time and, referring to that DP source, costs are gauged by square meters, and not with the number of schools, because there are schools featuring indoor gyms, and there are schools featuring outdoor playgrounds; there are big schools and there are smaller school facilities, therefore I would urge you to instruct your experts to calculate costs with the square meter being the main indicator of construction process. Only then we come back again next week and we can discuss the data and facts provided by the source of the Democratic Party.

I would invite you not to act the way you did in the case of the New Ring Road project, when you used to increase and lower the cost per kilometre, as if the road’s kilometres were the meters of a fabric. When you buy fabric it is gauged by meters. The road’s calculated length and cost depend on what is going on there and everyone is seeing now what is happening there. It is clear to everyone that the project is not about constructing a one-km road on a flat terrain, but about building a very complex engineering feat, including a series of tunnels and everything else. These are complex projects. While you have just filled Hajdin Sejdia’s hole and failed to deliver on any other project and therefore you have no idea about such projects.

As far as the Democratic Party is concerned, you Lulzim should know I am not worried at all about that party and I am not referring at all to what is happening within DP, except when you invite me to do so, or when someone else here invites me to comment on it. We come here to discuss with you issues that have to do with what this parliament does.

But what am I supposed to do when you urge us to be involved in such a debate? What can I say when you tell me to reach out to people? You are forcing me to ask you, where are your supporters, because I don’t know where they are. Where are your people? What am I supposed to do? You say people are suffering. People living in tents are suffering. But how are you supposed to know who are the people who live in tents in this country? Because everyone knows you wake up too late. You are also the last one to come to parliament. You always come late to parliament. Why are you inviting me to embark on this path? Why do you force me to do so? What are you telling me about the history of Tirana Municipality?

Why are you forcibly urging me to tell what everyone already knows? But unlike you, I am not like the ones who mention names, because I think everyone in this country has the right to mind his or her own business and everyone is accountable to the law and to the justice and law enforcement bodies and they can’t be accountable to you or me or every one of us. Taking the floor as a lawmaker elected by the citizens and listing all these names, this happens only when you extort people. Did I mention any name?

Let’s get to the point now. Yes, Lulzim, not only am I convinced that a huge step forward has been made for Albania to become a cleaner country with the construction of the waste management plants or the incinerators, as you call them, and this is indisputable, but such investments have been precisely made to stop the cancer we inherited from you with hundreds upon hundreds of illegal waste disposal sites near the rivers, near the agricultural land areas, because the waste in these sites is a poison and offering people the poison alternative for you to play politics, of course you can do so, but this is yet another reason why you keep being defeated. This is for you to know. This is another reason of your constant defeats and the municipalities throughout Albania have already built the endpoints, which are the waste management plants, or the incinerators as you name them, or landfills and of course the local government authorities are obliged to transport the waste to these sites in order to put an end to this whole ugly and disgusting story of the polluted environment once and for good.

Traditional waste mismanagement has been a widespread phenomenon and you of course know this quite well, as you have been managing the waste disposal site in Sharre through an undeclared public private partnership scheme for a long time and you know quite well this issue. However, you don’t deal with figures, since there are others to do it for you, but, normally, if you were to ask them, they would tell you, yes, this is the case.

Therefore, I would invite you to focus when speaking, because you think you are hitting the rival in front of you, but you are actually hitting yourself. Concentrate when speaking. You are telling me about the scumbag of the county’s long transition period and you are now reciting this beautifully worded sentence: “Yes, the DP has its own scumbag”. But I have never used such a word against DP too, because it is really a hugely abusive word. But if the DP has its own part of the scumbag, you emerged precisely from that scumbag and you are the offspring of that scumbag. So, be careful, because I am not the one to help the meetings of the former DP leader. The campaign launched by your former leader is entertaining Albania and his followers think they are again liberating Albania from today’s empire, the American empire. They form a convoy and they will end up with that convoy. I don’t know what to say when you state I will be facing you again. You are the one I wish I would be always facing. Everyone knows it. I have always wanted to face you, but I don’t really know how to help you in this case and I am not speaking cynically, but to take the debate to a new level, I would say that you recite exactly what you have learned from what you term as scumbag, anytime you take the floor here in parliament and you are now asking to distance ourselves from that scumbag.

One cannot distance himself from the scumbag by being an extension of it. Demonstrate you are not that kind of scumbag and you are really distanced from it by not slandering and using the abusive language used by the ones you call as scumbags. In short, don’t become the caricature of the scumbag. I have told you that the scumbag is the original and don’t forget that this is the major challenge you personally, and not the DP, face. Because it is you who should primarily demonstrate and prove yourself that although you reached the height thanks to this scumbag, you are now completely different. You need to be reborn. We know how to move towards renaissance. Trust us. Trust us and interact here through the language of facts. There are a lot of facts. I told Ferdinand earlier too. If I were to compare with Ferdinand, who has been criticizing Durrres authorities more, I am sure I would win the race with him. And I would do so needless to slander, level accusations and criminalize everyone, but by referring to facts. This is what the opposition should do. This is what you should have been doing. If you ask me not to clean waste and instead let them rot on the streets, I don’t agree with you. We can’t let garbage and waste on the streets. We should collect and transport them to the waste disposal and management sites. This is not the alternative, just like it is not an alternative to use sources without having anything at all. Have you read the recent IMF report? I am asking, because you mentioned the IMF. First of all, the IMF has nothing to do with reporting the death rate. For you to know, the IMF is not an institution reporting on the death rates. In its report, the IMF has clearly stated that the Albanian economy has shown considerable resilience and the policies pursued by the government have ensured a fast and sustainable growth. This is what the IMF has said. This is written on the report. What do you mean by asking whether I have read the IMF report that has supposedly reported a high death rate in the country? Which IMF are you referring to? I would invite you to sort out the sources you refer to. Focus.

As for other major challenges you are facing, I don’t want to make any comment. I understand what you are aiming at by proposing the process of vetting the politicians. I understand it, although it is not the best invention to achieve your goal, because nobody trusts you. However, I don’t want to discuss it, because I stick to the principle I have already told you. I invite you to discuss your proposal with your and our experts, and tell us on what international practice such a proposal is based on, in which countries it has turned out to be successful and what our partners and their institutions think about this proposal.

If it turns out that your initiative will save the country, of course we will vote in favour of it. If it turns out that the initiative is like the flotation devices for toddlers that can be inflated orally to make it as if they are swimming, I mean the flotation devices in the shape of a shark, we would tell you to play the plastic shark’s role to protect yourself from the shark of the DP. We would tell you this is not our job and we would mind our business. I want to make this clear. You have many experts. We have our experts too. Let’s discuss it. If it serves the country’s interest, we would vote for it.

* * *

I am not going to take more time, but again, I really understand – and I am convinced everyone understands – why you Lulzim desperately need the rhetoric of the strongman, who faces cowards, who don’t dare to cope with the challenges posed by this brave man. This is clear to everyone. But again, and I am going to make such parenthesis until I lose hope and we wouldn’t involve ourselves in such debates again.

Respect others for others to respect you!

Neither you, nor anyone else, individuals or political parties will be ever able to verbally violate the political rival as they struggle to accomplish an objective.

You can’t do that, because it doesn’t work that way!

You have unfortunately sought and tried many times to do so, but you have always suffered the consequences. Anytime you have delivered these sort of speeches here, which have become boring and annoying, by issuing ultimatums and by uttering phrases like “it is time now”, “the process is irreversible”, “liberation of hostages,” because everyone here has become a hostage, but nobody know who the hostage take is, you have always the one to fail.

You can tell yourself all this nonsense of courage, bravery and fairness, but don’t appear here and take advantage of this podium and use it like Beni, the movie character, who used to sing to defeat his own fear when walking in the woods during the night. Please, don’t do so because you are becoming really ridiculous. If you want to be serious and if you are seriously committed to press ahead with various processes here in parliament, together with us, for the initiatives you have launched, you should realize that we have no time to waste, but we still seriously commit all the time to do these things seriously.

You have shown more than once that, not only with the figures, but you have problems with the letters too, as you read the way it best suits you at a certain moment, when improvising the next day in politics. I am really very sorry! You read things the way you want them to read, and this is up to you, but we won’t engage in a constitutional and law changes process by trusting your reading way.

These can all be achieved through dialogue between the DP and SP representatives, who you should respect. I am telling you again, if you don’t want us to ultimately ruin this way of communication and if you don’t want us to reply you disrespectfully, and not utter the words you dare utter, since you went too far by hinting at bites, because you used to ally with someone who used to bite publicly.

You claim to be the man of authority that you are not. You are not a man of authority and that’s why you issue such shameful statements. “You know what it is like when I bite.” What do you mean by resorting to such verbal abuse? Aren’t you in your right mind? Bear in mind the fact that people are watching, and you are not dreaming, as it is midday. Wake up and give up all this nonsense. I know you have borrowed such “biting” remarks from you ally, who threatened to bite someone’s ear, neck or I don’t know what. Please don’t make us all sound ridiculous as you are speaking in delirium. I am asking you to put an end to this persistence of yours to slander constantly hoping it would trigger people into develop a bad opinion of us. The cost is square-meter based estimation when it comes to construction of schools, apartment buildings or housing units. It is not a quantity-based cost.

And I am telling you the estimated cost of a square-meter construction floor in the case of new schools being built under the state budget funds is around 47,000 lek. While the estimated cost for each square meter of construction floor in the educational facilities being constructed under the EU funds is over 47,000 lek, but I am not going to reveal the exact figure. I am not going to disclose the exact cost for you to calculate and find it, because I don’t want to compete against you. The estimated cost is around 60,000 lek. And this is not about a race at all, although it could well have been as such, yet it wouldn’t be the case for you to level accusations and defamation here in parliament. That’s why I hesitated to disclose the figure, because I don’t want to get involved in such a narrative.

A total of 400 design-build companies have been involved in the post-earthquake reconstruction program with a cost estimated less than of the Durres-Kukes highway that you still keep bragging about, but which still under construction.

These are the facts and I invite you to collect facts and figures and compare them here, because figures are not opinions.

Figures are not like the vetting process you have in mind. Figures are not like your deeds of prowess, telling people you are the most courageous one here and you impose your will on everyone else. Figures are figures. We can then discuss and debate why certain figures are high and some low. But you can’t turn figures into opinions. You show some papers you don’t understand at all.

I would urge you not to deal with figures since you don’t grasp them as you have traditionally demonstrated. You always confuse figures.

You are not capable of understanding the letters, since you cite alleged IMF reports about child and infant mortality rate, cite the Venice Commission opinions on the vetting process. You collect various figures and use them to fit the same old tune you keep repeating here. These are issues up for discussions among your and our representatives, if you wish to do so. If you think you would be able to adopt amendments, initiatives and ultimatums issued from the very headquarters adjacent to the parliament building, then forget all these. You can embark on countless propaganda shows and campaigns, but I told you don’t keep reiterating and talk me about meeting people, at a time when you enter your party headquarters from the backdoor, because there are people there and no one knows what happens.

Don’t involve in these issues. Why do you keep doing so? We are here in parliament and parliament has nothing to do neither with you, nor with the gatherings of the former leader of your party. I invite you to come to parliament and discuss the issues concerning people, instead of telling me about the concessionary and public private partnership contracts.

Have you seen the projects you comment on? Do you know what the billions you refer to are?

I am saying that, not only I won’t change anything from what I have said about the Public Private Partnership, and what you say does not impress me at all, because according to you Albania remained where it was. But, the facts speak for themselves and on November 29 the Arbri Road will open to traffic, except the Murriz Pass tunnel, which has yet to fully open due to its geological composition, which has created well-documented delays. The rest of the new highway has completed and it will open to the traffic.

This is what the public and private partnership delivers. And if the road was to be built through the state budget money, the problem with the geological composition of the Murriz tunnel would have cost dearly to the state budget as we would have been forced to allocate mindboggling amounts of money to keep the project going, just like you used to do in order for you to hold now the political gatherings in Elbasan with the one you call a scumbag today. And you were part of that scumbag. And you and the one you call scumbag today played the drum together, it took additional state budget funds to tackle the constant landslides along the highway and the mistakes with the road project. This is also the case with the Qukës-Qafë Pllocë road project, with its bridges with a level difference of 17 meters.

These were all projects launched by your previous government and this is your concept. The government assumes no responsibility when resorting to the public and private partnership contracts. We tell the builder it is his and not our problem that the tunnel has that geological formation and therefore we don’t commit additional funding for that project. Most importantly with the funds that otherwise would take many years to provide and support the Arbri Road project, we will simply pay back the investment over the years. I would invite you and the lawmakers from Diber and drive along the new road on November 29, but watch out for the potential gatherings of the former DP leader in the area. I don’t know what to do with you. One of you says “I love Kavaja so much and nothing can stop me, although Edi Rama did.”

Facts are facts. I invited you to reveal any fact or evidence. But instead you keep acting like a man of bravery and keep repeating the so-called “Hajdin Sejdia’s hole” and the fact that you filled it. This is the only accomplishment you have delivered on and this is the reason supposedly helping you to win the mayoral elections in Tirana back then.

What about Ristani? What is he saying now, since he is not part of this parliament? I don’t mean the result, because this is not a big deal.

Lulzim, you are not fit for this. In politics, it is not a big deal that you win or lose a race. Even if it is the way you claim, it is not a big deal at all, because politics is not about being brave and courageous. The point is that you should clearly distinguish among things, what you have accomplished thanks to the ones you call scumbags today and what you have earned thanks to your personal efforts and accomplishments. The point is that you wouldn’t be here at all if it was not for the one you call a scumbag today.

Therefore, stop moralizing and deliver lectures here and above all stop repeating the same old tune anytime you take the floor here, engaging in a fierce race with racers competing who can slander most. Because you won’t succeed and you will fail in your attempt to hurt us. I am telling you today; you will fare way too worst in the upcoming elections, because you will be divided and will not run as a single party in the elections. Therefore, your defeat will be even worse.

So let me say that the cynical interest is clear, while our interest, the country’s interest, the interest to deliver on the issues we have been elected to discuss and press ahead with, is something else. If you want to deal with these, let’s do so.