Opposition Leader’s ‘Assault’ Turns Into Albania Poll Issue

Balkan Insight
Fecha de publicación: 
02 Mayo 2013

Albania’s parliament on Monday approved an investigation into claims that opposition leader Edi Rama assaulted the Albanian ambassador to the OSCE, after a speech at the Political Academy in Vienna on April 24.

The committee backed by the ruling Democrats and their junior allies in parliament was approved by 71 votes in favour while opposition MPs boycotted the vote.

The parliamentary probe, the third against Edi Rama in one decade, will try to determine whether the opposition leader damaged Albania’s standing in the West through his behavior.

The probe comes less than two months before the June 23 parliamentary elections, which are considered a key test for Albania’s EU integration process.

The probe comes less than two months before the June 23 parliamentary elections, which are considered a key test for Albania’s EU integration process.

Although the investigation is likely to generate a lot of electoral rhetoric, local observers disagree about whether it will add significantly to the already tense political climate in Tirana.

Rama is accused of assaulting the Albanian ambassador to the OSCE, Egin Ceka, on April 24, after a speech at the political academy in Vienna, following which the Socialist leader and the diplomat had exchanges.

The Foreign Ministry says Rama was approached by Ceka, who did not agree with the Socialist leader’s claim that Albania’s Foreign Service was “politicized”.

The ministry claims that the debate between the two became heated and that Rama “assaulted Ceka verbally and then physically”. 

In an interview with the daily Gazeta Shqiptare in Tirana, Ceka said that Rama had tried to pull his hair and ear.

The Socialist Party denied the allegations and accused the ministry of defaming the opposition, while giving its own version of the incident.

“After the meeting… Egin Ceka approached Edi Rama, lashing at him and verbally attacking the Albanian opposition,” the party said.

“The Socialist leader tried to calm him down, while people present at the event removed Ceka from the premises,” it added.

The Karl-Renner-Institut, the organizer of the event, told Balkan Insight that it had no knowledge of the incident and had only been informed by the media in Tirana.

“The whole dialogue forum took place in a peaceful manner,” Gerhard Marchl, head of European and International politics at the institute, said.  

“We simply have no knowledge if any dispute, incident or physical attack happened after our event,” he added.

Eva Hausberger, an Austrian filmmaker who was present during the speech at the academy, told Balkan Insight that although Rama and Ceka did have an argument it was far from a violent row.

“When the incident with Ceka happened I saw it starting, but then I left the room,” Hausberger said. “The next thing I saw was Egin leaving and then a friend told me that they had started an argument, but I would guess it was far from hitting each other,” she added.

However, Hausberger complained that the Diplomatic Academy presented Rama in an uncritical way and that his presentation, followed by a questions and answers session, was arrogant.

“Rama was presented as the wise opposition leader who made a beautiful city out of Tirana and who is probably going to win the next elections,” she said.

“What I saw was an arrogant Rama who avoided answering questions… smiled and the answers were either something he wanted to say, or also sometimes just not true,” Hausberger added.

The parliamentary probe against Rama will last for a month and will be conducted by five Democratic Party MPs.

According to the ruling Democrats, the incident "is of considerable public and state interest” and needs to be investigated because it had damaged Albania’s image abroad.

The Socialists have described the probe as politically motivated, only the latest of a number of investigative commissions that have targeted the Socialist leader in recent years.

Rama has been the target of two other investigative commissions, both initiated by the Democratic Party, while he was mayor of Tirana.

Writing in the daily newspaper Dita, Daut Gumeni, a former diplomat, said that the probe against Rama was a propaganda tool of the Democrats, who were unable to hear the bell tolling that their time in power was over.

“In the face of an economic crisis, the commission aims to mobilize the propaganda machine of the government in order to make enough noise to turn Albanians deaf,” Gumeni notes.   

Arion Sulo, editor of the Tirana daily Mapo, told Balkan Insight that the probe was a rushed decision from the ruling majority that might cost them dear in the end.

“The incident in question is not an issue worthy of a parliamentary commission and will not produce any results” Sulo said

“I don’t see it adding to the existing political divide, at most will have an electoral cost for the ruling majority,” he added. 


Besar Likmeta


Source: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/opposition-leader-s-assault-turn...