November 6th, 2017
This newsletter is drafted by the International Affairs Bureau of the Democratic Party of Albania in response to the growing interest from international partners and organisations on the democracy and rule of law standards in the country.

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TAHIRI SCANDAL

Police seizes 860.000€ in cash allegedly owned by former Minister of interior Tahiri 

A recent arrest seems to lead to new findings on the criminal activity linked to Tahiri, while confirming Tahiri’s link to a speedboat and a yacht boat suspected of being used by the Habilaj gang in their drug trafficking to Italy.

The  police arrested Mr. Orest Sota (25) after his refusal to stop his car at a police check-point on November 1st in Elbasan, south of Tirana, few days after the Tahiri scandal erupted. During the inspection of Sota’s car, the police found 863 000€ in cash and two original sailing licenses issued to the former Minister of Interior, Saimir Tahiri. As Police didn't mention this arrest in their regular bulletin, the facts were made known to the public by DP Chairman Basha and as he accused current Minister of Interior Xhafaj and Police Genreal Director Çako of trying to hide the facts implicating Tahiri. READ MORE.​


ITALIAN ASSISTANCE ON FIGHTING NARCOTICS 
Italian Minister of Interior: “There are no untouchables in Europe and we should go after them in Albania". Cannabis cultivation reduced while traffick to Italy on a record high on 2017.

Representatives of the Italian Guardia di Finanza and of the Albanian police presented the results of the aerial monitoring of cannabis plantations in Albania funded by Italy and the European union. During these flights, about 23% of the total non-urban territory was monitored.

In his speech, Italian Minister of Interior Marco Minniti emphasized that it’s necessary to attack the “untouchables” of drug cultivation:

We have to attack the untouchables, the criminal gangs and organizations that control that traffic, because in Albania, Italy, and Europe there are no untouchables. This is the important objective for which we need to work together”.

Stefano Screpanti, the chief of the third unit of the Guardia di Finanza, declared that the number of aerial monitoring flights has increased from 25 in 2013 to 57 in 2017. 

Reminding that the monitoring mission covers a limited area of the Albanian territory, it has still achieved to find:

- 304 cannabis parcels representing 4,5 hectares during 2013; 
- 815 parcels / 16,2 ha during 2014;  
- 1368 parcels / 44,7 ha during 2015; 
- 2086 parcels / 213,5 ha during 2016.

Compared to previous years, especially the 2015 – 2016 period, there were considerably less plantations found in 2017 or a number 88. Despite these results, the General Commander of the Guardia di Finanza Toschi stated that this year in Italy much more drugs from Albania were sized than in previous years:

Last year the Guardia di Financa seized 33 tons of narcotics on the Italian shores, or 167% more than in 2016”. In 2016 there were 12 tons of cannabis seized in Italy from the Albanian costs alone.


ITALIAN ASSISTANCE ON FIGHTING NARCOTICS

DP Chairman Basha meets Italian Minister of Interior Minniti: “Critical situation in Albania regarding drug trafficking and organized crime.”

The chairman of the Democratic Party, Mr. Lulzim Basha met with the Italian Minister of Interior, Mr. Marco Minniti during a visit in Albania dedicated exclusively to the fight against cannabis. 

DP Chairman Basha expressed his thankfulness to Minister Minniti for the Italian contribution in the fight against organized crime and trafficking. Minister Minniti assured that Italy will continue to support Albania in this fight and overcome this deteriorated situation. Basha and Minniti shared common views regarding the current critical situation of the organized crime in the country. 

Basha stated that he "appreciated the message of Minister Minniti, for striking large scale drug-trafficking organizations and the “untouchables”. A message that shows the clear commitment of Italy in the provided assistance. I assured Minister Minniti that the Democratic Party of Albania and the opposition will continue their fight in order to stop drug-trafficking organizations to influence the rule of law and to stop having “untouchables”".


SECURITY

Albanian Secret Service Director resigns in surprise decision amid the Tahiri scandal. 

The General Director of the Albanian Secret Service (SHISH) Mr. Visho Ajazi gave his resignation after serving in the position since 2012.  No reasons were given for his resignation considering the country is facing an intense political period due to the Tahiri/Rama scandal. The appointment of a new General Director is a competence of the Executive branch after approval from the President. 

The week before Ajazi’s resignation, PM Rama and current Minister of Interior Xhafaj made strong accusations against the Prosecutor office as of the request to lift Tahiri’s political immunity. 

DP Chairman, Lulzim Basha, after recognizing that Ajazi’s resignation may be due to the pressure exerted upon him by PM Rama, declared that “a service that reports on police involvement in drug cultivation and drug trafficking, as SHIK has been doing for two years, is a needle in the eyes of the narcotics state of Edi Rama. There can be no other conclusion that his resignation came out of political pressures. This shows that the narcotic state is in total panic and is doing everything to close the Tahiri's affair."

Basha reaffirmed his confidence on “Albania’s Western partners [who] will be in the side of Albania in this vital fight against mafia and organized crime. They won’t allow Albania, a country in the heart of Europe, to become a narcotics-state, a rogue state run and ruled by gangs with direct political ties with the Prime Minister and other corrupted politicians.”


ECONOMY
Inequality gap widens as top 10% spends 3.5 times more than average Albanian family.

A recent survey on Albania's inequality made by the state statistical institute INSTAT, has found that during 2016 the richest 10% of households spent 2.5 times more than the overwhelming 90% of Albanians. 

In the meantime, consumer prices grew 1.3 % while Albanians household revenue grew only with 0.6%.

The data indicates that the 3.4% GDP growth during 2016 (due to major energy related investments) has failed to be redistributed among the average Albanian family.

The survey shows that the "food and non-alcoholic beverages" category continues to be the first budget of an average Albanian family accounting 45% of the total expenditures. 

Adding to this the housing costs, Albanians achieve to spend only 4.8% of their monthly revenue on clothing and footwear, 4.4% on restaurants or  hotels and 3% on culture and entertainment. An average family revenue varies from 422 euro/month in the poorest cities up to 630 euro/month in Tirana.

These data confirm the latest findings of the RCC Balkans Barometer published last month in which Albanians appear to  have the highest difficulties in paying their daily commodities if compared to the rest of the Balkans. The RCC survey shows that close to 1 out of 2 Albanian households can't keep their home warm or twice as much than the Balkans average; 1 out 3 can't pay their loan installment and 2 out 5 are unable to pay rent or utility bills. 


External links

The chronology : Why drug traces lead to Rama ", Lapsi.al, November 3rd, 2017

"Rama finally proved that for four years, he lied conscientiously and deliberately. Seen from today's perspective, all his alibis have fallen. All the frauds that he articulated in public, lasted for only a few days, because they have always been devalued from a later fact. So, to understand how much Edi Rama knew about the involvement of his most prominent people in drug trafficking, there is no need for debating on the declassification of secret documents".
 

Citizens need to know why the intelligence chief resigned", Tirana Times, November 3rd, 2017
 

"Minniti met everyone, except...", Exit.al, November 6th, 2017
 
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Democratic Party of Albania. 


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Democratic Party of Albania · Selia qendrore PD · Blv. Zhan d'Ark, No.11 · Tirana 1001 · Albania

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