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Legalization of the cultivation of cannabis: How Edi Rama plans to obstruct Albania’s EU integration process

Albanian Prime Minsiter Edi Rama at a NATO meeting in Brussels. Date: May 25, 2017.
Albanian Prime Minsiter Edi Rama at a NATO meeting in Brussels. Date: May 25, 2017. (Photo: NATO)

While the European Union imposed fifteen conditions for the opening of the accession negotiations with Albania, instead of working on those conditions the Albanian premier Edi Rama recently proposed the plan of legalizing the cultivation of cannabis.

Albanians are furious and revolted because for them joining the European Union is a long-held dream, and knocking at the Brussels’ gate with a cannabis plan is the worse initiative they have ever imagined. Albania is known in the recent years as the Colombia of Europe.

Since the coming into power of Edi Rama and the Socialist Party, the entire territory of the country was covered in cannabis and the entire agriculture sector was involved in the illegal cultivation of drugs. The income of such activity is estimated to be 4 billion euros, almost half of the county’s GDP.

With such a large amount of money, the economy was not boosted and the ordinary people did not profit, in contrary, that money was used to steal and manipulate elections, strengthen the cooperation between the government and the criminal groups, undermined the state police which in fact was involved first hand in the process, and deprived the country in its European integration journey.

Aspiring the EU integration Albania has to do its homework quickly. But this is not easy. The Rama government seems to have no intention to progress in the integration process.

The fifteen conditions set by the EU are difficult and give a strong message. To fulfill them a real and total transformation of Albania’s institutions is needed. The justice system needs to be functional and be guided by the rule of law and not controlled by the Prime Minister. The Constitutional Court and the High Court which have been non-functional for three years need to be working. The electoral reform needs to be completed as soon as possible and has to be implemented in democratic central and local elections. The fight against corruption at high levels needs to be implemented due to the fact that Albania is the mos corrupt country in Europe. Fight against organized crime must take place. Other issues involve the free media, protection of national minorities, advancement of the process of the registration of properties, reform in public administration, and so on.

Since the adaption of these conditions by the Council, premier Edi Rama and his government have not made any effort to address these issues, in contrary, the electoral reform is being delayed on purpose, the corruption has continued as usual, and the attempts to seize the judiciary have been stronger than ever.

Fulfilling the fifteen conditions means that Edi Rama will fulfill his own departure from the throne of power because his corrupt government cannot fight itself. An executive that came into power withe the aid of organized crime cannot fight crime. A party that held elections without any opponent, that presently controls 100% of the central and local government, and 100% of the city councils in all the municipalities is not interested in holding free and democratic elections.

The rule of law in Albania would assure the imprisonment of all the high level officials in Rama’s government thus the total capture of the state and the seizure of the justice system, including the Constitutional and the High Court, would be the safety net for Rama and his aides even after he will be no longer in power.

In such a grave situation, with the economy in ruins from his policies and recently from the COVID-19 pandemics, with such difficult conditions set by the EU for the integration process, the only diversion for the public opinion, and with the intent to laundry the money of his oligarchs is the legalization of cannabis.

In every absurd and illegal initiative he has undertaken, Rama always uses the international factor as his support, but this have proven to be a fraud. As soon as Rama announced publicly that the plan for the legalization of cannabis was consulted with the EU office in Tirana, the latter immediately reacted by clarifying that the European Commission and the EU Delegation have not been involved in preparation, drafting or consultation of draft reports concerning plans for cultivation and legalization of cannabis in Albania.

This political maneuver, as many others he has played during his governance, is the best illustration of how irresponsible state leaders can be a real hindrance for the future of the country. One man’s ambition for power can deprive an entire population for a better future.

The Rama model is a real tragedy for a hardworking and suffering nation that deserves a better life and a brighter future. In a post-COVID-19 world, with a difficult economic prediction for Albania, the Rama government will only continue to deteriorate the country’s economy and governance and the people will suffer and be burdened even more.

Dr. Francesca Norton

Dr. Francesca Norton is a peer news writer for Citizen Truth. She is a political analyst, human rights activist and author of many articles and analyses in the international media.

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