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For Albania's disaffected youth, political feud illustrates why they flee

Antigovernment demonstrators returned to the street in Albania Friday, a week after three activists were killed outside Prime Minister Sali Berisha's office.

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Zana goes on:

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Public opinion in Albania is divided – not for and against Berisha ... generally everyone agrees he is corrupt and he needs either to prosecute corrupt officials or just go himself.

But what people disagree on is whether violence is necessary in demonstrations. There are those who think the police were provoked by the protestors and even though it was not right for the police to kill those people, the violence could have definitely been avoided and those lives spared with some leadership from the Socialist Party.

Others say the Socialists could not have done anything … the confrontations started … before the Socialists could [act]. This group says that people were justifiably angry following the shameless denial of the deputy MP of the authenticity of the video where he was trying to bribe the minister of economy, and [after] a violent and degrading parliamentary session a few days earlier where Sali Berisha addressed Socialist Party members in a terribly disrespectful and arrogant manner – he was really [obnoxious].

[Berisha] did not realize he was not only addressing the Socialists like that, I think people felt he was addressing all the country like that. He wanted to make fools of all those who had eyes and ears to see the video of the deputy PM and he was basically legitimizing theft and corruption in his government, and nobody could do anything about it.

I don't think anyone is particularly enthusiastic about the Socialists. The main thing people are saying is we don't want either but there is no alternative. New elections are seen as a good option… and this is what the protestors called for.

Zana ends with a pox on both houses:

Berisha is [now] calling the Republican Guard [who fired the shots] “heroes.” … He said that it is normal for people to die in a coup d'etat, and not just three but even 30 or 300 ... and he is making sure that the guards who were injured during the protest are medically treated from inside the PM's building ... he's not taking them to the hospital because they could be then called by the prosecution or some of them even arrested. On the other hand Rama is calling for more protests.

I saw some interviews of Tunisian protesters. They had clear demands, concrete demands. If you interview Albanians they don't know what to say, they are just angry ... I am not sure what Rama promises if there are elections and he wins, he never made the time to make a concrete agenda since his loss of the 2009 elections.

Albania has European and EU aspirations. It is a NATO member. It has played an effective role in keeping regional peace via smart diplomacy with Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia – all possible Balkan ethnic tinderboxes.

But the current standoff in Tirana threatens progress. Daniel Korski of the European Council on Foreign Relations implied today that more escalation may not bring the intended result. Berisha and Rama are jointly “sawing through the country’s institutions,” he writes. The impact if it doesn’t stop “will be felt beyond the borders of Albania.”


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