The Albanian political scene was rocked by strong unrest, following the decision of the American government, as announced by the US secretary of state Anthony Blinken, to declare the former President of Albania Sali Berisha persona non grata in the USA.
Mr. Blinken communicated that the US has barred entry to Berisha and his family, citing information and evidence concerning their involvement in corruption scandals, their interference in public affairs, embezzlement of public funds and obstruction of democratic progress in the country.
Berisha himself emphatically dismissed said allegations, demanding that the State Department prove them publicly. In fact, he claimed that he was “the fervent Albanian pro-American politician who did everything the US governments requested him to do”, adding that he was the one who revealed the plans to change the Kosovo borders, which, according to his claims, were contrived by the billionaire George Soros in Belgrade.
Lulzim Basha, the current leader of the Democratic Party of Albania, founded by Sali Berisha, seems to be on the same page, although in his country he is considered to be a political pawn of his predecessor.
The topic was discussed in the Albanian Parliament yesterday, where the Minister of State for Relations with Parliament, Elisa Spiropali, claimed that the harsh struggle to end the impunity of politicians shall have no setbacks and accused the “washed up” Berisha, as she described him, of cultivating catastrophic circumstances in the country, adding that “Albania has no obligation to him at all”.
An iconic political figure, Sali Berisha has dominated the Albanian political scene for the last thirty years, during which he was twice elected President of the Republic and twice Prime Minister, and also served as the leader of the opposition until his resignation in 2013.
As was anticipated, the issue caused a sensation and stirred reactions in the Albanian public opinion, as well. Dozens of newspaper headlines, reports, essays and comments provide evidence and information regarding the decision of the US authorities, while some of them raise questions concerning the timing of the publication of such an important matter.
Lately, the US Ambassador to Tirana, Yuri Kim, has been particularly active in the attempt to cleanse Albanian public life of people involved in corruption and organized crime. For that matter, she intervened during the latest elections and forced the political parties to remove candidates involved in illegal activities from their ballot papers.