Δευτέρα, 20 Νοεμβρίου 2017

"Το έγκλημα των ναρκωτικών της Αλβανίας είναι τώρα Ευρωπαϊκό Πρόβλημα"



 Albania’s drug crime is now a European problem



The country has done much but region’s leaders must also act, says prime minister


I am well aware that some people, if you mention Albania, think of crime and drugs.
 
I am aware too that to erase that image — profoundly unfair to a country of largely peaceful, law abiding people — will take time and, above all, action. Last week we learnt that our action is bearing fruit.

We are indebted to Italy’s financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, and the sophisticated air surveillance they use to spot cannabis plantations for Albanian police forces. The statistics are unambiguous.

A year ago, their flights identified 2,086 plantations across the length and breadth of Albania. This year, even with extended flights and enhanced surveillance, there were just 88. All have now been destroyed by our police.

This is real progress. For years labelled the cannabis capital of Europe, Albania has had enough and we have fought back.


For a quarter of a century cannabis has ruined Albanian lives, corrupted local officials and poisoned national politics, all the while enriching gangsters.

This time last year, the international media were bristling with headlines about record amounts of Albanian acreage sown to cannabis. Perhaps because journalists are attracted by the half-empty more than the half-full, the real story never made it into print. The real story was that record amounts of cannabis were at last being identified — and destroyed.

This is not the end of the story by any means. The people who became rich on the back of drug production must pay for their crimes. We have launched a phase two special operation against them and their assets. We are cleaning up the judicial system, properly vetting judges who for too long were ruled by criminals and their money.

But these criminals don’t operate only in Albania. They are connected and interconnected with organised crime in the cannabis-consuming nations. And the governments of these countries must also bear some responsibility for bringing them to justice.

We in Albania have done everything possible to eradicate a considerable source of a Europe-wide problem. But the consuming countries must vigorously investigate the perpetrators and to freeze the proceeds of their crimes. We will be sharing what we know about them and the evidence we have against them with police forces and financial regulators across Europe in the weeks and months ahead.

These are dangerous people. My government regards them as a national security threat. Yours should too. Many, perhaps most, live elsewhere in Europe, pretending to be legitimate businessmen. But make no mistake. They are criminals whose international businesses enslave people and create havoc everywhere.

They will think nothing of using their wealth to buy influence. They will hire seemingly respected law and accounting firms and lobbying agencies. Through these intermediaries, they will find ways to turn accusations on their head and depict themselves as innocent victims under attack from business rivals or worse, from political adversaries — namely my government and me. We have already had this experience.

Reform of our justice system and the vetting of judges and prosecutors for corruption and incompetence — key demands by the European Union before we can enter into formal accession negotiations — were nearly derailed early this year. Vested interests opposed to the reform brought turmoil to our streets and at times seemed determined to place our young democracy in jeopardy.

It is worth remembering that for 20 years the drug barons were able to maintain the area around the Albanian village of Lazarat as a safe haven for cannabis production and processing, a no-go area for police and other government authorities.

Such was the drugs trade’s clout that one of my predecessors as prime minister acknowledged that non-intervention in the area was his “firm political decision”. My government reversed that policy in 2014 and a major police operation closed Lazarat down. The police destroyed “product” representing nearly a quarter of all cannabis confiscated and destroyed across Albania that year.

That was the beginning of our struggle against the gangsters. Now we need to take another important step.

On Friday I sent a letter to the leaders of all 28 members of the European Union seeking their support in our battle with the drug lords. “We know that some reside and are thriving in your nation too, profiting from illegal drugs, prostitution, human trafficking and other illicit activities,” my letter states. “We want your help and offer ours in return, to catch these people and bring them to justice.”

I hope citizens of all the EU nations will urge their governments to take a stand with us. This is a battle for all of us, and one that must be won.

Edi Rama is the prime minister of Albania.
 
Το έγκλημα των ναρκωτικών της Αλβανίας είναι τώρα Ευρωπαϊκό Πρόβλημα, γράφουν οι  FINANCIAL TIMES

(Στοιχεία από SManalysis)



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