January 30 - Albania: The controversial agreement for immigrants arouses anger on all sides


Jan 30, 2024.  Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

The agreement between Italy and Albania for immigrants and the decision of the Albanian Constitutional Court for its approval, has echoed in the foreign media.

 Next to dedicate an article to the issue is French media outlet RFI , saying the deal has sparked outrage among politicians in both countries and human rights groups.


The article adds, among other things, that the agreement has been condemned by opposition parties in both countries, resulting in a legal challenge for justice in Tirana.


Albania's Constitutional Court on Monday approved a controversial agreement signed with Italy to host migrants rescued in Italian waters in two detention centers. But the deal has sparked outrage among politicians in both countries and human rights groups who describe it as "inhumane". The agreement has been condemned by opposition parties in both countries, as well as rights groups, resulting in a legal challenge for justice in Tirana.


"The agreement does not harm the territorial integrity of Albania", the court statement says.


The decision comes just days after Italian MPs voted in favor of the deal, with the lower house of parliament backing the protocol by 155 votes to 115 with two abstentions. During the parliamentary debate, opposition MPs accused Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of using immigrants as "electoral propaganda", saying the project would have little impact on the numbers and was prohibitively expensive. Now the text goes to the Italian Senate, where its approval is expected. The agreement allows for the creation of two centers near the Albanian port of Shengjin, where migrants would register for asylum, as well as a facility in the same region to house those awaiting a response to their applications. The two centers, to be managed by Italy, can hold a maximum of 3,000 people at any one time while they await a decision on their claims. They estimated the cost at more than 650 million euros over the 5-year term of the agreement.


The Albanian right-wing opposition has criticized Prime Minister Edi Rama for the alleged lack of transparency on the agreement, calling the agreement an "irresponsible and dangerous action for national security". The NGO International Rescue Committee has condemned the agreement as "inhumane", while Amnesty International described it as "illegal and unenforceable". The Albanian authorities have said that the agreement is in accordance with the previous treaties signed with Italy, with international law and the country's constitution.

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"We are not selling a piece of Albanian land," Interior Minister Taulant Balla told French news agency AFP during an interview last month.


 "We are offering this land to Italy as we usually do, for example, when we create an embassy."


Jurisdiction within the camp would be Italian, but the land would remain in Albanian hands, he added. According to the Albanian authorities, Italy will pay for the construction of the two centers and the necessary infrastructure, as well as the costs related to the security and medical care of the asylum seekers.


 Meloni, leader of the far-right "Brothers of Italy" party, was elected to office in 2022 promising to stop migrant boats arriving from North Africa. The numbers have increased, however, from about 105,000 migrant landings in 2022 to almost 158,000 in 2023, official figures show. On Monday, Meloni hosted the leaders of African countries at a summit where she presented the so-called Mattei Plan. The idea is to position Italy as a key bridge between Africa and Europe, distributing energy to the north while exchanging investment in the south for deals aimed at curbing migration. Meloni said the plan would initially be financed to the tune of 5.5 billion euros, some of which would be loans, with investments focused on energy, agriculture, water, health and education.