By Mero Baze
President Ilir Meta has promised to horrify the TemA newspaper as well as its publisher once he comes to power. If a similar statement had been issued in any other country of the world, but also in Albania by a differen political leader, it would have caused a storm of criticism and accusations. This is, we could say the gravest statement against a media, coming from someone who gets paid to be the President of the Republic. The good news is that the statement has not caused any real concern in our newsroom and neither has troubled the society in general.
For a long time now, the President has lost his credibility and no one takes him seriously even when it comes to official Presidential tasks, such as canceling or postponin elections, let alone when he issues attacks and curses against media outlets. Recently, we have more than often recieved phonecalls from people closely affiliated or working for the President, trying to excuse him with the following words: “Please do not pay much attention to what he is saying. Recently he is not his best self.” As a matter of fact, we do not take him seriously and we do not seek any solidarity in this. The only real concern here should be the President’s mental health.
We are not worried from the President’s attacks, not because we do not believe that he will come to power, but rather because he already holds the highest office. Even if by “coming to power” the President means that his party, the Socialist Movement for Integration will win the next elections, that still does not concern us as a media. It may very well be a bleak news for Albanian citizens, but for us as journalists, it is an even greater motivation to commit to our work and finally transfer Ilir Meta from the President’s office to a prison cell, or at least to the prison’s hospital.
We do not seek solidarity even from our colleagues, who are under Ilir Meta’s payroll. It would be a crime if we did accept their solidarity. Not because we want them to get paid, but rather because it would be better if they had the money than Ilir Meta hiding them in his house. They are, even if for this reason, our unconscious allies in the struggle to remove financial resources from the hands of criminals.
We do not have any illusion regarding Ilir Meta. We are, as all Western diplomats in Tirana very clear about who the President is. We have witnessed on video who Ilir Meta is and what he is capable of doing. Furthermore, we have enough proofs about his relations with criminalized media outlets in Albania, which he pays to attack his political opponents, often even within his own allies. In one of these cases, we have witnesed one of Ilir Meta’s employees sending a briefcase of money to the Constitutional Court, at the time when this court was about to take a decision regarding Koco Kokedhima’s political mandate. We know after all, how Ilir Meta functions as a criminal gang.
It might sound rather cynical, but we are “fortunate” to deal with him, especially if he comes to power. We have nothing personal against Ilir Meta as a person. I, as a journalist and publisher do not hold any personal grudge against him. Under normal circumstances, when his mind does not slip as it has recently, he is a rather interesting and typical Albanian politicans, almost entertaining with his paranoia about his opponents.
The President’s conflict with the TemA newspaper has its roots in the year 2016 when he asked me to condemn the former US Ambassador to Tirana, Donald Lu as well as the former EU Ambassador, Romana Vlahutin for their serious involvement in the Justice System Reform, which Ilir Meta considered a criminal reform. Naturally, I refused his request, which on the other hand was fulfilled with great zeal by many of my colleagues. I believe that the Justice System Reform will soon triumph, but even if it does not, I would rather be on the side of those who had faith in a new justice and failed than those who opposed it, like Ilir Meta. Since then, we have become the President’s target in a cold and often public war. Despite that, we feel honored and grateful to the fact that he considers us his enemies. For a journalist to lose his credibility and embarras themselves, it would be enough to have Ilir Meta’s public support. Fortunately, we do not have his support and hope he is never on our side in order for us to fulfil our duty. For this reason, we do not need any support in our struggle against Mr. Meta. All we need is to have him as an opponent. That would be enough for us to be respectful and committed to our profession.
In the end, may God give him power in his next attacks, which we are looking forward to. Then, we will see who will fear who.