German journalist, Peter Tiede, shook the Albanian government by claiming that Albania is run by a bunch of gangsters. His piece on the daily Bild prompted several MP’s of ruling Socialist Party of Edi Rama to retaliate. One of them alleged that the article was paid by Albania’s opposition ‘dirty money’. Another MP, former deputy minister of Internal Affairs, called the article fake news and warned that the government will sue Peter Tiede for defamation.
Mr. Tiede hasn’t backed up as it appears in this interview given to Politiko.al
Politiko: Mr. Tiede, can you tell us: how did you come up with the idea to come to Albania and to write the article?
For years I have seen Albania become Europe’s drug metropolis. How poverty in the country makes people easy prey for the mafia and corrupt politicians. It was not the first time I was in your country. I have been there several times – including in Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and other Balkan states – and there is no getting around the problem. But Albania is, unfortunately, Europe’s Colombia in drug matters. So what does a journalist do when he sees that? He researches. That’s what I did.
Politiko: Did you follow the protest organized by Albanian opposition on Saturday? What are your impressions about the situation in Albania?
My impression: it is not an easy situation – of course not. There is not one good rescuer with you. The country has been suffering from corruption, mafia and poverty not only since Edi Rama. But the situation is escalating, and as a journalist, I am interested in the reasons. I have been observing this for years…
Politiko: MP of the Socialist Party, Blerina Gjylameti, speaking on behalf of the government, accused you as having taken ‘dirty money’ by the Albanian opposition to write that piece on BILD…
Let it melt in your mouth – it’s a poisonous candy: an elected deputy speaks on behalf of the government. Really? What is the job of a parliamentarian? In a democracy with separation of powers: passing laws that the government must implement – and controlling the government. Can’t your government speak for itself? Doesn’t it have a voice? Does your government need to borrow the voice of a deputy?
And the lady speaks for the government? And then she obviously lacks the imagination to imagine free press, independent journalism. I don’t know if this lady has to pay to get into the newspaper, but my employer pays me for independent journalism – nobody else. The lady’s allegations are so absurd that, in your defense, I can only assume that she smoked the wrong Albanian grass. This is all completely absurd and ridiculous.
Politiko: Another MP of the Socialist Party, Elona Gjebrea, said on a TV show that “your article is fake” and they will sue you for defamation. Are you afraid of that?
Of course not.
Politiko: Don’t you think that your article, where you consider Rama and
his government ‘gangsters’, damages the image of the country, which is in line waiting for EU negotiations?
I’m just describing things I find. So who is polluting what and whom? I Albania – or your politics and the Mafia your country? Do you really think I get up in Germany in the morning and think to myself: Well, which country can I make mad today? Oh, no! You have a beautiful country, I have met great, nice people and also many good, honest but threatened investigators – and seen a lot of poverty – and very strange wealth. And a drug mafia that controls a whole country with its money. I didn’t call Rama a gangster. I wrote that your country is in the hands of gangsters. You can choose Rama’s role in this picture…
The EU does not need me to see what is happening in your country. And it is not articles by journalists that influence Albania’s EU chances, but simple criteria. These include the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, economic and legal framework conditions, a functioning police force…
And I fear that Albanian politics has a gigantic mountain of work ahead of it.