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The protest that protects the vineyard!

The protest that protects the vineyard!

by Grigels Muçollari


We have understood a lesson from the recent developments in Tirana well. The more the facade shines, the appearance, the greater the violence that is hidden behind it. While concerts, events, and trophies were paraded in the capital, and all these were conveyed with great media pomp to the people, to open a big hole in their heads where all the doubts would fall, whether the Municipality is working well or not, in on the other hand, a company set up by Veliaj's closest directors, those with whom he shares power and manages the budget, called 5D, was wreaking havoc with public funds.
Party and propaganda were flying, and at the same time, up to 30 million was transferred (to the Tirana taxpayers) to the account of the mayor's close club.
This was all while the incinerator affair was languishing and had sent some of Veliaj's close staff behind bars.
Now, this is known. Although the major media, under the mayor's control, tried to either soften it or hide it, the scandal was such that it could not be kept in a pressure cooker. Today, if you ask anyone on the street what 5D is, they will mention Veliaj.
No one knows directors who eat apples and plums behind their backs. People point fingers at the job master.
The next challenge for the city comes after discovering these abuses, in addition to the regret and damage caused. How does he react?
This is the true proof of the city, which has the cultural and intellectual elite of the country, which has universities, debate, academia, and is the center of business and civil society.
Thieves will never be absent from the stage and history.
Disagreeing with them, raising your voice, and resistance are values that can keep society on track. They guarantee that an episode is passed, the right lessons are learned, and a standard is set, which serves as a guard to prevent phenomena like what happened to the Municipality of Tirana.
In this aspect, the protest that the Opposition has been conducting for days, with the Alliance for the Protection of the Theater, with activists and citizens, remains the most hopeful thing happening to Tirana in this crisis that has gripped it.
This resistance could be more massive! The citizens of Tirana must deal with misunderstandings. This movement is not political, much less party. Imagine for a moment if no one took to the streets after discovering that theft. Imagine if the opposition did not react. How sad that would be! This is the moment when a city dies! In this sense, the Democratic Party is giving a valuable public contribution, it is performing the task of the opposition, keeping alive the hope that an elected official who has violated people's trust, who has misused his office, cannot throw it away without getting wet.
Accountability and responsibility are the tracks on which developed European and Western societies have walked. Would Paris, Berlin, London, and Brussels be the glittering centers that they are if the mayors there took the citizens' funds for themselves, and then nothing would happen?⁹ Then another mayor would take the budget, the properties, and maybe even the freedom.
These did not happen because the Parisians, the Berliners, the Belgians, the Romanians, and the Athenians would set the country on fire, even if justice would do itself and work. The protesting spirit is the basic value that Europeans teach their children when injustice occurs in the power-executives' hands. And they have done this by giving you the parental example across generations by participating in society through protests. Protest is the fence that guards the vineyard in a functioning democracy.
Here, justice is treating Veliaj gently and as a colleague. This signals that anyone after him, as mayor, can do the same without worrying. Therefore, it is even more the duty of the citizens to stand up, exercise their sovereign rights, and demand accountability.
The clash today at the town hall doors will serve Tirana for many, many years, much more than silence, sitting on the couch, and compromise. If we do not react today, will we be able to hold this responsibility to our children tomorrow when they ask us what we did after a mayor was caught stealing?

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