They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and the Socialist government seems to have taken this quite at heart, as it relies much more on photo propaganda than it does on putting its money where its mouth is.
The examples are, of course, endless, but two will suffice in this column.
Once, maybe twice a year, when celebrating national holidays in particular, the Albanian and Kosovo governments hold joint meetings, usually to “strengthen cooperation in practical and beneficial fields such as trade and economy, telecommunication, border controls and security.” These meetings are characterized by flashy red colors and a lot of national symbols, state representatives (from both sides) shaking hands and speaking about the historic and traditional ties between them, which will surely be translated in similar economic and executive ties.
It’s all fun and games, until one opens the newspaper – those still reporting independently and freely – and realizes not only that Albania is far from being Kosovo’s number one economic partner, but also that maybe ten percent of the content and promises of these joint meetings are feasible and applicable.
The cherry on top, however, always comes when there are international meetings and summits involved, because then hiding behind photos becomes increasingly difficult, as facts speak for themselves.
Take for example this year’s Western Balkans Summit, held in Poland’s Poznan. The pictures of Rama being present and, even friendly, with European and regional leaders are all there, and they speak of a leader who is willing to share his neighbors’ experiences and learn from the summit’s hosts alike, a friend of economic growth and democratic development.
It makes one a tad uncomfortable, then, to learn that Albania did not benefit any of the seven, 700 million euro infrastructure projects approved during the summit for the WB. Meanwhile, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were awarded three projects in the fields of transport and natural gas extraction, Kosovo was awarded assistance to finalize its railroad project and Serbia, already working on its integration process after having opened dialogue with the EU, will be a new interconnection line.
Maybe Albania would have also benefited financial aid if it had attended the summit prepared and with a valid project, instead of playing the old marketing game – in politics, looks only get you that far. Maybe it would also help if the government actually took EU and EC advise and stopped granting important construction projects to Public-Private-Partnership contracts, where the private sector is usually represented by shady companies that have little experience in the field, but still manage to win without any competition.
Well, these are just some thoughts after all. But, nine times out of ten, if your actions don’t live up to your words (or your pictures), then you don’t really have anything to say.