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A Conservative Vision for Albania

Like so many other countries around the world, after the failures of the last decade, Albanians are hoping and working for a course correction.
A Conservative Vision for Albania

Albania is a conservative nation. History and fate have made us into one. We have spent the last two millennia surrounded by neighbors threatening and carving out our territories, centuries under the Ottoman conquest, and decades under the Red Terror of communism and severe persecution.

It was the love for our families, the ever-strengthening bond between generations, the deep reverence for traditions and history, the unwavering loyalty to country and nation, and our trust in God that kept Albanians going through the darkest of times. We were people of community assemblies (Oda), people of letters, people of epic legends and battles, people of oath and trust. These are the bases for our conservatism.

Today, we stand as a reminder to the world that religious harmony—the peaceful coexistence of various religions—is possible. We believe in patriotism, the centrality of the family, and the importance of tradition and history. We preserve and protect our language, which is one of the oldest of Indo-European languages.

The horrors visited on the Albanian nation during the communist invasion are proof of the dangers that communism poses to freedom-loving nations around the world. During Albania’s 45 years under communist rule, the rights of individual Albanians were assaulted. Human dignity, kindness, and freedom were attacked, while malice, greed, and a ruthless war on God were encouraged as virtues. Albania was transformed into a massive prison of enslaved souls, all equal in misery, serving a surveillance state led by a ruthless communist dictator. Communism tried to destroy the natural thread that connects individuals and families with their property, ancestors, history, religion, territories, culture, and traditions. For nearly half a century, we lost our sense of community. History and culture were cancelled or altered. Ancient traditions and cultural norms were changed to serve communism and the dictator.

Nevertheless, our innate inclination to protect and love our families, communities, history, God, and traditions lived on. Center-right forces have tried for the last 30 years to create a free and democratic society. We have faced many obstacles in repairing the damage done to the individual and human dignity, achieving the total decommunization of society, reversing the regime’s assault on private property, creating strong and durable institutions, and instituting the rule of law. We became a NATO member country and secured free travel to the European Union. We worked side-by-side with our allies to stabilize the Balkans and free Kosovo from a century-long genocide.

Representative democracy blossomed for a time but was unable to grow strong roots. It was thwarted, in part, by the difficulties associated with the transition from communism and the rise of crony capitalism. Much was done by the right in the last 30 years, but over the past eight, the left has done much to reverse it.

Albanians are leaving the country in what appears to be the nation’s greatest exodus of brain and manpower since the 1990s. People are fleeing from the corruption that runs deep in our country. Crony capitalism is smothering competition and every sector is falling into the hands of a few, who are a part of a corrupt political and economic elite. What was supposed to be a center-right opposition has become a center-left organization under the command of the government. Hence, seeing no future in their own country, many Albanians have fallen into despair and abandoned their home for a better future in Western countries.

Our country needs hope and opportunity. A conservative vision for Albania means a return to our values. It entails a traditional, strong society that provides opportunities for our citizens to live freely and safely. We should aspire towards a society that respects and ensures the freedom and the dignified representation of every Albanian citizen, equal justice under law, economic competition, meritocracy, and rapid economic development.

Albania needs to establish a social and political contract with its citizens, one that binds their elected representatives at every level of government. The time of unrepresentative and unaccountable elites must come to an end. The era of decrees that affect our sovereign decision-making process, taken by neo-Marxist political and globalist financial organizations—be they national or international ones—should end now.

Albania is a country of rare beauty and bountiful natural assets. Hence, we must change the country’s economic model, turning Albania from a consuming and net importing society, into an economy that produces and exports—achieving to the highest extent possible economic sovereignty. Supply-side policies that promote free trade, remove regulatory burdens and bureaucracies, and prevent government interventions, can liberate us from massive corruption in the economy and government.

We as conservatives embrace a patriotic capitalism, a free-market system tempered by the conservation of human scale and the rule of law, which provides the individual, family, and nation with their missing dignity and freedom. This system is based on a close symbiotic relationship between freedom, solidarity, and justice. A free and fair market economy, a patriotic education, and true democracy are closely linked, because capitalism requires a highly educated population, which, in turn, requires participation in politics and decision-making.

A free-market society cannot exist in the absence of the rule of law. Albania desperately needs law and order and a proper reform of the justice system to reflect the universal principles of the rule of law. During the last eight years of socialist rule, a complete takeover of the justice system has been attempted by the left, based on clientelism, lack of transparency, and strong political national and international influence. As a result, for three years, Albania was the only country in NATO and applicant for E.U. membership without a Constitutional and High Court of Justice, and it is now facing a dysfunctional Court of Appeal.

Considering the consequences brought by the ubiquitous criminal state of communism, we acknowledge the urgent need for individual freedom and representation. Our people have turned indifferent to institutions, political processes, and representatives. Elections do not guarantee democracy anymore. Instead, they produce political stabilocracy for the ruling elites in government and in the political parties. Opposition is in the hands of the left-wing majority, waiting to be freed. For the first time in 30 years, Albanian political pluralism is at risk.

Our cities are dying of a concrete-based architecture that some try to justify as modern art, but in actuality stands far from our national culture. Most of the attention is directed only towards the nation’s capital. Cultural heritage is being destroyed under the name of “urbanization.” Thus, there is a need to revitalize every city and rural area, invigorate their public, cultural, political, and social lives. This freedom cannot come if decision-making is concentrated in the hands of the prime minister.

Strong individuals and families, with healthy traditional societies and durable institutions, a sound national education system, and a strengthening of our cultural values, will give all of us the tools to protect the national interests of Albanians wherever they are.  We are committed to working with our strategic ally—the United States of America—and the European Union, which is our natural home.

We want to join the European Union, despite all the barriers put in place by the member states towards the E.U. enlargement and integration process. Nevertheless, Albania should yet improve its rule of law, fight corruption and organized crime, establish durable institutions, ensure equal opportunities for all, build a strong economy, and put the role of the individual, the family, and the community at the center of its society.

A country of free individuals with dignity and national consciousness can never be broken and subjugated. Albania, helped by the vision and ideas of its conservatives, has every opportunity to succeed and become a free and democratic jewel of the old continent and a factor for stability in the region. This weekend, a new conservative Democratic Party in Albania will be founded again, 31 years after the student movement started in the country.

The party will be reestablished on the same principles and foundation as it was when it helped bring pluralism and democracy to the country. It remains the only anticommunist party in the former eastern bloc, and this conservative restoration will ensure it continues to help our nation for decades to come. This will be a new beginning for a people anguishing for an ordered and moral society—a place they can call home. Hope is back.

Edith Harxhi is a career diplomat, having served as deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and founder of the conservative think tank, Albanian Policy Center, as well as a member of the Democratic Party.

Nikola Kedhi is a senior financial advisor at Deloitte and contributor to various media outlets in the U.S. and Europe, including Fox News, the European Conservative, Il Giornale, the Federalist, and many others. The article reflects solely the views of the authors.

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