A short-lived strike that shook the Albanian scarecrow state

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 12, 2021 12:12

A short-lived strike that shook the Albanian scarecrow state

The non-strike, non-rebellion, non- coup interruption of work  by the Albanian air traffic controllers which grounded planes and halted all air traffic form the international airport of Rinas had the half-life of a May butterfly. Although the public perceived this as a sudden shock, the discontent of the air traffic controllers had been brewing for months as they had tried to negotiate and even follow a legal proceeding over the cut of their salaries.

Ironically it fell exactly to their former well-paid boss now turned Minister of Energy and Infrastructure to lever this crisis. And she did perform. She called the “strike” although formally it was an interruption done by a procedure included in their regulation, nothing less than a coup d’etat. Of the sort, her own grandfather was accused decades ago in order to be executed by order of the dictator Enver Hoxha. The irony is almost too painful to handle.

The same designation was used around a panicky media campaign that exposed the President of the Republic, the former leader of the DP and others as an attempt to destabilize the state, something taken out of an authoritarian playbook. A lot of energy was pent to put a label on the event, energy much needed to manage a serious blowback to citizens wanting and planning to travel, to vaccine shipments held midair.

The crisis left exposed a much uglier and scarier reality: the silhouette of a scarecrow state, gargantuan in its looks but so hollow and feeble inside that mild winds can shake it down. A state that chose to ignore for months the growing revolt of key, irreplaceable people in a sector vitally connected to the national security and to the public interest. A state that relies on arrogance to sweep all protest under the rug and was caught surprised that such a small handful of people could halt its electoral campaign.

The air traffic controller public company is well known to be a nepotistic hornets’ nest of people appointed by former rand current politicians of all sides: its administration and board surnames can be almost fully matched with MPs and ministers in different years of the transition. To imagine that these people appointed and benefiting directly from being close to the establishment, including here none less than the son of the current Speaker of the Assembly and patron father of the Socialist Party Gramoz Ruci, would try to bring it down is ludicrous.

During an entire year the state did not even adopt the Machiavellian approach of management: did not prepare or start to train replacements in order not to be left at the mercy of 60 air traffic controllers. Confident in its boastful stride, it left this infestation grow and when found with the outcome chose to import replacement controllers from Turkey and Greece and clamp down the rebels with all the might of the army showing up and the prosecutors pressing charges.

This scarecrow silhouette of a state also made a fool of itself since it showed a lack of control over its territory and airspace when in a few weeks it is about to “proudly welcome “ a major strategic NATO training: Defender Europe 2021.

States have the priority to safeguard the security, safety and wellbeing of their citizens. Scarecrows are there just to scare the birds. It shouldn’t be hard to see the difference.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 12, 2021 12:12