22 April 2020 President Meta’s press conference
Question: Mr. President, in recent weeks the opposition has thrown a stream of accusations against the government regarding some secret tenders according to it for the purchase of equipment, protective measures with several times the market price. So was yesterday’s statement on the purchase of test kits, according to the opposition have been bought at four times the market price.Do you have a comment, a reaction and will you ask the state institutions for further information? And secondly, two days ago, Prime Minister Edi Rama in an interview for “News 24” praised your commitment in this situation, in the fight against Covid-19, and even said that you deserve respect. What grade mark would you give to the Prime Minister and does the Chief of the Executive enjoy your assessments and respect?
President Meta: Regarding the concerns raised by the opposition, I want to note that these restrictions, imposed due to a global pandemic, should only serve to increase accountability in managing this crisis and the best way to increase accountability, but also the effectiveness of these measures, is to increase transparency.
Moreover that we are dealing with an increased attention of all citizens for any action or inaction, with or without responsibility, with transparency or not from all institutions, including the government or local government.
I can only appeal to increase transparency, to respect the legality of all acts and all actions, not to allow any speculation and of course it is the duty of the judiciary to talk about concrete accusations and I encourage them in this regard.
Question: What grade mark do you give to the government on managing this situation?
President Meta: June has not come yet, the time for exams.
Question: Mr. President, it seems that the spread of Covid-19 left in the middle your battle to bring the Albanian spring, as it seems that you are experiencing a spring in your relations with the Prime Minister. Meanwhile, you have twice convened the National Security Council, have you asked the Prime Minister for explanations on the basis on which he received the opinion from the Technical Committee to impose these measures, which citizens can circulate based on categories by dividing them into retirees or mothers with children? Have you asked the Prime Minister for information why the premises of the holiday home in Durrës are not being used to welcome the repatriates, but they should be quarantined at their own expense? And did you ask for information from the Prime Minister or did you ask him more precisely to close the tailoring factories, because such a business in Kruja has become a cause for infecting 80 people? Lastly, what is your position on the withdrawal of the government from Articles 8 and 11 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights?
President Meta: Congratulations to “Syri TV”, because you have started a new TV performance.
Secondly, I believe that I have been clear in all my positions for a long time that the Albanian state must abide by its obligations to all citizens who want to return to their country. We have had some difficulties in this regard, the government has taken some measures, but I believe that it should take even more to meet the most acceptable conditions to guarantee their quarantine in all environments that will be considered the most possible, this depending on the geographical and physical circumstances, where they come from or show up at the border from where they enter the Republic of Albania.
More needs to be done in this regard, and we hope that more complete measures will be taken in the coming days.
I can’t say where they should be placed. What I can tell you is that the conditions that I have verified myself in the Holiday Resort of the Ministry of Defense are optimal, but who will be treated there is a decision that belongs to the health authorities in particular.
Regarding the issue of recent days and the disturbing news that have come mainly from Kruja or Kurbin, it is very important to respect social distances everywhere and to have mandatory standards from public health institutions for all kinds of activities.
Any kind of underestimation would be extremely costly, as these sacrifices that have been made for weeks can go to waste and this will be a very added cost both financially and economically, but also psychologically for all citizens.
So greater concentration is needed in this regard to prevent the creation or outbreak of new hearths unpredictably.
Regarding the issue of the Convention, this is a practice recognized by the Council of Europe itself in certain cases, when for a major reason a member state undertakes imposed restrictions. But of course I believe that both the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission have made it clear that such situations should never be abused to violate constitutional principles, to violate constitutional rights, and therefore I consider it very necessary to increase transparency and a cooperative spirit.
The more transparency, the more consensus, the more understanding.
If the necessary standards of health protection are not guaranteed in the current conditions, which must be verified by concrete experts, such activities should not be allowed and such businesses and employees should be supported by the government.
Question: How is the government, Prime Minister Edi Rama, managing all this situation that is being created by the coronavirus, do you think that it is giving it more power? I am referring here to the changes that have been made to the Criminal Code and the measures taken so far, such as the permit for certain groups, on certain days, at certain times!
President Meta: I believe my concern and yours is the health of every citizen, and the health of our national economy, on which depends the health of the family and personal economy of every citizen.
I do not believe that it is the time to use or misuse anyone for the purposes of power in such a crisis, as it would undoubtedly be too irresponsible and costly for anyone who tries to use or misuse it.
Question: Are there any abuses?
President Meta: I believe I was clear.
Question: Dear Mr. President, I would like to know if the latest initiative of the government for a broad fiscal amnesty, in principle, enjoys the support of the President of the Republic? The second question with your permission, entire communities, such as Shkodra, Durres or Vora, continue not to have a mayor! When do you think you can decree, partial elections in these municipalities? We know the reasons why they have been left without mayors.
President Meta: On the issue of amnesty, I do not think it is time to give an assessment, as we are dealing with a more public announced initiative, but without a clear explanaion and argumentation.
In a later time I will have to take a clear and exhaustive stance on this issue.
Currently, everyone’s concern is managing the pandemic situation from a health point of view. Secondly, the success or improvement of this situation will depend on the gradual reopening of the economy and all the activities that will take place safely, sustainably and irreversibly, so we need to be focused here.
In this regard, I would like to emphasize that it is important not to underestimate anything, to increase the number of tests, to increase the efficiency of traceability, to increase the insulating capabilities of all these cases in order to be calmer about the decisions we will make and to unblock this economic, social situation, as the problems become more acute. Among other things, is the issue of education, the school year, so I think we need to focus more here at the moment.
Thank you for your attention, goodbye!