‘Soros’ Network in Albania, Strong Influence in Macedonia
Albanian Daily News
Published February 13, 2017

Republika.mk - The
weekly Macedonian magazine elaborates on how ‘Soros’ network grew powerful in
countries such as Albania and how it influences Macedonian political events too


The ‘Soros’ network in Albania should not be regarded
locally, within Albania, because Soros’ decade-long influence on Albanian soil
has created a wide network that has a strong influence in Macedonia as well.
The former wife of Albanian PM Edi Rama, Delina Fico, until 2021, as director
of civil society programs around the world in the East-West Management and as
responsible for the region of Southeast Europe, will have the main say in the
allocation of about 9.5 million dollars that through the American agency USAID
will be given mainly to Soros’ organizations in Macedonia hidden behind the
veil of the term “non-governmental”. She gets such an opportunity on the basis
of a tender completed in September last year, when the whole thing is over
because of a possible change of administration in the United States.


Why is it relevant to
focus on a “Soros” network in Albania?



Far for being a product of a recurring right-wing conspiracy
theory, the network of people and organizations influenced, funded and
controlled by George Soros in Albania has an almost total grip on the
government and on the state institutions starting from the Prime Minister Edi
Rama to his designed successor Erjon Veliaj. Over the last decades, the
unlimited, unchecked and largely unchallenged control of the Soros network on
the funding of what is considered as “civil society” in Albania, his covert
influence on the destination of funds donated by the American people for
Albania, in addition to the open alignment of George Soros in favor of Edi
Rama’s left-wing government, has greatly contributed to a growing alienation of
the Albanians from the US foreign policy and its goals.


A formidable platform
of power and influence



 The “Soros” network
of organizations, politicians, media personalities and local staffers working
in the donor agencies in and around Albania is in a clear position to garner
and international leverage and local funding for the Rama government and its
affiliates, through the US Embassy in Tirana and through its contacts and
influence in the State Department. The local members of this network are
traditionally the privileged recipients of USAID and EU grants and projects
that in Albania are designed and implemented by an exclusive club of persons
and NGOs that is usually referred to as “civil society” the “NGO sector”, or
“the third sector”. Over the last decade “the third sector” became largely
identical with “the Soros network”. By 2015 both terms could be used
interchangeably. ?


Key Actions



The network has actively lobbied for the adoption of the
judicial reform in Albania, a clear attempt aimed at the capture of Albania’s
judicial system by the Rama government. In the year 2015 USAID approved a
project worth 9 million USD to reform the Albanian justice system. This project
of strategic importance is implemented by a single NGO run by Delina Fico,
Board Member of the Open Society Foundation for Albania, the wife of a minister
of the present government and the former partner of Prime Minister Edi Rama.



 In addition to the
justice system reform, the Soros Fund finances and controls the key project
“Growth in Albania” in the field of economic policy, implemented by the Harvard
Centre for International Development (CID) led by Ricardo Haussmann. All of
Albania’s economic reforms are designed by CID, including banking sector
reform, privatization reform, deregulation, micro-finance and public-private
partnerships. In addition to the almost total control and undisputed influence
over a large chunk of foreign assistance for Albania that includes USAID funds
and World Bank loans, George Soros is widely perceived as being in a position
to influence the position of the State Department on Albania and of the US
Embassy in Tirana in general and US Ambassador Donald Lu in particular.



 The explanations
regarding such a position of immense strength of George Soros in relation to
influencing US foreign policy on Albania are similar in nature to those explaining
his influence in post-communist countries such as Armenia and Georgia; a
growingly attentive and critical public opinion is immensely detrimental to the
prestige of the United States in Albania.


Key persons



The key interlocutor of George Soros for Albania and for the
Balkans is Mr. Jonas Rolet. The most important Albanians directly associated
with the SOROS network are: Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, Andi Dobrushi,
director of the Open Society Foundation Albania (OSFA), Valdet Sala, former OSFA
board director, and former General Secretary of the Communist Youth of Albania,
Delina Fico (former partner of the Prime Minister and OSFA board member), Linda
Basha Rama (current wife of Prime Minister Rama and former OSFA board member)
Milva Ekonomi (Minister of Economy and former OSFA board member) Ditmir Bushati
(Foreign Minister, former NGO Director with core funding by OSFA), Erion Veliaj
(Mayor of the Capital, former leader of the Mjaft! NGO established by OSFA),
Arbjan Mazniku (Deputy Mayor of Tirana, former deputy leader of the Mjaft! NGO
established by OSFA), Endri Fuga (head of PR of the Prime Minister, former head
of PR of Mjaft NGO established by OSFA), Valentina Leskaj (Member of
Parliament, former board member of OSFA), Eglantina Gjermeni (Minister of
Territorial Planning, former director of an NGO with core funding by OSFA),
Henri Cili (former board member of OSFA and owner of a private university
established with OSFA core funding). The key influential people in the Albanian
media sector directly associated to the Soros network are the following: Remzi
Lani (also former General Secretary of the Albanian Communist Youth), Lutfi
Dervishi, Iris Luarasi, Albert Rakipi, Pirro Misha, Besar Likmeta, Arjan
Vasjari, Alfred Lela, Arianita Brahaj, Jonila Godoleand Afrim Krasniqi.


Keystones of the
Soros NGO architecture in Albania



The key NGOs traditionally funded by the Open Society
Foundation for Albania in conjunction to USAID and NED, most of which
traditionally function as extensions of the Socialist Party into the civil
society, with the few exceptions of two or three NGOs linked to officials of
the Democratic Party of Albania are the following: BIRN Albania, Balkan
Insight, Reporter.al, Open Data Albania, European Movement Albania, Centre for
Parliamentary Studies, Mjaft, Partners Albania, Institute for Democracy and
Mediation, Albanian Electoral Chamber, ResPublica, Albanian Media Institute,
Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS), Albanian Institute for
Contemporary Studies (ISB), Albanian Helsinki Committee, Gender Alliance for
Development, Refleksione Association, the Association for Population and
Development, the Human Development Promotion Centre (HDPC), the Albanian
Platform for Policy Advocacy (APPA), Transparency International Albania, the
Agenda Institute, the East-West Management Institute.


Influence of the
Soros network on the Democratic Party of Albania



Whilst the network is controlled at 99% by persons
affiliated with the Socialist Party of Albania, who are its main political
customers and largest financial beneficiaries, it has made significant inroads
into the right-wing opposition. The Democratic Party of Albania currently hosts
several important personalities who have benefited from the strategic
investment of OSFA in their political careers. These few DP leaders have direct
contacts and run well-funded projects, either by OSFA or by its affiliated NGOs
or international partners.


Recommendations



Whilst it is very difficult to provide generic
recommendations on such a network with local, national and international
ramifications, it is by now quite certain that its final consolidation into a
formidable structure capable of wielding such an amount of independent power
and influence is not any longer beneficial neither to Albania, nor to a healthy
US-Albanian relationship. It is clear that existence of the local “Soros”
network and its perceived and actual wrongdoings cannot be wholly and
personally attributable to Mr. George Soros, regardless of his direct
involvement with Albanian politics in several occasions. This makes it even
more important to expose the local nature of the network so as to isolate, to
the highest possible extent, its detrimental ramifications at the national and
at the international level. In particular, more attention ought to be given to
reducing the influence of the local advisors and local staffers entrenched in
the structures of USAID, US Embassy and other important foreign aid
organizations operating in Albania, on the grounds of long-standing collusion
and overt and covert cooperation with what we term as the “Soros” network. Full
disclosure and transparency ought to be made with regard to the distribution
and efficiency in the use of the funds donated by the American People in
Albania. No cases of misuse and misappropriation of US funds have been made
known to the Albanians to date, whilst it is quite obvious that the same
people, largely affiliated to the OSFA and to the SP, either directly benefit
or directly control them.





Politics
MORE
Economy
MORE
Social
MORE
Current Events
MORE
Op-Ed
MORE
World News
MORE