Justice reform sounded like a good idea in Albania, which like many former communist countries, is dealing with the hangover from a decades-long legacy of corruption.
There is not enough room in this column to go into the intricate details, but the malign influence of organizations and advisers bankrolled by Hungarian-American liberal billionaire George Soros is clear in Albania as local officials try to overhaul the judicial system.
The “reform process” started in 2016, aided and abetted by Soros-funded experts, and pushed heavily by the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, has literally left the country without courts. The current socialist government, headed by Prime Minister Edi Rama, thus has been able to enact laws with virtually no legal checks and balances, while packing the prosecution office with cronies.
No one knows when the courts will be up and running as an equal branch. That was the whole point for the reformers, of course.
The problem seems to be the structure that the “experts” pushed on the Albanian people. After ignoring many warnings from Albanians with experience in the judicial system, a stringent vetting process was established to supposedly ensure that corrupt judges and prosecutors were removed from the system.
But very few candidates have made it through the vetting process, leaving the courts short of a quorum and unable to rule on the constitutionality of the executive’s actions and legislation passed.
The vetting process has also been used to weed out political adversaries from any role at all in the government, further enshrining the absolute power of Mr. Rama. Obviously corrupt judges have been retained, and honest officials have been removed from office if they believe the wrong thing, or supported the wrong party.
When you combine this with constitutional changes made in 2008 — which ended direct election of lawmakers in favor of a party-list system, the Albanian people have been essentially been disenfranchised. Again, this seems to have been the desired result all along.
Albania has been turned into essentially a narco state in recent years, moving to the top of the charts in marijuana production that is being trafficked into Italy and the rest of Europe. Hard drugs are also rampant. Addiction and other drug problems are becoming the norm in a struggling country of just 2.5 million people.
The country is also becoming a trafficking point for hard drugs coming out of South America and Central Asia — the gateway to Europe. Critics say laws passed in parliament — not subject to the scrutiny of a nonfunctioning constitutional court — are aiding in laundering the profits of this drug trade.
The Americans and the Europeans are ignoring all of this, perhaps to avoid admitting the Soros/globalist agenda many tried to foist on the region hasn’t worked. Or rather, that it worked all too well but the result hasn’t been a happy one for the Albanian people.
Socialism is never about the people — it is always about power. In the end, it’s about gaining control in ways Marx clearly understood. Mr. Soros is attempting to replicate a failed leftist template all across the Balkans, promoting an open-border society akin to a new Yugoslavia — controlled by socialists of course.
The European Union makes a big deal about the supposed anti-democratic nature of judicial reform in Poland and Hungary, but has ignored the far more dire and dishonest situation unfolding in Albania.
As they say, sunlight is always the best disinfectant.
• L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, The New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached at LToddWood.com.