The spokesman regrets that the prestigious newspaper, "The Independent, " has published such an article based on concoctions by one person, who, unfortunately, does not work for his own nation either. /lind/xh/k
This office has ordered that the state banks and loan-taking private firms freeze immediately the deposits of all managers and other people working in the trade company Gjallica, who are under investigation until the court holds the trial on the penal case.
The Attorney General reports that all documentation in its affiliates has been blocked and put at the disposal of the group of experts, consisting of 40 financial specialists by the State Control Service. The experts will also define the amount of money paid as capital and interest rates, the value of the money this firm owes to other people affected by this damage.
The firm president Shemsia Kadria and her husband Gani Kadria, are wanted by police and their international search has been declared by Interpol, the report says.ake/kled/xh/sh/
The draft envisages measures which have to do with the solution to the housing question for these families and the financial state assistance for the home rents for these families, etc.
A considerable number of people, lured by the high interest rates, had sold their homes, and this stratum of population is being considered by the government as the most financially damaged and with priority for aid. kled/xh/sh/
"Koha Jone continues to publish slanders about the financing of the Democratic Party during the electoral campaign," says the refutation.
Last Thursday and Friday, Koha Jone has written that the Democratic Party has been financed by the collapsed loan-taking firm, Gjallica.
DP spokesman says that he will sent this question to court. kei/xh/sh/
About 130 million lek out of the total frozen amount of money of the Populli foundation is deposited in savings books by creditors. The number of people who prefer savings books to money in cash has amounted to 40 per cent.
About 500 million lek of the foundation Populli has been distributed since the beginning of this operation and around 21 thousand people have taken their money so far. kei/xh/k
The article "Why has Europe turned a blind eye to the corruption that has poisoned a nation?" by Andrew Gumbel, published in the British daily "The Independent" on the 14-th February 1997, comprises misrepresentations ranging from factual inaccuracies to blatant slees.
It alleges that Shqiponja Co. is involved in trafficking of arms, cigarettes and oil. Shqiponja Co. was registered according to the Albanian Law and no evidence has been ever presented to support similar charges raised by the communist opposition party and the press close to it.
Representatives of the Company have denied any allegations of illegal activities by presenting company's documentation. The Shqiponja Co. was closed more than a year ago on business grounds and was cancelled by the Albanian Trade Registrar. There are no follow-up business activities.
The article alleges that former Interior Minister Mr. Musaraj is involved in the drugs racket and because of that he was not elected member of the new Government after the May elections.
We reject it outright and express our indignation for this unfounded charge. Drug traffic is a relatively new phenomenon in Albania which emerged after the collapse of the Communist regime. Though initially untrained and without being equipped for that, the Albanian Police have done its best to combat drug trafficking and drug related to crime, also by developing a very good cooperation with the Police Services of other countries. It has achieved the seizure of large narcotics quantities and of their dealers.
We also reject with the same indignation charges that the Defence Ministry under Minister Zhulali has been involved in the smuggling of arms and cigarettes. No evidence ever has corroborated similar charges raised by the communist opposition while the Minister has given detailed explanation and clarification in the Parliament. The Defence Ministry has strictly observed the international and Albanian law with regard to contracts of armaments.
The article alleges that civil liberties, independent media, and democracy in general, has suffered under this Government.
The Democratic Party Government, which was elected in office in March 1992 has done it utmost to build the democracy and the rule of law, despite the difficulties presented by the horrible communist legacy. It has approved as western standard legislation including the Constitutional Bill of Human Rights and liberties, it led the country to membership to the Council of Europe, the club of European democracies. It was the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which unanimously approved in January 1997 a resolution stating the Albania has made considerable progress in democracy since it became member. The Council of Europe commended Albania's legislation on the judiciary on the media etc.
Regarding remarks that foreign investors have been kept out of Albania, we point out to the fact that the rate of the foreign direct investments per capita in Albania is higher than most of the countries of Central Eastern Europe.
The Author of the article pretends that the allegations he presents, come from intelligence sources. This seems very difficult to believe, because it coincides very precisely with what the country tabloid press close to the renamed communist party has been telling in the last years, without pretentious to be taken seriously. These political bias in articles on Albania is nothing new for Andrew Gumbel.
I regret very much that a prestigious newspaper like "The Indipendent" comes to publish articles of that low quality written by an unreliable journalist.
(This statement was prepared and translated by the Albanian Government Press Office)
"90 % of the foundations' leaders, high officials of the opposition", reports the paper under the title "The opposition involved in pyramids". Under the tittle "The Democratic Party has had only legal financing", the paper carries a confutation of the DP spokesman. Under the headline "Investigations for the communist robbers of the Italian aid finished", the paper publishes the article "Nano's rear before trial".
"Fatos Lubonja, one of the leaders of the so-called Forum for Democracy, warned Friday in a news conference the beginning of a civil war", reports the paper under the title "Lubonja: Confrontation is approaching".
"Berisha's regime, a regime of gangsters", reports Zeri i Popullit under the headline "Albanian government involved in the contraband of drugs, arms, has broken the sanctions and is involved in the laundry of the dirty money", citing London paper "The Independent" on February 14.
The fate of the Forum for Democracy will be the fate of the people", reports the paper regarding the news conference of the Forum for Democracy. "All in opposition with the DP", reports the paper in the heading "Actuality".
"False money have come to Albania. Kamberi and Berisha are threatened", reports Republika paper. "Absolute priority to the relations with USA", reports the paper. Republican leader Godo sent a letter to the Albanian Speaker Arbnori, where he stressed among others the necessity of the absolute priority to be given to the relations with USA, reports the paper among others.
Rilindja paper covers the news conference of President Rugova under the title "International initiative to help the Kosova issue". Under the headline "Political parties discuss for the solution of the situation", the paper carries the article "The violence linked with the political left- wing". "Vlora under the guerilla terror", reports Albania paper under the headline "Five injured on the tenth day of demonstrations".
"The process of the loan-taking company 'Arkond'is concluded with eight years of imprisonment", the paper writes.
"Albanian government, a government of gangsters", reports Dita Informacion under the headline "The English press on Albania". In the heading "Analyses", the paper carries the article "Cheek by jowl without the people". "Everyone against Meksi cabinet", reports the paper after the yesterday's round table called by the democratic leader Shehu.
"Government outside the globe", is the editorial of Koha Jone. "Eleven English deputies ask to conduct investigation on Berisha", writes the paper under the title: "'Eagle's' feathers fall down".
"The Forum: Berisha threatens our lives", reports the paper on the yesterday's press conference of the Forum for Democracy. "Investigation on the Berisha's gifts for Major", writes the paper on its third page. "The gifts are taken from the National Historic Museum", reports the paper.
"May the debtor be killed?", entitles the editorial Bashkimi paper. "The opposition camp is expressing the readiness for dialogue, as they say, but only dialogue with conditions", reports the paper in the article: "What is opposition asking for: Dialogue or monologue?"
"The round table demands the head of Meksi", writes Gazeta Shqiptare, according to the yesterday's round table with the political parties. "The political parties demand transformations", reports the paper.
"The municipal Council of Vlora drafts a petition to oust Meksi and to establish a new government, also signed by the Democratic Party", writes the paper. /kled/kei/mt/
The press release of the Council of Ministers says: "The British newspaper "The Independent", has published an article dated February 14, 1997 and written by Andrew Gumbel in which the Albanian government is gravely accused.
The Albanian government, considering these accuses totally ill-intended and denigrating, refuted them categorically, requesting by the editorial office immediate confutation of them.
Otherwise the Albanian Government will address to the British and international courts to put before the responsibility the responsible persons". /mt/k
The spokesman of the Defence Ministry reported through a statement that the explanations for these slanders are completely consumed by the Defence Ministry through legal means.
The Defence Ministry declared that it has never violated the resolutions of the Security Council on arm embargoes and is not involved with contraband of arms even in regions where the arm smuggling is not forbidden with resolutions. At the same time it has not conducted and supported any kind of smuggling.
"It has been and is completely open towards every legal investigation for these problems", says the statement.
The Defence Ministry declares at full responsibility that in the legal activity of selling and buying the armaments it has never collaborated with any private person, firm or Albanian company, including VEFA Holding company.
The Defence Ministry expresses the readiness for complete transparency to every legal commission for investigation.
The Defence Ministry has charged Saturday the journalist Andrew Gumbel for slanders and concoctions to the detriment of the director and the ministry he leads, according to the statement of the Defence Ministry. /a.ke/kei/mt
Today, at a time when hundreds upon thousands of Albanian families are living through despair because of the loss of their savings and gains in the pyramid fraudulent schemes, a minority composed of mixed extremist groups, many of whom have lost not a penny in the pyramid schemes, and certain forces backing them are seeking, for their perverse non democratic interests, to turn the grave financial loss, but not insurmountable, into a real national tragedy.
This minority finds as a major support the despair of some thousands of people, who follow it, and as a favourable atmosphere the unacceptable silence of hundreds upon thousands of others, whose pain from the loss should in no way make them reconcile with what is happening.
I have also come here before you to talk with you and try to throw light with all the information at disposal on the truth on the loan-taking, the creation of these companies and the collapse of these schemes.
I hold that in treating this issue, the most fundamental condition is the full transparence of the Government, state and Democratic Party on the loan-taking phenomenon and our unshakable determination to treat it completely conform the rules and laws of the rule of law.
Today more than ever it is indispensable that we, all the Albanian citizens, intellectuals, youths, employees, businessmen, workers, farmers, all members, sympathizers of the political parties, which are against violence and love democracy, be engaged in an intensive dialogue with the people about this collective phenomenon, to discuss with full transparency the reason of the appearance of this phenomenon, what it represented, to define the responsibilities and contribute to their overcoming.
Loan taking as a phenomenon have been accompanying capitalism at all times.
In Albania this phenomenon began in 1991 and until 1996 no political force, party in power, coalition, opposition, individual, forum or association representative publicly denounced this phenomenon. They did not predict its grave consequences, either.
Today this silence of all the political forces, government and other institutions, experts, financiers, economists, intellectuals and academic circles, as well as of foreign ones, is explained in various ways. I am deeply convinced that the determinant factors of these long silence have been: -non recognition of capitalism and market economy by Albanians. The '90s found us as the only people, who, because of hyper-collectivisation, had erased from our memory the traces of the free market. This made many and many Albanians believe that capitalism is the system of easy and quick enrichment.
-respect for the free initiative of the individual and the non recognition of the pyramid schemes; -legislative vacuum which ensures spaces of free initiative; -the rapid economic growth of Albania due to the liberal standards we used kept alive and nourished the conviction of the get-rich-quick possibility.
-the use in many cases, not unsuccessfully of the loan-taking because of lack of credit and capital, by businessmen to ensure their activity.
-serious investment carried out by many loan-taking companies in Albania.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over last years Albanians find themselves in the Great hour of learning the market and capitalism in their history. They did not put their money in these schemes to gain there money taken from other citizens or, less so, dirty money. They put them there believing mainly in the high profits realised in Albania by companies in trade, construction and other fields.
The government did never encouraged loan-taking. The contrary is true. We offered the depositors the highest banking interest rates in Europe. Those, who four years ago deposited in our banks one million leks, have today because of high interest rates 2.17 million leks, which converted in dollars about 100 per cent more than four years ago, at a time when the lek's value in dollars has changed no more than 10% - 15%.
Also, in Albania, in contrast with several former-communist countries, no state institution has been involved in these activities. I assure you that those who state that the Albanian government is involved, will regret their fraud.
However, one might say that none of today's forces can escape the responsibilities, less so the opposition parties which in their bosom had the fraudulent foundations as their ideological allies and financial supporters or which built up their electoral campaign on a real pyramid scheme.
But if the opposition forces completely plunged in the fraudulent pyramid schemes did not give a warning, this was not done in time by the Democratic Party, the Government and the other state institutions, either. Therefore, the undeniable responsibility for this non warning lays more on the state power, a thing which we, beginning with me, should admit.
In the second half of 1996, the IMF expressed it serious concerns over the informal market and insisted on making the public aware of the risk of high interest rates. This institution bears no responsibility in this issue.
Several weeks ago, I begged pardon to all those citizens, who if we had explained to them the pyramid schemes, they would simply not invest their money in these schemes. I do not know how many they would be.
Why didn't I warn against the risk they carried? The only reason was that I could not prejudge they were pyramid schemes. We had no facts to prove that they were pyramid schemes, and, being completely private activities turned into a collective fever, my direct warning against their risk might provoke as a reaction the increase of the interest rates by the impostors and their exaggeration.
I was fully convinced that the collective fever of gold could not be resolved with the warning against the risk but with the study of their nature and the appropriate legal positions.
The truth is that following the official warnings, this phenomenon reached its climax, and although much was said over the last months of the risk posed by the high interest rates, few were those who listened even to their closest relatives when warning against this great risk.
My statement on the Albanians' pure money also includes my warning for the fraudulent loan-taking managers not to play with your sacrifice, toil, sweat, but this did not suffice.
However, I hold that it is not only the non warning to find fault with, but also the indifference at and tolerance for a long time of this activity and the delay in setting up the parliamentary Commission.
One can rightfully ask why this long tolerance towards them? The long tolerance shown towards them has been the element of the general tolerance towards the free initiative and business.
First, in Albania loan-taking is a legal activity, completely private and not licensed by the state, and guaranteed by the Civil Code.
Secondly, the regulatory laws and boards on foundations have been lacking.
Thirdly, as a whole, these were companies investing in various fields.
We have maintained a tolerant stand towards all investors. We have been trying to be as friendly and mild towards them as possible. This because if we go back to four-five years ago, the Tirana streets were full of "capitalists" selling boiled eggs, slices of cheese or meat, their commodities, not in shops or in supermarkets but on plates, wheel barrows and stands.
We wanted that they enlarge and together with them also the Albanian market economy. Over the last four years you have not heard of any strike, protest, complaint by any businessmen, of whatever conviction or nationality, as regards the Government's taxes.
That is, also the fiscal tax mechanism that could be used to control their not loan-taking but investing activity, has been neglected to a certain extend for all the Albanian capitalists, without discrimination.
In fact there is no document to show that some individual or institution had asked before 1996 to ban the loan-taking. At the beginning of 1996 and especially after the approval of the law of the Bank of Albania in March '96, an article which really bans depositions, but does not envisage any sanction on their collectors. This institution has insisted on the state intervention against these firms.
But the legal conflict created between the Civil Code, which considers the money lending and borrowing on returns an unlicensed private legal civil right of any citizen, and the article which bans depositions in the banking law, could not be resolved through executive ways. It should be resolved only in the Court and here stands the responsibility of the respective institutions for not exercising the institutional right for the protection of laws.
The responsibility to a certain extent also lies on the fact that several leaders of the Democratic Party in districts, unaware of the pyramid financial activity of these investors and considering the support given to the local and foreign investors by the Democratic Party Programme, have taken part in the campaign together representatives of these firms, although never with those of the foundations, but only with the companies which have invested in Albania in various fields.
These leaders should ask forgiveness for this not conscientious mistake and in case they are involved against the laws, then they should be held responsible.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In our dialogue with people, taking upon ourselves our own responsibility, we should agree and define that direct responsibility in this phenomenon bear the creditors themselves. In no democratic country is this responsibility shifted to the others, third parties and less so to the government. No civilised man can blame a third one for the debt he, himself, has given to his own interest and gains. In the ethic and moral code of any civilised man, of any Albanian, of over 95 per cent of those who have lost their money, the question of the private debt is his own private intimate business, considered by the laws of all the countries as an affair between the contracting parties.
The approach on this question is of vital importance for the present and the future of democracy, capitalism and Albania as a whole.
In case we do not seriously consider this issue, we will never build democracy, free market and capitalism, but fraudulence and only fraudulence, instead. In case the individual denies responsibility for his own money, gains and initiative, he will never have a sure future. If the state does not consider this, it can not be a state based on the law but on fraudulence.
I do not want to blame anyone for all these but it is not correct and moral for us, neither as Albanians nor as civilised people, to shift the blame on the others, instead of drawing own own lessons and responsibilities honestly and with self-control.
Here there is no concession. The free individual and only he, is directly responsible for his own initiative, property and money. It is he and only he who should decide where to deposit or invest his own money. This is the society we are building. If the people do not take upon themselves the responsibility for them, but trust it to the state, this makes up the full guarantee that they would lose them very soon.
After delayed consideration of the risk of these activities, we, have treated and decided to treat the whole phenomenon and its consequences only in the framework of the rule of law. Having no laws to control and stop these activities, we issued the transparency and anti pyramid laws, created the independent commission to control and ban them through the anti-pyramid law.
Our stand is final. The government has not and will not support pyramid activities. It is determined to severely punish them and any fraudulence against the citizens. This is also our open response o all the amoral charges that the government is involved in this activity.
But, in contrast with other democratic countries, in which only the court deals with the failed companies, we decided that the government, too, be engaged in alleviating the situation created.
Someone may ask why we as a government intervened in this process and did not let the citizens tackle it with their own contractors in the court.
I hold that we, considering capitalism as a system to be learned, we did well in intervening and our intervention has been fair, social, correct and in conformity with the rules of a free society. We did not take upon ourselves the debt. No democratic government can take it upon itself, because since the moment it undertakes to return a debt it has not contracted, it undertakes to switch onto a rapacious government, which, in order to hold its own post or power, is ready to rob the citizens through high taxes or cheat them by printing currency and creating in this way inflation. This can be done only by a cheating government.
But, on the other hand, we decided through a new favouring law, to return to the citizens all the frozen deposits and the whole immovable property of these incriminated loan taking companies. We engaged ourselves in defining a series of measures to lessen the pain created and increase the gains of these companies, after the assemblies of the investors and the leading councils should engage themselves in their management.
In the coming week, the government will decide on giving credits to all those who have lost their houses in those schemes, remaining homeless. It has ordered that all the families without incomes be granted social assistance and the affected families, which want to start a private activity, be given credits.
But along these facilitating measures, we see the solution of the consequences created in the acceleration of the process of privatization, in the creation of free zones, low taxes, in preserving the stability of Lek (local money), encouragement of foreign investments and a rapid economic growth of the country.
And lastly, I would like to guarantee the Albanian citizens a full transparency on all the activity of the loan-taking firms, on everything and every aspect of these firms and this will be undertaken not only by the Prosecutor's Office but also by the Government commissions, investors commissions and the parliamentary commission. On the basis of their investigation, all aspects will be brought to light and all those who have carried out illegal acts will bear full responsibility.
By denouncing the torching, destructions, violence of all kinds and against anyone, I would like to assure Albanian citizens that the organizers, inspirers and executors of these acts will face law and receive the deserved legal punishment by the independent judiciary very soon.
I avail of the opportunity to congratulate the forces of order, police officers and the policemen for the courage, devotion and self- control that they manifested in an extremely difficult situations, showing that they belong to a democratic and free country. On this occasion, I also express my most profound condolences to the families Rustemi and Zani and guarantee them that most serious investigation will be made to identify and punish the authors of these criminal acts on the basis of law.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion I would like to appeal from this floor today to all the Albanian citizens, men and women, intellectuals, youths, businessmen, workers, farmers and all the people not to allow that the energy of the fraudulent fever of profit or gold be transformed into the energy of a psychosis of desperation and destruction. I invite all the Albanians not to agree with and not to accept that absurd mentality, which has nothing in common with our morale and civilization, that absurd mentality, which the individual responsibility tries to shift on the others or hold culpable a third one for the loss of the invested money for gains. I make this appeal not to defend one or five governments, but because if we, Albanians, are subjected to the primitive mentality of blaming the other for the direct responsibility that each of us should bear, we will come off the lines of the human morale and our civilization and great disturbances will lay in store not only for us, but for our children, Albania and the Albanian nation.
Today I invite our compatriots that in a monologue or dialogue with themselves, with a friend or relative let us think for a moment that in the four years under the Democratic Government, we came out from the dictatorship to freedom, multiplied the income per capita, over 600 thousand Albanian families became owners of land or apartments, hundreds and thousands of Albanian families are conducting today small or medium private business, that monthly salaries rose from 6-82 dollars per month. In these four years we managed to stabilize the lek, paid the foreign debt, we all learned and know today many a time more about democracy and the free market, we came closer to Europe more than ever in our history.
The pyramid schemes were without doubt a negative aspect of the private activity and free initiative, of our governing, a bitter lecture of capitalism, but which must not shake our faith in the system we are constructing. I am convinced that although the losses from pyramid schemes are great, the achievements of the majority of the Albanians over the past four years are many, many times greater.
Therefore, I invite all Albanian citizens that the pains created by the loss of the money should not shake our confidence in the program we are implementing and will implement in the four coming years, with which we shall make achievements which will be several times more than those over the four past years. But this will be achieved only if we, as civilized men would not allow that our moral and civic Code be trampled by the primitive mentality of blaming the other for a decision which has been taken with the free will of each individual. I am convinced that the free people, the civilized people can never accept this, because they know well that this dangerous mentality will set fire to our future and children, to the values of our morale and civilization.
I would like to address a special appeal to the citizens of Vlora who have had great losses from the pyramid schemes to have full confidence that in case we do not promise to take on ourselves their debt, we are resolute that through a serious and rapid program to be committed to resolve the question of housing and the great economic difficulties created by the collapse of the companies based on pyramid schemes, in this town..
I assure them that through a number of other measures to increase the profits of the company, which will pass into their possession, through the setting of the free port and zone in this town and other projects in infrastructure, in a mid term period, the pains and consequences from the the losses in loan-taking firms will be healed.
I appeal to public and private, Albanian and foreign media to tell the people the truth and not to make business with their grief and desperation and on this case, on your behalf and on behalf of all the Albanians, I want to address all these pseudo-analysts, who, by exploiting some scenes or absent-minded individuals are pouring these days their pathological hatred towards the Albanian nation, considering it as outdated and out of the planet.
I would like to stress that we, Albanians, are a nation with an old civilisation, with a real contribution in the European civilisation, while racism and hatred toward the others are a monstrosity.
I invite all the political forces in Albania for which the values of democracy are precious, to drop aside the conditions, to denounce violence and to establish dialogue for which I am and will remain always open.
I call on them to offer for discussion at the round table their best solutions for the problems created, not imagine success through desperation and calamity of the others, to protest by implementing our democratic laws and give up illegal activities, because they may face unpredictable consequences.
In conclusion, I address once more wholeheartedly, all the Albanians who trust in God, themselves, freedom, property, their future, flag and their country to stick to the values of their moral, wisdom, traditions and civilisation, not to allow a temporary loss be transformed into a permanent drama, and I am confident this will never happen.
Long live Albania! lm/xh/