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Albanian lobbyism in the U.S. as another challenge to Balkans stability
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Albanian lobbyism in the U.S. as another challenge to Balkans stability

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USA – April 10, 2019

The American political system grants all opportunities for the ethnic minorities living in the U.S. to stand for their “national interests”, and the stronger a particular lobby is, the greater the probability Washington willsupport the country the minority comes from in the international arena. Today we will talk about one of the most powerful Balkan lobbies in the U.S.—the Albanian. 

Although Albania is a small country of only about 11,100 square miles, with a population of no more than 3 million, Tirana does have geopolitical ambitions, mostly directly connected with the Albanian-speaking region of Serbia – Kosovo. 

As of the beginning of 2019, the world is still divided on this issue, as only 102 out of 193 UN member countries recognize Kosovo’sindependence, which was claimed 11 years ago, on February 17, 2008. There is no unity on the Kosovo issue even within the members of NATO, as 4 out of 29 states (Spain, Greece, Slovakia, and Romania) never recognized it and were criticized both by Washington and by Brussells for their support of the territorial unity of war-torn Serbia. 

Albania makes every effort towards the international recognition of Kosovo, and since the country is too small to make any geopolitical decisions on its own, it uses Albanian ethnic lobbying in America to “defend” its national interests, which pose a threat to the stability of other Balkan nations. 

As we have already mentioned in our previous articles, lobbyism itself is a means of corruption. The most moderate estimates state that the number of lobbyists in the American capital alone is about 12,000. Since local governments tend to spend thousands of dollars on it, many of them represent ethnic minorities’ interests in general and Albanian interests in particular. 

However, this is more like a technical number, since most of the lobbying (if we consider the lobbying budgets), is done by only about 300 rather “small” firms. There are other estimates too, though. For instance, analyst James A. Thurber states that the actual number of active lobbyists in D.C. is close to 100,000. According to him, the industry brings in about $9 billion annually, which proves that the American political system can be described as “highly-lobbied” and thus – “highly-corrupt”. 

And many of these firms defend national interests as well. Havingrefreshed this knowledge, we can now draw new conclusions regarding Albanian ethnic lobbyism: The corruption within the American political system (under the mask of “lobbyism”) was another reason for the illegal and unfair international recognition of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija in Serbia as the so-called “Republic of Kosovo”. 

Who are the main conductors of Albanian interests in D.C.? Historically and officially there is only one organization that represents and defends the interests of Albanians within the lobby system—the Albanian American Civic League (or “Lidhja Qytetare Shqiptaro-Amerikane” in Albanian).  

And no matter how inclusive and democratic the American political and electoral system might seem at first glance, the background of the candidates elected to Congress means a lot, a good example of which is the founder of the Civic League—Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, who supported the creation of a Board of Albanian Americans and the Albanian American Civic League in 1989, just before the beginning of the slaughterous Balkan Wars that ruined one of the strongest European nations, Yugoslavia.

It could be a simple coincidence, but we can’t exclude the possibility that Joseph DioGuardi and his organization influenced the American approach towards that conflict, turning it into a one-sided game against the Serbs. It’s also known that since 1989 the Albanian American Civic League has actively (and to a great extent “effectively”) lobbied the United States Congress in an effort to influence U.S. foreign policy in the Balkans. The League was also one of the key propagators of the independence of Kosovo.   

It’s interesting how opaque the the Albanian American Civic League’sspending structure is, as it’s impossible to find any information about it for after 2008. It’s no secret that a special interest's lobbying activity may go up or down over time. 

The amount of spending also depends on the level of attention the federal government is giving their issues at any particular moment in time. Nonetheless it’s strange that such powerful lobbying group as the Albanian ethnic minority tends to hide its spending even though it’s still active. 

The question here is whether they act alone, or whether it was the Deep State that told them to go deep into the shadows after the formal recognition of Kosovo 11 years ago. However, the organization is certainly continuing to bring instability and chaos to the Balkans, as one of the key lobbyists of the Albanian interests in Washington, D.C., and the wife of Joseph DioGuardi, Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, speaks out loudabout the new vectors of Albanian aggression in the region, trying to “defend” this ethnic minority in Macedonia now, at hearings held in Washington, D.C. However, knowing the rules of the game, who would listen to her, if the Albanian American Civic League wasn’t spend any money on its activities?

Despite this secrecy, we do know how much the local Albanian political parties have spent the past few years in a desperate attempt to be heard in Washington. As revealed by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, different political parties of Albania paid up to 30 million Albanian lekë (around $277,800) to lobbyists and firms in the United States in 2017 alone, and probably even more in the nearest past. This was to gain influence and access to politicians, who are “always welcome” to help the Albanians in their struggle against their Balkan neighbors. This is a huge amount of money for an extremely poor European country that has numerous problems in the social sphere, including drug-trafficking (asocial decease that also infects Albanian-speaking Kosovo). Of course, such spending might have caused the wave of acts of civil disobedience and anti-governmental protests in Tirana, but no Albanian citizen looking at a campaign finance report would know that.

How does it all work? The scheme is pretty old, as all the expenses of the Albanian political parties on the finance reports (they were initially released by the local political powers following the Parliamentary election of 2017) are named “payment for consultancy”: No more explanation for the Albanian taxpayers is provided, which say much about the nature of Albanian political and the principles of democracy that don’t exist there. 

It’s known that the Democratic Party of Albania alone, that (at least in theory) should protect the economic and social interests of ordinary Albanians, spent about 20% of its budget for the 2017 campaign on lobbying, totaling 12,585,000 in lekë ($116,500), according to the party’s financial filing. The key American counteragents of the Albanian Democrats were two lobbying groups: “Barnes & Thornburg” and “MuzinCapitol Partners”.

What has also been revealed is that right before the election, another significant political power of Albania, the Socialist Party, sent lobbyists to the U.S. to contact officials there up to the level of the members of Congress, such as a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, and State Department officials, concerning official U.S.-Albanian relations, according to the DOJ documents. And who knows, maybe the Albanians were interested in electing Donald Trump, since they contacted him even earlier, thus in the context of the ongoing American political witch-hunt,it’s fair to speak about the Albanian interference in the Presidential election.  

But, to be serious, both the inhabitants of Kosovo and the people of Albania realize how deeply the U.S. controls the political sphere of these countries, which forces local political parties to seek approval in Washington. Neither politicians of Kosovo, nor politicians of Albania, are independent. And this has much to do much with the American military presence in the Balkans. 

“Albanians are the main ally of U.S. in Balkans, not because they love us but because we are the reason that U.S. have a giant military base in Balkans. Because of us U.S are present in Balkans. They supported us in our cause for independence and we granted them a huge military base even the biggest military base out of U.S. Our politicians cannot go to WC without asking U.S. Just one letter of Embassy of U.S in Kosovo was enough to elect our President. We even call them for the dialogue with Serbia. We have to solve problems with Serbia as two neighbouringcountries and if we are not able to stand and make dialogue alone with Serbia, I don’t know what to add to this…” states expert Bener Mulla, who studied Law at University of Prizren.

Author: USA Really