Since 2010, Albanian citizens don’t need visa to travel in the Schengen area. Since December 2013, France has declared Albania as a safe country of origin. However, according to the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra), in 2016 France registered 7,432 cases asylum seekers from Albania. During this year, there have been 4,200 registered applications so far.
The Albanian asylum seeker community in France has become a public issue. Almost every day, the local, regional, and even national French media speak about this. The main arguments for coming to the French territory are related to bloodfeud victims and the poor economic situation.
The concern of the French government
The French government has addressed its concern regarding the Albanian asylum seekers, because it is facing a rather difficult situation, finding itself unable to shelter refugees in appropriate centers as they are in full capacity.
Nonetheless, we must be conscious and understand that France cannot open its doors for all Albanians. It can play a double role, however, in response to illegal immigration, first by making the Albanian government responsible and second through fighting the criminal networks of this human trafficking.
The responsibility (accountability) of the Albanian government
Regarding the responsibly of the Albanian government, the visit of the French Minister for Interior Affairs, Gérard Collomb, planned during this coming autumn in Tirana, is a strong signal to the Albanian leaders. We must be aware and accept that Albanian politicians are the main actors responsible for our fellow countrymen leaving. They have failed in socio-economic politics: work, security, and health. While nepotism, corruption, and arrogance stroll in the streets of Albania, thwarting professional skills and civil values of the Albanian citizens like honesty and dignity, one can understand why some thousands of people run away from their birthplace.
Due to this, it is up to the leader of the Albanian government, who is currently in power since 2013, and will hold power until 2021; it is up to this Francophone, who was decorated with the Commander of Legion of Honor in 2017 by the French state, to take responsibility and “return” to France what France gave to him in the past. It is necessary and urgent that the appropriate measures are taken so that the Albanian citizens live in a dignified way in their own country, without the need to run away and end up in derailed conditions in public spaces in France, in the streets, pavements, bridges, parks, and train stations.
The war against the Albanian mafia ties
Regarding the war against Albanian mafia networks, the French government will always need to constantly fight it in its own territory. However, a broader collaboration is needed, not only with Albania but also with the neighboring countries such as Germany, Italy, and Switzerland to halt these predators known as “dream vendors,” who promise El Dorado to their victims.
The majority of Albanian asylum seekers are robbed by these criminals. Some of them squander their lives’ savings so that they can enter the French territory. Then, they are left usually at the door of a social service building hoping they will find shelter and get asylum status, but chances are meager because they don’t have a refugee status and secondly, since 2013, Albania is deemed a safe country of origin.
This type of immigration is a “temporary solution,” which in the majority of cases ends with a return to home. Therefore, this crisis needs to be solved through political and legal routes, because people’s lives are being destroyed each day. In order to achieve this, the Albanian government and its conductor, captain, and driver need to be more aware and informed regarding this issue.
Albania could make it, but the example must come from the top!
First published in Darsiani.