For the first time since the fall of communism, the US Embassy did not participate in the first session of the new legislature, when Parliament is constituted and a new government receives its mandate.
The reason for the absence of US Ambassador Donald Lu appears to have been the election of former communist minister Gramoz Ruçi as Speaker of Parliament.
In 2009, former US Ambassador Withers sent a cable to the US State Department, released by Wikileaks, in which he stated that Ruçi has been banned from entering the US because of his “ties to organized crime”:
Gramoz Ruci: SP MP and party General Secretary, Ruci has long-standing ties to narcotics traffickers and organized crime. Ruci has also been banned from entering the U.S. since 2005 due to a permanent visa ineligibility.
There can be no doubt that Prime Minister Edi Rama was informed about the US position regarding Ruçi before proposing him. However, he chose to ignore the concerns of one of Albania’s most important allies and NATO partner, as well as those of the opposition, by praising Ruçi as a great political figure. On his Facebook TV channel ERTV, Prime Minister Edi Rama stated during his first monologue on Sunday:
Yesterday we elected a new Speaker of Parliament, who will be a guarantee for the cohabitation between majority and opposition. Sorry for the attacks against him as an echo of the emptiness of the opposition. The change in the quality of Parliament will be apparent under his lead. Parliament will no longer be a club of words without order and borders, ethical and time-wise, in a stream of words to score political or personal points.