The former OSCE Ambassador to Albania, and also Ambassador of the Netherlands to Kosovo, Robert Bosch, who has good knowledge of Albania’s reality, said in an interview for Top Channel that parties in Albania must work together to change the wrong perception that our country is having in the Netherlands.
He said that this issue is an internal matter between Dutch MPs, who want to show that they are against crime committed by foreigners, and who want to prove that damage caused by foreigners.
“Some MPs may visit Albania in the next year and it could be the right time to change their opinion”, Bosch said.
“I was shocked by the debate in my country’s Parliament, where the Minister, who had just visited Albania, introduced many facts, showing that crimes committed by Albanians only make 0.2%, but the argument wasn’t heard by the MPs, especially by Mrs. Toorenburg. That’s why it was a strange debate, because the facts didn’t play any role, and whatever the Minister said was being completely ignored. I sincerely don’t know why”, Bosch said.
As for the motive that could be driving this behavior, Bosch said that many of the MPs who voted in favor have had a different opinion in the past: “I spoke with some of them and introduced some facts. Strangely, one day before the voting, a long article about the Albanian crime, with very harsh notes against your countrymen, was published by a very big and important media outlet in the Netherlands. The news said that Albanians top the list of violent people. This is not true. It was incredible and, of course, when MPs read something like that, they can change their mind. I wrote to this newspaper and told them that I am going to send facts proving that what they wrote is unacceptable”, the former ambassador Ambassador said.
When asked whether this was an internal matter of the Netherlands, or some kind of critic against the government of Albania, as it has been interpreted in Tirana, Bosch said that this is mostly about some MPs wanting to show how dangerous foreigners are in the Netherlands: “As I said, only 0.2% of the crimes are related to Albanians. This is an insult to the country and to its citizens. All parties in Albania, the opposition included, must get together and say the article is not true. Of course, every country has criminals, but the general population is made of good people. It must be made clear that Albanians are not like whatever they are being described. Even if you are in opposition, it is your country that has been insulted. The insult wasn’t against the government, but against the people of Albania, in an extreme form, and this is totally unacceptable”, he said.
The former OSCE Ambassador to Albania doesn’t believe that this could trigger a domino effect with other countries, since the EU decision for bringing back visa regime is based on rules, and the stance kept by the Albanian government on this matter was OK: “The visa system is being abused by Albanians who want to travel from the Netherlands to the UK, but they can be easily deported, as the Albanian government itself requested in a meeting with our Minister, a few days ago”, the former Ambassador said.
When asked by Top Channel’s journalist Muhamed Veliu if Netherlands would vote against Albania’s EU accession negotiations this June, Bosch said that the Minister has openly declared that the Netherlands will vote against, because they think that Albania is not ready yet: “But there is still time and I will do my best to change their mind. A delegation from the Netherlands will arrive in Tirana next month, and this is a good opportunity to show the progress that your country is making. This should be done constructively and without propaganda. The reality is enough. You don’t need propaganda”, Bosch said.