Some obscure changes in the leading structures of the Albanian armies
have been sent as a concern to Washington by the second person in charge
of the US Embassy in Tirana, Debora Jones, through a cable dated 8
“On September 2, President Topi’s office announced several dismissals and appointments in the top ranks of the military. Current commander of Naval Command Captain Kristaq Gerveni was appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff (DCHOD), by Admiral Kudret Cela. Brigadier General Vladimir Qiriazi was dismissed as commander of Logistics Command and appointed deputy commander of Joint Forces Command”, the cable says.
“In the press release, President Topi claims to have made these appointments at the request of the Minister of Defense. Several of Post’s contacts in the Ministry of Defense (MoD), including Chief of the General Staff (CHOD) BG Maksim Malaj, have told Post they had no previous knowledge of the reshuffle. Indeed, BG Malaj expressed his outrage that he was not consulted on any of these appointments,” the cable adds.
The vice ambassador Jones writes in front of this situation that: “While the President is Commander and Chief of the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) and has the right to dismiss and appoint whomever he wants, it is unusual that he would do so without consulting the military at all. Several aspects of the appointments cause concern. First, Captain Gerveni is filling a position usually filled by a Brigadier General (Rear Admiral) or higher. While a very able officer and supportive of reform, Gerveni was not on this year’s list for promotion.”
Jones refers to unconfirmed voices and explains the promotion with the fact that this was a reward for Gervenin in the successful negotiations with the Greek government for the maritime border:
“The agreement is believed to have helped convince Greece to ratify Albania’s NATO membership. Gerveni will be commanding a Naval Commander (Rear Admiral Cela) who outranks him. Admiral Cela has not had a command position since approximately five years ago when he was dismissed from this same position for unknown reasons (speculation revolved around disputes over illegal construction or property disputes.”
The cable explains that the property was Dinamo Stadium, property of the army. Sources confirm that one person close to Prime Minister, who might also be a Minister, is trying to buy this property, but general Qiriazi refused to sign the documents for passing the properties to private hands.
Debora Jones concludes the cable with this comment:
“As commander of Logistics Command, Qiriazi’s support for demilitarization will be missed. However, more concerning is the lack of transparency in these appointments, their possible punitive nature and potential links to corruption. Unfortunately, it is still common practice throughout the Albanian Government for appointment decisions at every level to be made unilaterally from the top without consultation, a practice which inhibits the development of a professional cadre of civil servants and military officers.”