Lulzim Basha

Lulzim Basha
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
15 September 2013
Preceded by Edi Rama
Leader of the Democratic Party
Assumed office
23 July 2013
Preceded by Sali Berisha
41st Mayor of Tirana
In office
25 July 2011  21 July 2015
Preceded by Edi Rama
Succeeded by Erion Veliaj
28rd Minister of the Interior
In office
17 September 2009  25 April 2011
Prime Minister Sali Berisha
Preceded by Bujar Nishani
Succeeded by Bujar Nishani
47rd Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
24 April 2007  17 September 2009
Prime Minister Sali Berisha
Preceded by Besnik Mustafaj
Succeeded by Ilir Meta
Minister of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications
In office
11 September 2005  24 April 2007
Prime Minister Sali Berisha
Preceded by Spartak Poçi
Succeeded by Sokol Olldashi
Personal details
Born (1974-06-12) 12 June 1974
Tirana, Albania
Political party Democratic Party
Alma mater Utrecht University
Signature

Lulzim Basha ( listen ; born 12 June 1974) is an Albanian politician who was Mayor of Tirana, the capital of Albania, from 2011 to 2015. He has also been leader of the Democratic Party of Albania, the main opposition party, since 2013.

Prior to being elected Mayor of Tirana, Basha was twice elected as member of Parliament representing Tirana (2005-2009) and Elbasan (2009-2011). During that period he served as Albania's Minister of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications (2005-2007), Minister of Foreign Affairs (2007-2009) and Minister of the Interior (2009–2011).

Early life and education

Lulzim Basha was born in Tirana on 12 June 1974. His family hails from Drenica in Kosovo,[1] from where they were expelled by the Yugoslav Partisans. After attending the Sami Frashëri High School, he studied law at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as member of the investigation team of war crimes of Serbian forces in Kosovo (1998–1999).[2]

In 2000 Basha joined the Department of Justice of the UN administration of Kosovo,[a] UNMIK, first as legal advisor and then as Deputy Chief of Cabinet of the Director of the UNMIK Justice Department since October 2001. From November 2002 until January 2005 Basha served as special advisor for Transition in the same department.

Political career

Basha joined the Democratic Party of Albania in January 2005 and became a member of the party's Presidency in May of that year. He has since held several ministerial positions in Democratic Party-led governments.

Berisha Cabinet (2005–2011)

He served as the party's spokesperson during the 2005 parliamentary elections at which he was elected to the Albanian Parliament as the MP of Constituency #33 in Tirana. He was then nominated in the Berisha government as Minister of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications, where he served for a period of two years.[3] Basha initiated the major infrastructural work in Albanian history, Durrës–Kukes Highway, involving the construction of a 5.6 km tunnel. In 2007, the Chief Prosecutor of Albania Theodhori Sollaku asked the parliament to lift Basha's immunity from prosecution so he could begin an investigation into possible political corruption and abuse of power charges. This was in regard to the awarding of the highway construction contract to Bechtel-ENKA, a U.S.-Turkish joint venture.[4] These charges were filed after the Chief Prosecutor himself had been impeached by the Parliament on charges of collusion with organized crime. Basha said that the charges were politically motivated, although he asked the Parliament to lift his immunity. Consequently, the Supreme Court of Albania after a legal process relieved him of all the charges.

Basha served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from May 2007 until his appointment as Minister of Interior in September 2009. During his term, Albania was admitted to NATO, applied for EU membership and started the dialogue to secure visa-free travel for its citizens to the Schengen countries.

After the 2009 election, Basha was nominated as Minister of Interior in the new Berisha government. As Minister of Interior, he implemented all the required criteria for visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, including the modernisation of the Albanian border and immigration police system, the issuing of high security biometric passports and a tougher fight against criminal activity and criminal assets. These steps won international praise, notably by EUROPOL and other law enforcement bodies,[5] and led to the decision of the EU on 8 November 2010 to lift all travel visa requirements for Albanian citizens effective 15 December 2010.[6]

Mayor of Tirana (2011-2015)

In 2011 Basha was the governing party's candidate for the post of Mayor of Tirana. He defeated the leader of the Socialist opposition, Edi Rama, by a very narrow margin (only 81 votes after the recount) in a hotly contested election. He served as Mayor until 2015.

During his term as mayor, Basha vowed to lead big reforms in his first hundred days in office, while promising to make the municipality more accessible to citizens and free of political conflicts.[7]

His main focus was the development of the new strategic urban plan, to increase investments and employment and solve the traffic problems in the city centre.

A draft was presented in May 2012 and it was considered as very important for the future economic development of the city. It was one of the first successes of Basha as Mayor of Tirana, but the plan was opposed by the opposition. The new Urban Development Plan proposed a number of measures, primarily with a focus on the road network and, to a smaller degree, on sustainable modes of transport. A tramway system in addition to the bus system was proposed and the plan also included the building of a new Boulevard in the northern part of the city and the rehabilitation of the Tirana river.[8]

The earlier plan for the Skanderbeg Square was scrapped and a new one introduced. The use of the square by all motor vehicles will be restored through the construction of a narrower road segment around the center of the square including bicycle lanes. The existing green field south of Skanderbeg's statue was extended northward for a few hundred meters, while trees were planted in most places.

On May 2013 the City Hall launched an international tender for the construction of the capital’s new northern boulevard, with a length of 1.8 km.[9] The project was expected to be finished before Basha's first mandate as mayor, but after the 2013 parliamentary election, the new Rama Government cut off most of the funds, and many projects were left unfinished.

Basha didn't run for a 2nd mandate in the 2015 local elections, which were won by the Socialist Party candidate Erion Veliaj.[10]

Leader of the opposition (since 2013)

After the defeat of the Democratic Party-led coalition in the 2013 parliamentary election and the resignation of Sali Berisha as party leader, Basha was elected as chairman of the Democratic Party in 23 July 2013, following the first one-member-one-vote election in party’s history .[11][12]

On 30 September 2014, a national congress of the Democratic Party was held to elect a new leadership.[13] In the congress a tough reform of the party was announced by Basha.

During his leadership numerous anti-government demonstrations have been held, accusing the government as corrupt and criminalized. On 2015 the Democratic Party proposed a Decriminalization Law, which led to several months of negotiations with the government. Finally in December 2015, the law was passed by majority in the Parliament, barring people with criminal convictions from holding public office. [14]

On December 11, 2016 during the celebrations for the 26th anniversary of the Democratic Party, party leader Lulzim Basha announced his program for the further modernization and democratization of the party ahead of the 2017 parliamentary elections.

After previously promising that 35% of the parliamentary candidates would consist of members from the youth movement of the Party, Basha now announced a limitations of all mandates of the party leaders to a two-year term, and the full democratization of the internal election process.[15]

On 18 February 2017 members of the Democratic Party and other opposition parties, under the leadership of Lulzim Basha pitched a giant tent outside the Prime Minister's office in Tirana after thousands of protesters rallied to demand free elections and a technocrat government. The opposition protest further escalated into a larger political conflict. The Democratic Party and its allies refused to register to take part in the June 18 general election, until the government will accept their conditions to secure a free and democratic election.[16][17]

In June 2017, Basha met with President Donald Trump during a visit to the US as part of participation in White House Workforce Development week. Basha said the two discussed " administration initiatives on cutting taxes, promoting vocational and job-training, an apprenticeship program."[18] Earlier, Basha claimed that his support for Trump made him the target of a campaign funded by George Soros.

Political Position

EU Integration

Mr.Basha is a strong supporter of Albania joining the EU and has accused the government of Edi Rama many times as distancing Albania from its EU perspective through failed reforms and corruption. Serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2007 - 2009, he mostly focused on the visa liberalization process of Albania and he finished his mandate with the EU decision to let Albanians travel freely in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.[19][20]

Economy

During the Albanian parliamentary election, 2017 he proposed reinstating the flat tax at a 9% rate.[21] The flat tax was a form of taxation which had been applied by Berisha’s government during the time that the right wing was in power, between 2005-2013.[22]

Foreign Affairs

Basha is pro-American and as leader of the Democratic Party he considers the USA as the most important strategic partner of Albania. In June 2017, Basha met with President Donald Trump during a visit to the US as part of participation in White House Workforce Development week."[18] Earlier, Basha claimed that his support for Trump made him the target of a campaign funded by George Soros.

References

  1. "Kush është Lulzim Basha?". Albeu. 2011.
  2. "Albania pins its hopes on youthful government". Kosovareport. Reuters. 8 September 2005. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  3. "Albanian premier replaces foreign minister". International Herald Tribune. 25 April 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  4. "Albania's foreign minister could face prosecution; parliament asked to lift immunity". International Herald Tribune. 15 October 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  5. "Shefi i Europol: Me mbresa nga progresi i Shqipërisë". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  6. "Visa Liberalisation enters into horse in December 2010". Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  7. "Lulzim Basha Sworn In as Tirana Mayor".
  8. "New Urban Development Plan of Tirana sets direction for road network development (Albania) - Eltis". www.eltis.org. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  9. Times, Tirana (31 May 2013). "City Hall launches international tender for Tirana new north boulevard". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  10. "Erion Veliaj takes office as Mayor of Tirana". Retrieved 2015-08-31.
  11. "Basha Elected Head of Albania's Democrats :: Balkan Insight". www.balkaninsight.com. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  12. Times, Tirana (26 July 2013). "Basha elected new Democratic Party leader". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  13. albania-opposition-party-elects-new-leadership
  14. "Albania MPs to Vote on 'Decriminalising Politics' :: Balkan Insight". www.balkaninsight.com. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  15. "Basha Announces Thorough Reform of PD - Exit". 11 December 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  16. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-albania-opposition-protests-idUSKBN15X0OI
  17. "Albania Opposition Parties to Boycott June Elections :: Balkan Insight". www.balkaninsight.com. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  18. 1 2 Shera, Urim (14 June 2017). "Basha: Extraordinary meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  19. http://tvklan.al/basha-discusses-eu-integration-with-epp-president-daul/
  20. http://www.epp.eu/press-releases/basha-and-the-democratic-party-of-albania-the-way-forward-for-albania/
  21. http://top-channel.tv/english/basha-in-has-my-first-decision-as-pm-flat-tax-and-reducing-vat/
  22. https://balkaneu.com/albanian-opposition-demands-the-return-of-the-flat-tax/
Political offices
Preceded by
Besnik Mustafaj
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Ilir Meta
Preceded by
Bujar Nishani
Minister of the Interior
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Bujar Nishani
Preceded by
Edi Rama
Mayor of Tirana
2011–2015
Succeeded by
Erion Veliaj
Preceded by
Edi Rama
Leader of the Opposition
2013–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Sali Berisha
Leader of the Democratic Party
2013–present
Incumbent
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