Albanian President Ilir Meta also reacted to the latest leaked State Intelligence Service report from last week, which warned of efforts to increase Russian influence in the country during this last year.
Asked whether he is aware of the Russian risks the SHISH report mentioned, Meta said he is, but that he does not consider them a pressing problem for Albania at the moment.
“We are aware of the often unfortunately toxic effects of Russia in our region, but I do not believe that this is a problem in the case of Albania. We would like Russia to respect the choice of all the region’s countries to become integrated into the European Union and NATO, but it is its right to react differently. However, we should not turn the Russian risk into the old Anglo-American risk in order to conceal the real causes of this constitutional, political, moral representation crisis that are created by us and require reflection by everyone,” Meta said.
Meta’s stand on the Russian risk was backed by a number of prominent Albanian scholars and international relations and foreign affairs experts who were asked by Tirana Times last week whether the risks of increased Russian influence are real and dangerous.
“Albania shares the most pro-European and pro-US public opinion in the region. This public opinion rejects any political approaches to Russia. Moscow has adapted to this reality. I believe that the information provided by the Albanian intelligence chief in the Parliamentary Security Commission has been credited with the fact that Russia is financing ovulatory media and portals in our country,” Besnik Mustafaj, President of the Council of Ambassadors and former minister of foreign affairs, told Tirana Times.
Another former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aldo Bumci, also said that this Russian influence should at least not be viewed in the traditional manner, although the Albanian government does manifest traits of the Russian government model called Putinism.
“Albanians are by far the most pro-Western, pro-American and pro-European people in the region. So Russian influence cannot be traced in the classical forms it manifests itself in other neighboring countries,” Bumci said.
A similar opinion was communicated by former minister of foreign affairs Arta Dade.
“The failed efforts in Montenegro, in Northern Macedonia and recently even with Greek authorities in the case of implementation of Prespa Agreement is indicative of the fact that even in the countries where Russia is certain to have support in pro-Russian population or political segments or religion affiliation proves that the euro-Atlantic agenda is far stronger,” Dade told Tirana Times.
Last week, the head of the State Intelligence Service (SHISH) Helidon Bendo is reported to have told the Parliamentary Commission for National Security on Monday there have been efforts to increase Russian influence in Albania.
This was reported by Top Channel from an unknown source.
“Data analysis from 2018 points to an increase efforts from Russia to further extend its influence in the country,” Bendo was reported to have said without giving details on the actors official Moscow is allegedly using to increase its influence.