Dialogue and the common good. These are two key-terms used by the Archbishop of Tirana-Durres, President of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference, in his remarks on the ongoing political crisis in Albania, two fundamental concepts to understand the political and social situation inside the Country. In fact, dialogue and the common good are two themes that are lacking in Albania’s political debate. There emerges a specific trait characterising a culture that excludes – or caricatures – the concepts of dialogue and common good. This attitude has deep roots, signalling a legacy of the Turkish empire and, in particular, of the Communist regime.
A poor culture of the common good has led to utilize natural resources and public works, patrimony of the Albanian people, for corrupt purposes and to conduct nepotistic business. The common good is thus viewed not as deserving protection and enhancement for social coexistence but as an easy prey for the appetites of individuals or clans. This explains why, for example, many public projects have been assigned through corruptive practices. Many natural resources like mines, rivers, thermal waters, highways, are assigned via dubious concessions. It is common practice to entrust the common good in return for political and economic favours.
It is hoped that the so-called justice reform will equally address the issue of bribery, as Albania was ranked the most corrupt Country in the Balkans and in Europe as a whole.
This requires a special effort – that we pledge to make also in our capacities as ecclesial community – to enhance the common good and step up related education programs, while always putting the human person at the centre. Unfortunately this dimension is neglected by the political realm.
Strictly linked to this aspect is the lack of dialogue between political factions. A society such as the Albanian one, accustomed to the only Communist party’s monologue for 50 years, strives to identify the path of dialogue. Long before being a political virtue, dialogue is an anthropological virtue that is part and parcel of the social fabric. Its absence from the social fabric for various reasons entails its absence also in the actions of those who were elected to represent the people.
This element of discord, that dates back to a historical period that precedes the past years of transition, can be compared to a wall or a virus that prevents dialogue from growing. Dialogue is not offered or accepted. Dialogue takes place on the basis of pre-existing convictions or decisions or for the purpose of “negotiating”, not to identify solutions aimed at ensuring a future of stability.
For the above-mentioned reasons Albania is often caught into these vicious cycles with no way out, entangled in unsolvable knots.
I believe that the contribution of the Church and of religions in general could consist in offering a model, alongside with an educational commitment in the communities with individuals or small groups directed at the common good and at dialogue.
Huge challenges lie ahead of us. Twenty eight years have passed since the fall of Communism. Although it is a relatively recent past it’s time enough to strengthen the irreversible path towards Europe along with the creation of a democratic society where rule of law, respect for the common good and dialogue between political and social leaders and groups, are developed and sought by us all.
We shall overcome this critical moment only through a willingness to dialogue extended to the future of the people, especially by preventing the emigration of so many young people seeking a better life beyond Albanian borders.
(*) bishop of Rrëshen, Secretary General of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference