Opposition's Protest inadvertently Boosts Mayor Veliaj's Standing

20 Prill 2024, 20:36Op-Ed Mero Baze

The statements from several Western embassies in Tirana, including the U.S. Embassy, EU diplomats, and the British Ambassador, criticizing the Albanian opposition’s Molotov attacks on the city hall during Friday’s protest, have sparked anger. Western diplomats in Albania have frequently condemned acts of violence during protests, particularly when public institutions were targeted with Molotov bombs or when smoke bombs were thrown in the parliament chamber. Consequently, it is not the criticism itself that has fueled the anger among the Albanian opposition.

The opposition's fury stems from their mistaken belief that they had tacit approval to “set fire” to the city hall. Now, they're grappling with severe disappointment due to international criticism, unfairly labeling Western diplomats as subservient to Mayor Erion Veliaj.

But the opposition has effectively harmed itself with their recent actions. They were convinced their protest would damage Veliaj's position, but instead, it garnered increased international support for the Tirana Mayor. One might even speculate, if unaware of the opposition's political ineptitude, that they are intentionally boosting Veliaj's image. However, it's evident they lack strategic thinking and resort to ineffective methods like throwing Molotov bombs and smoke grenades. They resemble low-ranking soldiers fixated solely on pyrotechnics.

Despite feigning upset over international criticism, which they try hard to spin as support for Mayor Veliaj, the opposition is truly disappointed by the low turnout at their protest. This marks their third attempt to remove Veliaj from office, backed by promises from Sali Berisha, yet they failed to rally more than 200 people. Consequently, they resorted to escalating the aggression of their protest to attract media attention.

In the end, Erion Veliaj emerged with a double victory. Firstly, he became the focal point of opposition attacks, thereby strengthening his political position. Secondly, the ongoing weakness of the opposition in challenging him further solidified his standing.

This issue seems to haunt the Albanian opposition. They stand alone in the streets, with citizens refusing to join their rallies. Instead of weakening Veliaj's position, they inadvertently secured increased international support for him. Despite this, they insist that the reactions of Western diplomats were meant as support for Veliaj, despite them condemning the opposition's violence.

If they wish to label it as support for Veliaj, they are free to do so. Ultimately, it is the outcome of their own actions. They take to the streets hoping to remove the mayor from office but end up garnering more support for him.

Original article: https://www.gazetatema.net/editorial/nje-cete-opozitare-qe-po-forcon-erion-veliaj-i436634



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