Edi Rama

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His Excellency
Edi Rama
Edi Rama 2014.jpg
33rd Prime Minister of Albania
Assumed office
15 September 2013
President Bujar Nishani
Ilir Meta (Elect)
Deputy Niko Peleshi
Preceded by Sali Berisha
2nd Chairman of the Socialist Party
Assumed office
10 October 2005
Preceded by Fatos Nano
40th Mayor of Tirana
In office
11 October 2000 – 25 July 2011
Preceded by Albert Brojka
Succeeded by Lulzim Basha
Personal details
Born (1964-07-04) 4 July 1964 (age 52)
Tirana, Albania
Political party Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Linda Rama
Children Gregor Rama
Zaho Rama
Alma mater University of Arts of Albania
Religion baptised Catholic,[1] agnostic[2]
Signature
Website Official website

Edi Rama (formerly: Edvin; born 4 July 1964) is an Albanian politician, artist, writer, and the Prime Minister of Albania since 2013. He is also the leader of the Socialist Party of Albania since 2005. Rama served as Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports from 1998 to 2000, and was Mayor of Tirana for three consecutive terms from 2000 to 2011. He led the coalition of socialist and left-wing parties that won the June 2013 parliamentary election, defeating the conservative bloc of Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

Early life and career[edit]

Rama was born in Tirana to Kristaq Rama, a sculptor and native of Durrës, and Aneta Rama (née Koleka), a graduate of medicine from Vuno,[3] Vlorë. Kristaq Rama is one of the most esteemed sculptors of his time, author of several monuments such as the Monumenti i Pavaresise, the monument of Shote Galica in Kukës, and the statue of Mother Albania located in the National Martyrs Cemetery of Albania.

Rama started painting early in his childhood. During his teenager years, his talent was noticed by two of the leading Albanian painters of the time, Edi Hila and Danish Juniku.[4] They both encouraged Rama to develop his painter’s skills in a professional way.[4] In 1982, Rama decided to pursue a professional painting career, by enrolling in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

As a teenager, Rama was involved in sports[5] as a professional basketball player for Dinamo Tirana. He was also part of the Albanian National Basketball Team.[6] In the dying hours of the communist regime, Rama, a young professor at the Academy of Arts, organized several open student meetings, during which the regime was publicly denounced. Those meetings acted as a ferment of the student movement which eventually brought down the regime. Essays from those meetings were collected in the book Refleksione, which Rama published together with publicist Ardian Klosi.

Following the collapse of Communism in Albania, he became involved with the first democratic movements. He entered the student movement but soon left after a quarrel over ideological matters with Sali Berisha.[7] In 1994, Rama decided to leave for France, with the intention of establishing an artist life there. In France, his painting career took off. Together with his former student and later close friends, Anri Sala, Rama took part in many exhibitions.

Lana River and nearby Rinia Park were restored to pre-1990s state in Tirana

Political career[edit]

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and Austrian Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter meet the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana, Albania. (June 17, 2014)

In January 1997, during one of his trips back to Albania, Rama was physically assaulted. It was widely alleged that the beatings where done by members of the Secret Services SHISH, to punish Rama for his outspoken criticism of the Berisha government.[8] In 1998, while in Albania for the funeral of his father, Rama received a call[9] from the Prime Minister of Albania, Fatos Nano, asking him to serve as the new Minister of Culture and Youth. Rama decided to accept the offer, thus being involved in politics for the first time. As a Minister, Rama immediately became known for his extravagance in a variety of ways, including his unique colorful dressing style. His innovative cultural projects, coupled with his strange clothing and rebellious political style, helped Rama to reach an unprecedented level of support among the young people, which played latter a critical part in his election as Mayor of Tirana.

Mayor of Tirana (2000-11)[edit]

In October 2000, Rama entered and won the race for the Tirana Municipality mayorship as an Independent candidate, supported by the Socialist Party against writer Besnik Mustafaj. After taking office, he undertook a radical campaign to return many portions of Tirana's center and Lana River into their original forms by demolishing hundreds of illegal constructions.[10] However, Rama earned international recognition by repainting the facades of many soviet style, depleted buildings in Tirana.[11] The repainting gave Tirana a unique style, turning it suddenly in a touristic attraction. This repainting program earned Rama the prize of “World Best Mayor” in 2004.[12] The election Committee, argued that “Edi Rama is the man who changed a whole city. Now there is a new Tirana, colored, happy, with a new and improved infrastructure and cultural life”.[12] As mayor he compiled the Tirana City Master Plan [13] including the Skanderbeg Square project. He planted thousands of new trees, making Tirana a much more environment-friendly city. Rama also expanded the existing roads and paved new ones, improving mobility. According to a UNDP report,[14] Rama played a critical role in the modernization of the local government, empowering municipalities and giving them, for the first time real power to impact the life of their communities. His successful policies earned Rama two more consecutive mandates as a Mayor, defeating lawyer Spartak Ngjela in 2003 and Democratic Party of Albania candidate Sokol Olldashi in 2007 Albania Municipality Elections 2007. In the 2011 Albania Municipaly Elections, the counting process lasted 6 days and was marked by repeated stalls, prompting the intervention of most prominent foreign Ambassadors accredited to the country. On 14 May 2011, when the marathon counting process draw to a close, Edi Rama was declared winner [15] with a slight margin. However, the Democratic Party candidate, Lulzim Basha was awarded victory on a widely criticized court ruling, after hundreds of non-valid votes casted in wrong ballots were accounted [16] Rama said of his time as mayor of Tirana: "It's the most exciting job in the World, because I get to invent and to fight for good cause’s everyday. Being the mayor of Tirana is the highest form of conceptual art. It's art in a pure state.[17]"

Leader of the opposition (2005-13)[edit]

Colorful buildings in Tirana

In October 2005, Rama became the leader of the Socialist Party following the resignation of Fatos Nano. Capitalizing on Rama’s popularity as a mayor, the Socialist Party of Albania regained appeal. Rama reshaped the party’s tarnished image, by encouraging many young intellectuals, entrepreneurs and artists to join. During his tenure, Rama was inspired by the progressive policies of Tony Blair’s “New Labour” and Anthony Giddens “Third Way”, calling for a “third direction between the traditional right and left”.[18]

Prime Minister of Albania (2013-ongoing)[edit]

In 2013, the Socialist Party of Edi Rama lead the coalition of left parties which won a landslide victory Albania 2013 Parliamentary Elections against the conservative coalition of PM Sali Berisha. His platform, nicknamed “Renaissance” [19] was based on four pillars, European Integration, economic revitalization, restoration of the public order and democratization of the state institutions.

Since September 2013, Rama is serving as the Prime Minister of Albania.

Policies as Prime Minister[edit]

During the electoral campaign, Rama stated that the return of public order was his number one priority. In 2013-n, Albanian Police was able to cover actively only 55% of the territory.[20] The new government invested heavily in modernizing, training, and improving financial benefits of the police force.

The police earned international acclaim when in 2014 undertook a highly successful operation on Lazarat, a remote village in the south of the country, known for the production of narcotics.[21]

Rama has been committed to restructure the justice system in the country, one of the most corrupted and ineffective judicial systems in Europe.[22] In 2016, the Parliament approved the “vetting law”.[23] Based on this law, any judge or prosecutor which cannot explain his source of wealth or former dubious verdicts will be disqualified for life. In November 2016, EU stated that a successful implementation of vetting law remains the sole criteria to fulfill before opening accession talks.[24] Another key reform of the Rama government was the reform in the energy sector, left in the brink of bankruptcy from a previous failed privatization effort.[25] Rama government successfully enforced the payment of billions of unpaid bills and heavily invested in the modernization of the obsolete power distribution network.[26] Economic policies have also been successful.[27] The economic growth, from 0,5% in 2013-n, accelerated to 3,5% in 2016 and is expected to exceed 4% during 2017. Unemployment has been reduced steadily, thanks to 183 000 new jobs [28] created in the last three years. Other important reforms include the administrative reform, the social welfare and pension system reform, and the reform in higher education. Internationally, Rama is pursuing a historical reconciliation policy between Albanians and Serbs, and his visit in Belgrade, in 2014 was the first visit of an Albanian Prime Minister in Serbia in over 70 years [29] In a second visit, during the Economic Forum of Nis, Rama compared the Albanian and Serbian reconciliation process with the historical reconciliation between the French and Germans after the Second World War.[30] Rama is also a key supporter of the Berlin Process, an intergovernmental platform of cooperation between the EU and Western Balkans countries. Rama has had an intensive agenda of high level meetings. Since 2013, Rama has frequently met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President, Barack Obama, French President, Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, Pope Francis, etc. In several occasions, Rama has stated that EU needs to accelerate the integration process of the Western Balkans, considering it the only way to subdue the dangerous fractions in the region, preventing a possible eruption of violence, like the one that hammered the region in the nineties.[31] Rama has also denounced as destabilizing the rising Russian influence in the region.[32]

Artist and Writer[edit]

Rama is an active painter and has had several personal painting exhibitions. Personal exhibitions include: Janos Gallery, New York City (1993); Place de Médiathèque, France (1995); Palais Jalta, Frankfurt (1997); Acud, Berlin (1993); São Paulo, Brazil (1994); Israel (1995); National Art Gallery of Albania, Tirana, Albania (1992); and Gallery XXI, Albania (1999). In 2014 and 2017 Rama held an exhibit in the prestigious Venice Biennial. In 2016, a collection of his works were exposed in the prestigious Marion Goodman Gallery in New York, USA.

Rama is also an active writer. In 1992, while a professor at the Academy of Arts of Albania, Rama published a book with various notes together with publicist Ardian Klosi entitled “Refleksione” (Reflections). In 2009, Rama published a collection of personal notes and paintings in a book entitled Edi Rama. In November 2011, Rama published a reflection book on his years as mayor of Tirana entitled Kurban.

Personal life[edit]

Since 2010, Rama has been married to Lindita Rama (née Basha, formerly Xhillari) an economist and civil society activist. Mrs. Rama, is a graduate of the University of Tirana and holds a Master of Arts in Economy and is a Doctor of Sciences in Economy. Until 1998 she has worked in high levels of public administration including the Head of the National Privatization Agency. She has a long academic experience as a lecturer in International Finance at the University of Tirana and a lecturer of Public Policies in the European University of Tirana. She is the author of several scientific researches and publications in her field. Together they have a son, Zaho,[33] born in 2014.

Edi Rama was previously married to actress Matilda Makoçi. The couple divorced in 1991. Rama has a son, Gregor, from his first marriage.

Controversies[edit]

In 2003, Rama appeared before the Albanian Parliament in an inquiry commission on abuse of funds in the Municipality of Tirana. During the session, he was seen speaking using a loudspeaker.[34] The commission was eventually closed and Rama acquitted.

During his time as a mayor, in several attempts to widen roads and improve infrastructure, Rama authorized the bulldozing of private properties. In one occasion, Rama himself cut an electric wooden pole with an ax before the cameras, because a conflict with the central government was blocking a road extension.[35] He has been accused of corruption and mismanagement of funds by the opposition, including corruption in the granting of building permits.[36]

Rama has also been criticized by a group of former SP politicians and some journalists, of leading the party with authoritarian methods. During the 2007 municipal campaign, his rivals published some photos of Rama in intimate poses on a nudist beach in southern France.

Due to his of his flamboyance and rebellious ways Rama has often been accused of arrogance and elitism, especially at the start of his political career. In more than one occasion political opponents attracted him about his personal and family life, and even raised doubts about his sexual orientation.[37]

Awards[edit]

In October 2002, Rama was given an award by Kofi Annan in light of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.[38]

While mayor of Tirana, in 2003, Rama was a "visiting professor" as Robert C. Wood Visiting Professorship of Public and Urban Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston (basically a speaking and greeting format).[citation needed]

In December 2004, Rama was named the World Mayor 2004, in an international competition that took place over one year, based on direct voting by Internet, organized by the non-commercial organization CITYMAYORS, located in London.[39]

Rama was chosen by Time magazine to be one of the 2005 European Heroes, a tribute given by the magazine to 37 people who are changing the world for the better.[40]

In Ulcinj Day 2015, Rama, alongside Thaçi, was given the title of Honorary citizen of Ulcinj by Ulcinj Municipality.[41]

In 2017, Rama received the highest French Honour, the order of the “Commander to the Legion of Honour”[42]

Publications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Edi Rama: "Jam Katolik". Balkanweb (in Albanian). 19 October 2014. Archived from the original on 5 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Edi Rama: "Unë nuk praktikoj besim tjetër, përveç atij tek vetja dhe tek njerëzit, por nuk besoj se sidoqoftë eksiztenca ose jo e Zotit është një çështje që mund të zgjidhet ndonjëherë nga të vdekshmit." (in Albanian). Facebook. 8 July 2014. 
  3. ^ April 30, 10:13 (2013-04-30). "Edi Rama do jetë deputet i Vlorës | Gazeta Dita". Gazetadita.al. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Edi Rama rrëfen vitet në Paris dhe debatet me babanë: Merita e tij që u bëra njeri i lirë". Panorama.com.al. 2016-07-09. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  5. ^ Rowland, Jacky (2004-06-17). "Europe | The mayor who brought colour to Albania". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  6. ^ "Edi Rama - The Creative Time Summit". Creativetime.org. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  7. ^ http://shekulli.com.al/p.php?id=36632
  8. ^ https://sot.com.al/politike/fatos-klosi-e-v%C3%ABrteta-e-rrahjes-s%C3%AB-ram%C3%ABs-nga-shikasit-me-xhupa-t%C3%AB-zinj-t%C3%AB-gazidedes-pse-nuk
  9. ^ "'Rrëfehet' Edi Rama: Telefonata që më bëri Ministër të Kulturës". Shqiptarja.com. 2017-04-22. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  10. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2069799.stm
  11. ^ http://observers.france24.com/en/20100428-artist-mayor-sees-crumbling-capital-turned-painters-canvas-albania-tirana-edi-rama
  12. ^ a b http://www.worldmayor.com/worldmayor_2004/results_2004.html
  13. ^ http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/project/2008/10291/mvrdv-architects/tirana-rocks-masterplan-in-tirana.html
  14. ^ http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/reports/263/hdr_2002_en_complete.pdf
  15. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xaLVBfX5go
  16. ^ http://www.cec.org.al/Portals/0/Images/CEC/rez_2011/rezultatet/111118-TTH-Qarqe/bashkia%20Tr-qv.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.fact-index.com/e/ed/edi_rama.html
  18. ^ http://arkivi2.peshkupauje.com/2009/04/rruga-e-pare-e-dyte-pastaj-rruga-e-trete.html
  19. ^ http://ps.al/new/programi/rimekembje-e-ekonomise/
  20. ^ http://www.punetebrendshme.gov.al/al/te-rejat/lajme/rriten-pagat-per-93-te-punonjesve-te-policise-se-shtetit&page=48
  21. ^ https://www.ata.gov.al/en/interpol-praises-state-police-operation-in-lazarat/
  22. ^ http://www.infocip.org/en/?p=1199
  23. ^ http://www.euralius.eu/index.php/en/news/271-approval-of-the-vetting-law-in-the-parliament-of-the-republic-of-albania
  24. ^ http://www.kryeministria.al/en/newsroom/press-releases/germany-s-further-support-for-the-implementation-of-the-justice-reform1480421807
  25. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3541433/Albania-probe-failed-privatization-power-utility.html
  26. ^ https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2017/02/27/NA270217-Albania-successfully-concludes-3-year-support-program
  27. ^ https://www.ata.gov.al/en/world-bank-report-albania-records-highest-growth-rate-in-region/
  28. ^ http://gazeta-shqip.com/lajme/2017/01/26/ahmetaj-premtimi-per-300-mije-vende-pune-eshte-mbajtur/
  29. ^ http://www.novinite.com/articles/164212/First+Albanian+PM+Visit+to+Serbia+in+70+Years+Postponed
  30. ^ http://top-channel.tv/lajme/artikull.php?id=336420
  31. ^ http://blogs.ft.com/the-world/2015/07/if-eu-shuns-albania-radical-islam-beckons/
  32. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/24/dont-abandon-us-russians-pleads-albanian-leader-fearing-us-will/
  33. ^ http://www.oranews.tv/vendi/vjen-ne-jete-femija-kryeministror/
  34. ^ https://www.pressreader.com/albania/gazeta-shqiptare/20130911/282089159450437
  35. ^ http://balkanweb.com/site/rrefimi-i-artur-zhejit-si-e-binda-edi-ramen-te-dilte-me-sepate-ne-dore-mes-tiranes/
  36. ^ http://www.citynews.al/2015/08/bllokimi-i-lejeve-te-ndertimit-berisha-rama-rilindi-20-shin-rryshfet/1
  37. ^ http://www.albeu.com/kryetitull/rama-kam-degjuar-te-thone-se-jam-homoseksual/232550/
  38. ^ http://www.oecd.org/speaker/0,3438,en_21571361_31938349_38759801_1_1_1_1,00.html
  39. ^ "City Mayors: Edi Rama - World Mayor 2004". Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  40. ^ Walt, Vivienne (2 October 2005). "A Mayoral Makeover". Time. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  41. ^ Svecana sjednica SO Ulcinj: RAMA I TACI POCASNI GRADJANI (ul-info.me)
  42. ^ http://m.top-channel.tv/lajme/english/artikull.php?id=19663

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Albert Brojka
Mayor of Tirana
2000–2011
Succeeded by
Lulzim Basha
Preceded by
Sali Berisha
Prime Minister of Albania
2013–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Fatos Nano
Chairman of the Socialist Party
2005–present
Incumbent