Ilir Meta

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Ilir Meta
Ilir Meta (portret).jpg
Official portrait, 2019
8th President of Albania
In office
24 July 2017 – 24 July 2022
Prime MinisterEdi Rama
Preceded byBujar Nishani
Succeeded byBajram Begaj
31st Prime Minister of Albania
In office
29 October 1999 – 29 January 2002
PresidentRexhep Meidani
Preceded byPandeli Majko
Succeeded byPandeli Majko
36th Speaker of the Parliament of Albania
In office
10 September 2013 – 24 July 2017
Preceded byJozefina Topalli
Succeeded byValentina Leskaj (Acting)
47th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
17 September 2009 – 17 September 2010
Prime MinisterSali Berisha
Preceded byLulzim Basha
Succeeded byEdmond Haxhinasto
In office
31 July 2002 – 18 July 2003
Prime MinisterFatos Nano
Preceded byArta Dade
Succeeded byLuan Hajdaraga (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1969-03-24) 24 March 1969 (age 53)
Çorovodë, Skrapar, Albania
Political partyFreedom Party (2022–)
Other political
affiliations
Independent (2017–2022)
Socialist Movement for Integration (2004–2017)
Socialist Party (1990–2004)
Spouse(s)
(m. 1998)
Children3
Signature

Ilir Rexhep Meta (Albanian pronunciation: [iliɾ meta]; born 24 March 1969) is an Albanian politician. He served as President of Albania from 24 July 2017 to 24 July 2022.[1]

Previously Meta served as Prime Minister from 1999 to 2002 and he was Speaker of the Parliament of Albania from 2013 to 2017.[2] He also held positions as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Minister of Economy, Trade, and Energy. Prior to that, he held the Chairmanship of the Parliamentary Commission of European Integration. He founded the Socialist Movement for Integration in 2004.

On 28 April 2017, Meta was elected President of Albania, receiving 87 votes from the 140 Members of Parliament.[3] On 9 June 2021, he was formally impeached by the Albanian parliament in a 104 to 7 vote making him the first Albanian president in history to be impeached by parliament.[4] On 16 February 2022 the Constitutional Court of Albania overturned the impeachment and ruled that the accusations against him did not violate the constitution.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Ilir Meta was born in Çepan, Skrapar. He graduated at the Faculty of Economics and Politics branch of the University of Tirana, where he also pursued his post-graduate studies.

Political career[edit]

Meta has been engaged in politics since 1990, after the fall of communism in Albania, as an active participant in the students' movement against one-party rule, which brought political pluralism in Albania. Since 1992 he has been elected Member of Parliament in all legislatures, and has been an active member of several Parliamentary Commissions. From 1996 to 1997 he was Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of Parliament. From October 1998 to October 1999, Meta was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Coordination, as well as State Secretary for European Integration in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March–October 1998.[citation needed]

In 2004, Meta left the Socialist Party of Albania (PS) and founded his own party, the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI). From 2004 to 2006, Meta was nominated as a member of the International Commission on the Balkans, chaired by the former Prime Minister of Italy, Giuliano Amato. The Commission drafted a series of important recommendations towards the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union.[6]

1999–2002[edit]

Meta at the Pentagon in 2000

Meta became Prime Minister on 29 October 1999. At age 30 he was the second-youngest prime minister in Albanian history after Zog I, who was 27 at the time of his election in 1922. Following the 2001 parliamentary election, he initially remained Prime Minister. The President of Albania, Rexhep Meidani, approved the Government of Albania on 7 September 2001. Five days afterward, the government gave a vote of confidence to Meta's Cabinet. However, the formation of the new cabinet took almost three months.[7] On 29 January 2002, Meta announced his resignation as Prime Minister due to party infighting between the Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano and himself. Pandeli Majko was elected Prime Minister on 22 February 2002.

During this period, Albania engaged in a range of important reforms, joining the Stabilisation and Association Process with the European Union.

2009–2017[edit]

OSCE Secretary General gives a tour to Ilir Meta, 2014.

In the 2009 parliamentary election, the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) won four seats in the Parliament of Albania, with 4.8% of the total vote. The party along with PSV91 became the determining parties to form the government coalition.[8] On 16 September 2009, the LSI allied with the Democratic Party of Albania (PD) to form the government coalition.[9]

With the formation of the new government led by Democratic Party chairman Sali Berisha, Meta became the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the same time.[10] He was an early and vocal campaigner for the visa-free with the Schengen Area, which was accomplished in 2010. He remains one of the most vocal campaigners and advocates of regional and European integration for all countries of the Western Balkans, as a means to further strengthen stability and peace in the region.[citation needed]


In 2011, Meta served as the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Energy in the center-right government of Sali Berisha, whose Democratic Party of Albania the LSI joined after the 2009 parliamentary election.

In the run-up to the eighth multi-party elections held in 2013, Meta and the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) left the coalition with the Democratic Party (PD) established in 2009, to transfer over to the Socialist Party (PS). The result of the elections was a victory for the Alliance for a European Albania containing with LSI led by the PS and its leader, Edi Rama.[11] On 10 September 2013, Parliament elected Meta as Chairman of Parliament by a vote of 91 to 45.

Presidency[edit]

Ilir Meta's visit to Israel's IDF Home Front Command thanking them for their earthquake relief assistance, January 2020

On 28 April 2017, Meta was elected President of the Republic of Albania at the fourth ballot with 87 votes out of 140. He took office on 24 July 2017. In the ceremony, he was accompanied solely by his children, as his wife Monika Kryemadhi refused the title of First Lady because of her political engagement as leader of the party her husband founded, with their daughter, Era Meta, serving as the de facto First Lady.

On 26 November 2019, an earthquake struck the Durrës region of Albania, killing 51 people, injuring 3,000 others, and damaging 11,000 buildings.[12] In January 2020, Meta met with Israel Defense Forces soldiers in Israel, and thanked them for their assistance in earthquake relief efforts,[13] awarding the Albanian Golden Medal of the Eagle to the soldiers' unit.[13]

As was the case with his predecessor, during his term of office his main focus has been the European integration process of Albania and global challenges affecting Albania. Meta has underscored the willingness of Albanians to strengthen its bilateral strategic partnerships with all partner countries in the areas of security and NATO.[14]

Impeachment[edit]

On 9 June 2021, Meta was impeached by the Albanian parliament with 104 MP's voting for his impeachment, which was put forward by the ruling Socialist Party of Albania.[15] Meta had previously refused to appear before the committee investigating whether he should be impeached saying he would be "ignoring any request coming from an anti-constitutional and illegal institution".[16] On 16 February 2022 the Constitutional Court of Albania overturned the impeachment and ruled that the accusations against him did not violate the constitution.[5] As such, Meta would continue as President until the expiration of his term on 24 July 2022.[17]

Controversies[edit]

Videotaped bribe scandal[edit]

On 11 January 2011, the TV programme Fiks Fare on Top Channel broadcast a videotape recorded by hidden camera in the Ministry of Economy containing conversations between the Economy Minister at the time Dritan Prifti and then Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta. The videotape starts with Meta asking Prifti to intervene in a concession tender for the hydropower plant Egnatia-Shushicë in exchange for €700,000 and 7% of the shares. It then shows Meta requesting Prifti to award the auction for the sale of crude oil to Halilaj Holding Group in exchange for €1 million.[18] Meta then continues by asking Prifti to hire activists from their party, the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) at the time now renamed Freedom Party (PL). The party was the junior government partner in the government of then Prime Minister Sali Berisha, and controlled the ministries of Economy, Foreign Affairs and Health.[19] Meta is overheard bragging that because he is on good terms with Chief Justice Shpresa Becaj, after having hired her daughter as a diplomat at an embassy he can influence the decision of the court. He then asks Prifti to keep the affair quiet because he is afraid the prosecutor’s office might open an investigation if it learns about it.[20]

This forced him to resign as deputy Prime Minister of Albania, even though he claimed innocence.[21][22]

Sigurimi's Informer[edit]

On 27 July 2022, the Albanian Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents (AIDSSH) forwarded to Parliament the identity of the high profile political figure referred to as “I.M.” in the initial report.

Following our previous requests and proposals, but especially being encouraged by the most recent denunciation that came to the institution on the purity of the image of one of the highest personalities of the state, former president of the Republic, Ilir Metaj… it turns out that he actually appears in the documents created by the former State Intelligence Structure

— AIDSSH

Two former commissions were established to run background checks on politicians and their ties to the communist regime awarded Meta a “purity certificate”.[23]

Meta also denied the claims and slammed the Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents, calling it the “Manipulations Authority”.[24][25]

Lobbying[edit]

Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, wrote an article about a "key witness" who's a private detective hiding in Austria due to their fear of being "assassinated". The "key witness" described a story in which Meta is involved in a lobbying of $700,000 through a cypriot shell company, with the aim of visiting the US at the inauguration of former President Donald Trump. The witness also said that, since Meta took office as President in 2017, cash flows that described as "deeply corrupt.[26]

On January 20, 2017, Meta shared a photo of himself and a SMI colleague during the inauguration of Donald Trump in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. In order to gain access to the inauguration and the Republican officials, Meta and his colleague reportedly lobbied diligently through a cypriot shell company that cost $700,000. To this day, it is unclear who actually paid for it. Meta himself claims to have been invited by the Republicans. "According to US court documents, $700,000 of a lawyer close to Meta went through the offshore company Dorelita Limited." A few weeks before the inauguration, a contract was signed between the SMI party and the lawyer, which provides for participation in the inauguration. Shortly thereafter, Meta also became president. [27]

Personal life[edit]

Meta is a Bektashi, and an adherent to traditional Bektashian values.[28] He is fluent in Albanian, English and Italian.[29] He is an ardent supporter of Celtic FC, often showing his passion for the club on social media. In July 2020, he founded the first Celtic Supporters Club in Albania.[30]

Meta has been married to Monika Kryemadhi since October 1998.[31] They have two daughters and a son.

Honours and awards[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Awards[edit]

In March 2012, Meta received "Most Positive Personality for 2010 in Foreign Policy" award by International Institute "IFIMES" in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The award was presented to Meta by former President of Croatia, Stjepan Mesić, who was at the same time the Honorary President of "IFIMES".[32]

Meta has also been honored by several cities and regions of Albania with the title “Honorary Citizen".[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ilir Meta zgjidhet president i Shqipërisë". rtsh.al (in Albanian). 28 April 2017.
  2. ^ parlament.al Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Albania
  3. ^ "Ilir Meta, president i ri i Shqipërisë" (in Albanian). 28 April 2017.
  4. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Albania parliament impeaches President Ilir Meta, removes him from office | DW | 09.06.2021". DW.COM. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Constitutional court overturns impeachment of Albania's president". euronews. 17 February 2022. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  6. ^ [1] Archived 8 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine International Commission on the Balkans
  7. ^ "Balkan Report: September 18, 2001". rferl.org. 18 September 2001.
  8. ^ "Election campaign with the taste of blood". International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 6 September 2012.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Marc Stegherr; Kerstin Liesem (13 August 2010). Die Medien in Osteuropa: Mediensysteme Im Transformationsprozess. Springer-Verlag. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-531-92487-8.
  10. ^ "Qeveria e dytë e Sali Berishës (16 shtator 2009 – 10 shtator 2013)". shtetiweb.org (in Albanian).
  11. ^ "Sieg der Sozialisten". taz.de (in German). 25 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Albanian president thanks Israeli soldiers for aid after deadly earthquake; Ilir Meta stopped at the Ramla military base, where he awarded the "Golden Eagle Decoration" to the IDF's National Rescue Unit". JNS. 24 January 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Albanian president thanks Israeli soldiers for aid after deadly earthquake". Jewish News Syndicate (JNS). 24 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  14. ^ "President Meta to Trump: US presence is a key factor for the stability of the region". 4 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Albanian MPs have just voted to impeach their president. Here's why". euronews. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  16. ^ "Albanian President says impeachment investigation is "illegal"". euronews. 18 May 2021. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  17. ^ Sinoruka, Fjori (17 February 2022). "Albania President Wins Constitutional Battle to Stay in Office". Balkan Insight. Archived from the original on 17 February 2022. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  18. ^ "Meta and Prifti corruption scandal (disputed videotape evidence)". Transparency.org. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Corruption Caught on Tape Sets Albania on Fire Once More". ERCAS. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Albania Hit by Video Corruption Scandal". Balkan Insight. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  21. ^ "Albanian deputy PM quits following videotaped bribe scandal". www.euractiv.com. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  22. ^ "Albanian whistleblower to face corruption charges". Reuters. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  23. ^ "Former President Ilir Meta's Name Appears in Communist Intelligence Files". Exit - Explaining Albania. 27 July 2022. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  24. ^ "'Communist Informer' Controversy Hits Albanian Ex-President's Comeback". Balkan Insight. 28 July 2022. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  25. ^ "'Communist Informer' Controversy Hits Albanian Ex-President's Comeback". Balkan Insight. 28 July 2022. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  26. ^ Zeitung, Kronen (16 May 2022). "Kronzeuge sucht Schutz in Wien: Krimi um Präsident". Kronen Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  27. ^ "Austrian newspaper accuses Meta: Lobbying $ 700 thousand with 'offshore' company, reacts Presidency: Defamation lawsuit ready". politiko.al. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  28. ^ "FOTO/ Familja Meta, feston me entuziazëm festën e Bektashinjve". standard.al (in Albanian). 23 March 2017.
  29. ^ "Biography". Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  30. ^ "'Praise God, today one year ago, I met Celtic fans in Sarajevo,' Albanian President, Ilir Meta". The Celtic Star.
  31. ^ "Martesa sekrete e Ilir Metës dhe Monika Kryemadhit". revistawho.com (in Albanian). 17 May 2017.
  32. ^ "Biography". Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  33. ^ "Biography". Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë. Retrieved 4 July 2021.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Albania
1999–2002
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
2002–2003
Succeeded by
Luan Hajdaraga
Acting
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Preceded by Speaker of Parliament
2013–2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Albania
2017–2022
Succeeded by