When Paul Meulenbroek climbs into the water, it’s a good idea to stay behind on the riverbank. He carries a small motor on his back, as loud as a leaf blower, but it isn’t for blowing air. The biologist from Vienna uses it to produce a 400-volt electrical field that can temporarily paralyze fish, making them easier to scoop up with a net.Meulenbroek stands waist-deep in the shimmering blue water of the Vjosa, a wild river that runs through southern Albania, his rubber waders protect him from the electrical surges. “There are a lot of young ones here,” the biologist says, before handing his colleague on the bank a brightly shimmering fish just under 10 centimeters long.
Tag Archives: Albania
Let’s start with 28 EU leaders discussing the Western Balkans at a recent summit and blaming – what else – “Russian aggression” in the EU’s backyard.
Cue to a Montenegro prosecutor raging that “Russian state bodies” staged a coup attempt during the October 2016 elections to stop the country from joining NATO.
And cue to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker warning that Donald Trump’s anti-EU rhetoric could lead to war in the Balkans. Juncker, condescending as ever, maintains that, “If we leave them to themselves — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, Macedonia, Albania, all of these countries — we will have a war again.”
There is a moment in Adam Curtis’s documentary Bitter Lake in which the narrator (Curtis) talks about the ideals that brought both the Soviets and Americans to Afghanistan: to create a state based on their respective principles and ideologies, to create an ally in the region, to change the country in their likeness.But, Curtis concludes ironically, little did they know that Afghanistan would change them instead. Neither the Soviets nor the Americans could fathom that they would bring back to their home countries the very habits that they tried to eradicate in Afghanistan: corruption, nepotism, and the like.*For seven years now I have lived in Albania. I have seen ambassadors and foreign representatives come and go. And they all, so they say, share this same ideal: to make Albania a better place. Or rather, to make Albania more like wherever they came from: the West. Their presence would change Albania, would stabilize Albania.
When Visar Krasniqi reached Berlin and saw the famous image on Bernauer Strasse — the one of the soldier jumping over barbed wire into the West — he knew he had arrived. He had entered a different world, one that he wanted to become a part of. What he didn’t yet know was that his dream would come to an end 11 months later, on Oct. 5, 2015. By then, he has to leave, as stipulated in the temporary residence permit he received.Krasniqi is not a war refugee, nor was he persecuted back home. In fact, he has nothing to fear in his native Kosovo. He says that he ran away from something he considers to be even worse than rockets and Kalashnikovs: hopelessness. Before he left, he promised his sick mother in Pristina that he would become an architect, and he promised his fiancée that they would have a good life together. “I’m a nobody where I come from, but I want to be somebody.”