2 March 2022
This meeting is taking place in extraordinary times. What is actually happening in Ukraine is something that as far from this region it looks, the closer in fact this situation is to us.
We, as Balkans, have witnessed how endangered democracy is by authoritarian leaders and ancient ideas to expand territory at the expense of the brothers.
What is happening in Ukraine should serve as an alarm to our societies, that democracy is never static. To enjoy it we have to work every day starting from us as MPs, from civil society and from all actors and decision makers.
If for a moment we think the democracy is guaranteed, we are wrong and we risk losing it.
We live in a country that is geographically in Europe, and I am glad that our orientation as Balkan peoples is also Western.
From countries that until a few years ago were consumers of security, now our countries have become security contributors, participating directly or indirectly through various projects in guaranteeing democracy around the world.
The reforms undertaken have not been easy, but we have been convinced that they have been and are the right and only way for the prosperity of our societies and for the future of our countries in the Western Balkan family.
The European Union for us is not just a notion or membership in one more structure, on the contrary, it is the implementation of a permanent aspiration of our peoples to be part of the values of a common family.
The symbolism of the creation of the European Union decades ago is more current than ever.
Just as the French and the Germans found the strength to rise above the wounds of the past and to unite their energies in the service of building a prosperous future for the younger generations, such a lesson is very valuable for us as Balkans.
“Europe must cease to be a place of battles, where enemy sides are drowned in blood. From this costly awareness paid, we want to walk on new paths, leading us to a united Europe and peace.”
Wise words by Robert Schuman, one of the pioneers of reconciliation, who had homeland Germany, Luxembourg and France and had experienced both world wars.
Nevertheless, this challenge for us as a region still exists. It is intolerable that in many cases certain nationalist voices endanger our democracies, but also the outbreak of conflicts in the region that have been closed for a few years now.
On the other hand, of course, some EU countries should not allow bureaucracies or their fear of enlargement to jeopardize the optimism of our societies to continue in the European path and fall into pessimism.
Albania in recent years has undertaken a number of important reforms not only in terms of strengthening its institutions, but also law enforcement.
We are no longer who we used to be. If a few years ago, the European Union was seen simply as a destination, now I believe we are clear that European Union is a journey towards embracing common values.
Universal human values play an important role for the European Union in ensuring that every European citizen feels equal before the law, enjoys all rights and feels free to express his or her opinion free from any form of discrimination. Protecting and promoting these values has in common a united Europe.
During this long journey for the sake of truth, even in Albania, work has been done to guarantee these values and principles. In addition to strengthening institutions and implementing one of the biggest reforms undertaken, such as the one in the judiciary, special attention has been paid to supporting the marginalized people and the fight against hate speech in our society.
Hate speech is a global concern and for this reason it is very important to discuss about it. Today we discuss the relationship of hate speech with the law, with the media laws, with the media itself, the internet and numerous social networks.
As an unacceptable concept for a democratic society, hate speech is addressed in our domestic legislation, where we can mention the law no. 79/2013 “On audiovisual media in the Republic of Albania” as amended, as well as the Criminal Code of the Republic of Albania as amended.
More specifically in law No. 79/2013 “On audiovisual media“, the prohibition of the use of hate speech is provided in Articles 32 and 76 of this law which explicitly states that providers of audio and / or audiovisual media services do not broadcast programs with content that promote hatred on the grounds of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality and any other form of discrimination”.
Whereas in article 76, point 1 is specified:
“Audio and / or audiovisual media services provided at the request of the user are not permitted to include programs that incite hatred on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, nationality or religion.”
Hate speech is also envisaged as a criminal offense in our Criminal Code, respectively in Article 265 (Incitement to hatred or strife) and Article 266 (Call for national hatred).
Specifically, Article 265 of the Criminal Code defines: any means or form is punishable by imprisonment of two to ten years ”.
Article 266 stipulates:
“Endangering public peace by calling for hatred against segments of the population, insulting or slandering them, demanding the use of violence or arbitrary actions against them, is punishable by two to eight years in prison.”
Of course, these changes have been accompanied by a lot of discussions as it is usual in complex topics such as hate speech. It is even very good that there have been different opinions, as the media plays an important role in a democratic society not only in performing its function as a Watchdog but also as an educator of values in society.
I hope that the conclusions drawn from this roundtable will address some issues that focus on the principle of equality, prevention of discrimination and hate speech and the promotion of equal representation in the electoral lists.
Thank you for your attention!
MP Gjylameti spoke on behalf of the Speaker of the Parliament, Ms. Lindita Nikolli