News 29 Jan 13

Albania Govt Signs US Lobby Firm Ahead of Poll

As Albania's government signs a new contract with the Washington-based law and lobbyist firm Patton Boggs, to improve its image in the US ahead of the June elections, questions remain about the sources of funding for parties' PR agencies.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Albania Prime Minister Sali Berisha during a meeting with Frank Wisner, foreing policy advisor at Patton Boggs

The consulting firm has represented Albania’s government several times and also served as an adviser in the privatization of the state-owned oil refinery, ARMO.

It is also supporting the ongoing privatization process of Albania’s state-owned oil company, Albpetrol.

Data compiled by the US-based Sunlight foundation show that all Albania’s main political parties, from Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s Democrats to Edi Rama’s opposition Socialists, have sizable contracts with influential lobby firms.

They include Podesta Group, Blue Star Strategies, Dutko International, BKSH & Associates and Rasky Baerlain Strategic Communications.

Even the relatively small Justice and Integrity Party, which represents Albania’s Cham minority, has its own agent in Washington.

While the lobbying firms charge hundreds of thousands for their services, it is unclear where this money has come from. In 2009 and 2010 alone, Albania’s government and its main parties spent $1.38 million in lobbying in the US.

Watchdog organizations say it will be hard to source this money as the financing of Albanian political parties in general is far from transparent.

Lufti Dervishi, head of Transparency International Albania, says that the fact that lobbying contracts are not made public by the government, or by the political parties, is highly problematic.

“It’s unclear where this money comes from because the political parties don’t declare it to the Central Electoral Commission, or during audits,” Dervishi told Balkan Insight.

The parties are using lobbyists “to compensate for the lack of legitimacy at home by buying it abroad,” he concluded.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

albania-politicians-splash-out-on-us-lobbying
03 May 12

Albania Politicians Splash Out on US Lobbying

Albanian politicians spend huge sums annually on US lobbying, trying to impress voters with their access to policymakers - but what do they achieve and where does the money come from?

Premium Selection

kosovo-s-thaci-seeks-new-peacemaker-image-08-24-2016
24 Aug 16

Kosovo’s Thaci Seeks New ‘Peacemaker’ Image

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, a wartime guerrilla leader, has been embracing reconciliation by commemorating murdered Serbs, but analysts question whether he is sincere or just trying to win international approval.

bosnian-serbs-divided-over-controversial-referendum-08-23-2016
24 Aug 16

Bosnian Serbs Divided over Controversial Referendum

Next month’s referendum in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity is seen by some Serbs as a move to defend their rights, but others claim it’s a waste of money staged only for political advantage.

19 Aug 16

Dacian Ciolos: Romania’s Technocratic PM

19 Aug 16

Sarajevo Siege Film Explores Legacy of Trauma

Latest News from the Balkans

24 Aug 16

Afghan Migrant Shot Dead in Serbia

24 Aug 16

Croatia Threatens to Arrest Vojislav Seselj

24 Aug 16

‘Game of Thrones’ Star to Visit Romania