Albania:No country for young men

Article published on March 7, 2018
Article published on March 7, 2018

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

In the beginning of the 90's, with great hope and not a very clear vision, Albania started walking down the long path towards EU.

As the world faces great challenges, some of which may threaten the future of western democracies in the following years, stagnant countries like Albania are still facing problems that originate mostly from internal factors, many of them created during the transition process from an isolated regime to a globalizing world, which still continues until these days.  

As countries with a relatively young population, we tend to focus on short term solutions, believing that many problems are better to be dealt with in the future, because hopefully the next generations will be living in better conditions. We take the transition process of our societies for granted and we see it as a self developing process, that will automatically launch us into a more prosperous future.   

Our mindset, beliefs, views and mentality directly affect the future generations, and they have done so, since the beginning of the 90's, when with great hope and not a very clear vision, Albania started walking down the long path towards EU.  27 years later, we the millenials and post-millenials of Albania, are suffering from problems that affect our everyday life here. 

Unemployment numbers remain high, emigration is still seen as the only way to escape this reality and when it comes to decision-making, we are deprived from debate and inclusion, leaving coffee shops, as the last remaining option, where at least we can discuss our problems, although even there we should always keep our voices low. During coffee breaks, which here can be numerous during the day, you can hear and understand how powerless and excluded young people feel in Albania.  Some people could say that it’s the same in all developing countries, but the disappointment of the youth here is becoming something permanent and during the 3 decades of transition, never has a voice been heard.

Daily commuting is very difficult in Tirana and not because of logistic factors, but because my city is growing beyond expectations. In Tirana lives currently 1/3 of all Albanians and most of them are between 18-40. Much should be expected from a developing country with a young population, but as also other countries have shown, where there’s youth, there’s risk of change and no leader wants change.   

Demoralizing youth and showing to them that they do not belong here, has been the ruling policy of our country during this long transition. In all areas that involve decision, from government institutions to universities, from business to politics, everything works against those who try and have a last remaining hope of being someone inside their own country.  

Many friends of mine have left, thousand others are currently leaving and as Europe deals with anti-establishment movements, here in Albania, our Parliamentarians still use the first tense during their speeches, our professors consider students as a menace to their position, our journalists fight for another ‘scoop’ on what shoes the Prime Minister wore during his official trips and our parents remind us on a daily basis to keep our mouthes shut, because this is no country for young men.