US sanctions Albanian ex-PM Sali Berisha over corruption
The US State Department on Wednesday sanctioned former Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his immediate family members, citing “involvement in significant corruption. “
“In his official capacity as Prime Minister of Albania in particular, Berisha was involved in corrupt acts, such as misappropriation of public funds and interfering with public processes, including using his power for his own benefit and to enrich his political allies and his family members,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.
Former President of Albania Sali Berisha’s corrupt acts undermined democracy in Albania. I am publicly designating Berisha and his immediate family members as ineligible for entry into the United States. We remain #UnitedAgainstCorruption with our partners in Albania.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 19, 2021
76-year-old Berisha, who is now a lawmaker in the opposition Democratic Party, will be barred from entering US territory along with his spouse and their two children.
The move will serve to “reaffirm the need for accountability and transparency in Albania’s democratic institutions, government processes, and the actions of Albanian public officials,” Blinken said.
The State Department furthermore reiterated” the US commitment to supporting political reforms key to Albania’s democratic institutions.”
Taulant Balla, general secretary of Albania’s ruling Socialist party, hailed the US decision.
“I welcome the decision of the United States of America regarding Sali Berisha,” Balla wrote. “It is a beautiful day for the Albanian Democracy.”
There was no immediate reaction from Berisha nor from his Democratic party.
Berisha became the country’s first post-communist president from 1992 until 1997. He served as Prime Minister from 2005 to 2013.
Corruption has been an endemic problem in the Western Balkans nation since the fall of communism and a sticking point in the country’s negotiations to join the European Union.
Also read the US State Department Statement:
Public Designation of Albanian Sali Berisha Due to Involvement in Significant Corruption
ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE,MAY 19, 2021
Today, I am announcing the public designation of Sali Berisha, a former President of Albania, former Prime Minister of Albania, and former Member of Parliament of Albania, due to his involvement in significant corruption. In his official capacity as Prime Minister of Albania in particular, Berisha was involved in corrupt acts, such as misappropriation of public funds and interfering with public processes, including using his power for his own benefit and to enrich his political allies and his family members at the expense of the Albanian public’s confidence in their government institutions and public officials. Furthermore, his own rhetoric demonstrates he is willing to protect himself, his family members, and his political allies at the expense of independent investigations, anticorruption efforts, and accountability measures. With this designation, I am reaffirming the need for accountability and transparency in Albania’s democratic institutions, government processes, and the actions of Albanian public officials.
This designation is made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2021. In addition to Berisha, I am publicly designating his spouse, Liri Berisha, his son, Shkelzen Berisha, and his daughter, Argita Berisha Malltezi. These individuals are ineligible to travel to the United States.
This designation reaffirms the U.S. commitment to supporting political reforms key to Albania’s democratic institutions. The United States continues to stand with the people of Albania. The Department will continue to use authorities like this to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.
For more information, please contact INL-PAPD@state.gov.