Friday, March 4, 2016

Albania Ruling Party Hires New US Lobbyist


The junior party in Albania's government, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, has hired a powerful Washington lobbying firm to boost its profile in the US.

Besar Likmeta

The LSI, the junior party in Albania's Socialist-led government, has hired a US firm to improve its image in Washington.

Global Security and Innovative Strategies LLC, GSIS, is being taken on for a monthly retainer of $30,000.

The scope of the contract, according to documents made public by the US Justice Department, is “educating United States governmental officials... regarding the LSI's commitment to implement justice reforms, enhance Albania's economy, strengthen security approaches and food security programs.”

GSIS is a Washington-based consulting firm whose principals include the former head of the US Secret Service Marc Sullivan, and the former Deputy Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, David Aguilar.

Over the past year, Albania has been engaged in a major US-sponsored effort to reform its justice system, which is widely perceived as corrupt.

Parliament is due to vote on a number of constitutional changes in the spring, which will open the way for the creation of a number of new institutions and measures that aim to stamp out corruption in the justice system.

Queried by BIRN over the contract, the LSI said in a statement that the US company had been contracted on the decision of the party leadership, which authorized deputy chairman Petrit Vasili to reach an agreement with Global Security and Innovative Strategies.

“Based on this agreement, GSIS will advise and consult the LSI, its leadership and representatives on issues of importance for the country,” the LSI said.

“GSIS will advise the LSI on policies and its engagement and commitment on key reforms for the country, specifically on justice reform, transparency, Albania’s economic development and security issues, development of agriculture, transportation and food security," it said.

According to the LSI, the contract with GSIS is monthly, with the right of renewal or cancelation.

The funds for the contract come from “the budget, party membership quotas and donations in accordance with the law on the financing of political parties.” 

The LSI explained that its 2016 draft budget set aside funds to cover the contract for three months, after which it will be evaluated and possibly renewed.

“At the moment of evaluation of this contract, after three months, a decision will be taken on whether to continue it,” it added.

According to party budgeting data published by the LSI, the contract with GSIS accounts for 26.1 per cent of its entire expenses in 2016.

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