Counter-spin: The Epidemic Represents Electoral Battleground for DUI and VMRO-DPMNE
Controversial claims by Dr Arben Ziberi, a DUI MP candidate, that they have opened the borders “without WHO protocols” to get Albanians from the diaspora to vote for DUI, are a direct undermining of confidence in the Infectious Diseases Committee and health and political authorities, which, consequently poses a threat to the general public health
Author: Teofil Blaževski
Dr Arben Ziberi, director of the Center for Public Health – Skopje, gave a statement in which a spin is detected:
Spin: It is true what Filipče claims, i.e. that I am not an official member of the Infectious Diseases Committee. However, I have attended their meetings many times and I have goven my contribution, and our institution has its regular representatives in the Committee. I was stunned. I did not watch the press conference, but journalists started calling me. And I am stunned because we do the work so professionally in the Center for Public Health Skopje, so much so that the Minister himself praised me. They did this very unnecessarily. And why should I be dismissed? For a private Facebook status in which I have not told a single lie? This is ridiculous. This is not about the opening of the borders, but about my uncle Naser, who is a candidate for an Albanian Prime Minister. So this is a political showdown with my uncle, on my back.
[Source: Слободен печат – Арбен Зибери: На Филипче… date: 26 June 2020]
Counterspin: Representatives of DUI, as well as VMRO-DPMNE, have confirmed several times that the fight against the coronavirus and the situation with newly infected patients in the country are being used for party purposes and election points. Most often, the Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Crisis Headquarters, Bujar Osmani, emphasized this, although he vehemently denies it. However, the public is still familiar with the few, let’s call them Selmani’s outbursts, from which we will single out his statements during his visit to Struga at the end of May when he said that the opening of mosques for Ramadan Bajram is a done deal and that “no one should perceive believers as criminals,” and then his proposal to set up a commission to reconsider the treatment manners at the “8 Septemvri” Hospital, where many patients died (this suggestion coincided with the growing number of patients who died after the wave of coronavirus that appeared in Čair, Saraj, Lipkovo, Studeničani, etc., seven to ten days after the religious holiday).
Now, the public is witnessing a new example of using the epidemic for election purposes by Arben Ziberi, director of the CPH Skopje, who with an untrue claim on 23 June addressed the Albanians in the diaspora, to come freely to vote for DUI (“for Albanian Prime Minister”) and that he personally helped to open the borders from today.
Emigrants welcome. Your birthplace is waiting for you. You can now come home without tests and 14-day isolation thanks to our contribution to the government’s health policies. Me, as a member of the Infectious Diseases Committee and other members, helped open the borders and make people move freely without the WHO-recommended protocols. Why not come home for an Albanian prime minister (see link here).
After answering a journalist’s question yesterday, 25 May, the Minister of Health, Venko Filipče , said that this was an incorrect statement for political purposes, that Ziberi was not a member of the Infectious Diseases Committee, and that if there were no legal obstacles he would be dismissed. First, by Ziberi, and then by DUI, Filipče was warned of using the used the rostrum for political statements and that the director of the CPH-Skopje, as a candidate for MP, had the right to political views. Here is the reaction from DUI:
Dr. Arben Ziberi is a candidate for MP in the First Constituency and, like everyone else, has the right to express political views in election campaigns, protecting the institution that he is leading from any political involvement. He was a pillar of the Government and the Ministry of Health in the fight against the pandemic and we are all proud of his work (see link here).
And after all of this, today, Dr Arben Ziberi comes up with a new position – Filipce was bothered not by Arben Ziberi, but by his uncle Naser Ziberi, whom DUI promoted as a candidate for Albanian Prime Minister in the new government!?
Perhaps not all things are clear about the impact of the opening date of the borders or on some other recommendations of the Infectious Diseases Committee that have been amended by the Crisis Headquarters and then by the Government. But it is clear to everyone that two plus two is four. In other words, Dr Arben Ziberi’s statuses/statements are partially untrue (he himself admits today that he is not a member of the Committee).
But most importantly, such statements regarding measures to deal with the epidemic, such as the opening of borders “without WHO protocols”, as Ziberi says, are both inaccurate and undermine the fight against the epidemic, by diminishing the confidence in the commitment of health and political authorities. Allegedly, the Committee and the Government are working according to DUI’s wishes! This, in turn, the collapse of trust, can lead to further disregard for measures and recommendations, and increase the number of patients, i.e. directly undermining public health. All this, in turn, is punishable under the Criminal Code of Macedonia, in the widely used articles 205 and 206 in the past period.
And on top of that, Ziberi says that Filipče was bothered by the fact that his uncle is a candidate for prime minister!? A claim with a very clear twist of truth, which is why such a statement given by Dr Arben Ziberi can be freely assessed as a spin.