Earlier in May, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced sanctions against former Albanian president (1992-1997) and prime minister (2005-2013) Sali Berisha, alleging “significant corruption,” and banned him, his wife, and his children from entering the U.S. Berisha headed a center-right political party called the Democratic Party (a counterintuitive name from an American perspective) that was founded in 1990 after the ouster of the nation’s Communist regime.
The seventy-six-year-old Albanian politician, an ally to both Bushes, currently serves as an opposition member of Albania’s parliament, of which the Socialist Party of Albania holds a majority.
Blinken said in a statement that during his second stint in leadership, 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.” No details or supporting evidence was provided. Berisha has insisted there is “zero evidence” behind the corruption allegations, asserting the U.S. ban was based on “misinformation” from outlets backed by Soros.
Even taking the allegations at face value, we’re to wonder why these sanctions happened now seemingly out of the blue. New York Republican Representative Lee Zeldin immediately flagged the move as abnormal and penned a letter to the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs to request a detailed explanation of the process that the State Department followed.
For that, Berisha blames Soros and told the Washington Times that he would fight the allegations proving there is “no evidence” for a defamation suit against Blinken in a European Court. He also challenged the Biden administration to produce any evidence of corruption, stating:
It is my deep conviction that this declaration against me has been based entirely on misinformation that Mr. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has gotten from a corrupted lobby process involving Edi Rama and George Soros, who are close friends. They have no evidence. None at all. If they announced one bit, I will be most thankful. But they have no concrete proof based on fact, not manipulation or slander.”
I have been an outspoken critic of George Soros and his close friend Edi Rama, and because of this, the State Department has made this allegation against me and blocked me. There is no other reason. There could be no other reason.
Soros and Berisha had publicly traded blows before, with Berisha saying in 2017 that Soros had turned from a “great friend” to a “great danger” to the Albanian people. “My statements on George Soros and his mafia, as a major danger for the Albanian democracy, are based on authentic documents. My statements at the Albanian Parliament against the mafia acts of Soros and his network in Albania, are based on facts which date before the current debates taking place in the United States on the activity of the chief speculator of the planet,” he explained. Just nine years earlier, he had called Soros a “great friend of the Albanians.”
Berisha told the Times that Soros-backed NGOs have had vendettas against him since 2017, stemming from him publicly rejecting proposals for changes to the Serbia-Kosovo border. Berisha had opposed certain territorial swaps that Soros-backed NGOs wanted because he believed it would lead to ethnic violence, adding “changing borders meant cleansing and shifting of populations.” He also alleged that U.S. support for the territorial swaps was engineered by Soros-backed groups working with socialist Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Rep. Zeldin made reference to the Soros connection when questioning Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting in June about the drastic sanctions that came “seemingly out of nowhere.” “What specific information can you share with the committee at this time to justify this dramatic move?” asked Zeldin. In response to questioning, Blinken denied having any communication with Soros, but said he can’t speak for anyone else at the State Department. When pressed on the evidence for corruption, Blinken said that all proper protocols were followed while providing no evidence of corruption whatsoever.
Responsible for providing the facts on Berisha’s alleged corruption to the Department of State is the East-West Management Institute. The Institute is headed by a woman named Delina Fico who has the job title of Director of Civil Society. The East-West Management Institute is one of two Soros-spawned groups (the other being Central European University) that he says he “envisions as permanent institutions.” Fico was once engaged to Albanian socialist president Edi Rama, and later married Bledi Cuci, one of Rama’s closest allies.
Evidently, Blinken can’t speak on behalf for anyone else at the State Department when it comes to their connections to Soros, or even his own father. Antony’s father Donald Blinken and his wife Vera funded the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives at Soros’ Central European University, which houses a digital collection of Hungarian historical documents. In one Soros Foundations Network report from 2002, Blinken’s father is listed on the Board of Trustees for CEU third after Soros (the chair) and Aryeh Neier, implying he’s high in the pecking order.
Donald Blinken was U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 1994 to 1998, right as Soros was setting up shop. He and his wife had close ties to the socialist government.
The daily blog Hungarian Spectrum, which boasts Soros among its donors, celebrated Blinken as a potential secretary of state pick after the 2020 election because “Hungary will not be forgotten in the next four or perhaps eight years in Washington.”
After Blinken was confirmed as secretary of state, Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet called it “great news for George Soros.”
Indeed it was.
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