Skenderbeg Square, Tirana (c) Andreas Lehner at Obtained Skenderbeg Statue, Tirana (c) Andreas Lehner at Obtained under CC License CC BY 2.0

Balkan Insight Goes Tabloid

Balkan Insight, the main outlet of Balkan Investigative Research Network, seems to have gone over to the tabloid side of media. Their piece on the upcoming wedding of the wannabe heir to the Albanian throne is cheap royalist propaganda mixed with a bit of glamour.

„Albania Prepares for Historic Royal Wedding“, Balkan Insight titles its feature remarkable only for its tabloid like qualities.

„Prince Leka, the grandson of King Zog, will get married this weekend in Tirana in the country’s second-ever royal wedding, which royalists hope will revive the legacy of the Albanian monarchy“, the piece goes on, letting us know that up to 20 members of „royal families“ and 100 „aristocrats“ will attend the wedding of Leka Zogu and his „long time fiancee“ Elia Zahira.

A 70 year old fan of the royal family is being quoted, gloryfying the Albanian kingdom. A teen who after asked about what she thinks about the whole thing starts to get interested in Albania’s „royal family“.

A monarchist is allowed to spew his propaganda unchallenged and Balkan Insight doesn’t fail to provide a touch of glamour, showing us a couple of PR photos from „Prince Leka’s“ FB-page, featuring him and his fiancee.



There Is No Royal Wedding

A reader used to quality media doesn’t even know where to begin critizising this fine example of both royalist propaganda and reproduction of escapist glamour fantasies so typical of tabloids‘ society pages.

First of all, dear Balkanist, there is no „royal wedding“ in Albania. (Besides, it is highly dubios that all of Albania prepares for the wedding as the title suggests.)

Albania has been a republic ever since World War II, as even Balkan Insight has to admit – and one would imagine with a deep sigh of regret.

Albania being a republic, there is no King, thus no royal family, thus no royal wedding. It’s as simple as that. Really.

A rich guy marries a well known actress. Nothing to get excited about. Not exactly the stuff a website fancying itself to be critical and investigative ordinarily covers.

Where’S The Critical Approach?

And if it does, it might as well take a critical and investigative approach to the whole affair. And certainly not publish the affirmative squirming this piece amounts to.

Throughout the whole piece one can’t help thinking that the author is about to faint at the prospect of catching just a glimpse of the wedding.

Now, one might start out with taking a critical look at the main character involved in this affair.

Leka Zogu Is an Impostor

Leka Zogu is an impostor.

He persistently claims to be heir to the Albanian throne. He isn’t. He never was. He never will be. There is no Albanian throne.

And as nice as it is to know that the Republic of Albania lets Leka Zogu and his family attend official ceremonies – that does not change a thing. That does not make Zogu’s claims any more true or any more plausible.

He just is not what he pretends to be.

The term for people who pretend to be someone else, be it for financial gain or attention, is impostor. Period.

Where Does The Family’s Wealth Comes From?

One might have also questioned where his family’s wealth comes from Balkan Insight says Leka Zogu has been managing for the past two years.

I got a hunch it didn’t come from honest work.

In this part of the world, the wealth current or former rulers enjoy hardly ever does. Just look at the Milošević-clan.

To be fair, royal families’s wealth never really is a product of hard work but of decades if not centuries of taxing hard working people if not worse.

What About The Monarchists?

One might have used the opportunity to look behind the curtains of Albania’s monarchist movement.

How strong are they? Do they play any role whatever in the country’s political life? Do they hold any seats in any governing body? What, besides re-instituting a King, do they want?

Balkan Insight just mentions they’re small and right wing, none of which is a surprise. In republics monarchists tend to marginalize themselves fairly quickly as people get acquainted with the advantages this  form of government has over monarchies.

To say a monarchist movement is right wing is a pleonasm. Left wing and monarchist rule out one another and so do, with very few exceptions in the past, liberal and monarchist.

A Lot of Questions to Ask

As an alternative Balkan Insight might have done a critical piece on the history of Albanian monarchy. Or ask how and why the narrative about the Albanian kingdom has become as revisionist as it appears to be in Balkan Insight’s piece that so readily transports it.

Or Balkan Insight could have questioned why so many Albanians apparently are looking forward to this „royal wedding“.

Usually weddings of members of former royal families do not create as much attention in republics as Balkan Insight makes this one out to do.

Could this be a sign of the hardships ordinary Albanians face every day, more so even than most people on the Balkans? Could this be a sign of deep rooted distrust against the country’s political class – the kind of distrust Albanians have every reason for, just like most people on the Balkans?

Something must fuel the escapism that drives the apparently huge public interest in this „royal wedding“ and Balkan Insight’s very own piece.

Balkan Insight, What Happened to You?

All of this could have been done. All of this would have been done by a broadsheet or a website serious about featuring quality news.

That it hasn’t been done says a lot about how much Balkan Insight has strayed from its original ambitions.

Sad to see. This project was once a very promising one. And a much needed one, too, for that matter.

Let’s hope things get better.

Title photo: (c) Andreas Lehner at Obtained under CC License CC BY 2.0

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