In the last couple of weeks, the Government of Montenegro has been significantly intensifying its campaign on the necessity of giving Montenegrin airports a concession, and not without reason.
The intention of the Government and Prime Minister Dritan Abazović is to first give the Tivat airport, and then the Podgorica airport, to the controversial albanian businessman Shefqet Kastrati, owner of the company “Kastrati group”, M portal learns.
Kastrati is considered one of the most loyal associates of the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, and numerous Albanian media claim that, thanks to his close ties with Rama, his company wins hundreds of tenders issued by the Government of the Republic of Albania, as well as local governments in the neighboring country, through which it earns hundreds of millions of euros.
According to the M portal, Kastrati has visited Montenegro several times over the past few months, the last time about 10 days ago, and his next visit is planned for the days before or after the signing of the Agreement with the Church of Serbia. Then the negotiations about the airport will be finalized, because the authorities have estimated that it will be a time of heightened tensions due to the contract, and that no one will pay too much attention to economic topics, no matter how big they are.
It was Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama who connected Abazović with Kastrati, the largest oil trader in Albania and since two years ago the owner of the only international airport in Albania (“Mother Teresa” in Tirana). Kastrati would be solely responsible for all his future affairs in Montenegro to the two of them.
The meeting of the Board of Directors of the Airport of Montenegro, possible with dismiss Jandreoski
In order to realize the agreement with Kastrati regarding airport concessions, Abazović’s Government dismissed the previous Board of Directors of the Public Enterprise Airports of Montenegro at the session of July 8, and appointed a new composition, headed by Eldin Dobaržić, a member of Abazović’s URA party. Other new members of the Board of Directors are Kemal Purišić (Bosniak Party), Slavko Vukčević (SNP), Momčilo Martinović (DPS) and Nebojša Đoković (DF). The board of directors will meet today at 11 a.m. and, according to the information of M portal, the agenda could also include the initiation of the dismissal of the executive director of ACG, Goran Jandreoski.
The plan is to replace him with an executive director who will be more “obedient” than Jandreoski, a man with extensive experience in civil aviation, who did not want to fulfill the political wishes of the previous Board of Directors, so the silent conflict has been constant since his election. The government needs a trustworthy person in that place who will closely cooperate with them and with Shefket Kastrati in the process of giving the airport a concession.
To begin with, it is planned for Kastrati to get a concession on the Tivat airport, so that the entire trade would be as cheap as possible, and later, through recapitalization and investments, take over the entire airport in Tivat.
Abazović promised Kastrati the opening of pumps, tourist complexes, media…
According to reliable sources of the M portal, Abazović promised Kastrati during the conversation that, along with the airport concession, he would enable him to obtain locations and permits for the construction of gas stations in Montenegro, which is Kastrati’s primary business in Albania as well. The Montenegrin Prime Minister promised the Albanian businessman direct communication with the Minister of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism, Ana Novaković Đurović, whose task is to provide locations and permits for the construction of pumps, as well as with the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Goran Đurović, who would help with import permits for oil.
Also, Abazović connected Kastrati with the president of the Board of Directors of Public Enterprise “Morsko dobro”, Blažo Rađenović, who together with the businessman will visit several locations in the area of ”Morsko dobro”.
According to the plan, Kastrati would be direct part of the investment in Montenegro to the development of the media, to start with a radio-television station and a portal, which would inform citizens in the Montenegrin and Albanian languages. Kastrati tried to do a similar thing a few months ago in Albania, by offering to buy 60% of the ownership in “Euronews Albania” television, which is part of the European media network. However, a few weeks ago, Kastrati withdrew his offer without explanation.
Abazović’s friend and recently appointed inspector general of the National Security Agency, Artan Kurti, has a significant role in the whole affair, a person who has been sentenced twice to prison terms, for attempted murder and for inflicting serious bodily injuries. Kurti has already met twice with Shefket Kastrati and his task in this business will be to provide police logistics and security structures so that Kastrati can expand his business unhindered in all parts of Montenegro.
Who is Shefket Kastrati?
Shefket Kastrati, also known as “Cheti”, began his career in the 90s of the last century as a truck driver (in Albania known as “Ziz”), Albanian media write, and today, with the help of Edi Rama, he has acquired key Albanian resources, from oil, insurance, the only international airport, roads, construction, military assets, state tenders, etc. Albanian media write that “Cheti” even “monopolized the money laundering of key criminal groups in Albania”.
“Shefket Kastrati is, according to some reports, feared by Lulzim Baša and Edi Rama, the key connection between the heads of criminal groups involved in drug trafficking in Albania,” says just one of a series of articles in the Albanian media dealing with the affairs of Shefket Castration.
According to Albanian and international reports, his construction companies are the biggest “money launderers” from drugs, trafficking and other criminal activities in the Balkans.
Since Edi Rama came to power, Kastrati has won over 600 state tenders, worth hundreds of millions of euros, through his companies dealing in oil trade and insurance. Only one of those companies received over 400 tenders, with a profit margin of up to 30%. Kastrati also won about 40 tenders in the Municipality of Durrës alone, where, according to the Albanian media, he is in close relations with Ljulzim Berisha, the leader of the so-called of the “Drak clan”.
The media call Kastrati “the king of corruption, ties to crime, money laundering, extortion of public goods”, and accuse him of personal and business ties with the international drug smuggler Anton Gjinaj, also known as Pašk Rapi, who was arrested in April 2021 at the border at the Božaj crossing, on an international warrant for drug smuggling, and is in prison in Spuz.
In addition to the citizens accusing him of selling them the most expensive fuel in the Balkans, the price of which is not known how much goes to the so-called “black funds”, Kastrati’s name is also mentioned in several cases of murder, kidnapping and blackmail. After the devastating earthquake in Albania in 2019, Shefket Kastrati came under severe public criticism, because he charged tolls on the highway he manages, for vehicles coming through or from Kosovo to deliver humanitarian aid to families who were left without a roof over head.
Prime Minister Rama then tried to defend him, but some sources claim that after learning that Kastrati was charging tolls, Rama called “Cheti”, yelled at him to immediately stop charging and forced him to donate around 1.5 million euros for the recovery of the country after the earthquake .