IBNA Special Report
Tirana, October 16, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
Prime minister of Albania, Edi Rama is in the United States for a visit lasting a few days. Awaiting his return, he is communicating with the public about the developments seen in the match between Serbia and Albania, played for the France Euro 2016 qualifiers. This match was suspended after the violence in the stadium.
On October 22, Mr. Rama has scheduled a visit to Serbia, which is considered a historical visit. But, has this visit been compromised so far?
Yesterday, a day after the incident, Mr. Rama didn’t want to speak openly about a cancellation of this visit. He even said that he didn’t want football to be mixed with politics.
But today, he left the impression that the decision in relation to the visit to Serbia would depend on the reaction of Serb authorities.
“I was sorry about everything that happened in the stadium, because it was the duty of the Serb authorities to guarantee security in the stadium during the entire match. And I’m even sorrier about the fact that instead of distancing themselves from this unacceptable show for Europe, the Serb government chose, through its rhetoric, to follow Serb fans and those who destroyed the image of football and the image of their country. We, on the other hand, chose a different path, that of European behavior. We chose not to respond to nationalist and brutal rhetoric, but to continue our path toward the future and to continue our work for peace, cooperation and dialogue between all the countries of the region, where 100 years later, it has entered its first year without a conflict. Therefore, this step backwards is unacceptable, as are those debates based on nothing of a flag that provokes the honor of a nation”.
This way, Mr. Rama left the impression that he’s expecting authorities in Belgrade to distance themselves before the scheduled visit.
Some say that in the recent hours there’s been a stronger political positioning of Tirana due to Belgrade’s accusations. Yesterday, Rama said that he was sorry about the Serb accusations, but said that the agenda of talks would not be affected by the event.
“We, as Albanians, must feel good that we have nothing to do with what appeared in the most savage and negative form, as a reflection of the past, which we’re determined to leave behind and that we condemn, being convinced that football cannot be turned into a political instrument. We’re also convinced that the politics of states cannot be affected by what happens on the football field”.
To strengthen yesterday’s message, Mr. Rama said that: “Albania and Albanians are determined to be the model of peace, to be a model which inspires looking into the future, to be the locomotive of the transformation of our region from an area of wars, bloodshed, conflicts, hatred for 100 years, to an oasis of cooperation and economic and social development for all our people”.
Serbia’s accusations, Rama: Albania has got nothing to do with it
There have been numerous comments of Serb politicians about the match. The Serb prime minister was quoted yesterday to have said that “the appearance of the flag on Tuesday’s match in Belgrade was an orchestrated act and a serious political provocation. It was the aim of Albanian extremists to desecrate the Serb pride, but we defended our honor”.
Speaking about the accusations of Serb authorities that the flight of the Ethnic Albania symbol over the field was orchestrated by the Albanian side, Mr. Rama said today that: “This is part of a desperate attempt to blame Albania, when a football match was transformed into an area of ethnic racial hatred which is unacceptable and unendurable”.
Rama denies any wrongdoing by the Albanian side: “As far as Albania and Albanians are concerned, I believe that we have nothing to do with what happened. What happened was a disgrace for the most popular sport in the world, but which was also a very ugly show filled with violence and racism”.
Public opinion is not stopping with its strong reaction against Serbia in relation to the incident. In social networks, nationalist rhetoric is becoming stronger and stronger. Many people are using them to demonstrate hatred against Serbia. The pages of prime minister Rama and former prime minister Berisha too are filled with rhetoric from their followers. /ibna/