Tirana, November 12, 2013 – By Arjola Ymeri
IBNA Special Report/ A strong debate on the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons, following the request of USA for these weapons to be accepted by Albania. For the first time, the head of the government, Edi Rama and that of the opposition, Lulzim Basha have been involved in the debate.
The heated debate in Albania comes a few days ahead of Friday, when USA and United Nations Organization are expected to decide about the location where Syria’s chemical weapons will be destroyed.
In the special report below, you will find today’s (Tuesday) declarations of Mr. Rama, Mr. Basha, speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta, US ambassador, Arvizu and a picture of the daily protests taking place in Albania and Kosovo.
Daily protests take place in Albania; a protest takes place in Kosovo too
It’s been several days that daily protests are taking place in Albania, sometimes several times a day. They mainly take place in Tirana and in the main streets, such as in the boulevard in front of the Council of Ministers building and in front of the US embassy.
On Tuesday afternoon, several hundreds of citizens, amongst them renowned artists, representatives of the media, etc., gathered in front of the Council of Ministers building where they chanted slogans against the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons in Albania.
They said that they want a safe Albania and call for more people to join against this cause. With banners “Stop chemical weapons” in their hands and wearing gas masks, protestors moved in front of the US embassy.
Police prevented protestors from getting closer to the street where this embassy is located.
This is the first protest in 23 years of democracy, whereby Albanian citizens protest against USA in front of its embassy.
Environmental organizations have warned for a bigger protest on Wednesday afternoon in the main square of Tirana. They say that starting from Thursday; the protest will spread throughout Albania.
A protest against the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons in the territory of Albania was also held in Pristina. Protestors gathered in the city center and then chanted slogans against chemical weapons before Albania’s embassy in Pristina.
On behalf of protestors, Vedat Xhymshyti launched a message for the prime minister of Albania, demanding him to say “no” to the offer of the US Secretary, John Kerry, to use the territory of Albania for the destruction of chemical weapons.
Xhymshyti said that chemical substances are dangerous; they pollute the air, endanger society and destroy the image of Albania and its tourism. He said that protests will continue.
Rama: I’m entirely aware and doing my job at the best of my abilities
Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke for the first time on Tuesday on the possibility of the arrival of chemical weapons to Albania. Rama said that he doesn’t yet have a lot of information, as there is still insufficient information available.
“We have been contacted by USA. If Albania was not contacted on an issue for which all NATO countries have been contacted, it wouldn’t be a good thing. There has been a 30 minute conversation between me and the US Secretary of State, where we discussed on this issue. There hasn’t been any decision and there’s nothing more transparent than this, because along with our countries, we are involved in a domestic discussion. At the moment when we will need to take a decision, we will share it with the public, and without any doubt, with parliament”, said Rama.
Rama said that, “nobody should forget that Albania is a NATO member country”.
Moreover, Mr. Rama said: “Every worried citizen must know that I’m entirely aware and doing my job at the best of my abilities to represent the national interest of Albania with maximum dignity during the discussions with the USA”.
Head of the opposition, Lulzim basha: Prime Minister Rama is irresponsible
The head of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, commenting on the issue of chemical weapons, accused Prime Minister Rama of being irresponsible in relation to the transparency and accountability before Albanian citizens. Basha said that, “we’re in total informative darkness. The entire responsibility goes to Edi Rama and this government”.
Mr. Basha said that the US government cannot and has never asked Albania to do things which threaten the security and wellbeing of its citizens, as they see these as universal norms of the world and even more, as universal norms of the Euro Atlantic community where Albania belongs”.
Basha has also commented on the possibility of the deliberation of the potential decision in Parliament. He said that a referendum was decided on the issue of the import of wastes, which means that for chemical weapons, it’s the people that must decide through a referendum and not Parliament.
Basha also said that: “Albania has always been ready and must continue to be ready to accept its share of responsibilities, which have grown with NATO accession, on every important issue of peace and stability in the world and we must do this without any complexity. But it’s absurd to treat your country like a zoo and to ignore the elementary norm of democracy, transparency, without which there cannot be accountability and a responsible government”.
Speaker of Parliament, Ilir Meta: Albania has benefited a lot from peace and security
Speaker of the Parliament of Albania, Ilir Meta has spoken on Tuesday for the second time about the issue of chemical weapons. Today he said that it’s up to the government to have its say about the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons in Albania. But, Mr. Meta admitted that it’s the Parliament’s duty to also have its say on the issue of chemical weapons. He added that the sensitivity of society should be taken into account.
“This is an issue for which, first of all, the government should have its say. Secondly, Parliament has the right and obligation to have its say. At the same time, we must take into account and comprehend the patriotic sensitivity and that of civil society groups. In any case, this decision will be made in a transparent way, which means that Albania has always been a country that wants to contribute for peace and security. It’s a country that has benefited a lot from peace and security, for which our allies have contributed too. But, we must also take into account the possibilities that our country has, which enable taking these responsibilities. Without any doubt, everything will be done in a transparent and constitutional way”.
Ambassador Arvizu: The wellbeing of Albanian people has been taken into account by USA
US ambassador to Albania, Alexander Arvizu was in Kukes on Tuesday, where he made a declaration on the issue of chemical weapons. He said that there have been talks between Albania and USA, stressing that there hasn’t yet been any decision about the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons to Albania.
Asked about the issue of chemical weapons, he said that USA is also discussing this with other countries. He declared that a concrete decision hasn’t been taken as to where these weapons will be destroyed.
The ambassador said that USA is a friend of Albania and of the Albanian people, adding that the wellbeing of the Albanian people is taken into account by USA.
“There have been discussions between USA and Albania. USA has also discussed this issue with other countries, but a decision is yet to be made. What is vital is that USA is a friend of Albania and of the Albanian people. The wellbeing of Albanian people is very important to the USA and this also includes the dignity of the country and its people”. /ibna/