Saturday, June 09, 2007

For One Visit, Bush Will Feel Pro-U.S. Glow - The New York Times

TIRANA, Albania, June 8 — The highlight of President Bush’s European tour may well be his visit on Sunday to this tiny country, one of the few places left where he can bask in unabashed pro-American sentiment without a protester in sight.

Americans here are greeted with a refreshing adoration that feels as though it comes from another time.

“Albania is for sure the most pro-American country in Europe, maybe even in the world,” said Edi Rama, Tirana’s mayor and leader of the opposition Socialists. “Nowhere else can you find such respect and hospitality for the president of the United States. Even in Michigan, he wouldn’t be as welcome.”

Thousands of young Albanians have been named Bill or Hillary thanks to the Clinton administration’s role in rescuing ethnic Albanians from the Kosovo war. After the visit on Sunday, some people expect to see a rash of babies named George.

So eager is the country to accommodate Mr. Bush that Parliament unanimously approved a bill last month allowing “American forces to engage in any kind of operation, including the use of force, in order to provide security for the president.” One newspaper, reporting on the effusive mood, published a headline that read, “Please Occupy Us!”

There are, to be sure, signs that the rest of Europe is tilting a bit more in America’s direction, narrowing the gap between “old” and “new” Europe that opened with disagreements over the Iraq war.

France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, wants to forget the acrimony that marked his predecessor’s relations with the United States, even appointing a pro-American foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who supported the United States’ invasion of Iraq.

Shortly after taking office, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Germany did “not have as many values in common with Russia as it does with America.” She has since proposed a new trans-Atlantic economic partnership that would get rid of many non-tariff barriers to trade.

And Gordon Brown, who will succeed Tony Blair as Britain’s prime minister this month, has vacationed several times on Cape Cod and befriended a succession of Treasury officials. He is expected to maintain what Britons call the country’s “special relationship” with the United States, ahead of other American allies.

So “old Europe” has warmed toward the United States, although there has been no fundamental shift toward more American-friendly policies. But even in “new Europe,” as the post-Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe have been called, Albania is special.

Much of Eastern Europe has grown more critical of Mr. Bush, worried that the antimissile defense shield he is pushing will antagonize Russia and lead to another cold war. Many Eastern Europeans, Czechs and Poles among them, are also angry that the United States has maintained cumbersome visa requirements even though their countries are now members of the European Union.

But here in Albania, which has not wavered in its unblinking support for American policies since the end of the cold war, Mr. Bush can do no wrong. While much of the world berates Mr. Bush for warmongering, unilateralism, trampling civil liberties and even turning a blind eye to torture, Albania still loves him without restraint.

Mr. Bush will be the first sitting American president to visit the country, and his arrival could not come on a more auspicious day: the eighth anniversary of the start of Serbian troop withdrawals from Kosovo and ratification by the United Nations Security Council of the American-brokered peace accord that ended the fighting. Mr. Bush is pushing the Security Council to approve a plan that would lead to qualified Kosovo independence.

Albanians are pouring into the capital from across the region. Hotel rooms are as scarce as anti-American feelings.

Albanians’ support for the war in Iraq is nearly unanimous, and any perceived failings of American foreign policy are studiously ignored. A two-day effort to find anyone of prominence who might offer some criticism of the United States turned up just one name, and that person was out of the country.

Every school child in Albania can tell you that President Woodrow Wilson saved Albania from being split up among its neighbors after World War I, and nearly every adult repeats the story when asked why Albanians are so infatuated with the United States.

James A. Baker III was mobbed when he visited the country as secretary of state in 1991. There was even a move to hold a referendum declaring the country America’s 51st state around that time.

“The excitement among Albanians over this visit is immeasurable, beyond words,” said Albania’s new foreign minister, Lulzim Basha, during an interview in his office, decorated with an elegant portrait of Faik Konica, who became the first Albanian ambassador to the United States in 1926. “We truly believe that this is a historic moment that people will look back on decades later and talk about what it meant for the country.”

Mr. Bush’s visit is a reward for Albania’s unflinching performance as an unquestioning ally. The country was among the first American allies to support Washington’s refusal to submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. It was one of the first countries to send troops to Afghanistan and one of the first to join the forces in Iraq. It has soldiers in both places.

“They will continue to be deployed as long as the Americans are there,” Albania’s president, Alfred Moisiu, said proudly in an interview.

Most recently, the country has quietly taken several former detainees from the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, off the Bush administration’s hands when sending them to their home countries was out of the question. There are eight so far, and Mr. Moisiu said he is open to accepting more.

Mr. Rama, Tirana’s mayor, says he is offended when Albania’s pro-Americanism is cast as an expression of “provincial submission.”

“It’s not about being blind,” he said, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with the Great Seal of the United States. “The U.S. is something that is really crucial for the destiny of the world.”

The pro-American feeling has strayed into government-commercial relations. The Albanian government has hired former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge as a consultant on a range of issues, including the implementation of a national identity card.

Many people questioned the procedures under which a joint venture led by Bechtel won Albania’s largest public spending project ever, a contract to build a highway linking Albania and Kosovo. President Moisiu said state prosecutors were now looking at the deal.

In preparation for Mr. Bush’s six-hour visit, Tirana has been draped in American flags and banners that proclaim, “Proud to be Partners.” A portrait of Mr. Bush hangs on the “Pyramid,” a cultural center in the middle of town that was built as a monument to Albania’s Communist strongman, Enver Hoxha. State television is repeatedly playing a slickly produced spot in which Prime Minister Sali Berisha welcomes Mr. Bush in English.

What Mr. Bush will get in return from the visit is the sight of cheering crowds in a predominantly Muslim nation. When asked by an Albanian reporter before leaving Washington what came to mind when he thought of Albania, Mr. Bush replied, “Muslim people who can live at peace.”

Albania is about 70 percent Muslim, with large Orthodox and Catholic populations. To underscore the country’s history of tolerance, President Moisiu will present Mr. Bush with the reproduction of an 18th-century Orthodox icon depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus flanked by two mosques.

“President Bush is safer in Albania than in America,” said Ermin Gjinishti, a Muslim leader in Albania.

Tim Golden contributed reporting from Tirana, and Alan Cowell from London.


Ziad said...

THE WAY YOU SIDED WITH bush, american BUTCHER…..IN TIRANA… MAKES ME SICK. I guesss u disregard the fact that he killed so many MOSLEMS??/ THATS FINE……Inshallah …..WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND
YOU SOLD YOURSELFS TO george bush….cheeply
FROM الشام ash-Shām

Anonymous said...

The tragedy of Croatia clearly indicates that many post World War I mistakes must be rectified. In order for all of Europe's peoples to live in peace and harmony, the political, social and economic structures must be addressed. The recognition of Croatia and Slovenia as independent states is a step in that direction. Recent events in these countries further serve to demonstrate, that, in the final analysis, neither hostile political agendas, military action, economic pressures nor lack of Western support can prevent people from exercising their right to self-determination. It has become equally obvious that the solution to the region's minority problem is a sine qua, non for achieving lasting stability and peace. And yet, while the approximately half a million Hungarians of ex-Yugoslavia face discrimination, persecution, violence and even genocide, their plight receives little attention from those who claim to have an outstanding human rights records. In the interest of peace, the international community must insist that minority rights be respected everywhere, including Serbia, Vojvodina and Preshevo Valey, and not only in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, where the question was regarded as a prerequisite to being recognized as an independent State.
It is therefore the moral duty of the international community to safeguard the human rights of those whom they placed in this situation against their will. Unfortunately, the reaction of the international community to the Croatian crisis has not only been slow but misguided. It reveals that Europe is more interested in maintaining the statusquo. Even if this means the continued subjugation and suffering of nations, than in taking the painful steps for laying the foundations for a lasting peace. It also reveals that Europe is ready to have the formerly communist 19 countries turn into quasi dictatorships, instead of democracies, if they continue to uphold those ideas, which, were imposed on the region 70 years ago. The insufficient attention paid, the fate of Vojvodina's and Baranya's Hungarian community also raises some disquieting questions. What value is placed upon the security and well-being of half a million people? If such a "small" group does not merit, international consideration, would the: international conscience be more active in the case of the two to three million-strong Hungarian community in Transylvania?
- The international community must recognize that intolerable situations inevitably lead to the outbreak of conflict. It must also know that its own stability and peace may be threatened in the long run. It is therefore in the interest of the, entire global community to make some bold political moves which, would rectify past mistakes, safeguard the respect of human rights for all minorities and guarantee all nations and ethnic groups the full right to self-determination.

Anonymous said...

The fact that the Serbian demands for new frontiers were purely unilateral and totally unjustified is shown by the Serbian attitude to non-Serbs in Serbia itself. Serbia raised the so-called issue of Serbs in Croatia, although Croatia, with 78% of Croats was, except for Slovenia, the republic with the most homogeneous population. It is a degree of homogeneity by no means exceptional by European standards.
Serbia, on the other hand, with a proportion of about 65% Serbs, is less homogeneous than Croatia. The territorial integrity of Serbia, however, could not be called in question - in the Serbian view - because the principle of self-determination does not apply to Albanians, Hungarians and Bulgarians living in Serbia. The minorities question was stated to be a purely "internal" issue, although non-Serbian communities form huge majorities in areas bordering on Hungary, Albania and Bulgaria. If ethnic criteria were to be consistently applied, the annexation of these parts of Serbia to neighboring states would be technically fairly simple. Serbia excluded the possibility of secession by these non-Serbian populations by declaring that the external borders of Yugoslavia were inviolable. What was intended to apply to Serbs in Croatia was not accepted by Serbia in reference to Albanians, Hungarians and Bulgarians, or even to Moslems in the Sandjak or Croats in Vojvodina.
Since the Serbian view was discriminatory and totally unacceptable to the other nations of Yugoslavia, and since Serbia could not impose it by political means, it set out to achieve its territorial ambitions by direct action. To this end it used the Yugoslav National Army and other federal institutions, where Serbs formed the majority. The prime target was Croatia and the aim was obviously the forcible imposition of revised frontiers or the seizure of large areas of Croatian territory (more than 50%). The afore- mentioned Mihajlo Markovic said in this connection in August 1990, when the Serbian aggression was in full swing: "The Yugoslav Army has to establish new frontiers... and paved the road toward so called The Great Serbia.”

Anonymous said...

Spotting and Dumping the Criminal Mind
"...Consider Dostoevsky's analysis of the criminal mind in his masterwork `Crime and Punishment': The criminal assumption is that one has the right and authority to take or confiscate values earned by others so long as someone else has a need for those values."
The Criminal Mind is a mode of thinking that lays the responsibility for taking care of oneself onto others. A person with a criminal mind constantly projects that others owe him something -- be it money, a job, happiness, love, or anything else of value.
Serbs pretend that didn’t do anything wrong:
You didn’t humiliated nobody, you didn’t steal nobody, you didn’t tortured nobody, you didn’t raped nobody, you didn’t kill nobody, you didn’t stab nobody, you didn’t shoot nobody, you didn’t kidnapped nobody, you didn’t took the home of nobody you didn’t took the property of nobody, you didn’t took the land of nobody ….
This is the way a Criminal Mind can think. Even the worse criminal tries to justify his self before committing the crime. The same way you are thinking too.
And if the victims react to protect his self in self defense, and hurts you, then you label your prey or victim as an aggressor. What really happen to Croatia?
Along with Slovenia, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, which triggered the Croatian War of Independence. The Serb population living in border areas of Croatia revolted, supported by the Yugoslav army, and the ensuing months saw combat between various Croatian and Serbian armed forces. During this stage of the war, the independence of Croatia was recognized by the international community, while the Serbs proclaimed their own state, the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The Yugoslav army, controlled by Serbia, armed local Serbs turning them from “innocent civilians” to paramilitary forces. With the direct support of the Yugoslav army these Serb paramilitary forces committed unspeakable crimes against local Croats innocent civilians and put them in the ran. By 1992, troops were entrenched, and so called Republic of Krajina was cleansed from the Croat population, resulting in hundreds of thousands Croat refugees that were displaced and moved to the Croatian side, and more than 20000 dead. The war ended in 1995, when the Croatian Army successfully launched two major offensives to retake the rebel areas by force, leading to a mass displacement of the hundreds of thousands local Serbs from those areas into Serbia and Republika Srpska. In Serbia those Paramilitary terrorists, were relocated to Kosovo and Vojvodina, continuing their criminal activities, under the Belgrade INSTRUCTIONS. Those local Serbs had completed the metamorphosis from innocent civilians, to paramilitary forces and to professional criminals and terrorist. A peaceful reintegration of the remaining Serbian-controlled territory in the eastern part of the country was completed in 1998 under UN supervision, and 130000 from 250000 displaced Serbs reportedly have returned.
And if all of this wasn’t enough, Serbian Nation did it again to Bosnia Herzegovina, and Kosovo. The World Bank reports that the war in the former Yugoslavia has resulted in an estimated 250,000 people dead and 200,000 wounded. According to UNHCR statistics, there are more than 1.6 million Bosnians in refugee and internally displaced status. Here are not included 1.5 million Kosovars, 1 million refugees and 500,000 internally displaced, by force by Serbian Army and, maltreated, humiliated, tortured, raped and some killed by Serbian Population (Paramilitary Forces). In the present, the Serbian Nation is continuing the aggression and persecution to Vojvodina, Preshevo Valley population, and they are ready to do it again …