Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why Albania embraces Bush - The Christian Science Monitor

The largely Muslim country, one of Europe's poorest, sees the visit Sunday by President Bush as a reward for its support of the war on terror.

By Nicole Itano | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

TIRANA, Albania
Dogged by protest for much of his European tour, President Bush received a warmer welcome Sunday in Albania, a former communist country eager to show that it remains one of America's staunchest allies.

Tirana, the capital, was festooned with giant American flags and the president was greeted by Albanians in red-white-and-blue Uncle Sam top hats. Mr. Bush, the first sitting president to visit Albania, traveled down a boulevard renamed in his honor.

"We have come to give our hearts to America and to President Bush to say that we are with them in the war on terrorism and we appreciate what they have done for Kosovo and for Albanians," says Arjanit Iljazi, a nurse who waited for hours to catch a glimpse of Bush in a central square Sunday morning.

Albanians see this weekend's visit, the second-to-last stop on the president's Eastern European tour, as a reward for their country's staunch pro-American sentiment and its support of US antiterrorism efforts. It's sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, frozen the assets of suspected terrorist-financiers, and taken in eight former Guantánamo Bay detainees whom no other country would take in.

"There is a strong feeling of gratefulness that the Albanian people nourish towards the United States, whether it be their politicians or people," says Ferit Hoxha, secretary general of the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Roots of pro-American sentiment

The roots of Albanian pro-American sentiment, people here say, date to Woodrow Wilson's support of the country's independence after World War I and were cemented during the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, a majority ethnic Albanian province of Serbia. Albanians also see the US as the strongest advocate for the independence of Kosovo, whose status is due to be reviewed by the UN Security Council this month.

Although Albania's contribution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are numerically small – 120 troops in Mosul, and 30 in Afghanistan with an additional 110 to come soon – they have a symbolic importance for the US. The US sees Albania as a model of moderate Islam and religious tolerance. Officially 70 percent Muslim, the country has a strong secular ethos after nearly a quarter of a century of state-enforced atheism under communism.

"I appreciated the fact that Albania is a model of religious tolerance," Bush said in a press conference with the Albanian prime minister. "And I appreciate the fact that Albania is a trusted friend and a strong ally."

Even in mosques, they love US

Pro-American sentiment is widespread here, even among Albania's Muslim faithful. At the historic Ottoman-era Ethem Bey mosque in central Tirana, the worshipers emerging from midday prayers last week said they welcomed President Bush.

Few of the men were bearded and many of the women's heads were uncovered; during prayers they borrowed scarves from a plastic bag near the entrance.

"We want better relations between the two countries," says the mosque's imam, Shaban Saliaj, who is also the mufti – the highest Sunni Muslim leader – of Tirana and looks very much like the professor of geophysics he once was. "Everyone is grateful for what the Americans did in Kosovo."

Mr. Saliaj does not support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the Koran forbids killing, he says – but still supports the US.

On the streets, other Albanians expressed mixed opinions about the military campaigns there. But there is little public debate in Albania about their government's support of the wars, and it's difficult to find anyone in Tirana, politician or ordinary person, who has anything bad to say about America.

"I think the sentiment is pro-American rather than pro-Bush," says Endri Fuga, director of communications for Mjaft! Movement, one of Albania's largest activist organizations. For many Albanians who remember communism, he says, America still represents the ideal of freedom and democracy.

Poor country with high hopes

During the communist era, Albania was perhaps the most isolated and underdeveloped country in Europe. The country is still one of the poorest on the continent, but since the end of communism in 1992 it has allied itself closely with America and Western Europe.

The country hopes to gain NATO membership in 2008 and, eventually, to win a place in the European Union.

Bush reiterated the United States' support of Albania's NATO bid and emphasized that he is committed to Kosovo gaining its independence.

Seremb Gjergjaj, who drove more than six hours from Kosovo with friends in hopes of catching a glimpse of the president, says he came to thank Bush for America's support and that Kosovars would be patient.

"We have a saying in Kosovo that good things come slow."

9 comments:

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
SALAM TO ALL…..FROM ZIAD Ismayilzada
FROM الشام ash-Shām

muharrem said...

lol
like we albanians give a shit about islam or religion, do u understand that? we are albanians not muslim or kristen...

ed said...

lol Ziad albanian don't care about your gods

Anonymous said...

i hope allah help albanians to know the main reason that helped them to withstand wht they suffered before.

Beker said...

ziad !we like usa because thats the only nation who help't us and they deserve to be loved.dont talk about whats goes around because i think Allah s.w a like that now is our turn we are better muslim then all of them in near est and the world is not stupid to see that ,thats why thay helped us .by the way :is there any muslim state who recognize Kosovo ase free country.

Anonymous said...

Ziad,
wrong place and definitely the wrong people to ask backing for Jihad.

We are ALBANIANS and that means not christians or muslim. Add the fact that US helped us and you're toast. Try something agaist US and an albo will put a bullet in your jihadi head.

sam said...

hi killing people in the name of religion is absolutely wrong.
==========================
sam
Christian Drug Rehab

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."
http://www.ip-global.org/archiv/2002/fall2002/ethnic-minorities-in-ex-yugoslavia.html
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.
http://iys.cidi.org/humanitarian/hsr/97b/0013.html
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 …

Anonymous said...

Serbia is the spearhead of the “BRICK” Aggression, that Slowly but Surely Trends to move toward the West. Surprisingly and Ironically France, with 7000 troops in Mitrovica, strongly is supporting them. If the West won’t DEMILITARIZE SERBIA TODAY, then tomorrow… is going to cost hundred of billions …