We are like Afghans, but the Afghans of Europe, said Prime Minister Edi Rama Jan Puhl in an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel, where he talks about the shelter of hundreds of refugees from Afghanistan, the disappointment of the European Union and the fact that Merkel will miss the she had a vision for the Balkans.
Responding to the reception of Afghans in Albania, Rama said that “now there are about 1,000 Afghans and the Americans are still bringing. We can get up to 4,000. These people were against the Taliban and served as NATO troops, for example as translators. We must not disappoint them. They will stay until they get a visa in the US. The procedures will take a long time.
Asked why Albania agreed to receive Afghan refugees, he noted that “we can not refuse! The code of honor of Albanians dates back to the Middle Ages. Hospitality plays a central role and this is true even today. “Your house belongs to God and friend,” says this code of honor. This is not just for that friend you invite, for all those who knock on your door. Traditionally for us it is impossible to fire anyone. This is why Albania was the only country after World War II that had more Jews than before it started.
Asked if citizens support the government’s decision to host Afghans, he replied that “we are divided over everything in Albania and sometimes we do not agree on what time it is. But our parties do not differ on this issue. We had half a million refugees registered during the war in Kosovo. In recent years more than 3,000 Iranians have come to us, members of the opposition who have been brutally persecuted. We are like Afghans, but the Afghans of Europe. Our country was completely isolated under the regime of Enver Hoxha, not even part of the Warsaw Pact. At the turning point, all institutions collapsed and the country was like a civil war. At that time many ships were filled with people and sailed for Italy. “We lived to be refugees.”
Commenting on reactions from EU countries to immigration policy and whether it will encourage right-wing populist parties, Rama noted that “our openness is a great legacy and many should be the ones to learn from it “We are also a NATO member, except that Albania ‘s military contribution is not great. But many believe that we can help in other ways. NATO is a community of values. We just can not return them.” “These shocking moments are shocking how far the far right is now dictating the debate over immigrants in many countries, especially the rich.”
Asked why by 2018 Albania had not agreed on the construction of refugee reception centers, he said, “we did not want to become a country where the EU would collect unwanted refugees. Otherwise, we would have to put ourselves in the service of an anti-immigration policy of really rich countries. We did not like it. ”
Asked if he was disappointed with the progress towards EU membership, Rama noted that “we were not disappointed, but became more realistic. We have idealized the EU, we continue to be one of the most pro-European countries on the continent. But today we know better how the EU works. We are learning from Europe how to build a transparent and democratic state. Europe has knowledge and it provides it to us. This is also a value in itself. Membership happens when it happens. Quite very clear to me: we were the last to abandon the idea of communism and we will be the last to abandon the idea of Europe. One can ask the Vatican, but not God. “The idea of a united Europe is God.”
Asked what kind of relationship he wants with the US, he replied that “during the communist period we were told that the US was the embodiment of evil. But we became fans of America. Albanians today are more American than the Texans themselves. Fortunately, we do not have to choose between the US and the EU. We want a good relationship with both, “Rama noted.
Answering whether he will miss Angela Merkel, Edi Rama said that “Emmanuel Macron is often more sincere than many other politicians who hide behind beautiful promises. It was Merkel who saved the continent’s honor at the time. Europe would have lost the splendor of its morals if it had closed our borders. “We will miss Merkel very much because she had a vision for the Balkans,” the Albanian Prime Minister concluded in his interview.ibna