TIRANA - For Albania and its people, the visit of the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama to the United States is a very strong reconfirmation of the friendship with the US, of the attention that official Washington shows for this Balkan country, Genc Mlloja, Editor-in- Chief of Albanian Daily News said in an interview for Ora News TV.
Further on Mr. Mlloja said that if it is spoken about strategic allies, the entire agenda of concerns and problems of Albania, but even of the US, could not be discussed in a meeting, but, according to him, economy and the bilateral links in this field could have been a very important aspect that should have been highlighted during the talks.
In the meantime Mr. Mlloja highlighted among others as a true success story in the US-Albania relations the moment when the Memorandum of Understanding between Albania and the US was signed on March 15, 1991.
Mr. Muhamet Kapllani, the then Foreign Minister signed the Memorandum in a ceremony at the State Department in Washington where Mr. Mlloja was present as Chargé d'Affaires of the Albanian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, given that the mandate of the then Ambassador, Bashkim Pitarka had ended and he had left.
“That was a moment that I would call a success story after a period of one year and a half talks, starting from May 1, 1990 in New York, with American diplomats, which was finalized on this date," said Mr. Mlloja in the following interview:
-Prime Minister Edi Rama has paid a special visit to Washington. He has considered the US as a strategic partner of Albania. What is your view on this visit?
-It is entirely true. We can say that the strategic partnership is not a novelty and the relations, starting from the reestablishment of diplomatic ties, have developed under this spirit, the spirit of strategic partnership with the US. This gained an even broader and stronger meaning since Albania’s accession to NATO. It gave a stronger meaning to the strategic partnership, which in my view lies in all domains between the two countries.
-This was a visit of an Albanian Prime Minister to the White House. Do you think that this visit, probably the most important one in the career of Mr. Rama as a prime minister, indicates steps forward between the two countries at level of friendship, partnership and cooperation?
-Firstly, regarding Mr. Rama, this is an important visit, an extremely important moment for his career, a moment of reconfirmation of his program of Renaissance, but I would see this from another angle, too.
I would see this in the aspect of Albania. For Albania and for the Albanian people, this is a very strong reconfirmation of friendship with the US, of the attention that the official Washington shows for our country.
In fact, we can feel this everyday with different ambassadors and with Mr. Donald Lu, who have become part of every cell, of every activity of the political life in our country, especially in the judicial reform, where they, along with the EU Ambassador to Albania, Romana Vlahutin, are the main actors.
-Was this visit a success story for Mr. Rama himself or it was just broadly treated by the media? Meantime, for other leaders such visit to the White House is quite normal, as well as a meeting with President Obama, or Vice President Biden.
-To tell the truth, I am not very fond of the phrase ‘a success story’. The meeting is successful, of course. This is certainly a success for Rama as a politician and for Albania as well. But I don’t agree on calling this as if the success story, and everything started here, because there is an entire history regarding the ties between Albania and the US, which dates long time ago. It has been strengthened since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, thus the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on March 15, 1991.
-Does this meeting gain a special meaning given that it took place on the 25th anniversary of reestablishment of diplomatic ties?
-Of course. This was reconfirmed even by Ambassador Donald Lu in Washington when he said that this visit was organized in the spirit of the atmosphere of the 25th anniversary.
-We see even a photograph that you enabled for us taken on the evening when the Memorandum was signed.
-As we spoke about success stories, this can be a true success story because we see the moment when the Memorandum of Understanding was signed, thus when ties were officially reestablished between the two countries.
Mr. Muhamet Kapllani, the then foreign minister who signed the memorandum, appears in the photograph, and I was there as Deputy Ambassador, Chargé d'Affaires, given that the mandate of the then Ambassador, Bashkim Pitarka had ended and he had left.
That was a moment that I would call a success story after a period of one year and a half talks, starting from May 1, 1990 in New York, with American diplomats, which was finalized on this date.
-Mr. Mlloja, as a very good connoisseur of high-level meetings, you have been in Washington, you have stayed and worked there for many years, you know even the way in which these meetings are organized between the head of the White House and other personalities. There was much rumor on a breach of protocol by Mr. Obama, who joined the meeting earlier than expected while Mr. Rama was meeting with Mr. Biden. Is this an indicator of friendship relations between them, or simply a courtesy by Mr. Obama since he is about to conclude his term?
-The atmosphere was truly friendly, this fact has to be confirmed. But I would like to add something with regards to diplomatic level. Not only in America but even in other countries, diplomacy acts on such occasions. Courtesy is the number one of behavior among diplomats, officials, and in the concrete case, between the Prime Minister and President Obama.
I would add the fact that Mr. Obama has created more opportunity to Albanian Prime Minister to feel good in the White House, in a historic moment, and has created all those opportunities that we have learned only by what Mr. Rama has said, not by what the White House or President Obama has said.
-Besides the Balkans, war against terrorism, issue of Mujahedeen, do you think that there is anything left out of discussion in this meeting?
-If we speak about strategic allies, the entire agenda of concerns and problems of Albania, but even the US, cannot be discussed in a meeting. As an editor-in-chief, as a former diplomat, but even as an ordinary citizen, I would consider economy a very important aspect that should have been highlighted.
If we see all the interviews, talks, the economic aspect is missing. I would have wanted more emphasis on this aspect.
-The reiterated statement of Mr. Rama about the Republican candidate for President of the US, Mr. Turmp, has echoed in American and Albanian media, ‘a threat for the entire world. God forbid his election as president’. A statement made by an Albanian Prime Minister on his strategic ally, probably the next president of the US. What do you think about it?
-I see it in two aspects: as a former diplomat and as a journalist. I think that these are the opinions of Mr. Rama, which are shared even by Americans who are in the middle of an electoral campaign of presidential elections. But I would underline the status under which Mr. Rama was speaking in Washington and I believe that the question made by Richard Quest, a famous analyst, saying that he was commenting on elections in another country, perfectly pointed that out. In my view what Mr. Quest said is the clearest comment I could make.
I would add that when you have the status of a prime minister, there are some limits you cannot cross while making definitions on personalities and figures. However, this is Mr. Rama’s choice. He justified it in an elegant way, by saying that even other leaders have said it. According to me, this doesn’t stand because everyone has his own view on this matter.
The very fact that this statement echoed in the American media, Albanian media, and of course even Albanian Daily News newspaper has reflected this, shows that it is interesting.
-What would happen if Mr. Trump wins elections within his party in November 2016, and gets elected as President of the US? Would ties with our greatest strategic partner break?
-If I am not wrong Mr. Rama denied the possibility that Trump could be elected president. Personally, seeing the relations between Albania and the US in retrospective, I would say that they are not based on one Presidency.
The relations between the two countries have a much broader dimension. Presidents have changed, Republicans have come, Democrats have come, but ties between US and Albania, the stance of official Washington, of the Department of State towards Albania, has been unwavering.
-Do you think that President Obama might visit Albania before the end of his mandate in November? He promised it to Mr. Rama but he didn’t say when he would come.
-Personally, I would wish such thing happen. It might happen but I think that Mr. Obama’s agenda should be very busy during this period, with all the problems that the US is dealing with.
I don’t know, but I join the wish of the Prime Minister, the wish of the entire Albanian people, to welcome the American President to Albania.