A tactless presidential host?
President Karolos Papoulias reacted in the correct and responsible manner when he decided to cancel Tuesday’s scheduled meeting with his Albanian counterpart Alfred Moisiu in the southern Albanian town of Saranda after some 150 demonstrators from an Albanian minority group staged an aggressive rally outside the Greek Consulate where Papoulias was staying. It is an established diplomatic assumption that governments hosting foreign leaders take all measures necessary to ensure their visitors are safe and enjoy the respect that they deserve. Papoulias is a very level-headed and cautious politician with a wealth of diplomatic experience, having served as foreign minister for many years. So it is hard to believe that he would have acted impulsively, undermining his influence and our country’s foreign policy, which he represents. But even if one thought that Papoulias acted hastily, the subsequent events would have proved them wrong, as the behavior of Albania’s president and the political leaders hosting Papoulias was downright provocative, and instead of apologizing for the ostensibly unforeseen events and seeking Papoulias’s forgiveness, they criticized the visiting leader for his reaction. Actually, it appears that the rally was probably planned and had been allowed to go ahead with the tolerance (and perhaps even the guidance) of the Tirana administration.