Misunderstandings in Tirana

I must confess that most of us Albanians were deeply surprised by the behavior of Greek President Karolos Papoulias during his recent visit to Tirana. One might attribute his return to Greece to cowardice; perhaps he was afraid of a few peaceful demonstrators. I personally would like to think that Mr Papoulias does not suffer from this vice, yet one can never be sure. Another explanation might be that he was very surprised at seeing people gather to defend their rights. That also doesn’t make much sense since Greece is a democracy, a country where you’d expect people to honor the right of others to assemble peacefully in front of their leader (the Albanian president) and his guests. Thus his behavior is still quite inexplicable. Certainly we, just like you, can put together countless conspiracy theories, like the Greek newspaper which implied that the assembly had been backed by the Americans and that the protesters had been bussed in from northern Albania, but I do not believe much in conspiracy theories. Since we cannot explain the behavior of the Greek president I can tell you a bit about the behavior on our side, the Albanian people. In the articles that I’ve read on your site the demonstrators are often referred to as nationalistic extremists. But how can these demonstrators be «nationalistic extremists» when they are requesting Greek citizenship? Also the leaders of the «protesters» have revealed in countless interviews in the Albanian press that they had posted a welcome sign for Mr Papoulias at the Albanian-Greek border crossing, that they were prepared to welcome him with flowers and, ironically enough, had been planning to release doves in the air when he stepped out of his car. I don’t know your beliefs and value system. Yet as a journalist I would hope that you would take the pain to consider both sides of the story. That would certainly be beneficial to all sides. LLUKAN TAKO Chicago, USA

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