TIRANA – Apparently trying to make amends for saying Greece cheated to get into the European Union – and then apologizing – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told visiting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis he’s the best leader Greece could have.
That includes over major rival SYRIZA leader and former Premier Alexis Tsipras who has been sniping at Mitsotakis in a pre-campaign mode with mid-2023 elections slated to bring a rematch after New Democracy swept into power in 2019.
“You know I’m a Socialist, but it’s not hidden that for me you are the best Greek Prime Minister. We are not in the same political club. Alexis (Tsipras) is a very good friend, but what can I say? It is what it is. And you are not in campaign time, so it’s not an interference,” said Rama of his position.
Mitsotakis was in the Albanian capital to attend an EU-Western Balkans meeting that brought together the bloc’s 27 heads of state and six from the region, with Albanian aspiring to join despite a miserable record of corruption and crime.
It happened against the backdrop of opposition leader Sali Berisha – former president and prime minister banned from the United States over alleged corruption, which he denied – punched in the face while leading supporters in a protest march. He wants early elections.
“Our nation is disappearing… Albania is in its worst existential danger in its history. We will save Albania,” Berisha told the crowd, pledging to halt crime and poverty he said are making people flee, reported Reuters, not explaining why he didn’t do that while in power.
Mitsotakis said he hoped a dispute with Albania over delimitation of Exclusive Economic Zones in the sea could be solved if Rama agrees to let the International Court of Justice in the Hague sort it out although the Albanian Premier hasn’t.
Still, Rama said “I think we’re close to resolving the issue of the delimitation of our maritime zones. There’s good understanding between our teams and lots more to do also on the economic front,” the Greek Premier’s official website reported.
Mitsotakis reiterated support for Albania’s hopes of getting into the EU that have stalled under Rama, the Greek leader saying it’s an important geopolitical question although the prerequisites must be met.
“It is important for our European friends to come and see the progress that has been achieved in Albania. We’ve been strong supporters of the European perspective, not just of Albania, but of all Western Balkan countries, and we’ll continue to do so,” Mitsotakis added.