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Where is the World Was Blinken? Why in Albania

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Secretary of State Blinken finds his way to Albania. When I saw this tweet I thought is was worth it to look into why he finds Albania of interest and what new commitments is he making on behalf of the U.S. Was he there to poke the bear? The cynic that I am, wondering if it was another Ukraine in the making. Was there to be ten for the big guy? The region has a storied past to say the least.

Thumbnail for version as of 15:16, 14 June 2021Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken participates in a 5G signing ceremony with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Brussels, Belgium, on June 13, 2021.

The bottom line was it was all about the addition of another military base. For Albania, the quest to join NATO.

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Albania on Thursday to reaffirm relations with a key partner in the region and assure Western Balkan countries of Washington’s support for their integration into the European Union.

Blinken met with top officials and focused on the future of the Western Balkans as Albania and several neighbors seek to join the European Union, according to top U.S. officials. Washington has strongly supported Albania’s integration into the EU.

“We can’t have a repeat of what we saw and what too many people experienced in the 1990s, which is why we’re committed to supporting all of the efforts to advance the integration of countries in the Western Balkans with each other and with Europe,” Blinken said at a news conference with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama hold a joint press availability in Tirana, Albania, on February 15, 2024.

A portion of the news conference held:

Prime Minister


If one reads the transcript, it was a friendly meeting, but one can’t help noting that as much as the Biden Administration advertises that Trump wants to get out of NATO, that belief is not shared with the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister:

…And being in that in that situation, Ukraine couldn’t survive so far without the United States, first and foremost, and all the other allies and friends who, by the way, are not eager to enter in war with Russia or with whomever, but have to protect Ukraine for protecting the world they believe in.  Now, if you want me to have a take on the American Congress and Senate, I think I should not go there, because let’s say that the American politics nowadays is not at its best. 

But one thing I can say, I had the privilege to be prime minister for Albania in NATO when the former president was there.  And despite the rhetoric, despite the colorful way to confront adversaries, I don’t see that NATO was weakened.  On the contrary, what was decided before continued to be the case.  Every country continued to put more money and to put more effort in increasing the NATO budget. 

So now, elections are elections, Trump is Trump.  American politics is American politics.  But I think United States is something more than that.  And what makes United States one of a kind in the – in our community of countries and of people all around the world is that United States cannot and will never, in my view, shy away from what are the principles and the values to be protected, whatever it takes. 

And so I’m not afraid of anything, but of stopping or wavering to continue and protect ourselves through protecting the right of Ukrainians to live in their country, to have their own house intact, to have their children grow there, and to have a common future with everyone else, without being threatened to be wiped out from maps based on ninth, thirteenth, fifteenth, whatever century. 

Because if this Pandora box opens then I can tell you we have a lot of maps in this region, but we have to see the future, and it’s only the future that will unite us.

So no, I don’t think that NATO will be weakened.  I don’t think the United States will shy away from their role and from their leadership.  I then that when elections will be over, American business is American business.

Full Transcript of the presser here

For anyone who enjoys the weeds, this post may give some insight into that geographical area.

An interesting factoid that may be surprising:

According to Boston University’s 2020 World Religion Database, there are approximately 1.71 million Muslims (59 percent of the population), 1.01 million Christians (38 percent), 73,000 atheists or agnostics (2.5 percent), and 16,000 Baha’is. The World Jewish Congress estimates there are 40-50 Jews.

Other than that, we can hope we don’t have another swamp in the making.


Bonus:  Blinken stabs Putin by dredging up his dead brother


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