News / Europe

Albania's Rejection Leaves Few Options for Syria's Chemicals Destruction

Albania's Rejection Leaves Few Options for Syria's Chemicals Destructioni
November 22, 2013 6:43 PM
Albania's rejection of a U.S. request that it host the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile highlights the daunting task of where to carry out a crucial part of the international deal that avoided U.S. strikes on Syria.
Keida Kostreci
Albania's rejection of a U.S. request that it host the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile highlights the daunting task of where to carry out a crucial part of the international deal that avoided U.S. strikes on Syria.

The U.S. recently asked its ally, Albania, to agree to the request. After a week fraught with protests and lack of information in Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama rejected to destroy Syrian chemical weapons on his country's soil.  

Former U.S. ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker says the request to Albania was a U.S. effort to seize a fortuitous opportunity.
He asked, “Where else can you go where you have an ally or you have the possibility of executing this, where you have a government that may be willing to help?

Albania is only one of three nations worldwide that have declared a chemical weapons stockpile to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and destroyed it.

Counting on its strong relationship with the United States, Albania was considered OPCW’s strongest hope to take Syria's stockpile. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had three phone conversations with Rama in efforts to secure cooperation.  

“When the secretary of state takes on an issue that he feels needs to be resolved - in this case the disposition of Syria’s chemical weapons - then he is going to do whatever he feels he needs to do to try to advance that process,” Volker said.

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Ian Brzezinski says Albania’s decision was a setback for the efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

“The United States government put a lot of hope that Albania would provide the resources and the location for the destruction of these weapons," he said. "So now we have a process under way, a strategy under way to eliminate these weapons as missing a specific and very important component. Where and how they are going to be destroyed.”

Brzezinski says the international community has a difficult path ahead.

“The next step for the United States together with Russia is to find another country that could host the facilities to destroy these weapons, these chemicals," he said. "There are basically two options out there - find another country that will do it or destroy them on site in Syria, which of course raises a whole set of security issues.”

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany and Norway, have said they will not destroy Syrian chemical weapons on their soil. OPCW spokesman Christian Chartier said Wednesday the alternative of a destruction at sea, on a boat or floating rig, is a “feasible” possibility.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: AB from: Tirana
November 26, 2013 8:05 AM
This article doesn't fully cover the whole array of facts, therefore I find it both biased and misleading. Biased since it refers mainly to opinions of why Albania is THE best host candidate, but absolutely lacks on arguments that make Albania the worse choice to execute such complex task due to poor infrastructure, lack of resources, human expertise, corruption, lack of legislation, and so on. This of course makes the hinted suggestions of taking over the stockpile misleading.

Yes, Albania is one of the best allies of US, so are Germany, Norway and Belgium which all refused to take Syria's Stockpile in their backyard. Does Albania have more experience, expertise and resources to handle such an operation than Germany, Norway and Belgium? So the problem digs deeper than being just good allies with willingness to contribute on the matter.

by: JC
November 23, 2013 9:21 AM
This report is one-sided. The opinion of these well-respected individuals should have been balanced with that of the other side. Being a trusted ally does not necessarily mean that the U.S. should ask a country to do the impossible. Albania has absolutely no capacity to undertake such a daunting task. Moreover, implying that Albania was a success story with expertise and capacity in chemical weapons destruction is misleading. Back in 2007 the country used outside - mainly U.S. - financial and technical help to destroy its very small chemical arsenal. And yet, the waste from that process is still unsecured and reportedly leaking at a location near the capital city of Tirana, because the country has no proper landfill. Most importantly, as U.S. law reportedly prohibits entry into the U.S. territory of chemical weapons, so does Albanian law as well. The U.S. administration should have thought twice before asking Albania to do something it simply could not do.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs