Dismantle Syria's Chemical Weapons in Albania? Protesters Say 'No, No, No!'
Albania's PM confirms US proposal for dangerous task on Albanian soil
Anger spilled into the streets of Albania's capital on Tuesday after reports confirmed that the U.S. government wants Syria's chemical weapons stockpile to be dismantled on Albanian soil.
The proposal was reported in several news outlets last week, and Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama confirmed Tuesday that he has “discussed” the possibility with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry but has not yet come to a decision, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile hundreds of protesters in Tirana, concerned over the dangerous and environmentally precarious task of dismantling the 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons uncovered in Syria by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), protested for the second time in a week, gathering in front of the U.S. embassy with signs reading “Love Albania like the PM loves the US” and "Yes, we can say 'No'" while chanting "Albania is ours" and "No, no, no!"
"Albania belongs to the Albanians, not the international community," activist Aldo Merkoci told Reuters. "Only the sovereign people can rule on this matter. We are here today to say no."
Protesters also gathered with the same message in the town of Elbasan and at the Mjekes weapons dismantling facility, where the chemical weapons would be handled.
The Syrian government has thus far met all of the demands imposed on them in a deal brokered by Russia and the U.S. last month, revealing its chemical weapons stock piles and allowing its chemical weapons production facilities to be destroyed under the direction of the OPCW.
The problem now arises as to who will dismantle the weapons. Albania seems a likely candidate, reports the LA Times, as a country with a history of being asked to do "dirty diplomatic chores" for the west as it bids to become a part of the European Union.
The next deadline, set for November 15, will be for the OPCW and Syria to agree on a detailed plan to destroy the stockpile.