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Conspiracy Theories

Sometimes Albania reminds me very much of Northern Ireland. When President Clinton came to Belfast, people came up with all kinds of suggestions - some mildly credible; many totally implausible - as to the real reason for his visit.

As Albania prepares for the visit of President Bush, the same kind of speculations are in the air. So far I have come across three. (These have been reported to me second-hand, so I can't be sure how accurately they have been reported to me, nor how many people believe any of them.)

Theory 1 - Kosovo. According to this one the US government is about to reach a deal with the Russians over the status of Kosovo that will fall some way short of independence. President Bush is in town, the theory goes, to sweet talk the Albanian leadership into going along with the deal.

Theory 2 - Guantanamo. The US wants to close Guantanamo but won't send many of the remaining prisoners back to their home countries. Since Albania has already taken some Guantanamo inmates, the President is here to offer the Albanian government incentives to take many more.

Theory 3 - Missile Shield. The US wants to build a defensive missile shield to protect against the
threat from 'rogue' states. The President is coming to Albania to persuade the government to allow the US to build part of this system in Albanian territory.

This kind of speculation is great fun, but sometimes - as Freud probably didn't say - a cigar is just a cigar.

Why is President Bush visiting? Well, Albania has contributed military personnel on a regular basis to Afghanistan, and it is no secret that Albania has accepted prisoners from Guantanamo when no other country would. So it makes sense for the President, since he is in Europe anyway, to call by and express his appreciation. It's called diplomacy.

It is also no secret that the US is an enthusiastic supporter of Albanian (and Macedonian and Croatian) membership of NATO. The President only recently signed the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act affirming that support and enabling financial assistance to the countries identified as they prepare for membership. A personal visit from the President gives an opportunity to offer the US government's support and encouragement at the highest level.

Not as entertaining, granted, but it might just be that simple.

If Tony Blair turn up at some point, though, I will be more than prepared to entertain the most outlandish conspiracy theories any of you can come up with regarding my esteemed (soon to be ex-) Prime Minister.


hm said…
You're funny.

I've really enjoyed reading your more editorialized posts lately.

Thanks a lot for posting this stuff. I discovered your blog only recently, but it's cool to see what's going on in Albania from a source other than our amateur newspapers. Of all those three theories posted, none makes any sense, but I find the Albanian imagination amusing.
The first theory could be true, but I don't see why that would come from the US, where it could very well come from the EU since some members are obviously opposed to the independence of Kosovo.
As for theory #2, it could very well be that the US wants to close Guantanamo down considering the critisism it has gotten both domestically and internationally, but I doubt that the US would be comfortable letting all those prisoners (most of which, if not all at this point, are known terrorists) out in a foreign country.
As for the third theory, it's well known that the US wants to build the missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, and even if it wanted to build it in Albania, Albania would be more than happy to accomodate it and wouldn't need a presidential visit to allow it.
nick said…
LOL....OMIT, I gotta hand it to you. The above conspiracy theories read like a passage from a KADARE book. Very cool indeed.

Keeps up the postings.
our man said…
Thanks folks. Welcome to the blog NoVa.
Rod said…
On News 24 This evening (Thursday) they said that...
1) All Albanian Air space will be under the control of the U.S. Air Force.
2) All Albanian Territory will be under the control of the U.S. Military
3) U.S. Aircraft will block all mobile phone service during the Presidents visit.

The Albanian Government has apparantly agreed to this!

Which other country in the world would ever agree to their country coming under the authority of another countries military even for 5 hours?

These are not conspiracy theories - these are news reports! So any of the above theories you write about are quite possible..... then there is the one that since the USA will have total Military control of Albania for 5 hours that they will just Annex it to the USA!
Anonymous said…
"then there is the one that since the USA will have total Military control of Albania for 5 hours that they will just Annex it to the USA!"

Oh, God - please. Thanks but no thanks.

We have enough trouble with Colombians.
Anonymous said…
What about the AMBO pipeline that finishes on the Albanian coast and is the energy alternastive for middle East oil - isnt that a good reason for Bush to go and meet the Albanians. $400 trillion of oil and get out of Iraq!

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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Petrela Castle

This is Petrela Castle near Tirana. The site has been fortified since the 4th century, but the oldest surviving parts are from the 13th century. Today the castle is a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch while taking in the views.