Albanians staged loud rallies outside government buildings across the Balkan country in protest of a United Nations proposal that Albania host the facilities that will be used to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, appears to have acceded to the calls of the protests and rejected the UN proposal.
Weeks after a deadly sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of men, women and children in Syria, that gountry had agreed to declare its chemical weapons stockpile to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria also agreed to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile under the supervision of UN and NATO inspectors. The Syrian government has conclusively rejected the proposition that the chemical weapons be destroyed on its soil. The OPCW and the United Nations agreed, and the search for a viable candidate nation to host the destruction of the weapons began.
On Friday, November 15, 2013, in light of massive demonstrations around the country and in the capital, Tirana, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that it is “impossible for Albania to take part in this operation.” The student-led protestors voiced concerns about how Albania, with a weak infrastructure and a terrible recent history of weapons accidents, could manage the task of this destruction, given its sensitivity and complexity. In 2008, an explosion of old artillery shells caused by a burning cigarette caused the deaths of 26 people in Tirana.
The United Nations and the OPCW must now look for alternative candidates to fulfill the delicate and dangerous task of destroying Syria’s 1,000 metric tons of chemical agents.
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