In a recent interview given to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica at the occasion of his state visit, Prime Minister Edi Rama has defended the policies of the autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In response to the question of the newspaper why the Balkan continues to be the focus of “autocratic powers” such as Russia and Turkey, Prime Minister Rama answered:
There is an important difference in our perception between Turkey and Russia. We Albanians see Turkey as a state of the region, which is trying to play its role without trying to impose anything on the Balkan countries. It is a country tied to the Euro-Atlantic perspective.
Prime Minister Rama’s admiration for President Erdoğan is no secret. It is the single leader he has met most with during his previous tenure, both privately and publicly.
In spite of OSCE reports of massive intimidation during the Constitutional Referendum, Prime Minister Rama was one of the very few European leaders to congratulate President Erdoğan. He has chosen to ignore the alarming human rights situation in the country, and imagines that President Erdoğan will gift him a national airlines company. And while the EU is openly pessimistic about the future of country in the EU, Prime Minister Rama claims that the country is “tied to the Euro-Atlantic perspective” – a delusional claim in the light of recent political developments in Turkey.
What is clear from Prime Minister Rama’s statement, however, is that is he willing to overlook the crimes of an autocratic regime and thus considerably diverge from the EU’s foreign policy attitude toward Turkey, in exchange of a few potential investments in an economy shunned by nearly all foreign investors.