Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has blamed domestic politics in European countries for the closure of borders with the Balkans amidst the coronavirus pandemics. In the specific case of Albania, Rama blamed his government’s “very transparent” daily reports on new COVID-19 cases.
In an interview with German newspaper BILD while on holidays in southern Albania, Rama dismissed allegations that COVID-19 numbers in Albania and the Balkans would affect Germany or the EU.
“I don’t think that the Balkan states pose a threat to Germany or any other country in the European Union, because ultimately the numbers speak for themselves. It’s not about high numbers or numbers that are threatening to anyone.”
Rama stated that his government is very transparent with reports, and questions China’s low numbers of new cases.
“When I think that China has five cases today and Albania has 100 cases, it doesn’t really match. What that I want to say that there a lot of games going on with numbers. We have decided to be very transparent in this regard.”
The prime minister concluded that travel bans on Albania are due to domestic politics within the EU rather than reality.
“[..]it is simple math. It is impossible that people from here in terms of numbers would be able to influence a large country like Germany or other large countries like France or others in Europe. I mean, that’s more politics than reality.”
He further blamed the alleged split between the EU and non-EU countries for the travel bans: “Because there is the EU and the non-EU. So it’s very simple. We have a split which, in practical terms, is again established between the EU and non-EU.”
Asked whether it would be fair to speak of a “Balkan coronavirus route” posing a danger to the EU, as some European politicians allege, Rama claimed he is used to the Balkans being unfairly used as negative stereotypes for mafia, earthquakes and diseases.
“That is politics, because there is no Balkan Corona, no Balkan Mafia and no Balkan earthquake or disease. But politics sometimes – and nowadays more and more – needs these labels in order to reach people. Of course it makes us sad, but we are used to it. It’s not the first time. We have to deal with this stereotype and try to get rid of it.”