David Phillips: Rama should not dance with Erdogan in Turkish weddings

David Phillips: Rama should not dance with Erdogan in Turkish weddings

 The Foreign Policy Expert David Phillips says the risk posed by the influence of Russia and Turkey in the Balkans is real, the leaders of the countries of the region should take it seriously. Prof. Phillips, program director for Peacebuilding and Human Rights at Columbia University, New York, says Albanian and Kosovo leaders should take this threat seriously and must hold clear stances on their alliances. Keida Kostreci of Voice of America talked to Mr. Phillips.

Voice of America: Professor Phillips is often spoken of the risk of Russia and Turkey's influence in various Balkan countries. According to you, how serious is this threat?

David Phillips: The United States has no ally better than Albania or better friends than Albanians. Threats to the sovereignty of Albania and Kosovo are in direct proportion to the proximity between the United States and the Albanian communities. The threat is real, it represents a real danger. Political leaders in the Albanian world must be aware of and protected from threats of sovereignty coming from Russia and Turkey.

Voice of America: This is a problem not only for the Albanian-majority countries, I mean here the interventions in Montenegro and Macedonia, and the fact that a Russian MP said this week in Bosnia that the entry of Balkan countries into NATO is a threat to security in Europe. How would you comment this kind of created environment?

David Phillips: Russia strongly opposes membership of the Balkan countries. That is why they organized a coup in Montenegro, that is why they supported the ultra-nationalist VMRO party in Macedonia. Russia has a program and this is to undermine NATO and the European Union and use it as a point of attack not only against the Euro-Atlantic institutions but also the United States itself. For this reason, the United States and the Western Balkan countries need to cooperate even more closely on security issues in economic and diplomatic direction. To curb the Russian and Turkish risks, the United States needs to engage more and the European Union to integrate more into its institutions Kosovo and Albania.

Voice of America: On the other hand, how would you assess the response of these countries, especially Albania and Kosovo, and their leaders to these dangers?

David Phillips: Seems as if the political leaders of these countries do not want to accept this reality. On Monday at Columbia University we had a visit of the Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati and when he talked about Russia and Turkey, he did not accepted this danger and attempted to minimize the risk to Albania. It is known that Edi Rama has close ties with Tayyp Erdogan. This is not in the interest of Albania. He does not have to dance through weddings in Ankara, he should focus on the needs of Albanian citizens. In the end, Turkey wants to use the countries of the Western Balkans to re-impose its neo-Ottoman program. There is no interest in the well-being of the peoples of the Western Balkans. Turkey simply makes use of them economically, talking about a great cultural cooperation, but in fact is a program that Turkey pursues for its national interest.

Voice of America: Are you suggesting that these leaders should clearly explain what relationships have with Turkey in this case and what strategies are they going to cope with the efforts of intervention?

David Phillips: Prime Minister Rama can not go to Berlin and tell Chancellor Merkel that if Albania does not integrate further into the European Union, there will be an increase in Islamism. Meanwhile, he agrees to build a 30 million dollar mosque in Tirana, Skanderbeg's images are covered by TIKA, the Turkish Cultural Agency when organizing activities at Skanderbeg Square. So Albania should choose: Will it be with the West, will it be with the United States, or will try to play with both sides? To have a relationship with Turkey that is not in its interest, and at the same time providing the basis for the US Department of Defense and NATO, which promotes Albania's security cooperation. In the end, Albania will have to choose whether it is pro-Western or pro-Islamic, and if will be close to Turkey and have a relationship with Tayyp Erdogan, this put Albania in the Islamic camp.
David Phillips: Rama should not dance with Erdogan in Turkish weddings David Phillips: Rama should not dance with Erdogan in Turkish weddings Sunday, April 29, 2018 Rating: 5
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