Amid Protests, Albania Says No Decision on Syrian Chemical Arms

Albanians on Tuesday protest in Tirana against the prospect of using Albania as a site for destroying Syria's chemical-weapons stockpile. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said no decision has been made yet (Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images).
Albanians on Tuesday protest in Tirana against the prospect of using Albania as a site for destroying Syria's chemical-weapons stockpile. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said no decision has been made yet (Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images).

Albanians angered by the prospect of their nation hosting the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons intensified protests on Tuesday, as their prime minister said no decision had been made yet, according to Reuters.

Hundreds of people flocked to the U.S. embassy in Albania chanting "Albania is ours."

"Albania belongs to the Albanians, not the international community," activist Aldo Merkoci reportedly said.

Prime Minister Edi Rama acknowledged to reporters on Tuesday that he talked over the phone with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about dismantling Syrian chemical arms in Albania, but emphasized that no decision had been made.

"[We] are not at the point when we need to take a decision, and we might not get there," Rama said at a news conference.

Albania's capital, Tirana, has been beset by protests following revelations of the U.S. request to host the chemical-arms destruction.

The Syrian government in September agreed to accept the destruction of its chemical-weapons arsenal and to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The move came as the United States weighed a military strike against the civil-war-torn country following President Bashar Assad's regime's widely assumed Aug. 21 sarin gas attack on its citizens. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is working with the United Nations to eliminate Syria's 1,300 metric tons of sarin nerve agent and mustard gas

The OPCW Executive Council is due on Friday to approve a destruction plan from Assad's government. The dismantling work is expected to take place outside of Syria.

Global Security Newswire has reported that Albania is a serious contender to host those activities. Belgium and France also have been cited as possible locations. However, Norway last month said it would not accept the poisonous materials.

November 12, 2013
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Albanians angered by the prospect of their nation hosting the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons intensified protests on Tuesday, as their prime minister said no decision had been made yet, according to Reuters.