Last updated: 12 November, 2013

Albania mulls Syria chemical weapon destruction

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said Tuesday that his country has yet to decide whether it will undertake the destruction of Syrian chemical weaponry on its soil as hundreds protested against such a move.

“No decision has been made so far,” Rama told reporters, confirming that he had had a 30-minute phone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry last week “to discuss this issue”.

Albania, along with France, Belgium, have been mooted as possible sites for the dismantling of Syria’s entire chemical arsenal, estimated at about 1,000 tonnes.

Rama said authorities in Tirana were “discussing” with NATO partners the possibility of destroying the arsenal, adding any decision made would be communicated to the public and the parliament.

Around 300 activists gathered in front of parliament in the capital Tirana, shouting “No to chemical weapons!” before marching to the nearby US embassy.

“We are not against the United States but we are against the chemical weapons,” Sazan Guri of the non-governmental Alliance Against Waste Import told protesters.

Activists say Albania does not have the capacity to destroy the weapons and that they do not want it to be a dumping ground.

Environmental activist Blendi Kajsiu called on the authorities to be “transparent and openly declare Albania’s decision”.

Under a UN Security Council resolution passed in September, Syria’s weaponry has to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.

Six years ago, it was confirmed that Albania had destroyed its own stockpile of chemical weapons, a leftover from the communist period.

Norway, another country where it has been suggested the destruction of Syria’s weapons could be carried out, has refused to do it.