By Gjergj Erebara
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has refused a public request by US President Donald Trump to move the Albanian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying the country intended to follow the EU lead on the matter for now.
Rama noted that Albania is “the only non-EU member country in the region that has never voted against EU positions” on foreign affairs issues and would not now, though it didn’t exclude doing so in future.
Trump sent a letter to Rama on Friday, thanking his government for its stance on G5 security and inviting Albania him to quit the Chinese-led organization 17+1, which is a platform developed by Beijing to collaborate with Eastern European countries.
“I encourage you to join the United States and other European nations in moving your embassy to Jerusalem,” the Trump letter added.
Rama politely declined. “In our foreign policy we are aligned with the European Union,” he said. “Albania, up till today, since it entered the EU integration processes, remains the only non-member country that has not moved in any case from the line agreed with the European Union in the field of foreign affairs,” he added.
“The day might come when we may judge that we could move [from the EU stance], but that day has not yet come,” Rama continued.
As part of a US-brokered deal with Serbia, Kosovo has announced that it aims to open its first ever embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. Kosovo’s Foreign Minister, Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla, wrote on Facebook on Thursday that she had assured her Israeli counterpart, Gabriel Ashkenazi, that Kosovo would do this “as soon as possible”.
Serbia has announced it will open an office in Jerusalem along with its current embassy in Tel Aviv. The European Union expressed regret over Serbia’s announcement, noting “the EU’s common position on Jerusalem” which is that embassies should remain in Tel Aviv until a peace agreement is signed with the Palestinians that includes agreement on the city of Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claim as their capital.