The Times had this fabulously interesting little piece about the Albanian love affair with America:
“Albania is for sure the most pro-American country in Europe, maybe even in the world,” said Edi Rama, Tirana’s mayor and leader of the opposition Socialists. “Nowhere else can you find such respect and hospitality for the president of the United States. Even in Michigan, he wouldn’t be as welcome.”
…So eager is the country to accommodate Mr. Bush that Parliament unanimously approved a bill last month allowing “American forces to engage in any kind of operation, including the use of force, in order to provide security for the president.” One newspaper, reporting on the effusive mood, published a headline that read, “Please Occupy Us!”
…Albanians’ support for the war in Iraq is nearly unanimous, and any perceived failings of American foreign policy are studiously ignored. A two-day effort to find anyone of prominence who might offer some criticism of the United States turned up just one name, and that person was out of the country.
Every school child in Albania can tell you that President Woodrow Wilson saved Albania from being split up among its neighbors after World War I, and nearly every adult repeats the story when asked why Albanians are so infatuated with the United States.
James A. Baker III was mobbed when he visited the country as secretary of state in 1991. There was even a move to hold a referendum declaring the country America’s 51st state around that time.