Albania's PM Sees Provocation in Russian Offer to Receive Anti- Covid Vaccine "Sputnik V"

Prime Minister Edi Rama has called the offer of the Russian Embassy in Tirana to offer vaccines to Albanians a ridiculous provocation, adding that he initially thought it was a "meme".

"I thought it was a meme, because it is inappropriate for a serious state  to make such provocations. And when I say provocation I am not preceding any demarche to the Russian state because this is a ridiculous provocation. It is not good for a country like Russia to become ridiculous, with an embassy that seems to be a section of 'Portokalli' (Orange is a weekly humorous show on Top Channel TV in Albania)," Rama said in a news conference in Tirana  on Tuesday.

What sounds apparently as an undiplomatic language for a government head he expressed his regret that he saw no reason for the Russian Embassy to be involved in the production of memes.

"We are focused on Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Modern vaccines. The countries we communicate with in the EU are targeting these companies. We do not express reservations about either the Chinese and Russian vaccines, but at the moment we are looking at others. If the need arises, we will see other alternatives," Rama said.

In a public letter addressed to Endri Fuga, a close advisor to PM Edi Rama, the Russian Embassy in Tirana said: "We would like to inform you that the Russian Direct Investment Fund (https://rdif.ru/Eng_Index/) has been authorized to negotiate with countries that are interested in purchasing vaccines against COVID-19. We have no doubt that Russia is ready to bring its "Sputnik-V" vaccine to Albania as well."

A report by BIRN on Monday, which made a resume on what Western Balkan countries have done to secure vaccines, didn't mention Albania. As a matter of fact the only official report by Rama is that a supply of the vaccines will be available within the first quarter of 2021 a few days ahead of general elections in Albania expected to be held on April 25 next year.

Rama's impropized trip to the US to receive vaccines from Pfizer failed with opposition blaming him for having left Albania in the worst situation comparing it with the least developing countries in Africa.

"Rama is trying to hide the bitter reality which he has created himself. Albania is the only European country 'at open sea' regarding the vaccination," said the senior DP official, Tritan Shehu on Tuesday.

"The PM tried to get comfort from Albanians by labelling himself as 'beggar'," said Shehu, a former health minister, who pointed out that the people need a serious premier to cope with the grave situations like the current one rather than a government head who shows himself in photos with the 'empty bag'. / www.argumentum.al