Albania confirms U.S. request on Syria chemical weapon demolition
A demonstrator protests against the dismantling of Syrian chemical weapons in Albania in front of the Prime Minister's office in Tirana November 7, 2013. (Reuters)
Al ArabiyaAlbania confirmed on Thursday that the United States has demanded to dismantle Syria’s chemical arsenal on its soil, amid protests in the capital rejecting any plans of such.
“We were contacted by the United States, but no decision has been made yet,” Agence France-Presse quoted parliamentary speaker Ilir Meta as saying late Thursday in an interview with Top Channel television.
“Any decision will be made transparently and will take into account the interest of the country,” Meta said.
“I do not think that Albania has the capacity, even other much bigger and more developed countries do not accept to do it,” he added.
Albania, France and Belgium have been listed as possible sites for the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical weapons, estimated at about 1,000 tonnes.
Activists held protests earlier in the day outside the Albanian Parliament in Tirana, chanting “No to chemical arms.” They urged the Albanian government to reject the U.S. plan and any similar requests from foreign governments.
“The authorities must not allow the Syrian chemical arsenal to be destroyed on Albanian soil. Albania must firmly oppose such a demand,” AFP quoted Saiga Guri of the non-governmental Alliance Against Waste Import as saying in a statement.
Guri added: “Albania has no capacities and should not be a dustbin, thus endangering lives of its citizens.”
Syria is cooperating with the disarmament operation and has already said it had approximately 1,290 tons of chemical weapons and agents as well as 1,230 unfilled chemical munitions, meaning shells, rockets or mortars.
Head of the world’s chemical watchdog said earlier that destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal outside of the country is “the most viable option.”
Ahmet Uzumcu said in a meeting with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that Syria has proposed that the destruction of weapons takes place outside the war-torn country.
The OPCW head said Syria’s proposal is based on “practical challenges of carrying out destruction work in the midst of an armed conflict,” as well as on “resource limitations.”
Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118 passed in September, Syria’s weaponry has to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.
Albania’s government has so far refused to make any comment on a possible offer.