This is the Washington Post’s brief report on Bush’s stop in Albania. Yesterday’s New York Times had a longer front page story on the (nowadays) extraordinarily pro-American (and even pro-Bush) sentiment everywhere in Albania, which is 70% Muslim. A couple of excerpts from the NYT story:
"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."
It [Albania] was one of the first countries to send troops to Afghanistan and one of the first to join the forces in Iraq. It has soldiers in both places.
"They will continue to be deployed as long as the Americans are there," Albania’s president, Alfred Moisiu, said proudly in an interview.
Most recently, the country has quietly taken several former detainees from the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, off the Bush administration’s hands when sending them to their home countries was out of the question. There are eight so far, and Mr. Moisiu said he is open to accepting more.
Mr. Rama, Tirana’s mayor, says he is offended when Albania’s pro-Americanism is cast as an expression of "provincial submission."
"It’s not about being blind," he said, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with the Great Seal of the United States. "The U.S. is something that is really crucial for the destiny of the world."