Biden Draws Nearer to Europe’s Only Narco State

( – While traveling to the Munich Security Conference on February 15th, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a visit to Albania, ostensibly to reaffirm American allyship with the small Balkan nation. Speaking at a press conference in the capital city of Tirana, Blinken praised Albania for its pro-Ukraine stance, framing the country as being a vital player in maintaining geopolitical stability in the region. Albanian officials returned the show of admiration, going so far as to cover the sides of buildings with large banners depicting Blinken’s face. The Albanian President Bajram Begaj also thanked Blinken and the Biden administration more widely for their work in the Balkan region of southern Europe.

The show of friendship comes at a time of increasing fears over potential instability in a region plagued by a history of war and genocide. Rebecca Koffler, formerly a defense intelligence analyst, believes that the risk of physical conflict stemming from ethnic tensions is increasingly high, with Russia and Serbia apparently helping to fuel this instability. Neither country has accepted Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, as a legitimate nation. Kosovo borders Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro.

Albania has sought to shore up its Western alliances in recent years. It has deepened its ties with the US, currently stands as a candidate for EU membership, and has been seeking a more prominent role in NATO. Despite the country’s attempts to distance itself from its Communist past and align itself more closely with democratic Western countries, the country remains blighted by high rates of organized crime and corruption.

Although Rama pledged to destroy the powerful narcotics gangs of Albania when he was first elected in 2013, they remain the scourge of law enforcement agencies around the world, with their networks trafficking illegal drugs across the globe. In early February, four different European nations were involved in bringing down an Albanian gang that worked to smuggle narcotics from South America all the way to Europe. The operation resulted in the arrest of 59 suspected gangsters between February 5th and 6th.

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