After days of protest, demonstrators had left the Albanian prime minister in no doubt as to how they felt about a US request for the country to dismantle Syrian chemical weapons.
Now the Prime Minister Rama has told the US that it can’t be done on Albanian soil.
His announcement was greeted by a loud cheer from the 2,000 protesters camped outside parliament in the capital Tirana.
“Therefore, with the highest faithfulness for Albania and the highest respect for our friends and our irreplaceable partners, they received my decision, and you can here it here: it is impossible for Albania to get involved in this operation,” Rama told parliament.
The request by the US had angered many Albanians. One protester said: “I know exactly what it is and what damage they can created if they can come in my country. We are not prepared and we have no possibilities, no capacities and no specialists to do this kind of experiment, let’s say it.”
It is however a major setback to international efforts to destroy Syria’s nerve gas arsenal by mid-2014.
The US embassy in Tirana said it respected the government’s decision, and that it would continue to work with allies and the UN to ensure Syria’s chemical weapons programme was eliminated.