The United States officially warned Albanian voters to distance themselves from individuals designated as non-grata, referring specifically to Sali Berisha, leader of an anti-American movement in Albania as well as other sanctioned politicians who might have delegated their influence and power to friends and relatives, implying thus candidates from the government’s side.
The US’ warning comes at a time when Sali Berisha has intensified his anti-American rhetoric and is trying to turn the electoral battle into a battle against the US. Berisha followed the same strategy in in 2022 during the partial local elections, claiming that his electoral success against the US supported Democratic Party was also a success against the US, even though he lost deeply compared to the government.
One year later, the official Democratic Party has weakened even more due to Berisha’s pressure and his efforts to recruit its representatives on his side. Therefore, despite a most likely electoral failure against the government, he is going to consider every result as a success in his fight against the US.
The United States’ clear and public stance against Berisha is a warning regarding the lack of any political perspective for those who follow him. The opposition’s inner fights and Berisha’s effort to create a monopoly with Ilir Meta are not really attempts to win power, but rather a last resort to maintain political immunity in case they may win in some municipalities. Their only hopes are a few small wins in the upcoming local elections, which according to Berisha and Meta will force the West to accept them.
The warning is rather clear. The United States will not cooperate with Sali Berisha or any other candidate backed by individuals designated as non-grata by the State Department. This does not imply that the US fears a potential win in elections by Berisha or other sanctioned politicians. They are simply trying to tell Albanian citizens to seriously take into consideration the consequences that come if they support the enemies of the US in Albania.
This is not a war between Sali Berisha and the United States where the former can win. The war has already ended and Berisha was politically destroyed with no chance of returning. Now the US is warning Albanian voters not to risk a similar fate and decide about their own future.