The Sputnik that came back to bite

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 24, 2021 13:18

The Sputnik that came back to bite

There is no vaccine for the serious problem of lack of maturity in foreign policy

When the Russian embassy in Tirana a few weeks ago encouraged to the Albanian government to start negotiations with the Russian Investment Fund, mandated to conduct talks about purchasing the Sputnik vaccine against Covid-19, the reaction from the chief of the Albanian executive was completely exaggerated. He said this better be a meme and that he felt offended by this offer. For long the prime minister pinned his rhetoric of vaccine supply exclusively to the West however this emotional out of proportion response felt much unwarranted. Indeed, many independent sober voices di point out that there was no reason whatsoever to close doors of communication and options.

This kind of showy, impatient and evidently immature behavior in foreign policy is not new in Albania. The tendency to be “more Chatholic than the pope” in showing an unsolicited sort of loyalty to the west (even when all indications of the West itself behaving more flexibly) has been observed particularly in relations with Russia and China, both key countries now in the global fight against the pandemic. 

Instead of waiting just like other countries for an official opinion from the EMA (European medicines agency) the government flustered and flapped unnecessarily at a simple option being discussed. 

 Very soon afterwards European Union member states stated to use the Sputnik vaccine and independent international media ran serious articles about the efficacy of the vaccine being perfectly comparable to the other options. A few days ago a package of 10.000 Sputnik doses donated by the United Arab Emirates (!) landed in Rinas airport just in time to bite PM Rama’s tongue. The day after the Minister of Healthcare continued the charade declaring that the vaccine would be administered to those above 80 years old, without an argument for choosing this particular segment, in what in the best scenario can be interpreted as failed communication.

Instead of weighing options with calm and pose and acting as foreign policy requires more behind the screens with effective diplomacy rather than out in the stage with preposterous declarations, this government has often found itself in the awkward position of finding itself very wrong and with no shred of dignity left even to apologize. Unfortunately there is no vaccine for the serious problem of immaturity in foreign policy.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 24, 2021 13:18