Like everybody else, I found it amusing – and sad – that the current president, persona-non-grata in 90% of the world’s countries and merely tolerated by the rest, had to flee to the home of an infamous dictator like Enver Hoxha to find a sympathetic audience. But then today, Peter Lucas – a political reporter who just finished a book about Albania – pointed out in a Globe Op-Ed that it wasn’t really Bush they were cheering. It was the US – and Bill Clinton.
Albania’s love affair with the United States did not begin overnight. It started when President Woodrow Wilson, after World War I, stood up to the victorious nations of Europe and insisted that Albania, made up of one of the oldest peoples of Europe, was a true nation and that its borders had to be preserved and protected.
Back then the so-called victorious Great Powers — Britain, France, and Italy — wanted to divide Albania up among its neighbors, as a sort of reward for fighting and defeating the German/Austrian coalition.
Serbia was slated for a piece here, Greece a chunk there, and Italy a section of the coast. But for Wilson standing up for Albania, the tiny, poor and defenseless country would have disappeared. So it is no small wonder than many an Albanian boy born after 1919 was named Wilson.