11 June 2007

‘‘Proud to be Partners’’

President Bush is greeted Sunday by crowds of Albanians in Fushe Kruje, Albania. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

...just because you probably won't see this anywhere else.

George Bush Albania mania

PRESIDENT Bush got a hero’s welcome in the mainly-Muslim state of Albania yesterday, on the first visit there by a US leader.

Thousands of people — many wearing top hats designed to look like the US flag — cheered him in the capital Tirana.

Some even tried to grab him and hug him, leaving him with ruffled hair.

Buildings in the former Communist state were draped in US flags and a 21-gun salute was fired.

A set of commemorative stamps was issued and a street in front of the Parliament was renamed in Mr Bush’s honour.

Albania was ruled for 40 years after the end of World War II by paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha, who banned private cars, telephones and religion, and operated a terrifying secret police.

Today, Tirana booms with new apartments, stylish bars and cafes — but the country remains one of the poorest in Europe.

Albania backs the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and has sent several hundred of its own troops in support. It wants to join Nato and the EU.

Yesterday, huge banners proclaimed “Proud to be Partners” and billboards pronounced “President Bush Making History”.

h/t Mom :-)

Update: I lied! There is other coverage of this... Mrs. Greyhawk has a great video of Bush being mobbed in today's Dawn Patrol (scroll down to the "Politics" section) and also links to Curt's post at Flopping Aces.

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