9 November 2013
First of all, permit me to state how proud my wife, Jane, and I are for the very important world peace initiatives that you have personally undertaken as the U.S. Secretary of State. Indeed, I know the entire population of Massachusetts is equally proud of you as our former Senator, and, now, as the Secretary of State representing the interests of America worldwide.
Now, please also permit me to raise a matter with you of great personal concern to me, and, I believe, to all my fellow Albanian-Americans. It is my understanding from press reports that pressure is being exercised upon the government of Albania to admit for destruction into its territory, part of the Syrian chemical weapon arsenal. I think this is a deplorable action, so I urge you, as our top American diplomat, to do whatever is in your power to prevent such a hazardous undertaking from happening in Albania.
As you may well remember, it was mainly through the help of the U.S. Senate in 2007, that Albania, itself, was barely able to destroy its own, small chemical weapons arsenal. Albania did not have any significant capacity, then, and has even less capacity, now.
How would we feel that the Syrian chemical arsenal – which Albania is pressured to take – is brought to Cape Cod? That’s how delicate and environmentally fragile is the small and densely populated country of Albania.
The U.S. took out of Germany in 1993 a significant amount of chemical weapons and destroyed them in our sophisticated and dedicated base in the Johnston Atoll. How can one in good conscience advocate 20 years later to bring to the heart of Europe Assad’s chemical arsenal.
Albania has always fulfilled all of its obligations under International Law, and America should not lean any further upon its faithful, pro-American Balkan ally to take in the Assad regime’s chemical weapons arsenal. Unquestionably, Albanians continue to be grateful to the United States as the champion of democracy and human rights in the world, but, most importantly, because of how the U.S. acted so memorably in 1920 to ensure Albania’s own Independence, and how it labored so intently for Kosovo’s independence in 1999.
Please recall that, as a modest token of its appreciation to America, Albania had offered the use of its bases and territory free of charge – during both the Yugoslav War and the Kosovo War; Albania had also quickly and unselfishly contributed its troops to America’s missions in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the tremendous outlay and expense on its very limited budget; and, upon our request, Albania had also granted refugee status to various individuals of highly problematic background whom America did not want to take in!
The very first decree of recently-elected Albanian PM, Edi Rama, banned importation of small waste into Albania! Therefore, Albania cannot, in good conscience, accept additional hazardous waste proposals within its borders, even if they are presented by the USA. For Albania, it would, clearly, be a disaster legally, politically and, environmentally.
John, on a highly personal note, I beg you not to consider Albania as Syria’s dumping ground. You and I are both American war veterans and know very well that these things are not toys. You thought highly enough of me as an Albanian born, U.S. Navy veteran in the Pacific during WWII, and as a human rights and community leader activist in Massachusetts, to nominate me as the U.S. Ambassador to Albania, and even wrote two letters on my behalf – one to the Secretary of State James A. Baker, III on July 9, 1991, and the other to the White House on February 22, 1994 (both enclosed).
Please don’t dump any portion of Syria’s chemical weapons into Albania. Albania simply cannot accept them in her territory. Please.
Van Sotir Christo
Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520