The reporting on Prime Minister Rama’s historic visit to London’s Downing Street and his two statements resulted untrue to some extent from a Faktoje verification. Lack of memory or propaganda, that remains to be clarified, but the truth is that Prime Minister Rama lied when he declared that March 23 was the first official visit of an Albanian Prime Minister to 10 Downing Street and that no British Prime Minister has visited Albania, since the time of Winston Churchill. Find below the evidence that disproves these two statements.
“As you know, this is the first official visit of an Albanian prime minister to this historic building. I am thankful for that. This is an important moment in our relationship.”
This is what Prime Minister Rama said to his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, on March 23, 2023, during a visit to the British government building “10 Downing Street”. The statement was made public by the media office of the Prime Minister’s Office, which distributed the video to the media, which later became news.
The claim that this is the first official meeting of an Albanian prime minister at 10 Downing Street is at best an exaggeration of the truth, and at worst propaganda, spread and multiplied through the media.
Rama for the third time in Downing Street
This visit of Prime Minister Edi Rama to the office of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, which is located in “10 Downing Street” in London, is actually not the first. Prime Minister Rama has entered 10 Downing Street two more times before, in the capacity of the Prime Minister of Albania.
Faktoje verified and refuted the claims spread on the network that this is the first time that an Albanian prime minister visits Downing Street in this article.
Official visit to Great Britain
According to the legal definition, “official visit” to a country is “participation in meetings, seminars, congresses, training courses or any type of event where the delegate participates in his official capacity” or “a visit to a country by the Minister of another country who performs based on his function as a member of that government“.
Based on this definition, it is easily understandable that the two previous visits of Prime Minister Rama to Great Britain, one in 2013 and the other in 2019, were exactly official visits.
*Rama in a meeting with the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street in 2013, shared on the Prime Minister’s website
In 2013, according to the news distributed by the Prime Minister’s Office on its official website, “Prime Minister Edi Rama paid a visit to 10 Downing Street, where he met with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron. During the meeting with his British counterpart, Prime Minister Rama focused on the European future of Albania and emphasized the reforms undertaken by the Albanian Government, in the framework of the fight against organized crime and corruption.”
Rama posted about his meeting with his British counterpart on the Facebook social network where he announced the meeting with David Cameron to express to him the will of the Albanian government to strengthen relations with the United Kingdom.
*Distribution of the photo of Rama-Cameron meeting in 2013
So, this visit of Prime Minister Rama, accompanied by several cabinet ministers of his first government in 2013, when he visited the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, with whom he talked about state reforms and the European future of Albania, is clearly an official visit.
Even in 2019, Prime Minister Rama entered gate number 10 in Downing Street. This time, Rama was invited to the NATO summit, on the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance.
*Rama entering 10 Downing Street for the NATO meeting, 2019
This occasion also gave the Albanian Prime Minister the opportunity to visit the historic building of the prime minister’s office of Great Britain, to represent Albania in the capacity of the head of the government.
As the Albanian saying goes “Lies have short legs”
Prime Minister Rama’s visit to Great Britain comes at an important time for the relations between the two countries, due to the extremely high number of illegal immigrants who travel to England on dinghies.
For this reason, placing emphasis on “new achievements” in the bilateral relations between Albania and Britain has a social, and therefore also political, importance. However, this does not justify the untruths said in the meeting by the Prime Minister. Not only has he been to Downing Street two more times before this visit, contrary to what he declares in the meeting with Rishi Sunak, but the Prime Minister says another untruth.
At the end of his speech, Prime Minister Rama invites his counterpart Rishi Sunak to Tirana claiming that “no British Prime Minister has visited Albania since the time of Winston Churchill.”
Tony Blair in Albania
A short conversation with the socialist Pandeli Majko could have refreshed the Prime Minister’s memory, to remind him that in May 1999, Majko, in the capacity of the Prime Minister of Albania, received the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, who visited a refugee camp with Kosovo Albanians who had left Kosovo after the start of the war.
The meeting is documented by video from the Associated Press and shows Pandeli Majko who is waiting for Tony Blair at Tirana airport.
It is difficult to understand whether these inaccuracies in Prime Minister Rama’s speech are intentional, or are the result of memory failure on the country’s political history. Based on the data that is easily found on the net, we can conclude that the statements of Prime Minister Rama, about his visit to the British Prime Minister’s office, or even the British Prime Minister’s visit to Albania, are untrue.
Rama in Downing Street 2013
Rama in Downing street in 2019