FUSHE-KRUJE, Albania (Reuters) – At the "George W. Bush" cafe in this little Albanian town, owner Festim Cela gives a solemn reply when asked if it will change its name when the U.S. President leaves office Tuesday.Good thing Clinton fought and won that war so Bush could take all the credit, then, eh?
Many beyond U.S. shores may welcome the end of Bush's presidency, but in zealously pro-American Albania, he is feted as a hero.
"As long as this building stands, its name will be George W. Bush," Cela said as he watched television pictures of Bush's farewell speech the week before Barack Obama succeeds him.
"President Bush came to Fushe-Kruje with the independence of Kosovo. This is a big debt which can never be returned. Thanks U.S.," Rasim Qorraj from Decani in Kosovo wrote in a book Cela keeps at the cafe along with the Albanian, U.S. and EU flags.
Albania, once an isolated state, has blossomed since the fall of communism in 1990 and now embraces all things Western.
It's people reserve special affection for the United States, which they credit not only with ending their Cold War isolation but also for leading NATO in 1999 to rescue the Albanians of neighboring Kosovo from "ethnic cleansing" by Serbia.
I think Obama should make a point of visiting Albania in the not-too-distant future. These poor people have no idea what an American president with real intellect, compassion and charisma looks like, and it's bloody tragic.