LONDON: Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has criticized UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman for her comments on migrants from his country.
Rama, who is in the UK to hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, called Braverman’s references to “Albanian criminals” illegally crossing the English Channel last year “disgraceful.”
He told the BBC: “Unfortunately, we have seen ourselves and our community being singled out in this country for purposes of politics. It has been a very, very disgraceful moment for British politics.
“What has been (said) by members of the Cabinet, starting with the home secretary, (is) the singling out of our community, which is not something you do in our civilization, and is something that does not represent Britain at all,” he added. “We will always refuse to have this mix between some criminals and the Albanians as such because giving to the crime an ethnic seal is itself a crime.”
Rama said that he was satisfied, however, with Sunak and his approach to the situation.
“We have set up a clear path toward tackling together whatever has to be excluded from our relations and from our world of law and justice, but at the same time making sure that some rotten apples do not define the Albanian community here and our relations,” he said.
Between May and September 2022, UK government figures show that Albanians made up 42 percent of the volume of people crossing the English Channel illegally in small boats. The number of Albanians claiming asylum in the UK in the 12 months until June 2022 was 7,627 — about double the number of the previous 12-month period.
Braverman provoked ire in October last year after she referred to the small boat arrivals as an “invasion,” suggesting many were abusing the law to claim asylum, and adding that the opposition Labour Party would facilitate the boat arrivals if in power.
“Many of (the Albanian asylum-seekers) claim to be trafficked as modern slaves … the truth is that many of them are not modern slaves and their claims of being trafficked are lies,” she told the Conservative Party conference.
Meanwhile, the home secretary told MPs in the House of Commons: “If Labour were in charge they would be allowing all the Albanian criminals to come to this country. They would be allowing all the small boats to come to the UK; they would open our borders and totally undermine the trust of the British people in controlling our sovereignty.”