Albanian southern town erects bust of Hillary Clinton

SARANDA, Albania (AP) — A bust of U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was unveiled Thursday in the main square of Albania's southernmost city of Saranda to honor what officials say is her contribution to Albania in the international arena.

The Saranda city council decided unanimously more than a month ago to erect the bust to depict Clinton's "dimension as a woman in politics, as a representative of the old Albania-U.S. friendship, for her contribution to the Albanian nation in different historical moments." Their efforts were aided by a local non-governmental organization and city hall.

Saranda Mayor Florjana Koka said Clinton's bust was a way of sending thanks "to the American people and government for what they have done for the Albanian people and nation." She specifically mentioned Clinton's involvement with the Albanian community's issues in the United States, her promotion of the role of women, her denunciation of the Serb genocide and protection of Kosovo's independence.

"We are convinced that Hillary Clinton's bust, as an emblematic figure of the American diplomacy and politics, with direct contributions to the Albanian people, honors not only Saranda but its citizens and friends worldwide," said Koka. "Clinton gives us the model of women in politics, diplomacy and governing at the most democratic country in the world."

Albanian sculptor Idriz Balani and participants insisted it was not linked to the U.S. presidential process.

"We thought of putting it in Saranda because Saranda is Albania's pearl and such a lady, whom I would paraphrase with the word 'pearl' too, would stay beautifully near Albania's pearl," said Balani.

Saranda is a tourist town close to the ancient Roman archaeological spot of Butrint, near the Greek border.


Llazar Semini in Tirana contributed to this report.