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Protests grow in Albania against Syria weapons destruction

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Several hundred people protested on Thursday in the capital Tirana and number of other towns across Albania against the possible destruction of Syrian chemical weaponry on its soil as requested by Washington.

"The parliament will not make any decision that could endanger lives and the well-being of (Albanian) citizens and the country," Ilir Meta, chairman of the assembly, told protestors in front of the parliament building in Tirana.

"Every decision will take into account Albania's future," Meta said, as the crowd shouted "No to chemical weapons".

Albania, along with France, Belgium, have been mooted as possible sites for the dismantling of Syria's entire chemical arsenal, estimated at about 1,000 tonnes.

The Balkan country's right-wing opposition also called on the Albanians to keep up with the protests.

"It is unacceptable for any chemical weapons to be destroyed in Albania," said opposition leader Lulezim Bashac.

He urged the government to call a referendum for the people to decide on the issue.

"We are not going to accept any chemical weapons in Albania, the Prime Minister has humiliated the Albanians," said former prime minister Sali Berisha who joined the protestors with the deputies of his Democratic party.

Berisha claimed that Prime Minister Edi Rama has already decided the Syrian chemical arsenal to be destroyed in Albania.

But Rama said on Wednesday that no such decision have been made yet.

Under a UN Security Council resolution passed in September, Syria's weaponry has to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.

Six years ago, it was confirmed that Albania had destroyed its own stockpile of chemical weapons, a leftover from the communist period.

Norway, another country where it has been suggested the destruction of Syria's weapons could be carried out, has refused to do it.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131114/protests-grow-albania-against-syria-weapons-destruction