Albanian prime minister slams German health minister comment on Western Balkans

“It is a scandal that a German minister publicly denounces the Balkans and thus also devalues ​​people with a migration background,” Prime Minister Rama told the Bild newspaper on Tuesday. [EPA-EFE/JOHN THYS]

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has responded with outrage to comments by German Health Minister Jens Spahn suggesting that half of all coronavirus infections in Germany last summer could be traced back to family visits by migrants in the Balkans.

“It is a scandal that a German minister publicly denounces the Balkans and thus also devalues ​​people with a migration background,” Prime Minister Rama told the Bild newspaper on Tuesday.

A German health minister should take care of vaccinating the German population and not create “stereotypical resentment against the Balkans in order to defend an obviously bad record”, Rama added.

Spahn had told Bild am Sonntag that “trips abroad, often visits to relatives in Turkey and the Balkans, triggered around 50% of new infections at times”, something that he said should be prevented this year. He suggested to conclude agreements with Turkey on tests on entry and exit at an early stage.

The deputy chairman of the Turkish community in Germany, Serhat Ulusoy, told German media that Spahn would risk putting “entire population groups under general suspicion” and opened the door to “stigmatisation”.

Last year, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz made similar remarks, stating that “the virus comes to Austria by car”, brought by on the one hand vacationers heading to the Western Balkans, but also migrants visiting families in their old homeland. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe