TIRANA, ALBANIA — At last July’s summit in Trieste, Italy for the Berlin Process paving a way for integrating Western Balkan states into the European Union, Edi Rama, the prime minister of Albania, appeared in a suit and a pair of white and red-striped Adidas sneakers.
There were government heads, foreign ministers and economic ministers from six Balkan nations and representatives of EU states laying the groundwork and committing to reforms to enable entry into the EU, which is important for the stability of the Balkan region, and in particular to Albania, a small, poor country trying to recover from its history of isolationism.
Yet amid the politics of the summit, those red-striped Adidas didn’t go unnoticed.
“I was practically the biggest news of the summit,” said Rama, half-jokingly. “The French president said he liked them so I sent him a pair of Adidas when I was back home. But for him I chose white with blue and red stripes, to make a perfect match to the French national colors.”
The 53-year-old Rama, who also wears Adidas pants and jackets, isn’t your ordinary head of state. He’s an artist, has a keen interest in fashion and he stands six-feet, five inches tall. He played on