The head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Bernd Borschardt, issued on Monday a public apology to citizens who he might have insulted on Sunday, when he responded by giving the middle finger to protesters’ calls to him.
Borchardt was strolling on a weekend evening when he was suddenly found amid calls of “Rama Go” and “Shame on you” on the street near the capital’s police department, where relatives of some of the detainees were protesting the release of their relatives.
Borchardt lifted one finger without turning his head to see to whom his gesture was actually directed.
“I respect the right of Albanians to protest peacefully. I would like to sincerely apologize to those I may have offended yesterday,” said Borchardt.
He has been at the center of criticism by Albanian citizens and politicians for 24 hours for the unusual gesture of a career diplomat on both local media and social media.
This is not, however, the first time Borchardt has come under criticism from opposition supporters.
Young opposition activists wrote graffiti at the capital’s building entrance where he resides with the slogan “Shame on you” as they believed he was taking the government’s side during political crisis debates and election processes.
The opposition has repeatedly issued statements criticizing the role of the OSCE ambassador to Albania, whether directly or indirectly, in favor of the government and against the opposition.
The OSCE has rejected the allegations through statements in which it defends its ambassador to Tirana, saying that his stances and the assistance he gives to political processes in Albania are part of the organization’s work program and commitments in support of democracy and strengthening Albanian institutions.