US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens as Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha speaks before holding a bilateral meeting at the Department of State in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

TIRANA, Albania — The southern Albanian town of Saranda is erecting a bust of U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to mark her contribution in the international arena for the Albanian nation.

Town hall spokesman Thoma Nika said the city council unanimously decided a day earlier to display the sculpture of the former U.S. Secretary of State on the main boulevard along the shore, due to her “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.”

The bust has already been produced by Albanian sculptor Idriz Balani.

Many Albanians in the US and at home have been enthusiastically backing Hillary Clinton’s bid for the nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

The former director of the National Albanian-American Council, lobbyist Avni Mustafaj, told BIRN that Albanians in US believe the Clintons remain highly sympathetic to Albanian issues.

“It is known in Washington that Albanians always have supported the Clintons and they have good reason to do so,” Mustafaj said.

On Friday, around 1,000 Albanians gathered at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in The Bronx area of New York at an event staged by Bill Clinton to show their support for his wife ahead of the state primary there on Tuesday.

Clinton was accompanied by New York congressman Eliot Engel, a supporter of Albanian issues, and Mark Gjonaj, an Albanian-American politician in the New York State Assembly.

In October 2015, the Clintons also held two fundraising events in New York and Connecticut organised by Albanian philanthropists and businessmen.
But even some Albanians living in Tirana have been financially backing the Clinton campaign.

Ylli Pata, a TV editor and journalist, told BIRN that from 2008 onwards, he has contributed online to Hillary Clinton’s electoral campaigns, as well as to the Bill Clinton Foundation.

“I just have contributed small amounts of money to Hillary’s campaign, but I still feel part of a political group that has proven to be one of the most successful in global politics,” Pata said.

Pata said that Albanians in the US must do more to support her run for office.

“They should remember who supported them in difficult times,” he said.

Thousands of Albanians have also expressed verbal support through Facebook and Twitter accounts entitled ‘Albanians for Hillary Clinton’, where her activities and campaign messages are distributed alongside videos of the Clintons’ previous support for Albanians.

Several streets are named after Bill Clinton in both Albania and Kosovo in gratitude for his Kosovo intervention, and there are also several statues honouring the former US president.