Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama demanded an apology from one of Germany’s most popular talk show hosts on Friday for an apparently racist comment about “Albanian street swindlers” on his show.
Just days before he is to meet Angela Merkel in Berlin, Rama told the daily Bild that a comment Thursday by TV personality Markus Lanz was “disgraceful” and “hurtful” to the Albanian people.
Lanz made the remark during a heated debate with German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer on his weekly discussion show, which regularly draws more than a million viewers to public broadcaster ZDF.
As the two argued about the legal intricacies of an abortive attempt to introduce a motorway toll, Lanz lost patience with Scheuer and accused him of “arguing on the level of Albanian swindlers.”
“I don’t know if this was an innocent mistake or a racist mislabeling of the Albanian people, but it is without doubt a disgraceful sentence,” Rama told Bild.
“It is neither the first nor last time that Albanians have been a target for lazy journalists, but when it comes from a well-respected media company like ZDF and someone with Mr Lanz’s reputation, it obviously hurts a lot,” he added.
Rama demanded that Lanz apologize in his next program, saying that a failure to do so would be “more hurtful even than the comment itself.”
The Albanian premier is scheduled to meet Merkel on Monday.
Last September, the German parliament approved the opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia to become members of the European Union.