Relations with Regional Countries

Relations between Albania and Kosovo

 

 

Relations between Albania and Kosovo are excellent and brotherly. Bilateral cooperation is guided by the national interest to deepen the political, economic, social and cultural intercommunion as well as to boost the integration process towards the European Union, as a fundamental unifying project of the Albanian space in the service of its peace, stability and prosperity.

 

The first joint meeting of the two governments (G2G), which took place in Prizreni on 11 January 2014, marked the beginning of a new chapter in relations between Albania and Kosovo, as it constitutes a milestone for the comprehensive development of both countries and the whole Albanian space. By signing the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation, the intergovernmental dialogue and action has been further reinforced and intensified, thus, aiming at materializing mutual strategic policies and improving the life quality of our citizens.

 

Two additional agreements signed in Prizreni:

 

1. Framework Agreement between the Council of Ministers of Republic of Albania and the Government of Republic of Kosovo on the cooperation in promoting and facilitating commerce signed on 11.01.2014 and entered into force on 11.03.2015.

 

2. Cooperation Agreement between the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Albania and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Kosovo in the fields of transport and infrastructure, signed on 11.01.2014 and entered into force on the same date.

 

The second Joint Meeting (G2G), held on March 23th 2015 in Tirana, gave an overview of achievements deriving from the meeting of Prizreni, highlighted the problems and encouraged the best practices in cooperation areas to be widely extended also in other areas of mutual interest.  The meeting was mainly focused on:

 

  • Strengthening the Economic-Commercial cooperation

 

  • Strengthening cooperation in areas of security, internal and border control

 

  • Strengthening cooperation in the areas of higher education and scientific research; Aim to jointly organize the teaching of the Albanian language and culture in Diaspora and among people living abroad.

 

During the G2G Meeting, 11 agreements, memorandums and protocols of cooperation were signed, together with a Joint Declaration in the area of regional development at Albania-Kosovo border checkpoints.

In the spirit of the Joint Declaration on Cooperation and Strategic Partnership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up a working group chaired by the Deputy Minister, which will deal with the coordination and dynamics of implementing tasks arising from the second Joint Meeting on March 23th, as well as further steps with regard to the preparation of the next meeting. By signing the Protocol on the implementation of the Agreement on the Promotion and Facilitation of Commerce, we have made a great leap forward by providing incentives to an open market, without red tape barriers.

 

The agreements signed in Tirana also include the cooperation in areas of security, internal control as well as border control. Among other things, they aim at the significant reduction of waiting in long queues at border checkpoints. Culture and cultural heritage are one of our mutual topics. A good tradition for joint projects in this regard has already been established, with a view to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the following programs: “The days of Albanian Culture in Diaspora” as well as the establishment of joint “Cultural Centers in Diaspora”.

 

Moreover, we have extended good experiences in areas of education, science etc. As a result of our joint work, we have managed to achieve the unification of the Curriculum Framework for Pre-University Education and the Core Curricula of Pre-University Education. Meanwhile, both our countries have laid the foundation for the joint arrangement to enable the teaching of Albanian language in Diaspora.

 

In 2014, the trading volume with Kosovo was 176.78 million euros or 17.8 million more than the previous year, thus, scoring an increase of 11 % per year. Albanian exports towards Kosovo marked an increase of 15 %, reaching the value of 134.1 million euros compared to the 116.1 million in 2013.  In total, they comprise 7.3% of Albanian exports.

Currently in Albania there are 649 businesses from Kosovo; however, the value of investment remains low, 13.2 million euros or 0.46% of the total value of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). In this regard, that there is still much to be done.

The participation of Kosovo in regional initiatives and organizations and its aim to increase the number of international recognitions, both in the bilateral and multilateral framework, is an added value to the investment for peace and security in our region and beyond. Albania will continue to support Kosovo in its aspiration. Meanwhile, the progress of our two countries in their path towards European Union integration processes constitutes another area of cooperation and interaction.

 

Greece

Albania and Greece have good neighborly relations. As NATO members and two countries sharing vital and mutual interests, they agree that relations between them are of strategic importance in the region.

Greece has supported and officially expresses support for Albania's integration process in the EU.

In compliance with the international law, the two parties appraise and commit to address the domestic legal framework and good neighborly relations, as well as all problems inherited from the distant or recent past, with a view to find well-accepted solutions for both parties.

Greece continues to be a very important economic partner of Albania. For years, it has been at the top of Albania’s list of partners in trade and foreign direct investments. A significant part of the economic and financial activity in Albania has been oriented towards it, thus enabling the economies of both countries to be strongly connected among them.

The Greek minority in Albania and the community of Albanian immigrants in Greece constitute strong bridges of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Cyprus                        

The Republic of Albania has attentively followed the developments in Cyprus and has continuously supported the decisions and resolutions of the UN, as well as those of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly. Albania supports the idea of ​​a peaceful and realistic political settlement of the Cyprus issue and welcomes the negotiations between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot parties within the UN framework, in accordance to international standards and European values.

Turkey

The relations between our countries, which are based on the  friendship and traditional links, has gained a new dimension, the one of  Strategic Partnership, which pave the way to the institutionalization of the bilateral relations in all areas.

There is not any political problem amid our countries. Turkey and Albania are two  countries members of NATO, EU accession candidates states, and common members of several regional organizations and initiatives such as BSEC, SEECP, RCC, OSCE, OIC, EC, etc. Between our countries, a close cooperation has existed and continues to exist in areas of security and in the fight againts the international terrorism.

The crucial role that Turkeys plays in favour of peace and stability in the Balkans and in settlement of the problems and conflicts in highly appreciated.

Turkey is among the first countries that has recognized Kosovo and has lobbied strongly for ints recognition in the international arena.

The excellent level of the political dialogue between our countries is reflected, inter alia, even in mutual visits of the highest rank. (2015 year)

  • 13 May 2015 – The visit of Turkish  President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tirana.
  • 19 February 2015 –The participation of the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Çavusoglu in the informal meeting of Albanian MoFA, related to SEECP held in Tirana.
  • 23 April 2015 – The visit of the President Bujar Nishani in Turkey on the occassion of 100th anniversary of the Canakkala Liberation War.
  • 25 May 2015 – The visit of the Turkish Head of Parliament Cemil Çiçak  in Tirana, on the  occassion of the Summit of the  Heads of Parliaments of SEECP countries (etc)

Turkey represents an important country and market for Albania and its economy. We consider that Turkey is a crucial country and market for Albania and its economy. It is estimated that as per 2014 year, Turkey remains the fourth commercial partner of Albania following Italy, Greece and Kosovo.

Turkey is the sixth partner concerning the investment viewpoint, in a time where the interest of turkish investors is growing and actually there are around 296 companies operating in Albania. The interest of the turkish investors for Albania is in a perpetual increase. The result of this positive climate is correlated even with the fact, that in Albania exists a powerful community of the turkish business, who have invested in the main areas of Albanian economy such as: banking system, telecommunication,  processing and mining industry, education, health etc.

Romania

Political relations between Albania and Romania are currently at their best moment.

This assessment is attributed to the high level of political dialogue.

During 2015, two ministerial visits at Prime Minister Level were held, among others.

  • On February 28, 2015 - After many years, Prime Minister Edi Rama paid an official visit to Bucharest.
  • On May 26, 2015 - Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu attended the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) states.

 Albania and Romania are members in all regional initiatives and many international organizations and bodies.

 Both countries share the view that regional cooperation is an important pillar of their foreign policy, which has direct impact on domestic development and prosperity. Romania, as a member of the EU and Albania, as an EU candidate country, agree that the European integration of all Western Balkan countries is crucial for the region.

As two partner countries and NATO allies, Albania and Romania strongly believe that two consolidated states in the region contribute not only to its peace and collective security, but also beyond, with a view to promote democracy and freedom in other countries where conflict is present, in close cooperation with strategic partners such as the U.S. and other NATO and EU countries.

 

From an economic standpoint, the increase and diversification of trade exchanges, the boost of Romanian investments in the field of electricity generation, the building of energy infrastructure (construction of HPP), the wind and chemical industry, textile, agro-business, etc., will be a priority of bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries

 

Bulgaria

The diplomatic relations between Albania and Bulgaria were established in 1922 and, some time later, the diplomatic representative offices were opened in both countries. During the years that followed the Second World War, when both countries joined the communist camp, the bilateral relations recorded a development in all areas, with such development being preserved and further advanced nowadays. However, now both countries share the same democratic values, having the strengthening of relations within the European Union and the NATO as their strategy. The political relations between Albania and Bulgaria have been and continue to be very good.
Between both countries there has been consistent exchange of political visits of high ranks (President, Speakers of Parliament, Prime Ministers, and Ministers of Foreign Affairs). Albania and Bulgaria cooperate closely also within the context of a series of international and national organizations and organisms. Such cooperation is carried out in a regional context: Central European Initiative (CEI), South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the SELEC and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), and also in a broader international context: in the UNO, NATO, EU, OSCE, etc.
Albania and Bulgaria are concretely committed to working towards the materialization of the economic relations between both countries. We highlight the fact that a series of agreements related to the area of economy, which constitute the necessary legal framework for the economic cooperation development, have been approved and signed between both countries.  A significant number of agreements, which regulate the relations between the countries in various areas with mutual interest, have been signed by both countries (inter alia, the Treaty of Friendship, signed in 1993). Both parties have expressed their interest to further complete the legal framework through new agreements in the areas recently identified in the Sixth Session of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Technical, and Scientific Cooperation (Tirana, March 2015), which represent a mutual interest for both countries.
This fact serves as a proof for the existence of a high level of the Albanian-Bulgarian cooperation, as well as for the wish and willingness to continuously broaden such cooperation. The completion of the entire necessary legal framework of cooperation in all areas between the two countries is of a particular importance, considering the very attractive environment that the Albanian government has created pertaining to the development of foreign investments, in order to encourage the Bulgarian investors to invest in Albania. One of the main directions of the bilateral cooperation is the cooperation in the trade and economic field. In view of the very good level of relations between both countries, it is considered that the current level of the economic cooperation and trade exchanges is, despite recording an increase, still far away from the opportunities and space that the potentials of both countries offer.
Among the main areas of economic and trade activities between the two countries, we may mention the cooperation in the area of the business promotion (Albanian-Bulgarian Business Council, a partnership established between Albtro and Bulpro), cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector (AMBO Bulgaria-Macedonia-Albania pipeline), cooperation in the mining sector, the one in the (road, sea, air, freight) transport area, and the cooperation in the area of finance, taxes, and customs.
Both countries have expressed their commitment and willingness to continue and intensify with priority the cooperation also in the context of regional cooperation, in which the importance and immediate need that our region has for inclusion in the important European infrastructure projects, such as Corridor 8, and other projects as well, such as the TAP gas pipeline construction, which will give a further boost to the economic development of regional countries, are prevailing.
The materialization of projects within the context of Corridor 8 continues to remain a priority for both countries. Such undertaking gets an even bigger importance at the present time, after the initiation of the Berlin Process in 2014, which paves the way for new perspectives of economic cooperation in our region. In Albania, a series of Bulgarian companies carry out their activities and operate mainly in the area of energy, supply with materials for constructing roads; in the area of road construction; in the loan area; the one of the liquids production; supply with cigarettes, etc.
The exports from Albania to Bulgaria, although increasing, are still very limited, mainly due to the lack of competing products. The secondary materials – copper, brass, aluminum, leather, and bitumen have been prevailing. The groups of the most exported goods to Albania are: livestock, iron or steel scrap, iron cast or steel products, food, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy, and chemical industry, wires, cables, and other electric conductors, etc.  
The lack of regular direct (road, railway) transport and insufficient knowledge on the business opportunities (about import and export) in the markets of both countries may be considered as a barrier to a mutual trade. The spectrum of opportunities to expand the presence in the Albanian and Bulgarian trade is wide and may include the following areas: chemical products (fertilizers, plastics), pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and perfume, agricultural machinery, equipment for the food industry, production lines for liquid food, small business for the processing of milk products and meat, fruit and vegetable preservation, textiles, exchange of agricultural products and foods (mainly seeds, wheat, and seedlings), plants for the processing of solid waste, construction materials, etc.
The promotion of the development of contacts at the level of firms (business forums, greater presence of firms in the exhibitions organized in both countries) is considered to be an additional opportunity which may contribute to the increase of the bilateral trade quantity. Other important areas of cooperation between both countries, which is recorded to have been developed during the recent years, are education (organization of summer courses for the relevant languages, student and professor exchange between the universities of both countries), science, culture, arts (theatre and ballet), health, tourism, cooperation in the area of film archives, libraries, cultural heritage, etc.

The historically good relations between both countries have also served as a bridge of the strengthening of the bilateral cooperation. On this occasion, we mention the fact that in the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century, the Capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, has served as a “home” where the Albanian patriots used to gather and a very rich activity for the Albanian national cause has taken place there. Among such activities, we highlight the following: the first organization of Albanian Diaspora through the “Dëshira” cultural and educational association, which was established in 1886; opening of “Mbrodhësia” Printing House in 1897; many prominent Albanian figures, such as Ismail Qemali and Shahin Kolonja, Gjergj Qiriazi and Themistokli Gërmenji, Thimi Mitko, Pandeli Cale and Mit’hat Frashëri, and also many others, have stayed in Bulgaria.
The Renaissance personality, Shahin Kolonja, who had a dream to open a newspaper in Albanian language, went to Brussels, London, Paris, and established relations with “Dëshira” Association of Sofia and in August 1901; he traveled to Bulgaria and requested a permit from the Bulgarian Government authorities which granted it to him. The first edition of the newspaper was published in 1901 (on 14 November) and he named it “Drita”, in memory of the newspaper that Naim and Sami Frashëri used to publish in Istanbul.  In this way, one of the most progressive, patriotic, and democratic newspapers of the Albanian Renaissance press began to be published. Founded in 1886, the “Dëshira” Association, after giving an enormous contribution to the realization of the objectives of our National Renaissance and afterwards, after the declaration and establishment of the Albanian state, it was dissolved in 20s of the last century.
The “Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu” Association, founded in 1923, carried out its activities in Bulgaria. Nowadays, a number of Albanians live in Bulgaria, which, according to the approximate calculations made based on the documentation at the disposal of the Albanian Embassy in Sofia, exceeds the total number of 5.000 persons (more specifically, Bulgarian citizens of the Albanian origin). Approximately 100 families of an Albanian origin live in the Capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. The overwhelming part of our compatriots have lost their language, while the new generation, due to mixed marriages, generally does not identify itself with Albanian nationality. There is a small Bulgarian minority group in Albania, which lives mainly in the area of Gora, Golloborda, and Prespa.
 

Macedonia

Relationships between Albania and Macedonia have a particular characteristic compared to the relations between our country and many other countries. This is, first of all, explained by the fact that an Albanian population lives in Macedonia, which, as regards the number and share it has in relation to the total population of Macedonia, is a state-constituent element. In addition to this highly important fact, it should be taken into account that Albania and Macedonia share a long (land and water) border line.

Albania was one of the first countries to recognize Macedonia after it broke  away from the FRY.

Overall, the relationships between both countries have been considered as very good and having the possibility to advance in the future. Politically speaking, the fact that between both countries there was intensive exchange of political visits of all ranks should be mentioned, which constitutes a solid basis for expanding and strengthening the cooperation in numerous other bilateral, regional and further areas of cooperation, for matters of a mutual interest.

As regards the economic relations, we noticed that their level does not respond yet to the high level of political relations between our countries. Furthermore, Albania and Macedonia have no open political problems between them.

In various meetings between the ministries of economy and economic chambers of both countries, the lack of infrastructure (which makes it even more necessary that both countries cooperate for Corridor VIII, highways, and railway lines), lack of frequent and continuous economic forums, as well as the lack of the opportunity to jointly introduce themselves in the markets of third parties, lack of the custom tax unification between both countries, etc., are ascertained to be obstacles that hinder the further increase of economic-trade exchange between both countries.

According to the statistical data, the market exchange between Albania and Macedonia, until the end of 2014, reach approximately 90 million Euros, import constituting approximately 54 million Euros, and export from Albania towards Macedonia constituting approximately 36 million Euros. What is considered to be positive is the fact that the export during the first 11 months of 2014 increased from 30 million Euros to 36 million Euros compared to the same period in 2013 or approximately 20 %, thus narrowing the misbalance between the export and import, which for many years has been approximately 2:1 in the favor of the Macedonian party, showing narrowing tendencies. 

We notice, however, that this volume of exchange remains low for both countries, which results in Albania’s not being ranked even in the list of 20 countries with which Macedonia has the highest exchange of trading volume.

Albania and Macedonia cooperate in a series of areas of mutual interest, such as energy, transport, water economy, and environment, culture and tourism, agriculture, education and science, justice, protection-security and fight against terrorism, etc. Both parties have all the opportunities to expand this cooperation in the future.

 

Albania and Macedonia are concretely committed to working for the materialization of the economic relations between them. We highlight the fact that a series of agreements in the economic field, which constitute the necessary legal framework for the development of economic cooperation, have been approved and signed by both countries.

Both countries have expressed their interest to further complete the legal framework with new agreements in the identified fields. Another reason for deepening the bilateral economic cooperation is considered to be the holding, in the near future, of the regular session of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Technical, and Scientific Cooperation.

The completion of the entire necessary legal framework of cooperation in all fields between both countries has a special importance, considering the very attractive climate that the Albanian government has created pertaining to the development of foreign investments, for encouraging the Macedonian investors to invest in Albania.

A special concern for our country has been the sensitivity for the respect of the rights of Albanians living in Macedonia and their equal treatment like the other citizens of this country. With this regard, Albania has shown its interest and consistently requested that the Ohrid Framework Agreement be fully respected; such agreement regulates the relationships between the two main population groups in Macedonia, Macedonians and Albanians, increases the understanding between them and serves as a basis for the democratic stability in the country and the purpose of Macedonia for integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures, the EU and NATO. In this regard, there are still delays pertaining to the application of the rights of Albanians for the use of national language, Albanian national flag, employment, budget, etc.

Albania and Macedonia have a good cooperation also in the regional initiatives, such as the SEECP, Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Central European Initiative (CEI), MARRI (Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative), etc.

The commitment and cooperation in the context of these initiatives have served the promotion of a good neighborly relations, security and regional stability, ensuring of political support for the common aspirations related to the integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures, progress on the path of democracy and reforms, implementation of law and human rights, ensuring of financial support of our projects in development fields having priority.

The increasing importance of this cooperation dimension makes the coordination of common stances, use of potentials, prior consultations and coordination of stances in the SEECP, CEI, and RCC, BEDZ, etc. ever more necessary, aiming at transforming such practice into a norm in all the multi-lateral activities.

Albania has continuously followed a constructive and moderated policy in the region; it has established and maintained good relations with all the countries; it has promoted the enlargement and deepening of regional and bilateral cooperation in all fields in favor of the mutual welfare and interest of our peoples and countries, including Macedonia.

A special place is taken also by the cooperation of our country with Macedonia in the context of the European integration as well as the cooperation for the integration to NATO. Albania supports the accession of Macedonia to the NATO, viewing its accession as very important for the strengthening of the security and stability in the region.

In addition, both countries have a very good cooperation also in the context of “Adriatic Charter”, which developed positively at both political and military level, and significantly influenced the strengthening of security in the region, and also between our countries themselves.

In the South-eastern part of Albania, in Liqenas Municipality (Pustec) and Vërnik in the Devolli District, there is a presence of the Macedonian minority. Members of this minority live in other places (Bilisht, Korça, Pogradec, Tirana, etc). According to the data of 1989 census, this minority is composed of 4697 persons or 0.14% of the total number. According to the data of 2011 census, the number of persons who have self-declared their Macedonian ethnicity is 5512 or 0.20 % of the total number.

The Albanian State has created the opportunity for the Macedonian population to be educated in its native language – Macedonian, and have its own schools. Opportunities have been created in the curriculum and lesson plans for the students coming from this minority to study the history, traditions, and culture of their nation.

The Macedonian minority is organized in some associations and created the “Macedonian Alliance for European Integration” Party. This minority has also its own representatives at the local government (communes, municipalities, commune assemblies, municipal assemblies, etc). As regards the representation in the political life, this minority has a representative in the State Commission on Minorities, and persons belonging to this minority have been employed in various state sectors, police structures, etc.

In March 2013, the Albanian Parliament approved the change of the name of Liqenas Municipality into “Pustec Municipality”. Recently, upon the new territorial organization which has taken place in our country, Pustec became a municipality.