By Peter Tase
In December 12th, Edi Rama, Albanian Prime Minister embarked on his second official visit to Italy. In his meeting with Enrico Letta, Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Rama focused his conversation on the excellent bilateral relations that exist between both countries and Tirana’s accomplishments in the process of European Integration as well as the economic development in the Balkans. On the other hand Prime Minister Letta reiterated that his government is a strong advocate of Albania’s full integration into the European Union.
Mr. Rama reiterated again that Italy is Albania’s strategic ally, “it has provided a constant economic aid and supported the growth of Albanian economy. Rome has relentlessly supported Tirana’s aspirations to join the European Union and provided economic assistance throughout the last two decades (1991-2011) a period characterized by turmoil and a democracy in transition with unstable governments especially immediately after the fall of communism in the decade of 1990s.”
Both leaders expressed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation particularly in the areas of economic development and infrastructure. Prime Minister Rama stated that his government is greatly commitment to simplify all necessary steps that could “attract a new wave of Italian investors to Albania.”
Peace in the Balkans was another topic of discussion and according to Mr. Rama “the region is experiencing a new era or prosperity ever since peace was reached between the Albanian population of Kosovo and Serbian Community, living side by side.” Now is the time to foster a higher economic cooperation in the Balkans and create an admirable level of prosperity in the region.
After their meeting, the two prime ministers gave a press conference.
In his statement Prime Minister Letta paid a special attention to Albania’s eligibility of becoming a candidate country for EU membership. Mr. Letta has meet three with Albanian Prime Minister in less than five months and bilateral relations have recently been intensified; Italy’s Prime Minister is expected to visit Tirana early next year.
Albania will enjoy Italy’s unconditional support in its long road towards a full European integration; both delegations discussed possible ways on how to convince other EU member countries such as Holland, Denmark and Germany, who continue to be skeptical for Albania’s readiness of becoming a candidate country for EU membership.
Mr. Letta was convinced that persuading other European partners ahead of the Council of European Union meeting, scheduled for December 17th, will be an important task.
Before his stop in Rome, Mr. Rama visited a group of businessmen in Puglia, where he discussed Albania’s potential to attract Italian investments in clothing manufacture and food industry.
Albania has worked very closely with Italy, especially in the execution, and partnership with other countries of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, a strategic energy infrastructure project that begins in Eastern Greece and runs through Albania and flows directly to Southern Italy through the Adriatic. This project will bring natural from the Caspian region to Europe and will generate significant employment opportunities for the countries in the region.
In his statement Prime Minister Rama felt honored to visit Rome once again and announced his upcoming visit to Northern Italy in January, 2014 in order to give a clear message that Albania is ready to welcome new Italian investments.
Albania has a relatively lower labor cost compared to other European countries, taxes for investment are low and Mr. Rama’s administration is determined to reduce bureaucracy and provide everything that is needed to build a successful business enterprise in Albania and therefore generate a much needed employment in a country with over 66 percent of the population being economically active.