On September 8th, the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, went on an official visit to Albania. There he met with President Bajram Begaj and Prime Minister Edi Rama.
The visit aimed to reaffirm and revive the friendship that the two countries share and to express Italy’s full support for Albania’s accession negotiation with the European Union.
“Albania’s future is in Europe. Without the Western Balkans, the reunification of the Continent would be incomplete. Italy will always be at Albania’s side in its path towards accession to the EU,” Mr. Mattarella said. The Italian President also underlined the “great harmony and collaboration” that characterizes relations between Italy and Albania, two countries “united by a historic friendship and an intense bilateral dialogue, with many joint initiatives.”
Addressing the press after his meeting with Mr. Begaj, Mr. Mattarella remarked on the importance of the recently signed bilateral strategic partnership, which strengthens political cooperation as well as bilateral economic relations.
“Albania is a crucial economic partner for Italy. Several Italian companies already operate in some strategic sectors, such as infrastructure, energy, agro-industry, and financial services. Other companies are ready to invest in emerging sectors,” Mr. Mattarella stressed.
Mr. Mattarella then focused on cultural relations. He pledged Italian support for the preservation of Albanian Unesco sites and called for increased cooperation between universities, which he defined as “fundamental” because “it helps us projecting our friendship and collaboration among our youth and into the future.”
In fact, during the day, the President also visited the Italian School in Tirana. The school, run by Italy’s Dante Alighieri Society, was recently inaugurated by the Minister for University and Research, Maria Cristina Messa. The school is open to students of all nationalities and is the only one in Albania to provide education in Italian.
The President of the Dante Alighieri Society, Andrea Riccardi, and the school co-founder Concetta Marotta accompanied the President on his visit. Albanian Education Minister Evis Kushi and Italian Ambassador Fabrizio Bucci also joined. “This school is a meeting point between the Albanian the Italian languages and cultures,” Mr. Mattarella said.
In his closing remarks, Ambassador Bucci underlined how, thanks to the Italian School in Tirana, the President had the opportunity to see how “deep and articulate the relationship between Italians and Albanians is.”