15 Νοεμβρίου 2013
Statements of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Venizelos’ and Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, following their meeting
Ev. Venizelos: I am glad to have had the opportunity to receive Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi here at the Foreign Ministry today. His visit here comes just a few days after the visit by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, to Albania, and a few weeks after my own visit to Tirana, and he is here so that we can make the most of the momentum that has been created in Greek-Albanian relations.
Both the Greek and Albanian governments attach particular importance to Albania’s European perspective, as well as to our bilateral cooperation, which is useful not just to our two countries, but to the Western Balkans in general. We are linked by a Friendship and Good Neighbourliness Agreement, to which we want to impart the greatest possible importance. We are linked as allies in NATO, of which Albania is now a member, and we are linked by the prospect of Albania’s accession to the EU and, thus, its readiness to accept the European acquis and the rules of European legal and political culture, which is extremely important.
Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Peleshi will make all the necessary efforts toward the implementation of what we had the opportunity to discuss in Tirana with Prime Minister Edi Rama and my counterpart the Foreign Minister.
But we also discussed some additional issues, with particular emphasis on the energy sector. Greece and Albania are now being called upon to utilize and construct the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The two countries are now linked by this pipeline and also by the cooperation between the Energy Ministries. But the initiatives we are going to take with Mr. Peleshi will emphasize other aspects of energy cooperation as well. The production and distribution of electricity and the linking of distribution networks is always decisive. This also concerns the Mediterranean region more generally.
We also talked about cultural policy issues. An old initiative of the Greek government was to contribute some €2.5 million in funding toward the construction of the Albanian National Theatre, in the centre of Tirana. We are now reaffirming our willingness, and we are happy to contribute to the shaping of an emblematic building that symbolizes our friendship and the emphasis the Albanian government and the Albanian Prime Minister put on cultural issues.
We already have very good cooperation on cultural heritage issues, as well; cooperation that Mr. Peleshi promoted very strongly as mayor. All of the mechanisms of the Culture Ministry and the Culture Ministry’s agencies, like the European Centre for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments, are at the Albanian side’s the disposal of for the protection of cultural heritage. And we also have very good cooperation within the framework of UNESCO.
I would like to welcome Mr. Peleshi once again and wish him every success in his duties.
N. Peleshi: I thank the Deputy Prime Minister. I would like once again to point out the importance of this visit as a follow-up to the successful visits of Mr. Venizelos and, afterwards, of President Papoulias. Two visits that were carried out in the framework and spirit of our strategic political and economic cooperation, as well as in the context of a new climate that today has the potential and the need to create fresh momentum, a new acceleration and dynamic, in the context of economic and political exchanges. It is no coincidence that recent months have seen a new dynamic exchange of political visits on the highest level.
There have also been developments within the framework of economic exchanges, a joint Greek-Albanian economic and energy conference that was held during President Papoulias’ visit to Tirana. A Greek-Albanian business forum was also held in Tirana. And I came here today precisely to talk with Mr. Venizelos – and we had very successful talks – about the potential and mechanisms being mobilized on all the issues and in all fields, which creates the framework for our joint bilateral agenda.
I would like to stress again what I said to Mr. Venizelos: that our cooperation is based on three strong pillars. First, the agreement on friendship and good neighbourly relations. Second, our partnership in NATO. And third, Albania’s integration into the EU.
Regarding the agreement, we have talked about the possibility of developing and implementing the fields it creates: the setting up of joint committees, with a joint agenda and a joint action plan, as soon as possible, so that within this framework, this agreement, we can resolve certain issues – issues that may be technical, but that have an immediate impact on the lives of the citizens of our countries.
We talked about strategic projects, like the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is becoming a reality now, but we need to exchange information and collaborate with the Greek side, which has greater experience with such projects, so that the project can be accelerated and constructed within the agreed timeframe.
We also talked about other, future strategic projects in the context of energy. Energy is a very important, priority sector for Albania. It is a sector that cannot develop on its own, but requires links with neighbouring countries. This is why I want to thank Deputy Prime Minister Venizelos for the resolve he showed regarding the joint planning for the energy future between the two countries – that is, projects that bring us together.
I want once again to express my gratitude for the Greek government’s donation for the rebuilding of the national theatre. So very soon we will be able to start the project of the rebuilding of the national theatre of Albania, with the major assistance of the Greek government, and I would like to express our gratitude on behalf of the Albanian government.
The conservation of cultural heritage is one of our priorities, and we unquestionably need to share experiences with the Greek side. We have examples of successful cooperation on the local and national level in the past, but today, in the framework of a new climate and a new dynamic in the multifaceted relations of the two countries, perhaps we can create mechanisms that will give our country and its cultural heritage the potential to benefit from the Greek side’s experience; to exchange know-how and experience we have gained within the framework of conserving our cultural heritage.
I would like once again like to characterize as very successful the current rate of consolidation of our relations, which have gained fresh momentum following the two very important visits to Tirana by Mr. Venizelos and, afterwards, President Papoulias.