Certainly for me it is a special event to attend and to greet the 30th anniversary of the cooperation between Albania and Germany and a good day to reflect on the support that Germany has given us and has accompanied us to difficult days of `88,` 89, `90, and then helped and supported us to spend difficult days, like what the Ambassador referred to in ’97 and accompany us today, in better days when we are running to get the negotiations and we are running to deepen all reforms, and reform in justice together.
Germany is a friend and a very important ally for Albania, a country that in our country’s economic, political and social development is undoubtedly a very special contribution. This is another historic moment for Albania in relation to our perspective of membership in the European family, where we naturally belong to every day of our European Union life even if we are not yet a member.
I find the occasion, Ambassador and beloved participants, through this podium and this day, to thank Germany and Chancellor Merkel in this process that for us represents the realization of an old dream of every Albanian citizen.
I want to share with you a very interesting moment that will remain in memory of my life and administrative history, the first meeting where I was lucky to be when I accompanied the Prime Minister, where the Chancellor guaranteed the Prime Minister Rama for the support of the candidate country status three years ago. Believe me when we left the office, mind, soul and heart were full and again I would like to thank Mrs. Ambassador, thank you your country and the Chancellor for the continued strong intensive support in favor of Albania above all and of every Albanian citizen.
The Berlin process is another direct investment of Chancellor and Germany in our region as the starting point for a new stage in good neighborly relations, promoting regional cooperation, improving connectivity in energy, infrastructure, communication and enhancing interaction and exchanges between our countries in the Western Balkans.
Throughout these 30 years, since 1988, Germany has supported Albania with more than 1 billion Euros directly, as we have heard from both the film and the Ambassador, and so indirectly.
I would like to appreciate the role of KFW and GIZ. For me, they are very fond of both supporters and partners who are very active in coordinating foreign aid by taking the role of the leading bilateral donor in many sectors of economic development, including the energy sector (which we saw a bit before); water infrastructure; education and vocational training, and I am glad Ambassador who referred to Kamza school because we have it as an example; development of rural and urban areas; tourism development; SME promotion and approximation of farmers’ activities to European Union standards.
Some of the projects that have found the support of your country, which are strategic in fact, have been: high voltage line Tirana-Pristina and Tirana-Macedonia; social investment fund; dam safety; energy efficiency, and here I want to thank you for the grant you gave to students and students’ homes; economic-regional development; promotion of employment and vocational education training; water infrastructure developments in some of the main municipalities. Very few municipalities have still been left untouched by your direct assistance in this sector. Only in the last two years, 2016-2017, there are over 100 million Euros of funding to support various development programs in the country.
Germany is one of the main trading partners of Albania, among the member states of the European Union, with a volume of exchanges in the amount of Euro 464 million in 2017.
There are over 190 German companies present in the Albanian economy. Here I want to mention some success stories, some of whom I have personally pursued to invest in Albania, such as Forchner Albania, which is already expanding with the second factory, or other prestigious names like Telekom Albania or Tirana Bussines Park.
Of course, we have a challenge when it comes to foreign investments. The German foreign investment stock in Albania at the end of 2017 is only 116 million Euros. So we have an infinite space to expand German investment. It is the responsibility of our Albanian government to enable the country and the sectors to be attractive to German companies.
Germany for us is a great country and an important partner, but above all it is a leading source for the sustainable development of the whole region on the road to the European Union.
I thank you once again and wish you success in your work, in our joint work and thank you for everything you have done for Albania and Albanian citizens.