Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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Hello, dear President Radev, and thank you!

First, I would like to express my gratitude again for the invitation, the warm and very friendly hospitality extended to me, and the delegation accompanying me.

Watching last night’s concert together, an excellent collaboration between the Varna Opera and the National Opera and Ballet Theater of Albania, and today’s meetings made the hospitality very special and unforgettable.

As I stated in today’s meetings with President Radev, I would like to emphasise again in this joint press conference that my visit to Bulgaria clearly exemplifies our two countries’ excellent and friendly relations.

The year we are leaving behind also marks the 110th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which have essentially been characterised by feelings of mutual friendship despite different geopolitical developments.

Today, the bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, as well as membership and partnership in NATO, form the cornerstone of common European and Euro-Atlantic values.

In this regard, I underlined Albania’s willingness and interest in cooperating closely with Bulgaria, both bilaterally, within the framework of the European integration process and multilaterally.

I expressed gratitude to Bulgaria and President Radev for helping Albania overcome the consequences and damages of the devastating November 26th, 2019 earthquake and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. I appreciated President Radev’s solidarity during his March 2020 visit to the earthquake-affected areas.

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I found it admirable that the historically friendly relationships are also dedicated to the presence of the respective Albanian and Bulgarian minorities in our countries. It is in our common interest that they support the preservation, promotion and transmission of language, history, traditions and culture.

I also expressed my gratitude for Bulgaria’s support of infrastructure and development initiatives in the southeast region of Albania.

We paid particular attention to bilateral cooperation, where I highlighted the need for even closer economic cooperation and trade exchanges in addition to our strong political relationship.

Bulgaria has been and remains an important economic partner for Albania. These days, there are all the conditions and opportunities for this cooperation to grow even stronger—from the legal framework and the favourable business climate to the common interest.

Bulgaria is currently Albania’s second-most important partner among Southeast European nations and its sixth-most significant partner in terms of total direct investments.

The Joint Economic Commission will carefully and thoroughly address all the possibilities and set all the relevant mechanisms in motion during its next session.

The geostrategic Corridor 8 Project, for which I expressed my gratitude for Bulgaria’s significant lobbying for its inclusion in the Trans- European Transport Network, is an added value in this direction that should be used to the fullest extent possible.

Within the framework of European integration, and despite the decision made yesterday in Brussels I appreciate that we share the same approach with Bulgaria, that the Western Balkans represent a strategic investment for the European Union and that the process of expansion must continue with determination.

The most significant strategic project for Albania is its integration into Europe.

Following the Russian military aggression in Ukraine, the current security conditions of our continent have grown very delicate. In my opinion, the European Union’s geopolitical focus on the Western Balkan region should be one of its main priorities.

I appreciated Bulgaria’s consistent and prominent support in this regard and expressed the belief that this support will continue throughout the entire process of accession negotiations.

Regarding regional cooperation, I valued Bulgaria’s support of the Berlin Process and its role and contribution to various regional initiatives of which both our countries are members.

I particularly expressed my gratitude for the support Bulgaria has given Kosovo to become part of various regional and international organizations as a significant contribution to the peace and stability of the entire region.

We also discussed security, social protection, and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, tourism, education, and culture.

Regarding social protection, I expressed my belief that both countries’ internal procedures will soon end, making it possible for the bilateral social protection Agreement to come into force. This will positively affect the citizens of Albania and Bulgaria who reside and work in our respective countries.

Defence and security cooperation are already well-established within the framework of the North Atlantic Alliance, NATO. Tomorrow, I will visit the Albanian military troops stationed in Novo Selo as part of the NATO project “Enhance Vigilant Activity” with my host, President Radev.

I took advantage of the occasion to express my gratitude for Bulgaria’s long and valuable contribution to KFOR troops in Kosovo and its role in the peace and stability of the entire Southeast European region.

Obviously, we could not ignore how Russian military aggression in Ukraine impacts security in general and energy security in particular, nor the assistance required for Ukraine to preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as its military defence from the aggressors.

In this respect, I acquainted President Radev with Albania’s contribution as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council over the last two years.

Finally, but just as importantly, we discussed the various political developments in our region, the region’s future in the European Union, the interest and influence of malicious third actors, and developments in the Middle East during today’s talks.

Thank you!