Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

IMG 2401


Speech by President Begaj at the “B40 Balkan Cities Network” Summit

Distinguished Attendees,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to greet the participants of the “Network of Balkan Cities” initiative. Your initiative, the “Network of Balkan Cities,” is a serious commitment to regional cooperation and sustainable development. It adds value to our relationships by creating opportunities for cooperation at the local level. Your network has the potential to be a successful example for a sustainable and inclusive future.

The Balkan region is rich in history and cultural diversity. The Balkans are where many cultures, ideas, and innovations merge. The contribution of the Balkan people to the history of civilization, not only European but also global, is indisputable and unique.

The Balkans need more cooperation with each other, more interconnections, more dialogue, viewing problems as development opportunities, and focusing on what unites us.

In this context, local governance plays a significant role. This is the level where policies are directly felt by citizens. This implies local governance that is more environmentally sensitive, more transparent, with widespread democracy and consolidated accountability.

Dear mayors, along with your teams, you not only administer the most populated centers of the region but also the main political, economic, and cultural engines. Many of the participating cities are significant global actors, in the economy and other important spheres. Your work is of special importance.

In this regard, I want to emphasize three aspects:

First, democratic and transparent governance. There can be no good governance without hearing all voices in decision-making.

Second, poverty reduction and sustainability. This means that the entire community must be part of your development policies. No one should feel excluded, and this starts at the local level.

Third, preparation for unforeseen risks. The pandemic, undeniable climate changes, migration, technological transformation, and other challenges require efficient management, a good healthcare system, proper infrastructure, and adaptability.

Dear friends,

I am pleased that you are here in Tirana today. This city embodies the rapid development that comes with urbanization and significant demographic movements in our country. Currently, about a third of the population lives here, and nearly half of the country’s production is realized. Since 2019, Tirana has experienced two earthquakes, a pandemic, demographic tectonic shifts, and an economic boom.

Tirana is the dilemma between immediate economic development and long-term environmental care. Between the immediate needs of today’s generation and the needs of future generations, finding a balance is not easy.

However, Tirana, over the last ten years (under Erion’s leadership), has shown that it knows how to find a balance between economic development and sustainability, between cultural renewal and technological innovation, between tradition and the modern era.

Of course, there is still much to be done, as our citizens’ expectations run parallel to the city’s development. Along with them, the city’s administrative vision must also evolve. Sometimes this is not a matter of quantity, but quality, hence services must be quality, and the vision clear, as every decision affects not only the present but also guides the future.

Our cities in the twenty-first century should be more than economic and industrial centers. They should be, first and foremost, spaces where individual well-being is a priority, where harmony with the environment is not an option, but a necessity.

Let’s learn from each other, exchange experiences, and build collaborative projects that bring concrete results in improving the lives of our citizens.

Thank you!