Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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Remarks by President Begaj at the economic forum “Re Focus Austria”

The President of the Republic, H.E.Mr. Bajram Begaj, along with the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, H.E.Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, was present at the joint economic forum “Re Focus Austria”. In his remark, President Begaj evaluated the economic ties between Albania and Austria.

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Full remark:

Honorable President Van der Bellen!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is my pleasure to participate today, along with my friend, the President of Austria, in this joint economic forum.

I am pleased, that during his first visit in Albania, the President Van der Bellen is paying special attention to the economic and trade cooperation between our countries.

The presence of Austrian entrepreneurs in the delegation is a very significant indicator, which shows the attention and desire of my Friend to further expand these relations. During today’s meetings, we had the pleasure to appreciate that, apart from the early historical and quite friendly ties, it is our best common interest to continuously strengthen and expand the economic ties between Albania and Austria.

Albania has always seen Austria, as a supportive and very valuable political and economic partner, powerful and with a great deal of experience.

I have always appreciated the very special Austrian expertise concerning Albania and the Western Balkan region, which has been also very significant in the context of economic cooperation.

Symbolically, today this Forum is organized in the premises of the first serious Austrian investment in Albania, by the entrepreneur Robert Rogner.

He was not only the pioneer of Austrian investments in Albania, but above all, the founder of a new hotel and tourism industry in Albania.

The entry into the Albanian market of Raiffeisen Bank, followed by well-known Austrian companies in the field of insurance and legal consultancy, created not only a new industry in the respective fields, but they became the main promoters of building credibility at the international level of the Albanian market, as well as the further absorption of foreign investments.

The first Austrian investments in Albania were not only very important, but were also carried out at a time when few people invested in us, as well as in sectors that at that time practically did not exist, but which today have become important sectors of the economy.

Today, the banking system has made considerable progress and among other things, successfully credits the country’s economy, whereas Austrian capital owns a very important part of the growing insurance market in Albania.

I would also highly appreciate the subsequent involvement of Austrian venture companies with serious and very significant investments in all strategically important sectors, both in the energy and infrastructural fields.

Thanks to their presence, today we have a much better energy production system, technologically advanced and friendly to the environment and the communities around them.

In particular, I would like to express my appreciation to the well-known companies Verbund and EVN, which fully put into production the ASHTA hydropower plant near Shkodra.

Along with other smaller hydropower plants of the 2010s, the ASHTA hydropower plant marked the beginning of the private sector regarding electricity production in Albania.

Today, this sector produces about 40% of electricity in the country.

I seize this opportunity, to once again express my gratitude for this very important contribution of the Austrian state and business to the economic and social development of Albania.

But I also believe, that the above stated topics, would not have been possible without an Albanian political will, and above all, without the credibility of the ever increasing successful Albanian entrepreneurs.

Many of the aforementioned Austrian companies have trusted their Albanian partners and today, they are among the most reliable joint investments in our market.

Along with the desire to further encourage Austrian investments in Albania, let me mention some encouraging data in this direction.

Albania today offers a very friendly legal framework as far as foreign investments are concerned, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and protection of investors.

The Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom in the country, in 2022, shows that Albania has moderate market freedom and ranks third in the region, right below Slovenia and Croatia.

The same can be said about competition in the economy, which according to the 2022 report of the European Commission, appears moderate.

According to the 2022 report of the European Commission, Albania’s economy is characterized by a moderate level of competitiveness.

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, Albania’s democracy index has gradually improved in recent years.

Albania’s EU membership process means further improvements to the legal and sub-legal framework, efficiency in the economy, as well as increased competitiveness.

This will certainly make the country even more attractive for foreign investments, as the experience of most of the countries that have previously joined the EU has shown, as well as guarantee a sustainable economic and social development of the country.

I note with great pleasure, that in recent years there has been an increase in the inflows of Austrian direct investments in Albania, placing Austria, quantitatively, as the sixth most important partner for Albania.

Regarding the trade between our two countries in goods and services, I have to say that in relation to the total exchanges of Albania, but certainly also of Austria, the figures are relatively modest. It seems to have great untapped potential.

So there is progress made, but there is still a long way to go, and this also applies to the economic and trade cooperation between Albania and Austria.

I hope that this forum will take steps forward in this direction!

On a final note, thank you for your attention and I wish you much success in your future cooperation!