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Erdogan visits Albania to boost ties

TIRANA, ALBANIA (AP) – Albania and Turkey on Monday pledged to further boost their ties and increase their economic and cultural relations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Albania to talk with Prime Minister Edi Rama on strengthening bilateral ties and also inaugurate new apartments funded by Turkey for Albanians left homeless by the 2019 earthquake.

Upon landing Erdogan headed to the northwestern town of Lac, 50 kilometres northwest of the capital Tirana, where Turkey has funded the building of a complex with 522 apartments at a cost of EUR42 million.

An international conference less than two months after the November 26, 2019 earthquake which killed 51 people and left 17,000 homeless, committed over EUR1 billion to rebuild homes, businesses and public buildings destroyed in the quake. Turkey was a major donor.

Last year, Turkey also built a new hospital to help Albania cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Turkey and Albania signed seven agreements in various fields, including media, law enforcement, culture and emergency management.

Turkey is one of Albania’s largest investors and trading partners, contributing to infrastructure investment and development.

Erdogan said ties with Albania were “at the level of strategic partnership”, adding both countries aim to reach a USD1 billion annual exchange from USD853 million a year ago.

The Albanian prime minister considered Turkey’s role in the Western Balkan region as “indispensable, inalienable and no doubt a constructive role for peace”.

Both Albania and Turkey have applied for membership in the European Union but that seems far away.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Tirana International Airport, Albania. PHOTO: AP