L-R: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama
The slow pace of the European Union’s enlargement process is unacceptable and shameful, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Tirana on Friday after talks with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. He recalled that it took Albania 13 years to start accession negotiations with the EU.
Viktor Orbán said that Europe only has reserves for economic growth in the Balkans, and in order to maintain its own competitiveness, it must accelerate the integration of the region. He recalled that Europe is currently experiencing major shifts in the world economy, and that these are highlighting the region’s weaknesses and its deteriorating competitiveness on the global stage. He stressed that in this context,
the integration of Albania and the Western Balkans should be seen as an opportunity.
However, there is still a lack of conviction in Western Europe that enlargement helps integration, so the issue must be kept on the agenda and “we must continue to work” for Albania’s membership, Orbán emphasized.
During the visit, Orbán also held talks with Lindita Nikolla, speaker of the Albanian parliament. Furthermore, the Hungarian and Albanian delegations signed several cooperation agreements, including in the field of water industry, water management, and the European integration process. It is worth mentioning that a joint economic committee has been in place between the two governments for ten years.
Edi Rama and Viktor Orbán. Photo: MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Fischer Zoltán
Both prime ministers said that the two countries have a deeper relationship than traditional bilateral relations. Edi Rama praised “Viktor Orbán’s long-standing faith in Albania,” and said that since their last meeting in Budapest, cooperation had “taken a new direction.” He pointed out that
the Hungarian government has also taken concrete steps to support Tirana’s integration, such as sending experts, transferring experience in EU accession in all areas where Albania needed it, and playing an important role in the creation of the a fund supporting the integration of the Western Balkans.
The Albanian Prime Minister praised Orbán for being the main promoter of Hungarian investment in Albania. He stressed that Hungarian companies have brought many innovations to the country, that Tirana is very pleased with them and thanked them for respecting the law and keeping local interests in mind. In return, Hungarian companies can feel at home in Albania, he underlined.
According to Edi Rama, the Hungarian presence in Albania so far has been particularly notable in the telecommunications and banking sectors, where he mentioned the activities of Hungarian companies 4iG and OTP Bank. New opportunities are also opening up, especially in the energy and tourism sectors, he added. Tourism is a bridge between the two countries, he emphasized.
Featured photo via MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Fischer Zoltán