Highlights of FM Kalfin's official visit to Albania
26. April 2008. | 08:05
Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin paid Wednesday a one-day official visit to Albania at the invitation of Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha.
Kalfin conferred with his host Basha, as well as with Albanian President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Parliament Speaker Jozefina Topalli, Defence Minister Gazmend Oketa, and Minister of European Integration Majlinda Bregu.
Kalfin described his talks with the Albanian hosts as open and good. He said that visits are being prepared of Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov to Tirana and of Albania's Prime Minister Sali Berisha to Sofia.
Kalfin said that Bulgaria's support for Albania's Euro-Atlantic and European integration is assessed in highly positive terms in Albania. The Bulgarian chief diplomat said that the atmosphere in Albania is different now that the country has received an invitation to join NATO, there is self-confidence and responsibility, as well as a stronger European attitude.
He stressed that there are no unsolved issues between Bulgaria and Albania.
Speaking to reporters that accompanied him Kalfin singled out two main topics of his talks in Tirana.
- The first is the intergovernmental agreement on the establishment of a cultural information centre of Bulgaria in Tirana and a cultural information centre of Albania in Sofia. Kalfin said that this is a project which was prepared in the course of ten years but officially tabled in 2005 and one largely connected with Bulgaria's support of Albania membership in NATO.
- The second topic was regional stability and the situation in Kosovo and Macedonia related to it. Kalfin said Albania has an important role to play in this respect.
Bulgaria and Albania will take coordinated action to solve regional issues because working with Albania may produce good results in solving the Balkans' most serious problems, Kalfin said.
The major joint projects include the construction of a 400-kilovolt power line to Macedonia by Bulgaria, which will make it possible to export electricity to Albania too, and the construction of a motorway from Durres to Kosovo, which will run to the Black Sea.
Asked when Albania will recognize the existence of a Bulgarian minority, Kalfin said the matter had been discussed and this might be done in the next census of the population in Albania.
Kalfin met with representatives of the association of Albanian citizens of Bulgarian ethnic origin, styling itself "Prosperity for Golo Brdo", which is struggling to preserve their cultural and linguistic identity, and acts as an intermediary between the community and the Bulgarian and Albanian state and public bodies.
Its leader called for the opening of a Bulgarian college in Tirana. The entry of Bulgarian businesses in the region is good both for Bulgaria and for the Bulgarians in Albania, he also said.
Some 300 ethnic Bulgarian students from Albania are studying in Bulgaria, and 40 prospective students are taking a free course in Bulgarian.
Kalfin left for the port of Durres later on Wednesday.