Posted 15.04.2012 09:26:30 UTC
Updated 15.04.2012 10:53:02 UTC
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha paid an official visit to Turkey at the invitation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 5-6.
Besides having high-level talks in Ankara, Berisha attended the Turkish-Albanian Business Forum organized by the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Commodity Exchanges. Berisha, calling attention to the historical friendship between Turks and Albanians, said Turkey had always stood by Albania in its 100-year history of independence.
As Berisha's visit to Turkey coincided with the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence, it bore a special meaning. In fact, the relationship of friendship between Turkey and Albania dates back far too long to be filled into 100 years. qualifying relations between Turks and Albanians as an uninterrupted togetherness of 600 years is not an exaggeration. With Albanians adopting Islam in history, an Albanian population whose interests overlapped with those of the Ottoman state emerged. Of the 292 viziers in the Ottoman state, 28 were of Albanian descent.
The good relations Turkey and Albania enjoyed continued after Albania had declared independence and also during the cold war era. Having pursued a policy of isolationism as of the 1970s, Albania chose Turkey as an ally to associate with when it encountered some serious problems after the collapse of the Socialist regime.
Especially in the 1990s, Turkey was Albania's most reliable ally when it experienced problems in its relations with Greece. Albania trying to forge good relations with also Greece today is making contributions to regional stability.
Turkey's participation in NATO's intervention in the former Yugoslavia in 1999, its admission of big numbers of Kosovo refugees the same year, Ankara's instant recognition of Kosovo's independence in 2008 have been the additional factors making for further rapprochement between Turkey and Albania. What is apparent today is a close relationship between Turkey and Albania of an indelible friendship.
As Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has said, Turkey considers Albania as its brother and strategic partner in the Balkans. What is more, there has been developed between the two countries a wide network of cooperation from education to health to security and the judiciary.
Besides the smooth relations in politics and culture, Turkey and Albania also enjoy good military ties. After longs years of Turkish support for Albania's NATO membership, Ankara and Tirana today have also officially become allies within the alliance. Turkey, having played an important role in the re-structuring of the Albanian army, has also trained hundreds of Albanian military personnel not to mention the military aid it has provided. The training in the war academies in Turkey of Albanian staff officers and officers and the specialized training given to Albanians in some military schools still continue.
The annual trade volume between Turkey and Albania has neared 400 million dollars. Albania's share in Turkey's total exports with 10 Balkan countries in 2010 was put at 3, 37% in exports and 1, 20% in imports. This picture points to the necessity that there is need for more work to invigorate the trade between the two countries. The Turkish investments in Albania in September 2011 were cumulatively valued at about 1 billion dollars. Albania was the second country where Turkish companies operated most intensely in the Balkans. The value of Turkish contractorship projects in Albania at the same date was 718 million dollars.
The rich natural resources, minerals in particular, investment incentives, tourism sector, trade opportunities with third countries and easy access to qualified labour force continue to make Albania attractive from the standpoint of Turkish businessmen. Economic relations between the two countries can easily be raised to even much higher levels once the long-drawn-out and costly banking implementations and bloated red tape that Turkish businessmen encounter very often in Albania are sorted out.