Meta in intensive diplomatic drive with Robertson and Prodi
Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta is continuing his diplomatic initiative to convince European partners of Albania's constructive role in the Balkan region. The Prime Minister, who had just returned from Washington, left this week for Brussels, where he met with NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.
The meeting's core issue was the situation in Macedonia. According to sources in the prime minister's office, Lord Robertson praised the productive and prudent stance taken by the Albanian government and the Prime Minister during recent events in Macedonia. The two men declared the necessity of a serious, trustful and concrete dialogue on the issues that underlie the crisis in Macedonia.
Meta assured the Secretary General that the Albanian government would maintain its current policy, which serves the best interests of Albania and of regional stability.
European Commission President Romano Prodi also received Prime Minister Meta at EU headquarters. In their meeting, Meta and Prodi discussed the stabilization and association process of moving Albania towards EU membership. "The third meeting of the high-level group," which will take place on 16 and 17 May in Tirana, "should be like the two previous ones, and it will be very important for opening the path and accelerating the launching of negotiations in the framework of this agreement," the EC president told Meta.
The situation in the region, mainly in Macedonia, was another central subject of the meeting, according to Meta's office. Prodi, too, expressed his appreciation of the Albanian government's position regarding Macedonia. At a joint news conference in Brussels, President Prodi confirmed the EU's support of overall developments in Albania.
While in Brussels, Meta also took part in the meeting of the Northern Atlantic Council in order to present the Albanian National Plan 2001 regarding NATO membership. The Prime Minister briefed the council on ongoing major reforms and re-structuring of the Albanian armed forces that will make them capable of handling defence and national security challenges, and bring them closer to NATO standards.
In a special meeting in the town of Pogradeci, Ilir Meta met with ArbŰn Xhaferri, the head of the Albanian Democratic Party in Macedonia. The two exchanged ideas on stabilization and the solution of the Macedonian crisis. According to the Prime Minister's office, Meta and Xhaferri welcomed efforts of the international community to move towards a political solution. They also praised the decision not to proclaim war.
Meta and Xhaferri stressed that further escalation of the situation can serve neither Albanian nor Macedonian interests. They appealed for an end to the fighting and violence, and for a swift institution of reforms that will lead to a solution through political and peaceful means.
Meeting with Thaši
In another meeting last week, Meta and Hashim Thaši, the president of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, expressed similar opinions of the Macedonian crisis. At a press conference held in Tirana, the two appealed to Macedonia's Democratic Prosperity Party (of Albanians) to end their opposition to the establishment of a national government with a broader political base. According to both leaders, such a government, which would expand the base of decision makers and restrict the arena for political speculation, is a positive step towards a peaceful solution.
Thaši, declaring that his party supports the integrity of Macedonia and playing down Macedonian accusations that the crisis has been imported from Kosovo, said that "the recent crisis was born in Macedonia."
With Mitrovic and Mugosha
Meta held a special meeting last week with the minister of Tourism of the Republic of Montenegro, Vladimir Mitrovic, and the mayor of Podgorica, Miomir Mugosha.
According to Meta's office, the parties reviewed the overall status of cooperation between Albania and Montenegro, in particular in the area of tourism. Meta said that it is time to move from agreements to concrete steps that will increase tourist investments and expand tourism between the two countries.
Both parties expressed their readiness to improve bilateral cooperation. Montenegrin officials proposed to open a new border point in Sukobina, aimed at improving communication between the Ulqin and ShkodŰr areas. They also put forward the idea of coordinating and cooperating on joint development projects near Lake ShkodŰr, to be financed by international investors.
US-TDA supports Corridor 8
Sources in the Economic Cooperation and Trade Ministry (ECTM) have announced that the US Transportation Development Agency (US-TDA) has expressed its intention to help finance the renovation of Albania's only international airport.
US-TAD Regional Director Ned Tabot delivered the results of a feasibility study for the new airport in a meeting with ECTM Minister Ermelinda Meksi. The ECTM reports that US-TDA will finance the project on behalf of Corridor 8, the East-West Transport Corridor, which has so far failed to raise the necessary funds.
The US government has already granted USD 1.6 million to build a modern telecommunications system for the Alb-Transport Company, which will also be administering the airport.
Albanian film in Cannes Film Festival
The new Albanian film The Slogan, directed by Gjergj Xhuvani from a screenplay by Ylljet Ališka, and produced by French producer Didie Ranz, is competing in the Cannes Film Festival. French critics have called Xhuvani's film an important achievement in cinematography. This is the first time an Albanian film has appeared at the international Cannes festival.
Century's Perturbing released
Century's Perturbing, written by Rexhep Qosja and published by the Toena Publishing House, has just been delivered to all of Albania's bookshops. The well-known Kosovar author casts a professional and unbiased eye on the most disturbing days of recent Albanian history, focusing on the NATOŚYugoslavia war as it played out in Kosovo.
Artur Nura, 11 May 2001
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