Beijing, Oct. 20 (Tirana Echo) – Albania sees relations with China as complementary to its EU integration, says Albanian Speaker as the two ‘old’ friends agree to move forward with stronger economic and trade ties.
During a visit to Beijing, Albanian Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta told China Radio International that “China has its special place in the history of relations with Albania and will have its own place in the future, just like other important EU countries have a strong and active partnership with China. China does not interfere with political decisions of other countries and we see our cooperation with China as complementary to the European integration process, as we all know that Albania is in Europe”.
Meta said that the cooperation between Albania and China is moving forward as China is becoming an increasingly important trade and economic partner of Albania.
The visit of Meta comes one year after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang confirmed to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Beijing and the Chinese government will support domestic enterprises in construction of ports, railways, power grids and industrial parks in Albania.
The two premiers agreed last year that Chinese investment in Albania should be increased with China expanding its presence infrastructure, mining, agriculture and tourism. Meta’s visit to Beijing is seen by China as an opportunity to further solidify the major improvements noticed during the last year in bilateral exchanges.
Chinese investments have increased in recent months in Albania with the latest acquisition being the International Airport of Tirana which was fully taken over by China Everbright Group, a state-backed financial firm which bought all shares of Albania’s airport operator two weeks ago.
As China is building stronger ties with countries in Central & East Europe in the framework of ‘16+1 One Belt One Road’ initiative, Albania has stepped up its diplomatic and economic action to attract more Chinese money for its infrastructure projects.
In 2016, China became the second largest trading partner of Albania, with traditional partners like Greece and Turkey trailing behind in what seems to confirm a clear Chinese ambition to take over strategic sectors in Southeast Europe.
Last March, Canadian Bankers Petroleum, Albania’s biggest foreign investor which has been operating in the southern Albanian Patos-Marinzë and Kuçova oil fields since 2004, sold its exploitation and drilling rights to Chinese Geo-Jade Petroleum for €384.6 million.
Albanian Speaker Ilir Meta, a former prime minister who is credited with advancing major national infrastructure projects in 2000, told his counterpart Yu Zhengsheng, a top Communist leader who chairs the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), that bilateral and traditional friendly ties should be redefined to reflect the current and upcoming global developments.
“Albania is willing to be a robust partner of China in the Balkan Peninsula and in Europe”, Meta said during his visit.
Albania was the first country to recognize the People’s Republic China establishing diplomatic relations on November 23, 1949 with Albania’s communist dictator Enver Hoxha being largely recognized as China’s strongest advocate in the global scene. Hoxha has won Albania a special place in China’s historical memory as in October 25, 1971 it sponsored Resolution 2758 at the UN General Assembly to transfer China’s UN seat from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China.
Relations deteriorated in November 1976 when Hoxha expressed his opposition to the new Chinese leadership that had taken over with the death of Mao Zedong in September by refusing to mention Hua Guofeng and openly denouncing Deng Xiaoping while calling for a multilateral meeting of Marxist–Leninist parties.
Bilateral cooperation and political ties have picked up substantially in the past two decades with China seeing Albania as a hub in Southeast Europe.
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