China ready to raise level of engagement in Albania – says Premier Li Keqiang

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Albanian PM Edi Rama in Sofia
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Albanian PM Edi Rama in Sofia

Sofia, Bulgaria – July 07 (Tirana Echo) – China stands ready to work with Albania to accelerate the alignment of their development strategies and lift bilateral ties to a new level – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has told Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama during a recent meeting in Sofia.

The meeting between Li Keiqang and Edi Rama took place in the Bulgarian capital where China gathered leaders of 16 Central Eastern European nations in the framework of the 16+1 Initiative supported by Beijing.

Both Li and Rama praised the good momentum in bilateral ties between two countries which next year will celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations. China is already the largest foreign investor in Albania after it bought its main oil company Bankers Petroleum and Tirana’s only international airport.

Li told Rama that China is ready to deepen its practical cooperation with Albania and import more quality and specialty agricultural products from the latter while repeating the Chinese pledge to encourage competitive Chinese businesses to invest in Albania for win-win results.

China will work with Albania to build an automated agricultural cooperation center and enhance cooperation in water resources utilization and disaster prevention,” – said Premier Li.

Albania’s government did not give much information on the meeting but in a short statement it confirmed that the “focus of the meeting was the bilateral cooperation programme as well as concrete projects in agriculture, tourism, port and water infrastructure and culture.

Rama also vowed to work with China to turn next year’s 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations into a success, and step up communication and coordination within the 16+1 framework.

Albania was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and it later sponsored a UN resolution which consequently landed with the recognition of PRC as legitimate government of China by the United Nations. China has never forgotten such efforts and has constantly wanted to boost ties with its small European ally.

Despite the later rupture of relations by Albania’s dictator Enver Hoxha, ties have been strengthened during the last three decades with China continually pushing for a boost of trade relations and investment with its old communist ally.

Last year, China’s first-ranked Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli visited Albania in what was seen as another high level visit to boost Chinese presence in the small Balkan country.

Zhang a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, China’s highest ruling council, said that “China is satisfied with the sound development momentum of bilateral relations, and is willing to work with Albania to further consolidate bilateral traditional friendship, deepen practical cooperation between the two countries, respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, in a bid to promote greater development of bilateral relations.

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