By Linda Karadaku
Albania and Israel have long discussed opportunities for co-operation in the fields of education, science and technology, communication and information, as well as health care, tourism, agriculture and energy.
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha guaranteed visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday (June 29th) that Israeli investors “will have full support in Albania from the government and the Albanian institutions, in order to transform their investments into a success for them and for Albania.”
It was the first time in 17 years that such a senior Israeli official visited and it coincided with an Albanian-Israeli Business Forum in Tirana the same day. Members of the Israeli business community accompanied Lieberman, 20 companies in all.
Edlira Prenga, spokesperson for the Chamber of Trade and Industry, tells SETimes it was Israeli Ambassador to Tirana David Kohen who last year insisted on organising the forum, and that the chambers in Tirana and Tel Aviv have been working on it since January.
“What is important is to have Israeli companies in the country because they come with a developed technology, are serious in the market and we welcome partnership with them,” Prenga added. Investors from Kosovo and Macedonia were also part of the forum.
“Our government and the Israeli government have worked to build a legal framework on economic co-operation. I believe this co-operation has great potential to be explored,” Berisha told participants. “I invite you to consider seriously investment in the energy sector,” he said.
He pointed out that Israeli companies are working in Albania with mineral reserves, “most probably with gold as well”.
Lieberman underlined the need to repeat the Business Forum in Israel.
“We all live today in a big global village; that’s why every business opportunity should be as attractive as possible, as tempting as possible, as competitive as possible,” he said after meeting with Albanian counterpart Edmond Haxhinasto.
Lieberman, who addressed the Business Forum, advised Albania to be very conservative with the financial market to help stabilise the economy.
Israeli companies indicated interest in tourism, energy and agriculture. “What we concluded is that Israeli companies mainly go outside their country for long-term investments, not short term ones,” said Prenga.
Chairman of the Tirana Chamber of Trade and Industry Nikolin Jaka says Albania can be considered “the most important point in the region”.
He described the forum as “a golden opportunity to establish bridges of concrete co-operation in fields of special interest”, according to the Albanian daily Shqip.
Albania has been trying to boost bilateral ties in other ways, getting its first rabbi, Jewish centre and synagogue to serve the tiny Jewish minority, estimated now at 150 people. After the fall of Communism in 1991, most of Albania’s Jews moved to Israel.