ZAGREB, July 20, 2018 – Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović met on Friday with the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and expressed her satisfaction with the cooperation between Croatia and Albania which has continued since Croatia gained independence, and added that she hoped for stronger overall relations between the two countries, including cooperation between their two capital cities.
“I would like to express my satisfaction with the continuation of the important traditional Croatian-Albanian cooperation that was established at the very beginning of our independence,” the president said.
She informed her host that her talks with Albania’s highest officials focused on strengthening bilateral relations and on opportunities to expand them. “We are looking at future bilateral relations with Albania with optimism and enthusiasm and that in particular relates to improving economic and trade relations,” she said.
She mentioned the existing cooperation between towns in the two countries – Opatija and Saranda, Bjelovar and Berat, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and between Kutina and Lezhe. “We are prepared to additionally strengthen cooperation between cities,” Grabar-Kitarović added.
As she has done throughout her three-day visit to Albania, Grabar-Kitarović once again underscored the contribution Albania’s minority community has made to Croatian society, including their role in the Homeland War.
Mayor Veliaj said that he had a “great” meeting with the president and spoke about Tirana’s renaissance over the past few years, noting that Tirana was the “epicentre of economy, population, culture and art.”
“Similarly to Zagreb, I think that the fate of small nations lies in gathering around centres of excellence and as such, cities are just as important as nations,” Veliaj said. “Your president promotes a policy of open doors to the region and has become the main spokesperson of our progress toward the European Union,” he added.
Referring to Tirana’s new image – green and colourful – Veliaj said that a city was how its residents wished it to be. Cars have been thrown out of the centre of Tirana, bicycles have been introduced and trees are being planted, he said.
President Grabar-Kitarović expressed her amazement with Tirana’s development and transformation since her last visit in 1993.