The President of Albania Bamir Topi stages a magnificent reception for President Pacolli

The President of the Republic of Kosovo Behgjet Pacolli is conducting his first visit abroad since his election as President in the Republic of Albania, upon an invitation extended to him by President Bamir Topi.

President Pacolli and the official delegation accompanying him during the visit were received in the Palace of Brigades by the President of the Republic of Albania Bamir Topi at a magnificent solemn ceremony, under the intonation of the national hymns of both countries and involving a parade by both presidents in front of the Albanian Guard of Honour.

Both presidents had an eye-to-eye meeting. Later on, they chaired bilateral official discussions between respective state delegations, which discussed an array of important issues related to cooperation between the two countries.

At the end of the meeting between delegations, President Pacolli and Presidenti Topi gave statements to numerous media.

Below you may read the transcript of the conference:

President Topi: It is a special pleasure for me to be before you today with the new President of Kosovo, my friend and the friend of all Albanians, His Excellency Mr. Behgjet Pacolli.

I wished him again success in his important task as head of the state of Kosovo. We had very important talks, in the same vein as before, but now in a new phase of relations between our two countries and in an important regional context.

I saw again in the President of Kosovo an open mind with a clear vision for cooperation between Albania and Kosovo and other regional countries as well, countries that have maintained a good climate of political relations for years now and managed to foster new political and institutional relations, but that have, unfortunately, lingered behind in terms of economic growth requirements. Our countries need to be clearly positioned and with clear ideas about economic prospects, because this is possible in our region, which has not been sufficiently explored from this perceptive and which has a market of an estimated size of 60 million inhabitants. Taking into account projects introduced before and absorbing new ideas, I think the future of our countries in the Euro-Atlantic community is clear, not only in political terms. On the other hand, there is a need to boost institutional communication, so as to harmonize the legislation with the European standards and to make use of many opportunities in Albania and Kosovo.

Topics of discussion involved known issues, and we reaffirmed Albania and Kosovo’s will not to only enhance the communication, but also to address sensitive issues. Beyond economic cooperation and utilisation of resources in our two countries, problems arise unavoidably in terms of enhancement and standardization of laws and many other elements of educational and cultural nature and I believe it is in the interest of our institutions and on the focus of the attention of the people involved directly to increase the level of cooperation in this regard.

I discussed with the President making use of the "Road of Nation” – an exceptional infrastructural project that has helped break loose from a century-long isolation – for facilitating the movement of people and goods. In a very symbolic way, President Pacolli considered the road as an opportunity for exchanging ideas; the road itself not being an element of physical infrastructure merely, but also a great opportunity to communicate with each other about all our aspirations, be they political or social or individual, where the dimension of freedom should be paid a due attention.

I told the President that we were very happy by the end of the last year when Albanians managed to pursue the right to move freely. But, apart from the great joy, I expressed my concern that this opportunity was not offered to the people of Kosovo at the same time. Of course we have always raised and will raise the issue of providing the people of Kosovo with such an opportunity as soon as possible during our discussions with all partners, at all fora, because Kosovo can not remain isolated. I am convinced that very soon such an offer will be made to the people of Kosovo too, as this is in the interest of our international partners and other peoples in the region.

We discussed the need to maintain a new tradition that has been fostered by the presidents of Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo and to continue to meet. An initiative that began in the South in 2009, continued in Prizren. We were invited by the President of Macedonia Ivanov to the next meeting to take place in Ohrid and, after that, its Montenegro’s turn. This is to demonstrate the desire and the will to promote policies of dialogue and peace and to invite others to join these meetings.

Once again, I told President Pacolli that Albania considers regional cooperation with Serbia very important. Leaving aside any kind of prejudice, in the retrospective historical context, we have made it clear that, although there is a big issue concerning our positions on Kosovo on which we disagree with Serbia, given the new regional and European contexts, it doesn’t mean that there should be no political dialogue between the two countries and that there should be no cooperation for the sake of our countries, peoples and peace in the region. I am positive that ongoing talks between Kosovo and Serbia are being held in such a context, by respecting the sovereignty of the respective countries and by discussing technical issues of common interest.

I wished Mr. Pacolli success in performing his duty and commended him for a continued consolidation of Kosovo institutions, which have successfully overcome the challenge of building a multiethnic state that observes the rights of each citizen of Kosovo. Of course, cooperation will be maintained on all fronts and between all institutions and I am convinced that our cooperation and regular contacts will enable Kosovo to gain a new reputation owing to all our joint efforts to ensure that Kosovo is recognised by as many other states as possible, so as to come closer to the vision that we have revealed jointly: for Kosovo to become, together with Albania, a part of the NATO and for Albania and Kosovo to become parts of the European Union in the future.

Once again, Honourable Mr. President! Honourable friend! It is a special pleasure for me to express a good will that we share with each other. Welcome!

President Pacolli: I consider that my visit to Albania is very important, because it is taking place in a very delicate moment for Kosovo. Kosovo has emerged from an institutional vacuum. Kosovo has now established its government, its institutions. Kosovo just started to deal with major challenges, at a time when the people of Kosovo need, more than ever, a hand of assistance. Kosovo needs to engage in fostering a favourable atmosphere in international arena and improve the image that was blemished by somebody else intentionally or by the irresponsibility of institutional representatives in the past.

Mr. President, I am telling you once again: We appreciate the fact that you are a President who, by virtue of his knowledge and prudence, is leading Albania towards civilised societies and has managed to place Albania where it belongs. Albania has become a part of the NATO. Albania has enabled its people to move freely. Such a freedom of movement means a lot to us in Kosovo. Such a freedom of movement is desired in Kosovo now.

Every Kosovar is aware of the assistance that you are providing to Kosovo at present. We thank you very much for what you have done for Kosovo and for the support that you have provided to Kosovo, in order to make sure that Kosovo is recognised by as many international friends as possible and becomes promoted further as a civilised state.

I am extremely excited that I am conducting my first visit in Albania, here in our mother country, in our brother country, in our friend country. This means a lot to me and will certainly serve as a strong inspiration for my engagement during my mandate. I have vowed to work for the best of Kosovo. I have vowed to work for the best of the people of Kosovo. I have vowed to work for the best of my nation! I will do better if I have good people to cooperate with and people who support me, and this is what I have found in you, Mr. President.

Kosovo is entering another phase. It has kicked off talks with Serbia. These talks are very important for the political future of Kosovo. Kosovo cannot have more than 60-65% of its borders closed. Kosovo cannot be suffering from criminal gangs operating in its territory. This is why Kosovo needs talks. Kosovo needs to speak with its neighbour, because Kosovo is the one that has suffered the biggest loss. Serbs have taken everything away when they have left. They have taken our money and our pensions. They have destroyed and stolen our factories. Therefore, we are the ones who are holding them liable. We cannot hold others liable by violence in these times of peace,. We will hold them liable and conclude the talks successfully. We will never stop talking.

I am telling you and my fellow citizens in Kosovo that an idea challenging the talks is wrong. Talks are held when fire ceases. That we have many things to talk about is a fact. Once again I assure you Mr. President and the entire Albanian nation and the people of Kosovo that the status will never be discussed; territorial integrity of our country will never be discussed; our borders will never be discussed. Accordingly, any other issue that will be discussed will be deemed necessary and we consider that these talks will make the lives of the people of Kosovo easier. Your logistical and practical assistance to these talks is more than necessary and, believe me Mr. President, I will not stop. I will ask for you advice as to how to proceed further.

We discussed with the President of the Republic of Albania today intensification of contacts between the main representatives of our institutions and I proposed that we meet as presidents, prime ministers and parliamentarians twice per year at least. Why so? Well, we have opened the border between us eleven years ago. We have opened the border by force. The border was closed by then. Now, we will not be forgiven if we fail to overcome obstacles that lie ahead. We should provide for the free movement of people, goods and capital between us first. This is our responsibility, Mr. President and this is where we will open the doors to those states that are willing to embrace the idea and this also applies to Macedonia, where we have a large number or percentage of Albanians that belong to our nation. The same applies to Montenegro as well. I am sure that they are very much interested in the idea.

We talked about the Road, Mr. President. I arrived here today. It was a pleasure for me to notice that a trip that would take us more than ten hours before only took us less than three hours today. Yet, I am still concerned about the fact that the road has not been completed yet. There is not sufficient movement of people and goods. And this is what we will achieve. We will achieve this by creating a joint market, and a joint market can be created by starting immediately. We will undertake removing custom duties, unifying additional documentation for the goods and licensing unified goods. On the other hand, our lawmakers in Albania and Kosovo can begin drafting unified laws and setting common standards. All this will lead towards what the European Union is expecting from us. And we will not hurt anyone by doing that. We will observe all the norms, especially when it comes to other communities, and we will, hence, come closer to the European Union and to the societies that we aim to join.

I appreciate your experience and the path that you have followed in making Albania a part of the NATO. Recently, I have had intensified contacts with the NATO officials and asked that our officers and soldiers receive education in the NATO academies and that one day Kosovars, just like the Albanian army, participate in peacekeeping missions abroad. I believe that your assistance in this regard will not be missing Mr. President. We wish to be where you are now. We want to line up where you have lined up. You have the tradition and the experience, and it almost amounts to a responsibility that appertains to the Republic of Albania to lend a hand to Kosovo, whenever Kosovo might need it. The people of Kosovo would appreciate that. We remain appreciative of all that you have done for us. We have started to build our joint road. Together we will be stronger. Together we will be more knowledgeable. Thank you very much for your hospitality!