Willkommen auf den Seiten des Auswärtigen Amts
Dear Minister Denaj,
Minister, Vice-Ministers and Members of Parliament,
Dear Ms. Sieg,
Dear Mister Mankollari,
Dear members of the DIHA-Board,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank DIHA very much for organizing this annual reception. It is my pleasure to address a few words to you on behalf of the German Government. I am very pleased that so many members of the Albanian government and parliament join us tonight. I thank you for this sign of appreciation for the German-Albanian relations.
DIHA’s annual reception is always a welcome occasion also to look back to the previous year. 2018 we celebrated two important anniversaries for German-Albanian relations: 30 years of German-Albanian development cooperation as well as 10 years of DIHA in Albania.
Undoubtedly, the past 30 years of development cooperation are a clear success story: As one of Albania’s closest partners and largest bilateral donor Germany has significantly contributed to Albania’s economic and social development. With our support, infrastructure in various domains has improved, tourism and agriculture have further developed and numerous jobs have been created.
On the other hand, fostering German – Albanian business relations, opening doors for German companies and convincing potential new investors to come to Albania – the core tasks of DIHA - have proven more difficult than expected. In spite of increased political attention overall trade and investment between Germany and Albania, to my regret, remains comparatively low.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Robust economic growth continued in 2018. More and more tourists, including from Germany, discovered the beauty of Albania. Moreover, we all know that Albania has additional untapped potential in many areas, in particular in tourism, renewable energy, modern agriculture or services. Already we are seeing increased German business interest in Albania. I am sure that this interest will increase and materialize even more as Albania is getting ready for the next phase of European integration, that is, the opening of membership talks.
However, any potential investor will ultimately take his/her decision to invest only if he be sure of a conducive business environment. Therefore, foreign investors want to hear about success stories from companies already active in the market. Legal certainty, transparency and a functioning and efficient, non-corrupt administration is what investors are first and foremost looking for.
Unfortunately, too often German and other foreign investors with experience in the Albanian market have lately voiced serious doubts or even growing concern as to such a fair and sound playing field in Albania. In 2018, we even saw major German investors getting ready to leave the Albanian market. I would, therefore, like to encourage all those involved to take these concerns very seriously and to reinvigorate the enthusiasm, which was generated here in Tirana in May 2015 by Chancellor Angela Merkel at the opening of the German-Albanian business conference.
So, how to go ahead? What are the important parameters for Investors?
In my view, first, it is very important that the vetting process of the judiciary, which is a great success story so far, will continue with the support of all actors. German investors have explicitly expressed their praise to me as the justice reform will strengthen confidence in the rule of law and can significantly contribute to the increased attractiveness of Albania as a business location.
A second important element is, undoubtedly, an improved transparency and information policy, especially in connection with tenders for public contracts. In addition, unresolved questions of landownership are an obstacle also for foreign investors who have to be sure that land titles are valid and uncontested. Given the complex situation in Albania, an inclusive process where every possible land owner is heard and given the opportunity to pursuit his rights, is needed. I am convinced that the Albanian government and parliament should take great care in designing a reform that is duly consulted with all actors concerned in order to avoid the risk of creating even more problems and insecurity in the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Albania is, no doubt, part of Europe. It is, therefore, both in the Albanian and the German as well as European interests that Albania continues steadfastly its course towards the European Union. Germany, I can assure you, will continue to support Albania on its accession path also in the future. Towards this aim, much has been achieved already while a lot still remains to be done, including in meeting EU standards on business and economic conditions. With a view to a decision to open accession talks with the EU it is now high time for Albania to convince all partners of its resolve and seriousness to take the next decisive steps on its reform path. These reforms are a necessary basis for stronger economic growth and more investment.
Coming to a close, I would like to thank the fantastic team of DIHA for their continuous endeavour to bring more German investors to Albania. As German Embassy, we are ready to join efforts in order to see more success stories,to increase trade and investment and to strengthen even further the ties between our two countries. Here, we would like to count on the full support of the Albanian government and the continuation of our very good cooperation.
I do not want to end before thanking the DIHA president, Stefanie Sieg, the managing director, Bledar Mankollari, and the entire DIHA team for their very committed support to the German-Albanian business community and for the excellent cooperation with our Embassy also during the last year.