Remarks by Ambassador Schütz at the New Year’s Reception of the German Embassy and DIHA, 19.01.2017Bild vergrößern Ambassador Susanne Schütz (© Deutsche Botschaft)
I am delighted to welcome you all tonight on behalf of the German Embassy as well as the German-Albanian Business association, DIHA. Nearly three weeks into the New Year it is still not too late to wish you all a very successful and prosperous Year 2017.
We are particularly honored to welcome among us Minister Ahmetaj as well as other members of Government and Parliament. Your presence indicates the importance, which the political as well as economic relationship between Germany and Albania have gained over recent years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
2016 was a very successful year for Albania, marked by a number of significant developments. As far as the economy is concerned growth figures of 3,5 -3,7% for 2016/2017 show that Albania is on the right track. As latest foreign trade figures show our bilateral trade volume grew last year by almost 52 % to some 460 Mio Euros - making Germany – thanks mainly to investments for TAP – now the second largest Albanian trading partner after Italy.
In spite of these very welcome figures, I believe that our bilateral trade is still below its real potential. Jointly with our Albanian partners, we, therefore, encourage German companies to look into Albania’s huge investment possibilities, and we are satisfied that one company intends to start production in Albania already in autumn of this year. At the same time, we welcome very much that, also thanks to a significant increase in media attention for Albania as a “hidden jewel” on the Adriatic-Ionian sea, tourism from Germany increased significantly. Not surprisingly, Albania for the first time ever is the Partner Country at the world's largest public trade fair for tourism and leisure – CMT - in Stuttgart.
2017 will be an important year all over Europe. Both in Albania and in Germany there will be presidential and parliamentary elections. While these elections will to a large extent dominate the political life, the Albanian elections will, at the same time, be a perfect chance for the country to present itself as a responsible and maturing democracy as well as a reliable partner and an attractive location for foreign investors. I am convinced that this is a chance not to be missed! Albania has a lot to offer and a lot to be discovered!
A positive image - to which the interest in Albania’s attractive tourism destinations is adding very favorably - is, of course, not automatic and needs to be accompanied by a positive business climate. Therefore, a speedy implementation of the justice reform will, no doubt, be a decisive factor also in strengthening the rule of law as well as fighting corruption – factors which will have a hugely positive effect also on a favorable business climate in Albania. We welcome very much that the current government has already done a lot to improve the framework conditions for foreign investments and encourage it to proceed further along these lines.
I would like to assure you that Germany together with its partners in the EU have a great interest in a speedy integration of Albania into the European Union, which, in spite of current insecurities, I am convinced, will remain the most important peace project after the Second World War, also with a view to the countries on the Western Balkans. We, therefore, hope that progress in all five EU key priorities will be possible also in this election year.
Germany strongly support Albania’s developments towards a prosperous democracy, for example by economic cooperation programmes, as support to Small and Medium Enterprises, approximation to EU standards as well as support to Vocational Educational Training for young people.
Coming to a close, I would like to thank the DIHA board as well as all DIHA members and the entire DIHA staff for their continuous support to the German-Albanian business community and an excellent cooperation with our Embassy. Also, I would like to thank the Albanian government for their excellent cooperation and determination to develop a conducive economic and business climate for German businesses and investors.