Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles visited Albania on 20 April to strengthen the deepening bilateral relationship, which is based on multilateral cooperation and people-to-people links.
“My visit was timely — the first by a member of an Australian Government to Albania — and builds on increased engagement by our foreign ministers over recent years,” said Mr Marles.
Mr Marles met senior members of the Albanian Government including Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Foreign Minister Edmond Haxhinasto and Deputy Defence Minister Arjan Starova.
Discussions covered Australia and Albania’s growing collaboration in multilateral fora, including the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), and an exchange of views on the future of Kosovo and the Balkans. Mr Marles also congratulated Albania on its forthcoming chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
During his meeting with Foreign Minister Haxhainasto, Mr Marles discussed plans for the Minister to visit Australia.
As a member of NATO, Albania punches above its weight as a contributor of troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
“My meeting with Deputy Defence Minister Starova allowed a review of our respective efforts in Afghanistan and enabled me to thank Albania for its contribution to the rebuilding efforts in that country,” he said.
Mr Marles also met with the Speaker of Parliament, Josefina Topalli, and the Mayor of Tirana, Lulzim Basha. He took the opportunity to highlight the valuable contribution of the 11,000-strong Albanian community to Australia’s multicultural society and the strong foundation it provides the relationship.
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