The Italian foreign minister, Luigi De Maio, went on an official visit to Albania today to express solidarity with the citizens hit by the November 26 earthquake and to strengthen the Italian government's support for Albania for entry into the European Union.
The Italian minister initially went - together with the Albanian infrastructure minister Belinda Balluku - to the Vorë tent city where he met some of the citizens (including many children) affected by the earthquake, to then hold some official meetings in Tirana with the political leaders Albanian: Prime Minister Edi Rama, President Ilir Meta and opposition leader Lulzim Basha.
The visit in the tent city
From the tent camp of Vorë, Di Maio said that, once the final earthquake damage assessment has been drawn up, the Italian government will help Albania in the reconstruction process.
"My presence here today is a testimony of the Italian government's closeness to the Albanian people after the earthquake of last month, also witnessed through the proximity of the emergency teams and the fire brigade.
Again expressing my condolences for the victims of the earthquake, I would like to stress that the Italian government is also helping Albania with its estimate of earthquake damage, based on which we will offer our help to tackle the reconstruction process. The Italian people are at the side of the Albanian people because they are united by a strong friendship."- declared Di Maio at the end of the visit to Vorë.
Di Maio a Rama: full support from Italy for European integration
Luigi Di Maio held a joint press conference with the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, in which he reiterated Italy's full support for Albania's European integration by inviting the country's political actors to dialogue in order not to compromise the negotiations with the EU:
"I reiterated Italy's full support for the European integration of Albania and Northern Macedonia. Italy insists on the need for a positive verdict for both countries, so as to plan the negotiations. All political actors must commit themselves to re-establishing a peaceful political climate so as not to compromise European integration.
[...] The EU can and will do more. I hope that the donors' earthquake conference will be held in Tirana, but the most important thing is that all member states show proximity to Albania. This tragedy represents an opportunity for European institutions to show proximity to Albania."- said Di Maio.
Meta: I expressed my gratitude
The Italian foreign minister was then received - along with the Italian ambassador in Tirana, Alberto Cutillo - by the Albanian president Ilir Meta, who expressed his personal gratitude for the immediate aid arrived from Italy after the earthquake, as confirmed by the same head of state with a post on Facebook:
"I expressed my thanks and my deep gratitude for the immediate help offered by my friend Italy in search-and-rescue operations after the November 26 earthquake that hit our country. Italian assistance in the reconstruction of the areas affected by the earthquake is welcome.”- reads the post of president Meta on Facebook.