The speech of Prime Minister of Albania H. E. Mr. Edi Rama, presented to business forum “Albania Calls”, at the Austrian Chamber of Economy on 12 May, 2014

In Albania, those who come will be made welcome

Honorable attendees,

I feel deeply honored to be here before you today. It was with great satisfaction that we accepted the invitation of the Vienna Economic Forum to have a conference on Albania as I regard this as a great opportunity for our government to show that we mean business.

We were elected on the theme of renaissance, the knowledge that we had to change substantially if we were to take the place we want to, as a modern European nation.

We knew it would be hard, and it is. But we have taken the first steps, we have been encouraged by the response - not least from Chancellor Merkel when I visited Berlin recently - but also the IMF, the world Bank, other governments and institutions that see the path we are trying to tread, and want to support us.

Even this event today is a sign that change is being welcomed, and seen as real, and I am grateful to have this opportunity to set out how Albania is open for business, and how those who come will be made welcome, and made aware of the great untapped potential we have.

Since September we have taken a multitude of steps to overturn the economic slowdown.

We have signed an agreement for a new IMF program, which will provide the necessary liquidity to liquidate arrears, as well as a careful monitoring of our public finances and public spending policy.

We are currently under discussions with the World Bank, for two Development Policy Loans and an energy sector reform.

With this assistance we will eliminate the hidden debt while also starting the reform of a key sector, currently dragging the economy down.

Our government has taken an entirely new approach to the relationship between entrepreneurs and government. The authorities of Albania will no longer be the bane of businesses, they will be their partner, helping them understand the system and operate better in it, while following a very clear set of rules.

Right from the beginning we knew that in order to overturn the situation in Albania, we would need a new economic model. A model that was not based on assumed growth, but on sustainable economic growth; a model, which will rebalance the factors of our GDP.

We are looking broadly at all our opportunities: in agriculture, in manufacturing, in mining, in petroleum, in tourism, in electricity and beyond.

Our country sits in the heart of Europe and we have second youngest population of the continent, two competitive advantages we should use wisely, while setting the path to sustainable development of our country, which includes better professional training for our human capital.

On the one hand, our approach aims to solve both cross-cutting as well as sector specific problems. Among the cross-cutting issues:  we will change the sad truth of land ownership, making sure that at least 70% of landowners have full titles to their land by the end of this mandate, in 2017.

There will be a deep fiscal reform in Albania, to ensure that the word corruption is no longer associated with tax authorities, to ensure that the law is clear and fair for all, and that there is no favoritism and unfairness in the playing field.

The same will be carried out in public finances, to ensure that taxpayer’s money does to the projects that bring more economic improvements to the country.

The government will adopt a long-term model of public investment prioritization, so that the help of the government goes where needed.

On the other hand, FDI remains vital for our economy, our development and the development of our region. I would like to extend an invitation to all of you to come and see for yourself that we mean business.

On the 16th in Tirana there will be a jury to judge dozens of entries to a global PR and branding contest, where we have invited foreign and domestic firms to give their ideas on how we should seek to project Albania today.

This is not about image. It is about understanding that a country's overall brand is essential to its ability to attract tourism and investment. We have so much to offer. But we know we need to change the negative perceptions, and we will do so.

This is not an attempt at addressing a pressing concern of the present, but a major effort to change the economic future of Albania. And if we slow down or mess up somewhere, we will always be open to advice. 

Renting out state property for 1 Euro a year today it was a policy proposed by the sector itself that our government is implementing today.

In February finally for the first time in Albanian history we established the National Economic Council, where entrepreneurs, government and international partners discuss economic policies, development issues and reforms in Albania.

This council is at the first step functioning as and advisory body and a straight-forward connection between the government and the enterprises, that are encouraged to use this platform to express their concerns, their views on legislation, as well as their complaints on unfair practices and corruption.

Very soon, with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Albanian Government will establish the Investment Council, an entity that will provide an institutionalized and sustainable platform of collaboration with the investors in our country and the region.

The Albanian government is committed to collaborate closely with regional partners.

We realize that though we might have geographical and economic advantages in production, we can be regarded as a small market.

For this reason an important part of our new projects will be regional ones, integrated in the larger economy of a Balkans region that is finally, for the first time in hundred years, free of conflict.

Our region is experiencing a peace that I believe we altogether, politicians, investors, governmental and social actors, in collaboration with our citizens, should make, a peace worth living.

Because Balkans need a strong Europe and Europe need the Balkans.

In Albania we are about 3 million customers, together with other Balkan countries we reach 60 million, a market that should not be neglected.

I would urge you to test our resolve and come do business in Albania.

Austrian investments in Albania range in a great many sectors, many of whom of a strategic importance to the country.

Of course, yours is the largest bank in Albania, but there are also many other Austrian investments that have not only managed to be successful in Albania, but which at the same time have raised the bar for the sectors where they operate.

This is why when it came to organizing an investment conference here in Vienna, it made perfect sense, for the Austrian and German businesses gathered here today, have what we look for in investors, solid standards and know-how in a great variety of sectors.

It is true, as many of you know first hand, that when we came to govern Albania back in September, the situation was not rosy.

Unfortunately Albanians were left with a very hard situation to deal with, in many sectors. Part of it was the mismanagement of the previous government.

Another very important factor was the failure in implementing structural reforms, but also the renovated legislation. Obviously this was associated with wrong open market policies and the disability to grasp the opportunities of a globalized world.

Albania’s economic potential has never been fully deployed, and this is precisely why one of our very first steps across sectors, and now across borders, in a European style, is to remove barriers and free the factors of growth.

This is a quite peculiar moment for our country, a moment when we start turning things around, when we fully employ our economic potential, when we really free up our markets to investors.

Nevertheless, we are committed to implement reforms and enlarge as well as deepen collaboration in the that path takes us to Europe, contributing to much greater European markets and pathways to new and secure markets for Europe and definitely to a better working economic, strategic and political Europe.

Because the Balkans need a strong Europe and Europe needs the Balkans.

This is a challenge that we are raising to as a peoples, removing past hurdles, and creating new ways and means to create the European Albania in Albania first.

I am not naive. I am a proud Albanian but I know that if we were to test our brand and reputation against other countries which start with A and end with A - Austria, Australia, America - we would struggle.

But at least I know the issues that give us this problem - organised crime, corruption, our  political past. In being open about these issues, we can take the measures needed to deal with them. As we are, and again I have been pleased with the response of the outside world.

My vision for Albania is nothing less than for us to be and to be seen as a modern European nation that builds on the best of our past, and learns from the worst. I come to a place like this, and though it feels different, though I will see better roads, a more advanced infrastructure, less poverty, it also feels the same.

Bright people who want the best for themselves and their families. People who know the world is changing fast and we have to change with it. People who know that in this ever more globalised world, we must look outward not inward, work together not work against each other, be partners in the pursuit of peace and prosperity.

I have been clear with the Albanian people that we cannot have a strong society without a strong economy; and we cannot have a strong economy without a strong society; and we cannot have either unless we attract financial and political support from outside our borders.

Sometimes people may look at their leaders and say why are they always travelling, why do they spend so much time focusing on abroad when all our problems are at home.

But abroad is a big part of the solution to the problems at home, and I will travel wherever it takes to build the support we need, attract the investment we need, explain the changes we are making to take down the barriers that have deterred people from coming to us in the past.

So thank you for your time and patience and lets hope to meet also in Albania, because those who come will be made welcome. 

Postal Address

Embasy of Albania
Prinz Eugen Str. 18/1/5
A-1040 Wien

Tel / Fax

Tel. +43 1 328 8656
Fax. +43 1 328 8658



Monday to Friday
09:00 - 17:00