Conference of Ambassadors 2016 - Tirana Initiative launched

The Conference of Albanian Ambassadors 2016 was held on 13-15 July in the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - a three-days event in Tirana which gathers heads of diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Albania abroad.

This Conference serves as a platform for exchange of information and ideas as well as raises awareness on some important issues related to the Albanian foreign policy, regional developments and international arena.

Members of the government, representatives of civil society, academics from the Albanian and international arena were invited to share views with diplomats aiming at exchanging opinions and ideas on current developments of international relations.

The Guest of Honour of this conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Republic, Paolo Gentiloni, addressing the diplomatic corps, focused on the latest developments in the continent, importance of the strategic relations between our two countries and special attention that Italy pays to the region. Dwelling on the judicial reform, Minister Gentiloni underscored that its approval is considered of special importance from the European countries and Italy and highlighted the importance to adopt it by consensus of all political parties.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati in his speech dwelt on MFA activities in the recent years as well as the developments, fundamental principles and objectives of the Albanian foreign policy.

In addition, Minister Bushati addressed issues of improvement of foreign service infrastructure, high technology and human resources. Dwelling on the wide scope of services which MFA offers to the Albanian citizens, he highlighted that: “investing in the high technology, respectively digitalization of consular services and creation of supportive applications such as the consular App which will be launched in the upcoming autumn, constitute the best response to abuses and apathy”.

Minister Bushati also dwelt on the improvement of legal framework in the foreign service underlining that “the new legal package has started to address the very challenges the foreign service staff are facing:

-to bring to an end the overthrown pyramid system of diplomatic ranks;   

-to re-establish professionalism at the centre of human resources policies;

-to establish merit based values at the fundament of the foreign service through competitive entrance procedures and other tests of promotion to higher ranks.

- to offer the Ambassador’s position to the talented people putting an end to partisan quotas’ practice”.

In the margins of this Conference, the Tirana Initiative was launched as an instrument to support the monitoring of Berlin Process in view of the European integration of the country. Tirana Initiative announced today as a follow-up of the three summits Berlin-Vienna-Paris and in the preparation of the upcoming summit in Rome would serve as a platform:

-  to monitor the progress of Berlin Process as catalyst of the integration process;

-  to enrich the agenda of regional cooperation including security and rule of law issues;

-  to facilitate coordination with civil society, business community and academic staff as well

- to transform the current interdependence of the Adriatic Europe with the EU into a process where democratization is successfully concluded and in which the EU can capitalize its long-term investment”.

In conclusion of the first day proceedings, Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro presented a photo exhibition of Roland Tasho featuring the images of Albanians living out of the country. In this exhibition, Tasho displays 25 photos of Albanian people living abroad and six others of the foreign personalities wearing Albanian traditional costumes.

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During the second day of the Conference of Ambassadors, heads of Albanian diplomatic missions in the world attended three thematic panels, which aimed at addressing key aspects of the Albanian foreign policy.

The first panel, which focused on the integration perspective of the Western Balkans, had as keynote speakers Klajda Gjosha, Minister of European Integration, Ana Palacio, Member of the Council of State of Spain, Arta Dade, Head of Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy, Majlinda Bregu, Head of Parliamentary Committee for European Integration and National Council on European Integration and Goran Svilanovic, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council. Panelists dwelt on the EU internal dynamics and the advancement of the EU integration process, as the ultimate goal of Albanian citizens.

The second panel, entitled "Filling the gaps of our security architecture" had as panelists Enver Hoxhaj, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, Mimi Kodheli, Minister of Defense, Damian Gjiknuri, Minister of Energy and Industry, Ernst Reichel, Germany`s Special Envoy for South East Europe, Turkey and EFTA countries and Sandër Leshi, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Security Issues. They put the emphasis on challenges facing Albania and the region in the framework of a complex, multifaceted and interdependent international climate, as well as Albania`s capacities in terms of enhancing security in the context of trans-Atlantic structures. Minister Hoxhaj highlighted the latest developments in the region and the importance of further boosting and intensifying cooperation in view of the Strategic Partnership between our two countries. Energy security and its increasing influential role in the continent`s security architecture was the main topic of this panel.

The third panel of the conference, "The resurgence of third actors in Southeast Europe” had as keynote speakers Selim Belortaja, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, François Heisbourg, Chair of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs` Council, John Rendon, CEO, Rendon Group and Sinan Ülgen, Executive Chairman, Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM). Interlocutors focused on the increasing dimension of regional bilateral and multilateral cooperation, as well as the growing interest of both traditional and non-traditional actors from outside the region.

During the second day proceedings of the Conference of Ambassadors, heads of Albanian diplomatic missions in the world were welcomed at a special meeting by Prime Minister Edi Rama and Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta. In his remarks, PM Rama commended the work of Albanian diplomacy carried out in the last 24 months, as well as developments, fundamental principles and objectives of the Albanian foreign policy, relations with neighbors and the contribution that diplomacy can provide to the country`s progress.​

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During the final day of the Conference of Ambassadors, Heads of Albanian Diplomatic Missions in the world attended two thematic panels, which addressed topics related to development and promotion of the country.

The first panel on "prioritizing development in our region: economic growth, governance and human rights", had as panelists Blendi Klosi, Minister of Social Welfare and Youth, Cihan Sultanoglu, un assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Odeta Barbullushi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for the Western Balkans.

Panelists held discussions on freedoms and human rights, development and economic growth. An important topic addressed during this panel was the UN Sustainable Development goals, which aim at fighting inequality and promote the welfare of citizens. In accordance to the national development strategy, Albania is committed to respecting human rights, strengthening women`s role in society and providing a realistic perspective for young people and their future.

The second panel, entitled "Beyond Classic Diplomacy", had as keynote speakers Mirela Kumbaro, Minister of Culture and Adrian Paci, Albanian Artist of world contemporary art. It focused on the commitment to promote a positive image of the country and role of cultural diplomacy as an indispensable tool to ensure the promotion of cultural life at international level, by means of traditional, public and digital diplomacy.

During the last part of the conference, talks dwelt on consular services and the reform undertaken in this regard, with a view to reposition the ministry of foreign affairs as an institution that provides transparent and low cost services for Albanian citizens around the world. Panelists highlighted recent improvements in the legal framework, streamlining of practices, modernization of infrastructure and their impact on the growth, speed and quality of consular services.

By the end of the conference, Heads of Albanian Diplomatic Missions in the world held a meeting with the business community, entitled "promoting 'Made in Albania' in the world", attended by Minister of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship Milva Ekonomi. This meeting underlined the importance of increasing the export of Albanian products, potential that Albania offers to foreign investors and comparative advantages with regard to other regional countries.

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