The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Philip Hammond paid an official visit to Tirana on 18 November 2015, the first of this level since 1999. He held talks with the Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati, before visiting Prime Minister Edi Rama and Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri at the Prime Minister’s Office. Ministers Hammond and Bushati held a press point following their meeting. Discussions focused on a range of issues such as EU accession, regional and foreign policy and the role of Albania as a NATO ally. The Foreign Secretary’s visit was related to Albania’s important role in the overall regional dynamics.
Mr. Hammond underlined UK’s support to Albania’s commitment to EU accession, emphasising that justice reform is critical in this aspect. “I am delighted that the government has shown such determinations in starting reforms – often difficult reforms but that nonetheless are critical to Albania’s accession process. The most important part of this reform package is justice reform. We look forward to this programme producing a strong track record of successful high-level prosecutions in the fight against organised crime and corruption. Organised crime and corruption undermine the economy, they sap the potential for growth, they halt a country’s social and economic development and tackling them head on is the way to deliver a better life and a better future to all Albanians” Hammond said.
He further commended the government’s efforts for playing a positive role in the region, particularly Prime Minister’s efforts to boost relations with Serbia. “We are particularly grateful for Albania’s efforts to support the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, which we see as essential to stability and prosperity in the region in the future”, Mr Hammond said.
The Foreign Secretary thanked the Albanian Prime Minister and Minister of Interior for the strong cooperation in tacking international organised crime, which confirms the government’s determination to starting reforms critical to the country’s EU integration process.