President Van der Bellen Visited his Albanian Counterpart in Tirana

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: March 27, 2023; 23:13 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen started his official Western Balkans visits on Sunday. The first country he visited was Albania, where he met with his counterpart Bajram Begaj. They discussed the ongoing reforms in Albania and Austria supporting those reforms.

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen (l) Visited Albania and his Albanian Counterpart Bajram Begaj (r) / Picture: © Österreichische Präsidentschaftskanzlei / Carina Karlovits und Laura Heinschink/HBF

During a visit to Tirana, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen called on Albania to continue reforms in the areas of fundamental rights, the rule of law, and the judiciary. "We would like to motivate and encourage Albania to continue the necessary reforms with commitment, especially in these areas, and to show visible results to make rapid progress on the EU integration path," said President Van der Bellen during a meeting with his Albanian counterpart Bajram Begaj.

Van der Bellen had also warned at the beginning of a trip to the Western Balkans of a geopolitical vacuum in the region if progress in EU rapprochement failed to materialize. "The EU states should not afford to let a vacuum develop here," Van der Bellen said after he arrived in Albania, according to ORF.

The Albanian President thanked Alexander Van der Bellen for Austria's support in the accession process and reaffirmed "Albania's determination to proceed rapidly with the necessary reforms." In doing so, he expressed confidence that his country was "on the right track." President Van der Bellen also praised the progress of the so-called EU screening process as far as "very good" and assured Albania of Austria's continued support in the EU accession process. He said it was time to accelerate the pace of the EU rapprochement process. Although no date could be given for Albania's accession to the EU, "it will hopefully not take longer than it did between Austria and the EU at the time," said the Federal President, who was highly optimistic. The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine was also a topic of discussion. The President welcomed the fact that "Albania is fully on the side of Ukraine".

According to ORF, in addition to geopolitical interests, Austrian economic interests are the focus of the Federal President's trip. Justice Minister Alma Zadic and a business delegation with representatives of around 30 domestic companies are accompanying Van der Bellen on his visit. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg had to cancel his participation at short notice due to illness. After the visit to Albania, the delegation will continue to North Macedonia on Tuesday. According to his statement, the Federal President wants to be a "door opener" for domestic entrepreneurs in the two EU candidate countries.


Federal Presidency