Ambassador Belortaja Appreciates Participation of Albania’s PM in China-CEEC Summit

The Albanian side has shown due appreciation to the Summit of the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and Prime Minister Edi Rama personally welcomed the invitation to attend the video conference which was addressed by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping in Beijing on February 9, 2021.
This was declared by the Ambassador of Albania to China, Selim Belortaja in a written interview with CMG Shqip published on Saturday.
In his key speech in the Summit President Xi stressed that China-CEEC cooperation has formed the principle of cooperation in accordance with its characteristics and acceptable by all parties, which means cooperation based on consultations, mutual benefits, joint comprehensive development and continuous growth through innovation.
During the interview Ambassador Belortaja noted that the fact that the Summit was personally chaired by the Chinese President reflects both aspects: the appreciation that China and President Xi personally have towards the China-CEEC Initiative, but also the need that this initiative has to get a new energy and momentum after 9 years of its functioning. Whatever the main motive, the chairing of the Summit by President Xi Jinping was in itself one more impetus for the seriousness of the preparation and participation of CEE countries at the highest levels. “He (Ambassador Belortaja) is pleased that the Albanian side showed due appreciation and Prime Minister Edi Rama personally honored the invitation to the Summit,” CMG quoted the interview.
Regarding the part on bilateral relations, Mr. Belortaja said that their normality and stability in all aspects should be first highlighted. The political and diplomatic dialogue between the two countries works without problems and this makes possible that even in cases of disagreement on any certain issue the parties clarify their positions overcoming any possible deadlocks.
"While in the field of trade and economy - which from our point of view is the main interest of bilateral or multilateral cooperation I share the thought of my Premier that although this potential exists and is considerable it still remains untapped,” said Ambassador Belortaja. “It is true that China is always among the top five trading partners of Albania, but the flow of exchanges is one-sided in the ratio 1: 5 in favor of Chinese exports. Of course, the Albanian offer and the competitiveness of our products with standards play a key role here, but it is equally important that the Chinese market be less restrictive and accessible. Even in the field of Chinese investments in Albania, the reality is still far from our expectations."
Speaking about the principle of cooperation with consultations and mutual benefits, which is referred to in the speech of President Xi, Ambassador Belortaja said: “We were pleased that President Xi unveiled personally these directions as some of the fundamental principles of the bilateral and multilateral relations between China and our countries, including Albania. We consider these principles quite appropriate. In order to maintain this practical spirit, now all our attention must be focused not on their repetition, but on their implementation in reality and on tangible and measurable results.”
According to the representative of the Albanian diplomacy in China, the chairmanship of the Summit by President Xi also shows the serious expectations that China itself has towards the real results of the 17 + 1 platform, which still remain a challenge to be achieved. "In its establishment 9 years ago, the Initiative was presented as a complementary mechanism to the traditional relations, that is as an additional opportunity for projects and flows along the usual course of the bilateral exchanges of the past decades. Beyond the well-known and encouraging achievements reported in this Summit, to my knowledge this point is the main remark that not  only we have. The differential reporting of the multilateral results of 17 + 1 and the establishment of special support mechanisms for reaping those results would make clearer the performance of this additional platform and would further increase confidence in it," Ambassador Selim Belortaja noted.
In his speech, President Xi proposed to insist on concrete cooperation and increase of mutual benefits. In the next five years, China plans to import goods worth over $ 170 billion worth and double the imports of agricultural goods from Central and Eastern European countries, including Albania. With regard to this, Belortaja spoke about the progress of the work done by China and Albania in this area. He said that Albania also fully finds appropriate the message of President Xi on real, concrete cooperation with measurable and concrete mutual benefits.
"The signing of a great number of protocols, agreements and MoUs also shows that there is a lot of expectation, enthusiasm and confidence in the cooperation of CEE countries with China, both in the bilateral plan and in the framework of 17 + 1. This is a good basis on which we must build up all our work to implement the spirit of these documents and to reap as many concrete results that go directly to the benefit of our citizens and businesses," said Belortaja.
The Ambassador noted that the declared goal of doubling agricultural imports from CEE countries towards the Chinese market is indeed very encouraging and expressed confidence that this objective would materialize in the gradual opening of restrictions and still very strict requirements towards their agricultural products and foodstuffs to enter China.
Exactly a few days before the summit, the General Administration of Customs of China and the Albanian Ministry of Agriculture signed two protocols on inspection and quarantine sanitary conditions for the export of honey and dairy from Albania to China. Ambassador Belortaja said that he himself published this news with pleasure and enthusiasm on the social network "Wechat", believing that this step would pave the way for the real entry of Albanian dairy products and honey in China.
"The Albanian government appreciates this signing by China, considering that this measure could have been taken long ago. This has greatly encouraged the Albanian honey and dairy producers, who are calling us and asking about the details of the implementation of the Protocols," he said. However, Mr. Belortaja added that, following the study of documents and the knowledge he has thanks to his experience, it still will take a lot of work, a lot of effort and investment until these products so valued by the Chinese consumer appear concretely on the shelves and shop windows of Chinese stores. He expressed the hope that the goodwill shown in the signing phase, just three days before the Summit, will be testified in the phases of concrete entry of physical contingents.
At the end of the interview, the Ambassador spoke about a tripartite project included in the framework of the 17 + 1 cooperation for the construction of a hydropower plant on the Shale River by the Chinese energy infrastructure company CGGC, the Irish company "3Power" and its branch in Albania. He said that although at the moment he is not aware that the HPP project on the Shale River in Northern Albania has a three-party format, whatever the technical nature of the participation of the Chinese company CGGC in this project - whether independent or even as a subcontractor of the Irish company "3Power", the participation of such a serious and competent Chinese company is very good news.

"And without a doubt, the successful realization of this project will make that in our future reports we can declare this achievement as a real success of our cooperation," noted the Ambassador of Albania to China, Selim Belortaja.  /CRI- argumentum.al