A bust of 15th century Albanian national hero Skanderbeg was inaugurated in Budapest’s City Park in a ceremony attended by Albanian President Ilir Meta and his host, President János Áder on Monday, reported Hungarian media. The bust gifted by Tirana to Budapest was inaugurated by the mayors of the two cities, Erion Veliaj and Gergely Karácsony, near the Vajdahunyad Castle.
Addressing the ceremony, Albanian President Ilir Meta called the inauguration of the 15th century commander’s statue “in the heart of Budapest and Europe” a “historic moment”.
“No historical figure is a greater embodiment of the friendship between our two peoples,” Meta said. The president thanked Hungary for its support of Albania’s aspirations to join the European Union and for its assistance following the 2019 earthquake and during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meta said he was convinced that Hungary and Albania would continue to strengthen their friendship in the future.
In his speech, Karácsony thanked Tirana for the statue, saying that it represented the strong relationship between the two capitals. Karácsony highlighted water management as a key area of cooperation between Budapest and Tirana, saying Budapest was proud of the developments borne out of the partnership between the two cities’ public water works. The mayor expressed hope that Albania would soon be able to strengthen its alliance with Hungary as a member of the EU.
Arian Spasse, Albania’s ambassador to Hungary, said the bust symbolized the century -long friendship between Albania and Hungary. “Skanderbeg is a hero to every European citizen who believes in freedom,” he said.
The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Hungarian President Janos Ader. Skanderbeg, also known as George Castriot, formed an alliance with Hungarian strategist and politician János Hunyadi in the 15th century to resist the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of the Balkans.
In the meantime President János Áder said after a meeting with his Albanian counterpart, Ilir Meta that Hungary continues to support Albania’s accession to the European Union, as it sees the integration of the Western Balkans as crucial for the security of the Union.
Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting on Monday, Áder said the two countries “have gone through the same crisis” in the past 18 months. By now, coronavirus-related restrictions have been lifted in both countries and “life has returned to normal, giving us the opportunity to talk about the future as well as potential economic cooperation,” he said.
Potential areas of cooperation are in defense development, energy supplies and water management, he said. Hungary has already launched a comprehensive reform of its defense capabilities, an endeavor which Albania has also embarked on, offering further opportunities for cooperation, Áder said. Climate change also affects both countries, Áder said. Albania, which originally built its energy production on hydro energy, is looking for alternatives, as rivers are becoming unreliable sources of energy in the region, he noted. Hungary and Albania are planning to build a 10MW solar plant there, he said.
Meta thanked Hungary for its support of Albania’s EU integration efforts, and called Hungary an important partner of the Western Balkans. Hungary and Albania will celebrate the centenary of diplomatic ties next year, he noted. /argumentum.al