July 12, 2019 — Tirana, Albania
A delegation of American Jewish Committee (AJC) leaders from across the United States has just concluded a three-day visit to Tirana, Albania’s capital.
The 15-person delegation, led by AJC CEO David Harris, who wrote his master’s degree thesis on Albania during the Cold War, met with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, President Ilir Meta, and Chairman of the Parliament Gramoz Ruçi, among other leaders.
“Albania, a nation which was the only Nazi-occupied country to end the war with a larger Jewish population than at the beginning, thanks to the humanity of the Albanian people, will forever hold a special place in the hearts of the Jewish people,” said Harris. “A vital partner of the United States, a reliable NATO ally, the incoming Chair of the OSCE, and a candidate for a non-permanent UN Security Council seat for 2022-23, Albania has remained a stronghold of religious pluralism. The possibilities for cooperation with the United States, Israel, and the European Union are considerable and should only continue to expand.”
U.S.-Albania, Albania-Israel, and Albania-EU relations, along with a range of political, economic, and regional challenges facing Albania, were the focus of discussions with Albanian officials.
The delegation also met with the Ministers of Interior, Diaspora, and Foreign Affairs, the Opposition Leader, the Mayor of Tirana, along with the Israeli Ambassador and the U.S. Chargé d'Affaires.
AJC has developed strong ties with Albania since its transition to democracy in 1990, and, led by AJC Jerusalem Director Avital Leibovich, has paid regular working visits to Tirana. In 2016, President Meta, then Speaker of the Parliament, addressed the AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C.
Prior to visiting Tirana, the AJC delegation was in Athens, where there were meetings with newly-elected Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, members of the Greek Parliament, the U.S. and Israeli Ambassadors, and other top officials, as well as the Central Board of Jewish Communities (KIS), with which AJC has had a longstanding association agreement.