During a visit to Tirana by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Friday, Hungary and Albania signed cooperation agreements on water management and the European integration process. The prime minister’s delegation also included Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and Economic Development Minister Márton Nagy.
After meeting Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, PM Orbán expressed Hungary’s support for the idea that by 2030, EU cohesion funds should proportionally be at the level of the funding received by older member states. Hungary’s government has also welcomed the proposal that a country should not necessarily have to be an EU member in order to join the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone, he added. Meanwhile, PM Orbán said major results in bilateral economic cooperation had been achieved in recent years, and he and Rama agreed to continue this work in the coming years. Hungary and Albania are also bound by their “shared history of suffering”, PM Orbán said, noting that both countries had been under communist rule for 40 years. PM Orbán said he was happy to hear Rama express confidence in Hungarian investors, adding that he had asked Albanian investors to come to Hungary, too. Rama praised PM Orbán for his belief in Albania, saying that bilateral cooperation had taken “a new turn” since their last meeting in Budapest. He welcomed the steps taken by Budapest in support of Tirana’s integration, such as sharing its experiences in EU accession and its role in the establishment of a fund to support the integration of the Western Balkans. He called bilateral ties “excellent”, noting Hungarian President Katalin Novák’s recent visit to Tirana. Rama highlighted the presence of Hungarian businesses in Albania’s telecommunications and banking sectors, noting the activities of IT company 4iG and OTP Bank. He added that there were new opportunities in energy and tourism, highlighting the latter industry as a bridge between the two countries. PM Orbán said that though Hungary was landlocked, its tourism sector accounted for more than 11% of GDP.