Friday, November 18, 2016

Albania Capital Hosts First-Ever Diaspora Summit

Around 800 representatives of the Albanian diaspora from all around the world are gathering for the first-ever such summit in Tirana, aimed at harnessing the energies of dynamic emigre communities.
Fatjona Mejdini
Tirana city center. Photo: BIRN/Ivana Dervishi

Albania's capital Tirana on Friday hosts the first-ever Diaspora Summit, that will gather 800 participants from 40 countries worldwide.

Albanians from the old and newer waves of migration have been invited to the three-day summit that will emphasize the country's need to better utilize its huge diaspora concentrated in Europe and the United States.

The government has already opened a website to store the main information and working documents of the summit.

For the first time, Albania has pledged to create concrete structures and allocate a budget to channel the diaspora's contribution to the country's economy, tourism and general development.

The draft project of the diaspora - that is expected to be approved at the summit - emphasizes the creation of a cross-institutional directing group that will attend to diaspora issues.

Consultative councils of Albanian communities abroad will also be created accompanied by a fund for their operations.

In a video message directed to diaspora representatives, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama called the event truly historic.

"We are going to gather for the first time at this level to discuss openly and seriously to identify the best ways and mechanisms in order to open a new page in this relationship that has been missing until now ... We have to make the diaspora part of our country's mainstream political and social life," he said.

Rama said the summit will also serve to advance and give a help to the neighbouring state of Kosovo.

"Is important to advance the national cause and interests in helping Albania reconnect with the world and for Kosovo to find a place among the free and independent nations of the world," he stated.

Friday's gala ceremony will gather all the participants, mainly activists for Albanian causes in countries where they live and work.

Saturday's session will be dedicated to the economic aspects of Albania's collaboration with the diaspora and how the latter can contribute to the country's economy.

During the discussion, decision-makers and distinguished members of the Albanian emigre community are expected to identify possible investments. Tourism will be an important topic of discussion.

On Sunday, the focus will be on spreading the country's cultural footprint and on saving the Albanian language in the various communities where representatives of the diaspora now live.

Talks of the creation of a common register of abilities among Albanians living in different countries will also be held on Sunday.

During the summit, the participants will also be invited to the inauguration of a bunker in the centre of Tirana, a site for the collective remembrance of the communist past.

A tour of cultural monuments and artistic events will also be reserved for the participants alongside various thematic field trips.

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