Switzerland marks 25th birthday of Albania embassy opening

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 14, 2017 16:47
Alphorn players opening the 25th anniversary of the Swiss representation in Albania. © FDFA

Alphorn players opening the 25th anniversary of the Swiss representation in Albania. © FDFA

TIRANA, Sept. 14 – Musical performances, a photo exhibition and a documentary film were some of the events marking the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Swiss Embassy in Tirana this week.

Swiss music duo Timorosso played the Alphorn, a traditional Swiss music instrument, at an anniversary event held at the Center for Openness and Dialogue at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tirana, bringing together diplomats and government representatives from both countries.

In a photo exhibition, Albanian photographer Roland Tasho who has traced Albanian migrant communities around the world, showcased successful examples of Swiss people living in Albania as well as Albanians living in Switzerland.

‘Dealing with the Past,’ the latest Swiss-Albanian production that tells seven short stories of communist times from the perspective of seven different protagonists also made its premiere.

Film directors Switzerland’s Eric Bergkraut and Albania’s Kujtim Çashku worked with Marubi film school students to create this new mosaic of life stories and shed new light on the touchy subject of Albania’s totalitarian past.

Some 250,000 Albanians, originally from Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia, live in Switzerland, making it one of the largest migrant communities.

“Today, around 250,000 people living in Switzerland have ties to the Albanian language area. These human ties have paved the way for our bilateral relations to develop,” said Nicolas Brühl, the Assistant State Secretary of the Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs.

Switzerland is the third biggest bilateral donor in Albania. The Swiss government started to support Albania in the early 1990s by providing humanitarian aid. Since the opening of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Tirana in 1997 Switzerland is supporting Albania’s transition with a steadily growing, full-fledged programme in four different domains through with more than 20 Million CHF (€17.4 mln) per year.

In his speech, Swiss Ambassador Christoph Graf emphasized the strong ties between Switzerland and Albania and Albania’s progress during the past quarter of a century following the collapse of the communist regime.

“Albania is engaged in a dynamic reform agenda and committed to move forward. That is one reason and a good reason that Switzerland continues to support Albania on its path towards European integration,” Swiss Ambassador Graf was quoted as saying in a statement by the embassy.

Two former Swiss diplomats in Albania, Christian Schmed, Deputy Head of Mission from 1992 to 1997 and Francis Cousin, Swiss Ambassador from 2000-2002, shared their memories and experiences confirming Albania’s fast progress.

The opening group stage match at the Euro 2016 in France was special for both Albania and Switzerland with Albania’s Basel midfielder Taulant Xhaka and current Arsenal playmaker and Swiss international Granit Xhaka, becoming the first two brothers to face each other for different national sides in a European competition. The Xhaka brothers were born in Switzerland to Kosovo-Albanian parents.

In an interview for Tirana Times ahead of the June 11, 2016 match, Swiss Ambassador Graf described the encounter, Albania’s first at a European championship, as “a unique opportunity to celebrate the close relations and the friendship between Albania and Switzerland.”

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 14, 2017 16:47