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BELLA ALBANIA Quality over Quantity

STATISTICAL DATA, SURVEY, ANALYSIS, BUSINESS INTERVIEWS, DIPLOMACY, TRAVEL, ART… © Copyright FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA 2017. All rights reserved.

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JULY

2017


+355 444 15 154 www.tiranabusinesspark.com info@tiranabusinesspark.com

OUR REN T Y

O FFIC E N O W !

Tomorrow. Now


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July 2017


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Can you tell us a few things about yourself and the company? I am the General Manager of Tirana Business Park since September 2016. I hold a MBA degree in Global Business Management from Coventry University in London/ UK and a Master degree in Business Management from University of Heilbronn/ Germany.

Stephanie Sieg Splashes the Plans Ahead for Tirana Business Park By Rudina HOXHA

Ms. Stephanie Sieg is the new CEO of Tirana Business Park (TBP), the largest German real estate investment in Albania, located nearby the International Airport “Mother Theresa” in an area of 22 ha. The project includes 17 buildings, which will be constructed from the mother company Lindner Group. In an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA, she reveals that TBP’s main goal goes beyond business. “Our goal is to adapt not only to the needs of our clients and to tailor for them the perfect office up on their needs. We also want to support Albania in becoming a more important and successful country in Europe. TBP will also focus on the needs of Albania and their citizens. Therefore, we will keep in touch with the government and the municipality.” Full interview below:

July 2017

During my studies, I have gained a lot of international experience while studying in Australia, Finland, South Korea and Great Britain. The reason for this was to get a wider view and to understand other traditions and cultures as well as to see the difference in doing business. After my studies, I have started to work for the Lindner Group, which is one of the biggest construction companies in Germany. Lindner Group is a private family company since 52 years with the Headquarter in Arnstorf/ Germany. It is operating worldwide. Tirana Business Park is a private investment of Mr. Lindner and the largest German real estate investment in Albania. It is located nearby the International Airport “Mother Theresa” in an area of 22 ha. The project includes 17 buildings, which will be constructed from the mother company Lindner Group. TBP offers flexible offices, retail space, commercial areas, shops, food, storage, internal and external parking spaces and supporting services. In overall, it is a place where customers can find a tailored product up on their needs. It represents a genuine concept of urbanism, architecture, landscape, traffic, and infrastructure for a premium business activity. 5


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA BUILT TO SELL

Please can you share with us the new creative plans of Tirana Business Park for 2017? Where will TBP's growth be directed in the coming years? Our plan is to continue with the construction of our project, that our clients can have the real feeling of working in a business park. Rumen Velichkov and I have started to think and to work on our goals and strategy. We have already changed our price strategy to become more successful and competitive on the Albanian market. In addition, we recognized that we have to become more visible. Therefore, we have started to invest now in Advertisement as well as in other Marketing tools. People can see right now city lights in the Bllok Area and in the Airport as well as our video at the Ring centre screen. We also are organizing more events like Co. Morning Coffee Events in cooperation with Partners and Clients, Kid’s Day, Gala Dinner, etc. to have more traffic at our premises and to let the people understand that our location is the best environment to concentrate and work. We will have also a frequent bus line together with Epoka University, which gives our clients an easier and more comfortable way to come to TBP. We are expecting this bus within the next two months. Our main goal is to adapt not only to the needs of our clients and to tailor for them the perfect office up on their needs. We also want to support Albania in becoming a more important and successful country in Europe. TBP will also focus on the needs of Albania and their citizens. Therefore, we will keep in touch with the government and the municipality.

How are these projects influencing on Albania's economic progress and the way of doing business? First, we will tell you our strategy to give a short impression of our vision and goals of the project, which than explain how it will influence Albania’s economy. “As the first Business Park in Albania, it is 6

our motivation and goal, to ensure the sustainable business environment standards in Albania. Our new Technology, Quality and the outstanding tailored products and services, will bring a change to the market.” Our vision is to guarantee the quality of business environment and to increase the business growth in Albania. Our requirement is “Tomorrow. Now”, which stands for having the future business environment, today. “We are the best business environment location in Albania. Our products provide the standards and inspire professionally our clients. We want our clients and employees to be proud to be at Tirana Business Park. For that reason, we continue to be successful and profitable.” The mentality of Albania regarding doing business is changing now. Companies want to extent their business and need place to grow. TBP gives them the opportunity to grow and to focus on doing business with an international touch.

However, they can still have their coffee during working time. The fact that companies are now concentrating in doing business with a more international focus, they will have a need to employ people that are more educated. Universities will extend their quality and faculties. Foreign investors will become more interested in doing business in Albania. Therefore, the economy has a very good chance to grow.

What is TBP's invitation to the foreign investors? How do you see the prospect of new foreign investors in the country? TBP is presenting foreign investors a leading Quality and Innovation. We are offering the best solutions in regarding quality and innovation to our clients. As a result, we are constructing environmentally friendly solutions with German Quality Guidelines (DIN Norm). In addition, we areLorem giving them a sit amet ipsum dolor July 2017


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business environment, which they are used to have. The goal of our project is to create a network of different companies from all branches. We are supporting our clients in starting doing business and sharing our knowledge and experience. Albania has good opportunities to become an important and successful country in Europe. The location of the country, the level of labour costs and the ability of Albanians to speak many languages such as English, Italian, German and many more, are the biggest advantages of the country and are important factors for foreign investors.

What is the new concept of TBP's networking? We have changed our concept of Co Morning Coffee. We recognized that it became unexciting for the participant. Following a new concept, we are now cooperating on each event with one of our tenants or partners on different topics. Our first new Co.Morning Coffee was held by our tenant Gjiraffa with the topic “Reflection 360°” Second with T-Soft topic: Interpersonal Communication

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View from one of the Co Morning Coffee sessions.

Third with DIHA(Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammer) topic: The opportunities of the Labor Market and beyond to the young generation and to the companies in Albania. The Co.Morning Coffee in June will be with Auto You and Say Taxi about their futuristic project on eco-friendly cars

The reason of changing the Co Morning Coffee concept is to present and talk about topics, which every one of us is interested in and needs support. We want to give our clients and collaborators the opportunity to exchange their needs and discuss them.

July 2017

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA GAME CHANGERS

Green Coast Resort

Villas & Apartments The resort includes 6 different types of villas and 4 types of

The Green Coast Resort, the largest investment of Balfin Group, in the field of tourism, is under construction in Palasa, Himare over a surface of more than 20 ha.

apartments, thus offering a variety of options for the

The resort embodies the modern concept of residential buildings, tourism and property management. It aims to be one of the best resorts in the region.

Characterized by a high construction quality, advanced

A special care has been given to the services and facilities from Bar-Restaurant, Healthcare Center, SPA, Wellness Center, water park and tourist guides to the promotion of culture and history and innovative schemes on property management and return on investments.

Apartments come to you elegantly.

Green Coast is also a smart investment with fast returns through investment programs. The Green Coast Resort encompasses three projects namely the project on residence complex, on the Hotel and on the Walking Promenade which run parallel to one another.

residents.

technology, a modern architecture, combined with typical details of the area, the Elite, Individual & Twin Villas and the

Every villa and apartment offers the wonderful sea view, guarantees maximal privacy and gives the chance to enjoy the garden and the veranda for the morning coffee! Considered as a recommended world destination, this place deserves this assessment as offering a magnificent panorama of all the nature components. 9


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Management

Smart Investment

The luxurious Green Coast Resort conducts the real dimension of luxury by taking care of every detail. In every day of the year,we offer the maintenance of common facilities, 24 hour security, personalized accesses and any other service for a healthy life in the chosen community.

Besides being an unique experience and a favorite destination, the “Green Coast Luxury Resort” comes as a safe investment in years through a professional management.

Our personalized services under the name of Butler Service makes your home management easy even if you are not there. A professional staff provides with all the services for the interiors of the house, the garden, the transport and provision of information and others.

Services Services on Green Resort are varied. Within the resort, there is a supermarket, a drug store and the administration offices. The seafront promenade turns Palasa into an entertainment center with various bars and restaurants, amphitheater, playgrounds for kids, shops, green areas, beach sports facilities, and other recreational facilities. The hotel is an important part which helps the resort in functioning 12 months a year. Spanned over a 10.000 square meters surface, the 5-star hotel comprises a spa, a wellness center, winter and summer swimming pools, conference rooms, helicopter fields and sports fields. If you seek out a totally different experience, the tourist travel guides and various sports remain the most particular aspects. 10

Thanks to its professional staff and the strategic policies, the “Green Coast Luxury Resort” introduces two innovative property management schemes: Renting Program and Property Share. Both they take care of the properties daily while they put the stress on the investment returns. The value of the land and property in Palasa is always on the rise. By purchasing a property in this area you are buying yourself also an investment opportunity. Once bought, this property can be used to resell and make profit. You may also use this property to rent it using the professional service of property management companies and get yourself a great source of income and return on investment. Anyone can be the owner of any of these posh villas or apartments in the Green Coast Resort. Be it foreigners or Albanian citizens all are eligible to enjoy the luxurious lifestyle that this resort offers. Another opportunity to be a resident in one of the best resorts in the region is to buy through our Property Share program. The latter allows different potential buyers to invest in a villa or apartment at various payment rates. On the basis of the payment order, each of the buyers of the apartment has rights and obligations on it. Foreign citizens can purchase a real estate in Albania and register it immediately under their own name, company’s and/ or organization. Selling or renting a private real estate can be done with regular contract according to the Albanian law.


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HELLENIC BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OF ALBANIA The Hellenic Business Association of Albania (HBAA) was founded on 16th of October 2003, today has become a solid support for the mutual economic development and the enhancement of mutual economic, commercial, industrial, business investments, and any other educational, political, development relations, contacts and connections between Albania and Greece, in general.

The development and promotion of further cooperation between the two countries is undoubtedly the main objective of Greek and Albanian businesses in the field of marketing, trade, industry, and investment. Greece remains the largest direct investor in Albania. Through the Greek Business Association, for 14 years, investments have oriented and strengthened economic, commercial, industrial and business relationships. The Greek Business Association consists of 26 regular members, honorary members and Greek entrepreneurs operating in Albania. The main objective is to increase the activity of these businesses in Albania, foreseeing the economic development of the country, the well-being of the citizens and the factors that contribute to the optimal return of their investments, maintaining a climate of friendship and partnership not only in Albania but also in the Balkan countries. The HBAA plays an important role in

supporting and progressing the foreign businesses in Albania. Members of the HBAA are the biggest Greek businesses operating in the most important sectors of the Albanian economy like: banking, communications, energy, health constructions, etc. "We would like, through the efforts of our Association to promote dynamically the relationship of the Hellenic businesses operating in Albania, with the aim to strengthen the business environment in the country and to increase the entrepreneurial spirit, so the Albanian citizens would enjoy an increasing prosperity," says the Head of HBAA, Mr. Periklis Drougkas. “All of our actions and initiatives aim to create further economic development in the region, and simultaneously to build a culture of corporate responsibility by focusing on transparency and trust. Our competitive advantage and success factor is the quality and effectiveness of our business members. In their daily work, they respond to the challenges with unique professionalism," Drougkas concluded.


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA CONTENTS

CONTENTS SIEG SPLASHES 4 STEPHANIE THE PLANS AHEAD FOR TIRANA BUSINESS PARK

9 GREEN COAST RESORT TARGET YEAR-ROUND 16 WE TOURISM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, EVEN IN RURAL AREAS

AND PUBLIC 20 ELECTIONS INVESTMENTS IN ALBANIA EDUARD ZALOSHNJA

BIRTHDAY TO MANETCI! 24 HAPPY LANDMARK CONSTRUCTION COMPANY CELEBRATES 15TH ANNIVERSARY BY RUDINA HOXHA

MEMO, CEO: 27 ARBEN MANE TCI’S SUCCESS RECIPE: CHANGE CONTINUOUSLY

30 BUSINESS UPDATE QUALITATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR ALL 34 HIGHLY AREAS OF HR MANAGEMENT 35 CONTINUOUS EDUCATION IN ALBANIA TURNS 10 IN 38 LUFTHANSA ALBANIA, PROUD OF WHAT IT 41 42 46 FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA FBA PUBLISHING © KUMI PRINT Editor in Chief: Rudina Hoxha Lead Design: Leart Zajmi Contributing and Producing Team: E. Zaloshnja M. Sheta M. Hasani K. Prifti S. Lleshi B. Leone A. Halilaj E. Hasanbelliu WEB: www.FollowBusinessAlbania.com EMAIL: info@followbusinessalbania.com NOTICE The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. All photos used in the magazine are by Shutterstock unless otherwise credited.

July 2017

50 52

HAS ACHIEVED BOOK ON REMARKABLE HERMAN BERNSTEIN TO SEE THE LIGHT SOON DONIS SADUSHAJ: “THE GENEVA SCHOOL OF DIPLOMACY IS HELPING ME TO REACH ANOTHER QUALITY OF DIPLOMACY FOR ALBANIA” MILENA HARITO: THE NUCLEUS OF THIS REFORM IS A CHANGE OF MENTALITY FOR THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION NEW BAZAAR’S INAUGURATION MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY WEAK CONSUMPTION AND INFLATION CONTINUES IN ALBANIA EDUARD ZALOSHNJA

RIEMER: VALUE ADDED MATTERS. 54 ALEXANDER MORE THAN JUST ONE TON OF MATERIAL MOTTO: “HEAR MORE, SEE MORE 60 IEDC’S AND FEEL MORE” COLANGELI: ELECTIONS NOT INFLUENTIAL 62 EBRD’S ON BUSINESS CLIMATE, PREVENT PROLONGED PERIODS OF INSTABILITY KATARZYNA LASON

66 WINE INDUSTRY A CULTURE OF MODERATION YEARS OF POLISH-ALBANIAN DIPLOMATIC 70 80 RELATIONS – AND GROWING STRONG BY MORENA SHETA

MR. KAROL BACHURA

76 BLESSINGS FROM CHRISTINE LEE! TO FIND NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE 78 DIHA ALBANIAN ENTERPRISES 82 I ENJOYED ALBANIA UNTIL THE LAST DAY WELCOMES EVERYONE 90 PLAYMIX IN THE WORLD OF SPORTS ECONOMIC FORUM, 92 ALBANIA-UKRAINE THE BEST START OF BILATERAL COOPERATION 94 CELEBRATING SUMMER WITH CCIFA 96 RIAD YMERI: ALWAYS DARE TO GO FOR IT! SMALL COUNTRY LIKE ALBANIA CANNOT 102 AAFFORD TO DESTROY ITS COASTLINE BETTY LARDA

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We target year-round tourism all over the country, even in rural areas

Albanian Minister of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship, Milva Ekonomi states that the country is still working for standardization of accommodation structures, in order to increase the quality and standards of their services towards tourists. “This process will fight informality in the sector and will lower the prices of accommodation. At the end, each hotel will have its stars, in accordance with its standards,� Ekonomi said in an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA. She underlines the approval of the new law on reducing the tourism tax from 20% to 6 % for hotels and other accommodation structures, which is now the same tax applied in other countries in the region. To her, the need to construct other resorts is crucial in order to increase the capacity of accommodation structures in Albania.

Dear Minister, can we speak of a new era in tourism in Albania? How will be welcoming tourists in Albania this summer?

Albania has a high number of employed people in tourism and is ranked as the third country in the world. According to this report about 24% of jobs (nearly 1 in 4) in Albania are as a result of tourism, according to WTTC. The tourism industry in Albania has emerged as a significant contributor to growth with 4.7 million inbound tourists in 2016. 16

The 2017 is named the year of sustainable tourism, which aims to bring economic growth; social inclusion, employment and poverty reduction, increased tourism efficiency, environmental protection and climate change, cultural values, diversity and heritage shared among countries for mutual understanding and security. According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) data, Albania has a high number of employed people in tourism and is ranked as the third country in the world. According to this report about 24% of jobs (nearly 1 in 4) in Albania are as a result of tourism. We had a high number of tourists last year, about 4.7 million comparing with 2015, or

15% higher than the previous year. The revenues from the tourism during 2016 hit all the time high of 1.5 billion euros, according to Bank of Albania. Compared to 2015, revenues from this sector increased by 13 % or 175 million euro more. Implementing the new law on Tourism, we managed for the first time to regulate the sector, separating the Tour Operators, Tourist Agencies, Tourist Guides and Accommodation structures in business registry (QKB). Now we have the first certified tourist guides in all over Albania, (160): National Tourist Guides, local tourist guides and others tourist guides for specialties. We are still working for the standardization of accommodation structures, in order to increase the quality and standards of their services towards July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ALBANIA HOT SPOT THIS SUMMER

tourists. This process will fight informality in the sector and will lower the prices of accommodation. At the end each hotel will have its stars, in accordance with its standards.

poppies, Albania’s landscape is ever changing with the seasons, offering visitors a warm summer beach holiday or a challenging mountain trek during the fall.

But the most important measure in the sector is the approval of the new law for reducing the tourism tax from 20% to 6 % for hotels and other accommodation structures, which is now the same tax applied in other countries in the region. The main challenge today in tourism sector is the construction of other resorts in order to increase the capacity of accommodation structures in Albania.

In Albania, visitors are welcomed as guests as part of the country’s rich cultural traditions and heritage. The warm hospitality of Albanians will make everyone feel at home in this small, wonderful land.

Albania has the potential to develop a perennial tourism. Tourists, who want to visit Albania, are attracted by unknown tourism products, mainly in the Albanian Riviera and in the Alps of Albania. Local entrepreneurship is developing, enabling authenticity to be the strongest point of Albanian tourism.

In your view, what is the special charm of Albania besides the sea? In this small Mediterranean country, virgin nature and cultural mysteries come together to create a unique sense of place. From the pure, white snow of the mountains to the red fields of spring

We think that now the vision for tourism has changed drastically. People all over the country are aware that even in their villages, in mountains, hills, they can earn money from tourism. Tourists are staying longer in Albania, more than 6 days, according to statistics, which shows that they are exploring all the country, not just the beaches, or cultural UNESCO sites, but also the National Parks, the tourist villages, also participating in adventure tours such as hiking, climbing, diving, paragliding, rafting, etc

What is the target demographic for tourism in Albania, and what are the targets in terms of tourist numbers? During 2016, the largest number of visitors came from neighboring countries such as Kosovo, followed by Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, but a large number of visitors came also from England, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Norway etc. However, it is noteworthy that during this year there has been a significant increase in the number of visitors from some of the European and World Target markets such as Ukrainian, Swedish, Bulgarian, Norwegian, Polish and Croatian visitors. We worked a lot in promoting Albania all over the world. Our country participated in 15 World Tourism Fairs last year, not only in Europe but also in other countries such as Russia or Israel. The promotional video "ALBANIA: Go Your Own Way" was broadcasted during the winter time, for Christmas last year in three main television BBC, Euronews and Travel Channel. Our target is not the number of tourists, but a qualitative tourism, which means longer-stay trips and more spending from tourists. That is why we are encouraging hotels, municipalities to add the animations, concerts,

Minister Ekonomi speaking at San Pietro Resort

July 2017

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ALBANIA HOT SPOT THIS SUMMER

growth with 4.7 million inbound tourists in 2016. According WTTC during 2016, the direct contribution of Travel&Tourism to GDP was ALL 127.7 bn, 8.4% of total GDP in 2016 and is forecast to rise by 5.2% in 2017. This primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation. The total contribution was ALL 393.0 bn, 26.0% of GDP in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 5.3% in 2017. Travel & Tourism generated 85,500 jobs directly in 2016 (7.7% of total employment) and this is forecast to grow by 3.2% in 2017. In 2016, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry was 23.9% of total employment (267,000 jobs). This is expected to rise by 3.2% in 2017 to 275,500 jobs. packages, to offer tourists more activities than just resting on the beach. We target yearly tourism not just seasonal; also we are working for expanding the tourism all over the country, even in rural areas, even in the cities which don’t have sea, river, or mountains, but have agro-tourism farms, artisan tradition, wine or olive production etc. So we think that every part of Albania has something to show to the tourists.

What is the strategy to boost the tourist arrivals? The development of tourism product is one of the important factors of tourism development in Albania. From a geographic point of view, the tourist product is widespread in most of the country's territory. The Albanian tourism product, which we are offering to the market, is not a single region but it includes cultural and natural heritage span throughout Albania's main regions and the coastal offer for the Adriatic and Ionian coasts. Given the current trends of the global tourism market, Albania's main strategy is to diversify and develop the tourism product, to be more qualitative, more proactive to the market and have a sustainable quality over services and destinations in different geographic areas. 18

Albania is positioned in the Mediterranean region as a growing destination in terms of culinary tourism development.

Also Travel & Tourism investment in 2016 was ALL 28.9bn, 7.0% of total investment and it is forecast to rise by 9.2% in 2017.

The growth and development of this product is based on food traditions and increased supply of food, which mainly includes traditional food products from the areas. Another aspect that we aim to improve is the seasonal expansion of tourism. As cultural heritage attractions are in demand throughout the year, high interest rates will be capitalized to increase seasonal expansion and geographic spread of tourism. Also Albania has still has untapped potential, with a significant number of virgin coves stretching along the coastline to create marinas/ports. The construction of ports in Albania will be aimed at promoting the traffic of windmills and yachts in different sizes and capacities.

What is the expected tourism growth this year? Albania, as part of the southern Mediterranean region is expected to have a positive tourism trend during 2017. The tourism industry in Albania has emerged as a significant contributor to July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ALBANIA HOT SPOT THIS SUMMER

The challenges for these two cities is also the new accommodation structure, to welcome tourists, but also finding new tourism products to keep tourists longer in the city. Actually the Lake Ohrid region, Albanian side is under the process to join Unesco World Heritage as a mix Cultural and Natural unique property. A new program will start now by the Government financed by World Bank, to integrate the cities of Berat, Gjirokastra, Vlora and Saranda, to improve the infrastructure, the services, to improve the management of destinatons and to promote and train the human resources in the area on tourism.

Do you have an assessment on the new resorts that are showing up in Albania?

This year we expect more revenues from the sector, and more satisfied tourists.

Is Albania using sufficiently the advantage of having some of its cities and places under the UNESCO protection? If yes, how? Albania has some cities listed as World Heritage protected by UNESCO. Berat, Gjirokastra and Butrinti are always the best destinations for tourists, because they have already a good promotion and are visited throughout the year. These three cities are part of all tourist packages of Albanian Tour Agencies and Tour Operators, but also part of foreign travel agencies. Berat and Gjirokastra have been two cities where our Government invested funds in restoring the old streets with the support of American Development fund. The new road to Berat has been finished under this government and also the city is totally restored, maintaining the old elements, the characteristic infrastructure and its beautiful architecture. For Gjirokastra the work is continuing to restore Old Bazaar, through the same models followed in Berat and Korca, preserving the old architecture of the houses and streets. July 2017

There is a high interest from investors to deviate their money in Tourism. Until now it was energy, minerals, and other areas which attracted more the investors from the entire world. But looking carefully the perspective of Albania, having in mind the wonderful tourism assets in the country, many projects are coming to our Albanian Investment Developing agency (AIDA) for building new resorts. These projects are being analyzed while some of them have started to be implemented. The first new brands have come to Albania such as San Pietro Resort, in Lalzi Bay, which is a joint project by one the best projecting studios Oikos Progetti and managing company Melia Internationals with the Albanian company Edil Al. These joint projects give some knowhow and new experience to the Albanian tourism market.

There are more to be done in tourism sector in Albania, which I see as one of the main sectors, as well as agriculture to boost the economy of Albania. 19


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ELECTIONS AND PUBLIC I N V E S T ME NT S

IN ALBANIA Eduard Zaloshnja, PhD Research Scientist at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Washington DC

Successive Albanian governments have had a habit of accelerating public investments in the months preceding elections – especially general elections.

Figure 1. Real Year-on-Year GDP Growth Rate in Albania (2010-16)

49% 39%

This habit was more pronounced before 2014, but it’s still a habit. The graph below illustrates the tendency of the last two Albanian governments to rush the completion of public works before voters go to the polls. In the five-month period preceding the general elections of 2009, 39% of the planned yearly public investment expenditures were completed in the first five months of that year. In the next year – not an election year – only 29 % of the planned yearly public investment expenditures were completed in the first five months. 2011 was an election year but local elections were held on that year, not general elections. No jump in public investments was registered, as a result. But the old habit returned in 2013 – another year of general elections. A whopping 49% of the planned yearly public investment expenditures were completed in the first five months of that year, as compared to 32% in the previous year. This phenomenon has been less pronounced since then, but still, in election years (2015 and 2017), one can easily notice the bumps in investment expenditures. 20

29%

30%

32% 26% 21%

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Given the weather patterns in Albania, the central government normally plans to complete around 30% of public works for each year in the first five months and the rest in the following months. While this was the case in years 2010-12, it was not the case in the 2009 and 2013 general elections. After 2013, public investment expenditures have been well below the 30% target in the first five months of non-election years and close or on target in election years (2015 and 2017).

This unevenness in completing public investments has had negative effects both on the economy and the quality of investments.

2014

2015

30% 22%

2016

2017

The rush to complete public works in the months preceding elections increases the danger of projects’ poor execution. On the other hand, the lull in expenditures in non-election years creates financial and employment difficulties for companies involved in public works and their suppliers

For years, the Albanian government has been hard pressed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to spread investment expenditures evenly during the year, despite the elections cycle. However, so far, bumps in investments in general elections years have not yet evened out… July 2017


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Happy Birthday to ManeTCI! Landmark Construction Company Celebrates 15th anniversary The future upon us is shining out on change By Rudina HOXHA

In 2002, the vision of the Chairman of Balfin Group, Mr. Samir Mane, passionate enough about quality and determined to provide extraordinary construction and construction related to services, began its own journey to fulfil these dreams. Today, 15 years later, that same passion continues to live on this vision, transformed and still influences into Mane TCI Company with the signature motto - “...We build values!”

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Having this in heart and mind, one of the most conspicuous and landmark construction companies in Albania, Mane TCI, celebrates its 15th anniversary this summer. Mane TCI Company, founded in 2002, is a trendsetter in the field of construction and investing in development projects in Albania and in the Balkans. Growth has been steady ever since, with the company adding different types of projects to their roster. Its rich portfolio comprises landmark shopping malls, residential objects, tourist resorts and residential communities. What is a better moment than this to remind of

what Mane TCI stands for! Mane TCI is part of Balfin Group, the largest private investment group in Albania and the region, having under its umbrella brands such as: Neptun, Albchrome, Acrem, Spar, Fashion Group and many more. For the first time, Mane TCI introduced to the Albanian buyers the concept of the shopping malls according to the European standards, thus designing and building with other foreign companies the first shopping mall – Qendra Tregtare Univers (QTU) of 47.000 m2, concluded by 2005 to July 2017


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follow up with the biggest shopping mall in the Balkans –Tirana East Gate (TEG) on Tirana-Elbasan Highway with a total surface of 95,700 m2 and a catchy hub of the most exclusive brands. Furthermore, the rarely seen luxury property complex, “Rolling Hills Luxury Residences”, an investment of Euro 64 million demonstrates the next level of living by quality and standards. Unveiling the concept of elegant community, sharing recreation and entertainment premises and abiding by strong security rules, “Rolling Hills Luxury Residences” stands for 131 plush three- storied villas over 280 m2 to 2,000 m2. Security and technical maintenance services for 24 hours, high esthetical standards and guaranteed comfort, are only some of the features of the residential objects, represented by Ambassador 1, 2 & 3, of Mane TCI. Developed by Mane TCI, the 14-storied “Ambassador 1”, located at the heart of Tirana, was concluded in 2009 while “Ambassador 2”, positioned close to the Artificial Lake, was a response to the many demands for easily accessible luxurious apartments in a calm area. The brand identity splashes over with “Ambassador 3” one-of-its-kind residential buildings in Albania, designed to provide

July 2017

people with as many facilitations and stress-free ways as possible. The amazing journey in Mane TCI's life also includes the construction of tourist resorts with big names like "Vala Mar Residences” in Lalzi Bay and "Green Coast Resort" in Palase Area. Such projects confirm the saying “lucky to be by the sea.” Spanned over 1 km along the Adriatic Sea, “Vala Mar Residences” will be transformed this summer into the main tourist destination for the people and the families who aim to touch nature and feel comfortable and safe. The Euro 25 million investment invites to regenerate and enjoy life. On the other hand, "Green Coast Luxury Resort" brings the missing concept of elite tourism in Albania, thus making everyone who has such a chance to feel blessed. In addition, Mane TCI offers its expertise in the development and supervision of agro-culture projects, in the field of logistics with the construction of the first logistics centre - Tirana Logistic Park - for the Albanian businesses as well as in the construction of recreation centres. Needless to say, Mane TCI’s portfolio strongly echoes its vision: to be a leader in the field of construction, trade and investments in real estate.

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“Our focus has not been building construction projects, but building values. Innovation is our core drive. Mane TCI is the first to introduce the one-stop shop system with the shopping malls, the first to bring the luxury residences with Rolling Hills project (still none has reached such standards), the first to present the residential houses with Ambassador 1, 2 & 3, characterized by highly qualitative services, facilities, luxury and modernization and the first to bring new standards in the tourism sector,� concludes Igla Gjoka, Marketing Manager at Mane TCI. Also, Mane TCI is very keen on

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emphasizing its dedication to give back to the community by demonstrating its commitment to social responsibility.

quality and standard. Mane TCI, in this 15 years stands proud of the positive impact its products have played on a better living for the community

This is clearly shown in every Mane TCI project which is a commitment in itself towards retaining and protecting the green areas and the environment in general. On this remarkable anniversary, Mane TCI feels humbled by the opportunity to have had over these 15 years to collaborate with partners and clients who have been able enough to recognize the real meaning of

Innovation and invention have been key in retaining satisfied clients, brand recognition, market share and industry development.

July 2017


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Arben Memo, CEO: MANE TCI’s Success Recipe: Change Continuously Clients have driven the change in us By Rudina HOXHA

Arben Memo is the CEO of ManeTCI (Trade Construction Investment) since March 2013. He first joined Balfin Group in 2009.

July 2017

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real estate market with a lot of interest.

for the company to move on until to date.

What is to remember from the first few years of ManeTCI and how have things changed since then?

Consequently this company became a real magnet for many people to approach it. When I joined this company first, in 2009, I remember that it was a company which had started from the scratch. Since in its early beginnings, it aimed at introducing something new to the market. The new strategies incorporated made ManeTCI to make people turn their heads, and later put a sign of equality between quality construction and our brand.

Throughout the years, we have learned a lot from the market, the competition and above all, from the clients. The latter have not been ‘common’, instead they were experienced and knowledgeable in the field of construction. So, this made us to work harder in order to meet and exceed their expectations and criteria. The client aspect has been crucial because this has made us to continuously develop ourselves. After all, this has been the key to our success.

In its beginning, ManeTCI was a small company operating in the field of construction for a relatively short time but with a very interesting experience because it had just concluded the first shopping mall in Tirana, i.e. QendraTregtare Univers. The success of QTU project inspired ManeTCI to look at the

It was a simple, well-structured company which tried hard to borrow the best experiences from the country and abroad leading to ManeTCI’s change with respect to its organization and structuring and its future vision. But this did not happen overnight. It took many years of dedication and work, thus preparing the ground

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It sounds that ManeTCI has always been one step ahead in Albanian Market … True. We have aimed not only to meet the proper standards in Albania but even to perceive and to see what is going on in July 2017


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the region and further. This has been a very good approach. After building QTU, we continued with TEG shopping mall which can be considered as the climax of ManeTCI’s success from every point of view. This was a really big experience whose success is echoing actual even to date.

What is the major feature of ManeTCI? There is a set of values that guide our work, technical expertise, focus on human resources, innovation and quality standards. Working by emphasizing these values is a philosophy which we have embraced jointly through years since being a part of a Balfin Group which always is in search of innovation and change. It is very important that we are being demanded to change. This word is really challenging. By the word “change”, it means that we have to continuously change the quality, the standards, the work tempo, the organization scheme, the deadlines and the costs. So, it needs a lot of efforts in order for us to stay online all the time. Because we know that the market changes perpetually. The clients are those who have always driven the change in us. I believe we have successfully made it so far. Also, we have another asset – our work environment. Our 120-people staff has created a work environment that is driven by a very inspiring organizational culture. The values our company reflects we try to have in ourselves and then to distill in our products. We love what we do. Every individual of ManeTCI staff reflects this. This has made us the best.

When we talk about quality and standards, do you refer to the region or do you go even beyond? Surely we compare ourselves with the local market and then with the region since our products have a target not only restricted within the country. We have gone much further, beyond Kosovo, Macedonia and the region in general. The region has shown its own interest and part of our clients are there as well. We think we have potential to reach faraway clients such as in Russia, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and others who are clear what they want. July 2017

Mr. Arben Memo - CEO of ManeTCI

This is not easy because they want good and easy access, proximity to the airport, good infrastructure, nearby ports in order not to waste time. Still I don’t believe this will impede us from making such prospect clients ours.

What’s the biggest change ManeTCI has brought when it comes to the luxury properties, construction and tourism standards in Albania in the past 15 years? The clients’ expectations and demands have changed over the years. One thing we have learned well is: if you are ahead of others with some innovation or novelties, surely you will be successful. This is universal. But in our case, irrespective of the prices, ManeTCI’s constructions offer the best quality, so the target is surely there for us. This has been the concept of the luxury properties which we introduced with Rolling Hills Luxury Residences. Its concept was ‘think big.” Its neo-classical style, brought by the US architectural designers, was something not seen at that time. So, we decided to bring something really luxury. Definitely the latter will be resistant to time for its quality and standards, surfaces, interior maintenance system, costs etc. This was a product which was not seen at that time in the country and beyond. It can be said with sureness that ManeTCI is the only company which assures a well-thought interior technical maintenance organization scheme. The biggest change we brought though,

ManeTCI can be doubled in the next five years. We have a lot to say and to do. is our focus on building an enjoyable living experience, building communities and offering maintenance. We cooperate with “ACREM” company to administer the properties. Our philosophy is that a property keeps its values high all the time when the maintenance services are continuously offered. On the other hand, we have managed to guarantee a cooperative community in our properties. For example, all the residents living in Rolling Hills receive a regular newsletter. They also have appointed an assembly which run the place based on some regulations. The same follows with Ambassador 3 residents. This way, the transparency is guaranteed.

So you have an important anniversary this year! How will you be celebrating? It is an important year. We have analyzed the progress of ManeTCI in these 15 years. I can say with certainty that we are among the best on the Albanian market because we have always reshaped the construction market with standards and innovation 29


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BUSINESS UPDATE Albania and Hungary to Boost Each Other With Wizz Air April 6, 2017, 17:00 - The Albanian Transport Minister Sokol Dervishaj and the Hungarian Minister of State for Transport, Robert Homolya were on the board of the plane which landed in “Mother Teresa” airport to official launch the direct flight of Wizz Air airline in Albania. Both representatives stated that the low cost flights from Tirana to Budapest will help both countries to promote tourism and trade contacts. Minister Dervishaj spoke about the increase of number of similar flights in the future and the possibility that Albanians will be traveling with cheaper tickets. On the other hand, Homolya considered this “a great moment in the lives of the two countries and a big step towards the promotion of tourism between the two countries.”

First Dutch trade mission in the textile sector in Albania Twelve representatives of Dutch textile and fashion companies visited Tirana and other cities of Albania early last April to explore partnership opportunities in textile and fashion. This was the first trade mission from the Netherlands to Albania.

Furthermore, the advanced technology, high quality but low-priced labor costs are considered advantages of the Albanian market.

The mission was followed by workshops on Corporate Social Responsibility concepts and branding of “Made in Albania”, including online branding.

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dewi van de Weerd, and representatives of AIDA welcomed the mission and highlighted the comparative advantages that can benefit both countries. She said: "Corporate Social Responsibility is a business case in Albania. Applying these standards has great potential for Made in Albania brands".

Textile students of the Polytechnic University worked together with fashion students of the University of Arts. They developed four start-up ideas together. This initiative was financed by the Dutch government through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and implemented by CSR Netherlands in close cooperation with AIDA – Albanian Investment Development Agency.

The Dutch representatives visited 23 companies and factories. The mission focused on corporate social responsibility, looking at the work processes, technology used and labor standards that the Albanian textile sector offers. The geographical distance between the two countries enables fast production and delivery, making the Albanian market potentially attractive for Dutch investors.

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July 2017


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Kosovo’s EIC Held Its 4th General Assembly PRISHTINA - European Investors Council (EIC) of Kosovo held its 4th General Assembly on 24th of May 2017. During this important event, sponsored by SIGAL UNIQA Group Austria – Kosova, the Honorary Member of the EIC Board, the Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, congratulated all the EIC members and its Board. In the presence of the President of the EIC Board of Directors, Mr. Robert Erzin and the EIC Executive Director, Mr. Shpend Balija, she delivered certificates to five new members including SIGAL UNIQA Group Austria, Kosova, represented in this event by its Executive Director, Mr. Mal Berisha who is also EU Relations Director in the EIC.

Executive Director of SIGAL in Kosovo, Mr. Mal Berisha

The membership of SIGAL UNIQA Group Austria, Kosova in the EIC is an important moment for the further progress of this company towards the European standards.

Transavia: Let’s Celebrate! The first direct flight from Amsterdam to Tirana by Transavia was inaugurated on May 4, 2017. "Direct affordable flights will lead to more business, study and tourism. Visiting a country enables you to get to know it and make friends." said Netherlands’ Ambassador to Albania, Dewi van de Weerd, according to an official Facebook posting of the Embassy on the day of the inaugural. Netherlands is making great efforts to promote sustainable tourism in Albania. In the framework of this event, a mission from Transavia and Dutch tour-operators visited Albania to explore the market and see the ways of collaboration with the Albanian tour operators. A workshop was organized followed by a B2B session. The tour operators also visited the cities of Berat and Kruja with a lot of interest. This initiative was supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Albania, in cooperation with Internationaal Ondernemen - RVO.nl. July 2017

Photo source: Embassy of the Netherlands in Albania

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Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in solar power development signed in Tirana

through a competitive bidding process for private investors in the building, owning and operating of solar power projects in Albania with a total combined capacity of 50-100 MW. We look forward to working with the government towards turning this objective into reality.”

The EBRD and the government of Albania are stepping up their support for the development of renewable sources of energy in the country, according to a press release of EBRD Albania. On May 3, 2017, Albania’s Minister of Energy and Industry, Damian Gjiknuri and EBRD Head of Albania, Matteo Colangeli signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the capital Tirana with the goal to stimulate sound investments in solar power generation.

lessen Albania’s reliance on hydropower and energy imports, the press release says.

The document will develop projects in Albania through an auction-based system, in accordance with international best practice. Implementation of the MoU’s roadmap will significantly increase the attractiveness of investments in solar power generation in the country and thus

EBRD Head of Albania, Matteo Colangeli, said: “The signing of this Memorandum is a very important step towards establishing solar power generation in Albania. The government and the EBRD will cooperate in developing and implementing a framework for the allocation,

Al Habtoor Investment LLC to Build a Tower in Tirana

The time when these negotiations will start is not yet defined. The Dubai company will build a $250 million (235 million euros) Tirana Iconic Tower project.

Albania's parliament has given its approval for negotiations with a Dubaibased company - Al Habtoor Investment LLC - to build a 350-meter (1,148-foot) -tall tower in the capital, Tirana.

The Al Habtoor Group has grown with the United Arab Emirates. What started out as a small engineering firm in 1970, is today

Minister of Energy and Industry, Damian Gjiknuri added: "Increasing the use of renewable energy technologies is an important step towards a more sustainable development, which brings great benefits to the Albanian industry. Solar energy can also be the strategic solution to reduce the dependence on imports, and improve not only the security of energy supply but also the country's macroeconomic and political security.” To date, the EBRD has invested more than €1 billion in 77 projects in Albania. Infrastructure and energy are the largest sectors of EBRD investments, reflecting both the country’s most pressing needs and strongest potential. one of the region’s most respected conglomerates with interests in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors. The Al Habtoor Group has earned itself a solid reputation both locally and internationally due to the vision of its Chairman, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor.

10 Years of SIGAL-UNIQA Cooperation UNIQA International AG, Chairman of the Management Board (CEO), Mr. Wolfgang Kindl, paid a visit in Albania to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the entrance of UNIQA Insurance Group, the first European investor, in Albanian insurance market through SIGAL, leader insurance company in Albania. On May 18, 2017, Mr. Kindl, accompanied by Mr. Avni Ponari, CEO of Sigal UNIQA Group for Albania and the Austrian Ambassador to Albania, Mr. Johann Statler, gave a live press conference in the premises of Sheraton Hotel in Tirana. During this press conference, Mr. Kindl said that the company he represents has Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia a priority and will continue to invest in the markets of these countries. Whereas Mr. Ponari said that UNIQA has been one of the major actors in the development of Albanian insurance market 32

View from the live press conference in the premises of Sheraton Hotel in Tirana

July 2017


Japanese cuisine lovers have the opportunity to experience deliciously ubiquitous Japanese food at Yamato, the first restaurant of this kind in Tirana.

Sushi, sashimi, guncan, yakimono and many other typical dishes of Japan are as pleasant in view as delicious in taste, by also combining nutritional values.

Located in one of the most popular areas of the capital, Yamato has offered expertly crafted traditional Japanese food for 8 years now. Yamato kitchen is a true culinary laboratory, where the Japanese chef brings out the best taste of ingredients.

The restaurant is opened for its guests from 12:00 to 23:00 every day of the week. Free Delivery & Booking, please call: +355 66 600 6905 or +355 4 225 8238 Address: “Ibrahim Rugova�Str, Building No. 24, Floor No. -1 YAMATO TIRANA


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Highly qualitative solutions for all areas of HR management Personnel Search and Selection

Bianca Duro, Managing Director P&P, WIFI, bit Albania

Dr. Pendl& Dr.Piswanger Albania, has been operating in Albania and Kosovo since the end of 2000, offering a full range of HR Services with particular emphasis on executive search and personnel development, actively providing recruitment services, trainings, profiling and Assessment Centers. To date P&P Albania has supplied services to companies operating in the following sectors:

• Infrastructure and Energy • Oil and Mining Industry • Banking • Telecommunication • Tourism and Hotel • FMCG and distribution We meticulously serve our clients through our set of values of bridging borders and cultures, by consulting our clients to understand the requirements of a specific market or culture while providing access on a global level and understanding everyone’s issues to provide suitable processes and customized solutions.

Searching and winning specialist and management executives is increasingly challengeing. As a result of our many years experience, you benefit from our know-how as a Full-Service-Consultant. To locate the "best heads" for your organisation, we pursue tailored search strategies matching your needs and requirements.

Executive and International Search Special positions require exceptional candidates. To find these candidates, we use a well-structured process and the newest technology for in-depth research, employing our consultants‘ extensive experience and full competency for your benefit: Via Executive Search we ensure that you are able to hire the right managers for your secure future success.

opment potential of managers. The qualifications of your managers are determined through a wide variety of methods, including interviews and profiling.

Profiling ProfileXT is a technologically advanced Online-Profiling-System for measuring human potential and predicting success at the workplace whilst also providing concrete input for improvement.

Personnel and Organisational Development Based on your company goals, we support you with various dynamic, systemic personnel development activities – all being tailored to your organisation, requirements and goals.

Outplacement / New Placement

Our consultants have the necessary experience and are experts in providing you with a structured evaluation of candidates’ potential and level of competence. As shareholders of InterSearch, we have international expertise at our disposal for cross border personnel searches.

Outplacement is a "soft" form of employment termination and is designed to ease the transition of a proven manager or specialist into a new employment contract in a new company.

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The Predictive Index predicts primary personality characteristics and cognitive ability so you can predict workplace behaviors and on-the-job performance

This audit focuses on the essential competences, strengths, and the devel-

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We respect, involve and develop people. We respect other opinions. We work together in finding solutions, in explaining decisions and we support each other. We deliver what we promise- and even more. We are reliable, fast and flexible in meeting your requirements. We add value to whatever we do. We guarantee complete confidentiality. We commit ourselves not to communicate any confidential information without your agreement. 34

July 2017


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CONTINUOUS EDUCATION IN ALBANIA The Austrian Institute of Excellence (AIEx) offers training courses and qualification in all industries. We provide the professional edge that equips businesses and professionals with distinct competitive advantages for the businesses of tomorrow. Fifteen years ago, Dr. Pendl& Dr. Piswanger People sh.p.k. and we offered not only personnel placement but also softskills training. Once we started, we realized the immense need for softskills training. For this reason, we created WIFI Albania sh.p.k. by entering into a franchise agreement with WIFI International. Austrian Business Promotion Institute (WIFI) International / Austria is the largest training provider in Austria with more than 370,000 participants per year and more than 4000 coaches. The motto of WIFI is "From practice to practice" and therefore most of the trainers come from the private sector. WIFI is a subsidiary company of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. AIEx offers a wide range of resources for business professionals concerned with raising levels of resilience within their organization.

July 2017

From the Practice, For the Practice 35


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AIEx stands for excellence in the business continuity and its international certifications provide assurance of technical and professional competency. After some time, in addition to softskills training courses, we also started with technical training. In 2012 we launched a project, funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), with the aim of implementing EU standards in the field of metal construction. We have trained more than 600 welders and certified over 400 of them. The welding certificates are EU-recognized and our welding training center is also EU certified. In this project, we have trained 14 Albanian coaches in order to be able to offer training with Albanian coaches. The certification is still carried out by the WIFI Certification Body in Austria. We have introduced in Albania the EU standards in the metal sector and now for metal companies, we also offer CE certifications according to the EU standard 1090. After this sector has expanded, we offer training not only with WIFI but also with the Project Management Institute (PMI) for Project Managers, with Holzforschung Austria in the wood sector and with Austrian coaches in the agriculture sector, thus the

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Austrian Institute of Excellence. We offer, with Austrian partners, the entire range of training that Albania needs.

regarding the future of our working environment. Fundamentally the same results apply in Albania too.

What is our experience in Albania regarding continuous education?

The authors entitled the study "Work 2040� in which they highlighted the effects that digitalization, internationalization and technical innovations have on our work and on the business world. One factor made the survey more than clear: only with technology it will not work in the future. In fact, lifelong learning is an important key. Some 80% of the interviewees said that as a company, in order to be able to meet the changing working conditions, training is essential.

In Austria, 60 percent of employees in the age of 15 to 50 attend at least one further training course per year, approximately 40 percent are company training which is paid training for the employees and in 60 percent of the cases are the employers themselves who finance their further training. Of course, these seminars are not always about professional training, but they are also seminars for private interests such as language learning, as well as further training for hobbies, etc. However, according to a survey, 92 percent of the companies in Austria finance further training courses and around 10 percent of WIFI customers are companies. Here in Albania, a significant catch-up needs to be established.

The future of work WIFI Management in cooperation with a research institute conducted a study

Training will have to be enhanced by workers. The formal education remains an important factor, but additional and further professional training, for example in form of certificates, will continue to play an increasingly important role. Sandra Prandtner, Head of the WIFI Management Forum, at the presentation of the study said that: "This is especially true for managers. In order to provide the right solutions and the right offers for management training, we wanted to explore where needs and interests are shown�. The adaptation of the way of

July 2017


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What can we derive for our market in Albania? In addition to the professional qualification, there is also a lack of concentration, productivity, time management, team skills etc. Especially in this area, there is a tremendous need for professionals to catch up. Especially young people after their study have to be better trained, in order to get along in the business world.

thinking and of the corporate culture is also an important method to keep pace with digitalization.

Human and Machines “The answer to the changing world of work in 2040 is clearly shown in the acquisition of abilities and additional knowledge within the own branch, as well as in the field of digitalization. Lifelong learning and further professional training is in 2040 no longer a voluntary exercise, but a duty. The idea of a flexible (time and location independent) job could become in 2040 an “Always-and-everywhere” job, which would break the boundaries between work and leisure. The study “Work 2040” demonstrates that in our future work we will deal more and more with digitalization. Martin Giesswein, lecturer of the WIFI Management Forum seminars in the area of digitalization competences added: “It is Important that business executives engage with successful methods of transformation.” Technology should not be the sole purpose, but the human being and his digital competencies should be the major focus. Three-quarters of the interviewees estimated digital competence as one of July 2017

those skills whose importance will increase in the future. 78 percent were of the opinion that the personal competences would become even more important, while 53 percent saw linguistic and intercultural competences as most important. Almost half of them emphasized methodological and social competencies. Still, the communication competences and professional ones are mentioned with more than 50 percent: "Here, there will be a clear shift, in order to design optimal training courses.” Sandra Prandtner says: “At the moment, communication and management competencies are before the personal and the digital ones, but they are still a topic, which is out of the people’s focus for their further education.” The study authors, however, not only asked for changes in the work itself, but they also tried to draw a picture of how these changes affect our lives: two thirds of the surveyed decision-makers expect that digitization will lead to more stress in the job. The often-conjured theme of "teleworking" does not seem to have a future: in 2040 people will still work from an office, but work and leisure time will continue to mix with each other.

The EU LISBON STRATEGY, which promotes employability, flexibility, creativity and competitiveness, must also be promoted in Albania. The LISBON STRATEGY is mainly concerned with strengthening the contribution that lifelong learning has to personal development, social cohesion, active citizenship, gender equality and the inclusion of people with special needs, as well as in increase of the quality of the adult education. We want to offer the Eco-C European communication certificate in Albania in order to especially prepare graduate students and careeroriented people for the challenges of the economy in the upcoming years. ECO-C consists of four modules:

1. Teamwork 2. Self-Management 3. Conflict Management 4. Communication

There are AIEx training courses to cater for all levels of experience, for both individuals and organizations, from entry-level training to certification training to increase the capacities of Albanian professionals and businesses, as we are currently supporting various businesses in Albania and Kosovo towards successfully reaching their full capacity. 37


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Lufthansa Turns 10 in Albania, Proud of What It Has Achieved By Rudina HOXHA

Mr. Alexander Tolweth, Country Manager of Lufthansa for Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo, accompanied by Mr. Peter Pullem, Senior Director Sales of Lufthansa Group, was in Albania to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Lufthansa in this country. He states in an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA that he is proud of the German airliner’s balance sheet in Albania. “For us, Albania develops very quickly and positively. This is also why we decided to connect Tirana in addition to Vienna also to our biggest airport Frankfurt,” Tolweth said.

As Lufthansa Group, we are now offering 21 weekly flights out of Tirana connecting Albanians to our hub airports Frankfurt (Lufthansa) & Vienna (Austrian Airlines) and beyond with connections to 308 Destinations – that’s a balance sheet we are very proud of.

In the long term, he would like to see an increased capacity to Frankfurt and a connection to Munich hub. In 2016, Lufthansa Group in Albania has seen the biggest growth in the region. “We welcomed more than 220 000 passengers on board which are an increase of 10% to previous year. We have especially increased our passenger figures to USA & Canada,” Tolweth said.

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On May 4th 2017, a big celebration was held at the Tirana International Airport to mark 10 years of Lufthansa in Albania.

July 2017


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On May 4th, Lufthansa celebrated its 10th anniversary in Albania. As the Country Manager, please can you tell us about the balance sheet of those 10 years? Yes, we are very proud to celebrate this year our 10th anniversary of continuous service to Albania. Our history even goes back all the way to 1989 when LH operated its first flight between Frankfurt and Tirana. So we have a long history together and since 10 years we fly without any interruptions. As Lufthansa Group we are now offering 21 weekly flights out of Tirana connecting Albanians to our hub airports Frankfurt (Lufthansa) & Vienna (Austrian Airlines) and beyond with connections to 308 Destinations – that’s a balance sheet we are very proud of.

Salad & some Koefte in each of these countries but when it comes to the aviation industry they are completely different. For us, Albania develops very quickly and positively. This is also why we decided to connect Tirana in addition to Vienna also to our biggest airport Frankfurt.

How is the sale trend going in Albania in comparison with the region? Albania has seen last year the biggest growth in the region. We welcomed more than 220000 passengers on board which are an increase of 10% to previous year. We have especially increased our passenger figures to USA & Canada.

How have Albanian passengers’ needs towards Lufthansa changed over time? One thing that has not changed is the high expectations of Albanians when it comes to reliability, product & service. I observed during my time here that it is very important for Albanians to fly with airlines of high reputation. I think this is part of our success. We also see a very big increase in the usage of technology which changes how Albanians book flights (eg. through internet pages) as well as what they expect during the flights – for example, internet connection in the air.

The famous Albanian actress Eliza Dushku, was part of Lufthansa's celebrations as the face of this year’s 9th FAI World Paragliding Accuracy Championship.

What is your opinion about Albania in comparison with the other countries you are responsible for, i.e. Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria?

The country is beautiful with its coastline as well as breathtaking mountains. Albanians have a good sense of business and know how to offer a good service.

It is impossible to compare these markets – I enjoy being able to order a Shopska

Therefore, I am convinced development will be fast when it is in the right hands.

July 2017

Our customers expect us to communicate with them quickly and directly through technology. This is why we are constantly improving these services trying to digitalize and individualize our communication. For example, in case of flight delays, customers are informed immediately on their smart phones before arriving at the airport. When spending a lot of time at our airports for transit they might get s special offer to use the lounge. There are 39


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many more examples we are currently working on.

After 10 years in Albania, what should they expect next from Lufthansa Group Airline? We will continue our path of stable and reliable growth. I personally would like to see in the long term increased capacity to Frankfurt and a connection to our Munich hub.

Generally speaking, people are worried about the high prices of tickets. What do you think about this concern? Yes, I hear this very often and we try to fight against this perception. You can get good prices flying with us - when you book longer in advance you can fly to European destinations for less than 200 EUR. When you book last minute, yes, prices are higher, because there are not many seats left. Many people see special promotions of Low Cost Airlines where they advertise that you can fly for only a

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Mr. Alexander Tolweth speaking at the Tirana International Airport.

few Euros. However, when you add up all the extra charges and you book a week in advance, the final price is suddenly very high. We believe in offering a fair & transparent price policy: you get what you book and our prices offer good value for money. Our focus is not just price but also quality.

The country is beautiful with its coastline as well as breathtaking mountains. Albanians have a good sense of business and know-how to offer a good service. Therefore, I am convinced development will be fast when it is in the right hands.

What are the greatest achievements of Lufthansa Group? Can you make a fact sheet? We are profitable high quality airline group. While many airlines in Europe are struggling, our first quarter results have been the best since 2008. We are using this strong performance to further invest in our products, technology, reliabilityand in our network. We just received first deliveries of our new A350 aircraft – the world’s most advanced and environmental friendly long haul aircraft. We are currently rolling out internet access also on our European fleet. In many aspects such as environment, technology, safety and reliability we are industry leaders which I would say is our greatest achievement

I hope that our success story in Albania will continue…. and this will only happen if we manage to satisfy our Albanian customers, so we will do our best. July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA BOOK PAGE

article excerpts, written by Bernstein on his impressions on Albania, in September 1933. During the presentation of “Herman Bernstein, U.S Ambassador to Albania” at the YIVO Institute of Jewish Studies in Manhattan, New York. Dec. 2014

Book on Remarkable Herman Bernstein to See the Light Soon The book archives of Albanian diplomat, historian and publicist, Mr. Mal Berisha will soon have a new addition. The new book titled “The American in the Royal Court of King Zog" ("Amerikani në Oborrin e Mbretit Zog”), is an outcome of a long, systematic and dedicated work by Mr. Berisha. It will cast light on the connections of the remarkable US-Jewish personality, Herman Bernstein, former US Ambassador to Albania from 1930 to 1933 with Albania. The book, which will include Mr. Bernstein’s most selected works and his activity as a diplomat in Albania, is about to see the light soon. This was recently confirmed by the author on his official Facebook account. The book is expected with a high interest given that its facts have never been published before. Somewhat Mr. Mal Berisha satisfies the readers’ curiosity on Bernstein. “To give an idea on Mr. Bernstein, I must say that he was a friend of three US Presidents, namely Theodore Roosevelt (1901 -1909), Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921) and Herbert Hoover (1929 – 1933). He interviewed some of the most famous people in the world such as Leo Tolstoy, Leon Trotsky, Auguste Rodin, George Bernard Shaw, Sigmund Freud, Aleksandër Moisiu, and above all, he had a personal friendship with Albert Einstein,” Mr. Mal Berisha says. After underlining that Bernstein was a friend of the Albanians in Albania and in the United States, Mr. Berisha provides some July 2017

“Over the last three years and a half, Tirana was for me the most magnificent observing post. There I learned that unlike the impressions on Albania as one of the most dangerous places in the Europe, the Albanians are peaceful people while their government undoubtedly exerts a peaceful policy in the Balkans. Practically I have visited every part of Albania out of which I learned to know and love the Albanian people, whose simplicity, authenticity in action, hospitality and kindness, had left indelible traces in me.”

A distinguished diplomat, history scholar and a translator, Mr. Mal Berisha has published a number of books and articles about various subjects of history, culture, and diplomacy. Some of his history books and studies already published include: “Albanians, Oaks on the Illyrian Soil”, a full study of The National Geographic Magazine articles focusing on Albania and Albanians in a course of over 100 years (2007); “Albanians, the Youngest and Most Ancient Europeans” (2008); “Charles Telford Erickson, A Life Dedicated to Albania” (2012); “Herman Bernstein, U.S Ambassador to Albania” (December 2014), (in English). Berisha presented this book at the YIVO Institute of Jewish Studies in Manhattan, New York and laterXXXXXXXXXXXX on at the U.S Embassy in London. This book details the close relations between Jews, Albanians, and the United States Government. “Realities of the Albanian–British Relations” (in Albanian) is Berisha’s latest book, published in 2015 on the eve of closing his mission to the UK. The book was launched at the Regent University of London and the British Embassy in Tirana.

Mr. Berisha has captured the attention of the public with his soft-spoken articulation of the issues and expert-based approach to diplomatic relations of Albania, appearing in the majority of the national news outlets of the country and abroad. 41


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA DIPLOMACY

ABOUT GSD The Geneva School of Diplomacy & International Relations (GSD) is a small, private university located in the heart of the most diplomatic neighborhood of the world in Geneva, Switzerland. The GSD offers Academic degree programs from the Bachelor to the Doctorate level and tailored courses for professionals from the public, private and non-profit sectors. It provides the students with personal and exclusive interaction with highly distinguished faculty members in a stimulating and international environment. Studying at GSD means having direct access to the tremendous potential of internship-and-networking possibilities in Geneva. The GSD’s purpose is to prepare future world leaders for their roles on the world stage to advance peace and human rights. Its high quality of education is presented by well-respected and renowned professors: statesmen- and women, and ambassadors.

Donis Sadushaj: “The Geneva School of Diplomacy Is Helping me to Reach Another Quality of Diplomacy for Albania” “I think being educated in GSD is an asset for Albania, an invaluable advantage which can be applied in various Albanian institutions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albanian Diplomatic Academy or various universities.” By Rudina HOXHA

"Personally I would suggest the development of economic diplomacy as a way to further boost Albania. This will bring more foreign direct investments and promote the image of the country. In this respect, my future project might focus on the diplomatic promotion of Albania in the international arena through the progress of economic diplomacy," said Sadushaj, the only student from Albania in the GSD.

The GSD stands for a unique combination of conceptual courses focused on theory and the development of essential diplomatic skills. Understanding the world around us past, present and future - and influencing that world in a more humane and productive direction, is what the Geneva School of Diplomacy is all about. Learn more about us on www.genevadiplomacy.ch. 42

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA DIPLOMACY

Please can you tell us a bit about your studies and what’s that part of success that you attribute to The Geneva School of Diplomacy? I have been studying international relations at the Geneva School of Diplomacy (GSD) for two years now. It is a private institution dealing with diplomacy, international relations and business, so it is a mix of international relations with global business. As an Albanian student, my mindset has been totally changed thanks to this prestigious School. My knowledge on international relations and various global development aspects have progressed forward.

Part of my studies at GSD is an internship which is obligatory. Actually I intern at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which is part of the UN system, specialized in telecommunications, satellites, development field etc. It was the School which helped me to find the internship as this is a bit hard due to the keen competition among the international institutions. This internship has helped me to see the world differently while has boosted my personal intellectual development.

This is also a result of the faculty who are mostly conspicuous ambassadors, UN high ranking representatives and other personalities from various institutions in Geneva which is considered the international city of peace and the hub of 250 international organizations.

On the other hand, in the organization where I intern as a junior officer, I have been trying to support and highlight the name of my own country. The sector I cover is innovation and development. It is mostly focused on member outreach. I have noticed that Albania is not represented in the ITU by any state or private institution. So, during my internship, I have been trying to focus on Albania as the ITU deals with the development of rural smart sustainable cities and telecommunications as key to progress.

The extensive experience of the GSD’s President in the field of human rights and UN system has brought around the School a huge number of ambassadors and former ambassadors, former aides, governmental officials who teach here.

The GSD’s special lectures on emerging issues, persisting challenges,multilateral securities studies, international law – a two year course - has made me think deeply how to apply the law on the international arena. The top notch

professors have helped me to understand more the practical side of the diplomacy besides the theoretical aspect. In this aspect, my previous education in law, comes to my aid as well.

Let’s talk practically. What new elements have you taught in exerting diplomacy? Diplomatic training is a subject we do also. Say, if a group of Albanian diplomats want to have a good training, they can come to the GSD. What we students, do, in another setting, in every subject we take is that we test our diplomatic knowledge in negotiations, rules of proceedings, how a UN conference takes place, how to follow diplomatic bargaining, i.e. everything related to diplomacy. Even our personal presentation is done according to the diplomatic regulations we have gained since the very beginning. The School provides diplomatic etiquette and diplomatic protocol, taught by a very conspicuous Swiss Professor who is etiquette and protocol adviser for many international governments, Mr. Bernard De Muralt. He is from Switzerland and comes from an aristocratic family.

Donis Sadushaj alongside with his class and Mr. Thierry Delachaux Managing Director of GSD

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What is your favorite aspect of diplomacy?

In what way, have you thought to bring a small change to Albania in a near future? Since we are talking about diplomacy, the Albanian foreign policy is one of the most serious institutions in Albania. I have been mostly inspired in the field of diplomacy, by Dr. FatosTarifa since I have studied his literature. I can mention one of his books –“Fati i një shekulli” (“The Destiny of a Century”) which has inspired me deeply as it shows how to develop diplomacy and international relations in the 21th century. Dr. Tarifa is ranked among the best international scholars. Internationally speaking, my everlasting inspiration remains the bible of diplomacy, Henry Kissinger. But there are other names, diplomats or historians who are part of my lectures and books who stir my interest to study diplomacy. But when we speak about diplomacy, this is a very broad field. So, likewise I think that a diplomat must have a broad and complete social and intellectual background. He/she must remain updated to the details throughout the time. What I can give to my country in a near future is what I am importing from GSD intellectually, i.e. another quality of diplomacy. I would suggest everyone to consider the possibility to study at GSD if they want to embrace another quality of diplomacy. Not only because the School 44

is of a high reputation but because Geneva is the heart of diplomacy and teaches you how to create relations and how multilateralism works to date. We should not forget that Geneva houses influential institutions and organizations such as the World Trade Organization, Red Cross, UNHCR, World Intellectual Property Organization and many others. The GSD is the place where you meet professors from the terrain who work in the conflict areas, such as, Syria, Yemen, Iraq or Red Cross Organization and they share their experiences and stories with us. They make you see another reality. They fill you with emotions but at the same time, they teach you how the diplomats must act and not get influenced by the emotions. On the other hand, there are various professors, such as the US Ambassador of Trade,attached to World Trade Organization, who has acted as an adviser to different governmental leaders, who share with us the history of making negotiations since they have been part of big decision-making processes. They share with us the best of their experiences. I think being educated in GSD is an asset for Albania, an invaluable advantage which can be applied in Albanian institutions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albanian Diplomatic Academy or various universities.

Most of all, I am fond of security and disarmament issues. The Disarmament Office in Geneva is very interesting to me. Since last year, I have been involved in cyber security, terrorism and state security issues. Recently, a group from our University composed by me and three other colleagues were capable of winning the Cyber Security Challenge, organized by the Atlantic Council and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, where prestigious Universities from all over the world participated, such as: Oxford University, Stanford University, LSE, US Naval Academy, Science Po (Paris), etc. On the other side, being a member of NATO, I think that Albania has all the possibilities to implement and import as many international aspects as possible which are related to security field. In this respect, Albania is heading forward but still needs to benefit more from the internationalization processes. Another field I am interested in is the international trade which surely increases the position of Albanian state. In my view, the Albanian state must prioritize its relations with the World Trade Organization in the coming years for the liberalization of trade, lower tariffs etc. Moreover, Albania has the benefit of having a favorable geographical situation, a great coast and a huge potential to develop agriculture.

Curious, how much do the GSD Faculty know about Albania? Many of the GSD professors are aware of Albanian history. One of them is Prof. Alexander Lambert who has written about Albanian history. He teaches foreign policy in GSD and writes about Albania and its latest developments. Important to highlight that we have the President of The Geneva School of Diplomacy who has played a key role in resolving the conflict in Bosnia and he knows the Balkans issues very well. Here, Albania is viewed with positivism. A series of special lectures have been held on Western Balkans in GSD. Albania is key to the security of the Western Balkans and the latter offers much security for everyone and not only for the Albanians living in the region and further. Everyone sees Albania as the nucleus of security in the region. July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA DIPLOMACY

What is the GSD’s invitation to Albanian prospect students? For every student, who aims professionalism and experience, studying in GSD is the best offer. Here you can feel the living heart of Geneva where there are 26 international organizations and more than 190 non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, and many others. Besides the quality of the studies, you have the chance to track down the daily work of these prestigious organizations since it is the School which gives you this possibility. As a student, I have access to every event or meeting, organized by these organizations. In addition, what the School provides the students with is a lot of flexibility. We cover 10 teaching hours per week in total. The rest is practice. Being part of GSD gives us a lot of access. Visiting the 10-floor UN library, which dates back to the beginning of 20th century, is an excitement in itself. Geneva is the perfect city to study. There are many Yales or Harvard students or others from other reputable world universities who make the internships in Geneva. Being part of GSD gives automatically this possibility. In addition, many GSD alumni find employment in many Geneva-based international organizations or in the UN in New York. It is important to underline that Geneva offers neutrality which is important even for the students to understand the both sides of the coin. Here every student touches the neutrality of the international organizations and the life itself. The networking you benefit from the School is another asset of yours. It is not that easy to find your own space in Switzerland but thanks to GSD, everything has become easier for me and the other international students. In addition, potential students have the possibility to spend one semester at Georgetown or MGIMO/Russian Diplomatic Academy.

What do you deem as the major challenge for Albanian diplomacy? Do you see any future project that you might involve yourself? In my view, the primary challenge of Albanian diplomacy is the European integration. Also, Albania has been seen as key to keeping the peace in the region. So, another big challenge of Albanian diplomacy is maintaining the peace in the region. Personally I would suggest the development of economic diplomacy as a way to further boost Albania. This will bring more foreign direct investments and promote the image of the country. In this respect, my future project might focus on the diplomatic promotion of Albania in the international arena through the progress of economic diplomacy IFC Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Donis Sadushaj Membership Outreach Junior Officer (Innovation Department, International Telecommunication Union) Representative at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations Previous academic and professional accomplishments include law and commercial studies and continuous experience in different institutions, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Institute for Policy and Legal Studies in Albania. The previous experience and the actual work at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations as an Administrative Assistant have taught him to integrate easily into any environment, work under strict deadlines and quickly learn new skills. Moreover, being a representative of the University in Geneva, Donis has been very engaged in working with external relations and seeking different possibilities for cooperation with other institutions, including International Organizations and several universities. His experience as a Junior Officer for six months with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations has given Donis the opportunity to work with professionals and get the best expertise as well as the experience of the daily management work of an international organization.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TIME FOR REFORM

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TIME FOR REFORM

This reform is fundamental because, it improves the services that the public administration offers to the Citizen and businesses. I consider the public administration as the blood circulation system of the state: it receives the requests; it provides the answers to the people; the economic development of the country depends also on how efficient the public administration is. As the public administration makes fluid the functioning of the state. On the other hand, being on the verge of opening the EU talks, the Albanian public administration will be soon facing a very complex process. From the past experiences of others countries, which have joined the EU, the accession talks take many years and the public administration must be well prepared to handle this long and complicated process.

Milena Harito: The nucleus of this reform is a change of mentality for the public administration By Rudina HOXHA

Government should be smart just as smart phones. Milena Harito, Minister of State for Innovation and Public Administration believes strongly in this, as she is leading one of the most important reforms in the country; the one on Public Administration. Which practically makes for a smart government. By improving public services and having a good and strong public administration, Albania heads ahead on its path towards EU Accession, as this reform is one of the five EU criteria, but also makes the life of every Albanian easier and simpler, just like smart phones do. In an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA, Minister Harito tells in facts and figures what is being done to implement this reform as efficiently as possible so far, as well as the significant role of ADISA which aims to set up One Stop Shop Public services Centers all over the country, by changing the way public services are delivered to Albanian citizens from state institutions.

To that purpose, we have started this reform from the scratch. This has led to substantial changes in the last three years because its factual implementation started in September 2014 under a total online transparent and automated system in order to reduce the arbitrariness of the people to intervene in the process. After all, this is what modernization means. The EU Progress Reports of the last two years show that the recruiting in civil service is the most solid progressing reform due to this hard work on recruiting. In addition, there are other components. One of them is the career system. Practically the Albanian public administration has lacked a career system. The recruiting has had an arbitrary character. With the new law on civil service, people take on the basic level and to get promoted, they need to go through the career system. So, the law is the one, which guarantees the career system and of course, the political will, to implement it. What is very important to underline is that the nucleus of this reform is the change of mentality. It was very difficult and remains difficult to make people believe that they will be recruited only on the basis of meritocracy and not because they bribe, they are party militants or they have acquaintances. In this respect, the EU integration and the unshaken will of the government and the Premier‘s in particular have been key to advance this reform.

Also crucial to this reform, is the public service delivery reform. We have lacked for long good public service delivery. What have been the challenges in leading and implementing this difficult reform?

You are leading an important reform, that of the public administration, which needs sustainability. How have you managed to achieve that and through what components?

The main challenge has been the mentality. The people themselves were creating the difficulties. All the representatives in all the levels of the power were used to considering the recruiting their own property. From the very moment a system is established and no tolerances are made or the same rules are equally applied for all, people start to accept it. Perhaps this is one of the many dynamic elements : people are absorbing the reforms easily.

The reform in public administration is very important. Not by chance, this reform is among the five criteria of the EU. This means that this reform is important to build the rule of law and all the mechanisms, which make Albania a modern state. We have a clear framework how to implement this reform.

Now all have agreed on this reform of the civil service in Albania, even the opposition has not objected it, our international partners recognize it as an achievement, and the most important, about 50,000 candidates have participated to the fair competitions in two years.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TIME FOR REFORM

People are seeing the fruits of this reform. Of course, you cannot say that this reform is flawless, human errors always exist. But in general, this reform is going very well. You may hear people saying “Not the right people have been recruited. It is the DAP (Department of Public Administration)’s fault.� I think this is the best compliment for DAP because it shows that it is known by now, it has a real power and applies the rules. Another evidence that this reform is functioning well is that in the period 2014-2016, about 20-30 percent of the vacancies were not fulfilled. Every year, around 1000 vacancies are opened and of that, about 20-30 percent remain unfulfilled. Since the system offers standards, a certain percentage of vacancies remain unfulfilled.

Has resistance on the part of people to change the system been an issue? Resistance has been strong in the first six months when all the con arguments were given. But the political will was there and the system to implement it properly also. Then people started to embrace it. Albania will continue the efforts on public administration reform, as this is one of the EU criteria to join the European family.

As Minister of Innovation, what innovative components have you used so we have better public services, like the fight against corruption for example? I talked above about the recruiting, career as well as training to upgrade the level of public administration, but after all, its final outcome is to improve the public services. The latter has been a specific big component of this reform partnered with the World Bank, Italian Government and the Austrian Government. We have used a series of innovative elements in this reform. In the recruiting part, the digital system is all about innovation. It gives the possibility to the people to apply online, to be tested online, i.e. the whole application until you get the appointment is an online process. This is about will but I would say it is something classical nowadays. As far as the public services are concerned, it was much more difficult because the public 48

services involve tens of public institutions. The notion of the standards in the public services were non-existant. In the very beginning, we did an inventory of the state public services. To your surprise, none knew what were these services at that time. After we did this inventory, it was found out that the state delivers 1400 public services. We codified and standardized these services by the best European norms. We made a specific law on the standardization of public administration services referring to the best models, applied by countries which have pretty much the same problems as Albania: corruption, poor quality of public services delivery. I have often been asked why we did not refer to a European country model for that. The EU countries long time ago resolved this issue, so we could not find an appropriate model. What we found appropriate for us was the One Stop Shop model which provides the citizens with some of the major services needed in one place instead of letting them go from one institution to the other to get these services one by one.

To reach that stage, we built up a very innovative instrument, which is considered an added value by now: the separation of the front offices, or public services desks, from the back-offices. We established ADISA, Agency for Delivery of Integrated Services in Albania, which is the only point of contact with the citizens to provide public services. So, instead of going from one state office to the other, we have taken them all in one place, the Property Register Office, the Social Insurance Institution, Customs and Taxes etc. ADISA, is in charge to deliver services and also an instrument of control over these institutions if they dont bring the answers to the citizens. ADISA is also defining the standard forms of applications, complaints, standart information on services etc.

To get clearer, what has changed for better for the citizens or the business people when they turn to a state office now? First of all, you go in a public office, which respects queues. In the past, you had to bribe to be the first on the line. Secondly, you get preliminary information if you want it, by calling the national dedicated number for public services 11-800. You

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TIME FOR REFORM

get the necessary information : what documents you should provide, what tariffs you need to pay etc before you go to the physical office. We decided to create this national line 11-800 on public services after we found out that about 30-60 percent of the people stayed on the line just to get the information, so wasting their tIme or leaving the work, the house, your children just to go in an office only To have the necessary information on a certain service. In today’s world, you either go online or call to get the information. We included this system, though this remains a challenge, as it is hard to make the old habits die. We are trying to make this happen and change this mindset. Also what I have to underline is that what has changed now is that the procedures are transparent and familiar to the citizens. We are also building up a complaints’ system, which existed before in a sporadic and primitive way. On the other hand, the reform includes another big piece that is the simplification of the administrative procedures. We are trying to make the exchanges and the communication between the institutions online. These institutions can ask the citizens to send the required documentations

During the interviewing of Minister Harito.

electronically. A part of the services are being digitalized and a lot of work is still needed in this respect. This reform is really multi-dimensional.

What mechanisms is ADISA using to make people trust and understand it? Have you conducted any polls to check what people think about ADISA services? Are you using social media in this respect? Actually ADISA has five centers all over the country, one in Tirana (for the Property Registration Office ) and four others,

multiservice centers in Kavaja, Kruja, Fier sit amet and Gjirokastra.Lorem Thenipsum it willdolor be extended all over the country. ADISA makes constant assessments in its offices to take the citizens’ feedbacks. It also makes monthly reports of the citizens’ complaints towards the institutions. From October 2015, when ADISA started to operate the percentage of citizens who received timely answers for their applications increased from 40 to 80 percent. This happened because we built up a system of control.

What about “PaperLess”? Of course, part of the reform is to make the institutions exchange only digital information and documents, differently called paperless. In three years, we prepared the legislative framework and we have considerably invested in the digitalization of archives and communication systems between the institutions to prepare them for “PaperLess”

The state delivers 1400 public services.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA STEAL OF MONTH

New Bazaar’s Inauguration Makes People Happy The American-Albanian Development Foundation financed $3 million for the project. TIRANA - The New Bazaar, located at Avni Rustemi square in Tirana, is a remarkable project implemented by the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) in partnership with the Government of Albania, Municipality of Tirana and the local businesses in this area.

This project was inaugurated on March 14, 2017 in the presence of the Premier of Albania, Mr. Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana, Mr. Erion Veliaj, AADF Co-CEOs Mr. Aleksander Sarapuli and Mr. Martin Mata, and many other personalities. The revitalization of the New Bazaar neighborhood is an ambitious project, totaling approximately $5.5 million in investments, with an overall commitment of $3 million from the Albanian-American Development Foundation and a contribution of $2.5 million from the Tirana Municipality, in cooperation with the Albanian Government in reconstruction work. Private investments by business owners operating in the Bazaar has exceeded up to $4 million so far.

The Bust of Avni Rustemi

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The AADF will also support businesses operating in the area with businesses advisory services as well as small grants in order to improve their efficiency and make the best use of the new opportunities which will be created. July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA STEAL OF MONTH

A businesses association will be created in partnership with the Municipality of Tirana which will oversee the daily management of the area. What is so special about this Bazaar is its symbolic value for every Tirana citizen. It is one of the evidences of the Tirana life development. The ultimate goal is to turn this bazaar into a great tourist attraction in Tirana. What hits are the colorful facades and the general synergy this project conveys. People are eager to visit and trade in this bazaar

The New Bazaar was opened 87 years ago. Today it is the most ‘in’ traditional bazaar in town. It is a hub to 308 businesses, creating more than a thousand new jobs. The bazaar consists of two renovated markets, the closed and the green markets.

View from the inaugurated new bazaar

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TAKING STOCK

WEAK CONSUMPTION AND INFLATION CONTINUES IN ALBANIA Eduard Zaloshnja, PhD Research Scientist at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Washington DC

Since the major slowdown in Albania’s economic growth, starting in 2010, consumption and inflation have been weak. Although the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has picked up some steam in the last two years (Figure 1), consumption and inflation have not followed suit.

Figure 1. Real Year-on-Year GDP Growth Rate in Albania (2010-16) 4.0%

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The slowdown in consumption becomes more evident when the volatile fuel sales are excluded from the above index (Figure 4). Whereas, excluding the sales of non-food items, too, the slowdown in consumption in the last quarters becomes even more evident (Figure 5) Figure 4. Seasonally-Adjusted, Quarterly Changes in the Retail Trade Volume, excluding fuel sales. (Base volume and prices: 2010)

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The seasonally-adjusted, quartrly index of the volume in retail trade indicates that consumption has had only a modest growth in the last five quarters (Figure 2) – as opposed to the GDP, which has shown a healthy growth during the same period. Indeed, the quarter-to-quarter change of this index indicates that, starting in the last quarter of 2016, consumption has slowed down considerably (Figure 3). Figure 2. Seasonally-Adjusted, Quartrly Index of Retail Trade Volume (Base volume and prices: 2010)

II.16

I-17

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Figure 5. Seasonally-Adjusted, Quarterly Changes in the Retail Trade Volume, excluding fuel and non-food sales. (Base volume and prices: 2010)

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Figure 3. Seasonally-Adjusted, Quarterly Changes in the Retail Trade Volume (Base volume and prices: 2010)

-6.5%

3.1% 2.5%

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TAKING STOCK

Weak consumption accompanied by weak inflation Not surprisingly, the weak consumption in Albania has been accompanied by weak inflation. Except for a spike in January 2017, inflation has remained well below Bank of Albania’s target of 3% (Figure 6). Figure 6. Year-on-Year monthly inflation (May 2016 – May 2017) 2.8%

1.9%

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2.0%

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2.1% 1.9%

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investment growth has been lately much stronger than that of the GDP as a whole (Figure 7). This difference between the two indicates that investments (private and public) have not had the usual ripple effect on consumption (consumption is by far the biggest component of GDP). In the case of Albania, this difference can be explained by the fact that private investments have been concentrated heavily in two major energy projects – TAP and the Devolli Hydropower Project – which have only local effects on consumer disposable income. On the other hand, public investments have been spread throughout the country – through urban renewal projects – but it looks like they have not yet trickled down to consumers, through increased revenues from tourism.

1.5%

Figure 1. Real Year-on-Year Investments Growth Rate in Albania (2010-16)

1.2% 0.7%

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The fact that weak consumption is accompanied by weak inflation indicates that it is the weakness in demand what’s taming the inflation – not a strong supply (i.e. low products/services costs). When supply remains constant and consumers’ disposable income and confidence increase, a strong consumption is usually accompanied by increases in prices (i.e. inflation). On the other side, even when consumers’ disposable income and confidence increases (i.e. consumption increases), inflation remains low if supply strengthens. But why consumption has not followed the GDP growth, as is usually the case? If one looks at the components of the GDP, investments stand out. Building a replica of the graph in Figure 1, but only for the investments component of the GDP, it becomes clear that

6.75

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-8.47

11.71

10.70

9.88 05-16

-1.98 Year Year T1 -3.97 2013 2014

T2

T3 2015

T4

T1

5.72

4.73 T2

T3

T4

2016

-7.86

Conclusion The tale that tells this analysis is a cautionary tale. So far, strong investment growth has not been translated into strong consumption. With the completion of TAP and Devolli Hydropower Project in two years, the government should seek ways to encourage new investments – both domestic and foreign. Moreover, it should design policies that attract investments with immediate effect on employment, in order to increase disposable income and, as a result, consumption. There cannot be sustainable economic growth without a strong consumer

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA BUSINESS LUNCH

Alexander Riemer: Value Added Matters. More Than Just One Ton Of Material “Time to enjoy fresh air through Schüco and Jansen windows, doors and facades!” By Rudina HOXHA

AluKönigStahl – where quality is in the limelight. This phrase comes to my mind when I talk with the Product Manager of AluKönigStahl, Alexander Riemer. Throughout the talk, he speaks in terms of quality, Lego, 100 percent services, full package. This company, based in Austria, stands for quality. “Many people have heard about Schüco but they don’t know what it is all about. So, our task is to speak about our services. Today we were asked about the price of one kilogram of aluminum. I answered "We sell different to kilograms. Instead we sell services. We are selling a system comparable to Lego: when you say I would like to have a window, you get from us the frame material, the hinges, the fittings, the profiles; both for small and bigger projects we offer an interesting and high-level calculation system; if questions occur, technical colleagues will support you; also producers and planning companies are able to find all our documentation on internet. We like and we do offer lots of services, so-to-say “one ton of service” additionally to just “one ton of materials”. We think differently in this aspect,” Riemer says in an interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA. Alexander Riemer

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WU Viena

AluKönigStahl is a supplier of the highest-quality aluminum-, steel- and PVC systems as well as components for the realization of contemporary, energy-efficient architecture and supports sustainable building designs. For almost 60 years there is an alliance with the two internationally leading system manufacturers: Schüco, world market leader with aluminium systems and expert with PVC systems and Jansen, specialist for steel profile systems. This cooperation and the innovative product developments, led AluKönigStahl to the technology- and market leadership. In the same way, AluKönigStahl has created strong alliances with all the countries where it serves including Albania which is becoming more and more interesting for the company.

Please can you make an updated picture of AluKönigStahl’s performance in Albania? What’s its trend? The company is doing well in Albania. Recently, during one of my routine visits together with our representative colleague Mr. Arbi Hasani in Albania, I was part of talks with two well-known Albanian architecture studios where one is also a developer. Additionally we met a producer who intends to cooperate with Schüco. Next time I’ll be very glad to also visit some further companies which are already in touch with us. These are good signals for our company in Albania. During the talks, I realized once again that Schüco has a good brand name and people are asking themselves “should we buy those windows, doors or safety systems” for our private houses and projects? We are well-aware that there are various

July 2017

people all over the world which agree to invest a sort amount of money in quality. If they are in Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Albania and if they are teachers, farmers, officials, lawyers, business people etc., in other words, wherever and whoever, they will see different needs and different approaches. So I am convinced that Schüco, Jansen and other systems of our portfolio that we sell, will find their own buyers. Currently there is a mega trend in Europe that aluminum as a material is slightly prioritized over PVC and wood. The reason is that some people, especially in the West, are thinking about the so-called “sustainability.” And aluminum is a sustainable material. In the past, aluminum and steel were improperly isolated. I have heard that 55


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA BUSINESS LUNCH

people in Tirana also realized experiences with poor isolation of some houses and suffered mostly in the wintertime. When you live with non-isolated or weak-insolated constructions, it means that you have humidity inside your houses. In the meantime, you have the possibility to isolate aluminum in low, average, high and very high level and you won’t have these kind of problems any more. Schüco is a great option and offers a big variety of solutions because of wide product range and its quality - besides that it’s a well-known brand. Because of that I am really happy.

What are some of the projects AluKönigStahl is involved in Albania? AluKönigStahl is operating in 13 countries with Schüco, Jansen, Warema and Längle products and Albania is one of the newest. There are some projects in Albania, implemented by Schüco. Some façade sections and windows and

doors of TEG (Tirana East Gate) were constructed with Schüco systems. A few other projects I could name are: The SkyTower, in the center of Tirana, The Twin Towers also are constructed with Schüco systems.

Many people have heard about Schüco but they don’t know what it is all about. So, our task is to speak about our services. Today we were asked about the

Additionally, we have been contacted from our Partners, and they have expressed their interest to implement Schüco systems in a few coming projects of which I could mention: The National Stadium, A New Residential Area in Tirana called “Port”, which consists of 130.000 sqm of construction, and so on. Now we are proceeding in the field of private housing while Jansen is involved in a bigger project.

How is Albania performing in comparison with the rest of the other countries where the company is operating? Similar to all the other countries because here is something new. And whenever it is so, it is the most interesting situation. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

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price of one kilogram of aluminum. I answered "We sell different to kilograms. Instead we sell services. We are selling a system comparable to Lego: when you say I would like to have a window, you get from us the frame material, the hinges, the fittings, the profiles; both for small and bigger projects we offer an interesting and high-level calculation system; if questions occur, technical colleagues will support you; also producers and planning companies are able to find all our documentation on internet. We like and we do offer lots of services, so-to-say “one ton of service” additionally to just “one ton of materials”. We think differently in this aspect. We appreciate when there are small private houses or villa projects which look for window systems from Schüco and we are similarly happy when for

example, universities or governmental institutions need steel constructions from Jansen which offers Swiss quality products and vice versa.

What comes next? I think that this time we are in a stage when the hard efforts of our office in Albania are being rewarded. We are reaping the fruits of this work together with our partners because this is work for both of us. Some people have been informed about our company, some big companies have already taken decisions to cooperate with Schüco, some others have concrete

July 2017

projects to go with Schüco products. So, I would say “Fresh air through Schüco windows and Jansen doors and a great view through our different façade constructions!”

I’m hardly awaiting my next visit to Albania. I appreciate the talks and the spirit within the preparation of projects.

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA BUSINESS/ART

IEDC’s Motto: “Hear More, See More and Feel More” IEDC, a global forerunner in integrating the arts into management and leadership education, has a collection of 150 pieces of art. The IEDC–Bled School of Management, first business school of its type in Central and Eastern Europe, is one of the leading international management development institutions in Europe. It is a place where leaders come to learn and reflect, an international centre of excellence in management development, a business meeting point, and a unique place where works of art complement a creative environment for creative leadership. Some of the world’s most eminent professors and consultants teach there, and participants attend from all over the world.

IEDC is a global forerunner in integrating the arts into management and leadership education. The inspiration for this is a deep seeded belief that arts inspire us to, as Edgar Schein has said, 'hear more, see more and feel more'. In the realms of management and leadership, where individuals and groups work amidst enormous complexity and divergent pressures, the arts offer richer, more sophisticated and sensitive ways of approaching management and leadership issues. IEDC’s integration of arts-based methods is a way of developing the best, most reflective, most holistic leaders for the betterment of the global future. “We, at IEDC, believe that they who live and work within a particular organisation, 58

the meaning, the values, the reasons for being there go far beyond functionality, they lie in the aesthetics – the sensations, emotional realms of being part of something greater than oneself. The functionality of an organisation serves as a frame for meaning making, value creation, imagination, creativity, culture building, much the same as a frame of a painting of the edges of a canvas for a painter.”, explains Prof. Danica Purg, Dean and President of IEDC-Bled School of Management. IEDC has observed and promoted interests in putting the arts into action in management and leadership development in all its Programs. Through music, the decomposing and recomposing of a Bach sonata, managers and leaders are faced with the realities of dissonance as well as harmony, with the strategic lines in competition and with the innovative content of the composition. Managers have to be good listeners. We use music to exercise listening. Trying to conduct a choir helps to see importance of an emotional relation and clear communication. Visual arts (IEDC has a collection of 150 pieces of art) are used for reflection, for becoming better observers and for discovering personal leadership styles. Concerning language it is shown how powerful is to use metaphors in speeches and communication in general. Literature is also used to develop beautiful speaking and writing skills.

Tone Kralj, Lake of Bled, 1928

“The slogan that inspires me to develop these innovations in management and leadership development is ‘A creative environment for Creative Leadership’. I would add at this occasion ‘an innovative environment for innovative leadership’. “, says Prof. Purg. The Executive MBA Program of IEDC–Bled School of Management was recognized by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) as one of the four most innovative MBA programs in the world, among 700 MBA programs accredited by AMBA in business schools in over 75 different countries. The IEDC–Bled School of Management won that recognition for innovation in combining the arts with leadership and management education. The explanation of this fact lies in the history of IEDC as being a disruptive innovation by itself and the lasting drive for innovation of the founder of the school and her cooperators July 2017


IED C SU MM ER S C H O O L S YOUNG MANGERS PROGRAM - YMP June 26 - July 7, 2017 For those, who are for the first time managers and would like to jump-start their career and develop managerial skills. www.iedc.si/ymp

DISCOVER ENTREPRENEURIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM - DEMP July 4 - 12, 2017 For those, who are still students or do not have more than one year of work experience and would like to uncover the mysteries of business and entrepreneurship. www.iedc.si/demp

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA THE MOST ‘IN’ TOURISM APP

VIRTUAL ALBANIA shows country’s top tourist attractions in the easiest possible way "Virtual Albania" is a completely new project created by KMedia, an Italian company, now based in Albania. Federico Kiko Debetto

Virtual Albania’s Creator: Albania, a “must-to-see place”

Its website which you can find it directly on the project site www.virtual-albania.com or inside the National Tourist Albanian site www.albania.al shows an stunning view from the drone of the downtown area in the City of Tirana.

Federico Kiko Debetto is the Italian behind the most recent tourism app – Virtual Albania. In the following exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA, he explains how he invented this application and why he chose Albania for it.

How did you come up with this unique app? I invented this kind of ‘promotional tour’ 2 years ago for a small municipality in Italy, and then it was "exported" in different places and whole nations like the Faroe Islands and Albania as well.

Why did you choose Albania? Did you know it well? Last December, I was in Albania for a video clip shooting and I was fascinated by this country where a lot is being invested in the tourism promotion. So, I decided to contact the local administration authorities to propose my idea. I received a very good reply from the Ministry of Tourism and we started a great collaboration to promote the wonderful lands of Albania. I didn't know, and still not know so well this country, so I'm always in contact with the local administration to get information about places and most valuable location to cover.

What has impressed you most about Albania viewed from this app? The great mix of nature, culture, history and landscapes that you can find moving across Albania, from the mountains of the north to the islands of the south, as I say to friends, it’s a must-to-see place!!

Will you apply it to other countries? There is a side project in the Faroe Islands right now www.kmediastudio.net/faroe but the one on Albania is the most complex and complete. It was presented in Tokyo at the Google Summit last May. I'll probably apply this project in other countries in the future, but right now, nothing is decided as yet. 60

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July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA THE MOST ‘IN’ TOURISM APP

You are about to plan your next holiday and you choose Albania because you have heard recommendations from your friends; then you start looking at different websites to find accommodations, then you also visit different websites to look for some nice place where to find traditional food and other pages to find the local attractions and things to do

Federico Kiko Debetto during the presentation of Virtual Albania at the Google Summit in Tokyo last May.

while you visit; you end up visiting many websites to visit one place and then you start dreaming you find everything related to the place you are going to visit in one single website. Stop wishing you have a page like this because there is website like the one you are imagining right now; a website where you can find everything such as hotel, restaurants, attractions, nightlife, etc and besides all that information that you can find in a single website, you also can see every one of these places through Google Maps in virtual tours, yes in virtual tours as if you were there already in Albania!. "Virtual Albania" is a completely new project created by KMedia, an Italian company, now based in Albania. Its website which you can find it directly on the project site www.virtual-albania.com or inside the National Tourist Albanian site www.albania.al shows an stunning view from the drone of the downtown area in the City of Tirana where you can easily recognize restaurants, hotel, nightlife places, but also historical location, together with naturalist locations and everything that can be interested for a tourist that decide to visit this wonderful country. The information is currently July 2017

presented in Albanian, English and Italian. This project was recently presented in Tokyo during the Google Street View Summit 2017 last May as the only project of this type. Federico Debetto, one of the creators of this project, speaks about his project: ”Virtual Albania aims to show the best places of Albania in the easiest possible way… just to bring the user inside and let him move freely wherever he wants, finding useful information around, for instance historical details of a castle or the next event of a club. Thanks to the partnership of the National Tourism Agency we are collecting coordinates of inaccessible archaeological sites too, to make those places visitable for everybody.” The Virtual Albania team has already signed agreements with ATA hotel association to add all the members inside the project, and as says Marcello Marotta, the Sales Manager “We are always looking to valuable businesses to add inside the project, and also partnership with strong local associations, so, don’t be shy… contact us !!” If you are not shy as Marcello says, you can find the project on the website, on Facebook, looking for “Virtual Albania” or phone them at +355 69 540 0384 61


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

EBRD's Colangeli: We look to further stepping up of our activities in Albania Photography by Katarzyna Lason

Last year, EBRD recorded the highest business volume (over EUR 177 m) with Albania

"Albania is an important country for EBRD and we want to significantly step up our activities here in the years ahead, particularly with the private sector," the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Head in Albania, Matteo Colangeli told FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA . Colangeli explained that in the public sector, the biggest challenge is the timely and ecient implementation of projects. "We need to continue working with the Albanian side to maximise delivery of key infrastructure projects within the limited sovereign fiscal space available," he said. EBRD has invested around Euro 1bn in 77 projects in various sectors of Albania. This year, EBRD plans to mobilize a large syndicated financing for the TAP project, which could become the largest ever project supported by the Bank.

Where is the EBRD’s assistance going to be mostly focused during 2017? What is the so far response of Albania from this assistance?

policy reform initiatives in support of the agricultural, power and railways sectors will be an important part of this year's work and, for this, we will need the continued co-operation of our Albanian counterparts.

Business climate in Albania benefits from the stable macro-economic environment, the EU approximation path of the country and the opportunities generated by the two large FDIs - TAP and Statkraft.

This year, we also plan to mobilize a large syndicated financing for the TAP project, which could become the largest ever project supported by the Bank.

After the record business volume of last year (over EUR 177 m, the highest ever in Albania), we target a further stepping up of our activities in the country. The implementation of our ongoing projects and

We also want to step up our activities in the private sector and believe that tourism is an area of the Albanian economy with great potential. Related to that, comes the issue of municipal

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infrastructure - investment in environmentally and commercially sustainable municipal services and infrastructure (such as water, waste water, solid waste management and urban mobility) are necessary preconditions to attract more and better tourism to Albania.

Given the EBRD’s help for the Balkans, please, can you say how has Albania’s economy performed in comparison with the rest of the region? Both in terms of growth and fiscal consolidation, Albania is performing well relative to the rest of the region. The successful completion of the IMF July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

program is certainly a testament to that. But Albania remains strongly exposed to developments in the region. As a small economy, Albania's long term success is tied to that of its WB neighbours. Regional economic integration through better infrastructure and the elimination of barriers to trade is paramount to attract FDI and for

economic development. Albania's best chance to prosper is a growingly integrated region moving steadily towards EU approximation.

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD President and Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania during the former's visit in Albania. 26 July 2016

What do you see as the major points of interest for the EBRD when it comes to Albania?

as playing a leading role on publicprivate dialogue through the Investment Council that we support.

The three top priorities are clearly stated in our country strategy for Albania. The first is supporting private sector competitiveness by enhancing value creation in Albania, facilitating SME access to finance and fostering an enabling business environment. In this regard, we aim to work through providing financing (directly and indirectly via commercial banks) and advisory services to local SMEs, as well

The second is strengthening regional linkages, including by financing key cross border infrastructure in the transport and energy sectors in close co-operation with the EU and other partners in the Western Balkans Investment Framework. July 2017

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS

This was Sir Suma’s second visit to Albania as EBRD President.

The third is promoting sustainability of public utilities through commercialisation and private sector participation. We are already deeply engaged in the energy sector through our work with KESH and intend to extend our support to other State owned enterprises and municipalities.

Albania is an important country for EBRD and we want to significantly step up our activities here in the years ahead, particularly with the private sector

In what way, you see your posting a challenge? I see two main challenges. In the public sector, the biggest challenge is the timely and efficient implementation of projects. We need to continue working with the Albanian side to maximise delivery of key infrastructure projects within the limited sovereign fiscal space available. In the private sector, we need to find ways to boost the competitiveness of high potential industries like agriculture and tourism in a context characterized by pervasive informality and historical under investment. We have to reach out to the dynamic and entrepreneurial sectors in the Albanian economy and find the most appropriate tools to support their growth, in partnership with the Government, the donors community and with commercial banks. I would like to close by saying that, while these challenges are material, they are in a context of significant opportunity and potential. 64

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July 2017


WAT World Academy of Tirana

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World Academy of Tirana Rr. E Rezervave, Lundër, Tiranë ALBANIA www.wat.al, info@wat.al

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Për informacione, ju lutem, kontaktoni:

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World Academy of Tirana (WAȌǡ–Š‡Ƥ”•–ƒ†‘Ž› –‡”ƒ–‹‘ƒŽƒ……ƒŽƒ—”‡ƒ–‡ȋ ȌW‘”Ž†…Š‘‘Ž‹Ž„ƒ‹ƒ•‹…‡ ͖͔͕͗ǡ‹•ƒ—–Š‘”‹•‡†–‘’”‘˜‹†‡ƒŽŽ͗ ’”‘‰”ƒ‡•ǣ ”‹ƒ”›‡ƒ”•”‘‰”ƒ‡ȋȌǡ ‹††Ž‡‡ƒ• ”‘‰”ƒ‡ȋȌǡƒ† ‹’Ž‘ƒ”‘‰”ƒ‡ȋȌǤ


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA WINE INDUSTRY

Wine Culture and what it embodies

Wine Industry, a culture of moderation By Morena Sheta

Among Balkans countries the wine of Albania is “very sweet or luscious” as ancient Roman writer Pliny describes. Currently divided into four Regions of wine production, Albania manages to contribute 0.06% of production and 0.09% of consumption in worldwide wine industry. Future of Wine industry holds for Albania the creation of an expanded network of sommeliers who have tasting and selling experience working for local and foreign wineries

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The art of viticulture and wine making has evolved as part of life personifying human experiences into embodying a culture of moderation and compatible industry itself. It esteems from the mysterious history in far South Asia and as nature proves “Viti”-one of 40 different grape types as one of the most ancient plant. Culture diversification brings today different flavors, climate supports many privileged regions in wine production such as Italy, Spain, California and UK. With that being said Nature and Human keep wine alive as K.Wojtyla expressed.

Regions leading the Wine Industry Passion to bring wine culture in its essentials favorited by climate characteristic has proved worldwide some of the main brand names leading wine industry. “Vega Sicilia” reflects time quality as one of the most famous vineyard in Spain headed by Alvarez Family. Italy brings Antinory Family since 600 years of July 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA WINE INDUSTRY

tradition, categorized by “Wine Spectator” most famous wine magazine as first in worldwide rank for its products named “Solaila”. “Maison Louis Jadot” in France, US with “BanfiVinters”, New Zealand with originated Italian grape, and vineyards in Thelasoniki, Greece, Great Britain winery favorited by global warming reflect the diversity and competitiveness that wine industry offers nowadays.

Market Value of Wine Whether wine price is determined by the quality or marketing is a matter that seems biased for this heterogenic product.Wine is a highly differentiated product derived from grapes of various varieties grown in different regions under diverse agronomic and climatic conditions. The wide range of wine products and consumer targets defines wine price to be hedonic (Greek word for pleasure) according to University of California. On the point of purchase, naturally price of wine is positively associated with its quality. However under most of circumstances quality perceived is different from what is offered, dependable on customer tasting experience. As a matter of comparison price is easily tricked by label information accessible, where in US by federal wine law each bottle of wine sold must provide such information as brand name, class or type of the wine, alcohol content, net volume content, and the name and address of the bottling firm. Under statistical analysis among 8460 individual Wines prices from “Wine Spectator” the attributes that determine price of wine goes to 19.4% age at release, 37.4% grape vintage, 9.9% variety and appellation of origin and 18.6% the label designations (vineyard, estate, and reserve) which explain in total 85 % percent of the wine price variation.

Wine and its contribution in economy Back in 1975 when Wine Business was considered backwater, this sector progressed fundamentally. On general state, millennials are more open to world wines compared with baby boomers at the same time in their palate evolution. Based on Silicon Valley Bank sales growth will vary from 10-14% on wine segment for 2017. On supply side stand'Old World' producers such as Spain with 13.10% of July 2017

worldwide wine supply, France 16.73% or Italy 17.43%, but also for the so-called 'New World Wine' regions such as Australia 4.19%, 4.72 % Argentina, United States 10.48%. Demand per capita predicts a decreasing trend whereas US presents 13.43% of worldwidewine consumption, France 11.01%, Italy and Germany 8.30%, China and UK 6%.

Albanian Wine Industry Among Balkans countries the wine of Albania is “very sweet or luscious” as ancient Roman writer Pliny describes. Currently divided into four Regions of wine production, Albania manages to contribute 0.06% of production and 0.09% of consumption in worldwide wine industry. This represent one of the main struggles of local wine producers related to technology advancement and competition among foreign wine distribution lines in Albania. As the wine market happens to be a bit disordered, price of wine mostly tends to be determined by already set price of distributor lines of foreign wines coming mostly from Spain, Italy, Greece and France. Wine culture is experienced from family consumption till luxury preference present in most of restaurant offerings, which makes Albania market unique for its variety and problematic in the same time to comprehense a real functioning wine industry.

Enotourism as the future of Wine Industry Future of wine industry holds the development of Enotourism referring to wine tourism. As important sector of economy, is seen financially profitable to get the customer in your door. It consist of visiting wineries, vineyards as well organized special events, wine tours and wine fairs. Winery tasting rooms serve no longer only as venue to taste and purchase wine, but also come as complete tourism experience including facilities as accommodation, tours, picnics and restaurants. That’s how this industry encourages profits to local businesses restaurants and hotels. Future of Wine industry holds for Albania the creation of an expanded network of sommeliers who have tasting and selling experience working for local and foreign wineries

With all said it perfectly proved that wine is culture of moderation and moderation ignites prosperity. 67


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA DIPLOMACY

80 years of Polish-Albanian Diplomatic Relations – and Growing Strong 7th of April 1937 - 7th of April 2017 – 80 years ago, Albania and Poland established their diplomatic relations. To remember this date, the Ambassador of Poland in Albania, H.E. Mr. Karol Bachura gave an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA where he analyzes the depth of this relationship, what has kept and still keeps these two countries so close through years as well as his goals in this posting.

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This year marks the 80th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Albania and Poland. What does this moment signify for both countries? Historical, but rather episodic relations between our two countries date back to the Albanian national hero Castriota Skanderbeg. According to our historians, the first direct diplomatic contacts between the Polish court and Skanderbeg occurred in spring 1446. The bilateral relations continued after the First World War. One can say that in certain periods of their history, both countries had similar fate, and by patrioJune 2017


FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA DIPLOMACY

tism and determination of their people burst forth to independence. Albania gained independence in 1912. Poland regained its statehood in 1918. Next year we will commemorate the centenary anniversary of the restoration of the independence of Poland after 123 years of partitions. This year, we celebrate 80 anniversary of diplomatic relations. 7th of April 1937 may be considered as the date of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. On that day, the Envoy of the Republic of Poland in Athens, Minister Wladyslaw Schwarzburg-Günther was specially accredited to Albania to attend the wedding ceremony of King Zogu I and Princess Geraldine. Short before the end of World War II, on November 6, 1944 diplomatic missions at the level of legations were established, which were raised to the level of embassies since July 1954. The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tirana is still located in the same building

June 2017

as it was in the 1950’s. After the fall of communism and the democratic changes in Poland and Albania, bilateral relations took on a special dimension. Both states have chosen the direction of EuroAtlantic integration. Currently, we are allies in NATO.

for Albania and a honorary citizen of the city Kucova, discoverer of oil fields in this region and an author of the first geological map of Albania that is still in use. Professor Zuber worked in Albania from 1927 until 1947, when he was arrested and murdered by the communist regime.

Poland is already a member of the EU while Albania is on its way to EU membership.

And just recently, in 2016 among the martyrs of the Catholic Church who were beatified in Shkodra was a Polish born priest, Father AlfonsTracki.

Throughout the history we can trace numerous examples of strictly people-topeople contacts between our countries. One of the teachers of the famous Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was Nicolaus Thameus, an Albanian from Durres. Today this link symbolically continues through cooperation between non-public Copernicus High School in Elbasan and its partner Copernicus High School in Warsaw. Our countries are also bound to the memory of Prof. Stanisław Zuber, an outstanding Polish geologist meritorious

How do you judge the bilateral relations between Albania and Poland? In the context of my mandate, it is also essential that our bilateral cooperation expands on all possible levels and fields. 2016 was a special year in the intensification of Polish-Albanian political dialogue. Meetings took place at the highest level: June - visit in Tirana of Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski; September – meeting of both Presidents, Andrzej Duda and Bujar Nishani, in New York on the margins of the Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and –

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last but not least – December visit to Albania of Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

contacts as well as the expansion of the number of bilateral agreements signed.

During the prime ministerial visit in the presence of Head of governments of the two countries, the Program of Cooperation between Polish and Albanian Ministries of Culture was signed. An economic cooperation was pushed forward as well. Both PMs attended the first Polish-Albanian Economic Forum with B2B Polish and Albanian representatives.

However the role of the ambassador is not closed only in strict political frames.

Two new agreements on economic cooperation were signed between our countries chambers of commerce and investment agencies. In March of this year, the Mayor of Tirana payed an official visit to Warsaw. The seeds have been planted, now we will have to make them grow. I am convinced that in the coming years, we will see the continuation of high-level contacts, including interparliamentary contacts and meetings on the level of various state institutions, local authorities, municipalities, businesses and people to people 72

We try to increase the presence of Polish culture, Polish music and art, Polish film and especially the Polish literature in Albania. We welcome the growing interest of Albanian readers towards Polish poetry and prose. Our Embassy in Tirana takes care about close links with the Albanian literary and publishing circles. In December of the last year the second volume of the Almanac of Polish literature in Albanian language was released, prepared by our Embassy in cooperation with the editorial house "Aleph".

It includes a cross-section of best of the best translations into Albanian, which were published in recent years. An important component of the Almanac are the essays and reflections of renowned Albanian literary critics and journalists on topics related to Polish literature, often outgoing far beyond the strictly literary boundaries. Almanac also includes the anthology part, showing the selected authors through short examples of their works in current translations. I can say such interest is not the road in one direction. In the Polish universities, there are active Balkan studies departments, aimed, among others, on specialization in Albanian studies as well. Polish students with keen interest learn the language, history and culture of such a beautiful and interesting country like Albania. We also preserve close contacts with the Albanian graduates of Polish universities and schools.

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Through the Albanian-Polish friendship society we manage to keep close contacts and the society helps us to promote Polish culture in Albania. When speaking about culture, I cannot forget to mention the Chopin society of Albania which helps to promote the music of Chopin and other famous Polish composers throughout Albania. All these peoplegraduates, musicians, translators and lovers of Poland who are truly devoted to their work are a great asset to the promotional work of the Embassy and they are the true ambassadors of Polish culture. Even with the best of people it is easier and more efficient to promote the culture of one’s country having at disposal larger financial means coming from sponsor companies that support such undertakings. As the head of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tirana I put special focus in expanding our business contacts between the two countries. In recent years, the bilateral trade turnover is

June 2017

slowly but steadily growing, although still in not fully satisfactory dimension for both parties. There is certainly great potential for the increase of turnover. Embassy helps in establishing contacts between economic institutions and in the B2B format. In order to expand the interest among Polish investors, the Embassy has edited a special guide for Polish companies dealing with the essential information concerning doing business in Albania, as well as an additional annex on real estate questions. The publications are updated and are available on-line.

How far and close is the image of Albania in Poland when we talk of tourism destinations? In your view, what is missing to be done? Extremely positive is the inflow of Polish tourists to Albania. In the last years, Albania is ranked to be among the first ten most popular tourist destination for my compatriots. The number of Polish tourists is growing every year. According to our preliminary assessments, around 70.000 Polish tourists visited Albania in 2016. They are encouraged by sincere hospitality of Albanians; a great climate, enchanting sea, sandy beaches, breathtaking mountains and views and many more natural and historical values of your country. It is my hope that the influx of Polish tourists, Polish companies will follow, especially that you have a huge potential to expand Albania as a tourist

destination. Poles have always been fond of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The number of Polish tourists can increase manifold but in order to achieve this aim, good infrastructure is badly needed. I do not mean only transport infrastructure on sea land and air but also tourist infrastructure including hotels, motels, hostels, camping grounds, restaurants, clean beaches, yacht and boat rentals, marinas etc. You will not achieve this modernization jump on your own. Few countries in the world could. To reach this goal you need to open up more to foreign investments which will enrich you nationally, regionally and individually. I also hope that Albanians will discover more the beauty of my country – its historical monuments, mountains and ski resorts, sea, thousands of lakes, vast forests and wildlife as well as the Polish hospitality towards foreigners

Poland is an unwavering staunch supporter of Albania in its EU accession drive. This is not a new position. Poland has been a strong supporter of euro-atlantic integration for all countries willing to join and meeting the requirements. The preservation of an open door policy of EU and NATO has been one of the pillars of our foreign policy.

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Blessings from Christine Lee (the first from left to right)

CHRISTINE LEE! Christine Lee is from South Korea and she has been living in Albania for four years now. You can easily distinguish her among millions of people because she has a big shining heart. She is the director of “HOSO”, a non-profit organization operating in Albania in support of the less fortunate and unprivileged. “I often met my neighbors and they always shared their biggest concern, which was unemployment. Whenever they saw me, they asked if there were any job opportunities for their children. This made me think about their lives and concerning for them ……finally a solution came to my mind regarding how to help them in a practical way and share my love and concerns as a good neighbor for them simultaneously,” Lee explains the way she established HOSO which stands for “Have One, Share One.” Since last September, HOSO is having an experimental training course, which is a free coffee barista course which brings together people from all different social backgrounds, mostly under poverty.

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Please explain the project which is keeping you busy in Albania and the thinking behind your role in it. HOSO stands for “Have One, Share One”. It reflects our belief that if you are in a position where you can share with people less fortunate, then you should share with them – to see that person in the same position one day, doing the same for someone else. HOSO is a non-profit organization, cares for the disadvantaged and underprivileged young people to develop their career skills in Albania. Currently I am serving at HOSO as a director.

What is the motivation for your involvement in this project? I have been living in Albania for four years. I often met my neighbors and they

Where do the opportunities of this project lie for Albania? On September, 2016, HOSO began to open an experimental training course, which was a free Coffee Barista Course. We invited Mr. Do who is the CEO of MOI coffee company from South Korea. He shared his expertise and knowledge about coffee business. It was a great opportunity for those who attended the first course. Once we had a class at the Lincoln Center at Blloku, Tirana, but we have not yet located in a place, we are looking forward to seeing many opportunities that whoever is willing to open a venue to us having this charitable class for those who are in need. This year, an Albanian donor created us the possibility to give a free class. I am so happy to see more Albanians sharing their hearts and love to their society. We select 10

trainees each time and give them an intensive class for a month. They came from all different social backgrounds, mostly under poverty.

How would you characterize your experience in Albania and what impresses you most in it? Albania a beautiful country. I am enjoying the beauty of its nature and I love all the fresh vegetables and fruits. Mostly I am impressed by Albanian’s hospitality and their warm hearts. Albanians are mostly friendly and warm. They seem to be happy although they often go through tough times. They are willing to share what they have and treat their guests nicely. They are amiable and open with foreigners visiting their country

Significant ability that Albanian has is a gift of language. I was surprised that Albanians speak several languages like Italian, Greek and English quite commonly. I haven’t found any difficulty to communicate with Albanians, as a foreigner. It will be a great manpower resource in the society, if they focus on tourism business.

During the free coffee barista course at Lincoln Center, ish-Blloku.

always shared their biggest concern, which was unemployment. Whenever they saw me, they asked if there were any job opportunities for their children. This made me think about their lives and concerning for them ……finally a solution came to my mind regarding how to help them in a practical way and share my love and concerns as a good neighbor for them simultaneously. This is the reason why I started thinking a vocational training center for the disadvantaged young people in this society. I came to understand that these young people need a purpose in life, backed by professional skills and a conviction to contribute positively back to their society. Other than food and money, job-training opportunities are what they need most to change their lives. June 2017

Christine Lee with IFIT group at Rogner Hotel.

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Hartmut Jarosch, DIHA's Managing-Director

DIHA to Find New Opportunities for the Albanian Enterprises From DIHA’s annual business survey this year, 76 % of DIHA members who participated in the survey would reinvest in Albania. By Rudina HOXHA

Hartmut Jarosch, Managing-Director of DIHA (German Association of Industry and Trade in Albania), appointed in this post early this year seems enthusiastic about the next level he intends to bring the relations between Albanian enterprises and Germany. “We aim to connect Albanian enterprises with companies from Europe for trade, investment, joint ventures, know-how exchange and capacity building. Within Albania, we connect Albanian enterprises with the German/Austrian and Swiss companies through networking events. One format we use is called “Speed Business Meeting,” he highlights in an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA. Furthermore, Jarosch underlined that DIHA will become more active to promote Albania as a potential location for German speaking investors, mainly for the production and service sectors, but not to be underestimated is also the agricultural sector. 78

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA FOREIGN INVESTMENTS

How do you consider DIHA’s role in Albania and what novelties or new elements have you planned to add to it?

How can cooperation between DIHA and Albanian enterprises be strengthened?

On the one hand, DIHA is committed as a voice of the German speaking economy for the interests in economic matters in Albania. On the other hand, we develop relations for Albanian enterprises to Germany.

We can strengthen such cooperation by offering client orientated services towards all Albanian economic sectors. Our approach is to find new opportunities for the Albanian enterprises, especially on the German speaking market in Europe. We aim to connect Albanian enterprises with companies from Europe for trade, investment, joint ventures, know-how exchange and capacity building.

DIHA will become more active to promote Albania as a potential location for German speaking investors, mainly for the production and service sectors, but not to be underestimated is also the agricultural sector. We try to boost the economic potential of Albania on Fairs (Caravan, Motor, Tourism - CMT 2017 Stuttgart) as well as in other economic formats in Germany (East – West Economic Forum in Bavaria in October 2017). We, as a reliable partner for the DIHA members, offer adequate services to our clients as well as to potential investors. Our networking approach is not only limited to connect our members with each other. We also cooperate closely with the German Embassy, DAW, the international development agencies like GIZ/CIM as well as with other chambers and business associations.

June 2017

For this reason we work closely together with the German Chambers of Industry and Trade Network and even with the Chamber of Crafts in Germany. Within Albania we connect Albanian enterprises with the German/Austrian and Swiss companies through networking events. One format we use is called “Speed Business Meeting”. The latest Speed Business Event for DIHA members was held in May 2017. How much does today’s Albanian macro-economic situation suit German investor? What do German businessmen most commonly suggest to you when it comes to further improving the business climate in Albania?

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nowadays is giving the framework to investors. First of all the security of any foreign investment needs to be assured. Every country will find itself in a competition with other countries worldwide. To attract FDIs for Albania, transparency and image campaigns might attract investors. Although the second step which is more important – is the word of mouth and positive examples of enterprises which have already invested in Albania.

First of all, many German speaking businessmen have not enough information about Albania and especially about Albania as a business location. It is necessary to boost the image of Albania as an attractive alternative in particular for production and services within Europe.

management, transparency of procurement and last but not least the security of investment. But also the qualification of the labor force as well as competitive labor costs are important factors.

In your view, what measures can be taken What investors mainly would like to find to increase the amount of foreign direct are political, legal and economic stability, investment (FDI) in Albania? a well working infrastructure especially in the fields of energy security, logistics, land The competition in a globalized economy

These are the best advertisements for further Foreign Direct Investments. High transparent legal standards and security of investments are important, as well as a quick reaction towards all potential investors. Incentives for an investor can be also a positive investment factor but only if the overall investment framework shows a positive picture to foreign direct investors. Where has DIHA been most successful so far in Albania? DIHA is active in Albania since 2008 and Source: DIHA

Hartmut Jarosch and the Ambassador of Germany to Albania, H.E. Susanne SchĂźtz during one of DIHA's activities.

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Source: DIHA

has nowadays about 80 members. Albanian, German, Austrian and Turkish enterprises are members. DIHA is refinancing itself from the service we offer to members and investors, from our membership fees and from other projects we are offering. Next to the well known Oktoberfest which is organized every year, we offer networking events as well as business events like information about new tax, custom and legal affairs in Albania. We take care about German business delegations who want to visit specific economic sectors in Albania. We offer services to visit or participate in German Fairs like Cologne or Munich Fair and the Toy Fair in Nürnberg. We promote internship programmes inside Albania (WUS) and to Germany (Internship Programme of German Business for the Countries of the Western Balkans). We also promote the dual vocational education. Is the Chamber taking part in the implementation of the dual vocational model in Albania? Yes, DIHA is very much interested to promote the dual vocational model in Albania. But we should be realistic in this case. A one to one copy of the worldwide successful dual vocational education June 2017

model will not be done overnight. But we should start with some modules, for example the combination of practical vocational education in enterprises and the theoretical part in vocational collages. There are already first steps towards this direction in Albania. A study for ‘Apprentices Schemes for Youth Employability in Albania’ is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. Here two vocational schools are project partners. DIHA is on its way to offer a project specific module for one vocational school in Albania. We are informing high schools about the dual vocational education. We work closely together with the GIZ (German Development Cooperation) and especially with DIMAK (Qendra gjermane e informacionit per migracion, arsim profesional dhe karriere), as well as with other stakeholders. In our pipeline is also a plan to have a virtual Career Fair in September this year in Albania. Next to that we always promote the dual vocational education to our member companies, which gives them better opportunities to recruit staff which they will educate esp. to their specific needs. This is also a step forward to become more competitive if they have high qualified employees.

How do you predict the impact of incoming elections in Albania on local economy and foreign investments in general? Predictions can be right and wrong and there are always two sides of the coin. Let’s wait after the elections and see what will be then the challenges and opportunities for the private sector as well as for new foreign investments

However, I can give you one statement. From our DIHA members: perspective of the local business satisfaction has been rated much better in comparison to last year. From our annual business survey this year, 76 % of DIHA members who participated in the survey would reinvest in Albania. 81


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BETTY LARDA Betty Larda is the First Counselor for Economic & Commercial Affairs and Head of the Office for Economic& Commercial Affairs in the Embassy of Greece in Tirana. She was born in Piraeus – Greece. She has studied Social and Political Science and International Relations at the Panteio University, Athens. She has a post-graduate degree in the European Economy, from Tilburg University-Netherlands, and a MSc in European Institutions, from Panteio University. She is also a graduate of the Economic and Commercial Affairs Department of the Greek National School of Public Administration. She is serving for 24 years in the diplomatic service. In December 2012, she assumed her duties as the Head of the Office for Economic and Commercial Affairs of the Embassy of Greece in Tirana.From October 2017, she is going to serve in FYROM as the Head of the Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje. She speaks Greek, English, French and Turkish. She is married and a mother of two children.

I Enjoyed Albania Until the Last Day What are your favorite hotels? It depends on the scope of my travel. If I travel for business, I prefer the hotels that are close to my business, so I don’t need to spend time to reach my destination. If I travel for pleasure, my favorite kind of the hotels are those that make me feel like at home and provide an atmosphere of pleasure and relaxation. Value for money is another important factor for choosing a hotel.

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What makes a hotel outstanding? For me comfort is important. I’m also looking for quality service, friendly staff, clean and spacious rooms. A rich and delicious breakfast is highly appreciated. Usually I prefer to take my lunch and my dinner elsewhere around the area in order to discover the original taste of the local cuisine. The combination of all the above plus a nice view and decent prices, according to me, make a hotel outstanding.

Where do you like to spend holidays, in the city, on the beach or in the mountains? As a Greek, I would like to spend my summer holidays near to the sea. So, I always appreciate crystal clear water and charming beach. For long weekends, I wouldn’t mind to spend my time either in the mountains or in the city and discover new tourism destinations.

Which are your preferred destinations? For summer vacation, I always prefer to spend my time in Greece, because there is a great variety of attractive destinations for every taste: islands, mainland, mountains, beaches etc. It would take almost a life time to discover everything. In Greece you could never get bored, because every destination is different and exciting. My profession gives me the chance to travel a lot, so I have the opportunity to see different places, meet different people and get familiar with new cultures, mentalities etc. But when I really want to relax and recharge my batteries I always prefer to go to a Greek destination. I invite you to do the same and you will understand what I really mean ;-)

Where was your last trip?

What is never missing in your luggage?

My last trip was a long weekend to Croatia in Dubrovnik.

I don’t know, it depends from my mood and on the destination. I don’t have something particular and absolutely necessary to carry. A necessary thing for my travels is definitely a photo camera, which nowadays is attached to the smartphone that also includes a video camera, PC etc.

My friends and I had wonderful time. It was a road trip. We traveled from Tirana to Montenegro and then to Croatia. We had the chance to see a little bit of Budva and Kotor and then we spent two nights at the Castle city of Dubrovnik. On our way back to Tirana, we had difficulties at the borders because of the enormous traffic and that was the only problem in our trip. I hope that in the following years, the road infrastructure will improve, so that tourists could travel easier along all this beautiful countries that lay at the Ionian and Adriatic Seas.

As someone can imagine in my luggage you will find what you usually find in a woman’s luggage.

What is your way to combat jet lag? I don’t combat jet lag. I just wait patiently to overcome it!

What is the country, which offered you great experience and the worst one? As I had explained before, the country that could offer a great experience is Greece. Because in Greece you will never get bored, you can always discover something new and exciting which it will satisfy all tastes and moods: romance, adventure, culture, history, food, sun, sea, splendid beaches, exciting mountains, incredible islands, recreation, entertainment, amusement, sports, fun… you just name it and you will find it in Greece.

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Greek Embassy, we have organized a lot of successful events and we have great cooperation with all the above.

How would you characterize the Albanian experience? This year is my last one in Albania. From October, I will take up my new duties in the neighboring country of FYROM I will serve there as the Head of the Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje. At the end of my assignment in Tirana, after almost 5 years, I feel satisfied because it was a very productive and interesting period for me. I had the chance to assist the Greek business community to expand its activity in Albania.

Bad experience? I didn’t really have any bad experience in any of my trips, because I always consider my travels as chances to learn something new, so the worst scenario is just to dislike the destination. In this case I won’t choose this destination again for my vacation.

Where should everyone go at least once in their life? Definitely, someone should go at least once in his/her life in Santorin! Why? Because, it is the most unique, romantic, adventurous and beautiful island you have ever seen. In Santorini, you can find a breathtaking view to the volcano (from Caldera) and the most famous sunset across the world (from Oia).

least there you can find amazing and colorful beaches such as: the famous black beach, the red beach and white beach. I will stop here because I could speak for hours for this island.

Your favorite hotel in Albania? In Tirana there are some quality hotels but my favorite is the brand new 5 star hotel “The PLAZA Tirana” because of the excellent view, the quality service and delicious food provided at both restaurants Convivium and Panevino.

With no doubt, Santorini is a place to visit! Serene, blue skies meet glistening white buildings, that sit perched atop rocky red earth surrounded by seemingly neverending water and uninhabited islands. To top it off, if you make your way to the northern part of Santorini in the late afternoon, you’ll catch one of the most truly memorable sunsets you’ve ever seen. Also in Santorini you can enjoy amazing food and local wines, wonderfully fresh seafood. Santorini has several vineyards and excellent wines to enjoy, as well as a popular Greek staple, ouzo. Last but not 84

Other hotels that I also like in Tirana are SHERATON Hotel, Tirana International Hotel and Rogner Hotel. As Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs of the

As it is well known, the Greek business community here is important and rather thriving, given that the Greek investments rank first in the FDI stock in Albania and Greece is considered as one of the most important trade partners of Albania. Regarding the everyday life, from the first minute I arrived in Albania, I was quickly well-adjusted because the environment, the food and the mentality of the Albanian people was so familiar to me. Also the fact that a lot of people speak the Greek language makes me feel like home. I made a lot of friends here and I had great time. I enjoyed the beauty of the countryside and its virgin nature

When I first arrived here, I came with low expectations but at the end I’m glad that I’m leaving with such many nice memories of the country. July 2017


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Playmix Welcomes Everyone in the World of Sports Playmix association involves people of many fields including: architects, engineers, instructors, investors, entrepreneurs, tourism agents and many other.

Playmix© is a non-profit organisation founded two years ago by two lads, Ben Meqemeja and Florian Voko, both sports persuasive enthusiasts. The organisation’s aim is to create sports activities and to respectfully embrace everyone’s game. The foundation wants to help in developing any sportsman’s activity meanwhile encouraging certainty in every professional instructor demanding more popularity for their sport.

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IN THE DETERMINATION TO PROMOTE SPORTS ACTIVITIES AND SPORTS CLUBS IN THE ALBANIAN SOCIETY WE HAVE A FULL-FLEDGED FEELING IN OUR PURPOSES:

• Facilitate the creation of new clubs for different sports • Facilitate the creation of new sports activities • Train youth in professional level and various sports activities • Conduct researches and projects for new areas where sports activities can be exercised • Increase the participation of citizens in any physical activity

co-ordinates competitions, conferences, mass-sport-events and other educational activities. Our effectiveness is measured on how we will provide facilities and opportunities for the members to play the game and meet socially, how well will organise competitions and matches, how well will we encourage and welcome new people into the world of sports

Playmix association involves people of many fields including: architects, engineers, instructors, investors, entrepreneurs, tourism agents and many other. The scope is to invest in static or removable infrastructures providing safety for any sports (even extreme) impassioned. Playmix maintains and develops regular communication between the different certain national federations and also

Future projects: • BMX Academy (kids exposure with bicycle) • Offroad Academy (enhance the driving quality)

July 2017

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businesses and exporters. “Exports to Ukraine have rised over 30 percent in the last two years, which is a very positive figure.

Albania-Ukraine Economic Forum, the Best Start of Bilateral Cooperation The first ever economic forum Albania-Ukraine was held in Tirana on April 28, 2017. Albanian Export Center, in cooperation with the Albanian Investment Development Agency, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tirana, Union of Chambers of Commerce, organized the forum which was deemed by all the participants as the best start of this bilateral cooperation that will continue with Free Trade Agreements between the two countries.

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Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine - Alexey Perevezentsev, ex-AIDA's Executive Director - Genti Beqiri, President of "Albanian Export Center" - Mr. Alban Zusi, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ukraine Gennadiy Chyzhykov, as well as other representatives from the Albanian trade and industry chambers and business associations were present in this event. Ex-AIDA's Executive Director, Genti Beqiri made a brief presentation on the favorable climate and opportunities to invest in Albania, as well as the support that the Agency provides to Albanian

We have some offers to participate in some joint fairs and intensifying information exchanges through Enterprise Europe Network, ” said Mr. Beqiri. According to him, there are all the possibilities for further increase of trade exchanges between the two countries, and for Ukrainian investments in our country in form of partnerships with Albanian companies, mainly in the food industry. During the forum, there were signed two Memorandums of Cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce, whose representatives expressed their conviction and willingness to continue this cooperation with other joint events between the two countries in order to strengthen economic cooperation and promoting exports of “MADE IN ALBANIA” products, which are missing in the Ukrainian market. The forum continued with B2B meetings between companies of the two countries present in this event

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Celebrating Summer with CCIFA On June 17, 2017, the French Chamber of Commerce in Albania (CCI France Albanie - (CCIFA) organized "Summer Feast" at "Golem Villa. As many as 90 people were part of this nice celebration including the Ambassador of France to Albania, H.E. Christina VASAK, Albanian Minister of Innovation and Public Administration, Mrs. Milena HARITO, President of CCI France Albania, Mr. Julien ROCHE, Chief of Cabinet at Albanian Foreign Ministry, Mr. Pirro VENGU, Adviser of Premier, Mr.Tomi FRASHERI as well as many CCIFA members and friends

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FOLLOWBUSINESSALBANIA ART & CULTURE

Riad Ymeri: Always Dare to Go for It! By Rudina HOXHA

Riad Ymeri, an internationally well-known tenor from Kosovo, has always counted on one point: to be determined and unshaken to reach what you love. A single moment, when he decided to take the risk instead of sleeping on a cold morning in New York, gave him the chance to embrace Wichita Grand Opera. Ymeri thanks God for helping him in his plans but also his home-country and his mother country. “I proudly represent from where I come and the love that I have for my two beloved countries: Kosovo and Albania. Besides the professional aspect, I do a great job at promoting good things we possess in our countries! I express it very proudly! I am an artist! That's who I am! I love my home-country and my mother country!,� he said in an exclusive interview with FOLLOW BUSINESS ALBANIA.

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How and when did you begin your career? - When I finished my high school of music "Prenk Jakova", in the city that I was bornPrishtina, I started thinking about the future! I was asking myself: "who I am going to be; what path should I take; do I like the education, or working in any business will be the best solution for me to succeed in career..! Hmmm! If the music education is the best thinking for me now? No, no! Maybe I just should keep working as I used to be?!! Huh! But, do I really like to be a musician?! Indeed, it doesn't sound bad at all!"... At that time I didn't have any big interest on music. Moreover, becoming a professional opera singer; an artist; a tenor. After a while questioning myself, I was so anxious, confused! But after confusions like that, when intention is good - to achieve good things in life, the universe works to help you realize them! The perfect matching with that was idealism! ... I decided in myself, for the big life-project, creating a kind of inner-peace. I discussed the idea with my beloved June 2017


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parents; my angels, who I really owe everything for supporting me so much in pursuing my career during all the time. I got once more lucky by having support from my family, which makes the difference in this case!! It was very important for me! We have never been a rich family. But whenever I said I want something, they made it happen! In this case, I wanted something different, the least expected thing for them!!! A lazy teenager but talented, comes to them and talks about big ambitions! I was so serious! They saw me that I was talking from my heart, and something was boiling inside my body and my mind!They felt it! I never will forget their silence in those moments. They were just listening to me, with no question what made me to think like that, or so...!! I said: "I want a piano which costs 3000-4000 Euros, so I can study music: musicology and singing. I want to make it! I want to be a musician! They were not talking but listening, again! At the end of what I had to tell, they just approved their going to help me, and it was very good idea indeed! Right after that, I didn't want to waste anymore time! I asked some of my friends:" who is the best singing teacher in academy?", I went the day after to her -

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who later became my beloved teacher, and helped me a lot during studies with her! I kept doing private lessons in singing for two years before I got accepted to the academy of music in Prishtina, meanwhile in a short period of time I got a new model of pianino, a black color, mat "Petrof". The font of petrof is in Gold. I liked it! I still love its elegancy in my room! The sound is fantastic as well! It took me two years of competition, and finally admission happened after all. I was officially a student at the academy of music at the class of Merita Juniku. The first steps of dream, just came true after two years! I remember, I was very happy when I first went to meet her - to hear my voice...! The first comment she said to me was: "your voice is so beautiful and powerful!" It couldn't be a better motivation for me, at the moment with full of questions and and a few dilemmas, about my future career. "I got the voice!" One thing which is quite interesting and weird sometimes! While in books; movies; real life, the greatest talents always has been told that they will never make it! To

me, mostly it happened the opposite! Let's see what's going to happen?!! Everything is relative in life--nothing is Absolute!???...

What was your source of inspiration and why? I think that Inspiration comes with ambition! My inspiration became my dream! I started to plan and the inspiration kept growing over and over after hard work, good grades on studying music, motivation, and the love I just started to feel about classical music -- I just loved it! I thank God for helping me to keep my plans moving forward! Because, as I planned it, it has happened so far!

How did your childhood influence on your career decision? My childhood had not much in common with my career, except in classes of music where I was always chosen to sing. I was a good pupil in elementary school. Twice I competed with my classmates in school competitions in History and Albanian Language in a citywide schools competition.

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Imagine if I will be so stupid to feed my ego, and kept sleeping!!! Definitely it would have been one of my biggest mistakes in life! The foundation decided to give me a scholarship to study with people they think that can help me! Just a few months later I won a scholarship, where I’m currently studying with the coach from the "Metropolitan Opera" Mr. Steve and a very famous voice teacher in NY Mr. Levy C.

I've been trained for 5 years in "Karate" as well!

course, didn’t happen! It's hard to happen, but I want to try!

Meanwhile, in my teenage hood I kept going in the high school of music but not so much interest for the career in future. I was more interested in working and having fun. I also managed a bar when I was only 16, and it was quite successful.

I saw that before the competition they were doing a master-class with Deborah Birnbaum. I asked if I can do the master class as an active singer?!! They told me that they has already chosen the singers who was going to sing, but I can attend as passive singer, which means you just can be there to watch the master class. I was sleeping in the morning, I woke up at 8, but on cold days, you sometimes will rather sleep that going to a master class that you don’t have idea how is going to be, who are those people, if it's worth that master class?!! I first said no! I better go under the sweet blanket! So soon I just realized that ABSOLUTELY it is a better idea going there than continue sleeping!

Tell us please about your experience with Wichita Grand Opera. Can you describe it please? I’m currently living in New York since March 2014. I won three awards in different competitions: 3rd prize at the "Gerda Lissner International Voice Competition" and a Grant Prize at the "Giulio Gari". I was a candidate for the admissions at the Juilliard School for master’s degree. However I didn't make it tat the Juilliard at the final round auditions! Desperate! It was very cold in NYC. I mean very cold! That day after I was rejected, I turned back home with my wife - Nora, who was consoling me. We met with her sister who invisted us at her apartment in Astoria Queens. She talked on the phone with her voice teacher Karen. She encouraged me to continue my efforts. Karen told me to look at some upcoming voice competitions in NYC. The first upcoming was Gerda Lissner. But since the deadline was over, I still tried to write them an email, asking about exceptional admission!? Of 98

I went there, casually dressed, my first entrance to the "Liederkranz" building I smelled something good! I said it looks good! A tall tenor entered the class, I was waiting to start the presentation of the day by the president Steve, and he was thanking important people from the Met, who honored the event with their presence!!! Luckily somebody canceled, so I was asked to sing! I wasn't psychically prepared!! They were very important people! But always dare to go for it! I did a great job! Everybody liked my progress in that class! I’m like a sponge, you give the tip how to do it, and I do it!!! Simply it was an amazing experience!

In the meantime, I was performing at the famous Carnegie Hall, United Nations event, several concerts in NYC at the "Columbus Citizen Foundation. I have also performed opera roles with some companies like: Dicapo opera, New York Lyric Opera, etc. I also made it to get in the roster in one of the biggest opera agencies in NYC "Lombardo Associates", where from now on I'm going to be managed in my further career. So, the Wichita experience came by my agent when he called me a couple of days before I came here to ask me if I would like to be a part of Wichita Opera Young Artist Program. It was the last minute decision and without having much time I decided to participate. The program was very good where we were trained very well with distinguished artists, including master classes with the legendary bass Samuel Ramey, etc. As a part of preparation, we had three major concerts with the Salina Symphony in three different cities: McPherson, Salina, and Wichita. Each of venues that we performed was amazingly beautiful theatres: McPherson Opera House, Steifel Theatre, Bradly Fair(outdoor concert at the lake) and Century 2. Simply amazing concerts, with amazing colleagues - young raising singers. After my successes on my all performances and raising progress, I've made it to convince the management to give me the cover the title role of "Don Carlo". It felt good to me and very motivating as a young artist to convince them in such a short period of time, for less than two months! Covering the title role of "Don Carlo" of Verdi is very significant to me! Also for the fact that Wichita Grand Opera is one of the best opera houses in the region. The casting singers, who sing here, are very distinguished internationally such as: Sam Ramey, Joyce DiDonato, Marcello Giordani, Ricardo Tamura, June 2017


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Gaston Rivero, etc. Next year I'm going to be in their plans for the next season projects, performing a principle role besides the stars they usually invite to sing there.

What is your talent in your opinion? Talent is God's beautiful masterpiece and mercy to us, for us in this world. To enjoy it fully, you have to work hard, and lots of devotion! God loves that!

Who has benefitted more from the fact that you are from Kosovo, You or Kosovo from your fame? The benefit is reciprocal! And I’m so happy that is less like that! First I was young and i needed help for my projects in the country and abroad from the Kosovo institutions. I got supported many times by some of institutions like Municipality of Prishtina and Ministry of Culture time after time, friends, and media. I’m very thankful for that. In exchange, day after day, I'm proving that I was one who deserved to be supported! Only in US, since the last year when I came and started to perform here, except competitions and brochures, I got reviews in very important newsagencies/newspapers like: Brooklyn Daily Eagle in NYC, where I have had more than three reviews, at the Italian Voice, The Wichita Eagle, etc, where it presents me as a Kosovar tenor "Riad Ymeri from Kosovo...". I’m getting even more support in US where I got the scholarship for studying with top-professionals in NYC which costs thousands of dollars, without being an American! They just valued the talent and the potential. There have also been cases when my projects in Kosovo were rejected. However, I proudly represent from where I come and the love that I have for my two beloved countries: Kosovo and Albania. Besides the professional aspect, I do a great job at promoting good things we possess in our countries! Just days before, a colleague of mine said:" I really admire how passionately you talk about your country". In this case Kosovo and our mother country Albania. June 2017

Some of my colleagues may be bothered because I express it a lot, but I can't keep the love I have for it only inside me/for me! I express it very proudly! I am an artist! That's who I am! I love my home-country and my mother country!

What is your relationship to travel? I love to travel and I have travelled a lot. Except I hate traveling 10 hours with car, plane or whatever!!! Traveling is a worthy life-experience and could be very educational experience in many aspects for everybody that get the chance to travel. Certainly, the travel will be a part of my life, as I pretend to sing all over the world!!

What is the secret to having a continually stronger professional career like yours? There is no secret for succeeding in our opera-world in most cases! Everybody knows that: a talent, fate, devotion, hard-working and above all patience and sacrifice are the key to the successful career!! Even it takes away from your private life sometimes, but it is-what it is! You take it, or leave it! I’m quoting one of the greatest conductors and composers Leonard Bernstein who said: "To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time."

Will you come to Albania to give concerts? I used to perform at the National Opera and Ballet in Tirana during seasons 20112013, where I sang major leading roles of Tamino in "Magic Flute", Nemorino "Elixir of Love", Don Ottavio in "Don Giovanni" Damjan Mirosha in "Skenderbeu", Walther in "Tannhauser" etc. I have very good memories from the theatre. Because in Kosovo unfortunately we don't have an opera house and it seems like is not going to happen... I still consider that TKOB is our only national theatre and I love to perform there! Hopefully soon I will be back there and enjoy it to the maximum! I really missed it a lot!

For the end, I thank you Rudina for this profile-interview. I really would like also to thank people who supported me and believed in my talent!! They always will have a special place in my heart! 99


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A Small Country like Albania Cannot Afford to Destroy its Coastline Axel-Stéphane Smørgrav, was born in Oslo, Norway in 1969. With a degree in computer science from Oslo University, he worked for Telenor and Ericsson in Norway and in California USA, while he has been working for ADP in France since 2003. Currently R&D Manager at ADP. He is married to Albanian-born Anila while his hobbies/passions include sailing, flying and Anila :)

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Please can you make a presentation of yourself and how do you see yourself in this adventurous initiative? I was born into a family where none of my parents had any interest in either flying (except commercially) or sailing. In my early childhood, we travelled a bit across Europe and even across the Atlantic to Canada. Later on, living in Oslo, the air travel was associated with summer vacation and visiting family in France, something I always looked forward to. As a child I found books about aviation in one of my uncles’ bookshelf and loved them. There were mostly biographies by military pilots during WW2, tales of the early days of aviation and the French Aeropostale and even one book where a flight attendant described her flying

experience, the transition from propeller to jet and how that changed aviation. Although I did not really know it, those books must have made an impression on me because years later, after I got engaged, my mother showed my then future wife drawings and ceramic figures that I had made as a child, and they were all of airplanes. On the other hand, I discovered the joys of sailing during a summer holiday in France when I was 18 years old. Another uncle had a small catamaran and participated in regattas. One day, he offered me to come with him and I was bitten. The idea that I would myself one day be able to fly an airplane was therefore very far from my mind until I started working as a security officer at the Oslo airport while June 2017


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Axel-Stéphane Smørgrav with his spouse, Anila.

studying computer science at university. There were a few of my colleagues back then that had professional pilot’s licenses with multi-engine and instrument rating but could not find a flying job. So in the meantime they worked at airport security and volunteered as flight instructors at the local aeroclub. That’s how I learned that there was something called a private pilot’s license that allowed the holder to act as pilot in command on light, singleengine aircraft, that there were clubs that provided training and aircraft.

In September 2016 there were two events planned that I wanted to attend. The first one was Anila’s birthday party in Berat (she did not know about that one so I had to invent another story), and what is called a fly-in, a gathering of European pilots, on the island of Braç in Croatia.

that particular aircraft.

How was your trip to Albania and Balkans?

Originally I intended to fly down to Corsica, Elba, Sicily or Calabria, then across Italy and across the Adriatic to Tirana, spend some time in Albania, thereafter to Braç and home to Paris. For various reasons I found that flying through Italy was not something I wanted to do.

With a well-equipped airplane and a qualified pilot, flying from north-western Europe to Albania with a light aircraft is actually not that adventurous. We had previously flown all over the western US and a good part of northern Europe, but we had never been to eastern Europe or the Balkans, apart from Croatia, Greece (Corfu and Athens) and of course Albania. In 1997 we toyed with the idea of flying to Albania from Oslo, but given the events that unfolded later that year, we cancelled.

Mostly due to the relative hostility towards light piston aircraft in southern Italy. I therefore looked for alternative routes. There is a big divide called the Alps which is not really crossable with the particular aircraft I was planning to use, so I needed to circumvent the mountains either to the east or to the west. To the west, it would take me through Italy. To the east I would need to fly past Salzburg and almost all the way to Linz before heading across the Alps at the altitudes I was capable of flying with

When we travel by light airplane we try to spend one full day everywhere we stop. So we will arrive on day D, spend day D+1 sightseeing, and on D+2 we will leave for our next destination. We also try to limit each leg to a maximum of 3 hours of flying. Unfortunately we had time constraints because we had to be in Albania on a specific day, so I ended up suggesting we flew to Beograd, spent one full day there and left early on D+2 for Skopje where we would only spend one night, then Ohrid where we would also only spend one night before making it to Tirana.

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Then making a straight line from Linz to Tirana I realised there were a number of countries that neither of us had visited, including Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania and Macedonia. That made this route particularly interesting.

From Tirana and onwards it was difficult to decide what to visit, but we ended up with Mostar after having read a very good blog on the subject, and then from Mostar to Braç. 103


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The route back to Paris would be improvised depending on the weather. And that is, more or less, what we ended up doing. There were some additional constraints with respect to flight planning. I depended on the airports being able to supply AVGAS, i.e. aviation gasoline. That fuel is for example not available in Ohrid or Mostar. Beograd however probably has the cheapest AVGAS in Europe. Even Tirana turned out to have AVGAS although the rumour in the aviation community was that they did not. Airport opening hours is also a concern. Mostar for example, has relatively restricted opening hours. Braç closed due to work on a runway extension. Then, least but not least, I needed approvals from the Macedonian and Albanian civil aviation authorities to enter their respective territories, as well as slots. I got very good help from both the Macedonian and the Albanian CAA to do these formalities. Unfortunately in the end we were not able to land at the Tirana airport because

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we encountered a stationary front over the Balkans that caused a lot of thunderstorms. We therefore parked the airplane at Ohrid and continued to Albania by car. Later we drove back to Ohrid to pick up the airplane and had a very nice flight from Ohrid, across the lake to Pogradec, then across Albania to Vlorë and coastwise past Durrës to Velipojë. From there we continued up the coast to Dubrovnik and then Mostar.

How do you see Albania from up above? What do you make out of it? I love mountainous and coastal landscapes, and Albania offers both. Seeing a country from above you get a better perception of the logistical challenges that exist (transportation of goods, electricity), why the inhabitants of neighbouring valleys have so different languages. From the air everything looks so peaceful. The small man-made imperfections are no longer visible; you are withdrawn from bustling traffic. You do not see the borders; these man-made divides across which people on both sides look across

with a lot of circumspection and distrust although, if you look closer, they have common origins, history, culinary traditions and theyhave generally more things in common than things that divide them, except for the language. Only Tirana Approach telling you on the radio that the Montenegrin authorities cannot find your flight plan and you are temporarily denied entry into Montenegro’s airspace is there to remind

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countries likeTurkey, Egypt and Tunisia. Albania should not endeavour to replace those destinations for mass tourism, which in the end does not benefit the local population much. you that the borders do exist and strict border control is enforced.

What impresses you most of Albania and what’s not? What would you recommend to the foreigners to visit at any cost?

development while preserving its character and historical value. Concerning Krujë, the recent developments with high buildings an absolute shame. I do however recommend the museums, and visiting the restored historical centre at the below the castle.

I think that people should visit the more remote places in Albania that have not yet been “developed”, while they still have the chance to see them in their virgin state. I used to love Llogara, but now find it has lost its charm and authenticity. I like Karaburun and hope it will remain military area and therefore preserved from development. I was absolutely enthused by my visit to Butrinti 2001 and hear that it is even better now than it was.

I am afraid that the Albanians are shooting themselves in the foot with all this building activity that is often justified as development of tourism. A small country like Albania cannot afford to destroy its coastline by pouring concrete like has been the case some places on the Spanish and French coasts. One needs to preserve what makes Albania attractive – the main selling points; an unspoilt coastline, a fascinating history and a cultural heritage.

Last summer we were in Berat, which is one prime example of harmonious city

Because of the current security situation, Europeans have turned their backs to

June 2017

In your view, why many world tourists should visit Albania? Definitely to learn about a country that was at the crossroads between East and West. Between the Rome and the Byzantine Empire which were connected by Via Egnatia. A rampart for Europe against the Ottomans, Skanderbeg.

Although that may be a part of history that Albanians wish to forget, I think that promoting one of the most authoritarian dictatorships in communist Europe is interesting to better understand recent European history. 105


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