KUWAIT CITY - "I have come many times to Albania. The things have changed very much in a positive way since the first time of a series of visits to your country," Mr. Hesham I. Al-Waqayan, Deputy Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Cooperation (KFAED) said during an exclusive interview with Albanian Daily News on Tuesday.
The interview was part of the agenda of my visit as Editor-in- Chief of ADN to the State of Kuwait which was supported by the Ministry of Information of the State of Kuwait and the Kuwaiti Embassy in Tirana.
During the visit (May 15-18, 2016) the agenda also included meetings to the Kuwait Journalists Association, the Kuwait Red Crescent, the daily Kuwait Times, and the three-day stay will conclude with a meeting with a Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Information on Wednesday.
Two highlights have been common in all the meetings and talks with the Kuwaiti officials and journalists: the friendly attitude towards Albania and its people seeing it as factor and encouragement for stronger bilateral cooperation in all fields, particularly for promoting people-to-people and media-to-media exchanges, and secondly, the wish for greater prosperity and further consolidation of democracy and rule of law in this Balkan country.
Broader avenues of cooperation
Mr. Hesham I. Al- Waqayan, the KFAED Deputy Director General, unveiled that he would visit soon Tirana to coincide with the inauguration of the Memorial on Albania- Kuwait relations in downtown Tirana funded by the Kuwait Fund.
The establishment of this organization in 1961 was an inspired decision reflecting the wisdom and great enlightenment of the political leadership of the State of Kuwait for supporting developing countries in their efforts to achieve economic and social development. The Fund's operations were confined to Arab countries up to mid 1974 but the relevant law was amended including other developing countries, ADN was told.
A document on the activities of the Fund (1st January 1962- March 2016) referring to the sectoral loans as of 31th March 2016 revealed that Albania was provided loans worth US$113.69 million of which US$78.70 million went to Transport & Communication while US$34.99 million to agriculture.
"We are ready to review and back any initiative of the Albanian Government," said Mr. Al- Waqayan. According to him, Albania is interested in the development of energy, communications, transport sectors. But he appreciated the interest of Albanian authorities to develop further education.
"There is no development without education," he said, seeing a great importance in the vocational education and training.
"Albania is willing to cooperate with us and we will continue," said the number two of the Kuwait Fund. He also highlighted the positive work done in social projects as well as in Muslim religion institutions.
Among others, he underlined that further progress of the media was supported by them.
In the meantime, Mr. Al-Waqayan linked overall development with political stability of a country and in this frame he was pleased with the political situation in Kuwait.
He wished that political stability would prevail in Albania which he considered as factor of peace and stability in the Balkan region.
"Internal political stability is important for Albania and its people. Negotiations between political forces are the best way to overcome differences. We have to talk because only in that way things can be resolved," said Mr. Al-Waqayan.
'Market Albania's tourism'
"Albania is a beautiful country. We should increase the media cooperation which can serve people to know each other better and their respective countries," said Mr. Adnan Khalefa Al-Rashed, Financial Secretary & General Manager of Kuwait Journalists Association, who was accompanied by Jassem M. Kamal at the meeting held at journalists' headquarters in Kuwait City.
Mr. Al-Rashed appreciated the fact that Albania was moving forward along the EU process after being granted the candidate member status in the block. He said that he had planned to pay a visit to Tirana mentioning August as a possibility.
"In this frame of media cooperation, I would like to visit the headquarters of Albanian Daily News, too," he said.
"Tourism promotion must be increased in your country. Kuwaiti citizens want to travel but they want to know first details where they go," he said, and in this frame, according to him, information was important and must become easily available.
"Market the tourism of Albania," he said bringing examples of the regional countries in the effort to attract foreign tourists.
During the conversation the two senior officials of the journalists association of Kuwait made an overview of the media situation in their country highlighting the significance of press freedom.
Such a topic and eventual cooperation of Albanian Daily News with Kuwait Times was discussed during a meeting at the premises of this newspaper published in English since 1961, where I was received on Monday by Ms. Jamie Etheridge, Managing Director, and Mr. Mustafa D. Qamhiya, Executive Editor.