Italian Ambassador to Tirana Massimo Gaiani exclusively for Albanian Daily News

“Italian Language Important for Albanian Youth”

If English is the language of science, technology and probably economy, in a broader sense, Italian is a great language from the cultural, music, literature points of view and knowing Italian could be extremely useful to those who are conducting humanistic studies. In these cases we can even see Italian learned in Albanian schools as a first foreign language

By Genc Mlloja

TIRANA - The Italian Ambassador to Albania, Massimo Gaiani said during an exclusive interview for Albanian Daily News that the Italian government is investing in the way how Italian is taught in Albania, as, according to him, the teaching level should be kept high. In addition, he said on Friday that the Italian should even become first foreign language, especially for those people who choose to attend humanistic studies. Speaking of the current level of the relations between the two countries Ambassador Gaiani said it is already well-known that Albania is a strategic partner of Italy.
The full interview below:
- You have been Italy’s top envoy to Albania for a few months now. Which are your impressions on the relations between Italy and Albania and the Albanians’ stance towards Italy?
- My impression is extremely positive. The relations between Italy and Albania go very well from all the points of view: political, economic, cultural, and even the exchange between our two societies. There has been a slow down of the exchange of visits at high level between Albania and Italy, but now they have restarted at the highest political level.
- Why did these visits slow down?
- This happened because of the political crisis in Albania before and then the change of government in Italy and the fact that the newly appointed government had to focus on the economic crisis. You’re certainly aware that our European responsibilities were the main focus and we had to concentrate all the energies on them. Once we have overcome the crisis of course we can look after the normal relations with our neighboring countries, starting with Albania which is a strategic partner. I must say that the Albanian side also has the same kind of ideas and approach, and we are all here to work for a more fruitful cooperation.
- So these ‘ups and downs’ have not affected the relations at all?
- I wouldn’t say ‘ups and downs’ because the relations have continued normally. The slowdown of visits was affected only for the above mentioned reasons.
- You have been very active in activities organized in universities, high schools and 9-year schools recently. Which is the message you have conveyed to the younger generation in Albania?
- We have seen very favorably the position of the Albanian government to focus on the learning of foreign languages. We know very well that Albanians are very gifted and so it’s wise to invest in the study of foreign languages. We believe that Italian is an extremely useful tool for all Albanians. We must not forget that 40 percent of the commercial flows of Albania are with Italy, that the highest numbers of investors are Italian enterprises, that one of the biggest Albanian communities abroad is located in Italy. All these factors mean that Italian is a very important tool for any young Albanian who wants to find a job, who seeks to have a higher education abroad. Indeed, 70 percent of the Albanians, who go to study abroad, go to Italy, and this is one more reason to learn Italian.
We believe that Italian language, which is already the second mostly spoken and understood language in Albania and it is learned as a second language by almost 40 percent of Albanian students, should become even more known by Albanians, not only as a second language, but in some cases even as a first language.
If English is the language of science, technology and probably economy, in a broader sense, Italian is a great language from the cultural, music, literature points of view and knowing Italian could be extremely useful to those who are conducting humanistic studies. In these cases we can even see Italian as a first language and English as a second one.
We are investing in the way the Italian is taught in Albania. For instance, there will be a seminar at the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Tirana on Monday. It is financed by the Italian government and run by the Foreign Language Faculty.
Very well-known professors and experts in the field of Italian language teaching as a foreign language, such as Prof. Balboni, will offer their experience. The seminar will be attended by teachers of Italian language in Tirana University and it will update the techniques used for the teaching of Italian. Recently we have organized a similar seminar at the University of Elbasan and more will be organized in 2012 all over the Country.
We believe that it is very important to keep the teaching level high, as it is a crucial element of our policy.
- Is this a competition?
- No, there is no competition but I believe that English and Italian could work together.
- But now we see that even the Chinese language is being promoted…
- Certainly, Chinese can be useful for someone, but the numbers are still very low.
- “Albania- Italy, one sea, one friendship” has been a huge project carried out by the Italian Embassy nearly two years ago. Can you tell us which was the impact of that initiative on the Albanian people?
- I wasn’t here during that period, but based on what I have been told, it required a huge effort, from the financial point of view as well as in terms of the engagement of all the staff of the Italian System in Albania that worked on that project. I think that it showed and still does show how wide the relations between Italy and Albania are.
The relations run every day, every year for many years in a row, but that project was a projection that highlighted something that actually happens every day. I’ve been here for nearly three months and I have met many delegations, investors, businessmen, politicians, policemen, people of culture, judges, and I have noticed that there is a constant flow of relations between Albania and Italy. They are very rich and cover all grounds, the spectrum of activities is extremely wide and events, meetings etc take place every day. So, it is useful to put these relations on the stage from time to time. I believe that this great project has given everyone an idea of how wide these relations are.
- Albanian political situation continues to be affected by the ‘clash’ of the two main political forces and it is obvious that this stalemate was one of the reasons of the country’s failure to get the EU candidate status. Italy was in the forefront and helped Albanians get the visa liberalization. As such, in what way can your country, a strategic partner of Albania, help to overcome this situation?
- I have already declared that Albania must put the same effort to obtain the EU candidate status as it did in the cases of NATO membership and visa liberalization. This needs a consensus among all parties and joined efforts. I am always more convinced of that. It must be considered as common national objective. We are trying to help the main political forces to work and join their efforts in order to obtain the result that is in the best interests of all Albanians.
- And in this aspect Serbia was smarter than Albania, I would say. The majority and opposition joined forces to support that EU idea…
- Well, they managed to reach what was asked to them. Probably the elections played a role, in the sense that it was clear that it was an element that would have been crucial for the results in the elections. There was really a total engagement to reach the results. I believe that what happened in the last European Council is in a certain way positive for the whole region and I think that it must be a trend of the entire region to move towards Europe.
- Mr. Ambassador, there is another issue I would like to discuss with you. We have noticed that there is no Italian company involved in the TAP project, which is quite important for Albania. The only interested party seems to be the Italian government. Does this reduce the chances of TAP to be implemented?
- We would have liked Italian companies to be part of the consortium. I don’t believe we have any choice. I presume that those who made the consortium are keen to continue the project they originally agreed. Coming to the Italian position, whatever brings sources of energy with a diversification of supply is certainly very positive. The discussion is still ongoing. There was certainly a favorable decision from the main field that should supply TAP with gas, but I think the discussion is still continuing and a final decision hasn’t been made yet. Italy considers positive any diversification of supply, and TAP is certainly going in that direction.
- Does this global financial crisis affect the economic cooperation between the two countries?
- The economic crisis certainly makes things more difficult. From the point of view of relations between Albania and Italy, the commercial flows increased by almost 20 percent even during the crisis. Probably the visa liberalization has a positive effect; otherwise it is very difficult to explain such increase.
- Is this a special case?
- It is certainly a special case. Albania’s economy has continued to grow, and there is no other explanation for such an increase. The Albanian community in Italy has become more and more entrepreneur. There are between 20,000- 30,000 enterprises run by Albanians in Italy. This is a very impressive element, very dynamic pace: these new companies run by Albanians naturally have a tendency to make business with Albania and this certainly helps the commercial flows between both countries.

Last edited: Monday, 19 March 2012

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