Nowadays, the relations between Albania and Turkey hold a special place in the public discourse. It even can be said that this topic is amongst the most heated ones, which is constantly arising great interest. Analytical papers and extended television shows are also active in this topic.  While reading or watching them, one may note unbiased analyses, realistic perspectives, yet there is strong opposition towards the current relations between the two countries, stemming from stereotypes, and shallow knowledge, complete ignorance, and from clearly and deeply anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic sentiments.

The heated debate on these relations arises from first the expanding regional and global role of Turkey, in pursuit of an independent standpoint, which makes this country being portrayed in every moment in the international media, spoken about either positively or negatively, depending on the special interests of different countries, and second, the constant mentioning of the strategic partnership, especially by the Albanian Premier, Edi Rama.

Even though without a genuine basis, the talks vested with stereotypes and turkophobic mentalities, begin and end with completely irrelevant questions, for example, Albania towards East or West? Towards Turkey or EU? This is how the strategic partnership is understood, or, it deliberately seeks to be understood as a dilemma for the final destination, when such a thing is absolutely inexistent because Albanians, starting from the leaders to the common citizen anticipate with relish the opening of negotiations for admission to the EU.

In these prevalent circumstances, when the need to see these relations from an academic viewpoint is turned into a necessity, the “ALSAR” Foundation decided to undertake the initiative to hold a symposium in Tirana under this topic, as previously with the organization of similar activities. Therefore, on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 Albanian and Turkish academics and intellectuals were gathered in this symposium, wherein the diversity of speeches held was of prominence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The Head of the ALSAR Foundation, Mr. Mehdi Gurra, in his opening speech stressed out the strengthening of an honest and sustainable friendship between Albanian and Turks during the long centuries of cohabitation under the Ottoman Empire rule, the role of thousands of Turks of Albanian origin in the progress of such fraternal relationship, and the common grounds which continue to imbue it with life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

After summarizing the speech on the Turkish assistance towards Albania since the fall of totalitarian regime and onwards, Mr. Gurra turned to defying the campaign disseminating false news about Turkey, without forgetting to mention the threat posed to these relations by the presence of FETÖ, the terrorist organization in our country, and also in Kosovo and Macedonia.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

The greeting speeches of Tirana’s Prefect, Ms. Suzana Jahollari, the world leader (Kryegjysh) of the Bektashi Order, Hajji Baba Dede Mondi, and of the representatives of the Albanian-Turkish Cultural Association, Mr. Ahmet Mehmeti, revolved around the appraisement of such relations and brotherly ties, by remembering among other things the common social norms between Albanian and Turks.

Of special interest was also the greeting speech of the Ambassador of the Turkish Republic to Tirana, Mr. Murat Ahmet Yörük. He clearly stated that the Balkans is of supreme importance to Turkey and that Albania and Albanians are among the main pillars of peace and stability in the region. The Ambassador dwelt on the sixth century-long relations between Albania and Turkey, for their splendid past relations and for the Albanian’s contribution as a basic component of these relations. After mentioning a series of renowned names, he stated that Albanians have left their mark in a myriad of areas in the common history. Focused on the common future forward, Mr. Ambassador reiterated the request for the Albanian territory to be free of FETÖ’s elements, which pose a threat to Turkey. This, however, is to the benefit of Albania.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

His presentation of some figures regarding the economic relations between the two countries helped to highlight the importance that Turkey attributes them, along with the country’s aim to double them and to expand Turkish investments in Albania.

Mr. Murat Ahmet Yörük said that a sustainable Albania is in Turkey’s interest. At the same time, he wished that this year EU would open admission negotiations with Albania. The following speakers spoke on different aspects of the Albanian- Turkish relations. Prof. Dr. Bülent Akyay revolved his speech around the Albanian- Turkish relations of the period between 1923-1938. Dr. Halil Hyseni spoke about the realities of these relations over the years. Prof. Dr. Çınar Özen pointed out Albania’s place in Turkey’s Balkans policy. Dr. Klevis Kolasi referred to Albania’s matters since the ’90 of the last century up to date, and Turkey’s role as an ally country. The speech of Prof. Dr. Ferit Dukës dealt with Turkey and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the Albanian press of ’20-’30 of the twentieth century.

It is of importance to dwell extensively on the speech of the renowned diplomat and publicist, Mr. Shaban Murati, due to the relevance with the current developments. In the frame of the regional context of the Albanian-Turkish alliance, Mr. Shaban Murati, by the title of his speech indicated that such alliance is advised by the vital role that the bilateral relations play in the strategic balances of Albania in the Balkans. According to him, both the nature and interest of the strategic alliance have no relevance with the types of regimes in a certain period in both countries, neither with certain names that run the governments and countries. They have nothing to do either with the oscillations of the relations of this country or other countries with third parties, nor with perspectives and temporary, religious, regional, cultural, political and ideological emotions of the inner life, while they cannot be seen neither from the angle of the inner political war.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The speaker in question firmly believes that Turkey’s choice as Albania’s ally has been a fair strategic solution of the foreign policy in 2013, because it placed a necessary equilibrium to the benefit of Albania in the region.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

By bringing to attention the elements that prioritize Turkey as a strategic ally of Albania, Mr. Shaban Murati strongly highlighted – and this must be taken into account by any critic – that the Albanian nation, in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and everywhere, cannot forget that Turkey has not any piece of Albanian land in its borders, and it does not claim nor will claim any piece of the Albanian land, it has no territorial ambition to Albania’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, it has officially and completely recognized and accepted the Albanian state borders, and Turkey has demonstrated remarkable support to Albania in the rotten year of 1997!                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

He continued speaking about two new strategic circumstances that make the alliance between the two countries natural: a) the transformation of the Albanian factor in the region into a Balkans’ factor, following Albania membership to NATO and the independence of Kosovo as a country, the creation of two Albanian states to which the majority of the Balkans’ countries turned a cold shoulder and were hostile towards them, while only Turkey praised and strongly supported the transformation of the Albanian factor into a Balkans’ factor; and b) the negative new regional phenomenon of new creations of groupings or countries’ alliances, as a reminiscence of the phenomenon of hostile group against the Albanian case.

Mr. Shaban Murati states that it is interesting how these groupings have expelled Albania, how they did not call it to participate and most important, all the groupings have been not deliberately created only with countries belonging the orthodox religion.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Therefore, what the diplomat advises in the regional aspect is for a farsighted Albanian diplomacy that must work in building and strengthening a special relation between Albania- Kosovo-Turkey!

The entire symposium organized by the “ALSAR” Foundation truly portrayed the Albanian- Turkish relations, but for the time being, for the debate that these relations arise, attempted to be ruined by some regions, in or outside the Albanian territory, are worthy to be mention below, and the last words of Mr. Shaban Murati’s speech were:

“You can never make new friends in the international arena by turning your current friends into enemies… the strategic alliance with Turkey is of vital interest to the regional politics, regional strategy and regional balances of Albania. Turkey is the most optimal strategic ally of Albania in the continental Balkans.”

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