TIRANA, Albania, March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A seven-member AJC leadership delegation just concluded a visit to Albania's capital.
AJC President Stanley Bergman and CEO David Harris led the group, which met with top Albanian government officials, including President Bujar Nishani, Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, Speaker of the Parliament Ilir Meta, Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, and Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj. The delegation also saw Israeli Ambassador to Albania Boaz Rodkin.
Among the principal topics discussed were: (i) expanding U.S.-Albanian ties; (ii) deepening Albanian-Israeli bilateral relations; (iii) the current migration crisis in Europe and its potential impact on Albania; and (iv) Tirana's goal of becoming an EU member.
"We visited Tirana in a spirit of deep and abiding friendship. Albania, a majority-Muslim, decidedly pro-West and pro-Israel country and NATO member, has long had a remarkable, if little known, story to tell," said Harris.
"As a nation engulfed in war that, remarkably, had more Jews after the Holocaust than before its onset," Harris added, "Albania demonstrated exceptional moral courage. Its citizens refused to comply with Nazi demands and provided safety for Jews, including those who sought refuge from neighboring countries. And the Prime Minister's recent visit to Israel, on the eve of the 25th anniversary of Albanian-Israeli bilateral relations, followed by Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelshtein's trip to Albania, only further underscores the ever growing relationship between Tirana and the Jewish people."
During the visit, the Mayor of Tirana signed AJC's Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism statement. The mayor joined more than 300 U.S and more than 60 European mayors, representing over 120 million people, who have already joined the campaign.
"Moral fortitude is something we find very inspiring. Extremism and radicalism are not ways out," said Mayor Veliaj. "As a leader of a city that works closely with Jewish communities and Israeli mayors, when we hear how populists use stigmas against others, we feel compelled to speak out."
AJC regularly engages with senior Albanian officials in Washington, D.C.; New York; Brussels; Berlin; and Tel Aviv.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee