While the whole world, including the Western Balkans, is struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Albania, in an act of solidarity and friendship, decided to send 30 doctors and nurses to Italy, to support its neighbour in this time of crisis. The Albanian medical professionals volunteered to work in Lombardy, in the area around Bergamo, Italy’s worst affected region. They will be working hand-in-hand alongside their Italian colleagues over the period of one month. With over 11.500 fatalities, Italy has the highest coronavirus-related death toll in the world so far.
Similar to the other countries in the Western Balkans, Albania is also hit by the coronavirus outbreak with 223 cases of infected people and 12 fatalities.
“Solidarity is at the heart of the values of the European Union,” highlighted High Representative / Vice-President Josep Borrell. In his earlier exchange with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, HRVP Josep Borrell had agreed on the importance of international cooperation to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “Strong and coordinated action is needed to address the impact of this pandemic on society and economy. Therefore, the EU has redirected to Albania over €50 million for immediate support in the health sector and socio-economic recovery of the country,” underlined Josep Borrell. Furthermore, the EU is providing €38 million of immediate assistance to tackle the coronavirus related emergency in the Western Balkans.
On Thursday, 26 March 2020, the European Council had given the green light to start the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, thereby acknowledging the progress made and crucial reforms implemented by both countries. HRVP Josep Borrell had welcomed this decision taken by the Member States in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, as an important decision for the region and the entire European Union.
The Albanian government also supported in the repatriation of more than 70 EU Member States citizens still stranded in Albania since the outbreak in the country of the Coronavirus. Another tangible example of the concrete solidarity that Albania is providing in time of need.