International donors on Monday pledged 1.15 billion euros (US$1.25 billion) to help Albania recover from a powerful earthquake in November last year, the EU head announced, more than double the sum expected by Tirana.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the sum — which exceeds the total recovery bill of 1.08 billion euros assessed by the UN — was “beyond my wildest imagination,” having begun the day hoping for pledges of only 400 million euros.
The money would help the impoverished Balkan state rebuild and recover after the magnitude 6.4 quake hit, killing 51 people and leaving 17,000 homeless.
“Good news for the people of Albania: We’ve surpassed our target for the reconstruction of Albania and reached a total of 1.15 billion euros, incl. 400 million euros in EU contributions,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.
“I’m overwhelmed by the support. Once again Europe stands together when it matters most!” she wrote.
European states and institutions contributed, along with other countries, including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, as well as international financial institutions.
“I am so happy and I am so, so humbled by all of this. We need now not to fail our friends and to make reconstruction in Albania a stunning example,” Rama said.
Given Western concerns about rife corruption in Albania, Rama said that he had asked the US to put its contribution into an “academy of transparency” to ensure the reconstruction money was not misused.
“We’ll go through the necessary pains to make sure every penny of European taxpayers ... will be spent well,” he said.
Part of the reason the quake caused so much damage, experts say, was the scourge of illegal construction, which has seen builders and engineers in the former communist state flout safety codes for decades.
Rama said that “what we reconstruct should be better than what we lost,” suggesting that new earthquake resistance and environmental standards could be imposed.
Before the pledge meeting, Albanian expectations had been dampened by what Rama called a “political earthquake” in October last year, when three EU states blocked Tirana from starting membership talks to join the bloc — the second such delay in less than six months.
France — which led the Netherlands and Denmark in October’s veto — softened its opposition at the weekend after the European Commission proposed a tougher and more political admissions process for new members.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that if a commission report on Albania and fellow hopeful North Macedonia next month confirms enough progress on reforms, he would be ready to agree to start the long accession process.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic