TALLINN - At a meeting with Albanian President Bajram Begaj, President Alar Karis affirmed Estonia's continuous support to Albania on its path towards European integration, commended the country's efforts thus far and encouraged it to continue with the necessary reforms for joining the European Union (EU).
"Estonia is a strong supporter of EU enlargement as it creates stability, security, and prosperity based on shared European values," Karis was quoted by the president's office as saying. "Estonia supports the Western Balkan countries on their path to the EU and is ready to share its experiences in implementing reforms."
During the meeting, Karis emphasized the importance of enhancing cybersecurity and highlighted the possibilities for bilateral cooperation in the digital and economic sectors.
The Estonian head of state also emphasized the continued political and practical support for Ukraine and its reconstruction.
"We want to keep the doors of NATO open to new members, including Ukraine, so that there are no gray areas in Europe anymore," Kari said. He stressed that all perpetrators of war crimes must be held accountable, and children deported from Russia-occupied territories must be returned to their homeland.
The preparations for the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius were also discussed during the meeting.
"Increasing defense spending and strengthening the defense capabilities of each member state are important to make the defense of every inch of the alliance's territory a reality," Karis said.
Karis commended Albania for its activities as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council.
This is the first visit of the Estonian head of state to Albania. On Wednesday, Karis laid a wreath at the tomb of Albanian national heroes in Tirana and placed flowers on the graves of the Albanian defense forces' soldiers who died on an eFP mission in Adazi.
On Thursday, Karis will meet with Speaker of the Albanian Parliament Lindita Nikolla and Prime Minister Edi Rama. The discussions will focus on Albania's European integration and the strengthening of bilateral relations between Estonia and Albania, particularly in the field of e-government.
In addition to the meetings in Tirana, Karis visited Kruje, the historic fortress city of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, on Wednesday. As part of the visit, the president will also visit Berat, known as the "city of a thousand windows," where he is scheduled to meet with the mayor. At a meeting with students from the University of Tirana, discussions will center around the development of Estonia's digital state. Together with the Albanian president, Karis will visit a cyber exercise organized by the e-Governance Academy (eGA).
The president will return to Estonia on Friday.