Reputation and Reality

Tirana, November 2006

On 8 November 2006, AGENDA Institute and MJAFT Foundation jointly organized the lecture on “Reputation and Reality: The Image of Albania and the Problems related to it”, in the framework of EU Lecture Series.

The guest speaker was Mrs. Verena Knaus, head of ESI’s Turkey Research. The participants were students, representatives from government, civil society, media and diplomatic corps.

Mrs. Knaus started by saying that “Albania’s image is rated very low in the EU perception, and this is due to her bad image abroad the country where people run away in other countries, its image of collapse in 1997 and that of Kosovo in 1999, and to the bad image related to crime of your neighborhood country, Kosovo.” As part of Albania’s bad image she mentioned organized crime, sex business, drug smuggling, trafficking etc. Mrs. Knaus during her presentation on Albania’s image abroad provided very briefly some perceptions, facts and statistics.

Mrs. Knaus encouraged the debate on Albania EU Integration by presenting the examples of preceding accession to the EU of Greece and Spain, and also that of Bulgaria and Rumania which were considered within EU as countries that belong to a different civilization, and yet they will join the country on January 2007. She also stated that “even in the case of Albania, you should not take the EU comments too seriously.”

Another important issue raised by Mrs. Knaus, was about the change of this image. She pointed out three main tools including the resistance to populist temptation, provision of fresh narratives on Albania, and development of communication strategies not just PR stating that “Albania must deliver concrete results, and that thinking beyond the elites requires efforts.”

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