Papoulias stressed that talks between them had confirmed the strategic importance of Greek-Albanian relations and ascertained that these were at a high level. He underlined Athens' steadfast support for Albania's European and Euro-Atlantic prospects, saying this would contribute to the stability of the western Balkans. He also praised Albania's progress toward this goal and expressed hope that Tirana would be able to meet all the criteria for joining Euro-Atlantic structures.
Papoulias highlighted the fact that Greece was the top investor in Albania and the country's second-largest trade partner, adding that he was closely monitoring the progress of the country's ethnic Greek population in order to work together with Albanian authorities on any problems that might arise.
He also pointed to the presence of hundreds of thousands of Albanian guest workers in Greece that were helping the neighbouring country's economic growth and fuelling the Albanian economy with the money they send back home.
In statements after his meeting with Papoulias, the Albanian president thanked him for the positive part he had played in the development of Greek-Albanian relations and in the gradual improvement of the standing and the legalisation of Albanian migrants living in Greece through a series of presidential decrees, in addition to an agreement for improving the education of Albanian children in their native tongue.
Topi also referred to regional affairs, saying that independence for Kosovo would contribute to a final peace settlement for the region and would be a valuable contribution to peace. "Kosovo, Albania and Serbia all saw their future within the European family," he added.
Finally, he said that he had invited Papoulias to visit Albania, and that the Greek president had promised to carry out the trip very soon.
Caption: Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (L) shakes hands with visiting Albanian President Bamir Topi outside the Maximos Mansion government house in Athens on Monday, Nov. 26, 2007 / G. ANTONIOU.