Short Biography of Genci Muçaj
Genci Muçaj is an Albanian diplomat, academic and a distinguished entrepreneur, with a long and successful leadership experience in all these professional endeavors.
Ambassador Muçaj was born in February 3rd, 1969, in Tirana, Albania, married with two children, with ages of ten and fifteen.
In December 2012, was appointed as the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Albania in the Republic of Turkey and concurrent Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Georgia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.
In August 2005, Ambassador Muçaj joined Albanian Foreign Ministry as an adviser to the Foreign Minister and was a member of the official delegation in numerous official visits worldwide. Later he became chief of staff of the Minister, and later he continued to serve as an adviser until 2009.
In 2009 was promoted to Director General of the Department for Economic, Corporation and Foreign Investments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Muçaj held this post until the end of 2012, a time when he became Albania's Ambassador to Turkey.
Muçaj is the co-founder and a member of the board of directors, of the Center for Albanian and American Studies, is also a member of the Rotary Club, Tirana, Albania District 2090. In 1998 he founded, Albanian Chapters of People to People International and in 2006 he was elected member of the board of directors of People to People International.
Muçaj received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tirana, with a major in English Literature and American History.
Peter Tase: How would you describe the bilateral political and multifaceted relations between Albania and Turkey?
Genci Muçaj: Bilateral relations between Albania and Turkey are deeply rooted on both nations' common history; Tirana and Ankara enjoy a great level of excellent cooperation! There are no political disputes among to two countries and thanks to the excellent political relation, economic diplomacy is the current focus and major goal of Albanian Embassy's mission.
PT: To what level are the bilateral trade relations?
GM: Albania's trade cooperation with Turkey reaches more than USD 420 million in capital and commodities circulated between both countries. Tirana exported more than USD 130 million worth of goods and products to Turkey. Both governments agree that there is a potential to increase the volume of bilateral trade cooperation at least 5 times. This is why our government's priority is to attract more Turkish investments in Albania as well as promote Albanian products and exports into the Turkish market, which is perhaps the largest in the Middle East and the stable economy in the region.
We strongly believe that such a commercial partnership is viable for both nations and we are confident that once the business leaders have established cross border ties we would be in a much better position to satisfy trade objectives and incentives put forth by the business communities located in our respective countries. Albania is a tax heaven, with its 10% flat corporate tax, businesses can register at a one stop shop window, available online tax service, online public procurement and presently there is NO custom duty for all capital investment from investment companies, i.e. any machinery imported into Albania, will not pay any customs duty.
These actions are taken to promote investment which will result in more employment and long term benefits for the country. Albania offers a tremendous amount of opportunities for investment in tourism, mining and renewable energy sectors, software and computers sciences taken into account young population, talented and educated labor force. Shipping ports and infrastructure improvement projects are very promising sectors given the strategic geographic location.
In the last 20 years, Turkey has invested approximately USD 1 billion in Albania as Foreign Direct Investment Funds, loans, grants and Government Assistance.
PT: What is the role of Albania in preserving peace and stability in the Balkans?
GM: Currently it is unthinkable to discuss solutions in the Balkan region without taking into account the Albanian nation's factor, which has become the second largest population in the region. Albania is a full member of NATO and has a clear road map to join the EU. Albanians are an important factor of regional peace and stability in the Balkan region which was proven to be right with the independence of Kosova. Moreover the role of Albanians in Macedonia and Montenegro for example are crucial for building and consolidating a multi - ethnic state respectively.
PT: How many bilateral agreements are currently signed between the two countries?
GM: Turkey and Albania have over 160 bilateral agreements in almost every area of cooperation: Economy, Trade, Energy, Defense, Education, Environment, National Archives, Tourism, Agriculture and the list goes on and on. More than Turkey's 50 largest companies operate currently in the Albania, let alone numerous other small and medium enterprises. Turkey is Albania's third largest trading partner, following Italy and Greece, and is aiming to further increase bilateral commerce. European Union as a whole is undoubtedly by far the largest contributor of the Albanian economy.
PT: How do you forecast the future of the relations between Albania and Turkey within the cooperation framework in the NATO Alliance?
GM: Turkey has provided a great assistance to Albanian military and defense forces, and has been a major factor in modernizing and training its armed forces towards Albania's membership into NATO. Albanian army is not the only sector that has benefited from Turkey's experience and position into NATO, there is also the Turkish Parliament which has been among the first legislature bodies to ratify Albania's NATO membership. USA, Turkey and many other European countries have supported Albanian aspiration to join the North Atlantic Alliance. Albanian army is now present on peace keeping missions under NATO's command, in countries like, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia Herzegovina. It is proudly contributing towards world peace in Chad.
PT: What are the priorities and focus of Turkish Investments in Albania and the Balkans?
GM: It is obvious that since Turkish economy is the fastest growing in the world (ranked 15th) its economic and political influence in the region is also growing. Turkey is a reliable partner of NATO and is playing a very crucial mediating role in several conflicts in the region placing Turkey at a position of greater demand! Turkey's careful standing with world's big powers has placed the country in a comfortable and reliable position. Turkish companies are not only present in the Balkans, but also in Asia, mainly in the Caucasian region and recently in Africa where they are present with strategic investments, energy, infrastructure development, telecommunications, banking and so on.
Spero columnist Peter M. Tase analyzes diplomacy and international business.