Turkish President Erdogan has announced a total of 522 housing units have been built for the northwestern town of Lac, which was struck by a deadly quake in 2019.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said he is ”honoured” to consider himself Turkish President Erdogan’s friend, as both leaders stressed the association between their countries.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said he is ”honoured” to consider himself Turkish President Erdogan’s friend, as both leaders stressed the association between their countries. (AFP)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has handed over more than 500 housing units a Turkish agency built for earthquake victims in Albania.

Erdogan arrived in the Albanian capital of Tirana early on Monday and was welcomed by PM Edi Rama with an official ceremony.

"We are crowning the friendship between Turkiye and Albania with the handover of these houses," Erdogan said speaking at the event.

A total of 522 housing units, worth about $48 million (€42 million), have been built for the northwestern town of Lac, which was struck by a deadly quake in November 2019, Erdogan added.

Over 50 people died in the 6.4 magnitude quake, including seven children, and 900 were injured. About 1,200 buildings were destroyed.

After the quake, Turkiye sent Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and Health Ministry teams to the region to help search, recovery, and aid efforts.

During Monday's ceremony, Erdogan was also given honorary citizenship in the local Kurbin municipality.

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‘Extraordinarily special’

Speaking at the ceremony, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama hailed the day as “extraordinarily special”.

Mentioning a conversation he had with Erdogan before he became premier in 2013, Rama said: “[Erdogan] told me that ‘Albania and Kosovo are in my heart.'"

"I am honoured to consider myself Erdogan’s friend," he added.

Speaking on how he is frequently asked about his close friendship with Turkiye's president, Rama underlined that Erdogan is a person who does what he says and says what he does.

Before the dignitaries began their talks, the national anthems of both countries were played.

Erdogan is visiting at the invitation of the Albanian prime minister — accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.

During the visit, all aspects of the strategic partnership between Turkiye and Albania and steps to enhance bilateral cooperation are expected to be discussed.

Erdogan will also inaugurate the historic 18th century Ethem Bey Mosque in Tirana, which was restored by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency.

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Source: AA