The Turkish president on Monday attended a handover ceremony for over 500 housing units a Turkish agency built for earthquake victims in Albania.
Speaking at the ceremony, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkiye will stand with Albania out of fellowship, which means being there when needed without waiting for a call.
"We are crowning the friendship between Turkiye and Albania with the handover of these houses," he said.
A total of 522 housing units, worth some €42 million ($48 million), were built for the northwestern town of Lac, which was struck by a quake in November 2019, Erdogan added.
Over 50 people died in the 6.4 magnitude quake, including seven children, and 900 were injured. Some 1,200 buildings were destroyed.
After the quake struck, Turkiye sent Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and Health Ministry teams to the region to help search, recovery, and aid efforts.
During the ceremony, Erdogan was also given honorary citizenship in the local Kurbin municipality.
‘Honored to be Turkish president’s friend’
Also 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. Albanians are in the hearts of the Turkish people. I want you to be my brother.’ … I am honored to consider myself Erdogan’s friend.”
Telling how he is frequently asked about his close friendship with the Turkish president, Rama underlined that Erdogan is a person who does what he says and says what he does.
Erdogan arrived in the capital Tirana early Monday and was welcomed by Rama with an official ceremony.
Before the dignitaries began their talks, the national anthems of both countries were played.
The Turkish president was also presented an honor guard.
Erdogan is visiting at the invitation of the Albanian prime minister accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum, Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu, and Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.
During his 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 Hajji Ethem Bey Mosque in the capital Tirana, which was restored by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency.