Christoph Leitl, president of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and the Eurochambres, said that corruption is the first major obstacle to be overcome in order to attract investors to the Balkans, during a visit to Tirana on Wednesday.
Representatives of European businesses say that Albania must tackle corruption and strengthen the rule of law so as to become more attractive to foreign investors to create new jobs and close the gap with EU member states.
Christoph Leitl, an Austrian politician and President of Eurochambres, the Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Europe, said that corruption in Albania and the Western Balkans is like “poison” for current and potential investors.
“If there is no law enforcement, there is no legal basis on investment, property and European investors don’t come. They seek security for their investment. Corruption is poison and whoever gets poisoned once, no longer comes,” Leitl told the local Albanian service of Deutsche Welle.
Leitl, who visited Albania last week to attend a regional workshop on digital transformation of SMEs, spoke with the German newspaper about the challenges faced by Albania and the wider region on its way to European integration.
Corruption and an inefficient judicial system are two of the biggest concerns for foreign investors in Albania, according to surveys.
Leit’s visit coincided with that of the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who travelled to Tirana to urge Albania’s leaders to intensify their reform efforts, and pledge Germany’s continued support for Albania’s EU accession process.
At a press conference in Tirana last week, Maas warned the country’s leaders that without substantial improvements with regards to the independence of the judiciary and rule of law, entry into the bloc is not guaranteed. “The criteria are clear: There should be steps taken for further results on reforms to convince the skeptics in that process,” Maas told a news conference. “I am optimistic we will move ahead,” he added.