Brussels, 17 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The European Union and international donors on Monday pledged 1.15 billion euros (1.24 billion dollars) to help Albania’s recovery from a devastating earthquake in November.
“Good news for the people of Albania: We’ve surpassed our target for the reconstruction of Albania and reached a total of 1.15 billion euros,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.
At the “Together for Albania” conference organized by the EU in Brussels for Albania, the EU and member states promised a total of 400 million euros.
The figure of 1.15 billion euros overshot the target of the conference. It is also higher than Albania’s official estimate of the damage, of 985 million euros, although this sum does not include the projected economic slowdown caused by the disaster.
The November 26 quake brought down entire buildings on Albania’s Adriatic coast, killing 51 people and injuring hundreds more.
The donors conference brought together the EU and its member states, the Western Balkan countries and international organizations and financial institutions, including the United Nations and the World Bank, the European Commission said.
Apart from reconstruction, Albania has been urged to improve its construction regulations, as many of the collapsed buildings, including coastal hotels, were built without regard for safety.
Late last year Albania, a NATO member since 2009, was prevented from starting EU membership talks after disagreement among leaders of the bloc.
It is one of Europe’s poorest countries, with an annual per capita GDP of around 4,500 dollars, just over one-fifth of the EU average.