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Switzerland pledges SFr50 million to Albania

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is to give Albania SFr50 million ($29.9 million) over the next five years to help with economic, political and social reforms.

Switzerland pledged the money on Tuesday after Bern and Tirana signed an accord covering technical and financial cooperation, as well as humanitarian aid.

The head of the agency, Walter Fust, and his Albanian counterpart, Ermelinda Meksi, signed the agreement in Tirana.

Switzerland has invested SFr120 million in Albania over the last nine years. The funds it will disburse between now and 2006 will cover a wide range of projects.

Non-reimbursable financial aid, consisting of durable goods as well as know-how and services, is being granted for projects considered priorities for Albania's economic development.

Development of the private sector and environmental protection are among the areas that will benefit from Swiss money.

Scientific and cultural exchanges are also planned between the two countries.

As one of the poorest countries in Europe, Albania is struggling with its transition to democracy and a market economy.

swissinfo with agencies


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