So far, yet so near. Up until now, AFD operated in 109 countries around the world, but not on the European continent. This is now happening with several Balkan countries. On 8 February 2018, our supervisory Interministerial Committee endorsed the granting of a mandate for AFD in Albania (see box). Serbia is also concerned, subject to its legislation being brought into conformity with international anti-money laundering standards.
On 10 July 2018, during the Western Balkans Summit in London, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves le Drian, added four countries to the list. AFD is now authorized to operate in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro.
AFD, in line with its overall strategies and based on its European agenda, will contribute to establishing closer ties between these countries and the European Union, while working for their regional integration. The very broad mandate entrusted to AFD allows a wide range of areas to be covered: we consequently aim to work on climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable cities and the environment, and innovation and the digital economy. AFD’s operations will also seek to focus on fragile and neglected areas, but also to strengthen social ties in order to reduce vulnerabilities in the region.
Albania: the first
The confirmation of AFD’s mandate to operate in Albania in February 2018 has just led to the official announcement of the start of our activities to the Albanian authorities. Albania is the first of the six Western Balkan countries where we are today authorized to operate and is also a candidate for joining the European Union. It is the only State not born of the breakdown of the former Yugoslavia and was a country completely closed off to the outside until the fall, in 1992, of the regime established by Enver Hodja at the end of the Second World War.
Our operations will contribute to confirming Albania’s European vocation, firstly by helping it structure its relations with Western Balkan countries and, secondly, with European Union countries. Many challenges lie ahead to achieve a level compatible with European Union membership: service and connectivity infrastructure, economic development, unemployment (especially young people, women and minorities), large-scale emigration, social services, governance and transparency.
For AFD, it is a first step towards a regional mandate for operations in the six countries already referred to and one of the first operations – with Turkey – with a candidate country for European Union membership. Various projects are already under study in cooperation with the main investors present in the region, including the World Bank, European Investment Bank and Germany’s KfW.