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Foreign Minister Steinmeier in discussion with Albanian pupils and students

Date 2016/06/16

Federal Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier set off for a state visit to Tirana in Albania on 14 June. The last point on his agenda was to take time to hold a discussion with some young Albanians. Among the 23 young people was a large group of pupils from the German-Albanian department of the Sami Frasheri High School in Tirana.

During the discussion, which took place at the Institute for European Studies in the Faculty of Foreign Languages, the Foreign Minister was particularly interested in how young people in Albania feel about their lives and their prospects for the future. Steinmeier said that he was expecting to get to know a different perspective than the official, political side of Albania during the discussion. The young people were asked to take their own day-to-day experiences as the starting point for their contributions and to speak about their expectations and feelings in relation to the present and the future.

Intensive discussions with the minister

In the very lively contributions to the discussion that followed, the young people described challenges in the area of university education, while emphasising how important it was for them to be able to study abroad, either in part or entirely. In this context, as far as prospects are concerned, the students present

highlighted the problem that the Albanian labour market is only able to offer job opportunities in certain fields to those with academic training from universities abroad. For the pupils from the German-Albanian department, the detailed discussion with the Federal Minister was a special experience. And, as they said on the following day in class, it was an honour to be able to communicate their thoughts to such an important German politician.

One result of the politician’s visit was an increase in the level of exchange not only between the governments but also between the societies that they represent. In Tirana, an office for young people’s exchanges is to be set up. "I would be delighted if as many young people as possible in the entire region here can come together and visit other countries so that they can break down prejudices, wherever they exist, through their own experiences", said Steinmeier.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier with pupils and students in front of the building of the Faculty for Foreign Languages Foreign Minister Steinmeier in AlbanianSource: German Embassy Tirana

The Sami Frasheri School is an Albanian state high school with a bilingual German-Albanian department; since 2011, it has been a certified testing school for Level II of the German Language Certificate (Deutsches Sprachdiplom, DSD) of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK). It is supported by the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (ZfA) on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office, with the collaboration of the federal states (Länder). Graduates from the bilingual German-Albanian department are able to go straight to a German university without first attending a preparatory college.