"There are not many people like him in international politics. He does what he says and says what he does," Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said of Tayyip Recep Erdoğan, adding that "he is friends with the Turkish president."
Rama does not hide his admiration and "chemistry" with Erdoğan, regardless of whether this close relationship refers to times of the former Ottoman Empire, with the Albanian prime minister in the role of local… Pasha and Erdoğan as a powerful… Sultan.
For the Turkish president and his neo-Ottoman aspirations in the Balkans and the wider region, Albania is a favourite and convenient place for his personal diplomacy, although there are Albanian voices publicly criticising Tirana's embrace of Ankara.
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In recent years, Turkey has systematically used its economy, religion, culture, charity and humanitarian aid to expand its influence in other countries, most notably Albania.
Turkish investments in Albanian are estimated at about $3.5 billion, with more than 600 Turkish companies operating in the country.
During Erdoğan's visit to Tirana yesterday, there was no lack of public compliments and "charm" between the two men, who each used the meeting for communication purposes and to strengthen their electoral audience.
In total, Erdoğan and Rama signed seven agreements, commercial, educational and military, with the aim of further strengthening bilateral relations.
In statements, the Turkish president stressed that ties with Albania are at the level of a "strategic partnership", stressing that the two countries aim to achieve an annual exchange of 1 billion dollars.
The Turkish president urged for Albania to exterminate members and followers of FETO, the network of exiled Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara has determined to be a "terrorist organisation", blaming it for the failed 2016 coup.
"The fact that FETÖ members are taking refuge in friendly and brotherly Albania deeply hurts our people.
"Our expectation is that you will take more concrete steps against the FETÖ presence in Albania," Erdoğan said publicly, asking Rama to "head overboard" those Gülenists who have taken refuge in Albania.
The Turkish government is pushing for schools to be closed.
The Albanian government has in the past been accused of "kidnapping" and "returning" to Turkey "anti-government" asylum seekers who had fled to Albania as members of the FETÖ network.
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Erdoğan inaugurated the renovated Et'hem Bej Mosque in the centre of Tirana.
"The brother stands by his brother when he needs to, not when he asks for it," Erdoğan said, with Rama publicly praising the Turkish president, calling him a "valuable friend" not only of Albanians but of himself.
The Albanian prime minister awarded Erdoğan the title of "Honorary Citizen" of the country, while a central square in Tirana will now bear the name of the Turkish leader.
It should be noted, however, that at the same time that Rama and Erdoğan exchanged public compliments, in the city of Lezhë, Albanian President Ilir Meta paid tribute to the monument to Georgios Kastriotis, or more commonly known as Skanderbeg
Kastriotis for years resisted the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans and is a national hero for Albania.
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