Remarks of the Honorary Consul of Albania to the Netherlands, Dr. Gerrit Valk, during the ceremony of his nomination

Excellency’s, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you very much for attending this ceremony!
The first time I became aware of the existence of Albania was in 1970. In that year Ajax played against Nentori Tirana for the Champions League. In Tirana the match resulted in 2-2, but the return match was won by Ajax. Some months later Ajax won the Champions League for the first time in its history.
Two weeks ago the Albanian-Ajax football school from Shkoder brought a visit to the Netherlands and it was a great pleasure to me to meet so many talented young football players from Albania.
From 1991 and on I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country many times: as election observer, parliamentary consultant and as rapporteur on behalf of the Socialist International and the Assembly of the Western European Union.
Its main problem as I see is the rivalry between the socialists and the democrats. Neither side can accept the outcome of the elections when they have resulted in a defeat. I am convinced that political reconciliation and acceptance of the mutual political rivals is a very important condition for welfare and economic growth.
But I am confident. The situation of extreme turmoil, like in 1991 and 1997, is nowadays inconceivable.
Albania is a country with many potentials, resources and challenges. More and more Dutch companies are active in this country, like Shell and Gasunie. Transavia will start with a direct flight connection between Tirana and Amsterdam. This will be very fruitful for the development of tourism. Very important for the future of Albania is its young and ambitious population.
And young are also its diplomats like the ambassador to the Netherlands Adia Sakiqi. Adia, thank you very much to entrust me this function. For me it is a great honor to be appointed as honorary consul of the Republic of Albania to the Netherlands. I promise to serve you and your country as good as possible.
I am not the first honorary consul of Albania in the Netherlands. My predecessor Kees Blekxtoon was the first and I am glad he is also with us. Kees and I know each other for almost twenty years. I am sure I will profit from his experience and wisdom.
In 2016 Albania qualified for the UEFA European Championship football. The Netherlands did not. Albania impressed with excellent football. My dream for the future is a Champions League final between Ajax and Nentori Tirana, which is called nowadays KF Tirana (Football Club Tirana). If so, deep in my heart I hope that KF Tirana will win!
Faleminderit! Thank you very much!

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