Statement from the EU Commission:
Erjola is a 15-year old girl who lives in Kurbin in North-Western Albania, ca. 35 kilometers from the capital Tirana and a few kilometers from the Adriatic Sea.
She sent President von der Leyen a handwritten letter, expressing heartfelt joy over her newly rebuilt school – rebuilt with EU help.
This letter touched us. It is not just a deeply personal account of her experience. It is also a forceful reminder of the good we can achieve as Europeans when we work together. In this case, the EU and Albania.
Two years ago, a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter scala struck Albania, killing dozens. Among the municipalities most affected was Kurbin, and among the buildings destroyed there was Erjola’s school.
The whole European Union swiftly mobilised for a country that is at the heart of our continent – and that we hope one day will also be part of our Union. Erjola expresses the same hope in her letter. “Today me, my friends feel true Europeans”, she writes.
In February 2020 at the International Donors’ Conference “Together for Albania”, we invited international partners to join the recovery support. We committed alone €100 million from the EU’s budget in addition to the €15 million we had already provided.
Among other ways, the EU has since then supported the recovery process in the region with a programme called “EU4Schools”. Launched in May 2020, it provides funds of €75 million. Implemented by the UNDP, it is a platform for us to work directly with the 🇦🇱 government, supporting the national government as well as local governments. Another programme called “EU4Culture” with a budget of €40 million, implemented by UNOPS, aims at rehabilitating and enhancing building cultural heritage sites affected by the earthquake.
In September, during her trip to Albania and the other Western Balkan countries, President von der Leyen had the honour to inaugurate the Korb Muça school and Evropa kindergarten – also rebuilt with the help of EU funds.
Now, Erjola’s letter is another, special reminder of the enduring friendship between the EU and Albania, and of our common future.