“Albanian and Hungarian relations extend over centuries,” Albanian Consul of Honor Avnija Hafuzi says in a recent interview with Diplomacy & Trade. The businessman is also the Hungarian representative of the Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
“I’m sure you have heard of Skanderbeg?” he asks at once, and to my silence, he explains, “Hailed as a national hero in Albania, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg lived in the 15th century. Born in Albania, but then kidnapped and brought to the sultan’s court, he was raised to be an Ottoman military general.
The turning point in his life came in 1443, when he was ordered to attack the Hungarian forces, led by the Hungarian’s revered general known as the White Knight: János Hunyadi, father of King Mathias. While studying his enemy, Skanderbeg learned of his own Albanian origins, and “changed colors”, conspiring with Hunyadi to thwart the Turks.He then successfully ousted the Ottoman Turks from his native land for over two decades. He is often referred to György Kasztrióta in Hungary, a good ally of Hunyadi.” The consul also mentions the name of the Hungarian city Nagyatád, referring to another occasion when Albanians and Hungarians bonded.
“Another war, but more recent: Hungary hosted a great number of Albanian refugees during the Kosovo war (1998-1999). There were also camps set in Békéscsaba, Bicske and Debrecen, and I believe refugees were hosted with good care. Nagyatád stands out because in this particular town, citizens were so welcoming that a number of Albanian families decided to stay for good.”
Hafuzi was appointed Honorary Consul on March 3, 2012. On the occasion, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said he expected his new consul would make a worthy contribution to bilateral relations. Hafuzi, who has livedlived in Hungary for more than 30 years, leading A&M Ltd., his own company that deals with customs services and administration, is active in seeking business opportunities and promoting trade development between Albania and Hungary.
The businessman is also the Hungarian representative of the Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and it was his initiative towards Hungarian trade development agency HITA last year that led the two countries to sign a cooperation agreement.
„Actually, two agreements were signed, just recently. With the arrival of the Albanian delegation, led by Nikolin Jaka, one was signed on April 10 between the two chambers, and another one was signed during the first intergovernmental session between Albania-Hungary, by Péter Szijjártó, chairman of the Intergovernmental Committee for Hungary and Florian Mima, chairman of the Intergovernmental Committee for Albania.
Hafuzi believes that these were important in strengthening trade relations. “A new dimension of cooperation has now begun, with concrete steps of cooperation between companies. For instance, both parties agreed that tourism relations between Albania and Hungary should develop and that the tourism business sector and educational institutions should be encouraged to establish key contacts.
Interested in investments
The Hungarian side expressed its interest to invest in Albania mainly in the pharmaceutical field, while the Albanian side expressed its high interest in attracting Hungarian investors related to the field of energy management. Hafuzi also hopes to enrich and enhance bilateral relations with special weight on sports and culture.
President of the International Japanese Karate Association in Hungary, he received a prize as an ambassador for Budo culture in Hungary. As for culture, the consul wishes to, at some stage, open an Albanian Cultural Center. “The first step will probably be creating a library,” he notes. As main sponsor, Hafuzi has actively taken part of the Albanian National Day by bringing an Albanian National Folk Dance Group entitled Presheva Jehone to perform at Budapest’s Fine Arts Museum, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Albanian declaration of indepedence. “I’m grateful for their performance, along with Mimoza 93 and RTP, the local TV in Preshovo, my hometown.”
Merits and achievements
And for him, there’s an endless list of those who are grateful. He has set a great example of practicing charity in Hungary. Roma families in Baranya county and Komló, and those, who suffered from the Red Sludge Disaster, are among those who have received brand new clothes, toys and food, on a regular basis, from the businessman.
Acclaiming his merits and achievements, Hafuzi has been presented countless awards, including Albania’s highest recognition from Bamir Topi, than President of Albania, via „home delivery,” as the president himself put it referring to Hafuzi as the first in history to whom this award was personally brought by a President travelling through countries.” Hafuzi, who married a “Hungarian girl” and is now the father of five, is also member of the Visegrád Order of the Knights of Saint George. He is a real knight, who acts just like, in our imagination, knights are supposed to act: helping wherever he can.