Croatia has pledged to donate €1 million for the reconstruction effort in Albania following a devastating earthquake that hit the country in November. The funds, pledged at a donors' conference in Brussels on Monday, will be used for rebuilding hospitals and schools.
"The Croatian government decided at its meeting on 13 February to donate €1 million for the reconstruction of health care and education infrastructure," Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in his address at the conference.
The international conference was organised by the European Commission in the wake of a strong earthquake which had struck Albania's second city of Durres, killing 51 and causing extensive damage to roads and buildings, estimated at €985 million.
Thousands of people were injured in the 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the worst such event that hit Albania in decades, with some 12,000 estimated to have been left homeless. In December, the EU pledged €15 million in relief funding.
To help with the search for survivors in the wake of the earthquake, Croatia had dispatched 15 rescue workers and canine units to Albania. This was followed by aid worth 1 million kuna (€135,000), Plenkovic said, adding that Zagreb had also sent five engineers and civil protection specialists to help with the relief effort.
"We are here to help our friends," Plenkovic said on Monday.
In his address, Plenkovic, whose country is currently holding the rotating six-month EU Presidency, also mentioned the EU-Western Balkans summit due to take place in Zagreb on May 6-7, and said that he hoped that the EU would green-light the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia before the summit.
The two countries are hoping to join the bloc, but have yet to formally start accession negotiations, after Brussels had postponed opening the talks twice last year.
The Monday's conference raised a total of €1.15 billion.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said the international community had shown solidarity with Albania, adding that one third of the amount raised was coming from the EU member states and the European Investment Bank.
"The entire European Union was mobilised to help the country in the heart of our continent, the country which I am confident will one day join the bloc," Von der Leyen said.
Of the total amount raised, EU member countries and the European Investment Bank pledged €400 million.
(€1 = 7.45 kuna)