Albania and Greece, whose borders have been closed because of the coronavirus crisis, have agreed to allow Albanian seasonal agricultural workers to go to Greece by mid-May, as stated by Albanian Prime Minister Eddie Rama.
He said he had talked with Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis about fighting Covid-19, reviving the economy and "specifically about the mutual interest in fostering seasonal employment."
Greek agricultural producers need 50,000 fruit and vegetable pickers in May and people to work in the field. They usually come from neighboring Albania, as well as Bulgaria and Romania, which, like Greece, are EU members. Until then, Tirana plans to significantly reduce restrictive anti-pandemic measures.
"Together, we have agreed to carefully consider the issue of the movement of seasonal workers from Albania to Greece, in view of the mutual need to have those seasonal workers carrying out their tasks by mid-May," said Rama in his Facebook page.
He also said that he thanked Mitsotakis for not taking action against the Albanian seasonal workers that were still in Greece after the border was closed. The conversation with the Greek Prime Minister was also important, given the nearly half a million Albanians who live and work there.
Reuters said relations between Albania and Greece are good, despite some unresolved issues, such as the delimitation of the maritime border between them.
According to Greek media, the Greek Ministry of Agriculture is worried that a closed border could hinder the arrival of the most skilled Albanian workers, negatively affect the production and cause major economic losses, the agency said.
Greece has been asked to facilitate their arrival, but it also plans to enforce precautionary measures by first testing the worker for coronavirus or quarantining for several days before they leave the field.
Revenues from seasonal workers in Greece are also important for the Albanian economy, Reuters said.