Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St John of Jerusalem of
Rhodes and of Malta


Official Visit of Albanian President to Order of Malta’s Grand Master

Official Visit of Albanian President to Order of Malta’s Grand Master

Today the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Fra’ John Dunlap, received in the Magistral Palace in Rome the President of the Republic of Albania, Bajram Begaj, on an official visit to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Tirana and the Order. The numerous meetings at the highest level, both in Rome and in Tirana, testify to the excellent state of relations, already noted during another recent encounter in Rome between the Grand Master and the Albanian President during the celebrations in December 2022 for the 110th anniversary of Albanian independence from the Ottoman Empire.

The Albanian President was accompanied by the Ambassador to the Order of Malta, Majlinda Dodaj.  Present alongside the Grand Master, in addition to the Order’s Ambassador to Albania, Stefano Palumbo, were some High Offices of the Sovereign Council, the Order of Malta’s government.

The Albanian President, who has a degree in medicine, praised the vital humanitarian work of the Order of Malta relief corps’ volunteers, particularly in northern Albania, where they mainly provide primary health care in remote mountain areas. These activities are strongly supported by the Order of Malta’s Embassy in Tirana, together with projects for the social and educational integration of Roma communities, the distribution of food packages to disadvantaged families, and assistance for the elderly living alone in the most remote regions. For its humanitarian aid in favour of the weakest social groups, Malteser Albania received the “Mother Teresa” award for 25 years of activity.

During the talks, Fra’ John Dunlap and President Begaj also discussed issues more closely related to international events, such as the dramatic humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Holy Land as well as the important role played by religious institutions in promoting interfaith dialogue.

It was also hoped that humanitarian cooperation between Albania and the Order of Malta, with an increase in the scope of action in the country, would be further developed. The President also assured that Albania will always offer support to the Order of Malta in the development of aid activities for the most vulnerable and the application of joint projects.

There have been many high-level visits between Albania and the Order of Malta, including two official visits by Presidents of the Republic (in 2008 and 2016), an official visit by a Grand Master (in 2015), an official visit by a Speaker of Parliament (in 2018), two official visits by a Foreign Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister (in 2009 and 2011). Postal and cooperation agreements were also signed with Albania in 2011 and 2016 respectively.