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04 November, 1999
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, currently on an official visit to Albania since Tuesday, inaugurated the start of construction of a cathedral in the northern town of Shkoder yesterday.
It is the first time the Ecumenical Patriarch is visiting the country whose population is 70 per cent Moslem, 20 per cent Orthodox Christian and 10 per cent Catholic.
The Patriarch received a state welcome by the Albanian government in Tirana at the start of his lengthy visit to the country.
The Holy Synod of the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Albania, headed by the Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, as well as a host of Albanian officials also met him at the airport.
A Parliamentary delegation headed by KEAD President Vassilis Melos was also present. The Greek ambassador to Albania Alexandros Mallias, who headed a Greek embassy delegation, also welcomed the Patriarch.
In a statement on his arrival, Vartholomeos said "the Ecumenical Patriarchate is intensively watching efforts being made for the reconstruction of Albania, as well as the Albanian people's effort to take the position belonging to them in the European family.
"His beatitude Anastasios and the Albanian Orthodox Church are contributing to this, since Albania constitutes a model of coexistence between people with different religious convictions.
"We express our gratitude for the warm welcome accorded to us. We bless Albania and its people with all our heart."
The Patriarch has already held meetings with Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani, new Prime Minister Ilir Meta and other officials.
Source: Athens News Agency