Speech of Minister Bushati to the Diplomatic Corps on the occasion of the end-of-the year holidays

Honorable Mr. Prime Minister,

Dear colleagues: Mimi and Arta,

Dear representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,

The year we are leaving behind was definitely the year of growing mistrust, uncertainty and non-predictability. Threats from the east and south:
The constant terrorist risk in Europe and the Mediterranean;
Further, social discontent arising from the effects of globalization has created space for identity movements;
All these are questioning the model of development, along with the different architectures of cooperation and interaction.

In this context, we are facing two major challenges:

1) How to strengthen order in the region;

2) How to ensure that collective insecurity does not hinder the progress of the integration processes

While serving these two dimensions, we have:

further materialized the strategic partnership with the United States;
increased our concrete commitment within NATO;
strengthened relations with EU countries and institutions;
built a multifaceted partnership with Germany, Italy, Austria and France, in the framework of the Berlin Process;
as with the Visegrad countries;
generally expanded our area of activity in the world, in the multilateral plan also.
But we cannot hide the fact that challenges to security, in the entire Euro-Atlantic space, are added and are never far away.

Dear friends,

We would never consider security as something that is given once-and-forever. Therefore any measure that reduces "gray areas" of security around us is an important investment to address the fragility resulting from frozen democratic or state-building processes, and the lack of Euro-Atlantic determination that is still felt in parts of the region.

The process of Montenegro's membership in NATO, which Albania has supported without reservation in the context of the "Alliance open doors" policy, will further enhance the security space. We have exactly this dimension in mind when we emphasize the need for institutionalization of the Alliance relations with Kosovo, and the implementation of decisions taken at the Warsaw Summit.

While giving security issues a central place, our commitment within the Alliance has grown in a number of directions:

We have increased our contingent in Afghanistan;
We have initiated participation in the operation in the Aegean;
We have intensified the fight against extremism and international terrorism;
Along with several other member states, Albania will be part of a multinational battalion led by Canada, which will be deployed in Latvia as part of efforts to secure the borders of the alliance, and outside it also. In parallel, our country will increase significantly over the next year even its participation in the NATO mission in Kosovo - KFOR,
In January 2017, Albania is also expected to materialize sending of an Albanian military contingent in Iraq as part of the Alliance's training mission.

Another subject of developments during 2016 has been the process of Berlin, which has already become an additional catalyst for European integration

Last July, except shock created by the British referendum, the six countries of the Western Balkans decided the creation of a new mechanism of cooperation, the Regional Office of Youth Cooperation, RYCO, extending regional cooperation to an aspect and space almost lacking it.

As we know, nothing live longer than prejudices and in this respect, continued work and effort is required from all of us.

In the same spirit, we invested for the similar initiative, the Western Balkans Fund, also headquartered in Tirana, which aims to finance small and medium projects in areas such as education, culture, environment and cross-border cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The enlargement strategy presented in November and formulation of recommendation for opening accession talks with Albania clearly highlights our continued progress, for the third consecutive year.

This trend is also highlighted by reports of the World Bank or international agencies about the rule of law in economy. Maintaining this trend is the only way of success for us.

We are all aware that the divisions that are outlined in the EU in recent months affect not only its operation, but also its future design, affecting its capacity to act.

But the successful cooperation of the countries of the Western Balkans during the year we are leaving behind has proven that the region could pose a strong link to the security of the continent.

In a context of stressed uncertainty, this cooperation constitutes good news, which should be reflected in the continuation of the enlargement process, since the EU should maintain a more strategically positive approach in the region, so that integration into the EU is not transformed into a technical process without political soul.

It is important for our societies to be ensured that the Western Balkans will not end up as collateral damage in the process of seeking a European future.

We believe that we have a shared responsibility due to the way we are committed: conducting justice reform, which is unprecedented compared to other countries of the region, strengthening regional cooperation, and following the foreign policy and security of the European Union where our record, as you know, is 100%.

The European Commission has noted the particular importance of the Vetting Law enforcement, as the basis of judicial reform and the impact it will have in the full accomplishment of the other key priorities that will accompany us during the process of negotiations for membership in the European Union.

Today, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the member states of the European Union and in particular to the presidency, since for the first time conclusions of the enlargement process come in the form of a statement of the presidency of the European Union, which is not only confirming the approach of the European Commission with regard to the recommendation for start of accession talks with Albania. The Commission is also given the task to interact on Albania, not only on the technical aspect to facilitate the implementation of judicial reform, but is also giving a chance to Albania, the government, the political factors, both parliamentarians and non-parliamentarians, to implement the judicial reform in order for the European Commission to be able to appear before the member countries, separately from the expansion pack, for an intermediate report about the fulfillment of the criteria.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Several years ago, many doubted the future of diplomacy, foreign policy as a result of technological progress. Experience of the 21st century showed that technological progress could not limit, in fact, the role of foreign policy.

The challenge to foreign diplomacy today is to reverse the rapid developments in the service of our mission, based more and more on facts and not on the noise. This is the only way to make history, by openly confronting with it.

Competition from other actors is really tough: the private sector, stakeholders or civil society entities that bring water to the mill of perceptions. Even in these cases, I believe that Albanian foreign policy has succeeded to enrich its mission, by making well thought choices, in the majority of cases.

I would like to share with you some words from a last interview of Henry Kissinger, which in fact sound both, as an alarm bell, and a bell of hope: "We have to have faith in ourselves. That is an absolute requirement. We can't reduce policy to a series of purely tactical decisions. The fundamental strategic question is: What is it that we will not permit, no matter how it happens, no matter how legitimate it looks?”

While bringing my speech to a close and before I invite the dean of the diplomatic corps accredited to Albania, I would like to wish you all “A Happy Holiday Season” and extend my best wishes to you and your families, to the countries that you represent and “A Happy New Year filled with more predictability, prosperity and peace for all.

Thank you!


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