Let me underline the thanks that Ambassador Soreca has expressed for commissioner Celibashi and the rest of his team following this final briefing before the election. I think we are all looking forward to a peaceful, orderly electoral process where the right of Albanian citizens to express their will through their vote is guaranteed. There is a clear transparent process in place. The authorities are also prepared to protect the vote. Your friends from the international community are also here to ensure this process. As you know, ODIHR professionals are here, the experts are here, in addition to which, I will be among 25 teams from the U.S. Embassy who will be going around the country. So we will be with you. We will be with you as you vote, we will be with you as the vote is counted and certified.
I think we all have been disturbed by the news that we have seen over the last 24 hours, you have seen my statements on this. The perpetrators must be caught and punished to the full extent of the law. There are no exceptions, no special treatment. No one is above the law. As many people have pointed out, the election on April 25 is about the future, it is not about the past. The terrible things of the past must be left behind. Things like unauthorized, unofficial armed groups to protect citizens’ votes, this is something in the past. Leave it in the past. This has no place in the future. This has no place in a country that is a member of NATO and an aspirant of the EU.
It is the responsibility of leaders, beginning with those who are currently at the highest levels in office to be responsible, to ensure calm, not to incite violence or fear. We are monitoring very closely the actions taken by all leaders and I’d like to take a moment to thank Prime Minister Rama and Democratic Party leader Basha for their statements, urging people to be calm, to reject violence, and to vote on April 25.
So let me say what I have often said since I have been here in Albania. For Albania’s voters, as you head to vote, you are not alone, your friends are with you, ne jemi me ju! Thank you!