Remarks by Ambassador Donald Lu at the Ad Hoc Committee on Judicial Reform

Mr. Xhafaj, Mr. Halimi, Amb. Vlahutin, members of the committee,

I have a very simple message:

If this reform fails, you, the members of this committee, will dishonor the people who elected you.  And you will dishonor your relationship with the United States and the European Union.

But, fortunately, we are not going to allow this to fail.  This country is counting on you to deliver this reform successfully.  We are going to help you to do this.

Dr. Smibert and Dr. DeVille are some of the smartest people in Europe and the United States in their profession.  They have, with your input and the guidance of the Venice Commission final opinion, prepared this final draft of the judicial reform project.

I am proud to say that I support it, although I did not manipulate its contents and have not been shown an advance copy.  I know none of you have had the chance to read it either.  I support it because I trust the integrity, knowledge and political neutrality of these two international experts.   I trust in their abilities and their sincere desire that Albania have the best judicial system possible.

I call on all of you to study this document.  Raise questions and debate what you find here to ensure that it best serves the Albanian people.  At the end of the day, I ask all of you to vote in favor of the judicial reform.

Over this past year, I have seen Mrs. Merkel, Mrs. Mogherini, Mr. Hahn, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama ask Albania to pass this reform.  I have never seen such support from your closest allies on any other subject.  We all recognize how important this is to Albania’s future.

But much more than that, you and I both know that the Albanian people, rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural, men and women, are demanding this reform.  Ninety-one percent support this reform.  Think about that.  Albanians don’t agree on many things and yet 91 percent can agree that this country needs this reform.

I pity the blind political party or deaf political leader who blocks this reform.  First, you will fail if you seek to block this reform.  Second, you will face the anger of the Albanian public next year in the parliamentary elections if you think you can protect corrupt judges and prosecutors by blocking this reform.

I ask the committee today to endorse a timeline, a real timeline, for passage of this reform through this committee by the end of May and through the full parliament by the end of June.

Stop playing politics and start getting this reform completed.  It’s your job.