Remarks by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Koski at the Territorial Planning and Local Economic Development Conference

Deputy Prime Minister, Agency Representatives, Mayors, distinguished guests,

Pershendetje! Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

The work you are doing is building the promise for a better and brighter future in Albania, for all Albanians. The United States is proud to contribute to that effort. Together, we are laying the foundation for a prosperous, diverse, fair, and free economy that creates opportunities for everyone. In the United States, we have the “American Dream” – the ideal by which opportunity and prosperity is available to all. Here, with you, we are building the prospect of an “Albanian dream” for current and future generations of Albanians.

For nearly a decade, USAID’s Planning and Local Government Project has been helping build that dream. Through its projects, it has been supporting Albania’s economic development at the national and local levels. At the national level, USAID has assisted the Albania’s efforts to adopt a legal planning framework.

At the local level, we have assisted municipalities to prepare territorial plans and to implement new practices to jumpstart local economic development. These plans served as a model for the National Territorial Planning Agency. As of today, there are 40 approved local territorial plans because of these efforts.

Smart, strategic territorial planning is fundamental to any thriving economy. It makes communities more attractive for foreign and domestic investment. It is key to improving integrity in governance and public service delivery. And it helps ensure that resources are directed appropriately to provide improved services to citizens.

Together, the United States and Albania have strengthened local communities through improved territorial planning. But there is much more work to do to create a business climate that is more welcoming to investors. Corruption strangles every level of government. Organized crime hurts legitimate business activity. And a compromised judiciary fuels a system of favoritism and fraud that drives investors away. Albania has made some meaningful progress, but the road to building the “Albanian dream” is still long.

The United States will continue to support Albania’s efforts to build that dream. We will continue to help Albania to unravel the web of corruption and dismantle organized crime networks so Albanian citizens can engage in entrepreneurship, creating economic opportunities for themselves and others.

Together, we have made progress we can already point to. It is progress that will eventually make Albania a more welcoming and hospitable country for investors. It is progress that will create a more just and more ethical society for the Albanian people. Justice reform is one such example. It continues to charge forward, on track, and as planned. The United States is proud to help these new institutions as they move forward. Albanians will soon have the honest and transparent justice system promised by their constitution. Albanian citizens should feel certain about this – justice reform will not stop.

The work you are doing to strengthen Albania’s territorial planning and economic development is critical to the country’s future and to the “Albanian dream” we all want for everyone who pursues it. I wish you much success.

Thank you.