Minster Peleshi, General Begaj and distinguished guests.
I would like to thank our host, General Sallaku, for welcoming me to support command. I know you have been busy in recent days responding to the flooding. Let me begin by expressing our sympathy for those who are suffering due to the flood, and our thanks to those – include many here – who are working to provide relief.
Americans and Albanians share many values, and one of the most simple but important is this: A friends in need is a friend indeed. As friends, partners, and NATO Allies, Americans and Albanians have been at each other’s side, especially when times are tough, like today.
In recent weeks we have seen dramatic rainfall here in Albania and witnessed the devastation that comes with these heavy rains. Damaged roads and buildings, flooded fields and towns, citizens needing to be evacuated. The Albanian military has been working around the clock to provide urgent assistance and has been doing so very admirably.
Today, the United States European Command would like to donate flood-relief equipment to the Armed Forces of Albania. Since 1999, United States European Command has provided over $13 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to Albania. Many meaningful projects across the country – from the renovation of schools and medical clinics, to the donation of critical equipment needed for responding to earthquakes, forest fires and floods — are gifts from the people of America to the people of Albania, and they represent the commitment of the United States to our Albanian NATO Ally.
This latest donation of equipment comes at a critical time, and we are happy that the items provided today will be put to immediate use to assist those in need. This is what Allies do for each other – they stand ready to assist when called upon. The same way Albania has repeatedly answered the call for the United States around the world. We are proud to continue to stand ‘krah per krah’ with you.
Of all the important work that the United States Embassy takes part in, these humanitarian assistance projects are among the most rewarding to me. I would like to thank U.S. European Command, working through the Office of Defense Cooperation, for expediting this project. Finally, I would like to highlight the commitment of our Albanian local staff in the Office of Defense Cooperation who take great pride in giving back to their country through these efforts.
Thank you for allowing me to join today, faleminderit!