It is a great pleasure to attend today’s event to celebrate how our civil society partners have come together to help strengthen democratic institutions in Albania. You are fulfilling a vital role as government watchdogs by providing oversight and by advocating for policies that will help strengthen institutions.
The U.S. Government strongly supports the work of civil society around the world. Here in Albania, we stand with you as you fight corruption, advocate for more meaningful public participation and provide oversight of resources. Your work has helped to improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of the Albanian government in its provision of services to the Albanian people.
I strongly encourage government officials and civil society to continue to work together to ensure government policy is fair for all. This means that a government must represent the interests of all citizens, including women, youth, and other marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Listening to the voices of citizens, civil society organizations are often the first to detect and then unmask sources of corruption. Fighting corruption around the world is a main priority of the United States and it is a priority of our Embassy here in Tirana.
Societies mired in corruption are unable to attract international investment and, accordingly, are unable to provide the economic opportunities to their citizens that accompany that investment. Each time you raise your voice and identify something wrong, you are helping to create more opportunities for everyone in Albania.
I was pleased to hear that through the Accelerated Civic Development and Cooperation project, more than 90 organizations have improved their internal organizational development and management capacities. I am impressed to hear how you have worked with local communities to strengthen participative democracy by targeting areas such as youth and women empowerment, marginalized population rights, election oversight and anti-corruption. Congratulations on these important achievements!
I also want to express my appreciation to ANTTARC, to Natasha and Myftar and to their team. Without their dedication and commitment, these efforts would not have been materialized.
The U.S. Government will continue to support the work that you have started with your projects. We will continue to urge the Albanian government to advance policies that improve the abilities of civil society to provide oversight for the government. The goal is to strengthen participatory democracy in Albania and hold institutions accountable to the citizens they are here to serve.
I hope today’s meeting will foster stronger links among you all, and that your continued collaboration will enable you to nurture, grow, and sustain a more democratic, accountable and self-reliant Albania.