Good Afternoon, Minister Lleshaj, General Director Veliu, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for inviting me to participate in this awards ceremony for two of our Embassy colleagues.
The United States continues to enjoy a close relationship with the Government of Albania, especially the Ministry of Interior and the Albanian State Police. I want to recognize the Albanian State Police for their continued support of shared U.S.-Albanian security priorities and, specifically, for their work with the Regional Security Office in keeping our Embassy safe and secure. I hear continuous praise from our Regional Security Office for the support that you have provided for many years. We greatly appreciate the close security cooperation that you deliver daily.
I also want to encourage the efforts that the ASP has made over the past year to fight organized crime and to strengthen the rule of law. Even with the increased duties you have had recently in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic, you have continued to press forward with criminal investigations and policing. We have greatly benefited from your continuous involvement in investigations that are linked to shared interests. As you assist our law enforcement efforts, we hope that your close cooperation with U.S. law enforcement officials enhances your training and investigative techniques.
The joint Albanian-American operation targeting transnational crime has made some inroads recently with the arrest of numerous criminals involved in a large human smuggling ring. The operation would not have succeeded without the ASP’s support of the Joint-Shield Special Police Unit. The ASP has also assisted with numerous fugitive returns as well as other U.S. investigations involving Albanians. Let’s ensure the successful prosecution of these cases so that criminals operating in Albania feel the pain. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Albanian State Police, and I urge you to continue the fight against organized crime in Albania.
Let me close by thanking Minister of Interior Sandra Lleshaj and ASP General Director Ardi Veliu and the Albanian State Police for your sustained support to the Embassy and your determination to improve the safety and security of all Albanians. We look forward to continuing the engagement and cooperation.