It is a great pleasure to be here and it’s really an honor to for me to be with you. As a temporary resident of Albania, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that all of you have done, every medic, every nurse, everyone who was cleaning the halls, disinfecting the tools, opening the doors, emptying out the trash, buying the gloves. Thank you, because you have helped us, all of us who are in Albania, get through an extraordinary period of challenge and I think your dedication and your professionalism, and your passion, your commitment is what made the difference.
And as a temporary resident of Albania, I am very proud of the fact that this country has one of the lowest infection rates now in the world and it also has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.
So, for much of the world, I think sometimes Albania gets underestimated. But I am here as a live witness and I can say that Albania and the Albanian people – thanks to all of you – have pulled through in model fashion.
What I admire most as somebody who was here as a resident through the past year and several months, is that when COVID came and the threat became evident, the Albanian people pulled together. Pandemics don’t care who you voted for. The Hippocratic [Oath] doesn’t care which party you belong to. We are all just human beings, who need each other’s help. So, I hope that we take that positive lesson from the pandemic, because there are in fact positive lessons as well, and we carry that forward.
The second thing I’d like to say is as the official representative of the United States in Albania. And you can see today we’re here to donate about $1 million worth of very important equipment, refrigerators, beds, monitoring screens, and other equipment.
This donation happens to be funded by the European Command of the United States. But, I think you are also aware that we have made donations that are funded by other agencies of the United States government, including USAID, the State Department, the Defense Department, I think many other entities have provided contributions. And all of that has added up to about $1 billion worth of contributions to Albania over the last three decades. And as you may have heard last week, President Biden announced that the United States would be providing half a billion doses of vaccine to the most vulnerable population around the world. So, we’re going to continue to do our part but the reason I mention all of that, is that sometimes all of those labels, whether it’s European Command or U.S. Army, or Department of Defense, USAID, State Department, whatever it is, these are important bureaucratically. But the most important thing that matters for all of this, regardless of what label it is or what source is funding it, I hope that every Albanian and you, understand it as an expression of friendship and solidarity from the American people. Because we are just messengers.
So, when somebody opens that refrigerator to get out a dose of vaccine, when a patient lies down on one of those beds, when an expert reads one of those screens, I hope they are reminded somewhere deep in their hearts, that the American people care. We care very much about the Albanian people. And, just as Secretary Baker said when he was here all those years ago, “You are with us, and we are with you.”
And just as you have always been with us when we needed help, I hope you know that we will always be with you when you need help.
So, thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the American people for everything that you are doing on behalf of the Albanian people.