Honorable Chair and judges of the High Court, distinguished representatives of Albanian justice institutions, partners, dear guests. It is my pleasure to attend this event. I appreciate the invitation and the opportunity.
In 2016, the U.S. Government supported the constitutional and legal amendments which established a framework for Albania’s comprehensive justice reform. I am proud to be here today to reaffirm our continued support for justice reform and the approval of this recent package of legal amendments. These latest changes constitute an important milestone for Albania’s justice reform efforts and will facilitate the review of cases by the High Court.
In my time here in Albania, I have been told many times about the importance of mountains to Albania’s history. The history of justice reform is no different.
Since 2016, you, the major stakeholders in Albania’s justice system together with the people of Albania have been making your way up a mountain. It has been a path of unexpected turns, challenges, and unforeseen obstacles. I am here today to remind you that you are approaching the summit. I tell you that the view from the top is one of a brighter future and better opportunities. The vision of where you can head from there is clear. We will get there together, step by step.
A fully functional Constitutional Court is a step that you must take to continue up the mountain. You are moving in the right direction, but I encourage the High Judicial Council to finalize the procedures for the evaluation, and to rank and appoint the best vetted candidates who have applied for promotion to the High Court. Once the Council does so, it will clear the path for the High Court’s journey to the top of the mountain. You can reach the summit only if you work together.
In its June 2020 opinion, the Venice Commission underlined that the operation of the High Court may be even more critical to the stability of Albania than the presence of the Constitutional Court. To that end, I am proud of the work we are doing to reduce the case backlogs of the High Court and establish policies to prevent their recurrence. Through the work of U.S.-supported Backlog Reduction Officers, we are doing our part to improve efficiency in the High Court and to ensure that a functional High Court assists in providing access to justice for Albanian citizens, a crucial point for Albania’s EU integration process.
Justice institutions, including the High Court, are now functional, and justice reform is bringing positive developments and results. The Albanian public deserves to see what these institutions are capable once they reach full capacity! We are all climbing together to the top of that mountain. Albania is now on the cusp of real justice reform.
The United States encourages you to keep up the pace and good work, regardless of the obstacles you face, and no matter which boulders block your path. Delivering justice is an important and challenging undertaking. Our support of you and the system will continue! We will see you at the top.