*as prepared for delivery
Dear Minister Gjonaj, Dear Chairman Ibrahimi, Prosecutor Çela, and Chief Kraja
Thank you for the invitation to join this important round table today. It is good to see leaders of Albania’s prosecution institutions convened, together with the Minister of Justice, to discuss the joint efforts in the fight against crime, including but not limited to organized crime, corruption, and their new emerging trends.
You know better than me, that successful prosecution in combating crime does not depend on the good work of only one institution. All justice institutions must work together, and our focus today is the collaboration and cooperation of Albania’s prosecution institutions to build public trust in the criminal justice system. The existence of your institutions was an essential step in building the foundations upon which justice reform continues to be built. You must keep going. The system is functional, but not yet at peak due to a lack of staffing as well as a lack of public trust in those without final vetting. Now is the time to build a bridge toward full functionality, to address staffing deficiencies created by vetting.
Last month, President Biden made clear that the United States considers corruption to be a national security threat. Reflecting this new policy, President Biden expanded the scope of the Executive Order to Sanction Persons Involved in Destabilizing the Western Balkans to include Albania, identify additional sanctionable conduct, and make the Executive Order applicable to a broader range of persons involved in activities that lead to serious human rights abuse in the Western Balkans or relate to corruption.
This Executive Order should encourage prosecution offices around the world, including Albania, to redouble efforts to combat corruption. The decrease in the number of prosecutors because of the essential and demanding vetting process, compounded by the unanticipated hindrances of the COVID-19 pandemic, accentuate the necessity of continuous adaptation and the highest levels of performance.
I encourage you to work together to identify gaps in your institutional capacity and work together to explore the best ways to address them. The United States continues to support and work in partnership with you in your endeavor to build a more prosperous, secure, and democratic Albania, with institutions that make public service their priority.