Good morning! It’s very nice to see everybody, it’s a great pleasure to be here!
And personally, I have to say I am very happy and proud to see these three flags behind me! I used to be the Director of the Office that is responsible for the Eastern-Mediterranean countries, including Greece, and before that, the Director of the Office that used to be responsible for NATO, so it gives me tremendous pride to see these three flags together, United States, Albania and Greece.
Minister Çuçi, Ambassador Philippidou, Director Veliu and Director Merkaj, it is a great pleasure to be here.
I am pleased to be in Kakavija, which is one of Albania’s most important points of entry, to emphasize the U.S. government’s commitment to working side by side with Albanian law enforcement agencies, as well as Greek partners, to ensure that borders are well functioning, safe, and secure. Secure borders are not only important for Albania and its immediate neighbors, including Greece, but they’re important to broader global security, which of course, includes the United States.
The U.S. government’s staunch commitment to strengthening law enforcement in Albania is enduring. It’s here now and will continue to be here. Our continuing donations of state-of-the-art equipment that the men and women here use every day testify to our commitment to strengthening Albania’s capacity to battle illicit trafficking and cross-border crime.
We don’t stand alone in our pledge to enhance Albania’s capacity in this critical area – we work closely with Greece and the EU to ensure adherence to international standards for regulating trade and to detect and interdict illicit transfers at the border.
Protecting borders from the movement of illicit weapons, drugs, contraband, and people, while promoting lawful entry and exit, is essential to regional security, economic prosperity, as well as national sovereignty. Recent seizures at the borders are a good indicator that the equipment that we have donated and the training that we have provided are having a positive impact, and we have these dedicated law enforcement officials to thank for that. Thank you!
We also recognize that Border Police must work together with other law enforcement leaders and agencies if we are to defeat criminal elements. Trafficking and potential weapons of mass destruction material, illicit narcotics trades, terrorism, and transnational organized crime have a common nexus – they are driven by criminal elements who are clever and ruthless. So, we need to be just a little more clever and just a bit more ruthless. We urge all law enforcement agencies to work side by side in fighting illegal trafficking and other forms of crime in Albania or through Albania.
And, of course, the United States, will continue to support your efforts krah per krah to remain agile in the face of the ever-evolving criminal and terrorism threats we face together.