Remarks by Deputy Public Affairs Officer Lucija Straley at the “Debating Economics” Program Launch

Good morning Mrs. Gjini, Chairman Granoff, Junior Achievement Albania Director Bala, rectors, and students. It is a pleasure to be here today to launch the National Debating Economics Program, supported by the U.S. Embassy through our Democracy Commission.  The Debating Economics program aims to help build an active and informed public by educating students in debate.

At its core, democracy is about choice. But choice without accurate information, without critical thought, and without an understanding of the options, is hollow.  This program seeks to teach students these skills: to find information through research, to engage in critical thinking, and to be able to clearly evaluate options. It provides them with the opportunity to examine issues affecting their lives and their communities and to discuss them without resorting to petty insults. These are the skills and experiences that students need not only to be successful in their future careers, but also to help strengthen Albania’s democracy.

Without an active citizenry engaged in thoughtful debate on policy challenges, democracies wither and corruption flourishes.   Teaching the fundamentals of debate plants the seeds for genuine dialogue that democracies need to succeed.

I would like to congratulate the participating universities for their commitment to this program, Junior Achievement Albania for its efforts to implement the program and the Albanian American Development Foundation for its support for the sustainability of the program.  Your dedication is crucial to its success.

I look forward to seeing the National Debating Economics Program bear fruit in the form of a more engaged citizenry.  I hope it will create a cadre of young people armed with the skills and desire needed to further fortify Albania’s democracy. As they take on this task, the United States will stand with them, helping to build a brighter Albanian future.