Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim at the 25th Anniversary of the Albanian School of Magistrates

Good morning everybody. Honorable President Begaj, Minister Manja, Director Rakipi, distinguished colleagues from the diplomatic corps, dear guests, and of course, dear graduates,

It is great to be here with you this morning. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. said that “true peace is not merely the absence of tension – it is the presence of justice.”

Today, we mark an important milestone in Albania’s democratic evolution.  For 25 years, the School of Magistrates has been a pillar of Albania’s justice system, its justice reform, and the hopes of Albanian citizens for justice before the law.  For these 25 years, the United States has stood with Albanians in this effort and stood with the School of Magistrates’ important work.

You have heard me say very often that justice reform is not easy, quick, or perfect. But I think all of us can see that justice reform is beginning to deliver results. The Albanian people are counting on the new magistrates who are here – all of you, all of you, every single one of you  – to deliver results. They are also counting on the School of Magistrates to train the next generation of magistrates. Your training of vetted, qualified judges and prosecutors is a critical part of delivering a trusted justice system to the Albanian people.

As you do this, it will be necessary for the School of Magistrates to adopt changes, to modernize itself, to keep pace with the requirements of justice reform. The challenges you face now are different from the challenges you have faced in the past. We hope that the School of Magistrates will be responsive to the needs of the changing and improving justice system in the country.

I challenge you to be bold in making changes to your structures and practices to meet those challenges. All of us, if we are to improve, whether as individuals, institutions, countries, we have to change, we have to adapt, we have to modernize. I hope the School of Magistrates will do this.

There are many reasons to be optimistic for a better future for this generation and the generations to come, as Albania undertakes reforms that are necessary to take its place in the EU.

Justice sector reform – whether here at the School of Magistrates, in the courts, the police, and other agencies – must succeed for the good of all Albanians and Albania’s future. The United States will continue to support Albania as it moves forward in its Euro-Atlantic integration and delivers a better future for all Albanians. The work of School of Magistrates’ and Albania’s entire justice sector is central to this effort.

As I congratulate you graduates, I was thinking, what do we all do? Every morning, I wake up and I try to think, I try to remind myself as I look in the mirror, why am I here? Why am I in this job? Why did I choose this profession? And I hope that you will do the same, I hope that you will look in the mirror every morning before you head out to work, and say to yourself “I am going to be part of the reason why Albania is better. I am going to be part of the reason that Albania is in the EU. I am going to be part of the reason that my people have hope. I am going to be part of the reason that my family and my children can be proud. I am going to be part of a better Albania for all of us.”

I hope you do that!

Congratulations! Never give up! Never give up!