Mirëmëngjes! Great to be here this morning!
Let me also say what a special honor and privilege it is for me to be able to begin the celebration of a 100 years of U.S.-Albania relations in the presence of Secretary Pompeo. Secretary Pompeo, now also Doctor Pompeo, was the man who nominated me to the President for this position, and of course, I am very honored that President Trump asked me to come here two years ago.
For us, I think what it underscores is that across a hundred years, including the last 30 years, there is an unbreakable, strong thread that runs through US-Albania relations. No matter who is in the White House, or who is here, that bond remains, and it is unbreakable.
It is what began with President Wilson, when he said that Albania should be a free and independent sovereignty. We believe that still. It is what began when Secretary Baker came here and said, “freedom works,” and in addition to that, he said “you are with us and we are with you.” That remains true!
So, it is a great pleasure! I am pleased to be here with you as we commemorate this historic occasion, the bond between our nations endures, it has endured through the darkest days of communist dictatorship, when our people were kept apart by force and fear.
We are proud to have stood by the Albanian people during those times and we celebrated together in 1991 when the Albanian people chose – of their own free will – a new, democratic path.
Albanians have become a model for how a country can emerge from oppression and contribute to the world.
Last year, you welcomed 2,500 Afghans, again showing Albanian “besa” and protecting those in greatest need.
We are doing so much together around the world, not just in the region anymore. For the first time in history, the U.S. military has a presence here – in fact we have two components, we hope to build on that. We are working on two major energy projects that will make Albania a key player in the energy architecture that all of us are building together throughout Europe. This will help us break free of the oppression and the extortion of the Russians.
Today, we are also working closely as partners on the United Nations Security Council. We are co-penholders on the most pressing issue that faces us today – on Ukraine – and together we are rallying the world to confront the Russians.
Together, we are working to strengthen democracy and combat corruption, and we work each day to support Albania’s entry into the European Union.
For the first time ever, at your invitation, we’ve established an American presence here with our military and with our businesspeople. And we think that this will set the course for the next 100 years.
We have come a long way together over the last 100 years, certainly over the last 30. And we couldn’t have asked for a better friend and partner to take this journey with.