Transcript of Interview with PDAS Elisabeth Millard

Klodiana Lala: Ms. Millard, it is a great pleasure to have you in this interview. This is your first time in Albania. What are the most problematic issues that the U.S. Department of State sees with most concern regarding Albania?

PDAS Millard: Klodiana, thank you so much for having me here today. It is a great pleasure…As you say it’s my very first visit to Albania and I am honored to be here in your beautiful country. Albania and the United States are close partners and we work on many things together. So, I’ve had good discussions about some of our priorities that we work on together. We have seen Albania make really excellent progress in many areas and we have areas that we continue to work on and of course some of that is making sure that democratic reform continues, and especially that justice reform continues and I know that a lot of work has been done and that work continues.

Klodiana Lala: Reports by the Department of State, but also other international institutions view Albania as a major source in trafficking of narcotics while there is also a high corruption perception.  Have you addressed these issues in your meetings in Tirana?

PDAS Millard: You know, drug trafficking is a huge problem in many countries and something that is really concerning. Of course, it very often is also tied with corruption, which makes it very hard to address. Of course, this is a priority both for the United States and for Albania in our work together as partners and allies and of course there’s important work to be done in this area, especially making sure that there are convictions of the key traffickers and also their enablers. This is really important work and something that as we see progress, it will benefit all Albanians.

Klodiana Lala: The Department of State has been the main supporter of justice reform in Albania.  Do you think that the reform, which is being implemented, is yielding the expected results given that it is being contested by many sides?

PDAS Millard: This is a really important area. Sometimes in America we say, “if it were easy, it would already be done,” but here we are. This is an important area to work together on and I think one of the things that we are really looking for is concrete results and I know that there are some important institutions that are planned for this country. I was briefed on SPAK and on NBI, I think these will be key institutions that, as they are able to do their important work, will help see essential progress in this important area.

Klodiana Lala: In your opinion, do you think vetting in politics, an initiative put on the table by the opposition, is necessary at this time?

PDAS Millard: You know, I think it’s always good to see what can be done and there may be an important role for both the opposition and the government to work on looking what else can be done but I think key to get some of these important institutions actually up and running, I think that should be the focus at the moment.

Klodiana Lala: And a last question. What is your position regarding recent discussions that have to do with the correction of Kosovo-Serbia borders?  Does the U.S. support border changes in the Balkans?

PDAS Millard: We do think that the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia is really regularizing; that relationship is really key for the entire region. You’ve heard recently, I think, our National Security Advisor Ambassador Bolton speak about this important topic and that is really our policy. The leaders of those two countries I think are showing initiative, are showing imagination at this time, so let’s see what they come up with and then we will review, but I think we are hopeful that for the entire region this will be a good thing.

Klodiana Lala: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

PDAS Millard: Klodiana, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure being with you here today at this beautiful spot.