Signing Ceremony of a Joint Declaration of U.S.-Albania Strategic Partnership

Victoria Nuland
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati
Washington, DC
April 20, 2015

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the State Department. This is a terrific day. I am honored to be here to sign the Declaration of the U.S.-Albanian Strategic Partnership with Foreign Minister Bushati, and to fulfill a commitment that Secretary Kerry and Prime Minister Rama made to each other at the NATO Wales Summit in September that we would kick this relationship into higher gear. This special event reinforces our two countries’ very close ties. We share so much – our hard-fought independence, our love of freedom and democracy, our respect for human dignity, and our deep sense of history.

Albania has made so much progress since we re-established relations in 1991, and the U.S. has been very proud to support Albania on its journey first to NATO in 2009, and now as it seeks to accede to the EU. Albania in the process has also made significant contributions to regional and global security in Kosovo, in Afghanistan, with us in Iraq, assisting in the NATO-Ukraine Cyber Defense Fund and NATO’s Substantial Package for Georgia.

Albania is also leading Europe in economic dynamism with 3.4% GDP growth since 2008. I know the foreign minister and the prime minister want to see more. We’re working together to kick-start as well trade and investment between Albania and the United States. That’s part of what we’re working on together. The foreign minister and the Secretary also talked intensively about energy security today. Albania plays a clear role in that.

And as Albania stands up, the United States stands with it, helping to reform Albania’s judiciary and prosecution system; collaborating together in the fight against corruption and organized crime; assisting and strengthening local government and public administration; working to increase investment, as I said; and building up Albania as a bridge in Europe’s energy market, particularly on the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.

Our cooperation, as I said, is also global – working in Afghanistan, working in Iraq. In Albania as a NATO ally, the United States knows that it has a partner wherever there is trouble in the world, and we appreciate that enormously.

And of course, our ties also run to people and family. Albanian Americans have made marks in American science, innovation and culture from Ferid Murad, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner for medicine, to the Blues Brother, John Belushi.

The declaration that we’ll sign today will deepen and broaden our strong and growing partnership across a very broad spectrum of mutual priorities, including security, rule of law, energy, and people-to-people exchanges.

As the Albanian phrase goes, “A good friend is known in hard times.” Albania has been a friend to the United States in hard times and in good times, and today, we build on that progress with this document that we sign.

Foreign Minister.

Foreign Minister Bushati: Thank you. Thank you, Victoria. Good morning, everyone. I’m happy that Albania and the United States are signing today a Joint Declaration of Strategic Partnership. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked to make it possible – in particular, Victoria. Albanian Strategic Partnership with United States is an essential factor towards the democratic consolidation and economic prosperity of my country. We are thankful for the U.S. constant contribution in those areas that coincide with the reforms that we are undertaking in Albania in order to join European Union.

Thanks to the U.S. engagement and support, Albania has been able to play a dynamic and constructive role in Southeast Europe. We are now seeking to streamline our cooperation in strategic sectors. Beyond security and defense, we are now focusing on economy, energy security, human rights, science, education, and much more. I’m happy to say that through the signature of this document today, we are bringing our relationship to another level. A close and dynamic strategic partnership can enhance the security and prosperity of both our countries and nations. Thank you very much.

(The Joint Declaration of the U.S.-Albanian Strategic Partnership was signed.)