Speech by Prime Minister Edi Rama at the handing over ceremony of 60 ventilators part of a donation by the United States to the NATO stockpile:
An Albanian wise saying has it: “Hard times reveal true friends.”
Just like 20 years ago when this relationship between Albania and the NATO was born at an extremely dramatic moment for the world, which was then suffering an escalation of global terrorism threat, we feel extremely happy that not only in the military aspect, but above all in the human aspect we are today part of this fantastic club of countries that believe in the values of freedom, the principles of democracy and solidarity.
I am deeply grateful to the United States of America that as always, in this case too, has attached attention to Albania and I would like to thank the U.S. Ambassador to Albania, Mrs. Kim, who was the first to give me the news about this so precious and necessary assistance in this stage of the fight against a ruthless enemy that has affected not only health, but also the way we live. I am also grateful to the attendees here, all allied countries for their precious contribution to our Armed Forces. This is probably the right moment to provide a retrospective of the main moments when we have closely experienced the support from our friends with the assistance delivered by Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, and the United States by providing different parts of the same materials needed to cope with this challenge.
What is happening is really special for a simple reason. Unlikely other moments in the past, it is not only and simply Albania, but all countries need such assistance. The U.S. itself went through an extraordinary and surprise attack and it needed assistance too. It was the moment when the United States, France, Great Britain and other global powers faced shortages of masks, ventilators, shortages of medicine supplies to fight and heal the evil in the body of hundreds and thousands of people, who created an unprecedented influx to the health systems of those countries.
The fact that regardless of the size and the mighty of these nations, all countries are on the same boat and have to face waves of difficulties that hit with the same intensity everywhere and in the meantime, solidarity has not been lacking nor attention to smaller countries and a tiny country like Albania, in relation to others, has a historical and unforgettable significance to us.
The sixty ventilators adding to our installed capacity to cope with this winter, which is going to be particularly tough according to all predictions by experts all over the world and according to the predictions by our Albanian experts, are significant not only in terms of the gesture, but also in terms of the concrete assistance designed to strengthen health system. Starting today, these ventilators will be deployed to the frontline of the battle to protect and save lives.
While Albania, just like other countries, is committed not to allow this humanitarian health crisis to turn into a security crisis. We have seen what is happening in some countries, where the global crisis caused by COVID is just one of the faces of the deepest security crisis.
I don’t want to waste your precious time by go into further details about complexity of this battle with security being an integral part of the efforts to defend democracy and peace in every country. I do not want to dwell on how much is being done by the Armed Forces today to provide both the necessary support for health workers and the country’s care system and also participate in important peacekeeping missions and operations abroad, everywhere where the Alliance is involved and wherever our troops are called to active duty on the ground.
However, I would like to underline that this is another moment in our life together, where the value and strength of our Armed Forces is highlighted with dignity and efficiently.
Behind my back lies the mirror reflecting an ongoing transformation, which is the meaningful expression of the fact that today, unlike yesterday, Albania has at its disposal a body of civil emergencies that meets European standards. A civil emergencies agency best equipped with materials and logistics and serves with professionalism.
Before I took over as the Prime Minister, due to my duty attributes, I attached great importance to this aspect. I didn’t know, actually I never used to think about the incredible reputation of our Armed Forces for their professionalism in NATO-led missions.
I didn’t know and I didn’t use to think that our people are highly praised as excellent professionals among the long line of the planet’s top and experienced militaries.
I didn’t know and I didn’t use to think that our troops conducted top performances in the NATO-led drills and most extreme and dangerous operations, just like it was the case not long ago. It is with greatest of pleasure that I hear NATO-s top officials and military brass expressing admiration for our Armed Forces.
Of course, the increase in professionalism would been impossible without the support of our allies to boost morale and professional capacity of our people, but, indisputably, this would not have been possible if the top officials of our army were not live up to their responsibility and duty. I am pleased to meet today the newly-appointed Chief of General Staff and wholeheartedly wish him every success in pressing ahead with the good work already launched by his predecessor and I am convinced that it is very fortunate to find yourself in such an environment at the peak of your career having best international expertise and experience at your disposal.
To conclude, I would like to go back to where it all started and which is the reason for this meeting, namely the fight against the invisible enemy, an extremely difficult fight in terms of health and for which I would beg every Albanian citizen not to make it harder because of their actions. I would like to beg of those who are unwilling to believe how true and hard this war is and instead they are drowning in a teaspoonful of water offered by the conspiracy theories or speculations that ignore the real danger.
Please let us not make things even worse. Please do not further complicate this.
I beg of all those who run a restaurant, a bar-cafe not to ignore danger and refrain from challenging the state and not see our tolerance and understanding as weakness and not risk their own health and the health of their families or the people they serve. There are determined safety guidelines that should be strictly observed.
It is not difficult at all for us to order the State Police launch operations to restore rule and order in restaurants and cafes. But, is this what we want?
Is this what all those who are seeking to make use of every single square meter of their cafes and business premises, forgetting that by doing so they risk having their businesses closed again and then suffer a dizzying financial blow just because they don’t realize that it is not the time to utilize every single square meter of the business driven by the desire to earn as much as possible.
Every single penny earned by those running a business is certainly very important, especially during this very difficult time, but the loss that would suffer just because of this risk-taking behaviour would be catastrophic.
Moreover, it is completely unbelievable how could this possibly be tolerated at a time when this epidemic has gripped whole world and not only Albania – Gog forbid it if it were to take place in Albania only, because nobody would have believed this is a real war taking notice of our philosophic and creative nature as individuals to explain everything through conspiracy theories. This is a situation with Germany, the Europe’s locomotive in terms of know-how, science, economy and democracy banning gathering of more than three persons at the same table in a restaurant and with restaurants and every other service business closed after 10 pm.
Is this a conspiracy masterminded by Bill Gates to implant microchips in the body of guys from Laç, or the guys from Vlora?
Or could it be probably be an attempt to implant chips so that singers and performers cannot sing in wedding parties?
Please, let us all act and behave responsibly not only for our health, but also our society. Let’s not be we ourselves the ones to close the doors of our houses, shut down cafes, restaurants and businesses and remain hostage to irresponsibility by mocking a real danger. You could feel healthy, safe and sound today, yet everyone can end up in intensive care unit or intubated tomorrow or even dead two days later.
On the other hand, also thanks to the personal commitment of the Minister of Health, a mother who has forgotten her family and her daughters and work around the clock, as well as thanks to her team, health workers today face no shortages of medical equipment and medicines to fight the invisible enemy. They are well equipped, they are rewarded, they enjoy support of a whole system, which is strong today and is ready to face the increase in new coronavirus cases, which is inevitable, and the increase in the number of hospitalizations, which is inevitable too.
It is really regrettable, although this is not the place to elaborate how certain public figures take advantage of their position speculate over alleged lack of capacities in our hospitals and show a fearsome but non-existing reality, suggesting that our hospitals are overloaded and people are left to die in corridors. This is really regrettable!
Our two main hospitals have still free capacities that are actually decreasing, but there two new facilities already made available and are ready to become operational if necessary. In case we need them, complete capacities, facilities, beds, medicines and trained medical personnel are ready deploy in the frontline of every hospital ward. There are a number of doctors, nurses who are undergoing regular training to stand by and act whenever necessary, just like it is the case with the Armed Forces who are ready to deploy immediately if they are called upon.
Imagine just for a single moment if this curse was to be inflicted upon us few years ago, when not aspirins were to be found in our hospitals, let alone sophisticated special medicines; where no sheets were to be found in sufficient supplies, let alone ventilators, where no sterilized surgical forceps were to be found, let alone to perform intubation, this newest word of science. Imagine what would have happened here.
I am saying this, because it is very important to proudly underline that anyone needing medical treatment and protection from this invisible enemy in Albania today they are offered everything provided to an American, French, Italian or any European citizen either in terms of hospital conditions or medicines and treatment. There is not a single medicine on the list of drugs to treat people from this danger in any country around the world that cannot be found in Albania today and in the COVID-dedicated hospitals.
We know we are not the United States, we are not neither France, Great Britain or Italy. We know this is Albania. We have our shortcomings and deficiencies, but awareness about our deficiencies make us committed not to fall their prey in this battle of life and death. We can’t question the mask use rule today. It is certainly annoying to wear a mask on this wonderful sunny day and in this huge space, but the face mask helps each and every one of us to defend and prevent this disease. Claiming that such a virus doesn’t exist it means that one is not mentally fit. It means that your brain is unable to supply your mouth will all the needed elements so that the mouth doesn’t become a source of stupidity.
Thank you very much again all of those on the frontline of this war!
Thank you very much all top officials and members of this huge family of guardian angels of Albania and the Albanian people, the Armed Forces.
Thank you very much the military and defence attaches in our country!
Thank you very much the friendly countries.
Thank you so much United States and God bless our friendship with all of you! I wish you all good luck and great health to you and your families! I am convinced that our union is the guarantee that in the end, this war will be won by us, people will win, life will win, health will win, this invisible enemy that, apparently, will stay and sometime around, will sooner rather than later be defeated.