Remarks by Prime Minister Edi Rama at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Economic Cooperation between Albania and the USA:
This is a historic day in the special friendly ties and the invaluable partnership with the United States of America, opening a new chapter in the path of US cooperation and support for Albania.
We are profoundly grateful to the United States of America for the unwavering support to Albania since day one of its rise from the darkness of communism to the path of reform and efforts to build a functioning democratic state and consolidate the rule of law.
We are grateful to the United States for its precious contribution to our region, where, primarily thanks to the United States, we live today in a completely different reality from that we were through not many years ago.
Today we talk about cooperation and lasting peace, with everyone around a table, while not long afo one could hear the bombs explosion sound, gunshots and the cries of suffering of many populations embroiled in an endless conflict.
I would like to wholeheartedly and personally thank the Under Secretary for his visit here to crown a process launched and prepared thanks to the direct involvement and determination and will of the Ambassador by signing a deal, which confirms materialization of what comprise the key points in the Strategic Partnership Document between our two countries signed few years ago.
In the meantime, through the Under Secretary I would like to also publicly extend my sincerest wish of a speedy recovery to President Trump and at the same time express gratitude to him and his administration also for the attention and loyalty with which the United States has accompanied Albania in recent years, as well as undoubtedly for a key point in this region’s history, namely the signing of the Kosovo-Serbia agreement at the White House, not simply as sign of a final confirmation of a previously launched process on cooperation and normalization of the economic ties and cooperation, but also for the strong impetus that granted Kosovo a previously unimaginably recognition by Israel, Kosovo, a recognition which unquestionably ushers in a new perspective in the process towards Kosovo’s final recognition.
The Memorandum we sign today on the Economic Cooperation between Albania and the United States actually and significantly impact on the opening of a new chapter of direct investments, not only American ones. It will boost Albania’s exports by significantly improving the country’s trade balance and will advance the path of a 50-year-old dream, that of the construction of the Skavica Hydro power plant (HPP), which transforms Albania from a resources-rich and largely weather and energy imports-dependent country into a sovereign country in terms of energy generation .
The Memorandum will also spur – and I would like to thank the Under Secretary for the extremely interesting conversation we had and his personal commitment to encourage businesses to involve in this process with the US government taking its initial step by involving and committing itself to provide support through its expertise, the American technology and definitely with its funding on which we are closely working together – construction of the Skavica HPP so that others could follow this lead.
And when saying American investments and not only I mean the incredibly impact of this and other steps set to be taken by American companies over European companies or companies beyond Europe and friendly countries.
We have clearly defined our path. For us, the money that is injected to be invested in Albania is not money equally valued when it is injected from countries that are not seen as the most favourite friendly ones and that are not Albania’s strategic allies and partners. We are especially careful in this aspect. In the meantime, we will do our best, as we have already done so far, so that the money coming from friendly countries meets no obstacles of whatsoever and translates into economic growth, translates into employment, translates into mutual benefit.
Another important aspect is what the Memorandum offers in terms of having a guide regarding strategic sectors. And what I mean by this range from energy resources to tourism infrastructure and energy and especially I mean the confirmation of our long-standing position that Albania and the region need a strategic approach to have a secure network in the process of transition to other digitalization and data transfer levels.
In this context, I would like to go back to the very kind letter I received from President Trump and I would like to reconfirm what I gave repeatedly stated that Albania sees its role in the region not just as a constructive role in building peace and strengthening dialogue, but as a proactive role in the 5G Clean Path.
The 5G clean paths, in my view, are the clean paths for our children, for our children’s children and our grandchildren’s children. In no way can we afford and allow that our children to wake up on a beautiful day when it would be too late. And in this respect, we are absolutely happy that we are not alone and that we are sided with those who are our most loyal and trustworthy friends and who do not need us to necessarily be our friends, but they see in us exactly what we see in them; reliable partners and good friends in tough days, as the Albanian people say.
Thank you once again Mr. Under Secretary for your visit, especially in this difficult time, although I am glad that we Albanians and Americans, over these days, have something in common since both are denied entry into Europe. We are actually used to this, but the fact that you too have now joined us in being banned to travel to Europe due to the COVID transmission worries; it is a great pleasure to meet you in Tirana. Time will clearly show this is the right place to be together and there is no more beautiful country than ours right at heart of Europe. So I hope that you feel and experience this for yourself, as I am convinced, the ambassador feels and experiences it every day and who does not care at all about this isolation from Europe right here at the heart of Albania. Thank you!
Remarks by Under Secretary of State for Energy, Economic Growth, and Environment Keith Krach:
It’s an honor to be here in Albania and to have an opportunity to meet you.
Mr. Prime Minister, you’re quite a leader and I’m so excited to open up this next chapter and take our partnership to the next level. I don’t think there’s any other place I’d rather be than right here, right now, at this time.And also, on behalf of President Trump and all citizens of the United States, I want to thank you and the Albanian people for your great hospitality and partnership, but most of all, your friendship— and by the way, friendship in good times and tough times.
We wish a speedy recovery to all Albanians suffering from the coronavirus and mourn all those who have lost their lives.
Let me also express my gratitude to this great country of Albania, as a fellow NATO member, for contributing your brave troops toward U.S.-led missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for your support in all counterterrorism efforts.
Mr. Prime Minister, Albania is the final stop on my ten-city, eight-country swing through Europe, which included meetings, in-depth meetings with the EU and NATO officials. One interesting thing I’ve found on this trip is that there’s a common recognition by government leaders and private sector CEOs all across the continent of the threat to data privacy, intellectual property, and national security. This threat is brought on from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party. As President Trump said, your outspoken support in favor of secure telecommunications networks is setting a strong example. It’s a role model. Just as NATO and EU officials I spoke with, you understand that the Transatlantic Alliance is only as strong as its weakest link. The Clean Network and the Clean EU 5G Toolbox were developed exactly for that reason.
The Clean Network addresses the long-term threat to data privacy, security, human rights, and trusted collaboration posed to the free world. The Clean Network is rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards. It represents the execution of a multi-year, enduring strategy, built on a coalition of trusted partners, countries, and companies. The Clean Network momentum sparked a tidal wave of countries and companies to take a principled stand against untrusted “high-risk” vendors, such as Huawei.
So far, more than 20 NATO and EU countries are part of the Clean Network, based on the EU 5G Toolbox, countries like the UK, France, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Greece, Estonia, Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Slovakia, Denmark, and Latvia, among others, have chosen to include only trusted vendors in their 5G network infrastructure. Now Germany, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, and Spain are reportedly headed that way. In addition to the countries I just mentioned, some of the largest telecommunications companies around the globe are also becoming Clean Telcos. Telefonica, Orange, Jio in India, Telstra in Australia, SK and KT in South Korea, and all three telcos in NTT in Japan, uxembourg, Singapore, Canada, and the U.S. are rejecting doing business with these tools from the Chinese Communist state, Huawei, which serves as the backbone for that surveillance state. And, of course, Albania as a 5G Clean Path country. We can’t thank you enough. Albania’s One Communication CEO Emil Georgakiev recently said, “One Communication continues to show its commitment to the highest standards of network security for our customers and our partners by using only trusted equipment.” Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your leadership on the critical issue of 5G security and the commitment by the Albanian government to the Clean Path initiative.
Albania has joined the tide toward the Clean Network, and we are excited about continuing to expand our partnership in many areas of economic collaboration. That’s why today, I am pleased to join Minister Denaj in signing a Memorandum of Economic Cooperation between the U.S. and Albania. It’s a crucial step and I think a great catalyst in paving the way for increased commerce and investment, including through a future Economic Dialogue between our two countries.
We’ve really outlined the framework for it. Increased foreign investment especially for firms from the United States will create better jobs and opportunities for the young people of Albania and help create a better business environment.
I am also thrilled to witness the signing of an agreement between America’s largest construction company Bechtel and Albania for the construction of the Skavica hydropower plant. It is an ambitious much-needed project that will provide energy security and environmental benefits for Albania. I don’t think you could have picked a better partner for your hydropower plant than the firm that built the most famous dam in the U.S.—the Hoover Dam—and other renowned construction projects. Skavica will bring Albania additional clean energy, reduce flooding, and make Albanian power generation less dependent on annual rainfall, as you were sharing with me. This historic project will be a national asset for the people of Albania and one that continues to build on our already close ties.
In closing, let me echo the letter that President Trump sent to you, Mr. Prime Minister, just a couple of days ago. Thank you for Albania’s leadership in the Balkans region and throughout Europe in exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s malign influence, human rights abuses, and “debt trap diplomacy” on their One-Belt One-Way Toll Road to Beijing.
We are grateful for your vocal support for secure telecommunications networks. So, on the heels of our Memorandum of Economic Cooperation signing today, I look forward to the United States and Albania signing a Memorandum of Understanding on 5G security. Mr. Prime Minister, as I mentioned earlier, I have crisscrossed Europe over the last two weeks, I’m so happy I saved the best for last. Thank you again, for the Albanian people’s continued friendship and for your warm reception. I will never forget it. God bless the great country of Albania and God bless the United States of America. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.