"Only Albanian Citizens and Albanian Institutions Can Change Albania"
Albanian Daily News
Published May 8, 2015

Thank you for giving me the honour to address you today (Friday) on the occasion of the first session of the Albanian National
Council on European Integration.

I am truly proud because we are
witnessing a process, which did not come
easy, and went against the perceived
habits of politics in Albania.

Today we have in front of us the National Council for European Integration whose
members come from different institutions and civil society organisations, and
whose Chairwoman is a member of the main
opposition party. That in itself is an important achievement, and I want to
thank and applaud to those who made it possible. To extend a hand across the aisle is a sign of strength, and wisdom.

And this is exactly what a national
council is supposed to be: a framework within
which all the stakeholders, and people from different walks of life, sit together and discuss issues
important for the European integration of Albania.

It is of a fundamental importance for the country that there is a common understanding and agreement on what
Albania needs to do in its reform agenda. We all come and go, politicians
and diplomats alike, but the agenda for
the reforms, and implementation of reforms remain the crucial interest of the
country - to make it competitive, safe and prosperous.

In its history Albania went through
some truly hard times, and has lost many
chances for modernisation. Now it has to catch up. However, we need to be fair, and understand the
complexity and mere size of the work that has to be done. It is huge.

But we also have to be realistic and brutally honest:

There are no readily available solutions from the outside, there are no short
cuts. There is only an incredible
amount of work, and a decisive will
to change.

This is your
this is your internal dialogue, this
is your historical opportunity to be
and equal and competitive partner in the Union of European democracies.

This is
your responsibility.

States of the European Union, and all
other friends of Albania from the rest of the world, can help with our experiences, advice, good practices, finances. We
have, we are and we will. But we can not
change Albania.

Albanian citizens and Albanian institutions can change Albania.

I have three simple messages today:

First is for the arrogance and brutality of corruption and crime, and those who think that they are untouchable.
There is no such thing as untouchable.
Many other countries that went through a transition are best proof for that. Rule of law will prevail, and once it does
Albania will move forward very fast.

Second is for all that have been elected to represent and govern, both in the
government on every level, and in the opposition. If you ever wanted to serve your country this is the moment.
The state needs institutions that will be fully functional at all times,
regardless who is in the government and who is in the opposition. Government has our full support in all
reforms it is undertaking to fulfil this goal.

Third is for the people of Albania - I
stand humble in front of your challenges
from the past, but also your opportunities for the future.

Please, use
these opportunities. Integration reforms are instruments that have one aim, and
one aim only: to make the overall quality
of your life better. That your air is clean and your food healthy, that
your roads are safe, and running water available at all times. That you live in
peace and dignity, that you can earn enough for your family, that your children
are safe and your elderly cared for.

I will end repeating the words of one
wise man who is sitting here with us today "If
not us, who? If not today, when?"

cannot afford to waste any more time. I see in the Albanian people the need to change many things fast.
For this you need to talk to each other in how to do it, to best serve your
country and your citizens.

You are not
alone. We are firmly by your side, happy for every good change that happens,
ready to help whenever help is needed.

I wish the Council a lot of heated
but constructive debates, and I wish you all happy European day, the day of all
of us!

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