Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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Mr. Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs,

Excellencies, Ambassadors,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening and welcome to our first gathering of the new year!

This meeting holds special significance for me, as it provides an opportunity to share not only the achievements of the past year but also the challenges and hopes for the year that has just begun.

Challenges and hopes are as global as they are regional, and the more aware we are of their complexity, the more responsible we become in finding long-term and sustainable solutions.

We are facing crises and threats of various natures, often closely intertwined with one another.

These crises and threats manifest in the stalling and often failure of dialogue, attacks on democratic governance principles, and the creation of diametrically opposed narratives and actions.

The Russian aggression against a sovereign country like Ukraine continues. The Ukrainian people and government are the everyday heroes of resistance in the name of sovereignty and human dignity. Albania supports Ukraine in its fight to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel reignited the conflict, worsening the security situation in the Middle East. We support the resolution of the conflict and the initiation of talks to find a two-state solution, in peace and cooperation with each other.

Even our region has not been immune to real crisis threats. The terrorist act in September 2023 in Banjskë and other incidents in Kosova are signs of a fragile status quo and a situation that could have had serious consequences for the region and Europe. Fortunately, there were no escalations.

EU and international community support for thorough investigations to identify and punish the instigators and perpetrators is essential. Resolving the Kosova-Serbia disputes is not just a political issue but a security matter for the region and Europe.

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is delicate and requires attention, as there are still political actors not detached from the conflictual past.

These situations are compounded by dramatic developments in other countries. Potential risks and threats related to violent extremism, illegal immigration, economic crises, food and energy crises, challenges of cyber-attacks, control of artificial intelligence, pandemic aftermath, and climate change are issues that need to be addressed and resolved.

Facing these challenges and threats requires unity in an alliance to protect peace and democratic values. This alliance of values should be open, not closed; inclusive, not exclusive, where cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity is considered an asset, not a liability.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting and hosting leaders and high representatives of various states and organizations. Each meeting had its uniqueness, but they all agreed on the respect for universal values.

Last year, Albania made a significant contribution to the United Nations Security Council, NATO, and other international institutions.

We will remain committed and dedicated to other responsibilities, as a member of the Human Rights Council and the executive board of UNESCO.

Albania will continue to align its foreign and security policy with the European Union and the USA and engage in strengthening multilateralism and regional cooperation. Albania will also continue to contribute to peace in the region and beyond, as peace is the foundation of well-being, security, sustainable development, and mutual respect.

Our commitment to the international arena will continue alongside all the reforms initiated in the country, especially judicial reform, the fight against corruption, increasing transparency and accountability of public institutions, and our efforts for social justice.

Deepening reforms and promoting socio-economic development in the country are primarily for the well-being of our citizens. These also aid in opening EU accession chapters and consolidating the trust of allies and friends, led by the United States.

I take this opportunity to thank the USA and the European Union countries for their cooperation and support in progressing the integration process and developing comprehensive reforms we have undertaken to accelerate EU accession.

I thank you, Excellency ambassadors and representatives of multilateral organizations, for your assistance and contribution to Albania consolidating democracy, the rule of law, and facing economic and social challenges.

Thanks and appreciation for promoting Albania, its historical, cultural values, natural beauties, and fruitful cooperation in encouraging and realizing joint projects.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year, Albania experienced positive and successful developments in several areas, notably in tourism, sports, and culture.

We are proud that the efforts and work of every honest, hardworking, and patriotic Albanian are being rewarded. Their contribution should also inspire the political class, which has the opportunity to engage in political dialogue and cooperate in the interest of Albanian citizens and national interest.

Dear Excellency ambassadors,

Last year’s achievements will be enriched by new events during 2024. I consider the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Process, which I hope will find a more cooperative region closer to the EU.

I am confident that the European Union will continue to give proper and special attention to the Western Balkans. It is  important for the region to be supported and for mechanisms to be created that enable not only political alignment but also economic progress and everyday life facilitation for citizens.

For Albanians in the region, EU membership is a national interest issue. The Albanian factor has contributed and will continue to contribute to peace and security in the region.

Albania supports Kosova’s integrity, sovereignty, and Euro-Atlantic integration. I welcome the EU’s decision to liberalize visas for Kosovo citizens.

For the ambassadors of countries that have not yet recognized Kosova, I reiterate the request to recognize the Republic of Kosova as an irreversible reality.

I reemphasize our support for the Kosova-Serbia dialogue to be open and advance, normalize relations between the parties, and lead to mutual recognition.

I hope that the Belgian and Hungarian EU Council presidencies and the Maltese OSCE Chairperson-in-Office this year will give due attention to the Western Balkans in promoting cooperation and dialogue.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, the world needs more diplomacy, cooperation, and dialogue. Diplomacy is not an option; it’s a necessity born from the need for a peaceful and secure world.

I believe that peace, cooperation, and hope for a better future should be our guiding principles this year. With the hope that peace, security, and cooperation will be the world community’s approach to new challenges, I wish your countries and peoples, and your organizations, a prosperous and blessed year.

Let’s work intensively to turn challenges into real development, well-being, and solidarity opportunities. Let’s commit to a future of concrete changes and hopes that become reality, inspiring opportunities for younger generations.

I am ready to intensively continue our cooperation this year,  to promote the message of peace, solidarity, and hope.

Thank you!