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The remarks by the President of the Republic, H.E.Mr. Bajram Begaj at the activity of “George C. Marshall” European Center for Security Studies

Good evening,

Ambassador Kim,

Distinguished representatives of German Embassy,

Dear Alumni and friends of the Marshall Center,

It is a special pleasure to be here tonight at the activity of  “George C. Marshall” European Center for Security Studies.

The same as you, I am a Marshall Center Alumnus  and a firm believer of its mission.

I was lucky to attend the Senior Executives Seminar in June 2018.

In this course, I created an impressive experience and experienced firsthand the unique opportunity offered by the German-American partnership in this important institution for European security.

As the Marshall Center celebrates its 30th anniversary, it is important to remember that this institution was established to help promote peace and stability in Eastern Europe.

Thanks to the contribution of the Marshall Center, it became possible to transform the former communist countries of Eastern Europe into democratic, well-governed states integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family.

I believe that today the mission of this center is more important than ever.

The German-American partnership promotes common values and advances collaborative geostrategic solutions by educating, engaging and empowering.

This year, we also celebrate the 75th anniversary of Secretary of State, George Marshall’s historic speech at Harvard, which brilliantly outlined the policies that later on became the Marshall Plan.

This plan has rightly been described as one of the greatest and most honorable adventures in history, because at a difficult time in European history, it offered hope when there was no hope.

We are witnessing Russia’s illegal and brutal aggression against a sovereign country like Ukraine, Russia’s unprovoked threats to transatlantic security, as well as to the rules-based international order.

At the same time, we are witnessing a similar geopolitical stress emanating from other authoritarian countries against the community of democracies.

In this new era of strategic competition, traditional challenges have become sharper and new challenges more troubling.

Today, the values of democratic governance matter more than ever, as well as the critical importance of continuing our investment in the transatlantic relationship.

The threats we are facing are not imaginary, they are real.

For our Euro-Atlantic community, the current geopolitical climate makes close cooperation necessary regarding priorities that essentially have common goals: security, peace and well-being.

We ought to master thoroughly the lessons of history, in order to prepare for the future, and at a time when we are all being tested, we must reevaluate and reaffirm our values.

This is undoubtedly a defining moment for the Euro-Atlantic community and for our global partners, who believe and value democratic ideals, as well as human rights.

Today, we are facing complex and hybrid work challenges, cyberspace being one of the most important.

As you are aware, Albania faced a serious cyber attack supported and financed by certain structures of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The attack aimed data destruction and digital disruption of services for the public.

Thanks to the cooperation with our Euro-Atlantic partners, the United States of America and NATO, the attack did not achieve the goal of bringing Albania to its knees.

I seize the opportunity to thank the U.S. government, whose experts, along with private sector partners, have contributed immensely.

They have supported Albania’s efforts to identify, mitigate, recover and investigate this unprecedented cyber attack on a NATO country.

We are extremely grateful to our allies for their support and assistance in building and strengthening our cyber capabilities and resilience.

Our bitter experience exemplifies the challenges we face, where state and non-state actors with malicious and destabilizing intentions can attack with a sense of impunity.

These cases demonstrate the importance of strengthening the Alliance and the Euro-Atlantic partnership. Concretely, the German-American relationship of the Marshall Center is an excellent example of successful partnerships.

The United States of America and Germany have been major contributors to peace and stability in the Western Balkans for several decades.

As the region continues to move forward in its efforts towards Euro-Atlantic full integration, the spirit of partnership must guide this journey.

The Western Balkans region still deserves attention, as there are areas that carry potential instability.

I seize the opportunity, to appreciate the serious commitment of the European Union, Germany and the USA, for their persistent efforts in order to advance dialogue between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia.

This dialogue must be focused towards mutual recognition for the normalisation of relations.

I am delighted that Albania has more than 300 Alumni of the Marshall Center in all branches of government and I am proud that one of them was or is a professor at the Marshall Center during the last 12 years, replaced by a new one, so congratulations!

The Marshall Center has always been ready to help the Albanian government in important projects, which also includes support for the drafting of the National Security Strategy.

We are extremely grateful for the great support of the Marshall Center and the American and German governments over the last 30 years, with the aim of increasing our capacities in the fields of security, defense, democratization and strengthening our national stability.

Thank you!