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17 May 2005
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To be checked against delivered speech

Address by H.E. Alfred MOISIU, President of Albania

Warsaw, 17 may 2005

Distinguished Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to from the outset to express my heartfelt thanks to the host country and to highly appreciate the excellent organization of this important Summit, which is the third in the history of Europe and the first in the new century. Europe has positively evolved since the Summit of 1997. New former communist countries have joined the European family. I have the pleasure to emphasize that the South East Europe region has also changed for the better. The ethnic war and conflicts have been replaced by understanding and cooperation. There is a political will among us to be integrated in the European Union. The Thessalonica Summit confirmed our European future. The values of Europe are also our values. We are conscious about that great cohesion required by the time and that inclusive unity that the democratic Europe requires.

In this framework of historical developments, the voice and the strength of the new community is being emiched by new dimensions. The reaction of the continent to the events and humanitarian catastrophe in Kosova, to the genocide in Bosnia and all the way to Afghanistan and in a wider context, the reaction against international terrorism are examples of a joint and successful cooperation and reaction. United Europe is no longer a dream. It is our project of the future. This transmits optimism and unites the people; feeds hopes for a better and safer future.

The European identity is appearing to us and we are living through it as a community of values, cultures and traditions that share common interests. In the countries with young democracies and integration aspirations we look up with admiration to the success of our neighbors of the former Eastern block and try to profit from their experience. The value of freedom, democracy and free market kept alive our hopes even in the most difficult times. You, but also our citizens naturally have criticism and displeasure about the level of democracy, about which there is full understanding, but what it is important is that we do not doubt the needs for the European democracy and values.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Soon Albania will mark the tenth anniversary of its accession in the Council of Europe. These years have been for us not only years of joint engagements and challenges, but also of the proof that we without a doubt belong to the European values. We come from an extreme totalitarian dictatorship and being such, in our country the needs for change do not appear only in the economic system, in the Rule of Law and in building the democratic institutions, but also in the founding of a new mentality, which is a complex process that requires hard work, energy and courage. On this occasion, I thank the Council of Europe and the member countries for the help given to my country in order to get Albania closer and quicker to the European values and standards.

The move from a totalitarian system, where human rights are limited by law, into a democratic system, where the defense and guarantee of human rights is the main principle ofthe state functioning, it is a complex process that is carried out gradually. We are conscious that without the expressed and guaranteed freedoms of the citizens, we cannot have a democratic society.

In a wider framework, Albania believes in the principles of the defense and promotion of human rights and thinks that the European Convention for the defense of the fundamental rights and freedom is the main legal instrument that ensures the highest defense system of human rights in the pan-European space. The Albanians, the way they believe in the European values, the same way they also trust its justice. Lately, for the very first time, there have cases when the European Court has positively judged and weighted the complains of some Albanian citizens. This is getting the European institutions closer to the citizens.

The Council of Europe has been active in Albania during these years in the fields of human rights, strengthening of the democratic institutions, measures against racism and intolerance, reforming of the legal and judiciary system, decentralization, in the fight against trafficking of human beings and in the assistance given for the better compiling and implementation of the laws that guarantee the defense of minorities. The activity of the Council of Europe office and the visits ofthe missions of the Council of Europe have founded by now a precious tradition in our relations with the Council of Europe.

The promotion of the functional and pluralist democracy is one of the primary objectives of the Council of Europe. Albania has entered in the electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections, which will be held on July 3. These elections are widely considered as the most important political challenge of our country since the years 199192. For this reason, our attention has been focused now on how to conduct free and fair elections, freed by the problems that have been noticed in the past and accepted and conform the European standards and values, because they are the foundation of the true and real democracy. We can say that these elections will put an end to the political transition and we can take a fundamental step forward in strengthening of democracy and on our Euro-Atlantic path. The electoral process in general is progressing well. The signing during the last days of the Code of Conduct by all the parliamentarian parties was a positive achievement. We expect a civilized electoral campaign where the programs and alternatives should compete and the will of the people to come out a winner.

Under the viewpoint of the known principles of the Council of Europe, Albania has reason to believe that it is progressing in the right direction. Today there do not exist anymore real basis for social and political crisis, there is an increasing boom and role of the civil society, media in its diversity manages to transmit information to the public, the model of the Rule of Law that we strive to build is becoming more and more a reality. Albania has been engaged even further in a reform of its laws and institutions in accordance to the European norms. We are fully engaged in the implementation of the Fourth Program of Cooperation with the Council of Europe in response to the need for strengthening of the quality and effectiveness of the legal system.

An active part of this engagement is the strengthening of the legislative process, the real independence from politics, training of the judges and prosecutors, legal education, the training about the administrative law, the reform of the penitentiary system, the fruitful cooperation of the Albanian institutions with the Venice Commission, the deepening of the fight against corruption and organized crime by implementing also the Convent of the Council of Europe on laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds from crime and on the financing of terrorism.

On a wider level, Albania appreciates the condemnation of terrorism and through the Convention of the Council of Europe for the prevention of terrorism and we engage to take all the respective measures in cooperation with other European countries in order to strike it a decisive and unified blow.

On the regional level, Albania has been playing a positive and stabilizing role. Thanks to our common efforts, the Balkans of today offers a different picture from that of only a few years ago. It was left behind the period of ethnic conflicts and wars and is embarking on the road of bilateral understanding and cooperation. What is more important it sees the future in the integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures. However, we cannot say that our region has freed itself from problems, which are related to the legacy of former Yugoslavia. A typical case in point is Kosova. The solution of the Kosova problem allows for no delays as any further delay might destabilize the situation there, which in turn, could send tremors in the region. We believe that after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, which no longer exists, Kosova deserves a clear Euro-Atlantic future, which will come about through a free expression of the will of all its inhabitants. in close cooperation and understanding with the international factors.

Within a few years we have managed to build relations of partnership and friendship through the intensive cooperation with all the countries of the region, including those with whom we have shared great problems in the past. The good neighboring policy and the intensive cooperation with the neighbors coincide also with the values of the Council of Europe about the need of dialogue and social and cultural exchanges.

Six months ago Albania became the host country of the presidents of the region in a political and academic manifestation on the inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue. We are proud that our model of coexistence among three different religious faiths presents a great national value, which is already recognized beyond our region and very important at the present. We shared this value with the others and stressed the need of the improvement of the inter-ethnic dialogue through the education of young generations. In our viewpoint, the education is the basic tool that allows us to develop the long-term dialogue ensuring the participation of all. Seen this way, the increase of the quality of education, civil education, the joint projects in various fields will contribute as understanding and cooperation bridges. Alongside it, also the cooperation in the cultural field plays an important role in deepening the inter-cultural dialogue and also m safeguarding the diversity and European cultural heritage.

Distinguished participants,

The Council of Europe is based on the concept of a unique Europe, without division lines and differences because of nationalities and religious beliefs. The system of values that brought the creation and later on the continuous enhancing and strengthening of the European Union, is guiding us for the reforms that we should deepen and the model we want to build. The strengthening of our ties, the holding of as many as possible joint activities, the separation and the exchange of the values and experiences will make possible for us to get closer, our joining together, our union as a community in cohesion and stances of our common European family, which has room for all

During the Summit there will be the approval ofthree convents, which are an important part of our future responsibilities. Due to the lack of necessary time for the realization of the internal legal process, I am sorry that I cannot participate today in the signing of these convents. I would like to assure you that the Albanian government in accordance to the priorities of its program is engaged to sign as soon as possible the important acts.

Once again, I am convinced that each country separately and us jointly will manage to successfully face and overcome the challenges that lay ahead of our countries and societies. Albania will be an inherent part in facing them.

Thank you!