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Homeland Security

Washington File

06 June 2003

U.S. Lauds Albanian Efforts Against Trafficking, Corruption

(Davidson commends OSCE work in Tirana) (690)
The United States applauds the "Three Port Strategy" adopted by the
government of Albania to combat human trafficking, crime, and
corruption at Rinas Airport and the seaports of Durres and Vlora,
Deputy Chief of Mission Douglas Davidson said in remarks to the OSCE
Permanent Council in Vienna June 5.
On other issues, Davidson welcomed recent electoral code revisions as
"a major step forward, both in terms of the willingness of ruling and
opposition parties to work together in Parliament, and in terms of
helping to ensure free and fair elections in Albania in the future."
He said work on property restitution issues will not only "help
stabilize the political situation in advance of the elections, but it
is crucial for economic growth and investment."
Davidson commended the OSCE Presence in Albania, headed by Osmo
Lipponen, for working closely with Albanian officials on these and
other issues, and he pledged to look at Albania's request to update
the Presence's mandate.
Following are his remarks:
(begin transcript)
United States Mission to the OSCE
Vienna
June 5, 2003
RESPONSE TO HEAD OF THE OSCE PRESENCE IN ALBANIA, AMBASSADOR LIPPONEN
Delivered by Deputy Chief of Mission Douglas A. Davidson to the
Permanent Council
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me join others today in welcoming Ambassador Lipponen to the
Permanent Council. Please also allow me to thank him for his work and,
through him, to thank his staff for their excellent work as well.
We welcome the work of the bipartisan commission on electoral code
reform as well as the agreement reached by all members on revisions to
the electoral code in accordance with ODIHR recommendations. This is a
major step forward, both in terms of the willingness of ruling and
opposition parties to work together in Parliament, and in terms of
helping to ensure free and fair elections in Albania in the future. In
that regard, we also welcome the agreement between two major parties
on the composition of the Central Election Commission. We look forward
to the passage of the entire electoral legislation package, which we
hope will take place later this month. We also look forward to the
full commitment by all parties to implement the new rules fairly,
equitably, and transparently in the October municipal elections, and
to accept the results of the elections.
We support the work of the OSCE Presence to resolve outstanding
property restitution issues too. Not only will this help stabilize the
political situation in advance of the elections, but it is crucial for
economic growth and investment. We recognize that this issue is
complicated and politically sensitive, and we are pleased that the
OSCE Presence will help facilitate a resolution on this issue much as
it has done with the electoral code. We hope that a draft property
restitution law can be completed by the end of the parliamentary
session in late July, and that the law will be passed early in the
next legislative session.
We also support the work the Presence is doing in training the
parliament on budgetary procedures and oversight.
Mr. Chairman, we would particularly like to take this opportunity to
applaud the work that the Government of Albania has done recently in
combating trafficking in persons, as well as in fighting corruption
and police abuse. We support the Three Port Strategy adopted by the
Government of Albania to combat trafficking, crime, and corruption at
Rinas Airport and the seaports of Durres and Vlora.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, the representative of Albania raised the issue
of updating the Presence's mandate at the informal meeting yesterday.
We agree with the Albanian representative that the Presence is still
valuable and that there is much useful work left to do.
We will certainly look at the Albanian proposal; the reasoning
presented - that the mandate was negotiated to respond to crises in
both Albania and Kosovo - reminds us of the reasoning for the
successful update of the mandate in Tajikistan last year. This might
be a useful precedent to look at in this case.
Thank you.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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