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Twenty-five years of U.S. Albanian Relations

US Secretary of State John Kerry steps off his plane upon his arrival in Tirana, Albania, Feb. 14, 2016. (Pam Dockins/VOA)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of U.S.-Albanian diplomatic relations.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of U.S.-Albanian diplomatic relations. On his February 14 visit to Albania, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, "We are friends. . . .We are allies. We have enormous mutual interests."

Those interests extend to fighting violent extremism, including Daesh. While in Tirana, Secretary Kerry said defeating Daesh will require a broad coalition of which Albania is a charter member. "Albania," said Secretary Kerry, "has been there from the beginning, willing to stand by all countries in opposition to Daesh. And it is standing up with [the U.S.] in support of Iraq. It is standing up with [the U.S.] in support of Afghanistan. And it is standing with [the U.S.] in the long-term struggle to emphasize to people the importance of tolerance."

Albania is a NATO ally, which brings special responsibilities for the Balkan region. Albania continues to take steps to become more integrated in Euro-Atlantic institutions, including embracing legislation to combat corruption at every level.

In particular, during his trip to Tirana, Secretary Kerry praised Albania for approving legislation barring convicted criminals from serving in a wide range of elected and governmental positions.

"That's a courageous step," the Secretary said. The Secretary also stressed the importance of passing comprehensive judicial reform, saying "I am encouraged. . .by the judicial reform package that is now being considered in order to improve the judiciary and allow for a greater crackdown on corruption."

The United States supports Albania’s efforts to make its government more accountable to its citizens. The Albanian people want to live in a place where judges and prosecutors abide by exactly the same rules as the average citizen, where everyone will be treated fairly, no matter what political party is in power and no matter who belongs to what party.

Albania has come a long way in the last quarter century toward building a democracy and is clearly committed to achieving more. In doing so, Albania can count on the full friendship and support of the United States.