"On behalf of President [Barack] Obama and the American people, I send my best wishes to the people of Albania as our two nations mark twenty years of renewed diplomatic relations," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "This anniversary commemorates our partnership, reminds us of the progress made, and underscores the promise of Albania's future."
In 1919, the United States supported Albanian independence from the Ottoman Empire, a gesture appreciated by many Albanians. But relations between the two countries soured when, in December 1945, Albania's fledgling Communist regime refused to allow free elections. Only a few months later, Washington closed down its diplomatic mission to Tirana and broke off relations because Albania refused to adhere to prewar treaties and obligations.
But with the passage of time and a change of circumstances, the Albanian government reversed its long-standing policy of having no relations with the superpowers, stating that Albania "will have relations with any state that responds to our friendship with friendship." In 1990, diplomats began a series of meetings that led to a resumption of relations. On March 15, 1991, representatives of both countries signed a memorandum of understanding, reestablishing diplomatic relations between the United States and Albania.
Since then, the two countries have enjoyed a good relationship. The U.S. has supported Albania in its efforts to integrate into the European Community and multi-national institutions. The U.S. has also worked to ease Albania's transition to democracy and a market-oriented economy, and to support the country's long term development. As a result, since 1991, the U.S. has provided Albania with over $650 million in assistance, plus another $30 million through two Millennium Challenge Threshold grants.
Albania has supported U.S. anti-terrorism efforts by freezing terrorist assets, shutting down non-governmental organizations with possible links to terrorist financing, expelling extremists, and providing hundreds of military troops for the U.S.-led actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Nineteen Ninety One was truly a new beginning – not only for our bilateral relations, but also for Albania’s development as a democratic country and international partner," said Secretary of State Clinton.
"I wish all the people of Albania the very best as we continue to work together, another twenty years and beyond."