Clinton in Albania on last leg of Balkans tour

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Albania’s feuding political factions to work together to push through democratic reforms and ensure free and fair elections next year, during a visit that coincides with the country’s 100th anniversary of independence.

During a speech to parliament in the capital, Tirana, Clinton said Albania must continue working to strengthen its democracy, build its economy and create a future equal to the aspirations of its people.

“You have the potential to become a model, not just for this region, not just for Europe, but for the world.”

Clinton also expressed the United States’ strong solidarity with Albania as a NATO ally and support for its membership in the European Union.

“We fully endorse Albania’s EU aspirations because we think that will make you stronger. It will also be good for Europe. And although we don’t have a vote on that particular membership application, we will tell all who will listen how strongly we support you.”

She also stressed the importance of cooperation among political parties and of the rule of law, saying the fight against corruption is paramount and should transcend political differences.

Secretary Clinton earlier met with President Bujar Nishani. She arrived in Tirana from Croatia, where she discussed bilateral relations and the country’s role in the region, and praised its expected accession to the EU next year.

Albania is the last stop on a five-nation Balkans tour that has also taken Clinton to Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Croatia.


(Photo: Secretary of Defense/