Delegation of the European Union to Albania

EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin speech at the presentation of the action plan on the fight against organised crime – operation "The Power of Law"

Tirana, 07/11/2017 - 12:17, UNIQUE ID: 171107_4
Speeches of the Ambassador

For the last three years I think we have used the phrase Rule of Law more than any other by far. For many reasons, including European Union priorities, but the most important one is that the people of Albania had enough. They had enough of decades of arrogance of the corrupt and criminalised interest groups who believe that Albania exists to make them rich, and that they don’t owe anything to the state and people they call their own.

Dear Minister, dear deputy ministers, dear colleagues,

Dear officers of the Albanian police force,

For the last three years I think we have used the phrase Rule of Law more than any other by far. For many reasons, including European Union priorities, but the most important one is that the people of Albania had enough. They had enough of decades of arrogance of the corrupt and criminalised interest groups who believe that Albania exists to make them rich, and that they don’t owe anything to the state and people they call their own.

A very good Albanian friend of mine told me how his paternal granduncle, who studied Physics in France and was a great scholar, would say: “Son, in the past men used to sell their house for their homeland, now they sell their homeland for their house.”

But these are the few, who have no shame and no moral and no respect for the country that gave them life. Huge majority of Albanians, today, with the same clarity as almost three decades ago, have the same goal: to live their life in dignity and security as other people in Europe.

We have spent very demanding three years to make it possible for a deep justice reform to pave the way for new institutions that will know only one power, and only one ruler – the law, that is equal for all. No untouchables, no one who buys justice or abuses it by one phone call.

Now you need to move equally decisively to the next battle, one against organized crime and corruption.

Organised crime exists in many countries, and it does not care for pretty much anything: human lives, borders, community. But in most of the countries it is met with strong and tough response by the law enforcement and judiciary.

This is what makes the difference – ability of institutions to fight back, take control and punish.

It doesn’t take a lot of brains or particular courage to be a criminal. It just takes for a person to lack basic moral values, and be brutally selfish. I don’t believe for a second that anyone of that kind can be stronger and smarter than functioning institutions in a democracy.

This country does not deserve to be associated with such individuals. Albanians are hard working people, who know sacrifice. Albanians are talented and smart. Albania has many resources and can develop fast.

To the contrary, crime comes with a huge cost for the society, for the economy, for the values of who you are and what you believe in.

I am standing here because I want to believe that the operation Power of Law will be a truly decisive step towards a State that is much stronger than any sort of crime. I hope with all my heart that I will be proven right. I commend the minister and his deputies, and all honest members of the police force, who want to do the right thing. Who want to prove they have the will, the strength and the capacity to safeguard the law and order and the security of all citizens.

We, from the international community, are not police, we are not prosecutors or judges. We can not do your job. But we are your allies and your partners in this fight, and we will do what we can to help you do your job properly.

We will assist you, monitor, work with you as much as it takes to reach a success. Not because we think we know better, but because we know that this is a very challenging battle, and that you need help. You need to show results, concrete, tangible and irreversible.

European Union institutions and Member States have been assisting Albania to fight organised crime and corruption, and have been investing in law enforcement for decades. There are many concrete measures that the EU has undertaken to help, from purchasing necessary equipment to technical assistants and experts from Pameca and many missions who came with the knowledge and experience and good will to share.

Only in the last ten years there has been more than 100 million euros investment that still has to be proven truly useful.

But no money can ensure what only you can do – make a firm decision to have institutions stronger than any challenge that can come their way. Institutions that do not bow to the particular interests of any group, but serve the interests of the nation.

I wish you to be decisive, to be strong and to be very successful.

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