It is a great pleasure to be here at this table today together with ICMP and the Ministry of Interior announcing and welcoming the first concrete results of the pilot project identifying the remains of missing persons from the Communist Era in Albania.
Given the scope of atrocities committed over the decades of dictatorship and the overall number of persons that have gone missing and were never heard of up to this day, identification of two persons might not sound like very much.
But these two identifications, in addition to finally bringing peace and closure to at least two families - which in itself would have been worth all the effort - are actually also bringing much more than that: first of all, they are bringing hope for all the other families that are still holding the breath that they will finally after all those years might be able bury themselves their sons, their sisters, their fathers.
Finally, these two identifications also break the ice of years, of decades actually, of trying and failing to bring some tangible progress / outcome to these files: following court cases being opened and then closed, following international agreements that needed to be signed, court orders issued for excavations, impressive individual family efforts, cooperation established with the authorities and municipalities, all the bureaucratic machinery finally starting to move: these two cases show that these hurdles/ these efforts are paying off, and that we are entering a new phase now, the phase of deliverables, the phase of outcomes, the phase of bringing closure to more and more of Albanian citizens; also the phase of helping to deal with that part of the Albanian history: within the family, the society, and as a country that wants and needs to move forward.
History, however difficult, must be remembered and reckoned with, because it is simply too costly to not do so. The people of the European Union know this better than anybody else, having suffered themselves a fair share of abuse by dictatorial regimes. And the process of dealing with this history - in some countries rather recent history – is still ongoing today.
Just a month ago, on the 19th of September, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe. It recalls that the Nazi and communist regimes carried out mass murders, genocide and deportations and caused a loss of life and freedom in the 20th century on a scale unseen in human history.
What it also does, and this is important in view of the event today, it also expresses its deep respect for each victim of these totalitarian regimes and calls on all Member States, EU institutions and actors to do their utmost to ensure that horrific totalitarian crimes against humanity and systemic gross human rights violations are remembered and brought before courts of law, to guarantee that such crimes will never be repeated.
And it is in this regard, that the European Union has been extremely humbled and happy to be able to do our little share and be part of this effort by financing this important project, which is now bringing tangible results.
We would like to congratulate once again the ICMP and the Albanian authorities for reaching this very important milestone.
We hope that all the work that has been done over the last three years will allow the Albanian authorities to duplicate the process with the necessary know-how to be able to identify as many as possible of the remaining 6000 or more of persons that have gone missing during the Communist era bringing at least some closure and peace to more and more of the Albanian people.