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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2003 > June

OSCE Presence in Albania

Douglas Davidson, Deputy Chief of U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Statement to the OSCE Permanent Council
Vienna, Austria
June 5, 2003

Released by the U.S. Mission to the OSCE

(As delivered)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me join others today in welcoming Ambassador Lipponen [Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania] to the Permanent Council. Please also allow me to thank him for his work and, through him, to thank his staff for their excellent work as well.

We welcome the work of the bipartisan commission on electoral code reform as well as the agreement reached by all members on revisions to the electoral code in accordance with ODIHR [Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights] recommendations. This is a major step forward, both in terms of the willingness of ruling and opposition parties to work together in Parliament, and in terms of helping to ensure free and fair elections in Albania in the future. In that regard, we also welcome the agreement between two major parties on the composition of the Central Election Commission. We look forward to the passage of the entire electoral legislation package, which we hope will take place later this month. We also look forward to the full commitment by all parties to implement the new rules fairly, equitably, and transparently in the October municipal elections, and to accept the results of the elections.

We support the work of the OSCE Presence to resolve outstanding property restitution issues too. Not only will this help stabilize the political situation in advance of the elections, but it is crucial for economic growth and investment. We recognize that this issue is complicated and politically sensitive, and we are pleased that the OSCE Presence will help facilitate a resolution on this issue much as it has done with the electoral code. We hope that a draft property restitution law can be completed by the end of the parliamentary session in late July, and that the law will be passed early in the next legislative session. We also support the work the Presence is doing in training the parliament on budgetary procedures and oversight.

Mr. Chairman, we would particularly like to take this opportunity to applaud the work that the Government of Albania has done recently in combating trafficking in persons, as well as in fighting corruption and police abuse. We support the Three Port Strategy adopted by the Government of Albania to combat trafficking, crime, and corruption at Rinas Airport and the seaports of Durres and Vlora.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, the representative of Albania raised the issue of updating the Presence's mandate at the informal meeting yesterday. We agree with the Albanian representative that the Presence is still valuable and that there is much useful work left to do.

We will certainly look at the Albanian proposal; the reasoning presented -- that the mandate was negotiated to respond to crises in both Albania and Kosovo -- reminds us of the reasoning for the successful update of the mandate in Tajikistan last year. This might be a useful precedent to look at in this case. Thank you.

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