As this month we approach another anniversary of the visit of Secretary Baker to Tirana, I have been reflecting on events in Albania in the 31 years since then. The official hostility toward the U.S. so evident before then has gone, replaced by a renewed bond between the United States and Albania that has grown stronger by the year. Albania has since joined NATO, sits with the United States on the UN Security Council, and has done the hard work necessary to join the European Union.
Now, after 31 years, it is obvious that a new generation of Albanians is ready and eager to write the next chapter of Albania’s history.
I find it encouraging that these new folks understand that Washington strongly supports progress toward promoting the rights as well as the responsibilities that are the norm among NATO and EU members, strengthening the rule of law, and eliminating corruption.
The time has come once again for change. Just as we were with the change-makers of 1991, I and other American friends of Albania are with this new generation of change-makers.
The time has come for the old generation to make way for the new generation of leaders to release Albania from the awful ghosts of its past and take their country into the future.
I wish them every success as they lead the way forward for a country I came to love.
William E. Ryerson
William Edwin Ryerson, served as the first US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Albania (1991-1994), after diplomatic relations between the United States and Albania were re-established on March 15, 1991, following the collapse of the communist regime.