By U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim
As we marked International Anti-Corruption Day yesterday, it is important to renew our efforts to end the scourge of corruption. Corruption robs citizens and future generations of wealth and hope. It saps economic growth, hinders development, undermines democracy, and unlocks doors for criminals, traffickers, and terrorists.
This is why President Biden, for the first time ever, designated anti-corruption as a core national security interest and released an ambitious United States Strategy on Countering Corruption. To implement the strategy, the United States works across the globe to help countries prevent graft, support the investigation and prosecution of corruption, promote transparency, and empower civil society and independent media to uncover corruption.
This week, the United States government and Transparency International hosted the 20th International Anti-Corruption Conference focused on defending democratic values from corruption. We value the participation of government officials, journalists, and NGO representatives, including from Albania.
The United States supports the fight against corruption with clear action. We fund justice reforms, including with the EU and other partners. We support investigative media and civil society organizations that fight corruption. We use designations and sanctions on corrupt actors and will continue to do so. For example, President Biden signed a new Executive Order in June 2021 focused on imposing costs on those who engage in activities that undermine democratic institutions and destabilize the Western Balkans, including in Albania. That Executive Order has already been used to sanction corrupt actors.
The United States continues to intensify our efforts to tackle corruption and hold corrupt actors accountable. Why? Because we want to see Albania – our friend and NATO Ally – grow stronger and richer. Corruption presents a national security vulnerability, limits and warps investment, and undermines democracy.
We urge Albania’s justice institutions to join us in elevating anti-corruption as a central issue – to make clear that all are equal under the law, that no one is above the law, that the days of impunity are coming to an end, that the Albanian people can count on Albanian institutions to deliver justice, and that every person has a fair and equal chance at success in Albania.
Albanian institutions are making progress against corruption, but there is much more to do. Fighting corruption is a long and difficult process but success is possible. No country is immune. Every country, including the United States, fights corruption every day. Albania’s challenge is by no means unique – nor is it insurmountable.
In this past year, judicial institutions have started prosecuting cases that previously would have gone untouched. Our unity as NATO Allies has risen to new levels. Albania sits with the United States on the UN Security Council. This summer, Albania opened accession negotiations with the EU, a remarkable achievement that should make every Albanian proud.
During this 100th anniversary year of the establishment of U.S.-Albania diplomatic relations, our commitment to the people of Albania is stronger than ever. The path forward – towards EU membership, towards justice – may be difficult, but the United States remains determined to be at your side every step of the way, so that we move forward together. Always forward, always together.