Address by

H.E. Mr. Alfred MOISIU

President of the Republic of Albania

At the 58th Session of the United Nations
General Assembly
New York
25 September 2003

Mr. President,

Honorable Secretary General,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset allow me to congratulate you, Your Excellency, on your election as President of the 58th Session of the General Assembly. I am fully convinced that under your leadership the proceedings of this session will be crowned with success.

It is only right that while addressing the present distinguished audience, my first thought should go to Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General to Iraq. From this platform I wish to pay homage to his activity and contribution, and express the profound sadness over the loss of his life and other human lives that perished in the cruel terrorist attack on the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad.

This session is convening at the end of a year full of challenges and achievements for the international community, and certainly, for the United Nations.

We believe that the United Nations have identified the maintaining of peace, security, international stability and the protection of human rights as the fundamental objective of their activity. This is best reflected in the Millennium Declaration, which outlines the common vision for building a better world, without conflicts, without poverty. We share the opinions upheld by the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that the major changes which have ,occurred across the world following the September 11th events, the phenomenon of international terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have highlighted our need to address the major challenges of our times from a new perspective; and in this framework, also the need to further improve the performance of the United Nations structures.

Mr. President,

The events on the 11th of September and the other subsequent acts of cruel violence in various regions have jeopardized security worldwide, significantly affecting the course of current developments. These acts are clear evidence that terrorism is a serious threat to mankind and the civilized world, that war on terrorism, though prolonged, should be waged successfully. Human and democratic values, peace and security are sacred to the entire humankind. Proceeding from the above, Albania did not hesitate to join the US-led coalition against _international terrorism. Albania has hitherto signed up twelve international Conventions and Protocols on the war against terrorism. It is working closely with the neighboring countries, other countries at large and with international bodies with a view to doing away with the sources that could possibly nourish various forms of terrorism.

We underscore the need for vigilance, coordination and reaction in face of the present threats posed by possession of weapons of mass destruction. These weapons, be it chemical, biological or nuclear, become even more dangerous in the hands of terrorists. At the same time, we actively participate in the peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Bosnia and Georgia, this being an indication of our will and commitment to the anti-terror war, and to the efforts for peace and security. We consider that deep-going democratic changes are important for both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is our conviction that living in freedom, despite the transition difficulties marks a turning-point which has no comparison to living under dictatorship and the terror that threatens others, as well.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Albanian politics and society have adopted a unified approach towards Euro-Atlantic integration, which is one of our major priorities. Being consistent with our vital interests, the integration process has all popular support. We do not regard this just as a mechanical affiliation to the European Union and NATO, but as adherence to the standards and values of freedom, democracy and free market. Given the short period of changes and the negative heritage of the past, we could admit that Albania has made important and substantial achievements on the road of democracy. This is no reason for self-complacency. We are aware that it will take much more effort to move the initiated reforms forward, especially in the realm of judiciary, the economy and the combat against crime and corruption, the latter having afflicted the post-communist societies in general. We are already in the process of negotiations for the Association and Stabilisation Agreement with the European Union; the Thessaloniki Summit once again confirmed the open door policy to be pursued towards Albania and the other four countries of the Western Balkans. Significant positive steps have also been taken concerning the NATO membership process, specifically following the Prague Summit. Commitment of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia under Adriatic 3 Charter will bring them closer to membership standards. We maintain that our approximation to the standards of NATO and the European Union today and our full-fledged membership tomorrow will benefit the countries in our region, just as it will also benefit Europe itself, and overall peace and security.

Mr. President,

Albania considers regional cooperation as a prerequisite and encouragement for Euro-Atlantic integration. We believe that pursuance of dialogue, as well as enhanced cooperation and understanding among the Balkan countries deeply reflect the aspirations of our citizens, and imparts a fresh impulse to the integrating processes. The Balkans, which not long ago were known as a source of conflicts and crises, reveals a different picture that has changed in a positive way, with a significantly moderated political climate prevailing in the area. The region of former nationalistic clashes has turned into an area in which the culture of dialogue and good understanding is striking roots. Although the supporters of the divisive and tragic past are still active in politics, overall the new political class in the Balkans is looking forward to the future and cooperation. Albania and the Albanians are playing an active role in the building and strengthening of this new spirit. We want and are working to ensure that we establish friendly relations of cooperation with all the countries in the region, so that we could move ahead towards our common -European future. The investment our countries are making in a Euro-Atlantic future is one of the principal guarantees that the region will free itself from the bitter past and join the democratic flow of our times.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Albania and the Balkans attach special importance to the enhancement of stability and the reinforcement of democracy in the areas formerly known as hotbeds. We do appreciate the democratic and integrating developments in Kosova, which do credit to the contribution of UNMIK and the former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Steiner. We support the new mission under the leadership of Mr. Holkeri, and admire the performance of the society and institutions in Kosova to build a democratic model of coexistence among its citizens. The stability in Kosova is very important for the stability in the region. That is why we have consistently bolstered the reforms and the achievements made with regard to the establishment and strengthening of the democratic institutions there. We have denounced the acts of violence, and have encouraged every initiative that helps observe the norms of a democratic society, enforce the rule of law, urge a sustained and developed market economy, build up the democratic institutions, maintain interethnic harmony, and facilitate the return of the displaced persons.

Albania has urged and supported the efforts intended to start a dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade on mutually beneficial technical issues. We claim that pursuance of dialogue is the best way to go about problems and create the necessary trust. Albania is of the opinion that the future of Kosova, hence its final status, is an issue calling for decision to be made at a later stage, which should not be postponed indefinitely. It is already widely recognized that this status will be determined through the will of the citizens of Kosova in cooperation with the international factor. Compliance with the required standards and determination of the status are closely related with and depending on each other. The standards ensure the normal functioning of the local institutions, whereas the status brings about stability, peace and development in Kosova and the region.

The positive developments in Macedonia also give hope for the achievement of a lasting stability. We maintain, however, that the integral implementation of the Ohrid Agreement, without delay, is of crucial importance to the future of Macedonia. Albania denounces the extremists on all the sides, and abides by the spirit of tolerance and interethnic coexistence.

Mr. President,

The Republic of Albania supports the plans and initiatives aimed at providing a comprehensive and lasting solution to the situation in the Middle East. In this framework, we consider the Road Map as the way towards the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before getting there, however, violence and terrorist acts should be renounced definitely, while promoting dialogue and the spirit of agreement until an enforceable final solution. We believe that peace in the Middle East is an important pillar for peace and security the world over. The settlement of the Palestinian issue is essential for the resolution of the crisis in the Middles East. The solution of the Middle-East crisis is a core element for success in the fight against terrorism.

Mr. President,

The Albanian State appreciates and believes in a still greater role of the United Nations for the strengthening of peace, security and the economic and social development across the world. Albania supports the reform aimed at making of the United Nations an ever stronger organisation capable of coping with the challenges of the present times, thus providing timely solutions to issues that are of concern to all of its members. In this respect, we welcome the objectives the United Nations Secretary General has set to reform the Organisation on the whole, and its specific bodies in particular, including the General Assembly, and the Security Council.

By way of winding up, allow me, Mr. President, to voice once again the commitment of Albania in living up to its obligations arising from the decisions to be taken also by the present Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Thank you.