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PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 111th CONGRESS, 1st SESSION

Vol. Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2009 No.

Senate


PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA



HON. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN

OF MARYLAND

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I am proud to cosponsor S. Res. 182, recognizing the democratic accomplishments of the people of Albania and expressing the hope that the parliamentary elections on June 28 maintain and improve the transparency and fairness of democracy in Albania . I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution.

As Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I am aware of what Albania has accomplished since its first multiparty elections in 1991, but I also know what a struggle it has been. Albania was under a ruthless and isolationist communist regime for decades. While not part of the former Yugoslavia, it was also impacted by the conflicts in neighboring and nearby Balkan countries in the 1990s, which was a setback for the entire region.

The promise of NATO membership did much to encourage progress in Albania in recent years. While problems relating to the rule of law and fight against corruption persisted, we supported Albania's NATO membership with the understanding that reforms will continue. The State Department in particular emphasized that other NATO members continued the reform process after joining the Alliance. That is our hope for Albania as well.

This resolution more actively expresses our hope as well as expectation that Albania live up to international standards it has accepted, in particular as they relate to the holding of elections. There are concerns about these elections, especially in regard to new voter identification cards and their distribution in time to allow citizens to vote. Even if Election Day does go smoothly, it is unfortunate that there was a delay in preparations--which causes confusion, frustration and suspicion among the Albanian electorate.

Albania is a good friend of the United States, and by passing this resolution we are investing in that relationship to make it grow. We want Albania to succeed, and this resolution will hopefully encourage Albania to hold successful elections on June 28. I believe the resolution is balanced, raising concern while noting progress and clearly favoring no particular political party. While those currently in power may have the additional responsibilities that come with governance, all parties have a role to play in order to make these elections meet international standards.





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Commissioner Senator Wicker and Senator Dick Durbin with former Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus