Tirana, June 28th 2022
THE FIRST HISTORIC VISIT OF A US PRESIDENT TO ALBANIA.
On the 15th anniversary of the visit of President George W. Bush to Tirana, the Council of Albanian Ambassadors, with the support of the Council of American Ambassadors, organized on June 28 the commemorative conference “The first historic visit of an American President to Albania.”
This event, held in the framework of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations Albania – US, aimed to restore the deserved echo of a unique visit to our bilateral relations and the decisive support that President Bush gave from Tirana for membership of Albania in NATO and the declaration of independence of Kosovo.
As Mr. Besnik Mustafaj, President of the Council of Ambassadors, pointed out in his keynote address, we do not intend to write or rewrite history on this occasion, but to nurture the memory of Albanians.
President Bush’s visit to Tirana was not accidental, but was the result of a clear Euro-Atlantic orientation and towards Western democratic values.
The speakers were from Tirana, Pristina and the US, former senior diplomats as well as well-known international relations scholars.
A special greeting was conveyed by the Council of American Ambassadors through its President, Ambassador Timothy Chorba and the senior Vice President Ambassador Philip Hughes, stating: “15 years ago, President George W. Bush paid the first visit of an American President to Albania. “Pro-American sentiment in Skanderbeg Square, a few meters from where you are meeting, was really impressive and touched the hearts of the American people.
Professor Daniel Server from the Institute for Foreign Policy in Washington, in his video message noted that: “President Bush’s visit was an appreciation of your commitment to the West and an incentive to continue on the Euro-Atlantic path.”
In this spirit were brought rich experiences and analyzes regarding the decisive impact that this visit of President Bush had on the Euro-Atlantic perspective of Albania, Kosovo and our entire region.
Albania in NATO was not a gift, but the result of three main achievements: the determination to stay on the Euro-Atlantic course, the deep reforms for the democratic transformation of the country and the close strategic partnership with the USA.
Drawing attention especially to the stages of Albania’s NATO membership process, and the commitment of Albanian governments over the years, former Foreign Minister Arta Dade stressed the great importance of this fact today in the context of aggression Russian in Ukraine.
The serious threat posed today by Russia’s unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine has prompted countries such as Sweden and Finland to join NATO, while Albania is within this security perimeter, Minister Dade said.
Frank Shkreli, former director for Eurasia at the time in “Voice of America”, described the wide echo of this visit in the American media and consequently the improvement of the image of Albania and Albanians.
He stressed that pro-Americanism among Albanians should be translated into commitment and embrace of the values represented by the United States, as the largest and strongest democracy in the world.
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo Edita Tahiri, in her statement, said that for the irreversible path to independence it was vital to create strategic alliances, the preservation of which is just as troublesome and necessary. She underlined that the best service we can do to our countries is the strengthening of institutions, the rule of law and the development of the economy.
The same topic was also focused on Dr. Albert Rakipi, Chairman of the Albanian Institute for International Relations, who stressed that Albania’s membership in NATO is the greatest achievement in 30 years, after the fall of the dictatorship.
As for Kosovo, he noted that President Bush announced from Tirana the end of the dangerous status quo, clearly deciding on independence, while the EU should do the same in terms of the dialogue taking place in Brussels.
While Avni Spahiu, former Kosovo’s first ambassador to Washington, praised the consistent US policy with military intervention to end genocide, support for the declaration of independence and international recognition, and further with the extraordinary assistance of the US government for strengthening the state of Kosovo.
Ambassador Arben Cici shared moments of state protocol work in order to realize in the most perfect way the visit of the President. He recounted the exciting moments of President Bush in Fushë Krujë when he went outside the official protocol to meet the crowds of people who had come out to greet him.
Our former Ambassador to the UN Adrian Neritani also brought back memories of the positive response that this visit brought to the diplomatic circles there.
Ambassador Gashi shared with the participants the extraordinary echo that President Bush’s visit to Tirana had in the Albanian diaspora. Mr. Gashi stressed the special importance of visits to the Albanian diaspora in the United States, as well as their extraordinary contribution, over the decades, through the pan-Albanian association Vatra and the Dielli newspaper, to strengthening the Albanian-American friendship.
Ambassador Gashi also brought back memories of the establishment of the international media accreditation center, under the special care of former Prime Minister Berisha. This center recorded 683 journalists and correspondents from all over the world who directly followed this historic visit.