"Unbiased voices of reason in Albania have no outlet", says US Ambassador

Published: March 11, 2013

This is an exclusive interview with Mr. Alexander Arvizu, the Ambassador of USA in Albania. He answers questions of historia-ime.com regarding LGBT rights, women rights, children’s rights, freedom of media and he talks about the challenges that Albania should and is facing while he reveals how his own story with the country and its people has been…

Interviewed by Kristi Pinderi

Mr. Ambassador, it is really an honour for us to have you in this exclusive interview for Historia Ime, which in your language means “My Story.”  You have now your own story in this country.  How would you describe it in a few words?

My story in Albania would be filled with great friendships, daunting challenges, and an enduring hope for Albania’s continued progress.  I have had the honor of representing the United States of America to one of our most supportive allies.  I value the opportunities that I have had to help promote democracy in this country.  The best part of my story in Albania is that it is not over yet!

Historia Ime covers a variety of issues, including LGBT  rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, elderly people’s rights, etc.  What is your comment on human rights movement in general, in Albania?

I have been encouraged by much of the progress that I have seen since arriving in Albania.  Civil society and the government both have made progress in combating domestic violence, trafficking in persons, and in defending some vulnerable groups, like the LGBT community.  We saw some of the first public activities from the LGBT community last year, and it was encouraging to see the support provided by state institutions, like the police and local officials, in support of these groups.  That isn’t to say that our efforts are done–there are still areas that need to see further progress.  Domestic violence is a plague that affects many countries, and some vulnerable groups, like the Roma and many other ethnic minorities, still feel very vulnerable.  I was very discouraged to read recent reports from a UN and WorldVision study regarding Albania’s gender imbalance at birth.  Sex selective abortions favoring male babies is a horrible practice, something that should shock Albanians everywhere.  I echo the concerns expressed by Maternity Hospital Director Rubena Moisiu in her recent interview: a gender imbalance over the long term can devastate Albania’s social balance, peace, economy, and is an attack on women.  There is a lot of work left to do, but I think the progress on some fronts leads me to be optimistic that the overall human rights environment can improve when civil society and the government work together.

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