For nearly two weeks, Columbia has been hosting international figures in politics, economics, and academia as part of the prestigious World Leaders Forum. This Friday at Low Memorial Library, I received the wonderful opportunity to see and hear Edi Rama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, speak on contemporary challenges and opportunities facing his country. Formerly Mayor of Tirana for 11 years and painter, Rama was just recently elected Prime Minister of Albania this month.
Rama’s remarks focused on the enlargement of the European Union and the advantage this can bring to Albania. He explained that in 1990 the communist dictatorship, which had ruled with an iron fist, ultimately “received its first blow.” As a result, progressive reforms in Albania led the path towards a pluralistic system. He also emphasized how, as Prime Minister, is trying to make his country “be like Europe.”
Throughout his speech, he championed European integration, democratization, and modernization. Albania officially applied for EU membership in 2009. According to Rama, corruption is what his country has to continually tackle. He further emphasized that the modernization of state institutions would fight corruption in the long term. However, he stated how “it is easier said than done.” He offered prospects for a “European future to build a set of values and institutions.”
Rama’s optimism for Albania was reflected in the progress Albania has made since the collapse of communism. He mentioned how 300,000 jobs were recently created and free healthcare was made available. At the conclusion of his speech, he commended fellow Albanians in the audience for their educational pursuits and how it would be beneficial for Albania’s educational and financial growth.
Nearly attended by over 100 people, including both undergraduate and graduate students, the Forum provided an excellent avenue to embrace global dialogue while on campus.