US embassy cable - 03ROME4158

Ambassador Tony P. Hall in Albania meets regional leaders and visits WFP sites.

Identifier: 03ROME4158
Wikileaks: View 03ROME4158 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rome
Created: 2003-09-11 14:02:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: EAID AORC PREF EAGR AL EU WFP UN
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS  ROME 004158 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
AIDAC 
 
FROM U.S. MISSION IN ROME 
 
AMEMBASSY TIRANA FOR AMBASSADOR JEFFREY, DCM ZATE AND USAID 
DIRECTOR BIRNHOLZ 
USAID/W FOR ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS, D/A SCHIECK, AA/DCHA 
WINTER, AA/E&E HILL AND DDA MORSE, DCHA/D/FFP LANDIS 
STATE FOR P U/S GROSSMAN, IO A/S HOLMES, A/S PRM DEWEY, A/S 
EUR JONES, IO/EDA BEHREND 
USDA/FAS FOR U/S PENN AND CHAMBLISS 
USMISSION GENEVA FOR AMBASSADOR MOLEY AND USAID/KYLOH 
NSC FOR JDWORKEN 
 
E.O.  12958:  N/A 
TAGS: EAID, AORC, PREF, EAGR, AL, EU, WFP, UN 
SUBJECT: Ambassador Tony P. Hall in Albania meets regional 
leaders and visits WFP sites. 
 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. US Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and 
Agriculture, Tony Hall, visited Albania from August 22-26, 
2003.  He came at the invitation of Members of the Albanian 
Parliament and the European regional office of the World 
Food Program.  He participated in the first "Balkan 
Gathering" with Albanian President Alfred Moisiu, Macedonian 
President Boris Trajkovski and other politicians from this 
troubled region.  He then visited some of the hungry poor 
who benefit from projects run with food aid provided by the 
World Food Program. End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
Background - First Balkan "Gathering" - "You can choose a 
friend but neighbors are given to you by God" 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
2. A group of Albanian parliamentarians from different 
political parties and on behalf of the Speaker of the 
Parliament of Albania, organized the first "Balkan 
Gathering" in Durres and Tirana on August 22-23. The 
Gathering served to bring together people and leaders from 
all the branches of the governments of the Balkans. 
Congressman Frank Wolf and Ambassador Hall were the two 
keynote speakers. Other participants included Albanian 
President Alfred Moisiu; Macedonian President Boris 
Trajkovski; Dragan Kalinic, Speaker of the Parliament of the 
Srbska Republic of Bosnia; Prime Minister of Kosovo, Barjam 
Rexhepi; and other politicians from this troubled region. 
Vice President of the German Bundestag Norbert Lammert 
attended, as did Norwegian Parliamentarian Lars Rise and ex- 
Austrian Government official Josef Hochtl. 
 
3. A "gathering" of Albanians, Macedonians, Bosnians, 
Kosovars, Montenegrins, Serbs, and Croats - including 
current and future leaders in government, academia and 
business - would have been unthinkable a decade ago, at the 
height of the war in Bosnia.  It provides hope for the 
region and the world that reconciliation and forgiveness 
have begun among people long divided by hatred.  "I am 
excited by what I witnessed this past weekend, with former 
enemies calling one another brother and sister.  I was 
encouraged by those who came together in the spirit of 
friendship," commented Ambassador Hall. President of 
Macedonia Trajkovski remarked: "We know now how to disagree 
(in a peaceful and diplomatic way) and have begun to build 
bridges rather than fences." A somber note was struck by Ms. 
Flora Brovina, poet and MP from Kosova: "the word 
forgiveness does not yet exist in the vocabulary of this 
region." 
 
4. Bundestag Vice President Lammert summed up Europe's three 
desires for the Balkans: a) stability - "If the West doesn't 
stabilize the East, the East will destabilize the West;" b) 
prosperity - if not, then the specter of massive emigration; 
and c) identity - the Bosphorus defines the geographic 
limits of Europe. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Looking at the social safety net 
-------------------------------- 
 
5. Ambassador Hall, together with US Congressman Frank Wolf, 
US Mission/Rome Special Assistant Max Finberg and 
Humanitarian Attache Tim Lavelle, Embassy Tirana Emboff and 
USAID Deputy Director, WFP regional director for Europe, 
Saeed Malik, and WFP country director for Albania, MushtaqE AND USAID 
DIRECTOR BIRNHOLZ 
USAID/W FOR ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS, D/A SCHIECK, AA/DCHA 
WINTER, AA/E&E HILL AND DDA MORSE, DCHA/D/FFP LANDIS 
STATE FOR P U/S GROSSMAN, IO A/S HOLMES, A/S PRM DEWEY, A/S 
EUR JONES, IO/EDA BEHREND 
USDA/FA 
 
 
Qureshi, visited programs that provide food to vulnerable 
women in Tirana and La, food-for-work building roads in 
Milot and Postribe and a communal forestry project in 
Kallmet. 
 
6. Under its protracted relief and recovery (PRRO) operation 
"Assistance to Vulnerable Groups in the Construction of 
Community Assets," WFP focuses on communal forestry and 
pasture management, social sector assistance and community 
asset building. Food-for-Work (FFW) is used for 
reconstruction of rural roads, desilting of irrigation 
channels, installation of electric lines and poles, and 
placement of water systems. Recently, the PRRO reached 2,415 
beneficiaries under the communal forestry project, 1,790 
women attended training and counseling sessions under the 
social sector component and another 2,180 laborers engaged 
in FFW infrastructure schemes. WFP's objective is to reach 
monthly 10,900 of the poorest Albanian households. Note: The 
U.S. has not contributed to the present PRRO, which is 
valued at U.S. $6.6 million, and covers the period July 2002- 
December 2003. End note. 
 
7. These projects are implemented by a variety of national 
and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 
including Refugee and Migrant Services of Albania, Albanian 
Association of Women Heads of Households and Islamic Relief 
Worldwide, as well as local governments through the Communal 
Forestry and Pasture Users' Association. 
 
8. In one slum of Tirana, that rivaled the worst in the 
developed world, one woman noted that food assistance was 
the best currency because her husband could not use it to 
buy alcohol (unlike cash) and that WFP and its NGO partner 
monitoring were effective deterrents to selling food aid in 
the market. 
 
9. During the visit to rural Albania, one woman on a 
community road building project told Ambassador Hall: "we're 
not just poor, we're very very poor," and one local official 
stated that "life is getting worse, not better." 
 The official provided this as the principal reason for 
deciding not to run for re-election in the next month's 
local elections.  Note:  Although Albania remains among 
Europe's poorest nations, these two sites are notable in 
remaining untouched by the economic growth and development 
experienced by other mainly urban parts of the country, and 
are among the worst examples of the pockets of serious 
poverty that remain in Albania and are not illustrative of 
overall conditions here.  End note. 
 
10. The US Government has donated approximately U.S. dollars 
(USD) 360 million to Albania on a bilateral basis since 
1992.  Additionally, the US has donated USD 175.6 million to 
WFP since 1997 to feed the hungry in the region.  Of this, 
USD 22 million was specifically for Albania. 
 
11. During a press conference on August 26 in Tirana, 
Ambassador Hall announced that the US Department of 
Agriculture (USDA), through the George McGovern-Robert Dole 
International Food for Education and Child Nutrition 
Program, was awarding a grant of up to USD 4.2 million to 
feed approximately 32,000 Albanian school children through 
the American NGO, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development.  This 
grant is one of 21 USDA-managed programs to be approved 
worldwide with FY 2003 funding.  Depending upon additional 
resources and performance, this funding could be approved 
for up to seven more years. Note: Although the official 
announcement had been made in Washington on August 15, the 
news had not reached Albania by the time of the press 
conference. End note. OF 03 ROME 004158 
 
AIDAC 
 
FROM U.S. MISSION IN ROME 
 
AMEMBASSY TIRANA FOR AMBASSADOR JEFFREY, DCM ZATE AND USAID 
DIRECTOR BIRNHOLZ 
USAID/W FOR ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS, D/A SCHIECK, AA/DCHA 
WINTER, AA/E&E HILL AND DDA MORSE, DCHA/D/FF 
 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Need for a continuing humanitarian focus 
---------------------------------------- 
 
12.  A number of social "tripwires" were discussed in 
meetings that Ambassador Hall and Embassy representatives 
held with UN and NGO personnel, as follows: 
 
-lack of access to justice for groups of people in need; 
-lack or poor capacity in management and leadership skills 
of local government authorities; 
-limited access to basic health services; 
-difficulties accessing clean water; 
-general poor state of (rural) roads; 
-growing youth migration abroad; 
-human trafficking; 
-low employment among women; 
-discrimination against marginalized and vulnerable groups 
of women; and 
-negative impact of "blood feuds" in certain regions of the 
country. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
13.  WFP's food assistance efforts are effectively reaching 
the chronic hungry poor and should continue beyond 2003. US 
Mission will dialogue with WFP Headquarters on expanding EU 
donor support. As one elderly man participating in a WFP 
food-for-work road building project told me, "America has 
been a close friend to Albania, not just economically, but 
also politically.  Thank you for this project and for all of 
the other help."  Our aid to those in need truly goes a long 
way and often, we do not have to wait long to see the fruits 
of our labor.  Hall 
 
 
NNNN 
 2003ROME04158 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 


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