On 25 February 2009, Ambassador of United States of America to Albania, H.E. Mr. John L. II Withers held a public lecture entitled "The role of youth in strengthening democracy and freedom" at the premises of Tirana University. The lecture was organized by European Movement in Albania (EMA) supported by National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the framework of the project “Encouraging youth participation in political processes” aiming at increasing youth initiatives in entire policy making process and not only in the parliamentary elections.
Ambassador Withers brought to the attention of audience the important role that youth play in establishing the democracy, because what the youth want and hope for Albania mostly this is how the country will be in the future. Mr. Withers spoke about the example of freedom movements during the ‘60 years in United States by American youth against discrimination and segregation, stressing out the determination of youth for being part of political processes. He told to the students being present in the meeting that he was part of those movements together with other students, and explained that the only weapon they had was their determination, which has led to the major social and political changes of those years. Based on this precious American experience Mr. Withers emphasized to Albanian youth: "Through your vote you will choose your political leaders and the way how you will be governed in the future. Don’t let anyone to put limits on your beliefs, your dreams and your ideas”.
Mr. Withers during his speech stressed out that youth participation in elections is very important because they have the potential to bring the change in the country. “Albanian youth can express their willingness in parliamentary elections that will be held on 28 June 2009; but what they will do after the elections are of outmost importance, because participation in political processes is not just a moment but it’s a continuous obligation. If there exists someone that can change the world, this someone is you, Albanian youth, and I suggest to prove it and vote” – highlighted Ambassador Withers.
Regarding the youth concern related to lack of elections infrastructure that will provide the correct process of the future parliamentary elections Mr. Withers said that the infrastructure is coming and the accession to NATO is another guaranty that it will be successfully real in a short time.
Concerning to the role of judiciary system in a democracy system and in the same time in the response of youth question Mr. Withers was expressed “the magic of democracy system is based on the balance of powers and the fact that none of the three powers can’t and shouldn’t be superior to the other one”. He stressed out that the principle of “check and balance” is one of the most important and fundamental of democracy. The message that Ambassador Withers gave for the youth in the end of the lecture was: “No one can rock democracy more than Albanian youth can do. United States of America can support Albania in establishing the democracy but it can’t create a political willingness for democracy where it doesn’t exist”.
On behalf of University of Tirana, the rector Mr. Dhori Kule thanked the Ambassador for his presence in the milieu of University of Tirana. He highlighted the important role that United States of America has played and continues to play in establishing the democracy system in Albania. Furthermore, Mr. Kule pointed out that investment in youth generation is an investment through which the society contributes on its future.
Mr. Ditmir Bushati, Executive Director of European Movement in Albania explained for the audience the goals of project that aims at encouraging youth participation in political processes. In the meantime, he presented the brochure “Guide of Youth Voters” and the website www.youngvoters-al.org that is designed especially for young voters. The brochure and website contain basic concepts on democracy and rights of vote.
The lecture was followed up by a questions and answers section where youth asked Ambassador Withers on the most effective manners how they can make their voice be heard by politicians.
The meeting was widely covered by national written and visual media.