“Medal for Special Civil Merits” for the Consolidation of the Cooperation between the United Nations and the Republic of Albania”

29 May 2013

Acceptance Speech

Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun, UN Resident Coordinator, 29 May 2013, Tirana

Your Excellency Mr. President of the Republic of Albania,
Excellencies, Partners, Colleagues, Friends,

There is no greater honor, Mr. President, for a UN official, who in the pursuit of the goals of the United Nations, receives the trust, the partnership and the friendship of her host country.  Today, Mr. President, you have given me the highest honor: the “Medal for Special Civil Merits” for the Consolidation of the Cooperation between the United Nations and the Republic of Albania. I am at once honored and humbled by the recognition.

In your person, Mr. President, I thank Albania, its institutions and its people, for this honor. I thank also the Presidential Administration for the nomination, the preparation and the organization of this day.  Today will be etched to my memory as the proudest day of my professional life.

Above all however, the greatest contribution to the cooperation between Albania and the United Nations has been the drive, the motivation and the commitment of the people of Albania to the goals and ideals of the United Nations. Albania is a proud and strong member of the United Nations. Ranging from peacekeeping operations to development work for ending poverty, for environmental sustainability, for achieving gender equality,  for protecting children and much more, the United Nations has benefited from the contributions, the participation and the leadership of Albania. Albania has also critically shaped the UN Reform agenda by volunteering to pilot the DaO approach.  In other words, while I receive this highest honor today, it is Albania and its government and its people who deserve it most. In this context, allow me to add that our development partnership in Albania would not have been possible without the generous support of our development partners, many of whom are present today.  I thank them for their trust.

Allow me Mr. President, also to convey my gratitude to the many who have served the United Nations here in Albania. While this medal is given to me, I cannot claim it for myself.  Firstly, I should like to acknowledge the work of my predecessors. More significantly, this medal is recognition of the leadership of all UN agencies who have participated in building our present cooperation. Many are here today and I thank them all and receive this medal also in their honor.

Finally, and most critically, Mr. President, I receive this medal on behalf of all the staff of the United Nations. But most notably, Mr. President, allow me to recognize, in your presence, the Albanian staff of the United Nations. They have upheld the UN values and principles in their day to day work and lives. They have worked tirelessly to build our partnership. While I am greatly honored by this medal today, I am also greatly indebted to them for their commitment and determination.  I thank all past and present UN staff of Albania for building the remarkable cooperation in this country. Shume Faleminderit.

For almost three years, I have called Albania my home. People of Albania know only too well the importance of family. You will therefore no doubt understand that I owe great personal thanks to my husband, my children and parents who have always supported me and the United Nations way of life. Allow me to thank them in my mother tongue:  Shoukran Hassan, Shoukran Mama for being here with me today.

Thank you Mr. President once again for this highest honor and the recognition today. I will strive to be deserving of it in my work here; and I will treasure it as an inspiration to serve the United Nations everywhere I go.

 Faleminderit.