05 September 2006

Former Homeland Security Chief Hired by Albanians

Albania hires Tom Ridge as a consultant
September 04, 2006 11:51 AM
TIRANA, Albania-Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said Monday that he hired former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge as a consultant to advise his government on a range of issues including NATO membership, fighting corruption and tackling organized crime.
Ridge, 61, was to meet with Albanian Cabinet ministers on Monday before attending an official dinner in the capital Tirana, Berisha's spokesman Neritan Sejamini said.
Under the agreement, Ridge will make occasional visits to Albania, but will primarily work with the government from the United States, Sejamini said. Experts employed by Ridge will also provide advice, he said, but gave no details.
Ridge will begin work this month, Sejamini said, but he declined to give details of the contract the government was to sign with Ridge.
Ridge's main priority will be to help Albania meet its goal of joining NATO in 2008, Berisha said. Ridge has also been hired to help Albania attract U.S. investment, fight money laundering and reform its justice system, he said.
The former Pennsylvania governor will also help the country develop its agriculture and information technology sectors, Berisha said.
"I believe these goals may be achieved and I am looking forward to starting to work together with you on their realization," Ridge was quoted as saying in a statement released by Berisha's office.
The small, predominantly Muslim, Adriatic country is one of the poorest countries in Europe and aspires to one-day join the European Union.
Ridge cut short his second term as Pennsylvania governor when U.S. President George W. Bush appointed him to coordinate homeland security after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He was named the head of the department a year later and stepped down in February 2005.