10 June 2003
Rumsfeld Thanks Albania for Support in Iraq, Afghanistan
(June 10 press conference in Tirana with Defense Minister Majko) (1460)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Tirana June 10 and took
the opportunity to thank Albania for its strong support in the global
war on terror and, in particular, for operations in Iraq and
At a press conference with Albanian Defense Minister Pandeli Majko,
Rumsfeld said they had also discussed "our joint interest in having
Albania proceed along the path towards full NATO membership over the
He noted that Albania has signed a bilateral Article 98 Agreement by
which it has pledged to protect Americans from being turned over to
the International Criminal Court.
That decision was something the U.S. government "and certainly the men
and women of the Armed Forces of the United States appreciate a great
deal," Rumsfeld said.
Asked about the possibility of establishing U.S. military bases in
Albania, Rumsfeld said, "We discussed the possibility of exercises and
training cooperation, but we did not get into any detailed discussions
Majko said Albanian and U.S. forces "are currently conducting
exercises of a very specific but also very confidential nature" and
said other exercises would be conducted in the future. He also
emphasized that Albania considers the United States a strategic
"Albania has lined up alongside the United States in the global
challenge of our times -- the fight against terrorism and the
dictatorial regimes nourishing it -- as a partner willing to carry out
its duties among the large family of civilized nations," Majko said.
"In the globe's hot spots, where a fight with the force of weapons is
being waged for peace and democracy, Albania is carrying out its duty
Following is a Pentagon transcript of the press conference:
United States Department of Defense
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
SECRETARY RUMSFELD JOINT MEDIA AVAILABILITY WITH ALBANIAN MINISTER OF
DEFENSE PANDELI MAJKO
Tirana, Republic of Albania
MAJKO: Honorable Secretary of Defense, honorable friends. I have the
great pleasure of welcoming to Tirana the U.S. Secretary of Defense,
His Excellency Mr. Rumsfeld.
This is a special visit, done at a special time and at a special
moment in the relationship between the Republic of Albania and the
United States of America. Albania and its official policy face no
opposition whatsoever in considering the United States as a strategic
partner, not from any political party, from civil society, from the
public in general, or from the Albanian factor in the region. Albania
has lined up alongside the United States in the global challenge of
our times -- the fight against terrorism and the dictatorial regimes
nourishing it -- as a partner willing to carry out its duties among
the large family of civilized nations. In the globe's hot spots, where
a fight with the force of weapons is being waged for peace and
democracy, Albania is carrying out its duty with dignity.
Albania considers the full and de jure membership of our country in
NATO as a priority objective, a collective aspiration, and an imminent
reality as well. We consider that the visit of the U.S. Secretary of
Defense is a clear indicator of the excellent level of the
Albanian-American relations and an important contribution to their
enhancement. When I met this gentleman for the first time in his
office, I had in mind the message of a newspaper that considered him
the boss of the world, but I found something very different -- a down
to earth man who very quickly became a close friend as well. Once
again, I thank you for your very quick visit to Albania, in response
to my invitation.
RUMSFELD: Thank you very much Mr. Minister. Generals and Excellencies,
I am very pleased to be here. We've had good meetings with the
Minister of Defense, the Prime Minister, the President and the Chief
of the General Staff. I thanked each of them for the strong support
that Albania has given to the global war on terror. We particularly
appreciate and value the assistance in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq.
As you know, Albania has also stepped forward and signed the so-called
Vilnius 10 letter, which came at a time that was important, and we
recognize that and appreciate that as well. The work that is being
done in Afghanistan is important and the participation in the
International Security Assistance Force there is something that is
valuable and helpful for the Afghan people. I also want to mention the
fact that Albania has signed the Article 98 Agreement with respect to
the International Criminal Court. The decision to do that was
something that the people of the United States, the Government of the
United States and certainly the men and women of the Armed Forces of
the United States appreciate a great deal.
Today we talked about Albania's interest in the Membership Action Plan
for NATO and our joint interest in having Albania proceed along the
path towards full NATO membership over the years ahead. In the
meantime, the United States looks forward to working closely on a
bilateral basis with cooperative military-to-military relationships as
we work toward that end. Thank you, sir.
We will take only easy questions.
QUESTION [Reuters]: Mr. Secretary, I wanted to ask you about an
incident that occurred today. What do you see as the implications for
this roadmap (Inaudible.) Israeli helicopter (Inaudible.) al-Rantissi.
RUMSFELD: I have been in continuous meetings and I have not even
received that report. I can say that the participants in the Middle
East meetings that took place when President Bush was in the region,
with the participants as well as with the representatives of
presidents, crown princes and kings of other countries, all of them
expressed several key points. One was the importance of moving
forward, and second was recognition that it will take some time to get
a perfect peace and that they must not allow events that occur to take
them off the path toward peace.
Q: [Albanian Public Television]: Was there talk today during the talks
you had with Albanian leaders about the establishment of a U.S.
RUMSFELD: We discussed the possibility of exercises and training
cooperation, but we did not get into any detailed discussions beyond
MAJKO: I share the same comment as well. The important thing is that
Albanian forces and the U.S. forces are currently conducting exercises
of a very specific but also very confidential nature, like was the
recent training exercise with the 1,500 American troops that was held
in Albania. We will have other training exercises in the future. Of
course, I think that this cooperation will open perspectives of
different kinds. We told you not to ask difficult questions.
Q: [Associated Press]: Mr. Minister, could you just say a little bit
more beyond the training and the exercises, these other ways that you
were talking about. How do you see the military-to-military
relationship evolving? And, Secretary Rumsfeld as well, a little bit
more about why you came here and how you see the relationship
MAJKO: I think that we are moving on a very practical path, especially
after the Kosovo war in 1999, with the events of September 11th, with
the participation of our troops in Afghanistan, and we have reached a
climax point now with the Albanian troops being part of the 101
Division in Mosul, Iraq. So, what we are discussing is not just theory
or political wishes.
I would like to say that military experts are doing an excellent job.
Currently there are many Americans working in the Ministry of defense
-- do not ask me about the number for I will not tell you -- and this
very efficient and visionary cooperation, I believe, will give results
in the future. The United States stood on the side of the Albanian
nation in 1999, when even the existence of our nation was at stake,
and we will show proof to American taxpayers and the families of
American military personnel that the money in assistance to this
nation was not in vain. Our gratitude will be very lasting.
RUMSFELD: The reason for my visit is not mysterious at all. I know
that's hard for some to believe. But the truth is that I was invited;
I accepted. And the reason I accepted is because I value the
relationship the United States has with Albania. It is important to
us, and this gave me an opportunity to come here and meet with the
senior officials and express my appreciation and my country's
appreciation for their full cooperation in so many activities.
MAJKO: Thank you.
RUMSFELD: Thank you very much.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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