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Foreign Relations

Some in Tirana dream of creating a so-called Greater Albania. The Greater Albania doctrine says that the territories in southern Montenegro, southern Serbian territories including Kosovo and the Presevo Valley and northwestern parts of Macedonia should be incorporated in the existing Republic of Albania. The total number of Albanians in the Balkans amount to more than eight million people, including three million in Albania itself, one million and a half in Kosovo and Serbia and over half a million in Macedonia.

Historically, Albania's foreign policy objectives have not been far-reaching. Ideology has not been a driving force in determining Albania's relations with the outside world. Rather, its main concern has been to preserve its territorial integrity and independence. The strategy pursued by Enver Hoxha was to rely on alliances with communist states that could give Albania large amounts of foreign aid and at the same support his regime. His successor, Alia, modified this strategy by pursuing a more varied foreign policy, reaching out to a number of Albania's neighbors.

From an era of extreme isolation, Albania has actually been a responsible and steadfast actor, committing troops and resources in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Kosovo and in Iraq. As a NATO member, Albania supported robustly NATO-led operations, most prominently in Afghanistan, where over 200 Albanians served alongside U.S. and other allied troops.

Albania is currently pursuing a path of greater Euro-Atlantic integration. Its primary long-term goals are to gain EU membership and to promote closer bilateral ties with its neighbors and with the U.S. Albania is a member of a number of international organizations, as well as multiple regional organizations and initiatives, including NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the UN, the Stability Pact, the Adriatic Charter, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In June 2006, Albania and the EU signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step to EU membership, which will focus on implementing essential rule of law reforms and curbing corruption and organized crime. Albania filed its application for EU candidacy on April 28, 2009. The prospect of integration with the European Union provides Albania with strong incentives for continued Democratic, economic and social reform, and it represents the best prospect for Albania’s long-term economic and democratic stability. Albania, like other countries aspiring to join the EU, knows that EU integration is its best chance to secure prosperity for its people.

Despite some progress on the EU reform agenda, the European Commission did not recommend candidate status in 2012. The European Commission’s progress noted that while Albania had made great strides towards fulfilling the so-called Copenhagen political criteria for membership, Albania needed further to intensify efforts to reform the judiciary, to strengthen the independence of judicial institutions, efficiency and accountability. The commission also noted that Albania needed to demonstrate a track record of reforms in the fight against organized crime and corruption and in its protection of the rights of minority communities. Further, the European Commission report highlighted the need for Albania’s parliamentarians to pass remaining reform legislation in the areas of public administration, judicial reform and parliamentary rules and procedures.

During the years 2004-2008, Albania continued the process of consultation with NATO during the annual meetings that are held in the framework of MAP, PARP and the Ministerial of NATO/EAPC etc. Albania was committed to meet 43 objectives of the partnership, defining the measures to further enable our Armed Forces in order to operate together with Alliance forces.

Albania's new strategic concept, in its preface once more reaffirms the commitment of member countries of the Alliance on the unity among nations to defend each other against new security and peace threats. It clearly states the commitment of the Alliance in crisis prevention, conflict management and close cooperation with international partners, UN and EU. It opens a new page of cooperation with partners, offering an essential role in the shaping of NATO operations. It reaffirms the desire for a world without nuclear weapons but as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. It further reiterates strong commitment to keeping NATO's door open to all European democracies that meet membership standards.

Albania maintains good relations with its neighbors. It re-established diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia following the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, and maintains excellent relations with the Republic of Montenegro, which gained its independence after the dissolution of the Serbia and Montenegro union in 2006. Albanian, Macedonian, and Italian law enforcement agencies are cooperating with increasing efficiency to crack down on the trafficking of arms, drugs, contraband, and human beings across their borders. Albania has also arrested and prosecuted several ethnic Albanian extremists on charges of inciting interethnic hatred in Macedonia and Kosovo. Tensions occasionally arise with Greece over the treatment of the Greek minority in Albania or the Albanian community in Greece, but overall relations are good.

On 27-28 April 2009, Greek PM Kostas Karamanlis visited Albania, the first such visit by a Greek PM since 1992. A 2005 visit by Greek President Karolos Papoulias was cut short when Papoulias left the country without meeting with his Albanian counterpart due to protests. But a new day has dawned. Both the Greek Embassy in Tirana and the MFA characterized the current bilateral relationship as the best it has been since relations were initiated in 1973. The signing of the agreement on the border of the sea shelf between the two countries was the main outcome of the visit, although the media has been attacked the Albanian government for giving away too much to the Greeks. The area in question is a strategic area and also has the potential for tourism and oil is thought to lie beneath the surface. Some observers have suggested that this concession was made by the GOA in return for the Greek ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) and support for NATO accession. Combining the maritime agreement with the previous agreement on cemeteries for Greek soldiers killed in Albania in World War II, as well as Greece's ratification of the SAA and Albania's entry into NATO, it seems that the major outstanding bilateral issues have been resolved.

Southeastern European Defence Ministerial (SEDM), the Process of Engagement of South East European countries in Ministerial level, is a process of integration and cooperation in the field of security and regional defence. Founded in 1996 in Tirana, with the participation of all the South East European countries and USA, SEDM today reflects the success of cooperation and regional integration. In this process the following members participate: Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Rumania, Slovenia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and USA. The following countries are Observers: Moldavia, Georgia.

The Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe (SEEBRIG) consists of 7 member countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Turkey and five observer countries are: USA, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia. July 2009, was the first time that the Multinational Peacekeeping Brigade of Southeast Europe (SEEBRIG) was led by an Albanian General, Brigadier General Zyber Dushku, for a 2-year mandate (2009-2011).

The so-called Western Balkan countries, Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia, as member countries of Partnership for Peace (PfP) and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) after the Summit of Prague in 2002, when invitation were sent to seven out of ten aspiring countries, decided to follow the same path as the former Baltic countries, called “Vilnus Group”, successfully did. The creation of A-3 group is part of the vision to integrate the entire region into NATO Alliance, following the fulfilment of all the required conditions. A series of public comments by Prime Minister Sali Berisha since August 2009 about "uniting the Albanian nation" caused concern throughout the region. In early August, Berisha took his first probing steps into the waters of Kosovo politics when he met with the leaders of two Kosovar political parties and signed memorandums of cooperation with them. The parties - the Alliance for Kosovo's Future (AAK) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) - were both seen as rivals to Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). In light of the upcoming local elections in Kosovo, some critics cried foul and blamed Berisha for taking sides in Kosovo's politics. The Serbian government immediately protested Berisha's comments as provocative and "a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia."

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Page last modified: 08-03-2022 19:37:40 ZULU