By Brigadier General Bardhyl Kollҫaku, Albanian Chief of Defence at the joint press release with Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Dear media participants, I would like to thank you for your presence today and the interest shown for the NATO Military Committee Conference in Albania.
This is the first time Albania to organize and host such a conference. Continuation of ‘open door’ policy by NATO means that Albania expects to organize a similar event after about three decades.
We chose Tirana not only because it is capital city bus also to show Allies and friends our uninterrupted journey toward development and prosperity, as well as its characteristic dynamism, where the old and traditional are intertwined with the modern. We hope that the friends feel at home and return to discover <the last pearl> on the Mediterranean, which is how our country is dubbed.
As you are aware, the security environment over the recent years has been characterized by instability, unpredictability, complexity and un-clarity. Although the signs were given before, year 2014 when Russia attacked Ukraine and annexed Crimea, openly violating international norms and laws, marked a strong turning point for us all as Allies with regard to our awareness of security matters. Of course, the Collective Defence Concept has also evolved our perception to defense, since the borders of each Ally are already our borders as well.
In the framework of abiding by the decisions reached by the Heads of States at Wales’ and Warsaw’s Summits, Albania has carried out and continues to do its share in the process of adaptation. The presence of Albania soldiers in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VTJTF), Force Integration Units in Romania and Bulgaria, Multinational Division Southeast headquarters, or Battle Group led by Canada in the framework of Forward Presence in Latvia is a clear evidence of serious and essential engagement within the Alliance, while demonstrating on a broader level the cohesion in the ranks of the Alliance, and the ability to defend itself if need arises. Security comes with a price, and for this purpose the Albanian government is committed to progressively increasing its defense budget in the coming years, reaching 2% of gross domestic product in 2024.
Albania will continue to engage in NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan for as long as necessary. Our efforts along with those of the Allies aim at preventing this country from becoming a safe place for international terrorism.
The Alliance has joined the Global Coalition against ISIS/DAESH for confrontation purposes. Albania continues to play its role in supporting it. In the framework of projecting stability, our country approves the establishment of the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub at the Joint Forced Command in Naples, Italy, and will contribute with staff for its operation, in order to prevent risks that may come from this flank, but also enhance interoperability, and develop defense capabilities of partner countries in the Middle East, South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, Albania follows the developments in Kosovo very closely, and the NATO mission, KFOR, is a success story of the Alliance. We approve the “fulfilment of conditions” approach in the process of furthering this operation. On a broader level, passing the energy corridors through the Western Balkan region requires an increased attention of the Allies to prevent negative influence aiming to destabilize and interrupt the journey of its constituent countries toward Euro-Atlantic integration.
Distinguished media representatives, I would like to express once again my appreciation of your interest in the NATO Military Committee Conference.
Thank you for your attention