Joint press point
by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and the Minister of Defence of Albania, Olta Xhaçka
Thank you for welcoming me and my delegation today.
It is a pleasure to be here in Albania, just before we come to the holiday season.
Your country makes valuable contributions to our Alliance.
Just as you said, Albanian soldiers are part of NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
They are building greater stability in this region.
We are grateful that you have increased the number of troops in our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
You are helping us in this way to fight international terrorism.
Albania also has forces serving in NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Latvia.
I met your troops last February when I visited the battlegroup, and I was impressed by their capabilities.
They are helping us solve our military mobility problems.
And Albania stands with our partners – including through financial support to Ukraine and its cyber defences.
All of this demonstrates your strong contribution to our shared security.
We welcome that Albania is investing more in defence and that you plan to increase defence expenditure to 2% of GDP by 2024.
For fairer burden-sharing across the Alliance, we need all Allies to pull their weight.
This is not just about cash.
But also investing in modern military capabilities, and contributing to NATO missions and operations.
And I want to congratulate you that your light infantry battalion has recently been accredited very successfully.
NATO is committed to Albania’s security.
We plan to invest 51 million Euro to modernize the existing facilities at the Kuçovë Air Base.
This includes projects on fuel storage and handling, and other logistics efforts.
This programme helps us all be more effective and resilient, and therefore more secure.
I also wanted to comment briefly on events in Pristina this morning.
Today, the Institutions of Kosovo have announced the adoption of three new laws initiating the process of transition of the Kosovo Security Forces.
As Secretary General Stoltenberg has said, we regret that this decision was made despite the concerns of NATO.
At the same time, I want to emphasize that all sides must ensure that today’s decision will not further increase tensions in this region.
All responsible political actors in the region need to focus on progress, with reforms and on dialogue.
Minister, thank you for our excellent meeting today.
It was a pleasure to be here in your ministry and to meet with you.
I look forward to continuing our work to make both NATO and Albania stronger and safer.