of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, H.E. Mr. Fatos NANO
I am particularly happy to have been given this opportunity to meet with you today. This is my second important appointment abroad after that with the community of actors and donors for Albania, which we will meet in a few weeks again in Rome and we are happy and grateful that the Alliance is part of it.
As you are informed, I just had a very open and friendly meeting with Secretary General Solana on a couple of important questions of common interest and it isn't but a pleasure for me and my delegation to share our thoughts with you.
I could not go on without thanking the Alliance, you and through you, the Governments of NATO member States for standing by us in these difficult times and assist us in our efforts to get the country back to normal way of development.
We all are aware that our relationship doesn't start today. There is already a good record of cooperation in a number of fields at the political and operational level and the Albanians are grateful for that. Unfortunately this heritage not only did not escape to the last months' chaos but was severely hit. However, let me assure you, it has not gone all in vain. NATO principles, expertise and operational record within the Partnership for Peace are there in the minds of our specialists who have worked with Alliance structures and personnel, and most important they are present in the feelings of the Albanian population. I may say that one can hardly find anti-NATO stands within the Albanians or Albanian political parties. Reinforcement of relations, active participation that will duly lead to full integration into all Euro-atlantic organizations and structures is one of the most important pillars of our foreign policy. This is part of our already declared program but is first in our minds. Our attachment towards Euro-atlantic principles, values and practices is and will remain a constant stand. Strict observance of the rule of law, well-functioning of democratic institutions, development of a sound marked economy and, an open civil society preserving and promoting human and minority right and a promoter of peace and stability in all its parameters, this is what we have embarked upon to do in Albania. I am here today to convey the message of the new Government that we want not only to continue but make use of all means and ways to upgrade our relations, reinforce our partnership within the framework of the new spirit of cooperation between Alliance and partners and based on our strategic goal Integration into the Alliance. The creation of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council just before the Madrid Summit has established a solid and more expanded basis of cooperation and we are happy to be part of it.
We consider NATO a strong civilian military organisation, an important actor in building of the new architecture of security for the next century, an important player in promoting democracy and development. I remember Secretary General Solana having said that those who like to be under the umbrella should be able to hand it. May I say that he is right. Today we are seeking assistance from NATO but we hope that within reasonable times we will be able to belong to those that are among the nations qualified as security producers and contributors to it.
Two and a half months are gone since the elections, when the Albanian people, in concert with the international community and in particular the OSCE. the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Multinational Protection Force, demonstrated a high sense of responsibility and voted for their future. The five party coalition government, that I have the honor to lead, has embarked on a difficult task of rebuilding the country, bring back confidence and make the country proceed in the right way. We are committed to bring a new spirit in Albanian politics, to create a proper climate of mutual confidence which lives room for all, be in majority or minority. There are winners bat there should not be losers and the country needs the contribution of all. This is our philosophy of governance, this what we are doing and we will firmly stick to it.
Along the lines presented in Rome the Government has resolutely embarked on a three phase program of restoring public order. This is our big challenge and it has our particular attention. Special measures have been taken and there is real feedback. In brief I could say that the whole territory of the country is under government control, all main routes are sufficiently secure for normal activity to resume, local power is back in place and police presence is restored everywhere. Police Forces, thought still in lack of appropriate means, are successfully fighting crime and they have the people in their side.
The Ministries of Defense and Interior have issued a common order on collecting weapons from civilian hands and it is working reasonably well. We are far from getting back the tremendously big amount of weapons and ammunitions outspread throughout the country but it has started and we are sure that it will proceed in harmony with the reinforcing of the public order. People are aware that no one can provide security for itself or its property alone. There is no other way than establish sound institutions to provide public security under civilian and democratic control and we are sure to have full understanding.
The WEU MAPE team is closely working with our Ministry of Interior and their presence in Albania may be extended. Since a few times. a US team has joined in this field and other bilateral contributions demonstrate that all-out short-term measures are of paramount importance in this respect.
As far as the Army is concerned we have started a process of overall reorganization. We are totally open, transparent and happy to work with the Alliance. NATO fact finding mission that visited Albanian earlier this months was a quick Alliance response of our cry for help. I hope we were able to present in a most transparent way the picture of the current situation of our Armed Forces and see what we commonly can do immediately. We welcomed the proposal for an Individual Partnership Program, which to our view accurately reflects our urgent short term needs, while making sure to establish a solid mid and long term cooperation.
At the end of August we agreed with Italy on a vast program of Assistance in restructuring the Armed Forces which has started implementation. Other countries among them the US, Germany, Greece, Turkey have put forward welcomed officers of assistance. We commend all NATO member States for their bilateral programs which are resuming, this being also an important contribution within the partnership for peace cooperation. We are glad to participate in the NATO clearinghouse where our needs will be discussed and it is our intention to be present everywhere when our problems are on the agenda or where we can offer our modes contribution. You can count on us.
Mr. Secretary General, as the NATO mission was told in Tirana, we will in a few days man our Liaison Office here and very soon we will have a full fledged mission to NATO at ambassadorial level, which will also contribute to establish sound and close relations. Though conditions do not permit us in these times, we intend to make peacekeeping an important part of our foreign policy and as soon as we will be able we will offer our readiness. The experience and positive record of the MPF has made Albanians very sensitive in this direction.
At the economic front, though the country is breathing, various problems still persist. The government is striving to stop the economy from going further down and we are firmly working to bring back macro-economic stability and establish a sound monetary system. In these two months the Albanian currency is slowly getting stronger. We are conducting intensive talks with the International Monetary Fond and hope to come out with a short term program on fiscal consolidation which will open the way for a mid term program.
Our philosophy of governance is that of domestic and international co-operation and co-habitation. This is first important home and we are applying it in the parliamentary and institutional life. We are also determined to apply-it also with our foreign partners and especially our neighbors. We are open to dialogue, open and ready to put first what we have in common, what unites us rather that what could divide or differentiate us. Our efforts in this direction will not stop and we hope to have the same response. And as I said earlier, we are committed to peace and stability home and in the region and you can count on our contribution in this respect.
We are approaching the Rome Ministerial Conference on Albania and later the donors conference in Brussels. May I assure you that we are doing all what we can to work according to the Rome recommendations, put the economy back in track. We are aware that the image of the country and its credibility in general are gravely affected. We are devoted to work with the highest sense of responsibility as reliable partners and our present and future are inextricably linked with Europe, Euro-Atlantic structures, democratic principles and values. The choice has been made and we are sure to be right.
I would be glad to listen to your comments or answer any question.