Taulant Topciu

Albania’s Relations with NATO


The new circumstances following the Fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 produced drastic changes in the established political balances; meanwhile, they pinpointed the issue of transformations within the North Atlantic Alliance and towards its relationships with the possible partners outside the Alliance.
At the Roma Summit in November 1991, apart from adopting a new strategic concept, NATO made a decisive step to a new and institutional cooperation on the political and security issues,  between the Atlantic Alliance and the countries of former Warsaw Treaty, by establishing a  new consultative mechanism - NACC (North Atlantic Cooperation Council). Albania became NACC member in June 1992.
At the Brussels Summit, in January 1994, thanks to the crucial US contribution, the Initative of Partnership for Peace (P f P) was devised. This initiative was tailored to include the new democracies and it offered to each partner country the right to hold direct consultations with the Alliance for its concerns in the security area, providing them with genuine opportunities to be partners in the overall process of strengthening security in Europe and to gradually move towards the Alliance polical and military structures.
In this case as well, Albania was the first country among the former Eastern communist block to sign the Fundamnetal PfP Document, on 23 February 1994 and that applied officially to join NATO.
Albania supported with all its potentials the Dayton Peace Agreement and especially the new Allince role supportive of peace. It provided to NATO all its aeroportal facilities for actions in Bosnia and contributed with troops in the framework of KFOR.
A very important development in our relations with NATO was the  commissioning of the Albanian  Mission to the Alliance in Brussels, in October 1997, after the Brussels Agremeent on the status of the missions and representations from Third Countries in NATO took effect.
The Washington Summit on 23-24 April 1999 provided, among others, a new action possibility for the accession of 9 candidate countries ( Vilnius Group + 1), since Croatia joined the group later ), through the Membership Action Plan ( MAP) whose part Albania became from the outset.
The Prague Summit 2002 is another important moment in the Alliance history; it launched the invitation process for the largest enlargement that NATO had ever seen before. Seven from the Vilnius Group countries received the membership invitation, giving a significant impetus to the relations of the Alliance with its partners.
In May 2003, Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and the USA signed  “The Partnership Charter” or A3. This Initiative is an indication of the shared vision for peace and stability in Southeast Europe and it also serves the cooperation, which would progressively lead the countries of the region closer to the Euro – Atlantic structures, with accession to the Alliance as their final goal.
The Istambul Summit in June 2004 confirmed the “ Open Door Policy” and launched the Alliance enlargement, increasing to 26 the number of its Member States. Although Albania together with the next two A3 countries did not receive the membership invitation, the Summit acknowledged and praised the progress of the countries for the implementation of the Annual National Programs in the MAP context and the constructive role of the Albanian foreign policy for regional stability.
In its Summit held in Riga in November 2006, the Alliance extended the candidate status to Albania and the other countries participants of MAP Process, as well as the possibility to receive the invitation to join NATO at its upcoming Summit.
At the Bucharest Summit held from 2-4 April 2008, the Alliance invited Croatia and Albania to become its members. After two rounds of negotiations between Albania and the Alliance, the Protocols of NATO Accession between Albania and the Alliance were signed in Brussels on 9 July 2008. Actually, the process of the ratification of the Protocol by all the Member States has started. Albania hopes and believes to attend the upcoming Summit of the Alliance, early in April 2009, as a full – right member.