NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly gathers for the first time in Albania

NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly gathers for the first time in Albania

Tirana, 30 May 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly was organized for the first time by the Parliament of Albania. This assembly is taking place in Tirana under strict security measures. At the focus of this assembly are several priorities that relate to security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

During the three days of proceedings, the Assembly gathered in Tirana more than 250 delegates who also approved the joint NATO Resolution in the Warsaw Summit.

The speaker of the Albanian parliament, Ilir Meta said that the presence of such a high number of delegates is a testimony of the importance that our country pays to NATO’s parliamentary dimension.

“Each of our countries brings to this alliance specific characteristics, as a reflection of our political, cultural and social diversity. This is an added value for NATO, which makes it stronger. For this reason, we are more united thanks to our democratic values and will to defend our joint security”, Mr. Meta said.

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During the three day proceedings, NATO lawmakers revised the achievements of NATO’s Supportive Mission in Afghanistan, which Foreign Ministers decided to extend it even throughout 2016.

The President of NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Michael Turner said that the fact t hat this is the first Session that the Assembly holds in Albania, is seen as a very important event. “We, who have lived throughout the Cold War, understand the deep meaning of this parliamentary meeting in Tirana”, Mr. Turner said. He stressed that Albania was once a hermetically isolated country from the rest of the world, while today, this is a transformed country. According to him, “the Albanian people have embraced the values on which this Alliance has been founded”.

Furthermore, Mr. Turner expresses the need for a bigger commitment of NATO’s partners for important issues relating to international security such as “terrorism” or “Russian threat”.

The accession of new countries in the NATO

The president of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly, Michael Turner praised Albania’s positioning alongside the Northern Atlantic Alliance.

On the other hand, he expressed NATO’s readiness to welcome Western Balkan countries.

In fact, as part of the agenda, lawmakers, praised the invitation made to Montenegro to become NATO’s 29th member.

But some countries have problems with particular states and when one country is a member and the other isn’t, the former prevents the latter to become a NATO member or even an EU member.

Based on this, the head of the Albanian delegation in the NATO, Pandeli Majko said that the acceptance of new countries must not be conditioned by any biased interest of the member countries.

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Kodheli demands Kosovo’s accession

In the three days of the NATO’s Spring Session, what was noticed was Tirana’s insistence for “the need of accession” of Western Balkan countries in the NATO, including Kosovo.

Albanian Minister of Defense, Mimi Kodheli said that the region is fragile. “With these new conflicts, we must not forget regions which are easily affected by international turmoil and Western Balkans is one of them, although it is relatively far from Russia and Middle East, but affected by Russia and fundamentalism”, Mrs. Kodheli said.

For the Albanian Minister of Defence, conflicts can be prevented through integrating processes which take democratization reforms. She also explained why Tirana backed Podgorica’s accession. “Many of our countries are still fragile in consolidating a liberal democracy and the EU accession path is more complicated for Western Balkan and this is also valid for my country. This is the reason why Albania backs the accession of Montenegro in the NATO. Montenegro will not be the last country that will join the Alliance”, Mrs. Kodheli said.

Mrs. Kodheli also said that “time has come for NATO to open a structured page of partnership with Kosovo”.

“I know that things are not black and white and that the challenges of the threat are felt in different ways, therefore we unite in what keeps us united: Trans Atlantic ties must be protected and be advanced with any condition”, was Kodheli’s appeal.

Tight security measures

NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly meeting was held at the Congress Palace in the center of Tirana. But security measures were spread almost in half of the capital and the area of the only international airport. At least 600 police officers were mobilized for this activity,  including special forces.

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Albania became a member of NATO in 2009 along with Croatia. During these 7 years, there was no other accession. Montenegro is expected to break this seven year pause. /balkaneu.com/