Foreign relations of Albania

Foreign relations of Albania

Albanian foreign policy has concentrated on maintaining good relations with its Balkan neighbours, gaining access to European-Atlantic security institutions, and securing close ties with the United States.

The crisis of 1997 spurred a period of intense international involvement in Albania, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Italy hosted a series of international conferences and led a multinational force of about 7,000 troops to help stabilize the country and facilitate OSCE election monitoring. The United States has worked closely with European partners and various multilateral committees to ensure that international efforts are coordinated.

Albania is a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lulzim Basha, represented it at the 11th Summit. [ [ The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lulzim Basha concludes his visit in Dakar - Senegal where the 11th Summit of the Countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference held its proceedings] . Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albania.]

Relations with neighbouring countries

The Government of Albania is very concerned with developments in neighboring Kosovo, particularly in the post-Dayton agreement period. Although the region is claimed by Serbia to be a Serbian province, Albania recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence on 18 February 2008.

After the fall of the Albanian communist regime in 1991, relations between Greece and Albania became increasingly strained because of widespread allegations of mistreatment by Albanian authorities of the Greek ethnic minority in southern Albania and of the alleged Albanian minorities in northern Greece. A wave of Albanian illegal economic migrants to Greece exacerbated tensions. The crisis in Greek-Albanian relations reached its peak in late August 1994, when an Albanian court sentenced five members (a sixth member was added later) of the ethnic Greek political party "Omonia" to prison terms on charges of undermining the Albanian state. Greece responded by freezing all EU aid to Albania, and sealing its border with Albania. In December 1994, however, Greece began to permit limited EU aid to Albania, while Albania released two of the Omonia defendants and reduced the sentences of the remaining four.

Today, relations between the two countries are relatively good, and, at the Albanian Government's request, about 250 Greek military personnel are stationed in Albania to assist with the training and restructuring the Albanian armed forces. There are still many Albanian workers in Greece that have not received legal papers despite promises by the Greek government. In 1996, the two countries signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship and discussed the issues of the status of Albanian refugees in Greece and education in the mother tongue for the ethnic Greek minority in southern Albania.

Tirana's relations with the Republic of Macedonia remain friendly, despite occasional incidents involving ethnic Albanians there. Tirana has repeatedly encouraged the Albanian minority's continued participation in its Government.

During the 1990s, after the fall of communism, at the onset of democratic reforms, there were vast waves of illegal immigration from the Albanian ports to Italy. This strained relations between the countries somewhat as Italy had to avert a humanitarian crisis. The tensions reached a peak when an Italian coast guard ship allegedly rammed and sank an Albanian ship carrying 120-130, 75 of whom drowned, on March 28, 1997. Eventually the two countries began joint operations aimed at stopping illegal smuggling operations. Italy has also provided financial assistance to Albania to help its ailing economy.

Countries with diplomatic relations with Albania

*Europe: Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

*The Americas: Canada, USA, Argentina

*Asia and Africa: China, Pakistan, Republic of India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt

International disputes

The Albanian Government supports protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians outside of its borders but has downplayed them to further its primary foreign policy goal of regional cooperation; Albanian majority in Kosovo seeks full recognition of the declared independence from Serbia; Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia claim discrimination in education, access to public-sector jobs, and representation in government, even though they enjoy the most minority rights in the Balkans.Fact|date=June 2008 A handful of Albanian troops have participated in the US-led invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. [" [] Albanian policy is very favorable to that of the United States.

Foreign aid

Through FY 1998, the United States committed approximately $300 million to Albania's economic and political transformation and to address humanitarian needs. This figure comprises about 10% of all bilateral and multilateral assistance offered since 1991. Italy ranks first in bilateral assistance and Germany third. The European Union (EU) has given about $800 million since 1991 and pledged $175 million in 1996-99.

In FY 1999, the United States will provide $30 million through the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act, up from $27 million the previous year. The U.S. also will provide an agricultural commodities grant of $10 million.

The $30 million Albanian-American Enterprise Fund (AAEF), launched in 1994, is actively making debt and equity investments in local businesses. AAEF is designed to harness private sector efforts to assist in the economic transformation. U.S. assistance priorities include promotion of agricultural development and a market economy, advancement of democratic institutions (including police training), and improvements in quality of life. The SEED funding request for Albania for FY 2000 is $25 million.

Illicit drugs

Increasingly active transshipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and - to a far lesser extent - cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotic trafficking organizations active and rapidly expanding in Europe. These activities are now sided, presumably by the same criminal groups (Mafia-like associations), with an increasing traffic of prostitutes from former communist countries, of which the Albanian coasts seems to be the gateway to Europe through Italy.



ee also

*Albanian diplomatic missions

External links

* [ Ministry of Foreign Affairs (official site)]
* [ Learn Albanian Language]

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