Address of Minister Bushati at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly - Security situation in the Western Balkans

Honorable members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,

Dear colleagues,
It is a pleasure to address you today in this important event as my country welcomes you. This event is also an opportunity to show, among other things, some core Albanian values, like hospitality, generosity and loyalty. Nowadays, it is important to recall the values that unite us in this alliance: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

For Albania, NATO membership was the result of our country’s democratization - not merely an investment on interests, but also values - and above all, an expression of the Albanian Euro-Atlantic affiliation.

7 years of NATO membership have turned Albania into an important regional actor, with the right sensitivity to current challenges faced by the European security architecture. On the other hand, we have proved to be reliable members, by contributing to conflicts beyond the borders of our continent.
Our commitment through NATO missions, the EU and the UN in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republic of Montenegro is proof of our reliability and accountability.
It is this spirit that encourages us to further our contribution to Afghanistan, by doubling the level of participation in this year’s "Resolution Support" Mission (RSM).
Moreover, in accordance with our commitments in Wales, we have increased the defense expenditure budget by 12% compared to 2015.

Dear Colleagues,
Current challenges to Euro-Atlantic security as well as the need to respond to threats stemming from the East and South is expected to characterize the agenda of the Warsaw Summit in July.
At NATO’s eastern corner, the Russian aggression against Ukraine has questioned the stability of Europe, thus influencing our approach towards security and the Alliance's relations with Russia. The latter's actions in the international arena remain perturbing.
For this reason, the Alliance must be firm in its defense, discouragement and dialogue policies. At the Wales Summit, we decided to strengthen our readiness to respond to new security challenges. The implementation of Wales Summit decisions will further increase the willingness and capabilities of NATO to respond to threats and security challenges.
In addition to the full implementation of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), we hope that at the Warsaw Summit, NATO further strengthen its abilities to tackle threats at its southern corner, increase maritime efforts at the Mediterranean, address the increasing capabilities of Russia and find new ways to enhance defense capabilities of partner countries.
Terrorist attacks in Ankara, Brussels and Paris remain a tragic reminder of the serious challenges arising from DAESH and violent extremism. They also remind us of the interdependence to each other and interconnection between national and international security, for there is no doubt that our security also depends on the stability of others.

To better respond to challenges such as the phenomenon of foreign fighters and radicalization, a Center of Excellence will be established in Albania, which will focus on building the adequate expertise to tackle this phenomenon. The obtained expertise will later serve other institutions to draft social, educational and economic programs.
Threats coming from the South cannot be addressed merely through military action. DAESH is a symptom of instability, hence us, as Alliance, should actively contribute to ensure stability and security in this region. The “Projecting Stability” initiative, which requires more political capital as well as human and financial resources, can be a valuable contribution in this regard.
Current threats underline the absolute need for a wider range of cooperation between NATO and the EU. The latter is a natural strategic partner of NATO, and we strongly support institutionalized cooperation between the two organizations with tangible results. Synergy between NATO and the EU is of particular importance to our region.
I am convinced that the joint statement to be delivered at the upcoming Warsaw Summit will be a crucial element to a new higher level of cooperation and understanding between the two organizations.

This new level of cooperation has been already put into practice through NATO’s decision to deploy ships in the Aegean Sea to support allies, Greece and Turkey, as well as EU agency Frontex, in their efforts to cope with the refugee and immigrant crisis.

This decision has implications for our region, the Western Balkans, which is a focal point of convergence in the NATO-EU cooperation.
NATO and the EU are crucial actors for the security and democracy of the Western Balkans. Through their processes and respective enlargement agendas, both organizations have clearly demonstrated their ability to successfully cooperate in promoting the common progress of the region towards its full Euro-Atlantic integration.
In the Western Balkans, NATO remains an indispensable actor in the field of security and for this reason, Albania has supported and continues to firmly and actively support NATO’s “open-doors” policy.
At the Wales Summit, allied countries reaffirmed our region's strategic importance to NATO, and we believe this strategic importance must be also reiterated in Warsaw.
Just a few days ago, at the NATO Ministerial, the Protocol of Montenegro’s Membership was signed. The membership of our neighbor is not only of geo-strategic importance to the Alliance, but to the entire region. It increases stability in the Adriatic Europe, reduces the impact of third actors and the "gray areas" of security in this region.
It is important that neighboring Macedonia join NATO, after Macedonian authorities have taken the necessary steps to solve the internal political crisis and strengthen rule of law and democracy in the country. Particularly noteworthy in this context is the continuation of efforts for a multi-ethnic, fully functional society, based on the complete, effective and qualitative implementation of the Ohrid Agreement.
We would like to see Bosnia-Herzegovina mark progress with its complex issue of immovable defence properties, particularly in Republika Srpska, so that allies can timely activate its first MAP cycle.
At the same time, we support NATO's partnership with Serbia and its focus on institutional and defense reforms.
With regard to Kosovo, we believe that a clear and well defined path for Kosovo towards integration processes in both EU and NATO, as well as the narrowing of the integration gap between Kosovo and the region are prerequisites for sustainable security and stability in our region.
Thank you!

Postal Address

Permanent Delegation of Republic of Albania to NATO
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