"Defender Europe 2021" exercise starts in Albania, three senior NATO generals attend the ceremony

The largest military exercise in the Western Balkans region “Defender Europe 2021” started in Durrës. The ceremony was attended not only by three senior generals of the NATO Alliance, but also many other high authorities.

Defence Minister Niko Peleshi, while expressing his gratitude that Albania was chosen as one of the 12 host countries for this exercise, assured the senior leaders of the Alliance that the will to stand by NATO in every circumstance, challenge and effort is unwavering.

"Defender Europe 21 is witnessing the attention and commitment that the Alliance, and in particular the United States, has to our region. This exercise is a clear message to the peoples of the Balkans. Their only future is full integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Any hesitation, deviation, influence beyond this path is simply a waste of time. But it is also a message to those "malicious" and rival countries and forces of our common values. "I thank the United States for choosing Albania as the conductor of these multiple strategic messages," said Minister Niko Peleshi at the opening ceremony of the exercise.

The Prime Minister Edi Rama, who greeted this ceremony, described it as a historic moment and the exercise "Defender Europe 2021" as unique. "Albania will continue to stand faithfully side by side with you as a country that perhaps from a numerical point of view we do not offer much to this Alliance, but from the point of view of the values that make this Alliance unique for our world, we want to be always worthy and valuable.", - said the head of the Albanian government.

The US General and Commander of the US European Command, Tod D. Wolters in his welcoming speech on the occasion of "Defender Europe 21" exercise in Albania praises our country as a nation that has played a major role for the peace in the region.

“All the shipping logistics is shared. We do it in the typical NATO way, with sound armed forces: navy, ground force, air force, and naval force, to prove that from this exercise we will be more responsible, and we will react better. I thank this nation, which is the exporter of security. The way we understand this, the moment when you have shown this since joining NATO, has given us a safer Albania, a safer western part, a safer Mediterranean and Europe. We feel safer, we are stronger together.” , - said General Todd D. Wolters.

The Ambassador of the United States of America in Albania, Yuri Kim, in her greeting speech congratulated the Albanian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense for organizing the extraordinary ceremony. The American diplomat said that Albania is the host of more activities than any other country in the region. “Firstly, Albania's role in the Alliance is more important than ever. Albanians have fought alongside us, side by side, in numerous conflicts around the globe. We will never forget your sacrifices, and we will always be grateful for the fact that when America needs you, when the allies need you, NATO is there and Albania is always by our side. We know your bravery and we are honored to call you our allies. “– said Ambassador Kim.

The launch of the exercise "Defender 2021" was also welcomed by President Ilir Meta, who said that this exercise is a strong assurance that Albania is ready to defend the values of democracy in Europe and throughout the Euro-Atlantic area.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Major General Asocc. Prof. Bajram Begaj, in his speech stated that the conduct of this NATO troops’ exercise in Albania is of great importance not only for the size, but also for the security messages it conveys. According to him, the presence of the honorable American generals is a clear proof of US support for our Armed Forces and Albania. "'Albania hits harder than its weight'. I assure the American generals that they will not be disappointed.”, - said Major General Asocc. Prof. Begaj.

The military exercise, organized by the US Army in Europe and Africa, with the participation of about 28 thousand troops from 26 allied and partner countries, will take place in 7 different bases in our country.

“Defender Europe 21” launched today, will last until June 9. Albania is one of the 16 host countries in the conduct of this military exercise. Our Armed Forces will be represented by about 1,000 troops. Meanwhile 28,000 multinational troops will carry out activities almost simultaneously in more than 30 training areas, spread over 12 countries.

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