TIRANA – NATO decided in July last year at the Warsaw summit to increase the presence of the Alliance troops in the Baltic countries. To date, less than one year later NATO has deployed four multinational battalion-size groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which are presided over namely by UK, Canada, Germany and the US, ATA reports.
Participating in this operation are also the Armed Forces of Albania which provide the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) capacity for the battalion-group stationed in Latvia, which is seen as a very important support capacity. EOD is the special structure for elimination of hazardous materials, the Engineering Battalion of Support Command.
Albania is part of the battalion group in Latvia presided over by Canada, contributing alongside states like Italy, Poland and Slovenia.
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, during his visit on June 19-20 in the military bases in Adazi, Latvia and Stasenai, Lithuania, gave an interview to the Albanian Telegraphic Agency which has closely followed the military parade in Latvia and military exercise “Iron Wolf 2017” in Lithuania.
In his interview with ATA, Stoltenberg spoke about the role of Albanian troops in the operations conducted in the Baltic countries and the contribution of Albania in the Alliance. Furthermore, Stoltenberg touched upon the potential threats from Russia and other countries for the Balkan region.
ATA: What do you think about the role of Albanian military troops in the operations that are taking place in the Baltic countries and the contribution of Albania in the NATO Alliance?
Jens Stoltenberg: We very much appreciate the contributions of Albania and I met the Albanian troops yesterday in Latvia. And I have seen them here again. Albania is really playing an important role in the Alliance. And I commend Albania for contribution in different ways to the NATO. The increased NATO presence in Europe is a response to an assertive Russia and the aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine. Of course, it is important for all our allies, including Albania, that any action against us will trigger a response from all the Alliance.
ATA: Do you foresee any threat from Russia or any other country in the Balkan region?
JS: We don’t see any imminent threat. But, we see assertive Russia which has also been active in Western Balkans. Therefore, we welcome that recently we were able to welcome Montenegro as the 29-th member of the Alliance. I also welcome the fact that Albania and other Western Balkan countries already are members of the NATO. It underlines that we have to be vigilant; we have to strengthen our situation of awareness, including our intelligence services to be able to closely monitor also how Russia is also present in Western Balkans.