European Western Balkans

General Pavel: NATO to pursue open-door policy

General Petr Pavel at the GLOBSEC forum in Bratislava; Photo: Courtesy of Bundas Engler

TIRANA – NATO will continue to pursue the open-door policy, said the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, General Peter Pavel at joint press conference with the Chief of Army’s General Staff, Brigadier Bardhyl Kollçakuon, on the sidelines of the Conference of NATO’s Military Committee in Tirana.

They have discussed the security issues of the Western Balkans, as well as recommendations for ongoing missions “Resolute Support” in Afghanistan and KFOR in Kosovo.

Albania confirmed the continuation of its mission in Afghanistan and increase of its presence there.

“Albania will remain committed as long as necessary to serve in NATO mission ”Resolute Support”. We will make concerted efforts to ensure that Afghanistan will not become a safe haven for international terrorism. Therefore, last year Albania has doubled its presence and we will beef up our presence in Afghanistan with another platoon. Thanks to determination of the government and the Armed Forces, our contribution in Afghanistan will continue,” said the Chief of Army’s General Staff, Kollçaku.

The chairman of Military Committee, General Peter Pavel said that NATO will continue to pursue the open-door policy.

“NATO has continuously pursued the open-door policy and holds firm on this stand. There are several countries aspiring to join the alliance that are putting their best efforts into reforming the field of defence. Once they reach the required level for membership, I believe the process of negotiations will get underway for them to become fully-fledged members, “ said Pavel.

Asked by the journalists over the efforts of Kosovo for creation of Kosovo’s Armed Force, general Pavel said that there’s no agreement between Serbia and Kosovo yet, however the army needs to be established in compliance with the Constitution and laws of the relevant countries.

Albania is hosting the NATO Military Committee conference which brings together the Chiefs of Defence of the Alliance’s member nations. The Chiefs of Defence will also elect the next Chairman of the Military Committee, who will take office in 2018.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, and Defence Minister Olta Xhaçka attended the conference’s opening session.

General Pavel also praised Albania’s role in promoting cooperation and stability in the Western Balkans, as well as in the fight against the co-called Islamic State “by contributing equipment to the global coalition against ISIL and the special forces trainers in Iraq.”

The NATO general also noted that Albania has offered to host a NATO centre of excellence to study the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters.

Rama: Some of the WB countries are still missing on the NATO map

In his opening remarks, PM Rama welcomed the fact that for the first time ever Albania is hosting the meeting of NATO’s highest Military Authority, underlining that Albania is fully committed to fulfilling all obligations stemming from the NATO membership.

“We are united behind the country’s commitment to NATO. Albania missions to NATO-led operations have never been opposed in the Parliament of Albania. Our participation in NATO missions has not been that easy due to the country’s limited resources, but Albania will boost its presence by increasing defence spending, while our Armed Forces will deploy at any front whenever called upon. Albania will continue to provide its contribution to NATO commitments,” the government head stated.

The Premier reiterated Albania’s support for the open door policy for all Western Balkan countries.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo are still missing on the NATO map. This area, still to be included in the European security architecture, forms a territory where third players see vulnerability and penetration opportunities,” Rama said.

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