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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06USNATO610
2006-10-16 16:19:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Mission USNATO
Cable title:  

ALBANIA RECEIVES MIXED REVIEWS FROM NATO ALLIES ON

Tags:   NATO  PREL  MOPS  MARR  AL 
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VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNO #0610/01 2891619
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161619Z OCT 06
FM USMISSION USNATO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0115
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L USNATO 000610 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/RPM, EUR/SCE, PM
OSD FOR USDP -- WINTERNITZ AND GRAFF
NSC FOR SCHWENDLER, AINSLEY
JOINT STAFF FOR J-5/EUROPE AND NATO POLICY -- FOSTER
USEUCOM FOR ECJ-5/E

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2016
TAGS: NATO PREL MOPS MARR AL
SUBJECT: ALBANIA RECEIVES MIXED REVIEWS FROM NATO ALLIES ON
ITS ANNUAL NATIONAL PROGRAM

REF: SECSTATE 169370

Classified By: Charge Richard Olson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L USNATO 000610

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/RPM, EUR/SCE, PM
OSD FOR USDP -- WINTERNITZ AND GRAFF
NSC FOR SCHWENDLER, AINSLEY
JOINT STAFF FOR J-5/EUROPE AND NATO POLICY -- FOSTER
USEUCOM FOR ECJ-5/E

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2016
TAGS: NATO PREL MOPS MARR AL
SUBJECT: ALBANIA RECEIVES MIXED REVIEWS FROM NATO ALLIES ON
ITS ANNUAL NATIONAL PROGRAM

REF: SECSTATE 169370

Classified By: Charge Richard Olson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (C) SUMMARY. Albania received qualified praise from
NATO Allies for its implementation of political and defense
reforms and admonitions to quicken its reform pace during an
October 10 meeting with NATO's Senior Political
Committee/Reinforced. During the meeting, in which Albania
presented its Annual National Program (ANP) outlining planned
reforms for the upcoming year as part of NATO's Membership
Action Plan (MAP), Allies commended Albania's contributions
to NATO operations, high public support for NATO membership,
and progress in defense reforms. Allies expressed concerns
about crime and corruption, aligning defense priorities with
resources, improving the electoral process, and improving
relations between the government and opposition. The Albanian
delegation expressed its hope that NATO's November Summit
would send an encouraging message to NATO aspirants, while
most allies stressed that membership was a performance-based
process and urged Albania to increase the pace of its
reforms. The U.S. praised Albania's progress and its
contributions to NATO while also noting time was short to
make additional progress before the Alliance would consider
issuing membership invitations in 2008, and expressed concern
about the quality of some sections of Albania's ANP. The
next step in the MAP process for Albania will be a February
visit by NATO International Staff to Albania to assess
implementation of the planned reforms. END SUMMARY.

ALBANIA: NATO MEMBERSHIP A FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITY


2. (C) Albanian Deputy Minister of Defense Petrit Karabina
led an interagency delegation that presented Albania's
2006-2007 Annual National Program (ANP) to NATO's Senior

Political Committee/Reinforced on October 10. Karabina
stressed that NATO membership was one of the main pillars of
Albania's foreign policy and served as an impetus for
domestic reforms. He emphasized Albania's contributions to
NATO operations, such as Operation Active Endeavor in the
Mediterranean and ISAF in Afghanistan. On the domestic
front, he said human rights standards for minorities continue
to improve and that the Albanian government was engaged in
updating the legal and administrative framework to further
improve conditions for free and fair elections. Karabina
said the Albanian government had demonstrated its political
will and determination to fight organized crime, corruption,
and trafficking through its record of arrests and
prosecutions.


3. (C) Karabina said Albania would focus its reform efforts
over the next year on strengthening the judicial system,
fighting corruption and organized crime, combating the
illicit traffic of drugs and human beings, and the struggle
against terrorism. Defense reforms would focus on adjusting
priorities to meet resources, transforming the armed forces
through enhanced training and modernization programs, phasing
out conscription, and increasing the annual defense budget
with the goal of meeting NATO's informal target of spending 2
percent of GDP on defense by 2010.

ALLIES ENCOURAGING, BUT STRESS NEED TO DO MORE


4. (C) In response, almost all Allies expressed general
support for Albania's NATO membership aspirations. The
majority voiced appreciation for Albania's contributions to
international peacekeeping operations and welcomed progress
in implementing reforms outlined in the ANP, especially
noting progress in defense reforms. The U.S. praised
Albania's progress and its contributions to NATO, noted time
was short to make additional progress before the Alliance
would consider issuing membership invitations in 2008, and
expressed concern about the quality of Albania's ANP which
was vague and difficult to understand in parts. Concerns
expressed by Allies focused on the need for more progress in
the fight against crime and corruption (SK, GM, FR, NO, RO,
NL, US), in aligning defense priorities with spending (PO,
UK), in improving political dialogue between the opposition
and government (GM, SP, UK, NO), and in improving the
electoral process (FR, SP).


5. (C) Greece and Iceland stressed the need for
improvements in the treatment of minorities. Karabina said
Albania was committed to the highest international standards

for the protection of minority rights and noted that Greek PM
Karamanlis had praised Albania for its good performance on
minority issues when he met recently with Albanian PM Berisha.

VIEWS ON RIGA LANGUAGE


6. (C) Karabina said he hoped the communique from the
November NATO Summit would define a clear calendar for NATO
enlargement and hoped to receive an invitation to join the
Alliance at the 2008 NATO Summit. Germany, Bulgaria,
Hungary, and the U.S. said that the message to NATO aspirants
in the Riga communique should be encouraging, but stressed
that admittance is a performance-based process. France hoped
the communique would send a strong and clear signal that
pointed to a "precise point of reference in the future." The
Netherlands said further reform would be needed for Albania
to qualify for membership.

DEFENSE REFORMS GET PASSING GRADE


7. (C) Defense reforms were given an overall passing mark
by Allies. Poland acknowledged Tirana's slow but steady
growth in defense spending, while Italy was glad to see
increases to the defense budget. When asked whether Tirana
realistically thought they could reach their goal of spending
2 percent of GDP on defense by 2010, the Albanian delegation
responded that the numbers had been approved by the
government, which was committed to that goal.


8. (C) Germany, France and The Netherlands all said that
good progress was being made in defense reforms, though
Germany noted that the size and structure of the Albanian
Armed Forces (AAF) must come from Tirana's own strategic
documents. The UK saluted Albania's ambition and noted
"radical changes" were being made with the "wiping out" of
fixed wing aircraft and the removal of conscription.
Karabina stated that Albania's MiGs would be decommissioned
and the government was currently looking to set a price for
potential bidders. Romania commented that efforts to
professionalize the AAF were going well. Albanian Director
of the General Staff Colonel Foto Duro noted conscription
would be reduced step by step and the armed forces would be
fully professional by 2010. Several Allies were concerned
about the excess amount and disposal of surplus weapons and
ammunition. The Netherlands worried these weapons could fall
into terrorists' hands, and suggested Albania speed up their
destruction. Duro explained that Albania had inherited large
quantities of excess equipment and ammunition, which were
increasing as they reduced the reserve forces. He noted the
goal was to destroy approximately 13 to 14 tons per year,
though he admitted there had been a drop in the scheduled
amount to be destroyed this year.

ASSESSMENT IN FEBRUARY


9. (C) In concluding the meeting, NATO Assistant SYG Martin
Erdmann said that the NATO International Staff would visit
Albania on February 7th to begin its annual assessment of
Albania's progress in implementing the reforms outlined in
its ANP.
OLSON