wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07USNATO338
2007-05-25 15:35:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Mission USNATO
Cable title:  

PM BERISHA MAKES ALBANIA'S CASE FOR NATO

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  NATO  AL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNO #0338/01 1451535
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251535Z MAY 07
FM USMISSION USNATO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0902
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L USNATO 000338 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV NATO AL
SUBJECT: PM BERISHA MAKES ALBANIA'S CASE FOR NATO
MEMBERSHIP, HEARS NEED FOR DEMOCRATIC MATURITY AND RULE OF
LAW


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



1. (C) SUMMARY. Albanian Prime Minister Berisha told a May
24 meeting of the North Atlantic Council that Albania had
made tangible progress in meeting NATO's membership standards
and he was confident Albania would be ready to receive an
invitation to join the Alliance in 2008. Allies sent a
consistent message that no decisions had been made yet on
which aspirants would receive invitations at the 2008 NATO
Summit and Albania had more work to do to improve the
polarized political climate between the opposition and
government, implement the rule of law, strengthen the police
and judiciary, reform the electoral system, and fight
organized crime and corruption. Ambassador Nuland stressed
Albania had come a long way, but needed to overcome concerns
about its level of democratic maturity and demonstrate that
its progress in implementing the rule of law was
irreversible. END SUMMARY.

BERISHA: WE HAVE MADE TANGIBLE PROGRESS



2. (C) PM Berisha, accompanied by Foreign Minister Basha,
Defense Minister Mediu, and Deputy Speaker of Parliament and
member of the opposition Socialist Party Bufi, told a meeting
of the NAC on the subject of Albania's progress under NATO's
Membership Action Plan (MAP) that Albania's goal of joining
NATO was supported by 94 percent of Albanians and all
political parties. Albania had achieved tangible results in
implementing reforms necessary to prepare itself for full
integration into the Alliance. He noted Parliament had this
week set up a bi-partisan Committee on NATO Integration,
which would draft and introduce legislation necessary to meet
NATO's performance-based standards.



3. (C) Berisha acknowledged some deficiencies in the
conduct of the February 18 local elections, but stressed that
Albanians had expressed their will in full freedom without
any governmental interference. The opposition had recognized
the elections as free and fair and accepted the results.
Berisha announced the formation of a multi-party
parliamentary Electoral Reform Commission that would address
necessary improvements to the election system. Albanian
citizens would soon have biometric identity cards and work on
a civil registry had begun.



4. (C) Berisha emphasized that fighting crime was a top
priority for his government. In the last 20 months, 140 plus
criminal groups and organizations had been disbanded, 7,475
drug traffickers and 79 human traffickers had been arrested.
Two days ago, the government had established an economic
crime task force composed of all law enforcement agencies
with the help of U.S. and EU experts. Berisha said Albania
could no longer be considered a source country for human

trafficking or drugs. He predicted the State Police Law and
the Law on the Judiciary would soon be adopted.



5. (C) Berisha said his government placed a high priority
on fighting corruption. Implementation of new standards that
forbid the use of public funds for private purposes had
resulted in tighter government spending. Albania had adopted
legislation to protect whistle blowers. Due to successes in
fighting smuggling and reducing financial evasion, government
revenue collections rose 24 percent last year and were set to
make a similar increase this year. A stable macroeconomic
picture had contributed to a four-fold increase in foreign
direct investment last year. Berisha expressed confidence
that Albania's economy was on the "eve of a real take off."



6. (C) Berisha noted th 2006 NATO Summit Declaration sent
a positive sinal to the Balkans. "More Balkans in NATO and
lss NATO in Balkans" would lead to greater stability.
Berisha said Albania would continue to be a force for
stability for the region and expressed full support for UN
Special Envoy Ahtisaari's proposal for resolving Kosovo's
status.



7. (C) Berisha said the Albanian armed forces had undergone
profound reforms. Albania intended to increase defense
spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2008, two years earlier than
originally planned, and aimed to transform to a fully
professional military by 2010. Albania would continue to
contribut to NATO operations and would increase its forces
in ISAF by an additional company this year. He nted he had
signed an MOU to participate in NATO's Operation Active
Endeavor that day and that Albania was prepared to contribute
to the NATO Response Force (NRF). Berisha assured Allies
that Albania was prepared to take any steps or pass any law
necessary to receive a invitation at the 2008 NATO Summit in
Bucharest to join the Alliance.


PERM REPS SEND CONSISTENT MESSAGE ON NEED FOR FURTHER REFORMS



8. (C) Responding to Berisha comments, Perm Reps stressed
that no decisions had yet been made about which countries
would be invited to join the Alliance in 2008. Albania had
made progress, but needed to do more to demonstrate
democratic maturity by conducting constructive
government-opposition dialogue and reforming the electoral
system. Perm Reps stressed the need to strengthen the rule
of law, and make progress in the fight against corruption and
organized crime.



9. (C) Ambassador Nuland noted Albania had come a long way
from a country that a generation ago was as isolated as North
Korea to a country that today is an exporter of security
around the world. The U.S. would like to be able to invite
Albania to join NATO, but Albania's greatest obstacles were
questions over its level of political maturity and questions
about whether the rule of law had been implemented in an
irreversible way. Albanian leaders needed to work in a
bipartisan fashion to achieve consensus on national
priorities. Albania should adopt OSCE-proposed electoral
reforms and needed to conduct a smooth Presidential election
in June. Albania had made progress in fighting organized
crime, corruption, and trafficking, but there was more work
to do and more high profile criminals needed to be arrested,
regardless of party affiliation. President Bush's June 10
visit to Albania should be a celebration of Albania's
progress, but Albania should accelerate all its reform
efforts.



10. (C) Almost all Allies noted the need for better
relations between the opposition and government and the need
to reform the electoral system. Germany and the Netherlands
noted the OSCE had characterized the February local elections
as a "missed opportunity" to meet international election
standards. UK Perm Rep Eldon said the next test would be the
June election of a new President by the Parliament, for which
political parties needed to find a consensus candidate in
order to avoid early Parliamentary elections that would
further delay reforms. Belgian Perm Rep van Daele said
Belgium and other European countries have had to deal with
criminal organizations originating from Albania and urged
further strengthening of the rule of law. Greek Perm Rep
Zepos added to the list of needed reforms the need to improve
the protection of human and minority rights.



11. (C) Albania's defense reform efforts were discussed by
Allies in a positive light. The UK welcomed what had been
done in the defense sector, but cautioned that particular
attention would need to be paid to the retention of soldiers
as conscription is phased out by 2010. France praised
Albania's defense transformation and encouraged Tirana to
increase its efforts to reach Alliance standards. Italy,
Romania, Hungary, Norway, the Netherlands, and the U.S.
expressed appreciation for Albania's valued contributions to
peacekeeping operations.

BERISHA: WE WILL DO EVERYTHING TO MEET NATO STANDARDS



12. (C) Berisha responded to each Perm Rep individually
(and addressed the French and Belgian Perm Reps in French).
He described President Bush's visit as "the greatest event in
our international relations" and said it was well known that
"Albanians feel very friendly toward the United States
because we had a difficult history, but our cause was just
and we had the support of the U.S." He said he understood
the visit was also an obligation that Albania would do its
best to fulfill.



13. (C) He agreed the fundamental mark of a free society
was the rule of law and assured the NAC it was the top
priority of the Albanian government. He saw "great
possibilities" for a consensual election of a new President
and saw the two sides coming closer to an agreed candidate.
The fight against crime and corruption was being conducted in
an indiscriminate manner and the majority of those arrested
were from the government and his party. He stressed his
conviction that Albania's reforms were irreversible and the
rule of law was becoming increasingly powerful. To the Greek
Perm Rep, Berisha commented that the rights of minorities
were fundamental and he was proud the Unity for Human Rights
Party, which represented Greek and other minorities, was part
of the governing coalition. Berisha concluded by saying he
had heard all the Perm Reps' messages and would do everything
to meet NATO standards in order to "complete this great
project."
OLSON