Minister of Defence Radmila Shekerinska, speaker in Tirana on the occasion of NATO’s 10th anniversary: the region is learning from its mistakes, we have replaced enmities by alliance

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Shekerinska attended today the celebration on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the accession of the Republic of Albania to NATO held in Tirana.

In the framework of the celebration, Minister Shekerinska participated at the conference “10 years Albania in NATO – a More Secure Region”, and spoke about our membership of NATO and the Government policy for attaining this strategic goal for our country.

Shekerinska said that in 2008 and 2009, our country, along with Albania, was moving towards NATO, but then our roads diverged. “It sent us two signals: first, strategic goals are feasible and the open door policy is real; on the other hand it reminded us that if a chance is missed, it may happen that one decade is lost, and that is exactly what happened to us” the Minister said.

She added that the country has made remarkable progress that has led us to fulfill one of our strategic goals – NATO membership. “For a year and a half, the Government successfully returned the country to its Euro-Atlantic path, conducted serious defence reforms, and even more difficult political reforms, which brought about a significant investment in good interethnic relations. We dealt with the most difficult problems, and in the past they were the relations with our neighbours – first with Bulgaria, and then with Greece. It is worth mentioning that we managed to find solutions to the longstanding dispute with Greece, and this shows that not only can we look forward in the region, but we can be creative in finding solutions to even the most difficult problems. “

Shekerinska thanked Albania for its strong support within the accession process, as well as for the rapid ratification of the Accession Protocol for membership of North Macedonia in the Alliance.

“The most positive thing was that the neighbouring countries ratified the Accession Treaty with very prompt and efficient procedures, which indicates that the region has learned from its mistakes. We no longer see ourselves as enemies, but as closest allies. Yesterday, we received the good news from Washington, that the White House had submitted the proposal and the report on the ratification of the Accession Protocol to the US Senate” the Minister said.

Shekerinska said that NATO membership opens new perspectives, but also responsibilities that we are ready to take. “Our Government has decided to increase the defence budget each year by 0.2 percent by 2024. We were part of the NATO missions along with Italy and representatives from the A5 countries in the region in the past. More than 4,000 of our soldiers have invested in global security in alliance-led operations” the Minister added.

Regarding the economic effect of the membership in the Alliance, the Minister noted that similar to the experiences of the countries that are already NATO members, Foreign Direct Investments increased four times in our country last year when the Accession Protocol was signed, compared to 2017, i.e. they are now two times higher than the best years of FDIs inflow.

Congratulating once again to Albania, Shekerinska said that regional stability and security are at the forefront of NATO and expressed satisfaction that our country is becoming a contributor to peace and prosperity in the Balkans.

Alongside the host, Albanian Minister ‎Olta Xhaçka and Italian Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta also participated in the conference.

As part of the celebration, the Albanian Ministry of Defence hosted a military parade and other formal activities for the numerous guests on the occasion of the ten-year membership in the Alliance.