20 years of Poland in NATO

20 years of Poland in NATO

*This speech was held by the Polish Ambassador Karol Bachura at the AIIS conference: “20 Years of NATO, 10 Years of Albanian membership”  From 1989, long before NATO and EU membership our foreign policy pillar was an open door policy

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Croatia’s NATO membership: a strategic achievement

Croatia’s NATO membership: a strategic achievement

*This speech was held by the Croatian Ambassador to Tirana Sanja Bujas Juraga, at the AIIS conference: “70 Years of NATO, 10 Years of Albania’s Membership”  Nowadays it is much easier to talk about problems than about solutions in the

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The tempest in the teacup of Albanian diplomacy

The tempest in the teacup of Albanian diplomacy

The Albanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj, charged with special delegated ministerial powers by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edi Rama, whose second title has been forgotten too soon, stirred up debate again this week

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“NATO at the age of 70, is facing many new challenges”

“NATO at the age of 70, is facing many new challenges”

By  Susanne Schütz On 4th April 2019, NATO will mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty. At the same time, Albania will celebrate 10 year of its membership in NATO – two important anniversaries which, indeed,

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“Our collective strength comes from our shared values”

“Our collective strength comes from our shared values”

Leyla Moses-Ones As I begin these remarks, I want to take you back to April 4, 1949, the day the United States formally tied its safety and security to that of Europe for the first time.  Before the signing ceremony,

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Editorial: 10 years of NATO: the membership that changed Albania’s path for the better course

Editorial: 10 years of NATO: the membership that changed Albania’s path for the better course

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL One could not overestimate and overvalue the importance, both symbolic and real, of Albania’s membership to NATO even if they tried. After five decades of the most aggressive and absurd isolationism practiced by the Stalinist regime of

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Editorial: “Russians at the gate”

Editorial: “Russians at the gate”

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL It was supposed to be a closed doors, confidential briefing of the National Security Commission of the Parliament by the Intelligence Services. Yet the report delivered by Director Bendo very conveniently was leaked whole to the government

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Editorial: Making Fools of Themselves: Experimenting in Fake Oppositions

Editorial: Making Fools of Themselves: Experimenting in Fake Oppositions

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL  In the beginning of the 90s, the crumbling communist regime foreseeing its fate made a last ridiculous attempt to salvage its wrecks by prompting the first fake opposition in Albania. They put the Women’s and Youth organizations

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Editorial: A sleep walking patient aiming for the abyss

Editorial: A sleep walking patient aiming for the abyss

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL There is only one thing worse than a full blown democratic crisis and that is ignoring it, normalizing the current state of affairs as just an administrative glitch with some teargas protest flare. Any doctor will tell

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Editorial: Negative stability is a step into the dark

Editorial: Negative stability is a step into the dark

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL The latest political developments in Albania, including the decision of opposition parties MPs to give relinquish their mandates and therefore be no longer representatives in the Parliament as well as the ongoing protests, have started a new

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                    [post_content] => *This speech was held by the Polish Ambassador Karol Bachura at the AIIS conference: "20 Years of NATO, 10 Years of Albanian membership" 

From 1989, long before NATO and EU membership our foreign policy pillar was an open door policy to Euroatlantic organizations.  NATO was seen as the best guarantor of Polish sovereignty and independence.

NATO membership marked a breakthrough in Polish history and symbolizes the end of European divisions in place since the end of WWII. As a result, Poland became an organic part of the Euroatlantic community.

Poland’s Contribution to NATO

From a polish perspective, solidarity with others brings solidarity with us. Currently, Poland contributes with over 1500 security and military personal to alliance led-missions abroad. Its contribution has been steady over time. Notably, Poland has contributed to the following missions:

BiH IFOR/SFOR with 930 soldiers; KFOR with  800 soldiers; FYROM with  25 soldiers, and  AFOR with 140 troops. Poland currently contributes, along with Albania, to the Canada-led Multinational Battle group in Latvia with 200 troops.

NATO’s contribution to Poland

Membership in NATO has guaranteed the independence and sovereignty so of Poland through Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Simultaneously, NATO membership has contributed to the growth of Poland’s position on international scene. Compatibility of the Polish armed forces with NATO standards has also played an important role as the country has hugely benefited from alliance’s Security Investment Program, which between 1999 and 2014 has amounted to 800 million Euros.

This drastic transformation has made NATO a key pillar for Polish security. In addition, it has upgraded the capabilities and contributions of Poland to the alliance. As NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg has stated “Over the past years, Poland has evolved from a new Ally into a leading Ally”.

In 2016 NATO Warsaw Summit  with priority of Eastern Flank strengthening. Summit decisions: enhanced forward presence; tailored presence in Black Sea region; deepened coop with EU; continuous fight against terrorism; recognition of cyberspace as an operational domain; expansion of assistance to UA and GE; extending support to AFG.

Barack Obama ”Here in Warsaw, we haven’t simply reaffirmed our enduring Art 5 obligations to our common security; we’re moving fwd with the most significant reinforcement of our collective defense anytime since the cold warRelations with Russia

NATO’s security umbrella ensures that countries such as Poland and Albania can sleep more calmly at night. If Ukraine, Crimea, Donbas and Luhansk happened without PL and Baltics in NATO it would be a dramatic situation. Without it, Central Europe and Baltics would be a security vacuum in this part of continent – a situation we could not afford.

Over the years our threat concerns about Russia where often considered by some as Russophobia. However, events that took place in Georgia in 2008, followed by the 2014 invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, forceful acts on Donetsk, Luhansk unfortunately proved these critics wrong.

Russia has violated values, principles and obligations that set the framework of NATO - Russia relations and put to question some of the fundamental rules of the global and Euroatlantic security architecture.

In any of the cases mentioned, NATO’s approach has been multifold. At the Warsaw Summit it was illustrated by consensus which was later confirmed at the Brussels Summit in 2018.  It’s response has been tipped as a 3D Policy given its focus on deterrence, defense and dialogue. In addition, it has opted for non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea by Russia as a fait accomplish.

NATO Enlargement

Poland has been a proponent of enlargement and a vocal promotor of it as it sees NATO as the sole organization that proved itself as an exporter of stability, peace and democracy. Further expansion of NATO by Balkan countries is not only a guarantee of the interests of these countries, but it is also guaranteeing the interests of the EU and the whole transatlantic community. As US senator Richard Lugar once stated, “The common denominator of all the new security probes in Europe is that they all lie beyond NATO’s current borders”.

When it comes to future enlargement of NATO, Poland affirms that no other non-NATO state can have a say in this process. Article 10 states that membership is open to any “European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.

Future of NATO

At a time when threats in Europe arise like ghosts from the past, NATO must remain a military, defensive alliance able to jointly coordinate its acts in defense of its members as well as in defense of the values it represents. For decades NATO had been the guarantee of development and security for Western Europe. I do not see any reason why this would need to be changed in the aspect of Central and Eastern as well as Southern European partners.

Member states must be aware not only of the rights and privileges stemming from the membership in NATO. They must also uphold their obligations, including spending 2% of their GDP on security. When it comes to security, there is no place for bargaining. In the words of President Harry Truman, "The security and the welfare of each member of this community depends upon the security and the welfare of all. None of us alone can achieve economic prosperity or military security. None of us alone can assure the continuance of freedom."

That is why we think it is essential with today’s arising threats to have more NATO and US presence in certain parts of the old continent. We are most happy about the decision concerning Kucova Air Base in AL and we hope that there will be positive signals as to not only rotational but a  permanent US military presence and base in Poland, which our president symbolically called “Fort Trump” and for which we are ready to pay our share of a couple of billion USD. For we, as a NATO and EU member states still strongly believe that the presence of the US is a guarantor of security in our part of Europe. And hope that when president Donald Trump stated last September and agreed to “bolster our robust defense ties”, Washington will soon see the military and geopolitical sense to build the first ever major US military facility in Poland.

The world would have more faults if there would be no NATO in place. In such scenario, we would most probably have to invent it in order for the humanity not to lead to annihilation. So let us not hesitate to rebut those who would diminish the role of our alliance, dispute its value, or downplay the importance of its unity and preparedness. For if NATO does not respond to the 21st Century security challenges facing our region, who will? If NATO cannot prevent aggressors from engulfing whole chunks of Europe in conflict, who can? And if NATO is not prepared to respond to the threat posed to our citizens by weapons of mass destruction, who will have that capability?

That is why we meet today to celebrate an anniversary connected to this good cause. Because it is a GOOD cause.

Both NATO and EU, even taking account of their weaknesses are ones of the most valuable “experiments” in the history of mankind. To misquote a former president of Poland and leader of Solidarity trade unions movement, Lech Wałesa:  NATO and EU have positive pluses and may have negative pluses but all in all they are all pluses. Of course, there will always be differences between Europe and America. We have been aptly called cousins, but we will never be mistaken for clones. Today, there are splits on trade and other issues -- some of which are quite controversial. But do not exaggerate, these are differences within the family.

The history of centuries has been marked by shifting patterns within Europe as empires rose and fell, borders were drawn and redrawn, and ethnic divisions were exploited by aggressors and demagogues. NATO and NATO's partners have closed that book and are authoring a new one. In collaboration with regional institutions, we are encouraging the resolution of old antagonisms, promoting tolerance, ensuring the protection of minority rights and helping to realize, for the first time in history, the dream of a Europe whole and free.

As Secretary of State M. Albright rightly put it 20 years ago in Independence Missouri: We know that when the democracies of Europe and America are divided, crevices are created through which forces of evil and aggression may emerge; and that when we stand together, no force on Earth is more powerful than our solidarity on behalf of freedom.

Our alliance still is bound together by a community of interests. Our strength still is a source of strength to those everywhere who labor for freedom and peace. Our power still shields those who love the law and still threatens none, except those who would threaten others with aggression and harm. Our alliance endures because the principles it defends are timeless and because they reflect the deepest aspirations of the human spirit.

To paraphrase Lord Ismay, first  Secretary General 1949 “ to keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down” for today is “To keep the threats out,  the Americans in, and transatlantic bonds up.”

To conclude– after 20 years of MS NATO in Poland is strong as ever:  In a survey done 2018 the MS of NATO supported by nearly 80% of Compatriots and about 70% support for growing presence of NATO troops in Poland.

 
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*This speech was held by the Croatian Ambassador to Tirana Sanja Bujas Juraga, at the AIIS conference: "70 Years of NATO, 10 Years of Albania's Membership" 

Nowadays it is much easier to talk about problems than about solutions in the security arena. We can identify many new threats in wider geographical areas. However, we are aware that some of these challenges are related to our European space. We are facing either spillover of crises or of their consequences, as well as emerging of new asymmetric and hybrid threats. We are obliged to anticipate security threats, in order to minimize risks and to act appropriately. And we can do that thanks to our key security umbrella – the NATO.

 I very much appreciate that NATO is in the focus of this Conference. For many reasons. The most obvious one is to commemorate its 70th anniversary. Looking back, we can clearly see how great the idea was to establish NATO. From the beginning of its existence to the present time its relevance is undoubtable.

Of course, NATO is not an imaginary institution - it presents the capacities, tasks and goals of its allies. It is as strong as the allies make it.

NATO is unique as a security provider capable to adjust to contemporary needs. Its ability for enlargement is essential.

That leads me to the main topic of my address - the role of NATO in South-East Europe. In recent decades, this part of Europe has been marked by many difficult tasks, turbulent periods, great achievements and other kind of challenges.

In almost all countries of this region, the way to democracy was defined by two strategic goals – the membership in NATO and the EU. Bearing in mind the full complexity of these processes - comprehensive reforms being necessarily part of them - we have been witnessing a lot of positive developments. The main results are achieved by adhering to NATO.

Imagine the map of this part of Europe – and you will see that the NATO flag is present in majority of the countries. The open door policy has given excellent results.

The growing NATO family is the result of mutual efforts, of countries committed to achieve necessary standards but also of the NATO policy by which it has recognized the importance of NATO membership of the SEE countries. The result is a bigger and a stronger Alliance composed of countries that share the same values and that are all together capable of protecting each of them.

Croatia received an invitation to join the NATO at the 2008 Bucharest summit and became a full member on April 1, 2009, together with Albania. In that occasion Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said:  „The accession of Albania and Croatia is of enormous significance – for these two new members, for their wider region, and for the Alliance as a whole.  For Albania and Croatia, joining NATO as full members marks the well-deserved reward for many years of hard preparation.  It is a full vindication of the vision of those who have, for years, seen their countries’ future in NATO.  Both countries will now have a seat at the table where key decisions are made to shape Euro-Atlantic security.  And both countries can now enjoy the ultimate security guarantee of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.” Now, ten years after that historic event for Croatia and Albania, we are proud to mark and celebrate its important anniversary.

Fortunately, that was not the end of NATO enlargement.  The success of Montenegro and Northern Macedonia, which is just counting the days to become a fully-fledged Ally, has confirmed the Alliance’s determination to maintain the open door policy. Croatia equally welcomes Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress towards the Membership Action Program. Closer ties to NATO will, without any doubt, make Bosnia and Herzegovina more secure.

The US Adriatic Charter is worth mentioning as an important instrument supporting the Open door policy. The enlargement of the Charter, in the same way as the NATO enlargement, would be of added value to our long-standing efforts to further consolidate the region.

It is time to grant to Kosovo the status of a new member of the Charter, and we hope that we will reach common understanding on this. Croatia strongly supports widening and deepening of NATO-Kosovo relations. We firmly believe that Kosovo must have a clear Euro-Atlantic perspective. Croatia will keep its presence in KFOR, providing our support to stability and security of Kosovo, as long as it is necessary.

The contribution of WB countries to the NATO operations exists already in various activities – through the joint participation in NATO operations, in developing joint capacities and capabilities, or enhancing interoperability of national armed forces with NATO standards.

NATO has demonstrated its strength, and the EU should do the same. It is each WB country’s national responsibility to achieve progress on the European path, and it is an EU obligation to maintain and strengthen support and dialogue.

The region is still fragile, prone to instability. The people of Western Balkans states nowadays express their dissatisfaction through protests or by leaving their countries. Even fears of escalating ethnic tensions have risen.

From geopolitical aspect, there are few third countries with interest to spread their own influence and scale up their presence in the region. And it would not be complimentary with the Euro-Atlanic orientation of the countries in the region.

For Croatia, sustainable stability of this part of Europe - and Europe as a whole - can be achieved only with WB countries’ full integration into the EU.

Enlargement fatigue should be overcome. Any EU MS that think like Croatia should make additional efforts in keeping EU enlargement highly on the EU agenda. That is the best way to motivate WB countries to continue reforms in order to truly transform their societies into effective democracies.

Finally, I would like to share with you one of the most important achievements of Croatia on its path to Euro-Atlantic integrations. At the very beginning of Croatian independence, membership in NATO and the EU were identified as major strategic national goals.

That journey was long and sometimes very exhausting but still very precious and worthwhile. In all crucial moments of the decision-making process regarding NATO and the EU, Croatia was united, with national and political consensus. That was one of the key advantages in the Croatian process of becoming a full member of NATO in 2009 and the EU in 2013.

[post_title] => Croatia’s NATO membership: a strategic achievement [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => croatias-nato-membership-a-strategic-achievement [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-29 08:09:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-29 07:09:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141157 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141151 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-29 07:47:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-29 06:47:29 [post_content] => The Albanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj, charged with special delegated ministerial powers by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edi Rama, whose second title has been forgotten too soon, stirred up debate again this week with his decision to cleanse the ranks of the Albanian diplomats. Announcing the removal from posts for about 20 serving diplomats the allegedly ‘prodigy child’ has argued that the reasons behind this move have to do with the lack of credentials and performance and even allegations of nepotism regarding the ones that have been targeted. There is no doubt that there are serious, concerning problems with the representation of Albania abroad. Up until the end of the nineties a small core group of diplomats was developed and was accepted by both political sides in Albania. This consisted of seasoned and well-prepared individuals which were quietly protected from the effect of political power changing hands. Instead of strengthening and expanding this group, the changes in the foreign service law in 2014 shattered the entire logic of diplomacy by career progression and implemented the ‘open doors’ policy which had the scandalous effects of increasing the number of unprepared and unsuitable people being the face of Albania in the world. The situation now is that embassies and consulates harbor a garden variety of pensioners, former people accused of crimes alongside the usual suspects from the extended families of politicians. Indeed the situation would have warranted the removal of twice as many people, perhaps even more. However at the same time is obvious that the unexperienced and militant minister is being used as an easy and convenient instrument for the internal political fight within the Socialist Party. Sadly there is little chance he is aware of how destructive this is for the Albanian foreign policy in such a crucial time. The revolution that the representation of Albania abroad needs should start with a systemic rethinking of the law, with the restoration of career diplomacy as the primary way for promotion and with a strategic priority setting for key national goals. This cannot be achieved by petty witch hunts and all attempts to do so will make this representation even less legitimate, even less efficient. This strategic vision needs to be based on a comprehensive knowledge of problems which sadly cannot be transmitted by metrics such as “kilometers of books read” but by years of experience and being embedded for a desirably sufficient time in the identification of the dynamics. The same is valid for the idea of incorporating excellence students in the foreign service trumpeted as part of the effort to accommodate the student demands. The only way it can be done properly is through legitimate competitions and a career system in which they start in the basic levels and move up by building expertise. The façade shows of promoting excellence by force do not serve foreign policy goals, on the contrary. Otherwise this is just a little tempest in a teacup, useless and ridiculous.   [post_title] => The tempest in the teacup of Albanian diplomacy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-tempest-in-the-teacup-of-albanian-diplomacy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-29 07:47:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-29 06:47:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141151 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141000 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-22 11:32:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-22 10:32:36 [post_content] =>

By  Susanne Schütz

On 4th April 2019, NATO will mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty. At the same time, Albania will celebrate 10 year of its membership in NATO – two important anniversaries which, indeed, deserve to be commemorated.

Going back 70 years to 1949 Germany was a war torn country, situated exactly on the border between East and West. The iron curtain – up until 30 years ago – ran through the middle of my country. Germany became a member of the alliance in 1955, once the Bundeswehr had been founded. During the Cold War, the importance of the security shield which NATO provided to Germany and its Western European neighbors, cannot be overestimated. Germany was always able to rely on its partners, and first and foremost on the US, even when the Cold War was at its hottest.

When finally the Cold War came to an end, and in 1991 the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, some saw (or wished?) the same fate for NATO as well. But NATO adapted to new challenges and - moreover – became a reliable ally also to some of its former “enemies”.

Up to this date, the dispute over whether NATO promised to Russia not to expand towards former Warsaw Pact territory for some is still on the agenda. However, as a matter of fact, it was not NATO expanding towards Middle and Eastern Europe, but, on the contrary, these countries were asking to become members of NATO because they wanted to be part of NATO’s security shield, and, more than that, be part of the transatlantic alliance which – other than the Warsaw Pact – has always been more than a mere military or defensive alliance but rather a transatlantic community of values.

And it is precisely this feature which made NATO attractive also to Albania and to the countries in this region – although, of course, NATO’s role in the Balkans remains a controversial to some! Still, while NATO and European military deployment in Kosovo and Bosnia played a critical role in de-escalating these conflicts, it was ultimately the impact of NATO’s and the EU’s enlargement policy that helped build and maintain peace in this region.

As early as 1994 Albania became a member of the Partnership for Peace-programme through which it learned about the values and objectives of NATO, as well as the expectations placed on member states’ ability for cooperation. Leading up to its entrance into NATO in 2009, Albania also undertook significant domestic, political, and military reforms.

Albania has since significantly contributed to security and stability in this strategically important region in South Eastern Europe. In addition, Albania has also contributed to international NATO led missions, i.e. Albania deployed over 3.000 troops with ISAF. It has also been an active supporter of the campaign against terrorism since 2001, and continues its participation in the face of new and emerging threats such as the Islamic State.

We welcome very much that in 2017 Montenegro became NATO’S 29th member and Northern Macedonia will follow early next year. And it seems that even relations between NATO and Serbia – 20 years after the NATO bombardment during the Kosovo crisis – are slowly getting better.

Today, NATO at the age of 70, is facing many new challenges to which NATO is formulating adequate and adapted answers: conflict in Eastern Ukraine/Crimea, the post-INF scenario, but also Cyber and Hybrid warfares. And it is precisely against the background of newly developing crises also in Europe that the EU is - in support of NATO - increasing its operability in crisis management and its defense capabilities through PESCO – the Permanent Structured Cooperation, which was created by 25 EU Member States in late 2017.

I am convinced, that today is far from being “outdated” as some have stated. We Germans know very well how important the transatlantic partnership remains for international cooperation and multilateral understanding, especially in a world of growing uncertainties.

[post_title] => "NATO at the age of 70, is facing many new challenges" [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => nato-at-the-age-of-70-is-facing-many-new-challenges [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-22 11:32:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-22 10:32:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141000 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 140997 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-21 21:35:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-21 20:35:35 [post_content] => Leyla Moses-Ones As I begin these remarks, I want to take you back to April 4, 1949, the day the United States formally tied its safety and security to that of Europe for the first time.  Before the signing ceremony, President Harry Truman stood beside Secretary of State Dean Acheson and outlined what the pact was about – “a shield against aggression that would enable governments to concentrate on achieving a fuller, happier existence for their citizens.” That remains the collective aspiration of the members of the NATO Alliance. For 70 years, NATO has helped to create the most secure, stable, and prosperous period in its members’ history.  From deterring the Soviet Union during the Cold War to countering the hybrid threats that confront us today, NATO Allies have stood together to protect our people and defend the values we believe in.  United as one, we have formed the most successful alliance in history. This is our legacy as NATO Allies. This is the legacy we must continue to build going forward. The U.S. commitment to NATO is absolute.  The members of NATO are our Allies of first resort.  We have stood together – and our soldiers have fought and died together – in operations as far from NATO’s borders as Afghanistan, where NATO has fought for more than a decade.  The United States is better able to address — politically and militarily — global threats to our shared values and interests because of the NATO alliance. During the last 70 years, NATO’s only Article 5 action has been in support of the United States following the 9/11 attacks. We have achieved great success over the past 70 years, but our work is not done.  Russia is determined to undermine our democratic institutions and sew divisions among us and within our nations.  Russian hybrid threats aimed at our democracies have included nerve agent attacks and malicious cyber activities. It has invaded and occupied parts of Ukraine and Georgia, violating those countries’ sovereignty.  Russia has also been in material breach of the INF treaty, which erodes the foundation of effective arms control and Euro-Atlantic security. Russia is one threat, but not the only threat.  North Korea and Iran, led by their rogue regimes, threaten to upset the world order through their dangerous tactics.  And terrorism remains a constant and pervasive threat to our alliance. NATO is as important to our security today as at any time in our 70-year history. In the face of these challenges, the United States remains committed to the principle that we, as NATO Allies, will always be stronger united as one.  NATO is a military alliance, but our collective strength comes from our shared values. It comes from our shared commitment to the rights and responsibilities inherent to our democracies, such as the personal freedoms we enjoy and the integrity and transparency of the governments that represent us.  These are our greatest strengths. These are the values and principles we stand for and defend. To build on that strength, the United States remains committed to expanding NATO membership.  We must keep NATO’s doors open for new members who share our values and our promise of collective defense.  Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has added 13 new members. The United States strongly supports NATO membership for North Macedonia as the 30th Ally.  Each new Ally has strengthened NATO’s collective defense and ability to safeguard our peace and prosperity. For ten years, Albania has made our Alliance stronger through its commitment of troops and resources to Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Iraq, among several other missions.  It commits 3.9 percent of its military forces to NATO activities, representing the second-largest per capita troop contribution in the alliance. And Albania will continue to make the alliance stronger through NATO’s $58 million investment to modernize the Kucova Air Base to boost air supply operations, logistics support, air policing, training, and exercises.  Albania’s outsized role in the alliance is an example for all Ally nations. As Albania’s role in NATO grows, so will its responsibility to make continued progress on democratic reforms.  These reforms are fundamental to the values our alliance defends, and are central to Albania’s bid to join the European Union.  Progress must continue to improve the rule of law, root out corruption and organized crime, and create a robust economy that is free and fair for everyone.  The good news is that Albania is headed in the right direction, even if there is still work to do. Justice reform, for example, is still on track and will soon bring Albanians the honest and transparent judicial system they deserve.  To anyone who says justice reform is compromised or failing, my message to you is this: You are wrong. The United States remains committed to the pledge all Allies made to share the financial burden of NATO membership.  In 2014, all NATO Allies agreed to spend at least two percent of GDP on defense and to invest at least 20 percent of that spending on major equipment by 2024.  Doing so keeps our military forces strong, our equipment modern, and our alliance agile as we counter threats together. The pledge we made is a pledge we must all keep. And Albania is working hard to keep this pledge despite many other priorities.  In 2017, it made its first significant increase in defense spending – a first since it joined the alliance in 2009.  Now, and in the coming years, Albania must meet its agreed upon annual defense spending targets to be on track to fulfill its 2024 commitment.  The United States applauds Albania for its commitment to NATO burden-sharing and supports its continued efforts through 2024. As NATO Allies, we must continue to invest in national defense, grow and modernize our military capabilities, and contribute to NATO’s efforts to promote the safety and security of our citizens.  We are in this together. Working together, we will be stronger and better equipped to protect our shared peace and prosperity long into the future.   [post_title] => “Our collective strength comes from our shared values” [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => our-collective-strength-comes-from-our-shared-values [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-21 21:35:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-21 20:35:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140997 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 140987 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-21 21:00:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-21 20:00:46 [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL One could not overestimate and overvalue the importance, both symbolic and real, of Albania’s membership to NATO even if they tried. After five decades of the most aggressive and absurd isolationism practiced by the Stalinist regime of Hoxha, Albania needed desperately to reclaim its position among the members of the Western world, to be integrated in the Euro-Atlantic structures, to be anchored in the part of the world that aspires and works constantly at reaching the best standards of democracy, human rights and development. When Albania, a country so communist that it shunned the Warsaw pact for not being enough, officially was invited to become part of NATO, the country’s history took an entirely new direction. Another genuine perspective opened up for Albanian young generations who could now be born and grow up in liberty and safety due to the Alliance’s promise of peace and security. Becoming a NATO member state signaled the ultimate departure with the legacy of the communist regime, significantly improving the image of Albania, increasing its safety and openness to the world, consolidating its strategic profile as a security exporter in the entire region of the Balkans. Now a decade later, Albania has a track record of having participated in multiple joint peace missions and operations, of having performed well with its modest presence but meaningful symbolism. Sadly it has also paid a price that comes with the engagement to provide security for more than just its own: by losing the hero Feti Vogli in Afghanistan. His sacrifice and the sacrifice of all the Albanian soldiers, now working side by side with their colleagues for all over the world within the umbrella of NATO, is one that should be remembered and honored every day and more so in this special anniversary. However this is a dual moment of celebration and of reflection. Albania has a lot of work to do to comply with the general profile of a worthy member state. Whereas the standards in the army are being slowly but consistently improved with international assistance, the same cannot unfortunately be said about the democratic and governance standards. In this key 10th year anniversary, ironically Albania finds itself in one of the most critical junctures when it comes to the genuine quality of its democratic system and institutions. NATO membership is both a privilege and a responsibility to never let the guard down but work consistently into reaching the parameters of the democratic world.    In times when the transAtlantic relations are in a new challenging and controversial phase and when the role and future of NATO as a peace alliance is being debated it is worthy to remember the story of a small country like Albania and its path. This example will shed new light on the strategic role and NATO had and still has in bringing together a community of states that share values and the unique valuable commitment to guard each other’s backs.     *The picture depicts the elementary school named after Albanian hero Feti Vogli in his home village.   [post_title] => Editorial: 10 years of NATO: the membership that changed Albania’s path for the better course [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => editorial-10-years-of-nato-the-membership-that-changed-albanias-path-for-the-better-course [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-21 21:00:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-21 20:00:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140987 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 140906 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-15 10:19:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-15 09:19:24 [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL It was supposed to be a closed doors, confidential briefing of the National Security Commission of the Parliament by the Intelligence Services. Yet the report delivered by Director Bendo very conveniently was leaked whole to the government friendly media and showcased all over the online world. The Russians are coming! Reportedly the attempts of Russia to influence Albania at least in the political sphere have intensified and are now considered a real threat. This message is awkwardly timely and in line with the now clearly defined effort of the majority to paint an outside enemy- loathed by the public- and portray a conspiracy of collusion between this enemy of the European future of Albania and the current opposition. The current situation of the Albanian opposition which has been at loggerheads with the international community over the issue of renouncing the mandates has been helping this narrative take hold. However these attempts date earlier both to the Prime Minister’s persistence to use outside influences as bait for more attention from western powers as well as the majority’s key figure of accusing the leadership of the Democratic Party of being paid by the Russians and working with Russian lobbyists. More recently there have been also accusations that foreign bloggers working in Albania are working for Russian state-sponsored media to assist the cause of the opposition. First and foremost it is deeply concerning that an institution such as the Intelligence Services can play into the majority game. This institution which holds a very delicate responsibility and should display the outmost seriousness and professionalism, integrity and secrecy, risk its entire legitimacy and influence by being misused in such a way. The same is valid and even worse for the misuse of the Parliament to host such ridiculous shows. If it was the MPs who betrayed the confidentiality of the Intelligence services they should be held responsible over this transgression.  That the media is routinely used for such masquerades is sadly no news. It is very clear to all that the Democratic Party (DP) just as all other political parties have many sins to account for. However anti-Westerness is not one of them. This party has been primarily and consistently in favor of an open approach, seeking to further integration, achieving NATO membership and visa liberalization during its governance. If one is to look into the past, it is the Socialist Party which at least in its beginnings had many reservations, about NTAO and the EU. They have had to overcome that mentality. The DP had nothing to overcome in the first place. Inventing this enemy and naming it ‘Russia’ for Albania is an exercise in futile dark humor. Though access points of influence exist in Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro they rely on genuine grassroots support linked to many factors including religious and ethnic fraternity. Albania is a unique case in which all the conditions are set for there to be no way of swaying popular and political support to Russia in the short and medium term. The only thing at the gates of Albania is the Russian model applied elsewhere as well, of an intertwining of authoritative power with a small group of corrupt oligarchs, virtually unchallenged by any media and strangely accommodated by others in the international arena in the name of stability.      [post_title] => Editorial: "Russians at the gate" [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => editorial-russians-at-the-gate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-15 10:19:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-15 09:19:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140906 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 140805 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-08 09:42:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-08 08:42:22 [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL  In the beginning of the 90s, the crumbling communist regime foreseeing its fate made a last ridiculous attempt to salvage its wrecks by prompting the first fake opposition in Albania. They put the Women’s and Youth organizations together with the so called Professional Unions, all appendixes of the communist Labor Party, in the parliament and tried to charade them as pluralism. This had been so far a unique case of fake opposition experimenting in Albania, perhaps now forgotten and in retrospective painfully ridiculous but at the time aggravating and foretelling. The most current attempt is made now, more than 25 years after the fall of communism, in a NATO member state aspiring to join the EU. It is equally ridiculous, painful and infuriating. After the MPs of the opposition, both the Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration, “burned” their mandates by resigning, the electoral system allows the next candidates in the list presented during the elections to take up their space. This is a classic “entry from hell” edition since the political party leaders, being more or less aware of how many MPs they are going to get for each district, fill up the last places in the list with all sorts of characters. These include people with dubious backgrounds, questionable education levels and very often colorful personalities and not in the good sense. Indeed this last experiment in “mending the facade of democracy” is very telling about the deficiencies of the electoral system. The existing system with all its authoritativeness and arbitrary nature opens up loopholes and spaces for these kind of sad scenarios to materialize in all their repulsive nature. The political leaders that lament its outcomes should have drawn the lesson long ago and changed it. Out of the new generation of the Albanians opposition taking seat in the Parliament this week, it is enough to examine one character that illustrates perfectly the scandalous undesired outcome of this situation: a former turbo folk singer that will make journalists laugh in every outing given his “interesting” use of Albanian language. To be fair he does not fare worse than many existing or even staying colleagues, whose professional and articulation credentials are also appalling. The main problem is again the lack of representativeness than he and the others who join in an almost clandestine way, and who clearly do not represent the parties under which logos they were chosen and out of which they are thrown away for not complying with the boycott decision. That these new MPs, are loudly applauded by the majority during their procedure of swearing in, is another act of ridiculous arrogance and perfidious indifference to the crisis situation out of the Assembly walls. This meaningless applause is revealing not only of the harsh insensitivity of the majority towards the gravity of the situation but also of their own lack of character and their submission to the authoritative mentality. The staged appearance of a fake opposition did not solve anything in the 90s. If anything it exacerbated the revolt of the other side and it ultimately brought lots of shame on the ones who tried it. The fake opposition of the year 2019 has no better chance. [post_title] => Editorial: Making Fools of Themselves: Experimenting in Fake Oppositions [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => editorial-making-fools-of-themselves-experimenting-in-fake-oppositions [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-08 09:42:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-08 08:42:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140805 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 140740 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-01 11:11:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-01 10:11:10 [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL There is only one thing worse than a full blown democratic crisis and that is ignoring it, normalizing the current state of affairs as just an administrative glitch with some teargas protest flare. Any doctor will tell that a right diagnosis is the first step for treatment. They might rightly add that the diagnosis needs to be timely. If a patient loses time, pretends that symptoms are temporary and not serious he will inch towards the inevitable much sooner leaving the doctors helpless. What is happening now in Albania is the revelation of all the grave symptoms created by the failure of the governance model and the crumbling facade of the democracy. Yet many actors of the society go on acting as if things are completely normal, as if there are only some small surmountable obstacles to political life. The same is valid for most of the international community that seems to have directed its criticism only to one side. One can only shrug at the irony of these declarations claiming that the crisis is ruining Albania’s image and touristic potential when the house is indeed on fire. Albania is now in the midst of a double representation and institutional vacuum: it has no Constitutional Court and no formal opposition in the Parliament. Even the most basic checks and balances that guarantee the monitoring of executive power and keeping it within the limits of the democratic game are missing. The gap leaves the entire system in a frightening disarray. For as much as the majority and the Prime Minister continue the mantra of “keeping the contract with the electorate” and the international community plays at being a moderator for the sake of ‘negotiations’ or ‘image related issues’ or the simple preservation of stability,  then what we have is a normalization of a situation that is far from being acceptable. It seems like an effort to make a nightmare look tolerable. Albanian democracy needs a strategic rethinking and reestablishment of the most basic rules of the game starting with the process of elections which the genesis of all evil that follows. It further needs the safekeeping of institutional checks and balances and their protection from the aggressive and blind show of force of majorities. It needs a real chance of giving each indispensable actor in the system its role to play with responsibility and vision. Downplaying the seriousness and scope of the crisis, ignoring the powerful messages that come from the popular and political discontent might serve short term political goals and lengthen the shelf life of the already damaged facades. It can only go so far as to maintain a fragile negative stability. However borrowing the opening metaphor right now it seems as if a team of doctors were to rest in complete indifference while their patient sleep walks into an abyss. [post_title] => Editorial: A sleep walking patient aiming for the abyss [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => editorial-a-sleep-walking-patient-aiming-for-the-abyss [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-01 11:11:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-01 10:11:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140740 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 140635 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-02-22 10:51:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-22 09:51:59 [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL The latest political developments in Albania, including the decision of opposition parties MPs to give relinquish their mandates and therefore be no longer representatives in the Parliament as well as the ongoing protests, have started a new phase for the country. Albanian society seems to be entering a slow but definite downwards spiral of regress, which puts at risk no only short term expectations, such as the decision about the EU accession negotiations in June, but also more importantly long term trends of democratic development. This decision of the Albanian opposition parties is indeed extreme and unparalleled. However to get a comprehensive and accurate understanding of it, one needs to keep in mind the context and the reasons which brought to this situation in the first place. The opposition was put in a corner and arm-wrestled into an obsolete position by the majority’s utter arrogance and disdain for the checks-and-balances system that makes democracies functional. This government has displayed some of the most extravagant cases of grand corruption and has got away with almost full impunity. They have disregarded several laws and decisions that were brought back for consideration by the Institution of the President for being unconstitutional. They have shown the force of their green pieces of cardboard in the Parliament with almost a ridiculous feeling of self- content. Now they are left to wave those cards in an empty hall in vain. This extreme situation calls for serious reflection and a different course of action. In this context, some words are necessary on the role of the international community in Albania which for all different kind of reasons continues to be very determinant. It has been the consistent position of this community to favor stability over democracy. This has been observed also in the entire region. This obsessive dedication to stability at all costs has generated negative outcomes elsewhere and in Albania in the past. Stability at the conditions of disrespect for democratic institutions is neither sustainable nor desirable. It is a step into the dark. The Albanian society for sure does not need violence. This is a call that all responsible actors should hear well and promote with all possible strength. However just the same, this country cannot any longer be trapped into a dysfunctional, authoritarian system put in place through elections manipulated with the help of organized crime and upheld by concessions given shamelessly to oligarchic interest.  It has been painfully evidenced by several serious media investigations that organized crime networks have been decisive in electoral outcomes in Albania both during general and local elections. The students’ protest brought down the façade of the governance to reveal the shattered scene behind it. The opposition’s decision to burn their mandates is the first step to tear the threadbare façade of the democracy. Before the country destabilizes entirely a new deal is necessary. The international community should seek ways into this and not lose time with obstructive copy paste declarations from the past. [post_title] => Editorial: Negative stability is a step into the dark [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => editorial-negative-stability-is-a-step-into-the-dark [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-02-22 10:51:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-02-22 09:51:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140635 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141160 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-29 08:17:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-29 07:17:28 [post_content] => *This speech was held by the Polish Ambassador Karol Bachura at the AIIS conference: "20 Years of NATO, 10 Years of Albanian membership"  From 1989, long before NATO and EU membership our foreign policy pillar was an open door policy to Euroatlantic organizations.  NATO was seen as the best guarantor of Polish sovereignty and independence. NATO membership marked a breakthrough in Polish history and symbolizes the end of European divisions in place since the end of WWII. As a result, Poland became an organic part of the Euroatlantic community. Poland’s Contribution to NATO From a polish perspective, solidarity with others brings solidarity with us. Currently, Poland contributes with over 1500 security and military personal to alliance led-missions abroad. Its contribution has been steady over time. Notably, Poland has contributed to the following missions: BiH IFOR/SFOR with 930 soldiers; KFOR with  800 soldiers; FYROM with  25 soldiers, and  AFOR with 140 troops. Poland currently contributes, along with Albania, to the Canada-led Multinational Battle group in Latvia with 200 troops. NATO’s contribution to Poland Membership in NATO has guaranteed the independence and sovereignty so of Poland through Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Simultaneously, NATO membership has contributed to the growth of Poland’s position on international scene. Compatibility of the Polish armed forces with NATO standards has also played an important role as the country has hugely benefited from alliance’s Security Investment Program, which between 1999 and 2014 has amounted to 800 million Euros. This drastic transformation has made NATO a key pillar for Polish security. In addition, it has upgraded the capabilities and contributions of Poland to the alliance. As NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg has stated “Over the past years, Poland has evolved from a new Ally into a leading Ally”. In 2016 NATO Warsaw Summit  with priority of Eastern Flank strengthening. Summit decisions: enhanced forward presence; tailored presence in Black Sea region; deepened coop with EU; continuous fight against terrorism; recognition of cyberspace as an operational domain; expansion of assistance to UA and GE; extending support to AFG. Barack Obama ”Here in Warsaw, we haven’t simply reaffirmed our enduring Art 5 obligations to our common security; we’re moving fwd with the most significant reinforcement of our collective defense anytime since the cold warRelations with Russia NATO’s security umbrella ensures that countries such as Poland and Albania can sleep more calmly at night. If Ukraine, Crimea, Donbas and Luhansk happened without PL and Baltics in NATO it would be a dramatic situation. Without it, Central Europe and Baltics would be a security vacuum in this part of continent – a situation we could not afford. Over the years our threat concerns about Russia where often considered by some as Russophobia. However, events that took place in Georgia in 2008, followed by the 2014 invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, forceful acts on Donetsk, Luhansk unfortunately proved these critics wrong. Russia has violated values, principles and obligations that set the framework of NATO - Russia relations and put to question some of the fundamental rules of the global and Euroatlantic security architecture. In any of the cases mentioned, NATO’s approach has been multifold. At the Warsaw Summit it was illustrated by consensus which was later confirmed at the Brussels Summit in 2018.  It’s response has been tipped as a 3D Policy given its focus on deterrence, defense and dialogue. In addition, it has opted for non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea by Russia as a fait accomplish. NATO Enlargement Poland has been a proponent of enlargement and a vocal promotor of it as it sees NATO as the sole organization that proved itself as an exporter of stability, peace and democracy. Further expansion of NATO by Balkan countries is not only a guarantee of the interests of these countries, but it is also guaranteeing the interests of the EU and the whole transatlantic community. As US senator Richard Lugar once stated, “The common denominator of all the new security probes in Europe is that they all lie beyond NATO’s current borders”. When it comes to future enlargement of NATO, Poland affirms that no other non-NATO state can have a say in this process. Article 10 states that membership is open to any “European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”. Future of NATO At a time when threats in Europe arise like ghosts from the past, NATO must remain a military, defensive alliance able to jointly coordinate its acts in defense of its members as well as in defense of the values it represents. For decades NATO had been the guarantee of development and security for Western Europe. I do not see any reason why this would need to be changed in the aspect of Central and Eastern as well as Southern European partners. Member states must be aware not only of the rights and privileges stemming from the membership in NATO. They must also uphold their obligations, including spending 2% of their GDP on security. When it comes to security, there is no place for bargaining. In the words of President Harry Truman, "The security and the welfare of each member of this community depends upon the security and the welfare of all. None of us alone can achieve economic prosperity or military security. None of us alone can assure the continuance of freedom." That is why we think it is essential with today’s arising threats to have more NATO and US presence in certain parts of the old continent. We are most happy about the decision concerning Kucova Air Base in AL and we hope that there will be positive signals as to not only rotational but a  permanent US military presence and base in Poland, which our president symbolically called “Fort Trump” and for which we are ready to pay our share of a couple of billion USD. For we, as a NATO and EU member states still strongly believe that the presence of the US is a guarantor of security in our part of Europe. And hope that when president Donald Trump stated last September and agreed to “bolster our robust defense ties”, Washington will soon see the military and geopolitical sense to build the first ever major US military facility in Poland. The world would have more faults if there would be no NATO in place. In such scenario, we would most probably have to invent it in order for the humanity not to lead to annihilation. So let us not hesitate to rebut those who would diminish the role of our alliance, dispute its value, or downplay the importance of its unity and preparedness. For if NATO does not respond to the 21st Century security challenges facing our region, who will? If NATO cannot prevent aggressors from engulfing whole chunks of Europe in conflict, who can? And if NATO is not prepared to respond to the threat posed to our citizens by weapons of mass destruction, who will have that capability? That is why we meet today to celebrate an anniversary connected to this good cause. Because it is a GOOD cause. Both NATO and EU, even taking account of their weaknesses are ones of the most valuable “experiments” in the history of mankind. To misquote a former president of Poland and leader of Solidarity trade unions movement, Lech Wałesa:  NATO and EU have positive pluses and may have negative pluses but all in all they are all pluses. Of course, there will always be differences between Europe and America. We have been aptly called cousins, but we will never be mistaken for clones. Today, there are splits on trade and other issues -- some of which are quite controversial. But do not exaggerate, these are differences within the family. The history of centuries has been marked by shifting patterns within Europe as empires rose and fell, borders were drawn and redrawn, and ethnic divisions were exploited by aggressors and demagogues. NATO and NATO's partners have closed that book and are authoring a new one. In collaboration with regional institutions, we are encouraging the resolution of old antagonisms, promoting tolerance, ensuring the protection of minority rights and helping to realize, for the first time in history, the dream of a Europe whole and free. As Secretary of State M. Albright rightly put it 20 years ago in Independence Missouri: We know that when the democracies of Europe and America are divided, crevices are created through which forces of evil and aggression may emerge; and that when we stand together, no force on Earth is more powerful than our solidarity on behalf of freedom. Our alliance still is bound together by a community of interests. Our strength still is a source of strength to those everywhere who labor for freedom and peace. Our power still shields those who love the law and still threatens none, except those who would threaten others with aggression and harm. Our alliance endures because the principles it defends are timeless and because they reflect the deepest aspirations of the human spirit. To paraphrase Lord Ismay, first  Secretary General 1949 “ to keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down” for today is “To keep the threats out,  the Americans in, and transatlantic bonds up.” To conclude– after 20 years of MS NATO in Poland is strong as ever:  In a survey done 2018 the MS of NATO supported by nearly 80% of Compatriots and about 70% support for growing presence of NATO troops in Poland.   [post_title] => 20 years of Poland in NATO [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 20-years-of-poland-in-nato [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-29 08:18:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-29 07:18:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141160 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object] => stdClass Object ( [term_id] => 30 [name] => Op-Ed [slug] => op-ed [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 30 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 837 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 30 [category_count] => 837 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Op-Ed [category_nicename] => op-ed [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 30 [post__not_in] => Array ( ) )

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