NATO to build first Western Balkans airbase in Albania

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 6, 2018 10:51

NATO to build first Western Balkans airbase in Albania

Story Highlights

  • Rama said the project is expected to begin within 2018 and added that “Kucova will serve as a base for NATO support for air transport
  • logistical support
  • support for air policing
  • as well as training and coaching of the Alliance.”

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TIRANA, Aug. 6 – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced on Saturday NATO is expected to locate its first airbase in the Western Balkans in Albania – a decision already approved by the North Atlantic Council.

“With funds from the North Atlantic Alliance and in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Albania, NATO will invest over 50 million euros, only for the first phase of the Kucova airbase modernization project,” Rama explained through a Facebook post.

Rama said the project is expected to begin within 2018 and added that “Kucova will serve as a base for NATO support for air transport; logistical support; support for air policing; as well as training and coaching of the Alliance.”

Rama also announced the Albanian government is discussing with the US government “on the further modernization of Albanian aviation capacities. It is soon expected that the joint decisions of these discussion will pass to the US Congress for approval.”

This decision comes after Albanian Minister of Defense Olta Xhacka suggested in a meeting in April with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis that the US should set a permanent military presence in Albania to counter anti-Western influences in the country.

Xhacka herself commented on the decision as a “great recognition towards the Albanian Armed Forces.”

The recognition lies in Albania’s successfully-done homework as a NATO member state, including the participation in various military missions all over the world and its commitment in fighting violent extremism.

Currently, Albania has three operational airbases in its territory – one is located in Tirana, where the National Centre for NATO Control and Reporting can be also found, while the two others are the Laprake Airbase and the Kucova Airbase.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 6, 2018 10:51