Albanian Institute for International Studies ranked again among world's best think tanks

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 30, 2015 10:22

Albanian Institute for International Studies ranked again among world's best think   tanks

TIRANA, Jan. 29 - The Albanian Institute for International Studies has been ranked among the world's best think tanks by the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report authored by James G. McGann, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania.

In the list of Think Tanks in Central and Eastern Europe, AIIS ranked 22nd in the annual index, gaining two places up the list from the previous year. In terms of sector focus, AIIS ranks 85th in the global ranking for defense and security research area and 64th in the global ranking for foreign policy and international relations.

The ranking is organized on an annual basis by the Think Tanks and Civil Society Program at the University of Pennsylvania, which conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world.

This year's report was published on January 22, 2015. AIIS is the only Albanian think tank to make the cut of the prestigious international ranking index.

“Recognizing the quality of research and advocacy of the AIIS and collecting the positive feedback from peers, the index acknowledges for the fourth year in a row the professionalism and impact of AIIS work,” AIIS said in a statement.

More than 3,500 experts from academia, civil society and decision making institutions participated in the process of nominating and then ranking institutions worldwide in this one of a kind exercise that has become a reference point for those who seek to understand the standing of think tanks whether by geographical or thematic classification.

Some of the key programs at AIIS include the International Relations and History Library, which is home to Albania's largest number of publications on these topics; as well as the AIIS European Program, which is currently the institute's core program in terms of number of components, research, publications and trainings. Its primary focus is to help Albania become a member of the European Union.

The European Academy is another important component of the project. Founded five years ago, it organizes advanced seminars on issues of European integration for members of the central and local public administrations as well as young researchers and members of the civil society.

The institute also organizes two international conferences per year in strong cooperation with its counterparts in Europe and the United States.

The Europa magazine, the latest AIIS periodical, offers a critical approach to key issues relating to Albania's EU integration process and society modernization.

In addition to its current program and staff, AIIS has attracted over the years some of the most talented Albanian researchers to date, who after their experience at AIIS have moved to successful careers in the public administration and at international academic institutions.

Albania's international relations are at the heart of AIIS research, publications and public events. In addition, current security issues at the regional and European levels are a key aspect of the work AIIS does.

The institute has also seen increasing cooperation with other think tanks in the Balkans, EU and U.S. For example, a key research project on international relations and security issues is currently focused on relations with neighboring countries – as well the U.S., Italy, Germany, China, Russia and other major countries.

The work of AIIS has won the praise of key people over the years.

“Albania has made tremendous progress in the last twenty years and is moving smartly towards its European home. AIIS is both a cause and a consequence. Its sharp analytical focus on the world beyond Tirana has helped what was once one of the most isolated countries on earth, become an active contributor to the international order. These have been marvelously productive years for both Albania and its leading international institute,” said Daniel Serwer of the U.S. Peace Institute.

Janusz Bugajski, a  Research Fellow Center for European Policy Analysis added that "since its inception, the Albanian Institute of International Studies has played an important role in Albanian society. As the leading Albanian policy-focused institute, it has promoted debate on critical foreign policy and security issues, it has had an impact in policy making by bringing together decision makers and policy analysts in Albania with their foreign counterparts, and it has promoted a regional network of analysts to enhance regional cooperation and regional security."

Lulzim Basha, Mayor of Tirana and former Minister of Foreign Affairs agrees.

"AIIS has managed to become a reference point, an inevitable forum of debate and analysis, a window of professional and unbiased thought on geopolitical developments in and around Albania, the Albanian world, regional development and beyond," Mr. Basha said.

Historian Bernd Fischer echoes that sentiment.

"The Albanian Institute for International Studies has become the leading organization of its kind in Albania and an important contributor to the discussion of a broad range of issues in the Balkans in general. It has provided a forum for in-country specialists and established important contacts with analysts and policymakers throughout the Balkans and the Western world. With its objective analysis and multitude of voices, it has made, and will continue to make, an important contribution to regional and general understanding of the critical issues facing the Balkans. This understanding is an important step on the road to long-term regional stability. The institute’s efforts are to be encouraged and applauded," Dr. Fischer said.

AIIS was established in 1998 by a group of academics and analysts with extensive experience in foreign policy and policymaking issues. Since then, it has made significant contributions via its analysis, projects, and publications in the fields of Euro-Atlantic integration; democracy, security, and transition; as well as regional security and cooperation. AIIS has also served as a consultative body, with policymakers seeking its advice on the challenges Albania faces on the road to democratization.

One of the AIIS founders and current executive director, Albert Rakipi, said that after many years of contributions to Albanian society and decision-makers, AIIS has now brought Albania into the think-tank spotlight by becoming the only Albanian institution to earn a spot in the Global Go To Think Tank Index.

“The ranking of the Albanian Institute for International Studies as one of the best think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe is great news for us,” said Dr. Rakipi. “It acknowledges the tradition of excellence that we have worked so hard to establish through our hundreds of collaborations within and outside of Albania and the activities that our specialized staff have tirelessly developed and implemented. I am confident that by maintaining our high standard of work and progress, AIIS will continue to deserve its spot in the ranking for years to come.”



Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 30, 2015 10:22