Nato in Response to Challenges in Europe

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19th Annual International Conference of the Atlantic Council of Albania

“NATO in Response to Challenges in Europe”
[Final Report]

On May 12-13, 2016, the Atlantic Council of Albania organized its 19th Annual International Conference titled: ‘NATO in Response to Security Challenges in Europe’. The conference was attended by about 100 participants who were government representatives, diplomats, academic people, defense experts, university students, security researchers, various representatives from the civil society, members of the Atlantic Council of Albania, etc.

The event began by an Opening address of the President of the Atlantic Council of Albania, Dr. Arian Starova. After an overview of the international security environment, he focused in the security problems of Europe and the Western Balkans.

The main topics of his opening address were: the NATO activity in the defense of territories and populations of Euro-Atlantic geographical space and beyond, new security threats such as the refugee crisis in the Western Ballkans, Russia as a threat to the Western Balkans, need of the five EU countries to recognize the independent republic of Kosova, need of acceleration of the Euro-Atlantic integration processes for Macedonia and Kosova, necessity of intelligent information exchanges between the regional countries, importance of raising national defense budgets for the NATO members and spirant countries, greeting of the decision to invite Montenegro to become a NATO members, etc. He attached a specific importance to the link between organized crime and corruption with the national security referring to the Albanian local developments by saying: “If the justice system cannot provide for an equal law for all, then certainly, space will be created for illegal activities which, in the most various forms, will be used by various actors who are aiming at spoiling the peace, stability and security of our region”.

The keynote address of Mr. Zsolt Rabai by videoconference focused on a very comprehensive view of NATO activities and the coming Warsaw NATO Summit. He highlighted the Russia’s dangerous activity in the East of NATO in violation of international laws and agreements and the NATO-s stand to suspend all the respective communications until Russia withdraws from its aggressive positions. Speacila attention was also given to ISIL and the international efforts including NATO to cope with it.

In his keynote remarks, Dr. Brooke Smith-Windsor from NATO Defense College, Rome, referred to a detailed global account on the international security threats including the Arctic, Asia-Pacific region, Middle East and the related threats. He paid a special attention to terrorist activities and the need to deal with it as largely as possible including its root-causes. He also elaborated largely on the economic causes of the security.

After the opening session and the keynote speakers, the conference continued with 3 panels and closing remarks as following :

The First Session “NATO and the current interconnected Security Threats

The Second Session “Increasing the NATO military capabilities and the contribution of Albania”

The Third Session “Cooperating for Security against violent extremism and terrorism in the Western Balkans.

There were some specific issues which were underlined in the conference such as: NATO’s necessity to remain global, the initial negligence of the international community versus ISIS, Russia as a threat to the Balkans, necessity of a joint intelligence agency of US and EU, need of a greater government attention on security school education and the various extremism cases in the societies, provision of ample information on the recent refugee crisis in the Balkans and its influence in Albania, interesting information about ISIS militants from the Balkans, vast resources of regional cooperation on raising defense capacities, political crises or debates as possible security threats, corruption as a direct threat to the governments and the security, need of exercising more US and EU influence on the problems of good governance and fair justice system in the Balkans, need of paying more attention to investment on IT as cyber-defense, etc.
Speakers and participants on their interventions have stressed the need for NATO to continue to be applied according the current situation. The Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty not only be for the protection of Member States in case of aggression, but to be applied for the protection of them against the terrorist attacks as well. In this context, it requested a better coordination with the intelligence services of the Alliance, to identify all threatening elements and to keep them under continuous control throughout of NATO territory.
The conference also stressed the importance of strengthening the NATO military capabilities, and call on Albanian Government and the other countries to increase the defense budget. The Albanian Deputy Minister of Defense Mr. Petro Koci, during his speech stated that last year the defense budget is increased with 12% and will continue to be increased up to 2% of the national GDP.
The conference welcomed the political and military steps the alliance has taken as a result of continuous provocations being made by Russia, especially to the Baltic countries. The conference noted also that it is very important to not abandon the path of dialogue NATO – Russia.
It is necessary to have a better climate of trust in Balkan region and mutual respect. In this context the conference stressed the role of the civil society in strengthening the collaboration between Balkan youth to respect the values, traditions and culture of neighboring countries as an important instrument to maintain the peace and the stability in the region.
The conference welcome the invitation to Montenegro to joint NATO and call on Parliaments of members countries to ratify it as soon as they can.
The conference stressed as well the need for the continuation of the open door policy in our region and requested that Kosovo institutionalize its relations with NATO and have an office in the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
In the Final Remarks, Dr Starova, the President of the Atlantic Council of Albania, made a brief overview on the conference and expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Atlantic Council of Albania for all the participants, speakers and especially for the support given by the NATO PDD.
The conference received a good coverage from the national TV channels, such as Albanian State Television (TVSH), Vizion Plus, Ora News, News 24, Voice of America (in Albania), etc. The activity was also published in the several newspapers like, “Panorama”, ”Koha Jonë”, “Tirana Observer”, “Telegraf” and “Veterani”.

All sessions had interesting questions and comments about the presentations delivered during the sessions.

During the conference, there representative of the Diplomatic Corps such as from the USA Embassy, Embassy of Romania, Embassy of Serbia, Embassy of Greece, Embassy of Turkey, Embassy of Russia, Embassy of Iran, Embassy of Macedonia, Embassy of Montenegro, Embassy of Kosova, Embassy of Bulgaria, Embassy of Slovenia, etc.
In general, it was a very good conference which retained interest to its very end.

Tirana, May 15, 2016.

Directory: ACA -> Atlantic Council of Albania files
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Atlantic Council of Albania files -> Civil-Military Relations to the benefit of the transparency of the Albanian Armed Forces and their public support
Atlantic Council of Albania files -> Blv. Zhanë D’Ark, Nr. 16, Tiranë Tel/Fax: + 355 4 2 225 225
Atlantic Council of Albania files -> Speakers’ Biography Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Luciolli : President of Atlantic Treaty Association, Brussels

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