• US Engagement in the Balkans is Critical, Says Albania's Foreign Minister

    Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati says US engagement in the Balkans is critical to ensure that there will be no derailment of the effort by Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to normalize relations that would pave the way for the latter to join NATO.

    “Now that both countries [Greece and Macedonia] are doing the last mile [toward normalization], the United States’ focus on this issue is incredibly important. Especially given the fact that there are third actors who do not support the deal that has been reached between Athens and Skopje,” Bushati said in an interview with Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson.

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  • Germany's Foreign Minister Calls for 'A Real European Security and Defense Union'

    That world order that we once knew, had become accustomed to and sometimes felt comfortable in – this world order no longer exists.
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  • Balkan Officials Have a Message for the EU and the United States: Stay Engaged

    Balkan officials on November 29 made a pitch for deeper US and European Union (EU) engagement with the region, noting that its stability is critical for a peaceful Europe.

    “Without a stable Balkans, there is no stable Europe,” said Srdjan Darmanović, Montenegro’s foreign minister.

    Albania’s foreign minister, Ditmir Bushati, highlighted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent remark that Europe should write the next chapter of its history in its own words. He said: “I hope this is instigating more solidarity within the European Union, but what we learned from the last twenty-five years is that American presence in our neighborhood, in Europe, is indispensable.”

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  • Here’s Why US Commitment to the Western Balkans Matters

    The United States and the European Union (EU) must deepen their engagement with the Western Balkans, a region where Russia, Turkey, and wealthy Arab Gulf states have extended their influence and that is considered integral to realizing the idea of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace, speakers and panelists said at the Atlantic Council on November 29.

    One European official described the United States as an invaluable partner in realizing the vision of a whole and free Europe, while a US official affirmed the commitment of US President Donald J. Trump’s administration to the Western Balkans.

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  • Bechev in Al Jazeera: Albania: The good news and the bad news

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  • What Can Ukraine Learn from the Balkans?

    Ukraine wants to join the European Union, but the level of support among many EU member states is low or nonexistent. Many are afraid of Russia’s reaction and lack a clear understanding of both the climate in post-Euromaidan Ukraine and the country’s strong commitment to Western integration.

    The situation is challenging in all aspects. War still raging along the demarcation line in the Donbas, US policy toward the EU and Ukraine is unclear, Russia is strongly opposed to Ukraine’s entrance into the EU, and Ukraine itself faces the twin challenges of war and reform. Only EU and NATO accession can provide a lasting framework that allows Ukraine to master all of the challenges at the same time. The model has been proven through the accession of central European and southeastern European countries and will most likely be similarly successful in the third wave occurring in Eastern Europe.

    If the EU does not allow the country to have realistic European hopes, post-Maidan Ukraine could fail, just as the Orange Revolution did, with all of the related tragic consequences. But how can one ensure a credible EU perspective and increase progress toward EU accession in all sectors simultaneously? To achieve this, Ukraine requires a new strategic approach and an alliance of friends, partners, and allies composed of countries with similar interests.

    In the nearby neighborhood are eight countries—Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Serbia—that had similar traumatic experiences with war and destruction in the 1990s, and that now have seventeen years of reconstruction and pre-accession behind them. They have shared a similar strategic objective of joining the EU and NATO, and some have achieved it: Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the EU in 2013, for example. Those that are already inside can help the others that are still on their way and facing similar challenges with domestic reform and the EU’s enlargement fatigue.

    The reform and transition experience of the Balkans matters for Ukraine.

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  • US Engagement in the Balkans Seen as Vital

    Albanian foreign minister said United States has a ‘decisive’ role in Balkan reforms

    It is critical for the United States to deepen its engagement in the Balkans—a region that faces threats from terrorists as well as Russia, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said in Washington on March 21.

    In February, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama warned that the Balkan peninsula is in danger of slipping under the influence of Russia if it is ignored by the new administration of US President Donald Trump.

    Bushati conceded in an interview with the New Atlanticist that the region faces “some security challenges.” Russia, for example, is trying hard to prevent Balkan states from joining the European Union (EU) and NATO, he said. “When we speak of the Euroatlantic path and the EU accession process, we should take into account the reform process,” he added.

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  • Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama: Enlargement a Secondary Priority for the European Union

    Leader says Europe preoccupied with economic, security, and migration crises

    A combination of economic, security, and migration challenges facing Europe could “fuel instability in the Western Balkans” and “bring more uncertainty to the south and east,” Albania’s Prime Minister, Edi Rama, said on April 13.

    Rama contended that Balkan states such as Albania—eager to deepen their European integration—believe EU enlargement has become a “secondary” priority for Brussels.

    “The increasingly fragmented climate among EU member states over Europe’s capacity to successfully overcome…challenges has triggered some concern in the Balkans that other strategic issues, such as European Union enlargement, have now become secondary issues for the foreseeable future,” said Rama.

    Rama spoke at the Atlantic Council where he also participated in a session moderated by Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe.

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  • Atlantic Council Event with Albanian Prime Minister Featured in Foreign Policy

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  • Outlook for Security and Integration of Albania and the Western Balkans

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