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Old 04-02-2009, 20:50   #1
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NATO: Albania, Croatia Become Members


NATO: Albania, Croatia Become Members

April 1, 2009 | 2208 GMT
Albania and Croatia became official NATO members April 1 after their ambassadors to the United States filed accession documents with the U.S. government. The two countries will benefit from membership in NATO, while NATO will benefit from its expansion into two strategic areas.

Albania and Croatia became NATO’s 27th and 28th member states April 1 after their ambassadors to the United States filed accession documents with the U.S. government. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer offered Tirana and Zagreb his congratulations from Brussels, adding, “In becoming NATO members, Albania and Croatia share the benefits and responsibilities of collective security.” The two countries will join fellow NATO member states at the alliance’s April 3-4 summit in Baden Baden, Germany, and Strasbourg, France.

With Albania’s and Croatia’s accessions into the alliance, NATO has entrenched itself firmly on the western Balkan Peninsula, which was site of numerous conflicts in the 1990s as former Yugoslavia disintegrated. With Macedonia’s membership a lock as soon as the Greek-Macedonian name dispute is resolved, NATO member states will surround Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo — the three most likely conflict points in Europe today.

For Albania, accession into NATO is a crucial step on the road to becoming integrated into Europe. The mountainous country and its clan-based society are separated from all neighbors by either the Adriatic Sea or formidable mountain chains. For much of the Cold War, Albania shied from both the Western and Soviet camps, instead forming a close relationship with China. NATO membership gives Albania a strong foreign ally on which to rely in the face of foreign and domestic threats. Due to the clan-based structure of Albanian society and the country’s geography, internal cohesion and central government control have historically been difficult. The central government in Tirana is notoriously weak, and it even allowed the country to descend into anarchy and lawlessness for five months in 1997 due to public angst over failed pyramid investment schemes.

From NATO’s perspective, Albania’s membership brings the alliance squarely into the epicenter of organized crime activity in Europe. Albania is a transshipment point for the smuggling of everything from cigarettes to heroin to humans into the European Union, particularly through the Straits of Otranto into Italy. The Albanian mafia is one of the most powerful in Europe, using its tight-knit, clan-based structure to avoid infiltration by European law enforcement and to control drugs and prostitution rings in practically every major European city. It controls the so-called “Balkan route” for heroin shipment (which goes through Iran and the Middle East into Turkey and Bulgaria, and finally to Albania for distribution throughout Europe) as well as 65 percent of all trafficking of women in the Balkans. (An estimated 200,000 women are smuggled through the region each year.)

NATO membership for Albania does not mean an end to the lucrative organized crime presence, but it does mean that the West will have a greater role in border security and law enforcement in the region. The West’s thinking on Albania is that it is a far better option to have Albania as part of the alliance, where NATO will be able to keep tabs on organized criminal activity in the region, than to have no control whatsoever.

Of particular importance will be getting Albania’s borders with Kosovo and Macedonia — which are extremely porous due to cultural links between Albanian communities on both sides and mountainous terrain that is difficult to police — under control. NATO has already been very active in the region in providing military advice on border security and smuggling interdiction. Advisers were sent to Albania as early as 2001 to help officials deal with porous borders and crack down on smuggling operations.

A firm NATO presence in Albania (and in Macedonia in the near future) will therefore mean that should conflict flare up again in Kosovo, NATO will be able to interdict the movement of people and weapons between Albanian communities in the three states. In 1999, it was not in NATO’s interest to do so; in fact, moving people and weapons across the borders was encouraged, since the Kosovo Liberation Army was a NATO ally in the conflict against Serbia. But the West’s interests in a future regional conflict could very well change.

For Croatia, a close relationship with NATO is crucial because Croatian geography demands that Zagreb ally itself with a strong power as a guarantor of its sovereignty. Every iteration of an independent Croatia has had a powerful patron, whether Nazi Germany during World War II or the United States and Germany during the conflict with Serbian separatists in the early 1990s. The crescent-shaped country has no natural borders with its main rivals in the region, Hungary and Serbia. Its capital and core city, Zagreb, sits on the southern edge of the Pannonian Plain, where it can be accessed with ease from both Budapest and Belgrade. Furthermore, Croatia’s coastal region — which traditionally has been a source of much of its economic and trade activity — is separated from its core via the Dinaric Alps, allowing foreign influence (mainly Italian) and independence-minded movements that resent Zagreb to take root.

With NATO accession, Croatian independence not only is assured by a powerful nonregional ally, but is in fact guaranteed by NATO’s nuclear deterrent. Its borders and territorial integrity, brought into serious question in the early 1990s by the Serbian separatists in Krajina, are now completely assured. From Zagreb’s perspective, membership in NATO also gives Croatia veto power over potential Bosnian and Serbian membership bids down the line — a power they are sure to exercise with very little moderation when the time comes.

From NATO’s perspective, Croatian membership plays a key role in allowing the alliance to surround the unstable Bosnia and the regional power Serbia. Bosnia is a state in name only, with the two ethnic federal units (the Serbian Republika Srpska and the Croatian/Bosniak Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) in a tenuous and volatile relationship that could be jeopardized by ethnic tensions at any moment. With Croatia, the Western alliance now gets a member state with both a vested interest in what happens in Bosnia and a lengthy border that allows Croatia and NATO to easily monitor the entire territory. This gives NATO greater legitimacy and capacity in dealing with any future problem arising in Bosnia.

Serbia, on the other hand, despite its reduced size and numerous military losses throughout the 1990s, is still the undisputed heavyweight of the Western Balkans, boasting the population and the industrial core necessary to sustain an independent military effort. Left to their own devices, Serbia’s neighbors would be in dire straits against a remilitarized Belgrade. Along with Croatia and Albania, NATO member states Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria (and potential member state Macedonia) surround Serbia.

Instead of being a dominant regional power player, Belgrade is now the regional black hole, surrounded by a nuclear-armed alliance. The question before Serbia is whether it will continue to stand outside the alliance and play a dangerous game of balancing Russian and Western interests in the region, or whether it will join NATO at some point in the future. The latter possibility, however, just got more difficult, because whatever Belgrade decides, its rival Zagreb will have a say — one that involves a veto — in it.
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:24   #2
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Transcript of the presentation of their instrument of accession. This is of interest to me as I was in the ACSCMO, 21st TAACOM when we met with the first Albanian military delegation to NATO in 1992 and began this long journey towards membership.

Albania was the poorest of the former WP nations - even among the poorer Balkan states. An Albanian LTC with whom I spoke was astounded by the size of my living quarters, which were small by our standards; his quarters, in comparison, for a family of 4, was approximately the size of my living/dining room at Sembach. At the time, Albania was also suffering daily food riots because of the scarcity of bread and the delegation found the ready abundance of our food supplies a real treat.

Albania and Serbia have been pugnacious Balkan neighbors for many years - and this is a real plum for Albania and a much bigger deal than many may realize.

Richard's $.02

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Well, thank you and welcome, everybody. This really is a very special occasion. I’m very excited about this. It’s really one of the great joys of my job to be able to be here at such a momentous occasion. On behalf of the Secretary, who wishes she could be here as well, I want to welcome the two of you here as well as the representatives from the Albanian and Croatian embassies.

This is, kind of, one of the unique roles that the United States plays as the depositary for NATO in accepting these articles of accession, these instruments of accession. So I am really delighted to have the personal opportunity to do this. It is a really notable occasion because it marks tremendous achievement on the parts of not just the governments of Albania and Croatia, but the people of these two countries and their commitment to do the hard work that’s necessary to get into NATO.

This is not just an honorary kind of association. NATO takes very seriously the conditions of membership. It’s a very important and functioning alliance, and therefore, we hold our members to high standards. And it is a mark of the respect that we have for your efforts that NATO has agreed to invite you to join. You’ve agreed to do that.

We’re especially grateful for the work that they’ve done both in promoting regional security but also in contributing to NATO’s very important mission in Afghanistan, which is something that the Secretary and the President are both very focused on right now as we finished the meeting in The Hague yesterday and move on to the NATO summit in just a few days.

The mission of NATO has remained since its inception the collective defense of its members, but it also plays a broader role in extending stability beyond its borders. And one of the important benefits of this process of NATO accession over the years has been for us to roll back the legacy of the Cold War and to bring that stability to all of Europe. And we are delighted by this impact.

And the fact that you are joining on the 60th anniversary of NATO really demonstrates how vibrant and lively NATO remains today. And it’s a reflection of the commitment of Article 10 of the NATO treaty to the open door and the seriousness with which we take that. It’s a signal not only to you and your people that that was a serious promise and a commitment, but to others who have the same aspirations. And we remain committed to the further integration of all of Europe and for membership as countries demonstrate their ability to meet the criteria for membership. We’re particularly looking forward to Macedonia joining NATO once the name issue is resolved.

And we appreciate your efforts and look forward to you continuing to provide active mentorship to Bosnia-Herzegovina and to Montenegro as they continue under the Adriatic Charter to pursue their ambitions. It’s very important to the long-term future of Balkan stability, something that the United States is deeply committed to and something that I personally intend to be involved in, in going forward. So I look forward to working with you on this.

This is a very important, reminiscent day for me as well because I was privileged to be part of the events ten years ago when NATO first embarked on this important period of enlargement at the time of NATO’s 50th anniversary. And so I think it’s an important time to look back on the accomplishments that we’ve achieved during that period and over the last ten years as we look forward to the meeting that President Obama will be joining in Strasburg and Kehl in just a few days.

So with that, we proceed to the formal part of this occasion, and I look forward to working with all of you here and in Europe and across the world as our newest members of NATO. Congratulations. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: All right. Ambassador Grabar-Kitarovic will now present the accession – the instrument of accession to Deputy Secretary Steinberg.

(The instrument was presented.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Thank you. Congratulations. Well done.

AMBASSSADOR Grabar-Kitarovic: Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: And now Ambassador Sallabanda.

AMBASSADOR SALLABANDA: Thank you. (Applause.) Please.

AMBASSSADOR Grabar-Kitarovic: Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is such a great honor and a privilege to have presented Croatia’s instrument of ratification and to be addressing you today on this historical moment when Croatia has become a member of NATO, fully committed to the values, interests, and principles of all our allies.

NATO membership has always been one of the foremost goals of all the Croatian governments ever since we regained our independence. And Euro-Atlanticism has been and will remain one of the basic frameworks within which we realize our national goals. I would like to congratulate Albania as well on our shared success here today. And I believe that this round of enlargement will be very important for the whole neighborhood of Southeast Europe, and that it will bring further prosperity and stability to Southeast Europe. We believe that prosperity and stability will be fully realized once all the countries of Southeast Europe become members of NATO and the European Union. And Croatia remains committed to do its utmost to help all of our neighbors along the same path.

The United States has demonstrated a strong leadership in NATO enlargement, and has also demonstrated a strong leadership in Southeast Europe. We have worked together within the context of the U.S.-Adriatic Charter initiative, but also within many other regional initiatives. And I believe that this cooperation will bear fruit in this – in further stabilization of the whole of our neighborhood.

Croatia is also fully aware of the global challenges to security, and we are determined to take our share of responsibility for global peace and stability in places such as Afghanistan, but also in other parts of the world. I would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our gratitude to all the NATO members, and particularly to the United States, for all the support, advice and friendship that you have demonstrated to Croatia on our path to NATO membership.

We are particularly grateful for the bipartisan support in the Congress and for the support and friendship of the past and present administrations, particularly the presidents, the vice presidents, the National Security Council, the State Department, Department of Defense, and many others. In over a decade and a half, Croatia has undergone tremendous transformation. And the credit for this goes to the Croatian leadership, but also to the Croatian people and all its citizens. And today we remember also most dearly those who gave lives for our freedom.

We have transformed from a security receiver to security provider. And today, we stand together, side-by-side, with the United States and other allies. And let me reassure you that you can continue to count on Croatia as a responsible and a reliable ally. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR SALLABANDA: A statement on the occasion of the depositing of the instruments of ratification of the accession of Albania to the North Atlantic Treaty.

Following the invitation of the Secretary General of NATO to the Government of the Republic of Albania to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty, I am honored to deposit today with the Government of the United States the instruments of accession of the Republic of Albania to the North Atlantic Treaty.

On behalf of the Government of Albania, I would like to express the deepest gratitude for the outstanding support that the NATO member states and the Secretary General have provided hitherto to the accession process of Albania into NATO. This is a truly historical accomplishment that puts an end to our century-long struggle for freedom and security.

Let me also express a particular gratitude to the Government of the United States of America. NATO’s open-doors policy and Albania’s membership into NATO would not have been successful without the steadfast commitment of the United States of America to enlarge the area of freedom and security after the end of the Cold War, fostering the vision of Europe whole and free. We highly appreciate that.

As a NATO member country, Albania is ready to take up all the challenges and responsibilities that participation in the alliance entails. In this context, we will work responsibly and constructively with our partners to strengthen the (inaudible) of alliance to protect our common values. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Deputy Secretary. Thank you, Ambassadors. This concludes our ceremony. Thank you all very much for coming today. (Applause.)

“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” - To Kill A Mockingbird (Atticus Finch)

“Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.” - Robert Heinlein
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