Following more than 10 years of NATO Defense meetings held exclusively in Belgium, the organization has entrusted Albania with holding its first meeting in the Western Balkans.
In the North Atlantic Council held in Brussels on February 12-13, member state representatives approved Albanian Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka’s proposal for this June’s Defense meeting to take place in Tirana.
Xhaçka praised the council’s decision and deemed it “not only a high appraisal of our country as a worthy ally but also a powerful message on NATO’s part signalling its attention to the Western Balkans and the significant role Albania plays as a stabilizing factor in the region.”
Xhaçka also highlighted the responsibility implied in hosting the “most important event since Albania entering NATO, 11 years ago […] an undertaking that will demonstrate how seriously we will take being the centre of global defence and security for 48 hours.”
During the council, the Minister took the opportunity to thank allies for their aid to the Albanian people following the 26 November earthquake, and throughout reconstruction efforts. Xhaçka also met with United States secretary of defence Mark Esper. The US remains the main supporter of Albania’s armed forces.