Prime Minister Edi Rama said that the country is in talks with NATO to build a naval base at Porto Romano, not far from the city of Durres which is set to benefit from a large new commercial port.
Rama gave the news at a press conference following the NATO summit in Madrid which took place at the tail end of last week. He said the base would have a commercial section as well as a military naval base.
The project would be a co-financed and built in collaboration between NATO and Albania.
“We will soon go back to Brussels to continue our discussions regarding our proposal…for the installation of a NATO naval base in the new port in Durres,” Rama added.
In May, Rama said his government had offered the Pashaliman naval base south of Tirana to NATO. Located south of Vlore, some 200 km from Durres, it was the only Soviet Union base in the Mediterranean during the 1950s, at a time when Albania’s communist regime was aligned with Moscow.
After the collapse of communism, it was rebuilt with the help of Turkey who retained the right to use it. The Albanian navy still uses the base for some operations and exercises today.
NATO is also set to transform the former communist-era military base in Kucova, previously known as Stalin City. The 350-hectare base is currently home to many out-of-use Soviet-era and Chinese MiGs, Antonovs and Yak-18s.
Reconstruction works began in January to the tune of EUR 50 million with the base set to be operational in 2023. It will provide ammunition storage and act as a refuelling centre and work is being carried out to build new storage units, restore the runway, and modernise the existing control tower.
The original base was built using prison labour under the regime of communist dictator Enver Hoxha. Following almost 50 years of isolationism, Albania emerged and turned to the West, joining the alliance in 2009 and hoping to join the European Union.