Albania is a sovereign country in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean that declared its independence on 28 November 1912. Its foreign policy has maintained a policy of complementerianism by trying to have friendly relations with all countries. Since the collapse of Communism in 1990, Albania has extended its responsibilities and position in European and international affairs, supporting and establishing friendly relations with other nations around the world.
The main factors defining Albanian foreign policy consist of geopolitical location, population, economic crisis, and ties with Albanian diaspora throughout the world. It also maintains strong diplomatic relations with the EU (primarily Croatia, France, Germany, Italy) Balkan countries (primarily Kosovo, Greece and North Macedonia), Arab world, Canada, China, Turkey, Israel, India, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, UK and the United States.
The government of Albania was concerned with the developments in neighboring Kosovo, particularly in the post-Dayton agreement period. During the Kosovo War in 1999 as well as the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians by Serbs alongside the subsequent refugee influx into the country, Albania's status as an ally of the United States was confirmed. Albania emerged as being generally supportive of the United States. The support for the United States has remained high at 95% in Muslim majority (56% of the population) Albania in contrast to the rest of the Islamic world.
During the post-cold war, geo-political complexities and conflicts in the Balkans, made Albania seek a protector power with Turkey, which is a NATO member. During the 1990s, state relations between Albania and Turkey were marked by high level visits, military agreements and the deployment of Turkish soldiers. An Albanian-Turkish military cooperation agreement was signed on 29 July 1992. The military agreement entailed education and training of personnel, bilateral cooperation in weapons production, joint military exercises, the exchange of military delegations and joint commissions on expanding further military ties into the future. The agreement also encompassed rebuilding Albania's Pasha Liman Base in the Bay of Vlorë on the Ionian sea by Turkey, in return for granting Turkey's access and use. Turkey has trained the Albanian Armed Forces, in particular officers and commando units. During civil war in 1997, Turkey alongside other countries, participated in Operation Alba by providing a brigade of 800 Turkish troops to restore order and its involvement served mainly as a stabilising force.
Turkey considers its friendship with Albania as important due to the context of state relations with Greece and through policy have exploited difficulties arising in Albanian-Greek relations. Having a powerful ally in Turkey has suited Albania at times regarding difficult interstate relations with Greece. Albania's emergence in the Balkans as a key NATO partner contributed to good and stronger Albanian-Turkish relations, in particular relating to military matters. The military alliance during the 1990s between Turkey and Albania was also aimed against Serbia in case a war over Kosovo had a wider regional spread. Greece has expressed concerns regarding Turkish relations with Albania and interpreted them as an anti-Greek measure to isolate Greece within the wider context of Albania being a potential outlet for expanding Muslim influence and Turkey allying with Muslim populations in the Balkans. Turkey on the other hand claimed Greece increased tensions within the region and conveyed concerns relating to Albanian and Greek polemics with Ankara expressing a partial bias on Albania's side angering the Greeks. Greece, aware of Albanian-Turkish military agreements denounced Turkey's interference in Greek affairs. Though not officially considered in Turkey as a rival within Albania, during the unrest of 1997 Greece was able to become an influential actor in Albania and the early period of the Kosovo crisis (1998-1999) when Albanian officials looked to Greece for assistance. The resumption of closer Albanian-Turkish relations ensured during the Kosovo crisis that made both countries act along the same policy lines toward Slobodan Milošević and the issue of Greater Serbia.
Turkey supported Albania's membership to become part of NATO. Military cooperation between Albania and Turkey is viewed by NATO as a stabilising factor within the volatile region of the Balkans. Albania has come to depend heavily on Turkish assistance and a high amount of military security. Turkey remains for Albania an important military ally alongside the U.S. Through its military personnel Turkey continues to train Albanian armed forces and also to provide assistance in logistics and modernisation efforts of the Albanian military. Radar systems for the surveillance of Albanian airspace in addition to telecommunication equipment have been supplied by Turkey to Albania. Albania receives Turkish assistance for police training. Turkey has continuously supported Albania from the 1990s on EU related matters as both countries view EU membership as an eventual final goal and common objective. State relations of Albania with Turkey are friendly and close, due to maintenance of close links with the Albanian diaspora in Turkey and strong Turkish sociopolitical, cultural, economic and military ties with Albania. Turkey has been supportive of Albanian geopolitical interests within the Balkans. In Gallup polls conducted in recent times Turkey is viewed as a friendly country by 73% of people in Albania. Albania has established political and economic ties with Arab countries, in particular with Arab Persian Gulf states who have heavily invested in religious, transport and other infrastructure alongside other facets of the economy in addition to the somewhat limited societal links they share. Albania is also working to develop social-political and economic ties with Israel.
After the fall of the Albanian communist regime in 1991, relations between Greece and Albania became increasingly strained because of widespread allegations of mistreatment by Albanian authorities of the Greek ethnic minority in southern Albania and of the Albanian communities in northern Greece. A wave of Albanian illegal economic migrants to Greece exacerbated tensions. The crisis in Greek–Albanian relations reached its peak in late August 1994, when an Albanian court sentenced five members (a sixth member was added later) of the ethnic Greek political party Omonia to prison terms on charges of undermining the Albanian state. Greece responded by freezing all EU aid to Albania, and sealing its border with Albania. In December 1994, however, Greece began to permit limited EU aid to Albania, while Albania released two of the Omonia defendants and reduced the sentences of the remaining four.
There are still other impending issues in the relations between the two countries, regarding many Albanian workers in Greece who have not received legal papers despite promises by the Greek government. In 1996, the two countries signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship and discussed the issues of the status of Albanian refugees in Greece and education in the mother tongue for the ethnic Greek minority in southern Albania. In the 1990s, Greece preferred and assisted Fatos Nano as Albanian leader due to him being Orthodox over Sali Berisha a Muslim, as Nano was seen as being friendlier to Greek interests. The government of Fatos Nano was viewed by Turkey as having a pro-Greek orientation and expressed some dissatisfaction though during that time still maintained close military relations with Albania in rebuilding its armed forces and a military base.
Today, as result of very frequent high-level contacts between the governments and the parliaments, relations between the two countries are regarded as excellent. Greece is a staunch supporter of the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Republic of Albania. Since Albania's NATO entry in May 2009, Albanian-Greek relations have been developing on all fronts, and especially after the election victory of Edi Rama in 2013, with the Albanian Chief of Foreign Policy, Ralf Gjoni, describing the diplomatic relations between two countries as "excellent". Greece today is Albania's most important European Union ally and NATO partner. At the Albanian government's request, about 250 Greek military personnel are stationed in Albania to assist with the training and restructuring of the Albanian Armed Forces, as part of the NATO programme. Big projects currently in running between the two countries include the touristic development of the Ionian coastline shared between the two countries, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which helped boosting the relations of the two countries even further.
Albania's ties with Greece are also based on cultural and historic relations of the two peoples, including migration and national minorities. In addition, since Albania's transition to democracy, Greece has become a major financial partner of the country with Albania's economy being heavily reliant on investments from Greece. Culturally, the two nations' populations, whilst having a tense history, share numerous cultural and historic traits that have been used to boost the political relations of the neighbouring countries.
Albania was voted to become a member of the 15-country UN Security Council for a two-year term, in 2022–23, on June 11, 2021. Former ambassador Kadare said that Albania's priorities in the Security Council will include a focus on women, peace, and security, promoting human rights and international law, preventing conflicts, protecting civilians, countering violent extremism, addressing climate change and its links to security, and strengthening multilateralism and the rules-based international order. She tweeted thanks to all countries that: "entrusted us with this huge responsibility".
The Albanian government supports the protection of the rights of ethnic Albanians outside of its borders but has downplayed them to further its primary foreign policy goal of regional cooperation; Albanian majority in Kosovo seeks full recognition of the declared independence from Serbia; Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia claim discrimination in education, access to public-sector jobs, and representation in government. A handful of Albanian troops have participated in the U.S.-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Albanian policy is very favorable to that of the United States and European Union.
The $30 million Albanian-American Enterprise Fund (AAEF), launched in 1994, is actively making debt and equity investments in local businesses. AAEF is designed to harness private sector efforts to assist in the economic transformation. U.S. assistance priorities include promotion of agricultural development and a market economy, advancement of democratic institutions (including police training), and improvements in quality of life.
List of countries
As of 2021[update], Albania maintains diplomatic relations with 170 sovereign entities:
Countries which have diplomatic relations with Albania
Since the start of diplomatic relations, both countries have shown a willingness to collaborate, particularly in the field of trade. In January 2005, Albania revoked its 'de facto' recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in favor of Morocco.
People's Socialist Republic of Albania under Enver Hoxha, moved an annual resolution in the General Assembly to transfer China's seat at the United Nations from the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China. On 25 October 1971, Resolution 2758, sponsored by Albania, was passed by the General Assembly, withdrawing recognition of the ROC as the legitimate government of China, and recognizing the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China. Albania was the first country to recognize the People's Republic China. Albania and People's Republic China established diplomatic relations on 23 November 1949.
In December 2006, Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Gurakqui visited Pakistan to hold bilateral consultation with Pakistani political leadership. Pakistan also offers training facilities to young Albanian bureaucrats in the field of banking, finance, management and diplomacy.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Besnik Mustafaj signed the Convention between South Korea and Albania for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income and for the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion on 17 May 2006.
The number of the South Korean citizens living in Albania, in 2020 was about 102.
Bulgaria has an embassy in Tirana and a consulate in Vlorë.
The territory of modern Albania was part of the Bulgarian Empire during certain periods in the Middle Ages and some parts in what is now eastern Albania were populated and ruled by the Bulgarians for centuries.
Albania had recognized Croatia on 21 January 1992.
Albania and Croatia established diplomatic relations on 25 August 1992.
In April 2009, both countries became full members of NATO at an event which both Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader attended. Also that year, the two countries decided to build a joint Nuclear Power Plant on the Albanian border with Montenegro.
The two have a history of defense pacts, and overall there is a good relationship.
Greece has an embassy in Tirana and consulates-general in Gjirokastër and Korça.
Greece is home to just under a million Albanians (some sources say 600,000, whilst other Greek organisations claim 900,000 with illegal migrants and overstayers).
The Arvanitika are a Tosk dialect traditionally spoken by the Arvanites, a population group in Greece. Arvanitika is today an endangered language, as its speakers have been shifting to the use of Greek and most younger members of the community no longer speak it.
Greece is Albania's most important European Union ally and partner.
Relations since the election victory of Edi Rama in 2013 have seen massive improvement and warming of relations between the two nations.
The Archbishop of Albania is of Greek descent.
There are many cultural, political, historical and biological similarities and shared kinship between the Albanian and Greek peoples.
Greek is the second most spoken language in Albania, with a considerable size having knowledge of it, due to immigration and Greek minority.
Albanian is the most common foreign/migrant language in Greece, although most Greeks do not have clear knowledge of it.
Many organisations both political and societal exist in Albania and Greece promoting relations between the two nations.
As of 2014 both nations have described their relations as 'excellent' and Albania considered Greece one of its 'strongest and most important allies', both NATO nations have close relations nowadays.
The Apostolic Nunciature in Albania started asf an apostolic delegation to Albania by Pope Benedict XV on 12 November 1920, and was elevated to the full rank of a nunciature by Pope John Paul II on 16 January 1991.
Relations were reestablished in 1991, after the fall of communism in Albania.
Pope John Paul II was the first Pope to visit Albania, which took place immediately after the fall of communism.
Pope Francis visited Albania on 21 September, which the first nation in Europe he visited.
Albanian Australian are residents of Australia who are of Albanian heritage or descent. According to the 2011 Australian census 2,398 Albanians were born in Australia while 13,142 claimed Albanian ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.
Albania applied in 2009 to join and became an official candidate in June 2014. The Commission recommended the launch of negotiations on 9 November 2016. In 2020 EU ministers agree to start accession talks, in 19 July 2022 Albania starts accession talks and helds the first Intergovernmental Conference on accession negotiations.
Albania has permanent Representatives to the European Union in Brussels.
European Union has an embassy (delegation) in Tirana.
At the 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO invited Albania to join the alliance. In April 2009 Albania became a full member of the NATO, which remains popular in the country especially due to its intervention in the Kosovo war on behalf of ethnic Albanians. Within the Balkans, Albania is considered to be the most pro-European and pro-Western country in the region and unlike its neighbours, except Kosovo, it has to negligible support for Russia.
Albania has permanent representatives to NATO in Brussels.
Albania's relationship with the NATO began in 1992 when it joined EAPC.
Constantinides, Stephanos (1996). "Turkey the emergence of a new foreign policy the neo-Ottoman imperial model". Journal of Political and Military Sociology. 24 (2): 329. "The Turkish policy exploited the difficulties between Albania and Greece but also the fact that Islam is the main religion of the country. Furthermore, close relations with Albania were encouraged by the Americans and Europeans considering the Turkish presence in the area as a factor of stability."
^Vickers, Miranda (1998). Between Serb and Albanian: a History of Kosovo. New York: Hurst and Company. pp. xvi. ISBN9780231113823.. "But the essential factor is that Kosovo borders on the Republic of Albania which is militarily allied with Turkey against Serbia, and the mountains separating the Kosovo plain from Albania and from Macedonia are the only natural protection in case of conflict with these countries."
^ abXhudo 1995, pp. 132–133. "Turkish links with Albania... Greece felt that Turkey was allying itself with the area's Muslims (perhaps with aims to revive the heyday of the Ottomans) and seeking to isolate Greece. Turkey denied those charges and claimed that Greece was exacerbating tensions in the Balkans. Given its historic ties to Albania, coupled with the positive relations established between Turkey and Albania, Ankara has begun to express concern over the polemics between Greece and Albania. Turkey has voiced such concern with slight bias on Albania's behalf much to the anger of the Greeks. Greece, aware of military treaties between Turkey and Albania naturally denounced Turkey's meddling in Greek affairs souring regional relations further."
^ abLani, Remzi; Schmidt, Fabian (1998). "Albanian foreign policy between geography and history". The International Spectator. 33 (2): 79. doi:10.1080/03932729808456809. p. 90. "In a broader Balkan context, Turkey has always seen the Albanians as its natural allies in the Balkans. If the Greeks and Serbs have stood on one side of the scale, the Turks and the Albanians have stood on the other. Although some kind of dissatisfaction with Nano's government is felt in Ankara over what is seen in the Turkish capital as Tirana's pro-Greek orientation, Turkey continues to have close military ties with Tirana; indeed, it is playing an important role in the re-organization of the disintegrated Albanian army. Albania's most important military base, which was destroyed during the armed uprising last year, will be rebuilt by Turkey."
^Konidaris, Gerasimos (2005). "Examining policy responses to immigration in the light of interstate relations and foreign policy objectives: Greece and Albania". In King, Russell; Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie (eds.). The new Albanian migration. Brighton: Sussex Academic. ISBN9781903900789. pp. 80–81. "Greece's favorite candidate in these elections was clearly MR. Nano. As emerges from the interview material, he –unlike Berisha- was held in high esteem by the Greek side. It should not escape notice that Nano was by origin Orthodox Christian from Southern Albania, whereas Berisha was a northern Muslim... Greece's favour towards Nano was clearly demonstrated in June, when he was allowed to speak to a crowd of Albanian citizens at a pre-election rally in one of Athens' central squares. The police did not interfere and no arrests of illegal immigrants were made."
Xhudo, Gus (1995). "Tension among neighbors: Greek‐Albanian relations and their impact on regional security and stability". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 18 (2): 111–143. doi:10.1080/10576109508435972.