On the 16th International Conference of the Atlantic Council of Albania On December 20, 2013, the Atlantic Council of Albania organized its 16th Annual International Conference entitled "For a greater role of the Balkan countries in international security, at Hotel Mondial, Tirana. This year the conference main topic was "For a greater role of the Balkan countries in the international security". In the Conference participated speakers from Albania and the region, Montenegro, FYROM, Kosova, Italy, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. The conference was attended by about 150 participants composition of security experts, students, representatives of the diplomatic corps in Tirana, military officers, professors, members of the Atlantic Council of Albania, journalists, etc.

In general, the conference reached its main targets an effort to raise the attention of the public and fuel a debate around the specific issues of the conference. This year, especially the time-space devoted to questions and answers and comments was very interesting by the interaction with the audience. In particular, there was a lot of debate about one of the presentations of the conference which was concentrated on the connections between regional economic developments and the respective consolidated regional security with participants focusing on corruption, private property problems and the weak rule of law as a regional phenomenon that spoils this connection.

There was a very good coverage in the local TV channels, such as Albanian State television and some other private ones (UTV, Nesër TV, News 24, etc.). The activity was also published in the newspaper "Gazeta 55".

  • The overall importance of the conference might be described as an event that raised awareness of the participants on the issues in the following:
  • Need of more intensive cooperation and joint activities among the Atlantic organization of the Western Balkan countries.
  • Increase of the role of Atlantic organizations in addressing concrete problems of security (such as the dispute Greece-FYROM, situation in North of Kosova, etc.) or in the region by making efforts in collaborating with the government authorities and international organizations like NATO, BE, OSCE, UN, etc. It was shared the idea that the postponement of FYROM's membership in NATO should be considered as a security issue. The Atlantic organizations must be more active by systematically offering ideas to the decision-making structures of NATO and EU.
  • Evaluation of the regional partnership initiative like Adriatic Charter and the need of its enlargement from five member countries into seven (including Kosova and Serbia),
  • Possible engagement of Western Balkan Atlantic organizations in public diplomacy in Arab spring countries, or somewhere else in the Middle East because of their specific cultural and historic background.
  • Idea that smart defense efforts and other aspects of military cooperation in the region are crucial for the regional security in general.
  • Big economic projects like TAP oil and gas pipeline have a direct impact on the strengthening of stability and security of the Western Balkan and wider.
  • It is fully possible to accelerate the efforts of UN, EU, NATO, OSCE, etc. for the solution of problems in the Western Balkans.
  • It is quite abnormal that while the dialogue between Kosova and Serbia continues for more than one year now, the Atlantic organizations of Serbia and Kosova have not done any effort to add positive impact to this process. On the other side, the International Atlantic Organization (ATA) has slowed down its efforts to accept as an observer member the Kosova Euro-Atlantic Association.

In view of any possible follow-up that will result from this event in Tirana, it might be said that some of the Atlantic organizations of the Western Balkans are going to intensify their contacts among them and their public involvement in the important problematic of the region, such as the solution of the name problem and Albanian-FYROM relations in FYROM, Kosova-Serbia dialogue, inter-ethnic problems of Bosnia-Herzegovina, public information on NATO and increase of its public support in some of these countries.

The Atlantic Council of Albania is working to put together a project for the year 2014 in search of some support for joint public Atlantic activities in the universities of the Western Balkan countries.

* from the Official website of the Atlantic Council of Albania