SEECP meeting in Tirana
A ministerial meeting of the member countries of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) was held in Tirana on Wednesday 16 May. Paskal Milo, the Albanian foreign minister, headed the meeting on behalf of the chairman-in-office of the SEECP.
The assembled foreign ministers adopted a joint declaration that emphasized the role of the SEECP as a vehicle for regional cooperation and for strengthening peace and stability in Southeast Europe.
They also praised the contributions toward this goal of NATO and other countries through the Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the Stabilization Force (SFOR). The SEECP ministers emphasized that integrating the Southeast European countries into European and Euro-Atlantic structures will further strengthen regional security.
The SEECP ministers expressed deep concern over recent developments in Macedonia, calling on the ethnic Albanian extremist groups to cease armed violence, lay down their weapons, and withdraw. The establishment of a broad coalition government for national unity in Macedonia was praised, and SEECP ministers expressed their full support of the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the inviolability of its borders.
The group emphasized in particular the need to respect human and minority rights, to build democratic institutions, and to establish the rule of law, pursuing reforms in all fields. They also called for Macedonia's compliance with obligations under the Dayton/Paris Agreement and UNSCR 1244, including cooperation with the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Attending the meeting as special guests were Bodo Hombach, the Special Coordinator for the Stability Pact, and Hans Haekkerup, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative and head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Robertson in Tirana
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson made an official visit to Tirana last week, meeting individually with President Rexhep Mejdani, Prime Minister Ilir Meta, and Foreign Minister Paskal Milo. Talks focused on recent events in Macedonia, the regional situation, Albania's constructive and stabilizing role, and steps being taken towards the integration of Albania into NATO.
Prime Minister Meta issued a statement after his meeting with Robertson, calling on extremists in Macedonia to withdraw and cease their military activity, giving time for the coalition government to establish its new agenda. Meta also stressed the advantage this would give to the launching of an amnesty for people involved in the wave of political extremism who did not commit crimes.
The NATO secretary general also participated in a conference organized by the North Atlantic Treaty Albanian Organization (NATAO), whose members have disputed the definition of the National Liberation Army of Macedonia (NLA-UÇK) as a terrorist organization.
Pointing to the case of two Albanians killed in front of journalists' cameras last month, and the many burnt and bombed villages in Macedonia, one pensioned former general told Robertson that the NLA-UÇK "have killed no Macedonian civilians, burnt no Macedonian houses, and attacked no Macedonian villages."
Weapons seized in Durrës
Durrës police seized a truck loaded with weapons in a seaport customs office last week. Police sources reported that the truck was the property of an Albanian citizen of Macedonia and was destined for the National Liberation Army.
"I want to thank the Albanian Government for the seizure of the lorry loaded with weapons in Durrës," said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. "This was a very successful action that can further distance the fighters from this illegal and unprincipled trade." Robertson made assurances that the international community is ready to fight against the weapons trade, which continues to bring misery to the region.
Third meeting of High-Level Steering Group
Tirana hosted the third meeting of the High-Level Steering Group Albania-European Union. The 16-17 May meeting dealt broadly with aspects of internal development in Albania and with the country's regional policy in service of preserving peace and stability in the region.
Other issues discussed were the judiciary system, the energy situation, the environment, anti-corruption measures, illegal trafficking, organized crime, minority rights, and progress in the electoral process.
Catherine Day, head of the EU General Directorate for South-East Europe, and Foreign Minister Paskal Milo held a joint press conference in Tirana after the meeting. Day stated that it would be several weeks before the definitive report of the experts is released.
"We have not yet decided on a date when Albania will sign the Agreement of Stabilization and Association with EU," said Day to reporters. Milo showed optimism about the Albania-EU issue, but most analysts say that Albania must still wait for a positive EU response.
Parliament ends session
On 17 May, the Albanian Parliament held the last meeting of the 15th legislature of the Albanian assembly, according to the constitutional requirement that the assembly be dissolved 45 days before elections are held. All the sitting members of parliament met for the last time at a cocktail party organized by the assembly's president. Meanwhile, the various political parties have announced 24 May as the official start date of the campaign for the coming general elections.
Artur Nura, 18 May 2001
- Archive of news reviews for Albania
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Central Europe through CER
- Return to CER front page