Albania has been granted $8m by the United States, in recognition of its role in international peacekeeping and the global war on terror, the US Embassy announced last month. The money is being provided through the US Coalition Solidarity Fund (CSF) and President George W. Bush’s Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI).
“One of 18 countries to be recognised under the CSF programme, Albania will receive $6m for the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) for military equipment and training,” a statement from the embassy said. Meanwhile, a $2m grant for supporting Albanian military training for peacekeeping operations has been awarded through the GPOI, a programme meant to help US allies build a robust peacekeeping capability with coalition partners.
“Assistance will be provided in defence reform, training, equipment, and humanitarian aid. These programmes are designed to help the AAF build capabilities for its own defence, work together with the United States military and NATO, and strengthen US-Albanian friendship,” the embassy statement said.
Other countries in the region to receive CSF funding include Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania.
The assistance is part of Bush’s emergency wartime supplemental budget request to congress, which provides assistance to coalition allies that have supported military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Albania has peacekeepers in both countries, and is one of only four nations to contribute troops to the combat phase of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A unit of more than 100 Albanian Special Army troops is currently deployed in Iraq, serving under the US-led command in a non-combat role. Albania also has 23 peacekeepers in Afghanistan and troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Albania is also actively seeking integration into NATO. Together with Croatia and Macedonia, it is part of a US-backed initiative known as the Adriatic Charter, meant to co-ordinate efforts by the three countries to achieve Euro-Atlantic integration