Albania–United States relations

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Albania – United States relations
Map indicating locations of Albania and USA

Albania

United States
Diplomatic Mission
Albanian Embassy, Washington, D.C. United States Embassy, Tirana

Albania – United States relations refer to the current and historical relations of Albania and the United States of America, first established in 1912, following its independence from the Ottoman Empire, ending in 1939 due to German and Italian occupation in the Second World War, and re-established in 1991 after the fall of communism in Albania and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The countries are both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

History[edit]

Relations from 1800-1939[edit]

Albanian immigrants first arrived to the United States in the middle 19th century, mostly focused in Boston. In Boston, the first Albanian weekly newspaper, Kombi (The Nation) started publications in 1906. Albanian-American Pan-Albanian Federation of America-Vatra was started in 1912 by Fan S. Noli and was politically active in World War I. While the international community debated over the partition of Albania, President Woodrow Wilson on May 6, 1919 deemed that "Albania ought to be independent." [1]

The Congress of Lushnja, held in January 1920, it was a bicameral parliament that appointing members of its own ranks to an upper chamber. There was also an elected lower chamber, which had one deputy for every 12,000 people in Albania and, also one deputy for the large Albanian-American community. The regency council declared: "heartfelt thanks to President Wilson for his defense of the rights of Albanians. They remain convinced that the great American Republic will continue to support their rightful national claims."[2]

The United States supported Albania's current borders in and in December 1920 Albania became a full member of the League of Nations.[3] The United States officially established bilateral diplomatic relations with Albania in 1922,[4] with plans to give concessions to US oil companies.[5] In February 1925 Ahmet Zogu became President of Albania and sent Faik Konitza as the Albanian minister to Washington, Konitza was the first official representative (his first office was located in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.) of the Albanian government to the United States.Then, when Ahmet Zogu became King of Albanians in 1928, the American government quietly recognized the political shift.[6] King Zog's government was closely tied with the United States. King Zog opened an office for the Albanian consular general in New York, which was also the Albania representative in the World Fair Organization, as well as a consulate in Boston. From the late 1920s and early 1930s, there were four bilateral treaties and eleven multilateral agreements signed between Albania and the United States.

Occupied Albania (1939-1944)[edit]

Photo of Enver Hoxha with OSS officer Thomas Stefan, an Albanian-American with origins from Korçë

The increasing influence of Italy into Albanian politics led to Senator Robert R. Reynolds' visit to Tirana in 1937. But the relations were soon cut short when Italy invaded Albania in April 1939, which drew the criticism of Secretary of State Cordell Hull.[7] The Albanian legation in Washington was officially closed, though Hull continued American support of a liberated Albania. During the German occupation of Albania, the United States supported a common advance of Albanians against their occupiers,[8] but had little military influence in the Balkans. Allied command denounced the nationalists (Balli Kombetar) as Nazi collaborators and supplied the Communists (National Liberation Movement) with weapons, leading to the Communists gradually gaining complete control over the Albanian resistance.[9] On May 4, 1944 the Albanian National Liberation forces commissioned a conference in Permet, which forbid King Zog reentry to Albania, and also annulled all international treaties signed before occupation.[10]

A joint American-British team known as Military Liaison Albania, coordinated civilian relief in liberated Albania. Enver Hoxha, leader of the Communists, also requested that a military representative be sent to Washington to coordinate military cooperation between the United States and Albania. He also wanted to send a fiscal representative to coordinate assistance from the United States. An American mission was also sent to Albania by the UNRRA.

Communist Albania (1944-1992)[edit]

After the liberation of Albania, American-Albanian relations turned bleak due to Hoxha's insistence that members from Balli Kombetar and Legaliteti be returned from trial, instead the allied military authorities put them into a camp in Santa Maria di Lucca. Midhat Frasheri, leader of Balli Kombetar, declared Hoxha to be illegitimate and sent a letter that stated that an impartial plebiscite be held "for the regions that belong to us [Albanians] ethnographically, because Albania should not be divided in two for the sake of imperialism and injustice." The initial years of Communist rule however were approved by the American government, as they publicly declared their democratic principles and appreciation of human rights, holding one general election December 2, 1945; which The National Liberation Front won by 97%. However, the allied powers eventually did recognize the government of Enver Hoxha on November 10, 1945.

Gradually, the Albanian government very quickly went into the orbit of the Soviet Union, making it hard for the United States to maintain its own position.[11] This was strange, since many in Communist government were educated abroad, including one Koço Tashko, who was educated in Harvard. Relations further deteriorated when economic adviser of the U.S. mission, Harry T. Fultz, employees of the American mission (who Fultz taught), along with the UNRRA's representatives, were charged with sabotage of a draining project in Lake Maliq. The United States considered the situation unacceptable and wanted withdrawing the mission, which it did on November 2, 1946.[12] All in all, the decision to split from Albania was in part due to it not being important to the United States political or economic interests. The U.S. trade balance in the nation was $280,000; while the total assets amounted to $1.3 million.

America turned hostile against the Hoxha regime, it also turned to indirectly support the division of Albania, which gave the Communist government the reasoning behind its hostility. After a rather embarrassing incident in 1947, a mutual hostility remained between the two countries, even as it changed from Yugoslavs, Soviet, and Chinese dominion. On October 5, 1966, minister of foreign affairs of Austria, Lujo Tonic-Sorinj, explained that Albania wanted to meet with Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Minister Toncic referenced Hoxha's approaches to him, stating that: "Albanians have indicated a desire to move nearer the West but they appear not to dare take any plunge and seem to be afraid of being repulsed by the West." Toncic asked the secretary if he expected any change in Albania's diplomatic position. Rusk speculated that Albanians could become restless under their monopoly of China and indicated "it would be a great mistake for the United States to try to probe the intentions of the Albanians."

While trade was almost nonexistent between the two countries, in 1978 Albanian traders attempted to sell Chromium to the United States by using a Swedish trading company as a middleman.[13]

Relations with the west began to thaw after Hoxha's death in 1985, but the Communist government was still in power. Ties between the two nations were reestablished in 1990 when the first contacts were reestablished. Albania returned to warm relations with the United States, especially after the Secretary of State James A. Baker visited Albania in 1991. The United States was also important in the landslide victory of Sali Berisha in the 1992 elections, ending the last Communist dominated country in Europe.

Post Communist Albania (1992-1997)[edit]

Prior to the special elections of 1992, the main opposition leader, Sali Berisha, visited the United States twice and was able to receive the full support of the U.S. government and various Congressional leaders. Understanding the challenges to democratization, the United States publicly supported the opposition parties in Albania. The U.S. support proved to be of critical importance for the landslide victory of the opposition in the March 22nd elections. On April 9, 1992, the new Albanian Parliament elected Berisha as president of the republic, Albania's first noncommunist president since the end of World War II.[14]

The new government created after the election of 1992 introduced an ambitious, Western-oriented program of much-needed economic and democratic reforms to overcome Albania's longtime isolation and economic stagnation.

The cooperation continued in major fields like economy, defense, and agricultural aid.

Modern Albania (1997- present)[edit]

Embassies and consulates[edit]

The Albanian embassy in Washington, D.C.

Albania maintains an embassy in the American capital of Washington, D.C., while the United States maintains an embassy in Albania's capital city Tirana. Albania also has a consulate in New York City because of the Albanian diaspora in the U.S.

Public sentiment[edit]

Pro-American sentiment is strong and widespread among the Albanian population.[15][16]

Even while the United States, which had closed its mission to Albania in 1946, was being vilified by communist propaganda during the regime of Enver Hoxha, ordinary Albanians remembered that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had interceded on behalf of Albanian independence from 1919 to 1920, strongly arguing against a proposed partition of Albania by the Paris Peace Conference and subsequently enabling Albania to achieve statehood and international recognition by the League of Nations.[17] Many Albanian children to this day are named Vilson in the president's honor.[citation needed] Albanians also credit the Clinton Administration with saving Kosovar-Albanian lives in the Kosovo war,[18] and they greatly appreciate the U.S. Government's commitment to resolving the political status of Kosovo.[19]

According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 80% of Albanians approve of U.S. leadership, the second-highest rating for any surveyed country in Europe after the partially recognized Kosovo.[20]

As of 2013, there were 649 international students of Albanian origin studying in the United States.[21]

Treaties[edit]

President Bush meeting with Prime Minister Sali Berisha during his official visit in Albania (2007)
A statue of George W. Bush was erected at Fushë-Krujë after his visit

In 2003, Albania and the U.S. signed and ratified a number of agreements, including a treaty on the prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the promotion of defense and military relations; the Adriatic Charter; and an agreement regarding the non-surrender of persons to the International Criminal Court. The U.S. strongly supported Albania's European Union and NATO membership goals. Working towards NATO membership, the U.S. and Albania signed a Supplementary Agreement to the Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement, an important step in strengthening bilateral cooperation and enhancing security, peace, and stability in the region. In April 2008, NATO invited Albania to join the alliance,[22] and in October 2008, US President George W. Bush signed Albania NATO protocols, saying, "The people of Albania and Croatia are helping move the world closer to a great triumph of history — a Europe that is whole, a Europe that is free and a Europe that is at peace."[23] Albania joined NATO in 2009 along with Croatia, further strengthening Albanian–American relations.

Albania is eligible to export certain products duty-free to the United States under the Generalized System of Preferences program. The United States and Albania have signed a bilateral investment treaty.[24]

Developmental aid[edit]

Since fiscal year 1991, the U.S. has provided Albania with more than $616 million in assistance,[19] not counting Foreign Agricultural Service food aid. In 2007, the U.S. gave over $21.1 million to Albania under the Support for East European Democracy Act program. Albania was among the countries selected to participate in the Threshold Program under the Millennium Challenge Account, receiving a grant of $13.8 million.[25] In September 2006, Albania began implementation of the program, which targets corruption and rule of law.

Global War on Terrorism[edit]

President Nishani meets with John Kerry during his official visit in Tirana, 14 February 2016

Albania has supported the U.S. in the global Global War on Terrorism by freezing terrorist assets, shutting down non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with possible links to terrorist financing, expelling extremists, and providing military and diplomatic support for the U.S.-led actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.[19] Albania has played a moderating role in the region and has fully supported UN mediation efforts in Kosovo. Albania also has 600 elite soldiers deployed in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force, and 240 troops as part of Multi-National Force – Iraq.

Death of Osama bin Laden[edit]

The President of the Republic, Prof. Dr. Bamir Topi, through a message conveyed to U.S. President Barack Obama, commended the elimination of Osama bin Laden, considering it as one of the greatest victories in the war against international terrorism.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha reacted to the Al-Qaeda leader being killed by the U.S. forces in Pakistan by noting it as a great victory of the U.S. over terrorism. Speaking to reporters, Berisha said that Bin Laden got what he deserved and emphasized that his death relieves the pain of thousands of September 11 victims. Berisha said:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania hailed the death of Osama bin Laden, saying:

Libyan civil war[edit]

Prime Minister Sali Berisha supported the 2011 military intervention in Libya the decision of the coalition to protect civilians from the Libyan regime of Gaddafi. In a press release of the Prime Ministry, Berisha noted that these operations are considered entirely legitimate, having as main objective the protection of freedoms and universal rights that Libyans deserve[29] adding that Albania is ready to help.[30]

Syrian civil war[edit]

During a 2012 meeting with the new ambassador of Qatar in Albania, Prime Minister Sali Berisha said: "The government of Albania is following with concern the events in Syria where the regime of Bashar al-Assad is using its power as a permit to kill the innocent civilians and the Syrian people."[31] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania on 18 February 2012 strongly condemns the violence already spread throughout Syria, "as well as increasing the number of victims caused by the government of Bashar Al Assad on the innocent population of his country".[32] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the conclusions of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the European Union, held on 27 February in Brussels, on developments in Syria, as well as the additional sanctions that the European Union has adapted against the Assad government, sanctions that aim to paralyze the apparatus and finances of the repressive machine against the Syrian people. The Albanian Foreign Ministry expresses sympathy and support for the progressive forces, which have embraced the aspiration to transform Syria into a democratic, open and pluralistic state, which respects the rights of all communities living in this country. By coordinating its contributions to those of the international community, the Republic of Albania joins the Friends of Syria Group, believing that this is the secure way to help the Syrian people.[33]

During the meeting on 1 April 2012 Friends of Syria in Istanbul the Minister of foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, Edmond Haxhinasto too spoke in the meeting, emphasizing that the issue of human rights is not an internal affair belonging to the states, but a responsibility of all the international community. He expressed the need to intensify the pressure against the current government of Damascus not just politically, but also through a concentrated action of all international mechanisms. Haxhinasto stressed the position of the Albanian government to support the efforts of the U.N., the E.U., the Arab League and other international bodies in putting an end to the violence towards the civilian population from the Damascus government, and establishing the conditions for a democratic process. He praised the Mission of the UN Special Envoy, Mr. Kofi Annan and his plan to stop the bloodshed and violence, achieve national reconciliation and establish a democratic government in Syria. In conclusion, Minister Haxhinasto underlined the support of the Albanian Government for the Syrian democratic opposition represented by the Syrian National Council, as well as its war for freedom, human dignity and progress.[34]

Military intervention against ISIL[edit]

Albania has supported U.S. counter terrorism efforts and has contributed to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL by freezing terrorist assets, shutting down non-governmental organizations with possible links to terrorist financing, and expelling extremists.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919. Volume V. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1919. p. 483. 
  2. ^ "Nationalism in Eastern Europe. / Edited by Peter F. Sugar and Ivo J. Lederer. - Version details". Trove. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  3. ^ Akhund, Nadine (2012-12-31). "The Two Carnegie Reports: From the Balkan Expedition of 1913 to the Albanian Trip of 1921". Balkanologie. Revue d'études pluridisciplinaires (in French) (Vol. XIV, n° 1-2). ISSN 1279-7952. 
  4. ^ "Albania". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Library Images" (PDF). 
  6. ^ "Recognition of Zog I, King of Albanians" (PDF). 
  7. ^ "ATTACK ON ALBANIA ASSAILED BY HULL; DIPLOMATS INVOLVED BY INVASION". The New York Times. 1939-04-09. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  8. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1944, The British Commonwealth and Europe, Volume III - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  9. ^ Rothschild, Joseph (2000). RETURN TO DIVERSITY: A Political History of East Central Europe Since World War II. Oxford: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS. 
  10. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1945, Europe, Volume IV - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  11. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, Eastern Europe, The Soviet Union, Volume VI - Office of the Historian". history.state.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  12. ^ "Efforts to reach a satisfactory basis for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Albania; withdrawal of the informal Albanian mission" (PDF). 
  13. ^ "Albania to Use Swedish Middleman to Sell Chromium Ore to Us". 2017-06-21. 
  14. ^ http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a429684.pdf
  15. ^ Lucas, Peter: Why Albanians love America, Retrieved on January 14, 2009
  16. ^ Albanians love Americans - and the feeling is mutual Denver Post 2010-08-14
  17. ^ Albania's Reemergence after World War I
  18. ^ Smith, Craig S. (2007-06-09). "For One Visit, Bush Will Feel Pro-U.S. Glow". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  19. ^ a b c "Background Note: Albania". state.gov. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  20. ^ U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
  21. ^ International Students: All Places of Origin Institute of International Education
  22. ^ John, Mark (2008-04-03). "NATO invites Croatia and Albania to join alliance". reuters.com. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  23. ^ Klein, Kent: Bush Signs NATO Entry Protocols for Albania, Croatia, Retrieved on January 14, 2009
  24. ^ https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3235.htm
  25. ^ "Summaries of MCC Compacts in Europe, Eurasia and the Pacific" (PDF). mcc.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  26. ^ President of Albania Archived April 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ Keshilli i Ministrave i Republikes se Shqiperise Archived April 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ PRESS RELEASE, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania Archived May 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ "Albania supports the attacks on Libya". Albeu Online Media. 20 March 2011. 
  30. ^ "Albania supports the attacks on Libya". March 20, 2011. 
  31. ^ PM Berisha receives new ambassador of State of Qatar Yossef Bin Hassan Bin Yousef Al Saai[permanent dead link], Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania, 2012-02-14
  32. ^ Statement of Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approval of the Resolution for Syria in the General Assembly of U.N., Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, 2012-02-18
  33. ^ Albania joins the International Group of “Friends of Syria”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, 2012-02-28
  34. ^ "Minister Haxhinasto participates in the meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" Group". Mfa.gov.al. 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/index.htm (U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets).

External links[edit]