US embassy cable - 06TIRANA420

ALBANIA: SCENESETTER FOR VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY'S MAY 7 A-3 MEETING IN DUBROVNIK

Identifier: 06TIRANA420
Wikileaks: View 06TIRANA420 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tirana
Created: 2006-04-27 08:52:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PINR MARR AL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO6481
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTI #0420/01 1170852
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 270852Z APR 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TIRANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4172
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHDLCNE/COMUSNAVEUR LONDON UK
RUFNPKB/COMUSNAVEUR POLAD NAPLES IT
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3245
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 3386
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TIRANA 000420 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/SCE (MBENEDICT/DSAINZ) 
NSC FOR BRAUN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2016 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, MARR, AL 
SUBJECT: ALBANIA:  SCENESETTER FOR VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY'S 
MAY 7 A-3 MEETING IN DUBROVNIK 
 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARCIE RIES.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C) Background/Summary:  Albanians describe their 
relationship with the U.S. as "strategic" and consider it 
their most important bar none.  Politically, and militarily 
Albania looks to the U.S. first, and is deeply appreciative 
of our help.  In return, Albanians have worked hard to make 
themselves a country upon which the U.S. can rely.  With 
virtually no hesitation, Albania was among the first to sign 
an Article 98 agreement (despite pressure from Europeans), 
and send troops to Iraq (now 120 commandos). It also has 
troops in Afghanistan and Bosnia. This winter, when we were 
having difficulty finding a venue for the Iraq coalition 
planning meeting, Albania stepped forward and did a very good 
job of hosting Generals Abizaid and Casey and representatives 
from the 30 participating states.  Albania's moderate voice 
in the region has helped keep the lid on extremist groups and 
smooth the way for negotiations on Kosovo's final status. 
Equally important, Albania has taken a lead role within the 
A-3 for improving cooperation among the three countries. 
Under Albania's chairmanship of the A-3 and SEEBRIG, both a 
medical contingent (A3) and larger joint staff South East 
Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG) headquarters were established and 
deployed in Afghanistan. 
 
2. (C) Integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, beginning 
with a NATO invitation in 2008, is the country's highest 
international priority, but there is much work to be done. 
Albania lags behind Macedonia and Croatia in almost every 
measure save one:  unlike the other two, Albania harbors 
nearly universal support for NATO membership.  Getting there 
might not be easy, but once there the Alliance will find no 
other more enthusiastic member.  During your meeting, you may 
want to: 
 
--  express appreciation for Albania's contributions in Iraq, 
Afghanistan, and Bosnia, and ask that Albania continue to be 
a voice of moderation in the region; 
 
--  urge continued reforms, particularly in the area of rule 
or law and supporting MOD Mediu's reform program, in order to 
meet NATO requirements; and 
 
--  show support for Albania's NATO aspirations and continued 
participation within the A-3, but remain noncommittal 
concerning the next enlargement round, stressing the need to 
meet membership standards.  End Background/Summary. 
 
GOOD ALLY GLOBALLY AND REGIONALLY 
 
3. (C) Your meeting with PM Berisha offers an excellent 
opportunity to express appreciation to the leader of a 
country that has consistently shown itself a friend of the 
United States.  Over the years Albanian leaders have 
consistently looked to us for advice on how to make their 
country a better partner internationally and pursue effective 
domestic reform.  In return, Albania has rarely failed to 
answer our call on key issues -- Article 98, Iraq, and 
Afghanistan.  Albania has also taken a leading role in the 
Adriatic Charter and used its chairmanship to negotiate and 
secure the deployment of an A-3 medical contingent to 
Afghanistan.  As chair of the South East Europe Defense 
Ministerial (SEEDM), Albania took responsibility for 
establishing the South East Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG) joint 
staff headquarters in Afghanistan,  no small feat for a 
country with extremely resources. In the context of the 
Kosovo status negotiations, Prime Minister Berisha pledged to 
Ambassador Wisner he would press the Kosovars to make 
concrete progress on treatment of the Serb minority and would 
work hard to dispel the idea that Albanians harbored the 
ambition to construct a Greater Albania. 
 
NATO MEMBERSHIP:  WORK TO BE DONE 
 
4. (C) Albania has no higher international priority than 
Euro-Atlantic integration, beginning with NATO membership. 
 
TIRANA 00000420  002 OF 002 
 
 
Albanian leaders understand that while we share their NATO 
aspirations, there is still a lot of work to be done to meet 
NATO requirements.  In Minister of Defense Mediu, we have a 
bright, resourceful, and hardworking interlocutor who is 
committed to making the reforms that are necessary. However 
Ambassador Nuland told the Prime Minister when she was here 
that the NATO Council is likely to look most at progress on 
rule of law issues.  The Prime Minister will need to lead on 
this, budgetary issues and on holding local elections that 
meet international standards in 2007 if Albania is to have a 
chance of getting an invitation in 2008. 
 
ECONOMIC ISSUES 
 
5. (C) Interest of American business in Albania, up to now 
very modest, is increasing.  The previous government 
finalized a contract with Lockheed Martin to upgrade air 
traffic control/communications worth USD 47 million, and the 
new government is working on an agreement with Lockheed to 
provide a USD 17 million coastal surveillance system. New, 
very ambitious projects in the energy sector are under 
discussion. 
 
THE PRIME MINISTER 
 
6. (C) Prime Minister Berisha has a troubled history with the 
United States, having failed to heed clear warnings that the 
pyramid schemes would bring about the collapse of the economy 
and ultimately all of the institutions of government, in 1997 
when he was President. He is working hard now to demonstrate 
that he is the most reliable of partners, especially on 
foreign policy issues of critical importance to the United 
States. His domestic program, which focus on fighting 
organized crime -- where he has had some significant 
successes -- and corruption is a worthy one. The MCC has 
recognized his commitment to these goals by making Albania a 
recipient of an award as a "threshold" country. 
 
MESSAGES 
 
7. (C) You may wish to make the following points with your 
Albanian interlocutors: 
 
--  Thank you for supporting U.S. initiatives, both 
regionally and globally.  I know that your soldiers are 
serving with distinction with U.S. forces in Iraq and 
Afghanistan, and we are deeply grateful. (Note: PM Berisha 
visited his troops in Iraq in December 2005.) 
 
--  We appreciate Albania's moderating role in the Balkans. 
Your close ties in the region and support for a peaceful, 
internationally brokered resolution of Kosovo status is 
crucial. I know you have been active in pressing the Kosovars 
to do more for their minorities and  I urge you to continue 
this helpful role. 
 
--  We fully support Albania's Euro-Atlantic aspirations and 
are pleased by the high level of support for NATO membership 
among the Albanian people. 
 
--  Albania must work hard if it is to be invited into NATO 
in the next enlargement round.  Military reform is essential 
and good that you have pledged to meet the 2% GNP target but 
you will need to show concrete progress, especially on rule 
of law issues, to persuade the North Atlantic Council. 
 
--  Congratulations on Albania's recent signing of a 
Millennium Challenge Threshold Program agreement.  I urge you 
to make the best use of these funds to eliminate public 
sector (grant focuses on taxation, business licensing and 
public procurement) corruption. 
RIES 

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