The Alliance reaffirms its positions on the Western Balkans with its first military base. Albania intends to build it in the town of Kuchova, and it is planned to be an air base. It is curious that this was written in the Facebook profile of Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama.

NATO Council has decided to invest 50 million euros to modernise the air base in Kuchova, 80 km south of the capital Tirana. There has been military base for decades, but it is currently not fully operational. The base will be used by Albania and NATO for air supply operations, logistical support, airspace protection, training and exercises.

Until 1990 Kuchova’s name was “Stalin” and is a closed military site. Today, the city has 50,000 inhabitants and is an important centre of oil business as part of an infrastructure connection with the Vlora port.

Albania’s prime minister also announced ongoing talks with the US on future modernisation of Albanian air forces capacity.

Albania and Croatia became NATO members at a ceremony in Washington in 2009. The two countries received a call for membership in April 2008 at the Bucharest Summit. Together with Zagreb and Tirana, another Balkan Nation – Republic of Macedonia could join NATO, but Greece vetoed the invitation to Skopje because of the name dispute of the former Yugoslav Republic

With this move, NATO reaffirmed its commitment to the Western Balkans, after the head of the Alliance’s United Command in Naples visited Kosovo at the end of July. Previously, at a meeting in Brussels on 11 July, the organisation confirmed its presence in the unrestful region. The Kosovo Force is the longest up-to-date NATO initiative and it is based in Pristina and includes over 4,000 troops from 28 countries.

The new UK Defence Minister Gavin Williamson also pledged enhanced support within NATO for the Western Balkans. London is also actively engaged in an EU mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO membership of the Western Balkan countries guarantees peace for the broader Balkan region and Southeast Europe, but there are still many unresolved issues in the countries. The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where things are complex in terms of the structure of this state entity composed of three parts, seems to be particularly complex.