100 years of US-Albanian relations


US President Woodrow Wilson advocated for an independent Albanian state at the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919. Shortly thereafter, on July 28, 1922, the United States and Albania established diplomatic relations for the first times when Maxwell Blake, the U.S. Commissioner to Albania, extended written notification of U.S. recognition of Albania to Albania’s Foreign Minister.

American-Albanian diplomatic relations were suspended in 1939 when Albania was occupied by Italy (1939-43) and Germany (1943-44) during World War II. After the war, Albania experienced 45 years of isolation and underdevelopment under its communist ruler. With the fall of communism in 1991, the Albanian government sought closer ties with the West to improve economic conditions and introduced fundamental democratic reforms. Diplomatic relations between the United States and Albania were restored in 1991. In 2015, we signed the U.S.-Albania Strategic Partnership to reflect the close partnership between our countries and expand our cooperation to benefit both nations.

The United States and Albania commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-Albanian relations in 2022. Despite the severances of those relations over the past century, our two countries have forged strong bonds, overcome conflict and hardships and have become close allies and friends. With this story in mind, we look to the future and to all that we can achieve together in the next century. Our two nations are rooted in a shared commitment to democratic values, peace and economic prosperity, which are the foundation of this enduring partnership. The 100th anniversary themes reflect these priorities: friendship, democracy, defense and business.

Friendship

  • Over the past year, the Albanian government has again proven to be a strong partner in supporting the resettlement of Afghans.
  • In 2022, the United States extended the validity of the B1/B2 visitor visa for Albanians from three to ten years.
  • In 2021, the United States and Albania signed a Memorandum of Understanding to protect Albania’s cultural property from looting and trafficking.
  • Our 2015 joint statement on the U.S.-Albania strategic partnership was grounded in shared democratic values, respect for human rights, and the rule of law.
  • The United States provided humanitarian assistance to the Albanian Red Cross and UNICEF after the 2019 earthquake, sent firefighting experts to help during the 2021 wildfires, and provided more $4.4 million in COVID-19 relief for vaccine deployment, risk communication and community. commitment.
  • Albanian scholars and students have researched, taught, or studied at American universities under the Fulbright Program in Albania, founded in 1991. American scholars and students have traveled to Albania for research and teaching projects. In 2021, 91 Albanians came to the United States under the Department’s Private Sector Visitor Exchange Program (BridgeUSA). A 2019 memorandum of understanding jointly funded the Fulbright Student Program, expanding scholarships for Albanian students to pursue master’s degrees in the United States.
  • Since 2001, the United States Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) has provided $1.28 million to fund the conservation and protection of significant archaeological structures and artefacts in Albania. Following the November 2019 earthquake, the AFCP focused on the restoration of historical monuments in Albania, including the castles and ramparts of Durres and Preze, which were completed and celebrated this year to honor the 100th anniversary.
  • Since 1992, the United States government has provided more than $1 billion in aid to Albania to support political pluralism; civil society; effective local governments; independent media; the rule of law; the energy and health sectors; free market economic systems; and sustainable economic growth, including through the development of tourism and partnerships with micro-enterprises.

Democracy

  • One of the pillars of the strong bilateral relationship is a shared commitment to democracy. U.S. support will continue for justice, civil society, media, and electoral reform in Albania.
  • Albania’s participation in the US-led Democracy Summit in Washington, D.C. in December 2021 helped promote stronger democratic institutions.
  • U.S. assistance programming helps Albania improve government transparency and accountability, strengthen public-serving justice institutions, increase the capacity of civil society, and fight corruption, all of which contribute to its path to EU membership.
  • American programming supports a free press in Albania based on high-quality investigative journalism, which is vital for a thriving democracy. We invest in training and strengthening media literacy to increase public transparency and broaden citizens’ knowledge of issues that affect their lives and livelihoods.

Defense

  • The United States and Albania share a strong military partnership and commitment to NATO, which Albania joined in 2009.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, nearly 4,000 Albanian soldiers worked alongside NATO forces as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Albanian and American forces also stand side by side as part of NATO’s KFOR mission in Kosovo.
  • Albania was one of the first countries to host more than 2,500 Afghan evacuees after the Taliban seized power in 2021. The U.S. government and U.S. NGOs have recognized the Albanian government’s contributions to providing safe haven for people in need.
  • In 2021, Albania helped host Defender Europe 21, which integrated approximately 28,000 U.S., allied and partner forces from 26 nations in near-simultaneous operations in training areas in more than a dozen countries, from the Baltic to Africa, passing through the critical Black Sea and Balkan regions. The exercise was so successful that Albania will host parts of Defender-Europe 23 again next year.
  • Albania was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for 2022-2023. Albania’s priorities in the Security Council include resolving global crises, encouraging the peaceful resolution of conflicts, partnership and mediation. Albania and the United States are UNSC co-sponsors on Ukrainian issues.
  • U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) established a Special Operations Forces Forward Headquarters in Albania this year, with the full support of the Albanian government and Albanian military.
  • The United States European Command (EUCOM) is helping Albania develop its NATO capabilities. A team from the US Army’s 4e The Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) lives and trains alongside the Albanian Land Forces to accelerate these efforts.

Company

  • In October 2020, the United States and Albania signed a Memorandum of Economic Cooperation (MEC). On the same day, Albania signed an agreement with the American infrastructure company Bechtel, for the long-planned Skavica hydroelectric project, launching the project in October 2021. This milestone marks a promising future in the growing economic relations between the United States and Albania. The MEC also facilitated an agreement between Albania and US energy companies, ExxonMobil and Excelerate Energy to import US liquefied natural gas to Albania through an LNG terminal in Vlora, which will be used to generate energy not only in Albania. , but also to meet energy needs. across the region.
  • Bilateral trade between the United States and Albania was $162.2 million in 2021, up 47% from the previous year. Southern exports are up 61% and Albanian exports are up 30% from 2020. U.S. foreign direct investment also hit a new high in 2021. Prosperous times are ahead for U.S. investors as Albania demonstrates its advantages as an investment destination.
  • The American Chamber of Commerce in Albania (AmCham Albania), established in 2000, increases bilateral trade, promotes foreign investment in Albania and restores Albania’s commercial image in American and international markets thanks to 220 active members representing the most productive and most prosperous in the country. Albania.
  • In 2022, Albania and the Jones International Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Secure Digital Networks.
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