NATO will promote its presence in the Western Balkans - where Russia is interested in destabilization - in Albania, which is preparing to host the first alliance military base in the region.
NATO consultants and Albanian government officials discussed the first phase of the 50 million-euro project to modernize the Kuçovë airbase in central Albania, and bring its facilities in line with NATO-approved standards, as reported by alliance officials.
In his role as NATO's allied air commander, General Tod Wolters, who also leads the US air forces in Europe - Air Force Africa, attended the inauguration ceremony in Tirana at the Albanian Ministry of Defense, where he spoke with Olta Xhaçka , Minister of Defense of the country.
"What we expect over the coming months and years is the continuous improvement of the infrastructure and what will happen in the end is that there will be an aircraft base in Kuçovë
We are extremely, extremely enthusiastic about advancing this cause. " said Wolters.
The planned base improvements - built with Soviet assistance at the beginning of the '50 years - include the restoration of runways, control tower upgrades, the construction of a fuel and ammunition depot, and a new rescue station.
Just today, the president of the Albanian Republic Ilir Meta, speaking in Washington at a conference - focusing on the challenges of south-eastern Europe and Russia's interventions and organized by the US Senate Defense Committee - highlighted the importance of the United States' commitment in the Balkans.
"We know well that the United States must face numerous global challenges; we are also aware of the situations that the European Union is experiencing and of the challenges of NATO itself.
But a potential vacuum in our region could be filled by religious extremism with the help of some foreign powers, "said Meta.
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