Albania and the OSCE

Albania became a participating country to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – (at that time CSCE) during the proceedings of the Ministerial Council of Berlin (19-20 June 1991). The Helsinki Final Act was signed on 16 September 1991, followed by the signature of the Charter of Paris for a New Europe on 17 September 1991. This moment marked a substantial change in the course of Albanian foreign policy, which would free Albania from international self-isolation and bring it closer to the Euro-Atlantic community by sharing the principles and values of freedom, democracy and rule of law.

The accession of Albania to the OSCE was accompanied by deep legal reforms concerning respect for human rights. The circumstances that enabled Albania to access the OSCE comprised the democratic movement of December 1990, the first pluralistic elections and the adoption of the Provisional Constitutional Package, on 29 April 1991. This Package encompassed provisions that accepted political pluralism and respect for human rights.

Following the internal unrest of 1997, the relations between Albania and the OSCE entered a new dimension. In 1997, the Permanent Council decided, upon the request of the Albanian Government, to send an OSCE Presence in Albania to help overcome the crises and take the country to general elections, in line with the OSCE commitments. The Danish Chairmanship, through its Special Envoy, the former Austrian Chancellor, Dr. Franz Vranitzky, brokered the resolution of the political crisis and enabled the opening of an OSCE Presence in Albania. In a second stage after that, this Presence was re-installed with an enhanced mandate, to include monitoring of the north-eastern borders of the country.

At a later stage, which is also the current one, an updating of the mandate was agreed in 2003 in order to better reflecting the developments and progress of the situation at home. Albania is gradually entering another new phase, that of a partnership in priorities that are also part of the European Partnership of Albania. These are major priorities of the Government. This new phase requires, therefore, a qualitatively different and focused partnership.

The Presence is not a permanent representation of the OSCE in Albania, but has a temporary mandate, the latest version of which was adopted in 2003. The profile of engagements by the OSCE and its Presence in Albania over the years have duly changed, reflective of the meaningful and sustainable changes in the country, as well as Albania’s milestone achievements vis-à-vis the Euro-Atlantic integration process. 

Today the Presence supports the legal, judicial, administrative and property reforms and helps the Albanian authorities in the parliamentary capacity - building, the fight against corruption and promotion of good governance and empowerment of civil society. The Presence also supports the State Police in the process of dismantling of the old ammunitions stocks and supports Albania in the implementation of the commitments taken, as a participating country to the OSCE. The OSCE Presence in Albania has gradually reduced the number of projects, which reflects the progress of our country and the more efficient use of the financial resources of the Presence. 

The OSCE Presence works very closely with Albanian institutions to support the country's reform process, in the framework of Albania's EU membership. 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the OSCE Presence in Albania. Following the events in Albania in 1997, the support of the OSCE was essential in preparing elections, building trust in newly created institutions, and bolstering the rule of law.

The increased role that Albania has continuously played in the region and beyond has had an impact on the substantial change of relations with the OSCE. Albania is no longer just a consumer of the OSCE expertise, but it contributes considerably in maintaining and boosting the role of the Organization in the European security architecture. During the last years Albania has increased its profile in the OSCE. It hosted the Autumn Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (October 2012), the High Level Conference on Tolerance and Non-discrimination (May 2013), the Third Southeast Europe Media Conference (September 2013), the OSCE Secretary General, Lamberto Zannier visited Albania in the conclusion of the second phase of a project to remove and destroy highly hazardous chemicals stored near populated areas (May 2015), meanwhile in Tirana it is held the media freedom conference (June 2015), the second Media Development Forum (November 2016).  

The OSCE Permanent Council hold a special session at the Hofburg in Vienna on 3 November 2016, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Albania's membership in the OSCE, attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, H. E. Mr. Ditmir Bushati, who addressed the 1117th meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council.