In Tirana summit, Ukrainian President Zelensky thanks Albania for support, seeks joint munitions production

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 29, 2024 11:09

In Tirana summit, Ukrainian President Zelensky thanks Albania for support, seeks joint munitions production

Story Highlights

  • Zelensky invited all the region's countries participating in the summit, to cooperate on defense as Ukraine fights against Russian aggression. 

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TIRANA, Feb. 28, 2024 - Making his first visit to Albania, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Balkan nations, and Albania in particular, for support in countering Russian aggression in his country, calling specifically for cooperation in munitions production, which Ukraine urgently needs in its fight against Russia. 

He made the proposal at a summit held in Tirana, attended by leaders of Southeast European countries. The joint statement issued at the end of the meeting also called on the international community to strongly support Ukraine.

Zelensky invited all the region's countries participating in the summit to cooperate on defense as Ukraine fights against Russian aggression. 

"We see issues with munitions supply, which affect the battlefield situation, and therefore, we are interested in joint munitions production with you and our partners. Our government team will present all the details, and we propose to organize a special forum for the defense industry between Ukraine and the Balkans, either in Kyiv or in any of your capitals," President Zelensky said.

Albania has some munitions production capacity leftover from the communist era, and could revive and ramp up production to help Ukraine, experts told local media. 

-Tirana visit to thank for support-

Arriving in Tirana shortly before midnight on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Zelensky started the day with a meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. 

A face-to-face discussion followed by respective delegations concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the two countries.

Albania stands among the first countries to unequivocally support Ukraine, offering assistance and aligning with other nations in imposing sanctions on Russia. 

It has also been supportive alongside the United States on the Ukraine issue during its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. 

For all these reasons, President Zelensky honored Prime Minister Rama with the "Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise," one of Ukraine's highest honors.

In a post on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) after the meeting with PM Rama, the Ukrainian president wrote they discussed "among other things, the defense needs of Ukraine and the possibility of joint weapons production."

Prime Minister Rama, in his opening speech at the meeting, made a plea to the larger and wealthier countries of the democratic community to continue supporting Ukraine.

“Ukraine's livelihood as a free, independent, and democratic state and as a bastion of Europe's freedom depends on the financial and military support they primarily offer. This support should not be hindered by short-term domestic policies or democratic delays. Don't make mistakes! Ukraine is not just fighting for itself but for everything we believe in, stand for, and work for,” Prime Minister Rama said.

-Serbia attends, but forces changes to summit declaration-

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic did attend the summit, despite his country being friendly to Russia and being the only one in the region not to join EU sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

The final declaration of the meeting did call on the entire international community to strongly support Ukraine in its fight. But the text was agreed upon after lengthy negotiations with Serbia, which opposed a formulation mentioning the six countries of the Western Balkans, due to its nonrecognition of Kosovo as an independent state. The solution seems to have been the nominal order of all participants at the opening of the declaration text. 

According to Serbian media, another point had been a passage related to sanctions against Moscow, which Belgrade did not support. In the final text, the term sanction is not mentioned.

On the other hand, all participating countries fully supported President Zelensky's Peace Plan and confirmed participation in the Peace Summit that Ukraine aims to organize in Switzerland.

-Albania supports Ukraine’s plans-

Earlier in the day, a meeting was also held between the foreign ministers of both countries. 

"Albania supports President Zelensky's 10-Point Plan as the most realistic opportunity to end the war and achieve sustainable peace. Together with other actors and countries, we have already committed to cooperation in implementing Point 5, which concerns the 'Restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,' as one of the most immediate objectives of ending the war," said Albanian Minister Igli Hasani after the meeting.

Albania is among the first countries to support Ukraine without reservation and is committed to directly contributing with assistance. 

Minister Hasani said that during today's meeting "we also discussed the economic and financial aid that Albania can offer to address the situation in Ukraine, as well as its reconstruction, which we hope will happen as soon as possible, without any delay."

Within the next few months, as announced by the Albanian Foreign Minister, the embassy of Albania is expected to open in Kiev. "

We are in the phase of technical preparations," he said.

On his part, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked Albania for the support offered in many directions, focusing particularly on its role during its two-year term as a temporary member of the UN Security Council. 

Albania is also valued by Kyiv as a NATO member, as Ukraine seeks to become a member of the alliance. 

"Our expectations are that among other things, one of the results of the Washington summit will be a step forward towards Ukraine's membership, which will ultimately make this part of Europe safer," said Minister Kuleba.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 29, 2024 11:09