Foreign Policy Priorities

Our foreign policy program aims to consolidate the country's Euro-Atlantic anchoring, accelerate and concretize the pace of the EU integration process, strengthen friendship and overall relations with our neighbouring countries, as well as enhancing our role, contribution and credibility in the region in the framework of promoting and expanding the regional cooperation.

The guiding principles underlying our foreign policy are well-accepted norms of international law, mutual respect and understanding among nations, fostering of peace and security in the world, respect for fundamental rights, good neighbourly relations, regional cooperation, and international solidarity. Our foreign policy will be guided by the principles of predictability, sustainability and continuity. Its main mission is to protect the national interests, prevent conflicts and contribute to democratic stability in the region and beyond.

Our vision relies on the strategic partnership with the European Union, the United States of America, and with our neighbours, members of EU and/or NATO, such as Italy, Greece and Turkey, whose influence and scope is irreplaceable in the Mediterranean region and the Balkans. It is also based on the expansion of deeper and multi-faceted cooperation with Germany, France and Austria, encouraging increased bilateral exchanges and strengthened ties with the Visegrad countries as well as with all other EU member states and Israel; and on a wider scale, fostering of exchanges with other important countries such as China, Japan, Russia, India and the Persian Gulf countries.

Integration in the European Union, contribution as a NATO member country, strengthening relations with friendly and partner countries, regional cooperation, proactive role of Albania in international organizations and multilateral forums, consular assistance to Albanians abroad, including modernizing the consular service, as well as putting diplomacy in the service of the country's economic development determine our foreign policy framework to assure a better future for Albanians in the country and abroad.

Further progress in the accession into the European Union

Our main commitment is to take all the necessary steps in order to open accession negotiations with the European Union. The accurate implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), 12 priorities identified by the EU and the absorption of EU financial aid, remain crucial in this regard.

Our diplomatic service will be more efficient in representing Albania’s European agenda in the capitals of countries that play a leading role in European decision-making.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs combined the functions of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the former Ministry of European Integration in order to accomplish the mission and cover the areas of responsibilities defined by the applicable legal acts. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs will ensure the implementation of foreign policy and the coordination of the EU integration process, including programming, monitoring and management of EU financial assistance through the IPA national programs, territorial cooperation and horizontal programs; as well as coordinating and certifying the approximation of EU and domestic legislation.

National security and contribution to global security

Our approach to national security will continue to embody the standards and principles of the North Atlantic Alliance. Albania will continue to orientate its actions and positions in the field of foreign and security policy in accordance with NATO's main values and principles and the three pillars of its Strategic Concept: collective defence, cooperative security and crisis management.

Contemporary security challenges have witnessed an increased and diversified trend in recent years, which have brought, along with traditional and conventional dimensions, the expansion and intensification of new risks of a complex and multi-level nature such as violent extremism, terrorism, cyber-attacks or hybrid warfare. Such challenges make it necessary to increase our efforts to consolidate security in the country, the Alliance’s territory and beyond, in accordance with our national interests, obligations and engagements as an ally country, in accordance with internationally accepted principles and norms and in close cooperation with our strategic allies and global key players.

Simultaneously, responding to these challenges requires a consolidated coordinating role of MEFA at the national level, as well as an increased contribution and an active interaction of Albania's foreign policy in the international arena, both in the bilateral, multilateral and regional spheres, with a special emphasis on the security of the region and the territory of the allies.

In this context, Albania's approach to current challenges will be guided by the principles of active protection of national interests in the field of security, support for the unity and trans-Atlantic ties, preservation and enhancement of the Alliance’s engagement in the Western Balkans, and our readiness to contribute to peace and security in the framework of NATO and other international organizations’ operations and missions.

The complexity of the challenges that arise from conflicting countries, primarily the fight against terrorism, the return of foreign terrorist fighters and mass emigration from conflicting countries, also requires Albania's prominent engagement in this area and more coordinated interaction with our main partners and countries that share the same concerns, as well as with the European Union and the Western Balkans.

Furthermore, with NATO membership in the Global Coalition against ISIL (May 2017), Albania will continue to promote an increased role of the Alliance in the fight against terrorism and strengthen its cooperation with other international organizations, particularly with the EU, where Albania intends to increase its interaction in the area of security and its operational contributions.

An important aspect of our political action will be the promotion and intensification of interaction with Western Balkan countries through regional platforms addressing the phenomenon of violent extremism and terrorism. The Western Balkans is an area threatened by risks and security challenges from both the East and the South. These dangers and challenges of hybrid nature are composed of active acts of intelligence and propaganda emanating from the actors and third state factors, as well as the direct and indirect threats of the active actions of the subversive and propagandistic nature of the so-called Islamic State, in particular terrorism, violent extremism and the risk of the return of terrorist fighters engaged in conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

In this context, Albania will continue to maintain an active commitment to a more strategic approach and to the increased vigilance of security organizations and allied countries to our region by encouraging comprehensive cooperation in the region and the elimination of security grey areas in the Western Balkans.

Essential Engagement in the Region

The constructive approach and active leadership of Albania in the region will continue to be led by strengthened regional cooperation. Our activity in this framework will continue to be directly related to the protection and promotion of our national interests, the preservation and strengthening of our role in fostering good neighbourly relations, the overall support for Kosovo’s state consolidation, guaranteeing and protecting the rights and freedoms of Albanians living in other neighbouring countries, participating and promoting an ever closer interaction in regional mechanisms, part of the contribution to the common Euro-Atlantic perspective.

The protection of national interests and strengthening our role and influence in the region will naturally intersect in the matrix of objectives and priorities that govern our commitment as a NATO member and EU candidate country. In this context, we will maintain and emphasize the geo-strategic clarity that has characterized our engagement in the region, continuing to support at any instance the integration of the region into the European Union and NATO. We will also continue to show the unwavering will to build the best and closest possible relationship with all our neighbours, as they are the cornerstone of our regional foreign policy and serve the good neighbourly relations, regional cooperation and the common euro-Atlantic perspective.

Further institutionalization and strengthening of the regular intergovernmental meetings mechanism with neighbouring countries such as Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, or in other tripartite, quadratic formats with all Western Balkan countries and the SEE region, such as Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania, etc. will guide the work undertaken to alleviate trade barriers, foster connectivity, improve investment climate, and promote joint youth mobility, human, cultural and tourist exchanges.

The fulfilment of these objectives will continue to be materialized through the extension of the present contribution for the enlargement and intensification of the multilateral regional cooperation, with a view to putting into effect the decisions taken under the Berlin Process in support of development projects, energy and infrastructural interconnections and in function of regional economic cohesion. Strengthening capacities and expanding the activities of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the Western Balkans Fund will further strengthen the framework of regional cooperation and approximation.

Albanians in the region, especially in Macedonia, Montenegro, and Presevo Valley will remain a major priority of our diplomatic action. Their prosperity and addressing of the problems they face will remain at the centre of our attention, not only as part of the dialogue with the authorities of the respective countries of each level but also on the line of continuous communication with the Albanian political representatives there, based on the contribution of the political representatives of the Albanian population, as an emancipating and democratizing force for the places where they are, as well as a linking bridge to strengthen friendship and cooperation between us and our neighbours.

Multilateral international cooperation

European Albania, with a new role in multilateral cooperation, will continue to contribute to the strengthening of peace and security in the region and the world, through its continuous engagement in the fight against international terrorism, violent extremism, prevention and elimination of various conflicts and will foster cooperation and development between countries and nations through priority development policies, based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, without leaving anyone behind.

The multilateral diplomacy dimension will continue to be a powerful instrument of our foreign policy, to serve the development of comprehensive reforms in the country, our country's membership processes in the EU, to defend the rights of Albanians wherever they are, Kosovo's membership in international organizations, but also increased visibility of the country through dignified representations in international institutions and mechanisms in the service of our national interests. We will intensify cooperation and increase engagements within the United Nations, OSCE, Council of Europe etc., contributing to development, focusing on respect for and protection of human rights.

We appreciate the cooperation with the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, etc., which are important international economic and financial institutions that assist the processes of further economic and social development of our country, macroeconomic consolidation and the strengthening of trade bridges of cooperation with other member countries of these international organizations.

Diplomacy in the service of the country's economic development

The country's economic development and diplomacy are closely linked. Opening of international markets for Albania and the introduction of "Made in Albania" products in regional, European and international markets is part of MEFA's engagement to serve our country's economic growth. In this regard, MEFA supports activities aimed at attracting productive investments in Albania, promoting domestic products abroad, attracting tourist flows, and promoting excellent talents, which constitute our strategic objectives on which the future economic diplomacy activities will be based. Furthermore, MEFA has expanded its scope of responsibilities and established a cooperation framework with agencies and state institutions that have been set up to attract the international economic investment and cooperation in our country.

Albanians in the world

One of MEFA’s primary missions is supporting Albanians living and studying abroad, in particular through the preservation and learning of Albanian language and culture in Diaspora, by including the Diaspora members in economic development and innovative projects in the country, protecting the civil and social rights of Albanians abroad and those living in Albania, as well as providing them standardized consular services. There is a sufficient experience, which has further been enhanced and it will continue to intensify the dialogue and cooperation between the motherland and Diaspora, which in 2018 intends to be enriched with a new content.

Modern and professional consular service

Efforts will be made to increase transparency and improve services in public administration by expanding the use of E-Consulate and Online Consular Service (SHKO), as well as further digitalization of consular services.

Online Consular Service (SHKO) brings about radical changes in assisting Albanians in the world, increasing quality, facilitating procedures, cutting time required to assist, and enhancing transparency and fighting corruption. SHKO provides automated procedures and digitalization of all consular services and substantially reforms the Consular Affairs by creating 36 special services, in accordance to European best practices, which simplifies procedures, standardizes all services and unifies service delivery on a single platform for all Diplomatic and Consular Representations of the Republic of Albania. E-Consulate complements the SHKO platform and it will also assist the foreign nationals who want to visit Albania, making it possible to increase the visibility of MEFA as an institution, as well as to promote the country.

MEFA will set up an action plan during 2018, aiming to increase the number of services to the Diplomatic and Consular Representations (DCR), simplify the procedures and digitalization process of consular assistance, to reduce the requests for a variety of documents as well, including the issuance of Criminal Record Certificate in the DCR of the Republic of Albania abroad, verification by the DCR of the Republic of Albania abroad of the Driving Licences issued by the Albanian authorities, registration of the emigrants’ addresses, the special portal for visa applications (