Albania’s place in NATO’s Ports Strategy

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Located in the Western Balkans, Albania is a geopolitically important country. Because Albania’s coast to the Mediterranean, the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic is an element that increases the interest in the country.  Albania’s Adriatic coast, in particular, serves as a gateway to the Mediterranean. In this context, Albania is an important place in terms of ensuring the connection of the Balkans with the Mediterranean. This characteristic of Albania has already led to the country becoming the first Western Balkan country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2009. These points show that Albania has a significant place in NATO’s ports strategy.

On the other hand, the Russia-Ukraine War, which started on February 24, 2022, has led to serious changes in the security architecture of Continental Europe. In this context, Albania has started to develop policies aimed at playing a more active role in NATO. In May 2022, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama proposed the Pashaliman Naval Base to NATO.  The base is known as the only Soviet Union base in the Mediterranean during the 1950s, a period when the communist administration in Albania was allied with Moscow.[1]

As can be understood, Albania follows a policy that strives to increase its importance within NATO through ports. However, Albania has an important place in NATO’s Balkans and Adriatic strategy. At this stage, attention should be drawn to the Port of Porto Romano, located in the city of Durres in Albania. Since 2022, there have been talks between Albania and NATO on the deployment of a military base at this port.[2] Therefore, NATO is showing interest in the port in order to produce more effective policies, especially in the Adriatic.

On the other hand, on February 9, 2023, Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the NATO Military Committee, praised Albania for its contribution to regional and international security, especially in the context of the eastern flank of the alliance’s territory. Bauer also pointed out that the Tirana administration has made vital contributions to NATO, noting that the Albanian Armed Forces have not only participated in NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) and NATO’s mission in Iraq, but also sent troops to multinational battle groups in Latvia and Bulgaria.[3]

On the other hand, on February 22, 2023, Rama announced that Tirana is continuing negotiations with NATO regarding the Porto Romano Port under construction. Rama stated that most of the port will operate commercially, but NATO may use part of the port in order to strengthen Europe’s security. Moreover, Rama emphasized that the Port of Porto Romano will be the largest port in the country. Finally, Rama stated that the port is a very strategic base due to Albania’s geographical location and that the port could allow the deployment of troops in parts of Europe that do not currently have such access, very quickly.[4]

Another point that should be noted is related to the contribution that Albania can make to the energy security of NATO member countries. Because after the start of the war in Ukraine, energy security has become the number one agenda item in transatlantic relations. In this context, the Vlore Terminal, which is being built in Albania, may come to the fore in the context of LNG in the future.

Based on this point, “Excelerate Energy”, a US-based LNG company, has signed an agreement for an LNG terminal in Vlore, in southwestern Albania, which has not yet been put into operation. Oliver Simpson, vice president of the company, stated that the LNG terminal in Vlore is of critical importance for ensuring energy security for many European countries along the route of the Southern Gas Corridor.[5] Therefore, Albania is very important for NATO member countries to ensure their energy security and diversify their resources. This could be interpreted as another reason why NATO is interested in Tirana.

In addition to all these, it is seen that Albania’s integration process with the West is carried out through NATO rather than the EU. Because Tirana has not been able to make the desired progress in terms of EU membership, but in July 2022, accession negotiations between the parties to the bloc began. Given this, NATO’s importance in Albania’s integration with the West can be more clearly understood.

Consequently, it can be argued that Albania’s importance towards NATO will increase in the future. In this context, the Tirana administration will strive to play a significant role in the alliance’s strategies in the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

[1]  Albanian Port Set to be NATO Naval Base, Exit Al,, (Date of Accession: 07.03.2023).

[2] “NATO in Talks to Build Naval Base in Albania, Prime Minister Says”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 07.03.2023).

[3] “NATO Praises Albania for Role in Regional, European Stability”, Euractiv,, (Date of Accession: 07.03.2023).

[4] “Albania Sees ‘Zero’ Benefits From China’s ’17+1′ but Will Stay: PM”, NIKKEI Asia,, (Date of Accession: 07.03.2023).

[5] “Excelerate Energy and Overgas Sign Vlora LNG Deal”, Offshore Energy,, (Date of Accession: 07.03.2023).

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.