Abstract. Albania is a maritime nation with regional interests. Albania has a favourable maritime position linked with the Adriatic and Ionian Seas and the Central Mediterranean Sea(16) The Albanian geographical position is a factor, historically recognized by others, but occasionally properly emphasized by national policy makers. Wars in Albanian territory among regional powers or against it have been frequently connected to its maritime position: to gain maritime accessibility or to use it. After collapse of Berlin Wall in late 80’ and positive developments in the regional balance of powers, the role of Albanian factor in the region is considerably improved. This fact needs to be more emphasized, especially through use of its national maritime strength. A new Albanian National Security Strategy (NSS) must take into account the most strengthen national factors; Albanian population and maritime position. A National Maritime Security Strategy (NMSS), as integrated part of NSS of the Republic of Albania, need to optimize the use of Albanian maritime factors. Re-dimensioning of the Albanian maritime factor, request also a new NSS with more ambitious objectives toward its more active role on regional security environment.
The Sea has been and will be important for the economical development and prosperity of Albania and Albanians. Maritime space of Albania is about 60% of its land territory size(17). Maritime and seabed resources, as well as capitals moving through the sea, represent a wealth of great national value. Political changes occurred in Albania in the beginning of 90’, and what follows in Balkan region, culminating with the independence of Kosovo, have dramatically changed the regional security. The actual Albanian NSS, approved in 2004(18), has justified defining its objectives through facing the regional security environment, rather than engaging it.
Starting from 2004, there have been significant changes in Western Balkan; Montenegro got independence in 2006, Kosovo in February 2008, and Albania become a NATO member in 2009. In the new Western Balkan reality, need a new cooperative, ambitious and engagement Albanian NSS to the regional security. Population and maritime factors must shape Albanian national security objectives.
The Need for a National Maritime Security Strategy
The changes and what is expected to be changed in regional and national security environment must be reflected in new Albanian NSS. Final establishment of the Balkan borders and the new expected security environment driven by the common NATO and EU aspiration, is turning gradually Western Balkan into a security provider. The lock-landed Albanian neighbouring states, such as Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo, in the new promising economic security environment, progressively will try to increase their accessibility to maritime trade, as long as it remains the less expensive one. The U.S. Maritime Administration estimates that global maritime trade, travel, and commerce will double in the next twenty years(19). Any strategy is based on the appropriate use of its own and adversary’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Combination in use of your strengths and protecting your vulnerabilities, by not allowing you competitors to do the same, empower your own strengths. Regionalizing and nationalizing the Albanian maritime space will optimize the use of Albanian maritime factor in regional security environment contest.
The objectives of national security strategy are focused and defined to secure the national interests. Economic development and prosperity of the nation is the end-state of any security strategy. The nowadays Albanian geopolitical advantages must be converted into trade and economical advantages of tomorrow. Achievement of those objectives requires a more ambitious Albania engagement in regional security through an active cooperative security strategy and a protagonist role in regional trade. The actual regional corridors through Balkan, east-west, and north-south and vice versa, in the new geopolitical environment need to be sponsored by Albanian side. The activation of the 8th Corridor, as well as 10th Corridor, will emphasize the maritime strength of Albania and its role on regional security. Economic and trade regional links reduce friction and produce regional security. The new role of Albania in regional trade, economic development and security needs a new dimension of its maritime domain; regional dimension.
The expecting economic development of Albania will requite exploitation for the new natural resources. Despite that Albania is a maritime nation, in the past the exploration of maritime natural resources has been limited, especially those in the seabed. Exploration of maritime natural resources requires high technological standards, in territorial sea as well as in continental shelf. The exploration of maritime natural recourses in the sea bed started after Second War World. For the first time, continental shelf was clamed on September 28, 1945 from the US President Truman(20). That’s why, the improvement of Albanian legislation and maritime policies has to foresee this new economic dimension of its maritime space.
A new Albanian National Maritime Security Strategy should set up a new and favourable environment for achieving national unity of efforts toward more ambitious, well defined and achievable national maritime objectives. Development of maritime policies needs strategic view and guideline, which will drive state and not stare actors toward the same objective: the optimization of national capacities usage.
The NATO membership and the aspiration for EU membership, as two very important European security structures, need Albania to develop a reliable National Maritime Security Strategy, as an integrated part of its National Security Strategy. The new NMSS has to show the good political willpower and appropriate national instruments for guarantying its national maritime security and cooperation with maritime neighbouring states into the Adriatic and Ionian Sea environment.
The Objectives of Albanian National Maritime Strategy
A new National Maritime Security Strategy, as we did mention above, have to be driven by National Security Strategy of the Republic of Albania and also must be its integrated part. It must be articulated by taking into account national maritime strength in the new regional security environment. In our point of view, the future National Maritime Security Strategy has to be articulated for achieving the following national objectives:
Protecting the territorial maritime integrity of the Republic of Albania
Protecting the territorial maritime integrity is a vital interest for any maritime nation, as well as for the Republic of Albania(21). Albanian Naval Forces represent the most important instrument(22) for the protection of Albanian territorial maritime integrity jointly with other services of Armed Forces(23) and exercising national sovereignty jointly with other law enforcement agencies(24).
Albanian Naval Forces, beside their traditional constitutional mission, are the primary instrument for exercising national maritime sovereignty through their secondary mission: Coast Guard. Maintaining and increasing the Coast Guard capacities, it is important on the actual and future of development of Albanian maritime affairs and incoming threats. Protecting Albanian national interests in the new regional geopolitical equilibrium, providing security in the maritime area of interest and contribution in NATO and EU, it needs a new vision and profile for Albanian Naval Forces. Naval Forces must have adequate capacities to deter and protect from military nature threats, asymmetric threats, and guarantying its sea lines of communications, trade and maritime, as well as seabed exploration. The Albanian, Balkan, Adriatic and Ionian Seas, including Central Mediterranean Sea predictable maritime environments will require a mid-term development profile of Albanian Naval Forces with more selected naval war fighting capabilities to operate outside their traditional and national maritime area of operation.
Exercising the national maritime sovereignty and sovereign rights
The exercise of Albanian sovereignty, including maritime one, is an other vital interest of the Republic of Albania(25), as well as a permanent challenge of its security(26). Maritime threats in Albania are connected with the unlawful use of natural and historical resources, as well as used the sea as a platform for smuggling and traffickng. Terrorism, weapon of mass destruction nproliferation and possibly, but less probable, piracy have to be assessed as possible future threats in Albanian maritime domain.
The future challenges of exercising national maritime sovereignty and sovereign rights will be linked with: increasing national law enforcement agencies capacities, strengthening the cooperation among law enforcement agencies, drafting a comprehensive maritime law body compatible with national interests and international law and drafting clear, harmonized and the most important well defined national maritime policies. The exercise of national sovereignty is not the mission of a single law enforcement agency. The Albanian Maritime Code defined the authority of each agency(27). Same of them have difficulties in fulfilling their mission, due to the lack of operational capacities. In the future, the short-term government policies have to be focused on better financing the most important maritime law enforcement agencies.
Albania is a small maritime nation with limited financial resources. One of the main approaches on guarantying the national maritime sovereignty and sovereign rights is strengthening cooperation among national law enforcement agencies and the neighbouring countries. Reduction of interagency friction and optimizing the usage of national capacities was the aim of establishing the Inter-Ministerial Maritime Operational Centre (IMOC) in January 2010. The clash(28) between the Coast Guard Law(29) and Government Decision(30) on the IMOC has created a not favourable environment for the interagency cooperation. IMOC is organized based on Government Decision by conflicting with the Maritime Code and Coast Guard Law. Due to the excessive authority not authorized by Coast Guard Law, IMOC couldn’t play its role as national inter-ministerial coordination centre, even IMOC was, and still is, a promising and original Albanian solution. A clear IMOC mission based on the Coast Guard Law and not conflicting Maritime Code Law will put it on the track and will make it more effective in law enforcement agency cooperation.
In the last ten years the number of international conventions ratified by Albania is increased, but still Albania is signatory only of a limited number of maritime conventions(31), especially respecting the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions(32). The national law needs a radical improvement, especially on the law of the maritime borders(33) and achieving agreements with neighbours on maritime boundaries. Still Albania is in the black list of IMO(34), due to the not proper application of some IMO convention, especially The Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention(35) and the Paris Memorandum of Understanding(36).
Gaps in interagency cooperation are also result of non-harmonized national maritime policies. A not clear articulation and well defined National Maritime Security Strategy has driven individual agencies’ plans and policies toward facing competition among them rather than complementing each other toward the same national objectives. Overlapping on tasks interpretation and modernization programs occurred frequently among those agencies. Also, short term objectives nshaped by the electoral government programs have shift the attention from interpreting long term national maritime objectives shaped by national security strategy.
Application of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982)
Albania is a maritime nation with regional interests. The history of Albania is closely linked with maritime environment. Threats coming from the sea have challenged frequently the Albanian vital interests. In certain historical timelines those threats have been crucial to its independence and territorial integrity of Albania. In the same time, sea has been important for the economical development of the country and a safe security environment. The geopolitical position of Albania is purely related to its choke point position on one of the most important sea line of communication: Adriatic ad Ionian maritime highway. Local control and secure of this maritime highway is an obligation and interest of Albania as long as there are involved and clashed regional maritime and lock-land countries interests.
The uncertain legal regime in Adriatic and Ionian Sea, based on the UNCLOS 1982, is linked with excessive claims and interests of certain medium regional maritime powers by conflicting with other small regional maritime nations. The application of UNCLOS 1982 in the Albanian maritime area of interests and broader is fully in compliance with its national maritime security objectives.
The future economic development of Albania, as mention above, will require exploitation and exploration of natural resources in its sovereign rights maritime space. It is in the interest of Republic of Albania to put in its agenda the delimitation of its maritime boundaries. It will legitimize the national sea space where Albania will exercise its sovereignty and sovereign rights. Due to the responsibilities of Albania by ratifying the UNCLOS 1982 and Hamburg Convention 197937, Albania must start as soon as possible negotiation with its maritime countries on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) Agreements.
The application of UNCLOS 1982 in the Adriatic and Ionian Sea is very complex and conflicting issue. It must be consider by the Albanian authorities as a long term process. The Albanian diplomacy need to draft a clear vision and achievable objectives through the proper usage of national instruments, by taking advantages from the coming opportunities and shaping “temporary focused in objectives” regional alliances.
Promotion and support of the maritime economy
Economical development of the country requires the promotion and support of the new economic dimension: maritime industry. The new maritime economical trends foresee the Albanian maritime area as one of the most important gateway toward east and vice versa, as well as its increasing exploration of the maritime natural resources. Policy formulation and legislation adaption is needed for the expecting maritime economic developments.
The maritime transport has a strategic importance for the Republic of Albania. Nowadays Albanian ports processing is not in the expected figures, while their total annual processing capacities goes up to 5-6 million tons per year(38). The expecting flow of goods, through 8th and 10th Corridors will require the increasing ports processing capacities up to about 16 million tons per year. It will be a requirement for inhabitants of Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia and transiting parts of Bulgaria and Rumania(39). The actual port processing in Albania can’t allow fluent flow of the expecting regional trade. AMBO(40) project need to put into Albanian agenda, as well as TAP(41) Project(42). From geo-political and geo-economic point of view, these complex infrastructure networks “are of strategic importance for Italy”(43) also, as well as for countries of the region where the corridors pass through.
The fluent flow of the expecting regional trade requires a new balance on funding roads, rails and port infrastructures networking. Albania needs to be focused on building port processing capacities in Bay of Vlora, as an unlimited capacity and all year weather bay, rather than Durres Port(44), which has limited enlargement opportunities. Also, “Transportation infrastructure throughout most of Southeasters Europe, including Albania, has been underfunded, neglected, and not harmonized with European Union standards(45)”.
Respecting the fundamental freedom of the Law of the Sea
Promotion and support of the maritime activities is closely connected with respecting of the fundamental freedoms of the of the seas. The new expecting dimension of national maritime affairs will require guarantying the respect of two maritime freedoms: navigation and economic freedom.
Freedom of navigation is one of the most important fundamental freedoms of the international law of the sea and the backbone for developing maritime activity. In the same time, it is one of the national sovereignty challenges on the actual EU integration phase of Albania. Controlling and managing the maritime borders, can’t limit the freedom of navigation. Freedom of navigation is vital also for the maritime and coastal tourism. Temporary and local sea denial(46), is a theory, which denials your adversaries using the sea. It can’t be apply for harming your own forces or activities. Moratorium of speed boats was a mistake, which didn’t improve the maritime border control and “was not certainly the right way to address permanently those threats”(47). It must be abolished in a very short period of time.
Economic freedom is essential for development of maritime industry, including the exploration of natural maritime and seabed resources, as well as maritime transportation. Maritime industry requires advanced technology and initial capital leverage. The new maritime economic freedom must consider Albanian sea as a free economic zone, by quitting from traditional methods and creating new favourable environment for welcoming foreign investments. The free maritime economic zone must include also the economic activity of the Albanian seagoing merchant and fishery fleet. Those two fleets are severely downsized and obsolete starting from the beginning of 90’(48), and need to be rebuilt and renewed.
Development of a new Albanian National Maritime Security Strategy is a matter of time. In my point of view, it is time to do that. The new strategy will merge the entire state effort to a better integration and harmonization of government and private sectors into common national maritime objectives through optimization of national limited capacities.
In the same time, the new Albanian National Maritime Security Strategy must be an unified and comprehensive document in support of achievable objectives of the new Albanian National Security Strategy, in the new regional security environment and broader. Despite how is will be elaborated, as an integrated part of the NSS, as its appendices or a separate document, we still believe Albania need a NMSS.
Sea will be important, as it has been before, for guarantying Albania and Albanian security and their welfare. Albania needs to shift attention to its maritime security, as our maritime neighbouring countries have done it years ago. This is a competition, or called also a game, that our neighbouring competitors have started. Now, it is the time for Albania to start this game, even it is late. Tomorrow will be too late and the game will be over.
Captain (N)Artur Meçollari, Chief of CET, TRADOC
MSc. Suard Alizoti, Professor at “Ismail Qemali” University
16 Global Security Forum.
17 Republic of Albania has a cost line of 420 km-Transformation Plan of Albanian Naval Forces 2006.
18 The Albanian National Security Strategy. Law Nr.9322 date 25.11.2004.
19 Baer, George W. p 18.
20 Sokrat, Plaka Dr. p. 123.
21 The Albanian National Security Strategy. Law No.9322 date 25.11.2004.
22 The Albanian Costitution. Law No.8417 date 21.10.2998.
23 The Albanian National Security Strategy. Law No.9322 date 25.11.2004.
24 Law No 8875 date 4.4.2002 “for the Albanian Coast Guard” amended by Law 9788 date 19.7.2007.
25 The Albanian National Security Strategy. Law No.9322 date 25.11.2004.
27 Ligji Nr. 9251 date 8.7.2004 “for the Albanian Maritime Code”
28 By the Law of the Coast Guard Article 3/1stats that “for cunducting Coast Guard operationes is estabilished IMOC” and Artivcle 3/3 states that “the way how the Coasat Guard cooperates with the other law enforcement agencies ... (noted by authors).
29 Law 8875 date 4.4.2002 “for the Albanian Coast Guard” amended by Law 9788 date 19.7.2007
30 Government Decision No. 954 Date 30.9.2009 amended by Government Decision No. 1125 Date 13.11.2009.
31 Gerveni, Rear Admiral Kristaq. Page 89.
32 IMO - http://www.imo.org/About/Conventions/StatusOfConventions
33 The Law No. 8771 date 19.04.2001 “for the State Borders of the Republic of Albania” is abolished by the Law Nr.
9860 date 24.01.2008 ”for the control and supervision of state borders”. (noted by authors).
34 Paris Memorandum of Understanding website-Black List 2006-2008
35 Ratified by Albanian Parliament with the Law No. 9852 date 26.12.2007.
36 Ratified by Albanian Parliament with the Law No. 8569, date 20.1.2000.
37 IMO Search and Rescue 1979 convetion known as Hamburg Convention 1979, is ratified by Albania by Law Nr. 9055 date 24.04.2003.
38 File, Çapajev Dr. p 34.
39 File, Çapajev Dr. p. 100.
40 AMBO-Albanian Macedonian Bulgarian Oil Pipeline.
41 TAP-Trans Atlantic Pipeline.
42 Goga, Anastas and Metalla, Osman. p 139-140.
43 Ministry of Foreing Afairs of the Republic of Italy.
44 Durres Port Authority.
45US Commercial Service.
46 Sea Denial-GlobalSecurity.org.
47 Gerveni, Rear Admiral Kristaq. p. 85.
48 File, Çapajev Dr. p. 10.