"Defender Europe 2023" in Albania, Peleshi: Reconfirms the close cooperation with the USA

The joint multinational exercise led by the US European Command, "Defender Europe 2023", starts in Albania. During the opening ceremony, which took place in the Mother Teresa Square, the Defence Minister, Niko Peleshi, described Defender Europe 23 an exercise of great importance, where the Armed Forces of Albania feel proud that we participate after the complete success achieved two years ago, in Defender Europe 21.

"Defender Europe 23 reaffirms the close cooperation that Albania has with the United States of America, as a consequence of a strong strategic partnership in the field of Security and Defence, for which we are deeply grateful. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania are an important part of this exercise and not without pride, I affirm that they are represented in a dignified manner, showing a high level of professionalism. If two years ago we were successfully tested for our capacities in the role of NATO Host Nation Support, today we are equally successfully facing other tasks, including those of leading and coordinating the Task Force South.", - emphasized during his speech minister Peleshi.

"Our aim is to show that we are able to cope with any situation that may arise in the field of Security and Defence, fulfilling every task and commitment that belongs to us as a NATO country. But, of course, another major goal is to assure our citizens that the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania are ready at any time to fulfil their basic task: that of protecting the borders of the homeland!" - emphasized the Defence Minister.

In his welcoming speech, President Bajram Begaj, also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces said that: "Albania is committed to its mission as a stabilizing factor in the Balkans and an exporter of security in the region and beyond. Any other investment towards the strengthening of defence capacities is an investment towards stability, it is an investment to guarantee a brighter future for the younger generations, who never have to face the devastating consequences that conflicts bring. The time to take our responsibilities is now and the reaction must respond to the current challenges.", - said the President.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said that today Albania is better than ever in terms of international reputation, calling it a privilege that the country is hosting the "Defender Europe 2023" exercise for the second time.

"Albania has never been better in the level of international reputation and today is sitting at the Security Council table side by side with the United Nations as a co-sponsor for the Ukraine issue. This is an extraordinary responsibility, which points out what maturity and progress our country has achieved." - said Prime Minister Rama.

"This exercise reminds us that regardless of the language we speak and the flag we represent, we are inextricably linked to those values and principles that are equally threatened for each of us. Therefore, we are all compelled by our history and future to be a unity. Last year we received the good news about the establishment of the Headquarters of the Operational Base, that proves that Albania remains a strong and reliable ally of the US and NATO, but Albania is gradually becoming a stationary point of reference on our continent.", - emphasized Prime Minister Rama.

In her message, US Ambassador Yuri Kim said that this exercise shows that the US together with allied countries can accomplish any mission.

"We are here as allies, friends and partners, Americans and Albanians standing side by side, once separated, now NATO allies and closest military partners. In these two years since Defender 2021, the world has changed, Albania and our NATO allies are more united and stronger than ever." , - emphasized Ambassador Kim.

During his speech, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Brigadier General Arben Kingji, said that this exercise demonstrates the commitment of the US and NATO in guaranteeing peace, stability and security. "This exercise enables us to strengthen our capacities. It is a message to our potential opponents that we are prepared and united to face common challenges.", - said Brigadier General Arben Kingji.

The "Defender Europe 2023" military exercise will bring together about 25,000 troops from 29 countries, members of NATO, but also from partner countries. As part of this exercise engagement, on May 15 - June 9, 2023, our country will host and conduct the "Immediate Response" and "Astral Knight" exercises.

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