Senior Course 132: Regional Approaches and PfP Field Study - Tirana
On Friday 22 June, Senior Course 132 (SC 132) ended its third and last Field Study.
This key aspect of the academic curriculum of the Senior Course allows Course Members to acquire a strategic appreciation of major political, economic and security issues, as seen from the national perspectives of selected NATO and non-NATO countries. The Field Study also offers participants direct insight into the ways in which policies contribute to Euro-Atlantic security. Over the last two weeks, SC 132 has enjoyed a very full programme of institutional visits and briefings which ended in Tirana, Albania.
The Senior Course was welcomed in the facilities of the Ministry of Defence by BG Bardhyl Kollçaku, Chief of General Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces. In his keynote address he emphasized the importance of Albanias continued cooperation with NATO and remaining interoperable with Allies.
Colonel Editson Zarka, Head of the J5/8 in the General Staff, took the floor next and gave Course Members a broad overview of the Albanian Armed Forces. He started with historical aspects, illustrated the structure and talked about the development of the Armed Forces and the participation of Albanian military to UN and NATO international operations. Following this presentation, the Albanian authorities organized a panel with the Chief of Defence BG Kollçaku, the Commander of TRADOC BG Begaj and Col Zarka, Head of J5/8 in the General Staff in order to answer questions from Course Members. Participants were mainly interested in the strategic review that the Albanian Armed Forces are conducting at the moment, and future developments in maritime and cyber security. Course Members were also interested in the current situation and in the security of the Western Balkans area.
After a coffee break, a second panel was organized to discuss Albanias Foreign Policy. Ms Petoshati, Director of the Department for the Region and Neighbouring Countries at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEFA), took the floor to talk about Albanias ambition of joining the European Union. She explained how much progress had been made by her country to meet European standards, including the reform of the justice system. Mr Kalakula, Head of the NATO Department at the Albanian MEFA talked about the political aspects of Albanias membership in NATO. He focused on the topics, from an Albanian point of view, that will probably be discussed during the next summit, and then spoke about the importance of the Balkan region for the Alliance.
Following this excellent and fruitful session on Albania, which was again very complementary to the lectures and presentations held in Rome, the Field Study ended and Senior Course returned to Rome.