April 24, 2024

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The opening of the NATO base in Albania and the invitation that never arrived

The opening of the NATO base in Albania and the invitation that never arrived

It demonstrates the transformation that bilateral relations have taken Greece Albania And the shocks caused by the conviction of the elected mayor of Himara Freddie BelleriThere was an absence of representation from the Greek Armed Forces, specifically the Air Force, at the opening of the NATO air base in Koutsova.

The former Soviet airport was reopened last Monday after completing an ambitious modernization program at the base, which for decades housed Soviet MiG aircraft. Information indicates that the cost of the work reached 50 million euros and was financed by the NATO Fund. Any of the NATO member states, including Greece of course.

For the opening ceremony, Italian Eurofighter planes landed at the airport, where Rome patrols Albania's airspace for 15 days every month. But the remaining 15 Responsibility for maintaining security (NATO Air Police) in the Tirana FIR lies with the Hellenic Air Force. F-16s from Volos and Agialos fly at regular intervals over Albania and are placed on alert for emergency situations, such as escort operations or dealing with an asymmetric threat from the air (Renegade).


Therefore, while Rome was represented at a high level, because in addition to the EF-2000 fighters Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto was also “present”, Athens did not receive a corresponding invitation, despite its participation in the exercise. Protecting the airspace of Albania as well as Italy. Competent sources describe the event as “obscene,” noting that even if the Greek side was invited, the state of relations between the two countries would not allow the presence of officials or warplanes.. However, in Kutsova, Ankara's presence was upgraded, while the three Bayraktar TB2 armed drones Albania recently acquired from Turkey, which will be permanently stationed at this base, were on display.

The opening of the NATO base in Albania and the invitation that did not come -1

Koutsova is located about 80 kilometers south of Tirana and is expected to meet the needs of the Alliance in the field of transfer of assets, systems, operations and training activities. This means that Greek fighters will be able to use the airport if necessary. After all, as part of Allied Exercise Tango Scramble, Air Force pilots execute an emergency landing scenario (a technique where the pilot has the option of selecting an airfield or as quickly as possible heading to the nearest airfield) by making a low pass over Tirana International Airport .

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For years, Greece and Italy have patrolled the airspace of Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, with responsibility divided every two weeks. For Greece, a military presence in the vital Balkan region is an absolute priority and serves as a counterweight to Ankara's ever-growing influence.

A few months ago, Athens and Sofia began discussions at the diplomatic level, so that the air force would monitor Bulgarian airspace, until the country obtains a modern fleet of combat aircraft.