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Frontex and Albania strengthen their partnership

2021-03-17

Today, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and Albanian authorities signed an agreement to strengthen their cooperation in border management, fighting cross-border crime and return.

“The new agreement will build upon more than 12 years of cooperation with the Albanian authorities in border management. For a year and a half, Frontex officers have been working shoulder-to-shoulder with their national counterparts in Albania to combat cross-border crime,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

“We owe it to our citizens to continue working together to address challenges that affect both Albania and the European Union at our borders,” he added.

The renewed “Working Arrangement” comes two years after the entry into force of the Status Agreement between the European Union and Albania, which enabled Frontex to deploy its first joint operation on the territory of a non-EU country.

Frontex currently has 71 officers from 20 EU countries working in Albania to support local authorities with border control and combatting cross-border crime, including people smuggling, trafficking in human beings and terrorism. Frontex also helps develop regional border control capacities through training, and the exchange of operational information and best practices.

The cooperation also includes the exchange of information and best practices in the area of border management and return, while ensuring full respect of fundamental rights.

 “This agreement is a good omen on the eve of the discussions for the convening of the first Albania-EU intergovernmental conference. Sitting at the negotiating table makes us aware of the weight of the tasks we have performed, and at the same time increases our responsibility to continue and further strengthen the cooperation with EU structures,” said Minister of Interior of Albania Bledar Çuçi.

The virtual signing ceremony was led by Frontex Executive Director, Fabrice Leggeri, Albania’s Minister of Interior Bledar Çuçi and the General Director of the Albanian State Police, Ardi Veliu. The signing ceremony was also attended by Director-General of DG HOME Monique Pariat, Director for the Western Balkans in DG NEAR Genoveva Ruiz Calavera and the Head of the EU Delegation to Albania, H.E. Luigi Soreca.

During the event, Frontex also introduced its second liaison officer to the Western Balkans who will be based in Tirana, with a regional mandate covering Albania, Kosovo* and North Macedonia. The officer will complement the work of the liaison officer deployed three years ago in Belgrade, who retains the responsibility for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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