NATO HQ Tirana (NHQT)
Commanded by the NATO Senior Military Representative (SMR), the NATO Headquarters Tirana role was to facilitate co-ordination between the Government of Albania, Organisations of the International Community and NATO. With Albania now a full NATO member the mission was deactivated in June 2010.
NATO Headquarters in Tirana was activated on 17 June 2002.
NATO-Albania relations date back to 1992, when Albania joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997). Relations deepened when Albania joined the Partnership for Peace in 1994. Albania played an important role in supporting Allied efforts to end the humanitarian tragedy in Kosovo and secure the peace after the air campaign. Following the end of the fighting in Kosovo, NATO reorganised its forces in the Balkans and on 31 August 1999 established Communication Zone West – COMMZ (W), as an allied force presence with a specific mission in Albania. The Headquarters was integrated into the structure of KFOR and was the first operational, Italian-led NATO force.
The main duties of COMMZ (W) were:
To guarantee the freedom of movement along the two main lines of communications from Albania to Kosovo and south from Albania to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*.
To guarantee the operability of the Logistic Base situated at Durres Harbour (SPOD – Sea port of Debarkation).
To guarantee the operability of Tirana – Rinas national airport.
To be operationally ready to receive reinforcements.
To establish and maintain working links between NATO and Albania.
To provide support and aid to the local authorities through Civil Military cooperation (CIMIC) activities.Bilateral cooperation has developed progressively in light of the country's membership aspirations and it participated in the Membership Action Plan beginning in April 1999. Political and public support for accession to NATO has always been very high (supported by well over 95 per cent of the population). In April 2008, Albania was invited to start accession talks with the Alliance. NATO Allies signed protocols on Albania's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty on 9 July 2008 – and after ratification Albania became a full member of the Alliance on 1 April 2009.
* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name.