HomeAlbaniaMinister Xhaçka meets with Ambassadors accredited in Tirana: Violation of Ukraine, urgent...

Minister Xhaçka meets with Ambassadors accredited in Tirana: Violation of Ukraine, urgent evidence for the region’s integration into the EU


Dear friends,

Good day to all of you and thank you for coming at such short notice. I thought it useful to meet today and discuss our efforts at supporting our Ukrainian friends. I would like to give you a short overview of what Albania is doing and discuss ways how we can all work together to maximize our efforts, especially when it comes to diplomacy.

These are very difficult and very challenging times. Very painful and tragic times too that we hoped we would never again see in the European continent. For us in the Western Balkans this is especially painful and the pain of our Ukrainian friends resonates in a particularly strong manner because we still remember the terrible images from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Kosovo, the last wars in Europe as we thought. Not just that, but as a region that has long been seen by Russia as the soft underbelly of the EU, as a region that has experienced Russian meddling and attempts to ferment tensions and conflicts, we do feel very strongly about what is happening.

War has come to Europe. War has come to Europe on no provocation, for no rational reason. War has come because Russia, or rather its President, and its leadership – in as much as its leadership can do anything without the President saying so – decided they could not live with a peaceful and democratic Ukraine as their neighbor and undertook an illegal war of aggression against a peaceful neighbor in blatant violation of all laws and norms that guide civilized behavior and the international rules based system. Indeed, there is a case to be made, that the desire to destroy the rules based system is a strong motivator for Vladimir Putin.

Russia chose to go to war and I strongly believe that we all must do everything we can to make this terrible choice as costly for Russia as we can.

I am proud that in this confrontation between democracies and dictatorship, between a free European people and a Russian tyrant, Albania is playing an important role, punching way above its weight, and giving an important contribution especially in the field of diplomacy.

From the OSCE and NATO where our proposals have been concrete and courageous, to the UN Security Council where we are co-penholders with the United States, our country is at the forefront of the efforts to support Ukraine and raise the costs and isolation for Russia.

As you may have followed in the media at this moment in time, Albania has aligned itself fully with the EU and is enacting in its territory the restrictive measures approved by the European Council against Russia for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. We are currently completing the legal basis for the implementation of these measures which will be passed by the Council of Ministers tomorrow.

As you all know there are two main categories of sanctions, economic and individual. We have approved sanctions relating to the freezing of assets of 654 individuals and 52 entities. Individuals ranging from President of Russia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, members of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation, who supported the immediate recognition by Russia as independent entities of the two areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, members of the Russian State Duma, who ratified the government decision of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and these two entities.

In addition, a travel ban on entry into Albanian territory has been imposed for persons listed by the EU, while in regards to our visa policy vis-à-vis Russia we are considering the annulment of all arrangement on the movement of Russian diplomats, officials and business people.

We have also joined the EU’s economic sanctions that include restrictive measures in finance, energy, transport and technology.

Yesterday we also aligned ourselves and began enacting legislation to implement the Council Decision on further restrictive measures related to finance and aviation. The restrictions include:

  • prohibition of any transactions with the Central Bank of Russia as well as.
  • denial of permission to land in, take off from, or overfly, EU territories to any aircraft operated by Russian air carriers, including as a marketing carrier, to any Russian-registered aircraft, and to non-Russian-registered aircraft which are owned or chartered, or otherwise controlled by a Russian legal or natural person.

Furthermore, yesterday Albania joined the restrictive measures aimed at Belarus for its role in this war. Lastly, Albania will no longer participate in any sports activity facing the Russian Federation until the invasion of Ukraine is over.

Where Albania’s role has been particularly prominent in this effort to support Ukraine is in the Security Council where we have just began our two-year mandate. As co-penholders for Ukraine with the United States we have joined forces with other likeminded countries to table and negotiate a draft resolution asking the Russian Federation to withdraw its armed forces from the territory of Ukraine and putting an end to the aggression against that country.

Our joint efforts produced a positive result: the draft resolution initiated by the United States and Albania was co-sponsored by 81 member states, thus consolidating a broad and unified front in support of Ukraine.

Of course, Russia’s veto blocked the adoption of the resolution in the Security Council. But as you know that was not the end of the road and the resolution is being discussed with the whole world in the General Assembly, where we are optimistic that owing to the efforts of all your countries and many more, this resolution will turn into an exercise demonstrating the commitment of the world to the UN Charter and to the basic principles of the rules based system that we have agreed to respect. And, demonstrating for all to see how isolated Russia is in this illegal act of aggression.

I have also instructed all Albanian teams, in the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, Human Rights Council, and any other international or regional forum, to adopt the same pro-active approach in support of Ukraine and in denunciation of Russia. I believe that it must be made clear to the Russian Federation and its leadership that nothing will be as it was, not sector no field of activity can be business as usual until this aggression stops and Russian troops leave Ukraine.

Albania is doing everything it can, to the best of its abilities and capacities. As I know your countries are doing too. The reason why I invited you here today is to explore what more we can do, how we can improve our cooperation even more and how we can create more synergies at any level as we address this crisis that does not simply threaten Ukraine, but all of us.

And on that note, I want to also draw your attention to our region and the possibility of tensions here.

For too long we have been calling on our partners, especially in the EU, to be more strategic in their relation to the Western Balkans. Events in Ukraine are proof that our concerns were justified. This makes it very clear: the cost of isolation is far higher than the cost of integration.

I can only hope that in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine something will change in the dynamics of the relations between us. That there will be more focus and more urgency to move ahead with the integration process and above all to move ahead and meet head on any Russian attempts to ferment trouble.

I am pleased that the signals we are getting now demonstrate that the EU is focused now as it has not been for a while. I am pleased because I know that if the EU is united and committed, if it shows the same resolve as it is showing in support of Ukraine now, our region, the Western Balkans will no longer be vulnerable to attempts to stir trouble and strife and security of Europe as a whole will benefit.


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