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Kuçova NATO Tactical Air Base Inaugurated in Albania

Kuçova NATO Air Base Inauguration [© Albanian Ministry of Defence]

The NATO Tactical Air Base has been inaugurated in Kuçova, Albania ~ a major investment, an asset for the entire region.

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Press Release, Tirana, 04 March 2024: [auto-translated] The NATO Tactical Air Base in Kuçova was inaugurated today. The ceremony held on this occasion was attended by the highest leaders of the state: President Bajram Begaj, Prime Minister Edi Rama, Speaker of the Assembly Lindita Nikolla, Minister of Defence Niko Peleshi, Chief of the SHP of FARSH Major General Arben Kingji, senior representatives of NATO, ministers of the member countries of the Alliance, Minister of Defence of Kosovo Ejup Macedonci, ambassadors, military and ex-military.

Kuçova NATO Air Base [© Albanian Ministry of Defence]

In his speech on this occasion, Defence Minister Niko Peleshi said that Kuçova Base is one of NATO’s biggest investments in Albania, which will serve as a tactical and operational air base. Mr. Peleshi emphasized that the base has the necessary capacity to support joint efforts in the region for natural disasters: “The favourable geographical position can turn this country into a valuable connecting node for all the countries of our region. In this context, the help and support that Albania can give to the neighbouring countries makes us feel more valuable than ever before, but also more committed than ever before to be at the right height in front of every situation”, said Minister Peleshi.

Among other things, the Minister of Defence asked for the support of allied countries in Albania’s efforts to put the military use of Porto Romano into NATO use: ” In this logic, the base that we inaugurate today is an asset for the entire region. Albania will continue its efforts to put in NATO use the military use of Porto Romano, which together with the strategic corridor VIII provides our Alliance with the shortest axis of passage from the shores of the Adriatic to the Black Sea. I hope to have the support of allied and friendly countries in this major project”, said the Minister of Defence.

Library image of UK Royal Marines using Porto Romano Naval Base for a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation exercise [© Bob Morrison]

President Bajram Begaj said that the revival of this base marks a new chapter in the history of the defence and security of our country and the entire region: “Together we send a strong message of peace and prove that NATO is determined to protect freedom and security of the allies, guaranteeing collective protection”, said the Commander-in-Chief of the FA.

Prime Minister Edi Rama declared that the new NATO Air Base in Kuçova gives our country a new geostrategic importance. The Prime Minister expressed appreciation to all those who contributed to the opening of the base: “I want to express a special thanks to all those who contributed starting, of course from our NATO allies with the hope and confidence that this new NATO Tactical Air Base will be accompanied in the coming years by the new NATO Naval Base in Porto Romano, which we are working closely with NATO on, and we are very confident that we will soon be able to enjoy the news of the inclusion of this project in the plans of the Alliance. The reactivation of this military airport is also part of the renewal and further qualitative increase of our Air Fleet. A base, which today is completely transformed and ready as a new Tactical Base of NATO with an importance that exceeds the borders of Albania. A base, which is another element of security for our region of the Western Balkans”, said Mr. Rama.

Library image of an Albanian Air Force AS532 Cougar landing at Kuçova [© Bob Morrison]

The President of the Assembly Lindita Nikolla described the opening of this base as a moment of pride, since: “The US and NATO have created the belief that if there is a new member country of the Alliance that clearly, decisively and without any dilemma supports its decisions, this country it is Albania”.

NATO Commander Lieutenant General Juan Pablo Sanchez De Lara declared from Kuçova that Albania is more than ever ready to take responsibility to protect security and peace.

The head of the mission and the charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Tirana, David Wisner, said in his speech that the opening of the first Air Base in Kuçova constitutes another milestone in Albania’s continued commitment to NATO principles.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Albania, Major General Arben Kingji, considered the opening of the NATO Air Base in Kuçova a significant event for the Albanian forces and the Alliance itself.

This ceremony was closed with a display by Euro Fighter F-2000, F-16 and two “Black Hawk helicopters.

Library image of decommissioned Albanian Air Force fighter jets at Kuçova Air Base prior to its refurbishment [© Bob Morrison]

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