A European Police officer will work from a special office within the Albanian Police structures in order to intensify cooperation between Albania and the European Union.
At the opening ceremony of the Europol Liaison Office in Tirana, the European Union Ambassador for Albania, Luigi Soreca, and the Interior Minister, Sandër Lleshaj, described it as a step towards EU membership.
“The opening of the Europol office in Tirana is a very important and positive event.
“In the last 10 years, the number of people crossing the borders of the Republic of Albania has increased by 160%.
“The trend continues with the same growth rate. This figure is enough to show the extraordinary level reached by the movement of people and goods.
“The integration process does not negatively affect security, but strengthens it,” expressed Lleshaj.
“Deepening integration should be accompanied by unstoppable growth and continuous exchange of cooperation and information.
“We need to ensure that this does not only occur at the level of political statement, but also in everyday practice,” said Minister Lleshaj.
Also discussing the impacts the presence of Europol in Albania has on overall relations with the EU, Ambassador Luigi Soreca had this to say:
“This increased cooperation at an operational level can only contribute to building Albania’s case in EU capitals, in view of the Council decision in October on the opening of EU accession talks.
“I was a strong advocate, in my previous position in the European Commission, of ensuring that Albania is one of the first countries to have a Europol Liaison Officer deployed.
“I am glad to see that the initial seeds planted some time ago are today bringing fruit.
“I remain, more than ever, convinced that the work of the Europol Liaison Officer will be very beneficial to EU-Albania police cooperation.”
The EU Ambassador also expressed his conviction that Europol and the Albanian State Police will now be able to bring police cooperation between the European Union and Albania to the next level.
In her speech, the Europol Executive Director, De Bolle, stated that this is not the end, but just the beginning of cooperation in the security field.
Meanwhile the director of the State Police, Ardi Veliu, emphasized the cooperation between the two structures by listing some of the international operations in which Albania has participated.
“During 2018, eight operations were conducted by Europol's National Bureau. Meanwhile, during the first six months of this year, 12 operations were conducted.
"In the recent months, only three international operations have been coordinated and directed by Europol, with the State Police participating alongside its counterparts,” said Ardi Veliu.
Following the first ever deployment of Frontex forces in a country outside the EU, at Albania's borders, the country is now home to the second ever Europol office outside the EU and the first in the region.
The first Europol office created outside of the EU is in Washington DC.