Albanian foreign policy has concentrated on maintaining good relations with its Balkan neighbors, gaining access to European-Atlantic security institutions, and securing close ties with the United States. The crisis of 1997 spurred an intensive period of international involvement in Albania, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Italy hosted a series of international conferences and led a multinational force of about 7,000 troops to help stabilize the country and facilitate OSCE election monitoring. The United States has worked closely with European partners and various multilateral fora to ensure that international efforts are coordinated.
The Government of Albania is very concerned with developments in the ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo in neighboring Serbia, particularly in the post-Dayton agreement period. While maintaining a responsible and nonprovocative position, the Albanian Government has made it clear that the status and treatment of the Albanian population in Kosovo is a principal national concern. Bilateral relations with Greece have improved dramatically since 1994. In 1996, the two countries signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship and discussed the issues of the status of Albanian refugees in Greece and education in the mother tongue for the ethnic Greek minority in southern Albania. Tirana's relations with The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia remain friendly, despite occasional incidents involving ethnic Albanians there. Tirana has repeatedly encouraged the Albanian minority's continued participation in the Government of F.Y.R.O.M.
Through FY 1998, the United States committed approximately $300 million to Albania's economic and political transformation and to address humanitarian needs. This figure comprises about 10% of all bilateral and multilateral assistance offered since 1991. Italy ranks first in bilateral assistance and Germany third. The European Union (EU) has given about $800 million since 1991 and pledged $175 million in 1996-99.
In FY 1999, the United States will provide $30 million through the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act, up from $27 million the previous year. The U.S. also will provide an agricultural commodities grant of $10 million. The $30 million Albanian-American Enterprise Fund (AAEF), launched in 1994, is actively making debt and equity investments in local businesses. AAEF is designed to harness private sector efforts to assist in the economic transformation. U.S. assistance priorities include promotion of agricultural development and a market economy, advancement of democratic institutions (including police training), and improvements in quality of life. The SEED funding request for Albania for FY 2000 is $25 million.