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Albania’s Decade-Long Journey with the EU CBRN CoE Initiative: Enhancing National Resilience

Albania’s Decade-Long Journey with the EU CBRN CoE Initiative: Enhancing National Resilience

Tirana, Albania -

 

Since 2013, Albania has been an active partner within the South East and Eastern Europe (SEEE) region under the European Union (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative. The General Directorate of Customs has played a pivotal role by appointing a dedicated CBRN National Focal Point (NFP), facilitating Albania’s participation in numerous EU-funded projects aimed at bolstering the national CBRN capabilities.

The SEEE Regional Secretariat, in collaboration with On-Site Technical Assistance (OSA), hosted the CBRN National Team meeting on May 29, 2024, at the Tirana International Hotel. The meeting convened 24 representatives from the CBRN National Team composed of various Albanian ministries and agencies, underscoring a multidisciplinary approach to CBRN risk management. Thirty members of Albania’s National Team participated in this workshop, representing the following government bodies: Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health and Social Protection, General Staff Armed Forces, State Export Control Authority, National Environment Agency, Directorate General of Fire Protection and Rescue, Directorate General of Albanian Police, Institute of Scientific Police (Forensic), Institute of Applied Nuclear Physics, Institute of Public Health, Radiation Protection Office, National Civil Protection Agency, General Directorate of Customs, Institute of Food Safety and Veterinary, and the State Intelligence Service.

Highlighting Albania’s 11-year commitment to the EU CBRN CoE Initiative, the CBRN National Focal Point, Ms. Migena Kuburja Lazaj (from the General Directorate of Customs),  emphasized the tangible achievements and success stories from her country. The meeting participants were updated on the outcomes of the EU-funded projects ranging from Projects (P) P3 to P101. These initiatives have significantly contributed to Albania’s CBRN preparedness by providing specialized equipment, training, and guidelines.

Attendees were briefed on the EU CBRN CoE Initiative, including an in-depth look at the ongoing projects in the South East and Eastern Europe region, and engaged in discussions about the development of new regional projects aligned with the CBRN Regional Action Plan, namely:

The upcoming completion and governmental review of the updated National Action Plan on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by the end of 2024 marks a critical milestone in Albania’s continuous effort to safeguard against CBRN threats. These enhancements aim to provide a more engaging narrative, emphasizing Albania’s proactive role and its collaborative efforts within the SEEE region under the EU CBRN CoE Initiative.

The Ministry of Justice has announced the country’s intention to amend the Criminal Code to criminalise actions involving CBRN materials. This initiative is a response to Albania’s obligations under various international conventions and legal frameworks. To support these changes, the government has requested expert consultancy from the EU CBRN CoE Initiative to assist in the formulation of the necessary legal amendments, a move that represents a proactive step towards enhancing legal resilience. Interest in strengthening the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of CBRN crimes was expressed during the meeting, and the potential integration of a comprehensive training package into the curriculum exemplifies Albania’s dedication to building long-term prosecutorial and judicial expertise in CBRN-related cases.

Albania’s proactive engagement with the EU CBRN CoE Initiative illustrates the nation’s resolve to fortify its defences against CBRN risks and threats. The collaborative spirit demonstrated at the CBRN National Team meeting and the forward-looking initiatives discussed therein are a testament to Albania’s commitment to regional and national security.

 

Background information

The EU CBRN CoE Initiative is a global Initiative funded and implemented by the European Union as part of its goal to promote peace, stability and conflict prevention.

The aim of the Initiative is to mitigate risks and strengthen an all-hazards security governance in Partner Countries of the EU following a voluntary and demand-driven approach. The EU support is provided to implement a wide range of CBRN risk mitigation activities including needs and risk assessments, national and regional action plans, capacity building activities, legal framework reviews, tabletop and real-time (including cross-border) field exercises, inter-regional exchange of best practices and lessons learnt.

Funded and implemented through the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – Global Europe, the Initiative is led by the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), in close coordination with the European External Action Service (EEAS). The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) provides technical support to Partner Countries, while the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) ensures a coherent and effective national, regional and international cooperation. Other relevant international and regional organisations and experts also contribute to the Initiative, which, involves 64 countries in 8 regions of the world. This makes it the EU’s largest civilian external security programme.

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