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Albania: EU Military Experts Scout Amid Violence

Tirana, 26 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Military experts from European Union countries scouted Albania today to prepare for a possible multinational aid protection force.

The team will stay several days and includes military experts from Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Austria and Greece. Albania has appealed for a multinational force to oversee relief operations and to help reestablish order.

President Sali Berisha today assured interim Prime Minister Bashkim Fino he will support EU efforts to ease the Albanian crisis and put an end to lawlessness and the threat of famine. Fino said during the meeting that he received assurances from the EU and the Italian government yesterday that Albania will receive humanitarian aid and assistance in reorganizing its police and army.

In Vienna, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) appears close to agreeing on a framework for an international military force made up of volunteer nations. EU leaders stopped short of agreeing to provide troops to protect the $2.3 million worth of food aid.

Armed rebels and lawless gangs still control most territory south of the Adriatic port of Vlore, with theft, violence and settling of scores occuring daily.Deputy Interior Minister Lush Perpali says the Albanian authorities are not able to protect the public.