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Albania: OSCE Calls On NATO To Help Restructure Military

Brussels, 17 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO is actively considering a request to help in the long-term restructuring of the Albanian armed forces. The request came from Franz Vranitzky, Austria's former chancellor, who visited NATO headquarters yesterday in his role as the OSCE's (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) special envoy on Albania.

Vranitzky told reporters he wants NATO to act as part of a coordinated international effort, within an OSCE framework. He said he is concerned that this effort get underway quickly, so as to avoid what he called a "security gap," when the present multi-national force leaves Albania next month.

NATO officials tell our correspondent the proposal was anticipated, and, now that Vranitzky had formally made the request, it will be discussed at next Wednesday's NATO Ambassador's meeting. The NATO officials said, if Ambassadors endorse the proposal, a team of experts will be dispatched to Albania to make plans with the Albanian military and other authorities.

One possibility discussed at NATO headquarters was to involve non-NATO countries, as well, including some from Eastern Europe.

The OSCE has also decided to set up a special working group to coordinate the efforts of various international bodies concerned with helping Albania. The OSCE said it was agreed that a long-term effort will be needed to repair the damage that Albania suffered during its recent period of virtual anarchy.