Albania offers NATO a naval base built by the former Soviet Union
TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania has offered NATO a naval base in a bid to underscore the small country’s value to the alliance “in these difficult times,” the prime minister’s office said Thursday.
Prime Minister Edi Rama said the Pashaliman naval base, 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of the capital Tirana, could be “an added value” to the alliance and they had prepared a project on its renovation.
“In these dangerous times, I think the general might consider having a NATO naval base in Albania,” Rama said in a speech on Wednesday.
Albania, which became a NATO member in 2009, has joined the United States and the European Union in denouncing Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Pashaliman base below Vlora Bay was built in the 1950s when the Soviet Union brought 12 submarines, making it the only naval base it had in the Mediterranean. Following the severing of Tirana-Moscow ties in 1961, the Pashaliman remained a naval base housing four remaining submarines and other small military vessels.
The base was looted, including submarine equipment, during Albania’s anarchic year of 1997, when Europe’s then poorest population lost their savings in pyramid investment schemes that failed. Three of the submarines have been sold for scrap while the fourth remains, with the government considering turning it into a museum.
Pashaliman was renovated by Turkey and has since been used as a naval base for some military vessels patrolling the Ionian and Adriatic Seas.
NATO has also started upgrading Albania’s Kucove airbase, 85 kilometers (53 miles) south of the capital Tirana, which will allow it to be used for alliance operations.