Tirana [Albania], January 25 (ANI): The US has increased its strategic presence in Albania to counter Beijing's increased footprint in the Balkan region.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, the greater US engagement with the small Balkan nation highlights the emergence of another potential collision between China's geo-economic ambitions in the region and the growing if belated, Western efforts to push back.
While most Balkan countries have been hungry recipients of Chinese money, Albania has been an outlier, choosing to selectively engage with Beijing.
While there are about 120 Chinese-linked projects worth almost USD 32 billion in the Balkans–the majority of which are in the infrastructure and energy sectors–Albania has largely steered clear of piling on huge Chinese debt in exchange for development, opting instead for acquisitions that don't threaten to leverage the country's future, writes Amanda Coakley for the Foreign Policy.
Washington's renewed interest in Albania began in 2020, when the country joined the Clean Network initiative, a Trump administration program that sought to challenge the dominance of Chinese firms in 4G and 5G mobile technology. Albania was the first country in the region to join and has used its participation to curry favour with Washington, which has been glad of the support in the region, as analyzed by Foreign Policy magazine.
Further, The US European Command on January 8 said that it was establishing a special operation headquarters in Albania as part of an effort to boost capabilities as a keystone for regional stability.
Earlier, EUCOM also said the base offers increased interoperability with US Albanian allies and important access to transportation hubs in the Balkans. (ANI)