The OSCE Presence in Albania and the Ministry of Defence held a ceremony on 6 December 2016, marking the completion of a joint project to destroy hazardous military chemicals. The Head of Presence, Ambassador Bernd Borchardt, Defence Minister Mimi Kodheli and representatives of OSCE participating States that have funded the project attended the event that took place at the Port of Durrës.
In the final phase of the project, some 160 tonnes of two napalm components – aluminium oxide and xylenol – that are already at the port premises in secure new packaging will be shipped to France for final disposal.
The OSCE Presence has been assisting Albania in its efforts to safely destroy surplus conventional ammunition and dangerous toxic chemicals since 2008. In May 2015, the Presence helped destroy 116 tonnes of hazardous chemicals. Before that, the Presence helped to dispose of 60 tonnes of a toxic rocket fuel component known as mélange and 120 tonnes of dichloromethane, and provided equipment for the destruction of surplus ammunition.
In his address, Ambassador Borchardt thanked the OSCE participating States that have financially supported the demilitarization process in Albania, namely Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Turkey. He also congratulated the members of the Albanian Armed Forces Chemical Unit for their highly professional work throughout the years.
“As we continue to recognize the work being done by so many in the region to safely dispose of outdated military ordinance, we also encourage the regional development of Albania’s demilitarization model, to not only make the region safer but to also make best use of the existing infrastructure and the experienced workforce,” Borchardt said.
Quoting the words of the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier at a similar event in Qafë-Mollë, Albania, in May 2015, Borchardt said that the project demonstrated the mutual trust and effective co-operation between the Ministry of Defence and the OSCE Presence.