Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s Democratic Party, together with the much smaller Socialist Movement for Integration, maintains a narrow majority in the Albanian Parliament. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 2013. Albania's over-arching foreign policy priority is full integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions. Albania joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2008. Albania has also signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union (EU), a preparatory move towards closer economic integration. Since 2010, as a result of a unanimous vote by the Council of the EU, Albanian citizens possessing biometric passports are able to travel throughout the Schengen area without a visa. Albania also maintains good relations with its neighbours and is a party to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).
Canada’s Ambassador in Rome is accredited to Albania, while an Honorary Consulate in Tirana assists Canadian interests in Albania. Immigration and visa applications by Albanians are processed by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office in the Canadian Embassy in Rome, whose staff members visit Albania periodically to interview candidates.
Albanian Deputy Prime Minister and then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Edmond Haxhinasto met with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird during a visit to Ottawa in May 2012. Minister Haxhinasto praised the excellent status of political and economic relations between Canada and Albania.
Since 2005, Albania has participated in the Canadian Military Training Assistance Program (MTAP), whose purpose is to provide language training for Albanian military officers in Canada. The programme (now called the Military Training and Cooperation Program, or MTCP) now provides 6 training vacancies annually for Albanian officers. Canada also provides assistance to Albania in an anti-personnel mine destruction program and has contributed expertise, training and $500,000 to help the Albanian military destroy some 10,000 tonnes of small arms and light-weapons ammunition.
Canada’s exports to Albania in 2010 amounted to $34.6 million, while imports were $5.3 million. Calgary’s Bankers Petroleum, Albania’s largest foreign investor, operates a project aimed at developing Europe’s largest on-land oil deposit. Canadian mining companies also invest and participate commercially in copper, zinc, gold and silver mining projects.
To help protect and encourage two-way investment, the governments of Canada and Albania are currently negotiating a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
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