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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Officials Scout Albania For Potential Military Force

TIRANA, Albania -- Military experts from European Union countries scouted Albania on Wednesday to prepare for a possible multinational aid protection force in the troubled Balkan state, still racked by random violence.


"The team is made up of experts from all fields which could be involved in any kind of military operation," said an EU diplomat, who asked not to be identified.


The team will stay for several days and includes military experts from the Florence-based Eurofor force -- Italy, France, Portugal and Spain -- as well as Austrian and Greek personnel.


Albania has appealed for a multinational force to oversee relief operations and to help reestablish order after weeks of violence and an insurrection that has cut the country in two.


In Vienna, the 54-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was close to agreeing on a framework for a broad international military force, made up of volunteer nations, diplomatic sources said.


President Sali Berisha has clung to power by sacking his rightist Democratic Party government and replacing it this month with a national unity cabinet headed by opposition Socialist Bashkim Fino.


Berisha agreed to elections by June and said he would quit if his party lost, but he has expressed some optimism recently as he sought help from the European Union and other groups.


A new EU mission will visit Albania on Wednesday to work out how to help. The 10-member EU delegation, the second in two weeks, will meet Fino and other ministers.