As President-Elect Donald Trump prepares to take office as the 45th President of the United States, one of the foreign policy issues that will certainly be under a microscope will be his official position(s) and policies in regards to Balkan relations and counterterrorism efforts. U.S. oil corporations like Global Oil Management Group (GOMG), owned by Harry Sargeant, may be his best partners in the Balkan states.
The Balkan states, due to their geographical location, are a gateway between the tumultuous Middle East and Europe. Because of this, they are more vulnerable to terrorist activity, human and drug trafficking, and are in proximity to fighting in Syria and Iraq. Increased Russian activity in Hungary and Serbia also contributes to the region's instability.
Albania, a Muslim nation, remains the United States' strongest ally in the Balkans and has continually supported the West's "war on terror." In return, according to the U.S. Department of State, "U.S. policy toward the Balkans is focused on helping the states of the region cement peace and build stability and prosperity..."
One of the ways that the U.S. is contributing to this effort is through the investment of privately-owned oil companies. Harry Sargeant's GOMG and its subsidiary, Ionian Refining & Trading Company Ltd. (IRTC) have recently adopted a strategy to reconsolidate, rationalize and upgrade the Albanian refinery system.
Putting these refineries back in service will assist Albania in many ways. The refineries will help to ensure that Albania can secure its vital energy needs. Additionally, they will create thousands of jobs for local Albanians and encourage economic growth in the area.
In fact, companies like GOMG are creating a more effective diplomatic presence than the U.S. government could. By representing the U.S. to native Albanians and putting money in their pockets through job creation and the resulting economic stimulation, Sargeant's corporation is strengthening diplomatic relations by proxy.
In addition to existing security challenges, last year, a million refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and other countries impacted by fighting in the Middle East arrived on European shores, many of which landed in or traveled through Albania.
Massive migrations like this can be overwhelming to small countries and serve as a destabilizing force that allows increases in criminal and terrorist activities.
Ilir Meta, Albania's Speaker of the Parliament, has spoken on numerous occasions about Albania's need for more security and economic cooperation to control the refugee flow.
He has called for greater intelligence and law-enforcement cooperation to control the flow of refugees and to prevent it from contributing to terrorist activities in Europe and the United States.
In addition to contributing to economic prosperity, U.S. oil companies have a vested interest in Albanian national security and counter-terrorism measures. In practice, Global Oil and other U.S. companies operating in sensitive and critical areas are on the front lines of national security, and effectively demonstrate the soft power of the United States.
In consideration of these factors, Washington would be well-advised to support the efforts of Harry Sargeant's Global Oil and other American corporations' efforts and contributions in Albania.