News 17 Jul 14
Minister of Defence Mimi Kodheli on Wednesday announced that the army is to replace the Kalashnikov AK-47 with the NATO-standard M4 carbine assault rifle.
“The battalion that operates in foreign operations will be the first to be equipped from this year with the M4 carbine, and will no longer use outdated Kalashnikovs,” Kodheli said in a speech marking the first 300 days in power of the Socialist-led government.
The famous AK-47, also known as Kalashnikov, has been the standard-issue assault rifle for the Albanian armed forces since the Cold War.
Following the anarchy that engulfed the country in 1997, after the collapse of a series of pyramid-like investments schemes, tens of thousands of Kalashnikovs were looted from Albanian army depots and some remain in civilian’s hands.
The M4 carbine, which is produced by US company Colt Firearms, is widely used by the US military.
Kodheli added during her speech that an amendment to the law on the miliary intelligence service would ensure that it does not spy on the opposition, a common practice in the past, according to the minister.
“They will no longer be tools in the service of political parties in power,” she said. “Only the law will prevail in the armed forces of Albania,” she concluded.