On May 17th, Macedonia, Albania, and Bulgaria signed a military cooperation agreement. On the same day Albania and Macedonia said they were interested in joining NATO as early as 2006. The Macedonia, Albania, and Bulgaria military cooperation agreement is a big political signal. Bulgaria has "old Balkan claims" to Macedonia. During the Macedonian civil war, ethnic Macedonian Albanians received aid from supporters in Albania. For the last couple of years both Bulgaria and Albania have said they intend to address crime and corruption issues. Crime and corruption hinder economic and political development. Military cooperation not only signals a desire for peaceful relations, but an intent to cooperate to solve the crime problem. There's also the "trans-Balkan pipeline." If and when that gets built, it will have to be protected, and protection of that economic asset requires security cooperation. Finally, there's the problem of Kosovo. Bulgaria, Albania, and Macedonia want the issue of Kosovo's independence or autonomy-within-Serbia resolved peacefully. Albania and Macedonia. A nascent alliance helps makes that point.