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Albania

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  ALBANIA

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
28,748

Population
3,510,484

Capital
Tirana

Currency
Lek

President
Alfred Moisiu

Private sector
% of GDP
45%

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Background:
In 1990 Albania ended 44 years of xenophobic communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven difficult as corrupt governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, a dilapidated infrastructure, widespread gangsterism, and disruptive political opponents. International observers judged local elections in 2000 to be acceptable and a step toward democratic development, but serious deficiencies remain to be corrected before the 2001 parliamentary elections

Update No: 066 - (22/10/02)

The Albanians are relieved that Macedonia is not going to drag them into another Balkan war. They have had enough of refugees and disruption already, notably in the 1999 Kosovo War. The Macedonian elections on September 15th saw a peaceful transfer of power to a new coalition, including the Democratic Party for Integration, one of the Albanian parties, led by Ali Ahmet, former stalwart of the National Liberation Army.

The War helps out
Albania suffered a terrible fall-out from the collapse of its own brand of particularly austere communism, which had left it it the poorest country in Europe in 1989. By the mid-1990s, a series of financial scams, depriving many of their savings, disillusioned most of the population, with the whole idea of capitalism.

Recovery at last
But 1997 was the nadir. By 1999 recovery was under way, greatly helped by the Kosovo War, which put Albania on the map and attracted enormous international aid to cope with 250,000 refugees. NATO forces were using Albania as the springboard for attack in Kosovo. Hundreds of NGO personnel were stationed there. Albania had made a decisive turn to the West.
Annual growth in the 1999-2002 period has averaged 7%, with remarkably low single figure inflation per year. The economy is now no longer a complete basket-case and Moldova, not Albania, is at the bottom of the European league.

Socialists benefit
The Socialist Party was in power when the turn-around occurred and has been the great beneficiary, winning re-election last year. The leader of the conservative opposition, Sali Berisha, realises the strength of their position and has made a deal with them allowing Alfred Moisui, an ex-military man, into the vacant presidency recently.
Continuing along the same path is a bipartisan policy today in Albania. There is no alternative but plumping for the West.

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ENERGY

Eurospean bank grants 24m Euros for Albanian energy project


The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has financed 24,038,000 Euros of credit for the project of reconstructing the energy sector in Albania, ATA News Agency has reported. 
The agreement for this purpose was signed in Tirana on 1st September. For the Albanians it was signed by Finance Minister, Kastriot Islami, Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Doda and the director-general of the Power Generation and Distribution Firm (KESH), Petrit Ahmeti and for the EBRD it was signed by the director of the Energy Sector, Anthony Marsh.

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ENVIRONMENT

Albanian premier discusses disaster prevention with Tirana mayor

Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, met Tirana Mayor, Edi Rama, on 30th September to discuss the situation resulting from the flooding of a district of Tirana as a result of the sudden opening of the floodgates of a reservoir, the Publicity Department at the Council of Ministers stated, Albanian Radio has reported. They both agreed to set up a process of cooperation and partnership between the central and local authorities so as to identify the responsibilities and weaknesses, to find legal, administrative and technical remedies, and to ensure the functioning of all important public utilities. 
Prime Minister Nano and Mayor Rama concluded that, taking into account all the commissions and omissions committed over time, experts from the Council of Ministers and the Tirana Municipality should determine sustainable solutions for all these problems. For his part, Nano paid tribute to Mayor Rama's commitment to coping with the consequences of this tragic incident and encouraged him to cooperate further with the government to take the final measures to ensure that such incidents, which were fraught with serious implications for the citizens, did not occur in the future, a press release concluded.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS

Yugoslavia and Albania sign free trade agreement

Two-day negotiations have been held in Tirana and an agreement on free trade between Yugoslavia and Albania has been signed, in accordance with the memorandum on liberalization and creation of better conditions for trade in Southeastern Eurospe, the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry has stated, FoNet News Agency has reported.
Yugoslav Deputy Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Dejan Jovovic, headed the Yugoslav delegation, and the Albanian delegation was led by Economy Minister Engel Skrelji.
The Yugoslav side proposed that an agreement on economic cooperation be signed, which would create institutional conditions for the formation of a mixed committee for economic cooperation between the two countries.
It was also proposed that other agreements in the sphere of the economy be signed, the statement said.

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FOREIGN LOANS

Albania asks EU to give aid, to help rebuilding after floods

Albanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ilir Meta, in a meeting with EU ambassadors in Tirana on 25th September, asked for help from their countries to overcome the difficulties and consequences of floods in several areas of Albania, ATA News Agency has reported.
The Albanian government invited EU countries, UNDP and other countries and organisations to give their assistance in order to overcome the situation in some flooded areas and to return them to normality.
"We need help on an individual or government basis to address this situation," Meta said.
This meeting was also attended by Minister of Economy, Arben Malaj, who presented figures about the damage caused by the recent heavy rainfalls in Albania. According to reports from this Ministry, about 26,000 hectares of land has been flooded and at least 80,000 people in districts of Lezhe, Shkoder, Gjirokaster, Berat remained without shelter. Considerable damage has been assessed in agriculture areas, roads, railways, the energy sector and water systems.
The Albanian government is committed to alleviate the consequences of the aggravated situation, but damage repair costs go beyond its financial capacity.
For this reason, assistance from EU members and other countries and governments would be necessary and humanitarian aid in the form of tents, blankets, food, and budget support in order to repair structural damage, together with emergency assistance in building roads and bridges, Meta said.

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