Books on Albania
Update No: 097 - (26/05/05)
Berisha Re-elected Leader of Albania's Main Opposition
The longstanding Albanian politician, a former president, Sali Berisha, was
re-elected leader of the major opposition Democratic Party (DP) during the party
congress at the end of April, a critical event at a vital moment.
Berisha was the sole candidate for the position. Addressing delegates in
congress, he said he expects a strong showing from DP in the imminent
parliamentary elections this summer. He plans to become prime minister in the
case of an outright DP victory.
Democratic Party to win Albanian elections
This is on the cards. The American Democratic Institute (ADE) has announced that
the DP will win the parliamentary elections on 3rd July 2005 with 42 percent of
251,000 people from 12 different cities have participated in the first survey
regarding the July 3rd elections. The survey included people from varying social
classes and ADE officials have concluded that the most advantageous party in the
upcoming elections is the DP.
While 42 percent of those who will vote in the elections expect that DP will
win, 34 percent believe that current Prime Minister Fatos Nano's Socialist party
will win, a stable percentage.
The Socialist Movement, which separated from the Socialist Party for Ilir Meta's
Integration, appears to have support from 11 percent of the voters, while King
Leka I.'s National Development Movement Party comes in last with four percent.
The study admits a three percent margin of error.
Albania, Italy discuss bilateral relations
President Alfred Moisiu met with Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto
Antonione in Tirana on 12th May.
They discussed bilateral relations, especially the importance of Italy as a main
foreign trade partner. They also talked about the July parliamentary elections
in Albania. Antonione said he hoped they would be an expression of true
Albanian political parties sign elections code of conduct
The good news here is that the leaders of Albania's main political parties have
signed a Code of Conduct for the elections, trying to guarantee that all parties
will recognize the results, respect the law and conduct a peaceful electoral
The pact was initiated by President Alfred Moisiu, who said Albanians must leave
behind the problematic and contested political elections of the past "to
mark a new qualitative step on the great path of democracy." He called on
the political leaders to cooperate for the good of the country.
Parliament has decided to establish 14 working groups, to verify voters' lists
ahead of the parliamentary elections this summer. Officials say the groups will
oversee lists for Tirana and other large municipalities, including Durres,
Shkoder, Vlora and Korca.
EU to increase assistance to Albania
Can Albania shake off its reputation, not just for shady elections, but for
gangsterdom and lawlessness and secure a place in the queue for membership of
the EU? It is a country with a bleak past until very recently. But does it now
have a brighter future?
The answer will become clearer after the election in July. But it will be the
conduct of the poll as much as its outcome that will decide whether Albania
becomes a candidate for EU accession.
The officials in Brussels are certainly hoping for the best and are doing
everything to send the right signals to Tirana. The Ministry of European
Integration announced in late April that the EU will increase its assistance to
Albania by 5m euros, to a total of 63.5m euros.
The money, in the form of grants, will be provided over the next five years and
will be spent on revamping the judiciary and the prison system, increasing
administrative capacity, and improving the environment and infrastructure.
Who will win the July elections?
Fatos Nano, the Socialist prime minister, is seeking a third straight
election win over Sali Berisha, the former president and leader of the right of
centre Democratic Party. In 2001 the Socialists benefited from a boom from the
impact of the Kosovo War of 1999, which brought massive international aid and
credits, while foreigners came to town in droves. GDP growth has been in the
7-8% range subsequently and Albania is no longer the poorest country in Europe.
Both Nano and Berisha support Albania's full integration with Western Europe at
the earliest possible date through membership of Nato and the EU. And both
stress that political stability is no longer in doubt in spite of problems with
organised crime, trafficking and corruption.
But their fierce personal rivalry, the fact that their respective power bases in
the north and south of the country reflect a traditionally violent fault line in
Albanian politics, and the widespread availability of automatic weapons all give
cause for concern.
There is little popular enthusiasm for another round in the grudge match between
the socialist and democrat leaders.
After 8 years in power, Mr Nano's Socialists face a mounting "fed-up"
factor. At the same time memories are still fresh of the anarchy that followed
the collapse in 1997 of the fraudulent pyramid savings schemes tolerated by Mr
Berisha and the democrats.
Ilir Meta, the reform minded former prime minister who battled unsuccessfully to
unseat Mr Nano as the socialist party leader, hopes his left of centre splinter
group will attract enough votes from young Albanians to hold the balance of
The European Commission has warned that if elections fail to meet international
standards, stalled negotiations with Albania on a stabilisation and association
agreement - for the first step to candidacy for EU membership - would be frozen.
Albania is the only Balkan country that has failed over the past decade to hold
an election accepted by the international community. Elections in 2001 won by
the Socialists were flawed by ballot box stuffing, intimidation of voters by
police and forged voter registrations, according to international observers.
OSCE to monitor the elections
This time the political parties have agreed to work closely with the
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Tirana to
revise the electoral law, re-draw constituency boundaries and update the
register of voters.
But foot dragging by political leaders and internal party bickering over details
has undermined the role of the OSCE. Only a handful of municipalities met the
most recent deadline for presenting updated voter lists.
Mass migration from desperately poor rural areas has shifted an estimated
200,000 voters to constituencies in towns. But homes in the sprawling squatter
suburbs around Tirana and other cities lack street addresses and fixed-wire
Given that the votes of internal migrants are likely to decide the election
result, revising the electoral register has assumed a huge significance.
Information is so hard to come by that US officials have come up with
high-resolution satellite photographs of Tirana to match residential properties
in the illegal settlements with voters' names.
Whoever wins will be hoping for OSCE acknowledgement of a fair result and a
renewal of talks with Brussels. Things certainly hang in the balance for the
Albanian, Montenegrin foreign ministers agree to develop cooperation
The Albanian minister of foreign affairs, Kastriot Islami, and his Montenegrin
counterpart, Miodrag Vlahovic, stated their willingness for the further
development of the economic relations existing between the two countries at a
meeting on 13th May in Tirana. They confirmed the establishment of a joint
interministerial group on the Albanian-Montenegrin cooperation, ATA News Agency
The two ministers agreed on the application of some agreements related to the
cooperation in the economic and transport domains, the free movement of people
and the fight against organized crime and illegal trafficking. According to
Islami and Vlahovic, "These agreements are an indication of not only the
bilateral cooperation but also the willingness and commitment of the two
countries to a region of European standards."
Olim eyes Ukrainian sunflower oil
Major Albanian oilseed processing company Olim SH.A is interested in long-term
cooperation with Ukrainian exporters of crude sunflower oil, the company
spokesman said recently, APK-Inform reported.
The spokesman said that Olim SH.A so far had no working experience with
Ukrainian and Russian partners, but was highly interested in establishing such
contacts. For this purpose the company's representatives will take part in the
4th international conference "Grain Industry-2005," organised by APK-Inform
in Kiev. During the course of the conference the company's management is
planning to establish business links with Ukrainian and Russian exporters of
grains, oilseeds and processing products. Olim SH.A was established in 2000. It
operates an oil extraction plant and produces sunflower oil. Its annual crushing
capacity is about 40,000 tonnes of the seeds. The company holds the leading
position on the local market of vegetable oil, controlling about 55% of the
sunflower oil market in Albania. It exports packaged oil to Macedonia and the
Serbian province of Kosovo. The company's spokesman said sunflower oil was the
most consumed kind of vegetable oil in Albania.