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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 6,124 4,695 4,100 109
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,740 1,380 1,340 120
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Albania


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Alfred Moisiu

Update No: 096 - (26/04/05)

A bright future beckons?
Can Albania shake off its reputation 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 bright future?
The answer will become clearer after a general election to be held 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.

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 power.
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 telephones.
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 Albanians.

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Albania and Occidental forge JV

Albania recently signed a US$15m (11.6m Euro) deal with the US company Occidental Petroleum Corp for the drilling of oil and natural gas, the Albanian Ministry for Industry and Energy said, Business Week reported.
Albania produces about 350,000 tonnes of oil each year. Occidental will pay the money in three stages, over the next 2.5 years, to drill a well in Shpiragu Mountain. This region is 120km from the capital, Tirana, a group statement said. Drilling processes have already started and the well has reached a depth level of 5,333 metres. Actual work of exploration and testing was due to start on April 20th, according to Occidental spokesman, Larry Meriage. "This appraisal will allow us to determine if there is anything there," he told Business Week. Occidental spent US$56m on oil exploration together with other partners between 1991 and 1997. Since then, it has spent US$45m on drilling in Shpiragu and on drafting a seismic report on the area.

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Albania and Greece talk ties

Albania and Greece held the 9th Greek-Albanian inter-ministerial committee meeting at Ioannina, Greece recently. Greece is the top foreign investor in Albania, with US$400m in invested capital, and it is also Albania's second largest trade partner. The main items on the agenda of the meeting were the promotion of bilateral relations between the two countries in sectors like exchange of electricity and natural gas, telecoms and road network links. The discussions also covered protection of the Greek minority in Albania. Albanian Economics Minister, Anastas Angjeli, and Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Evripidis Stylianidis headed the meeting, New Europe reported.

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EBRD credit for Tirana Airport

To modernise the Albanian capital's airport and upgrade related road infrastructure the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it would give a 21m Euro loan to Tirana Airport Partners, a consortium led by the German Hochtief Airport GmbH, Balkan Times reported recently.
An additional 12.9m Euro credit would be provided jointly by DEG-Deutsche Investitions and Entwicklungsgesellschaft, Alpha Bank Tirana and the American bank of Albania. This amount should be good enough for the modernisation of Tirana Airport and the nearby road infrastructure.

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VoEx and Arcade bid for Kosovo telecom project

VoEx International LLC, a leading provider and innovative designer of global telecommunications and wireless solutions and Arcade Solutions AG jointly submitted their bid to PTK for Kosovo's wireless local loop (WLL) project consultancy services for technical, commercial, legal and financial support on March 28th, 2005, New Europe reported.
Kosovo's telecom PTK fixed network has ambitious plans to develop their local loop infrastructure to ensure that it can achieve its strategic business objectives and also fulfill its licence obligations with regard to tele-density.
PTK believes that the deployment of Wireless Local Loop technology that supports both narrowband and broadband is a cost efficient and timely method of extending the local loop and is also a key enabler to achieve these strategic aims, the group said.
VoEx chief strategy officer Asaad Y Alnajjar said: "Over the past two years, VoEx International has been very active in the design and implementation of GSM, CDMA and iDen mobile networks and products, 3G & UMTS upgrades, WCDMA/WLL design and installations, satellite voice and data communications, WiMax and last mile effective WiFi solutions. In addition, VoEx executives have been extremely involved in the development and growth of wireless products, solutions, connectivity and applications to expedite the deployment of these networks. Our team has presented in many global settings white papers and solutions that helped to achieve our advancements today."
PTK requires resource support from an external consultancy company to produce a business case and justify the required investment for the deployment of wireless local loop. The selected company will work closely with the technical, commercial, legal and finance departments of PTK to undertake business analysis and in the production of this business plan. VoEx so far has been leading efforts in many third world countries in engineering support to design, build, operate and then transfer wireless communications centres and wireless networks. For the past two years, VoEx has been very active in the design-build of several telecom projects in Iraq and had provided extended services to many companies working in Iraq.
Alnajjar said, "the overall Kosovo telecom story is close to that of Iraq and both provide virgin grounds to deploy state of the art technology and become among the leaders in their prospective regions. VoEx experience will seem beneficial for PTK to create a profitable solid business case and design recommendations for the best wireless network to be deployed."

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