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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)

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Alfred Moisiu

Update No: 102 - (27/10/05)

An artist becomes new leader of the Socialist Party of Albania
For over a decade the political scene in Albania was dominated by the struggle between Fatos Nano, leader of the Socialist Party, and Sali Berisha, leader of the centre-right forces in the Democratic Party. The defeat of the Socialists in July after eight years in power has changed all that. 
Berisha is back in harness where he was in 1997 when a financial collapse caused his eviction, while Nano has met his own quietus. Eight years is a long time in politics, especially in a poor country, ravaged by problems. There was considerable growth on his watch, GDP rising by 7-8% per year. But in a traditionally bandit nation this has only aggravated the ills of crime and corruption. 
The successful smugglers and the like live mainly abroad off their ill-gotten gains, while the bulk of the people languish at home.
The political beneficiary of this is looks likely to be Tirana's eccentric Mayor, the 41 year old, Edi Rama, formerly an artist by profession. On October 9th he reached a surprise victory when he won the elections for leader of the Socialist Party of Albania. Rama won by a landslide against his rival, the ex-President, Rexhep Meidani, during the extraordinary congress held on the heels of the resignation of Nano.
Rama won with 297 votes against 151 received by Meidani. His victory came despite the fact that the ex-leader Nano had clearly stated his opposition to the candidacy of Rama just two days before the vote. He did not have sufficient self-knowledge and cunning to realize that his opposition probably sealed Rama's victory.
Now the socialists are looking to Rama to lead their opposition with the simple goal of getting power back. The socialists have already declared their intention to keep the current centre-right government from fulfilling its four-year term in power.

Short biography of Edi Rama
Edi Rama (born in 1964) is an Albanian politician and artist. Since October 2000 he has been the mayor of Tirana, Albania's capital.
Rama was active during the anti-Communist revolution, while being a professor at the Academy of Arts of Tirana which was a political centre. In 1992 he penned an anti-Communist book called "Refleksione" (Reflections) together with his long time friend Ardian Klosi. The book was condemnatory of Enver Hoxha's regime and provided insight into emigration, economics and the future of Albania. 
With the advent of democracy and the multi-party system, Rama was disappointed with the Democratic Party because of its corruption. He criticized Sali Berisha's regime intensively, while following his career as an internationally recognized visual artist.
Then, in 1997, state security agents beat Rama until he was nearly dead. After a long recovery he emigrated to Paris. Then when he returned to Albania for his father's funeral in 1998, Nano asked him into his government as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. As Minister some of his first steps were the opening of movie theatres to show Hollywood movies in order to help overcome people's mental isolation from the rest of the world.
Then in 2000, Rama ran as an independent candidate in the Tirana Mayor race, but always with the support of the Socialist Party of Albania. He won 57% of the votes.
Shortly after his election as Tirana Mayor, Edi Rama's house came under fire from an unknown gunman on November 9th, 2000, but Rama escaped the attack unscathed.
In 2003's elections for Tirana mayor, Rama was able to win another mandate. At the same time he began to get more involved in the political life of the Socialist Party of Albania. In December of 2003 he became a member of the party's hierarchy.
It was during that same year that he also competed for the first time against the then leader, Fatos Nano. However, elections proved a disappointment, with only a modest number of votes being cast for him. All the sweeter to win the crown at last, which makes him the likely next premier of Albania.

Berisha announces efforts to step up fight against illegal trafficking
Prime Minister Sali Berisha is well aware of why his long-time rival bit the dust. He is making the campaign against crime and corruption a top priority. 
He announced on 17th October new measures to strengthen the fight against illegal trafficking. Following a cabinet session, Berisha stressed the government's commitment to a policy of zero tolerance regarding trafficking and organised crime. 
He also announced a three-year ban on the private possession of speedboats and other watercraft commonly used for human trafficking. A special interdepartment committee for combating trafficking was formed on the same day, headed by Interior Minister Sokol Olldashi. 

Austria plans conference on Balkans in 2006 - Fischer
Austria plans on holding a conference on the Balkans in the first half of 2006, when it takes over the presidency of the European Union, President Heinz Fischer said in Zagreb on October 15th. Speaking at the final press conference of Central European presidents at the end of the two-day Croatia Summit 2005, Fischer said the summit had proved that other countries in the region were also interested in European integration. He said the summit had been very successful and an opportunity for presidents of Central European countries to get to know each other better. 
Albanian President Alfred Moisiu said the debate on economic issues had been very important because one could not aspire to progress without a developed economy or prospects of economic development. Asked about the final status of Kosovo, he said the population of Kosovo wanted independence. "The will of the people of Kosovo is independence and we are convinced that only this will bring about peace and stability in the region," Moisiu said, adding that Kosovo must become part of the integration process because it was the only way to turn toward a peaceful future. 

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Airport Partners to invest 83m Euro in new terminal 

Airport Partners have submitted a Business plan to the Albanian government which include investments of 83 million Euro and foresees the construction of a new terminal, Albanian Economy reported on October 9th.
Airport partners SH PK is a consortium created by Hochtef Airport, Germany, and Albanian American Enterprise Fund. The consortium won a 20 years concessionary contract to Build, Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT). The contract was signed in December 2004. 
The new terminal will have a 3200-metre landing and take-off strip and capacity to handle three million passengers per year. 
Airport partners SH PK won from the government an exclusive right to international flights. Airport partners will now enjoy 2.7 million Euro in yearly revenue from tariffs paid by the different airline companies using the Rinas International Airport. Earlier, all such tariffs were considered tax income for the state. Now these would be considered as tariffs under the new concessionary contract. 
According to experts, revenue from this activity is estimated to grow at six per cent per year or about 8.1 million Euro, until the last year of the concessionary contract. 
For 2004, Tirana International Airport reached a record number of 631,000 passengers, a 13 per cent increase from 2003. The new Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, won the July 3rd elections promising to crackdown on corruption and crime. 

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KESH privatisation agenda

The Director General of the Albanian Power Corporation (KESH), Fatmir Hoxha, declared recently that he received a study by Lahmeyer International, a German consulting company, proposing the split up of the corporation into smaller companies to further its privatisation, AEN reported.
According to the Lahmeyer study, the initial step en-route to the privatisation of KESH foresaw splitting the corporation into smaller companies specialised in generation, transmission and distribution of energy. Then later it would be decided if these smaller KESH companies would be partly privatised, given under concession or completely sold. The Albanian energy system has an installed power production level of 1,200 megawatts, sourced mainly from hydropower sources. The average annual production-quota is estimated at five billion KWH, qualifying Albania as the country with the lowest energy production levels in Europe. Currently, annual energy supply is estimated at seven billion KWH. The government has not yet reached an agreement, but the sale and distribution sectors in the major cities are expected to be among the first in the list of privatisations. Many experts hope that the private management of these sectors would bring about a decrease in the level of theft currently occurring in the urban zones. KESH has lost about 35% of the total energy it supplied. KESH customers are estimated at 830,000 with each customer paying an average monthly bill of 3,000 leks (24 euro).

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Vodafone Albania unveils results 

Vodafone Albania earned revenue of 137m Euro in 2004 and its net profit was 35m Euro, Albanian Economy reported on October 4th. 
In February 2004, the company won a US$85 million loan that will enable Vodafone to extend its network coverage and provide quality services across Albania. A loan of US$35 million each was issued by EBRD and IFC, and Alpha Bank of Greece gave US$15 million. Vodafone-Panafon won a second mobile licence issued in Albania in June 2001 for US$38.1 million. Vodafone Albania was reported to have 648,000 customers as of March 31, 2005.

AMC net profit at 35.5m Euro 

AMC Albania, the leading mobile operator in the country, had revenues of 121 million Euro and net profit 35.5 million Euro in the fiscal year 2004, Albanian Economy reported on October 4th. 
AMC Albania was founded in 1993 with an US$8 million fund created from a direct government investment and a commercial loan procured by Savings Bank of Albania, also state owned. The company began operations in 1995 and in 2000 had 20,000 clients. The Albanian government privatised the company in May 2000. Greek leading mobile operator CosmOTE bought 85 per cent of shares for US$85.6 million, (93 million Euro). CosmOTE got the price paid reduced to 79 million Euro. Since the privatisation, AMC Albania has grown. AMC Albania is owned 85 per cent by Cosmoholding Albania, and 15 per cent by the ministry of economy.

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