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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: 107 - (28/04/06)

Albania is in the good books of international financial institutions, notably since the Kosovo War of 1999. Wars can sometimes bring benefits to neglected countries. That war certainly put Albania on the map.
The 1999 Kosovo War marks the turning point for the Albanian economy. Previously in a most dire state after a financial crash in 1997, the war led to a massive international presence to deal with the huge refugee problem, with 240,000- 260,000 Kosovar Albanians streaming in.
International aid agencies and the impact of the vast military effort, whose base was Albania, gave the economy a terrific boost, much as the Korean War did the postwar Japanese economy or the Vietnam War did the economies of the Asian tigers.
Its Socialist governments under Premier Fatos Nano, from 1997 to 2001 and from 2001 to 2005, saw the country pulled round from being the basket case of Europe to being a force to be reckoned with. It has had an economy forging ahead at an average 7% for nearly a decade.
Last year the conservative former premier Sali Berisha was re-elected, benefiting from the usual swing of the political pendulum.

Turkish maestro comes to town
UNDP chief Kemal Dervis, a brilliant Turkish economist and financier, arrived on a two-day visit to Albania on April 10th in a bid to strengthen his organisation's partnership with Tirana. Dervis praised Albania for its co-operation with his organisation and development efforts, and pledged continued assistance to the country. 
"Albania has been a role model for other countries in its pursuit of human development and in its strong commitment to the Millennium Development Goals," said Dervis, the third highest-ranking UN official, during a visit to Tirana. "Albania recognised that good governance is a crucial component of development by making it a priority in all of their work. I applaud Albania for that." 
Dervis's two-day stay was his second visit since 1991, and the first since he became UNDP head in May 2005. 
Dervis met with Prime Minister Berisha and Parliament Speaker Jozefina Topalli. "The priority you have given economic development -- since the time you were president -- it is obviously having a result," a UNDP statement quoted Dervis as saying after his meeting with the prime minister. 
During the talks, Berisha briefed him about Albania's efforts in the fight against organised crime, trafficking and corruption, and about concrete legal initiatives, including the law to counter conflict of interest and nepotism. 
The two also discussed the UNDP programme in Albania, particularly in four new areas of cooperation: Combating extra-legality and undertaking tax reform; information and communication technologies for schools; the Brain Gain initiative; and environment and tourism. 
The e-schools project focuses on the modernisation of school computer labs, the establishment of broadband Internet connectivity and the training of teachers. Around 1,749 primary schools and 384 high schools will be the primary beneficiaries of this project, which will help Albanian students acquire skills and take advantage of modern information and communication technologies. The UNDP has set aside US$1.3m for the first year of implementation of the 36-month programme. 
The projects on combating extra legality and supporting ecological initiatives and cultural tourism were also expected to be inaugurated during Dervis's visit. 
The Brain Gain initiative would assist the government in its effort to utilise expatriate Albanian expertise for the country's socio-economic development. 
Recently Dervis visited a police station commissariat in Tirana, which has been renovated under an ongoing project in support of security sector reform, financed by various international and bilateral donors, including the UNDP. 
Addressing deputies in parliament later, Dervis urged politicians to stay united on issues of national importance, stressing that stability is key to sustainable economic development and growth. Income per capita in Albania could double in 20 years if it promotes "private entrepreneurship and markets, as well as a good government that makes sure that markets are competitive, that they are well regulated, that the law applies equally to all," the AP quoted him as saying. 
"So Albania needs both effective government and competitive markets ... What is crucial is to enforce the rule of law and not allow criminal elements to distort the economy to their advantage. Political instability is the biggest enemy of rapid and sustained growth," Dervis said. 

Bucharest offers EU backing
Romanian President Traian Basescu on April 13th, at the Cotroceni presidential palace, received Albanian Premier Sali Berisha. During the meeting the two men said that Albania's initialling of the Agreement of Stabilization and Association to the European Union was a favourable moment, which must be turned to account in their bilateral relations. 
Romania's President emphasized Romania's willingness to offer Albania concrete support in distinct fields in the process of coming closer to the EU, the consolidation of the institutions of the state of law included. Another subject on the agenda of the talks referred to the political situation in the Western Balkans, with emphasis on the questions of the status of Kosovo. 
President Basescu also stressed the fact that Bucharest hosting the meeting of the heads of government in the CEFTA countries, in which the Albanian Premier also took part, reflected the support offered by Romania to giving a concrete form to the aim of the European prospect and of connecting the Western Balkans again to the positive developments at European level. 

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British Airways to start its first ever flights to Albania 

British Airways (BA) announced it would start a number of new routes this summer, including its first ever flights to Albania's capital Tirana, AE news has reported. 
The new service will operate three times a week and it will link Albania's capital with Gatwick airport in London. The flights will be scheduled for Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. According to BA projections about 25,000 travellers will use the new London-Tirana route in the first year, with the number rising incrementally afterwards, according to a company official. BA's flights were postponed earlier due to security concerns with the Mother Teresa International Airport of Albania. German-led Airport Partners Consortium renovated Tirana's Mother Teresa International Airport to bring security up to international standards.

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Increased loans and profits for Alpha Bank 

Alpha Bank's Albanian branch reported a 109 million Euro growth for 2005 and estimated 2008 projections at 305 million Euro, according to a recent presentation by Alpha Bank of Greece, AE news agency reported. 
In 2005 the Albanian branch of Alpha Bank reported gross revenue of 141 per cent, Alpha Bank of Greece announced. Meanwhile, profits through its Albanian branch reached seven million Euro in the same period up from 2.9 million Euro in 2004. Such profits resulted from strong growth in the bank's lending accompanied with a rather soft increase of deposits, the bank reported. The performance of the Albanian branch was strong compared to the average profit levels of the Alpha Bank group, but faired comparatively lower for its deposits. Alpha Bank operates in six different countries in Southeastern Europe. Its Albanian branch makes up 3.8 per cent of its activity abroad. Its operation in Albania also makes up 6.6 per cent of all total foreign deposits.

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