Books on Albania
Update No: 116 - (25/01/07)
Until 1990 Albania was the poorest country in Europe, run by a
dismal communist dictatorship, in the wake of the extraordinary events of
1989-91 it suddenly broke free.
Albania's main parties complete deal on election reforms
The country's main political parties finalised a deal on electoral reforms on
January 13th, clearing the way for local elections in February. The deal ends a
stalemate between the 12 parties that make up the governing coalition of Prime
Minister Sali Berisha and the Socialist-led opposition of Tirana Mayor Edi Rama.
The two sides had battled over reforms for more than a year.
The deal resolved the key issue of using birth certificates as proof of identity
by voters on Election Day. Since there are no government-issued ID cards in the
country, all voters using birth certificates will have to bring two additional
forms of identification with them to the polls.
Following the political agreement, Parliament passed the relevant legal changes
in the electoral code and the Constitution at an extraordinary session.
President Alfred Moisiu, who marshalled the talks, chose the new election date,
Political turmoil in Albania, oligarch returns
But a new factor, or rather a renewed one, has entered the political equation.
Former Prime Minister and former head of Socialist Party, Mr. Fatos Nano,
declared on January 15th his plan to return in the game after 18 months of
retreating as a politician. Mr. Nano presented his latest idea about
"cleaning and reforming Albanian politics" during an interview
broadcast on TV Klan.
Someone has referred to him as "an oligarch of Albanian politics." The
old left-wing leader, Mr. Nano, has created a political movement that now
intends to cooperate with his historical enemy, which has him turning into
friend and now into a "partner for the country's best", of the old
right-wing leader and Prime Minister, Mr. Sali Berisha.
Their surprising come back has caused fears and protests from all parts.
The new movement intends to push out the current head of the opposition, Edi
Rama, whom has been losing ground during this latest political crisis, while Mr.
Nano and Mr. Berisha are trying to convince the international community that
they are the only politicians in Albania who can bring stability to the country.
Mr. Nano has not denied his ambitions toward the presidency of Albania, while
the public opinion in very concerned that he may be elected president through
votes from his "old enemies". Next presidential elections are
scheduled for later this summer.
Mr. Nano and Mr. Berisha have ruled Albania for the last 15 years. Both used to
be members of the old Labour Party of Albania, which ruled the country during
the communist regime.
For Albanians is not that unusual that the two oligarchs of Albanian politics
have now finally established an official collaboration between them. Many
Albanians believe that Mr. Nano and Mr. Berisha are just successors of the last
communist leader Mr. Ramiz Alia, who withdrew from active politics in 1991.
Since then many view their ongoing political conflicts as nothing more than a
play between "children" of the old communist regime.
Western diplomats have tried several times to change the situation by sending Mr
Nano and Mr Berisha out of politics. Foreign embassies have helped appoint in
both parties young leaders, such as, Mr. Pandeli Majko in the left and Mr. Genc
Pollo in the right. However, "both of them have failed in their objective
to introduce a new style for the leaders of Albania", a diplomatic source
comments off record.
The latest leader of the Socialist Party, Edi Rama, seems to be very aware about
this dreadful situation. "It is too hard to end ties with the old
politics," said Rama commenting after Mr. Nano's latest public appearance.
Now, Nano is most probably going to help the right-wing candidate for Tirana
Mayor at the expense of Mr. Rama, during the local elections scheduled for 18
According to a Tirana analyst, Mr. Mentor Nazarko, both Mr. Nano and Mr. Berisha
are trying to demonstrate to foreign embassies that they are serious partners in
this. "Surely, Mr. Nano has nothing to contribute toward political
stability," - said Mr. Nazarko.
Energy crisis in Albania deepens
While the politicians squabble, the people are more pre-occupied with
practical matters. The economy is booming by GDP growth rates of around 7% per
annum in the 200s. But this has generated an endemic power crisis.
Since 1990 Albania has suffered regular electricity shortages. Dried-up
hydropower plants, lack of domestic production, and difficulties with energy
imports have again put residents in the dark this winter.
The public is frustrated and businesses are losing money due to the problems
Albania has had in keeping up with electricity demands.
Albanian citizens are facing interruptions in power supply lasting from four to
14 hours a day, although the Albanian Electric Power Corporation has not
officially announced imposing restrictions yet.
The residents of the capital Tirana are faced with four- to six-hour
restrictions in electricity supply, Makfax's correspondent reported. Elsewhere
across the country, power cuts last for eight hours, and even 14 hours a day in
the villages. The biggest hydro-electric plant in the country, "Fierza,"
is operating with minimum water supplies.
Berisha himself admitted that the country faces an energy crisis, while the
Government and the National Electric Power Company expects to overcome the
crisis by imports.