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Albania  

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ALBANIA


  
  

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
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


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, February 18th. 

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 February 2007. 
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.

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