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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: 128 - (28/01/08)

As everybody knows the Balkans are a most complex and entangled region. It threw up frightful wars in the 1990s as Yugoslavia split up. There is now a risk of others.

It all concerns Albania, the least important country in the region, it might be thought, but now perhaps the most important. Its earlier unimportance was due to the fact that its inhabitants migrated to other Balkan countries. But do they now want to coalesce?

The new threat: Great Albania in place of Greater Serbia 
There are Albanian nationalists who are mainly interested in creating a larger state by encompassing all Albanian minorities in the neighbouring states. But by no means all Albanians harbour such ambitions including the main political parties. 

They have a lovely country of their own; it abuts on the Adriatic and is a hilly and mountainous paradise, largely unspoilt, due to fifty years of communism. For all their monstrous crimes, the communists in the Balkans at least, did not despoil nature in quite the gung-ho way capitalism has done, although this was not true of the Soviet Union, nor is it true of modern China – but then it is communist simply pro forma. 

The ambitions of the arch-nationalist Albanians, however, mean conflicts across the Balkans for years to come, and it is puzzling how the international community is not interested enough to control the aims of those Albanians that first and foremost put in danger the European prospects of the whole of the region.

A sinister personality and portent 
Just recently, Nait Hasani member of PDK Presidency called towards the goal of a Greater Albania. “First there should be supervised independence as proposed by Ahtisaari. But it is known that Kosovo and Albania citizens are one nation who want to live in one state," Hasani is quoted as having told a Polish paper. It is interesting to have a glance of the bio of this individual that proposes a blunt border change. 

Nait Hasami In 1997, Hasani was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of 3 Serbs in Decani and an attempted murder of the Dean of the Pristina University Radivoje Popovic, an ethnic Serb. In 2002, Serbian government gave Hasani an amnesty for the killings. Hasani is quoted of saying that the amnesty was a result of the pressure exerted by the Albanian "allies the USA". Today, Hasani is a member of the Kosovo Albanian government. 

It seems that justice can be very lenient when it comes in protecting persons that play their own role in creating instability in the Balkans, and that might just be the real intentions of the “Great Albania” movement. 

In parallel another interesting development occurred in Albania relating to the “Great patriotic highway” that will connect Tirana with Pristina for the first time. This scheme is a crucial step towards any unification of Albania and Kosovo, since there is no other alternative and viable route for the time being, that passes through the rugged mountainous borderline of these areas. For instance, a Serbian blockade in Kosovo would have tremendous consequences because Albania is not able to transfer great amounts of commodities with its present day infrastructure. 

Of course making a new road has no obvious connotations about unification. Indeed all the Balkan politicians including those in Macedonia a third of whose population is of Albanian stock, are very well aware that there is little political backing for unification policies at any level, given the greater desire amongst the people for peace and prosperity. 

Corruption charges 
The Albanian parliament stripped the foreign minister of immunity on 27/12/2007, paving the way for the public prosecutor to charge him with corruption and abuse of power. The lawmakers voted 107-12 in favor of investigating Lulzim Basha over allegations of improperly favoring a U.S.-Turkish joint venture in the awarding of a highway construction contract while he was transport minister. 

Basha, who was transport minister from September 2005 until becoming foreign minister in April of this year, could be tried for abuse of power, corruption and causing the budget to swell by some €385 million (US$548 million). 

The allegations against Basha are related to an October 2006 deal the state signed with the Bechtel-Enka consortium, made up of San Francisco, California-based Bechtel International Inc. and Istanbul-based Enka. 

The consortium was awarded a €418 million (US$595 million) contract to build a 65-kilometer (40-mile) section of road. 

It must be noted that it is not the first time these two companies are accused in a corruption case in a joint Balkan project. In Romania there was a similar case as the “Alter media Information Group” reported. 

More specifically an article named: “Turkish mafia constructs highway” a whole series of incidents and investigations is being relayed to the readers. A 415 Km highway worth some 2,241 million Euros was negotiated to these companies in 2003. The Romanian media commented that Enka (Full name: Enka Insaat ve Sanayi AS) along with Bechtel aim to capture most of the contracts in the Balkans. More importantly Enka has run into trouble being accused for handing out bribes to Turkish politicians for the Ismit highway back in 1997, and with the “White energy” project in 2001 that caused political uproar due to suspicious dealings by Enka. 

Enka’s company website notes that, “Enka’s history begins in 1957, with the partnership between Tara and the late Sadi Gülçelik. Thus began a history of uninterrupted and accelerating development” Furthermore, according to Forbe’s, Tara is one of the richest Turks with an estimated wealth of a billion Dollars for 2006. 

A level further into this Balkan construction story, one can find a 2006 deal between Bechtel and Enka, signed by the accused Albanian minister. 

The current Bush Administration up until early 2006 was hesitant in promoting Albanian nationalism and has serious second thoughts for the Kosovo independence-secession. Nevertheless that year witnessed a sudden turn in the USA policy that might be related to economic interests, taking into account the strong bonds between the incumbent Administration and the Bechtel Company. 

Enka is also viewed as a pivotal corporation for wider geo-economic visions. In 2006 Enka along with the Greek Aktor joined forces and were awarded with a two billion Dollar contract to construct a large tourist complex in Oman, named Blue City in Muscat. The Turkish company has an interesting portfolio of projects in the Middle East and the acceptance of a Greek company is viewed as another way of combing forces that will ultimately include an influx of Turkish capital into the Balkans through Greece. Over the past few years and under strong American backing various Greek & Turkish companies invested in each others assets, whilst in parallel, Turkey’s policy was becoming further & further Islamic in nature. 

Certain connections can be outlined for the financial institutions that are linked to Islamic causes in Turkey, such as the Al Baraka Finance and the link between Faisal Bank (Now named Family Finance) which has its roots in Saudi Arabia and the core of the Islamic elite of that country. The former is linked to Islamic-Balkan affairs. Vakufska Banka (Islamic bank in Bosnia) has several partners in Europe and especially in Turkey, where the bank is above all the main correspondent of Al Baraka Turkish Finance House. Mohamed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi, financial head of al-Qaida in Spain, and financier of the Hamburg cell, transferred to UBL Courier for Europe, Mohamed Baiahah (aka Abu Khaled), and $97,000 US on July 2000, through al Baraka Turkish Finance House in Turkey. According to the Spanish police documentation, Muhamed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi used several times Al Baraka Turkish Finance House to transfer money to al-Qaida operatives 

The path towards a greater Albania and the Islamic element was early pointed out by the Tirana government back in 1992 when the then President Berisha included his country as a member of the Islamic Conference organization. In 9/2/1992 in the city of Skodra in Northern Albania Rejep Tsopa, member of the Albanian Academy of Science, openly stated that the righteous solution of the “Albanian problem” would be the unification of all Balkan Albanians into a single state. 

Ghegi and Tosks
It is important to highlight that Berisha draws his supports from the Ghegi Albanians of the North which have kinship bonds with the Kosovo and FYROM ones. That creates a strong division with the Tosk Albanians of the South. One of the main characteristics of the former is their adherence to the Ottoman Empire and the modern day Turkey, whilst they were the first to collaborate with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in WW2. Currently these are the ones maintaining the closer ties with the various elements of the international Islamic fundamentalists, whilst the Tosks have closer relationship with Italy and Greece due to the prevalence of Christian religion and the stronger trade & social links. 

It wouldn’t be improbable as to assume that the current development with the Albanian foreign minister can be attributed to this North-South division that stretched back since the Middle Ages. More importantly the notion of great Albania is vividly supported by the Ghegi in order to expand their influence while the Tosks risk marginalizing themselves in an expanded Albania with a majority of Ghegis who are organized still in Fis and maintain traditional modes of social cohesion such as their adherence to the Kanoun scriptures. 

In 1997 the Albanian Academy proclaimed a “National dogma” by which they demand the autonomy of all Albanians living in FYROM, Montenegro apart from Kosovo who they viewed as independent ex post facto. Moreover they addressed the issue of the Albanians in Greece despite the fact that they were recent immigrants numbering a small percentage of the population. 

On 3.11/ 2005 Arben Tzaferi the leader of the Democratic Party in Skopje stated in UK TV that Kosovo should be united with Albania and in that case FYROM Albanians should join as well. On the 14th of March 2006 the Albanian minister of foreign affairs, Beshnik Moustafai commented in an Albanian TV program that Albania cannot guarantee for the borders of FYROM. He also claimed that he made that clear in front of an EU delegation earlier this year. 

On the 8th of April 2006, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Kosovo, Kol Berisha also said around the possibility of border change in both Kosovo and FYROM. 
Continuing on August 2006, Kotso Donai a political consultant of the Albanian President Berisha gave an interview in the Epoka journal of Kosovo and explained that by 2013 the “Natural Albania” should be created. The date implies the 100 years after the independence of Albania in the end of the Balkan wars. Natural Albania is a term that implies the border change in every state neighboring Albania, containing ethnic Albanian minorities. 

Lastly on the 10th of December 2007, Berisha along with Hashim Thaci appeared in the TV station “KLAN” and in the “Opinion” political debate program. Berisha said that “If we need to have one symbol for all Albanians, our official flag could change” 

Concluding the great Albania path is influenced by personalities such as Bexhet Pacoli, the richest Kosovo Albanian in the world. He has claimed that “In Washington I am paying a team of 60 people who are lobbying for Kosovo, in the administration of President George Bush and in the U.S. Senate and Congress” 

He promoted the “Alliance for a new Kosovo” that propagates secession for the Eparchy from the Serbian state. According to the Free Republic "The Alliance for a New Kosovo is headed by two lobbyists from the U.S. offices of Jefferson Waterman, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council Samuel Hoskinson and former deputy assistant secretary for East-West trade in the State Department Kempton Jenkins. 

This lobbying group will also act through its advisory body, which includes former U.S. secretary of defense and deputy CIA director Frank Carlucci, who served as secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and the long-time president of the Carlyle Group, a powerful military-industrial corporation.

The tangle of webs between Islamists from the Middle East, members of the American elite and Turkey’s use as a middle ground are all to be found in the path towards a great Albania. A nationalistic aim that would lead to the complete devastation of the Balkans from a new round of wars and the consequent involvement of Russia that would want to safeguard its newly founded energy routes. 

It is an issue that encompasses the future geopolitical architecture of the Balkans and it is also related with the aims of Western economic interests that are collaborating with Islamic ones. Certainly is a matter that will be highly contested and debated for years to come. 

As Christopher R. Hill noted in 1999: "We spent the 1990s worrying about a Greater Serbia. That's finished. We are going to spend time well into the next century worrying about a Greater Albania. ”

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