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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

Update No: 131 - (28/04/08)

What about Kosovo?
The Albanians are nervous at the moment. They have every reason to be. The Kosovo question remains unresolved. Serbia is heading for elections on May 11 to parliament.

Belgrade is insisting that these be accompanied by municipal elections in Kosovo organised by itself in the breakaway province that it insists is still part of Serbia. This is despite February's declaration of Kosovar independence, which has been recognised by 38 countries.

Kosovo is clearly going its own way. The question is will it join up with Albania in a greater Albania, beckoning Albanians in Southern Macedonia to enlist too. This would be a nightmare scenario, risking another round of Balkan wars.

Fortunately, the Albanian political leadership in all parties is level-headed and eschews the idea. They know full well that irredentism of this sort is part of the baleful Balkan past and should be firmly put behind it.

The EU beckons
Albania's future lies in a very different direction - the EU. The country has been doing very well ever since the 1999 war, in which it was decisively and definitively put on the world map. Its cooperation with NATO forces on that occasion was exemplary.

It certainly deserves membership of both NATO and the EU in due course. Naturally, many Albanians think that in both cases it is overdue. But Brussels is biding its time here. It was badly bitten by premature admission of Bulgaria and Romania before they had fully addressed problems of corruption and transgression of rules of good governance. 

The Albanians also have a way to go in this regard. Brussels does not want to lose leverage to influence developments here.

Albania amends parliamentary voting system 
Albania is modernising its political system ahead of time, to prepare for EU entry. It has passed constitutional amendments to create a voting system that increase proportional representation in parliamentary elections, local media reported on April 22.

Lawmakers in the 140-seat parliament voted 115-13 to approve the reforms, which have been backed by Albania's governing Democrats and main opposition Socialists. The new voting rules replace the former partial majority system in favour of proportional representation within each of Albania's 12 administrative regions. 

But the rules have been widely contested by the smaller parties, which they believe will make winning national representation a harder task. 

The new amendments, which take effect immediately, introduce new parliamentary procedures for confidence votes, presidential elections, as well as the status of the country's prosecutor general. Under the new rules, the parliament will need only a simple majority of 71 votes to elect the country's president in the fourth round of voting. This is down from 83 deputies, or three-fifths of the assembly. 

Albania's prosecutor general will have a fixed five-year term instead of an unlimited one, and parliament will automatically be dissolved and early elections declared if the government loses a confidence vote. 

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