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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: 154 - (25/03/10)

Political crisis continues
Albanian opposition forces are still smarting from their defeat in parliamentary elections last year in June, which they deem unfair. They are convinced that the incumbents, the Conservatives of Premier Sali Berisha, fiddled the result.

Albanian opposition Socialists say that they will take to the streets unless parliament investigates allegations of fraud and orders a partial recount if required.

It is indeed remarkable for incumbents to remain popular enough to win re-election in any economy in transition, not least in the dire times prevailing almost world-wide at the time. Albania is not an exception here. It is feeling the full brunt of the global recession, as are the entire Balkans.

But there is little the opposition can do except rally round their main champion, Ed Rama, mayor of Tirana and a most distinguished man. He is an architect and has no vested interest to promote politics for personal reasons, quite unlike the veteran warhorse Berisha. Rama is having to be persuaded by his supporters to hang in there until next time.

Into the EU?
Just over a decade ago in 1999, Albania experienced an intimate shock, the Kosovar Albanians at war with their Serbian overlords. As everyone knows Kosovo went independent from Serbia by mid-1999.

Albania actually benefited hugely, as NATO and the EU came to town, with administrators and aid workers and aid galore. Its GDP growth was sustained at 7% per annum for a decade. It ceased to be the poorest country in Europe and began to shape up as the promising Balkan newcomer, atop the Adriatic, it basically is.

It now aspires to join the European Union (EU). It wishes to emulate the example of Greece, which did brilliantly for years out of joining the EU, obtaining as much as 6% of its GDP in subventions from Brussels, albeit now mired in a ferocious recession.

Unfortunately there is the rub. Brussels has enough on its plate in sorting out Greek affairs to take on another Balkan back number just yet. But the Albanians can be assured that they will in due course be brought into the fold. Apart from their undoubted historical claims as an ancient polity in Europe, people who meet them find them charming and interesting people.

Communism had many disadvantages; but it did educate people. Enver Hoxha, the old rogue and rascal of a communist dictator, who died appropriately the very month Gorbachev came to power, March 1985, was fluent in the main European languages and well conversant with their great literatures. He promoted linguistic fluency and knowledge of the same at home, a sure-fire way to make his own style of politics in due course redundant.

Albania has a great future ahead of it.


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