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Albania  
 

ALBANIA

NEWS REPORT
  
  



In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 4,695 4,100 3,800 114
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,380 1,340 1,220 123
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Albania

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
28,748

Population
3,582,205

Capital
Tirana

Currency
Lek

President
Alfred Moisiu


Private sector
% of GDP
45%

 

Update No: 091 - (26/11/04)

Welcome for Bush victory
Albania's socialist government was the first off the mark in the Balkans to welcome Bush's victory on November 2nd. This shows how far it has come from its ideological roots in the Communist Party of Albania, once headed by Stalinist dictator, Enver Hoxha. He must have been turning over in his grave at the fulsome way that Premier Fatos Nano extolled Bush for his 'brave and brilliant' fight against the 'awful scourge' of terrorism.
Ever since the Kosovo War of 1999, the Albanian Socialists have been Washington's staunchest ally in the Balkans.

US says will help Tirana destroy chemical materials
A 16-tonne cache of material for chemical weapons left behind by Albania's former communist government will be destroyed beginning next year with US help, it was reported recently. Senator Richard Lugar, cited by SE Europe, described the move as a break-through in the elimination of such stockpiles around the world.
A US-Albanian agreement to destroy the chemicals marks the first expansion of a key US non-proliferation programme - the Cooperative Threat Reduction initiative - into a country outside the former Soviet Union, Lugar said. The programme already has destroyed or dismantled more than 6,400 nuclear warheads and hundreds of other weapons in Russia and other former Soviet republics.
"We now have latitude to work with other countries who will know we have the willingness and the funds to cooperatively eliminate weapons of mass destruction," said Lugar, who co-founded the programme 12 years ago with Sam Nunn, then a democratic senator from Georgia. "If we do not continue to pursue this avenue, accidents and misappropriations will occur."
Late on October 20th the Bush administration formally authorised the release of US$20m to fund the destruction of the Albanian cache, which consists of barrels of an unspecified chemical stored in a small brick depot in a rural area. US officials declined to divulge details about the cache for security reasons, but said the leaders of what was once Europe's most isolated and rigidly Marxist regime acquired the chemicals more than 15 years ago.
Albania became a multi-party democracy following the overthrow of communism in 1990, and its leaders have since sought close ties with the United States. In theory, the Albanian chemicals could be loaded into bombs or artillery shells for use in a military conflict, or dispersed by terrorists in an attack against civilians, weapons experts said.
The presence of such a cache in Albania was a violation of the country's commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Albania ratified in 1994. Albanian leaders have said they discovered the chemicals while surveying the country for hidden small-arms caches placed in remote areas by the former government.
The United States has already helped Albania install fences and surveillance gear, and will now provide money and technical support for the destruction of the chemicals over the next 2 years, Lugar said. Nunn, now chief executive of a non-proliferation advocacy group, Nuclear Threat Initiative, said the case underscored the need for the global expansion of US non-proliferation efforts approved by Congress last year. "We need to use this and other tools to more faster to keep dangerous weapons and materials out of the hands of the most dangerous people," Nunn said. "We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe."

Balkan ties
Both Romania and Greece have been staunch allies too, but in a less vociferous manner.The prime ministers of Albania and Romania held talks in Bucharest in early November to strengthen economic cooperation between their two countries, among Europe's poorest, a Romanian government statement said.
Mr Nano and Adrian Nastase of Romania agreed that stability in the volatile Balkans region was in their countries' interest and underlined that countries in the region would strive for closer ties with the European Union (EU) and NATO.
Greece is an even more important partner for Albania in the region. Mr Nano characterized Greece as Albania's strategic partner in its effort to be part of the Euro-Atlantic structures.
Mr. Nano met with visiting Hellenic Republic President Kostis Stephanopoulos in Tirana and stated that the visit by Mr. Stephanopoulos is a very important move for bilateral relations.
He also stated that he had the opportunity to discuss with Mr. Stephanopoulos all the issues that concern the priority sectors in bilateral relations.
On his part, Mr. Stephanopoulos stated that he had a very pleasant meeting with Mr. Nano that brought good results.

Pathbreaking drugs conference
Albania is the key transit country for drugs in the Balkans, given its long coastline and tradition of banditry. Albanian authorities in September held the country's first-ever national conference on drug usage and trafficking, describing the issue as a government priority. Albanian Attorney General Theodhori Sollaku, admitted that the country is a transit point for the heroin trade, as well as a site of cannabis production. 
"Up until now, cannabis has been the only drug produced in Albania. However, there are signs of the presence of heroin and synthetic drugs, like ecstasy," Sollaku said. 
Acting US Ambassador to Tirana Steven Zate urged the government to do more to halt these illegal activities. "The Albanian government, supported by the international partners, has to act on this phenomenon, and not only with the words written in the national strategy," Zate said. 
Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano urged the creation of a common front. The drug problem is "a negative sign for Albania's image in the world", Nano said, urging politicians to avoid blaming each other and instead work together to enact necessary legislation. 
Albania has come under frequent criticism from the international community for failing to take sufficient steps against organised crime, including narcotics trafficking. The government, however, insists it is doing what it can. 
Police have identified all the drug traffickers operating in Albania, Public Order Minister Igli Toska said, calling on other countries in the region to take stronger measures. "The Balkans is not a region where hard drugs are produced, but unfortunately it is a transit point," he said. 
According to the European Commission's Ambassador to Tirana, Lutz Salzmann, authorities should punish traffickers rather than drug users. "You need to rehabilitate the drug users through social and economic projects. The state has to catch the real traffickers to stop this phenomenon," Salzmann said. 

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Albanian, Moldovan presidents discuss cooperation agreements, relations


President of the Republic of Albania, Alfred Moisiu, who arrived recently in the capital of Moldova, Kishinev [Chisinau], on a two-day visit, held a meeting with his Moldavian counterpart, Vladimir Voronin, ATA News Agency reported.
Following the meeting, the delegations of both countries signed the cooperation agreements on sanitation-veterinary matters and a memorandum regarding social protection of people and labour market.
President Moisiu, after the signing of agreements, emphasized: "The agreements are concrete steps on the road to strengthening of relations between both countries."
President Moisiu highlighted also his stand in favour of cooperation in the fields of public order, the judiciary system, culture, education and others.

Albanian, Swedish foreign ministers discuss boosting ties, investment

Albanian Foreign Minister, Kastriot Islami, showed interest in a greater presence of Swedish investments in Albania, according to a Foreign Ministry press release, ATA News Agency reported.
At a meeting in Sweden with his Swedish counterpart, Laila Freivalds, Islami stressed that "the Swedish investments in Albania will raise the level of economic cooperation between the two countries."
Freivalds assured Islami of her country's support for Albania's integration reforms. She praised the role of Albania in the region as a "factor for peace and stability."

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FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS

Bosnia ready to start talks on free trade agreements with Kosovo - UN official

The Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina expressed its readiness to start FTA [Free Trade Agreement] negotiations with Kosovo, UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] officials said recently at a press conference, KosovoLive web site reported.
The spokesperson for UNMIK Pilar IV, Chris Litiere, said that the Bosnian government has informed UNMIK that it has made all the necessary preparations and that the negotiations would start shortly.
"Such agreement would improve the further integration of Kosovo in to the region and stimulate regional trade," said Litiere.
Litiere said that experts from Kosovo and Macedonia are working on their version on FTA. He said that the talks on FTA with Macedonia would start in the near future. Kosova has entered into a FTA only with Albania so far.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Cell phone use rises to new heights in Albania

One Albanian out of 2.5 owns a cell phone, according to data released by the two main mobile companies and reported by Italian Trade Commission (ICE) recently, New Europe reported.
The total number of subscribers is 1,192,068; AMC accounts for 641,058 subscribers and Vodafone 551,010. AMC in the first six months of 2004 increased subscribers by 114 per cent, while Vodafone by 126 per cent. The state-owned company Albtelekom, although it has the third licence for mobile phones, has yet to start the service.

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