Books on Albania
% of GDP
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
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
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
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.
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
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."
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
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.
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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