Books on Albania
Update No: 095 - (31/03/05)
Still staunch for 'Iraqi Freedom'
The recent announcement that Albania -- a small country with limited resources
-- was sending an additional 50 well-trained troops to Iraq came as a surprise
to some observers. But it really should not have surprised anyone. "The
surprise is not in Albania's decision to send more troops to fight for freedom
in Iraq. The surprise would have been if Albania did not," says Fatos
Tarifa, the ambassador of Albania to the United States.
Albania was one of only four countries to send combat troops during the
operation "Iraqi Freedom." Albania is probably the most pro-American
country on Earth. It showed its support of the United States early, when it
initially sent 70 commandos to join the Coalition of the Willing's effort to
bring peace, stability and free elections to Iraq. These new troops bring a
total of 120 Albanian soldiers serving in Iraq. From a country with only 3.5
million people, the troops represent the best Albania has to offer.
Unlike people in other countries in Europe and elsewhere, the Albanian people
have not forgotten what it is like to live under tyranny and repression. The
Albanians for more than 40 years were held in thrall by the repressive forces of
the communists, living like prisoners without rights in their own country. It
was to the United States that freedom-loving Albanians looked for inspiration
during those dark years, and the Americans did not let them down. "We
Albanians are a nation of freedom fighters who know something about living under
oppression," Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano wrote in a letter to
President Bush. "That is why we wholeheartedly support the American-led
effort to free the people of Iraq. And though we are a small country with a
small military, we are proud to stand side by side with our allies in the fight
to end the reign of terror in Baghdad."
Europe is a small place and it is hard not to run into history there. It is also
hard to avoid the historic contributions of the United States in the defence of
freedom and liberty on the continent. There are cemeteries throughout Europe --
in France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg -- containing the
remains of American soldiers who died in battle to free Europe in two world
Although it is not fashionable to talk about it, the face of Europe would indeed
be much different today were it not for the Americans who died storming the
Normandy beaches. Were it not for the Americans, there is a good chance there
would be no France, nor a United Kingdom nor a Belgium, as we know them today.
Were it not for the United States it also is very possible no Balkan countries
would be free.
Upon committing Albania to the Coalition of the Willing, Prime Minister Nano
urged his fellow European leaders to visit Normandy "to see for themselves
what the United States has been willing to undertake in the name of freedom. We
should all visit Normandy. We should pay homage to those brave Americans who
stormed ashore at Omaha Beach and gave their lives for the freedom of others.
The wonder of it is that the Americans are willing to do it again," Mr.
And of course, it was the U.S.-led effort of NATO to rein in Serbian dictator
Slobodan Milosevic and his ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo that proved to
the world that, in the name of freedom, the United States was willing to fight
for the freedom of the oppressed, regardless of religious belief.
So it is with Iraq. The importance of the American-led effort to liberate Iraq
and establish a democratic government for the first time in this country's
history cannot be underestimated. It is not the first time the United States has
faced suicide bombers trapped in a cult of death. The Japanese kamikazes sought
to do to the Americans toward the end of World War II what the terrorists are
attempting in Iraq today. The kamikazes failed then, the terrorists will fail
now. Japan became a democracy and so will Iraq.
But then there is China.
Throughout the Cold War Albania had a close relationship to China. A
relationship which gave that country a foothold in Europe and still continues
Albanian President Alfred Moisiu and Prime Minister Fatos Nano respectively met
with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on March 26th to discuss
bilateral relations. During the talks, President Moisiu said Albania and China
have good political relations and a vast potential for economic cooperation. He
encouraged more Chinese investments in his country.
Prime Minister Nano said there are favourable conditions for bilateral
cooperation in such fields as trade, culture and education, particularly trade.
The two leaders both told the Chinese foreign minister that Albania supports the
Anti-Secession Law passed on March 28th by China's National People's Congress to
prevent Taiwan's secession from China and will continue to stick to the
one-China policy. Albania will not have any official ties with Taiwan, the two
For his part, Li thanked the Albanian government's support for China's efforts
for achieving national reunification and said China will make joint efforts with
Albania to boost bilateral cooperation.
Albania hopes to join EU in 2014, says PM
Albania hopes to sign a stabilisation and association agreement with the
European Union this year and to join the 25-member bloc in 2014, Prime Minister
Fatos Nano said in Paris in mid-January with AFP.
"The European Union is evolving and today seems more favourable to
receiving new members. In 2014, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the
fall of the Berlin Wall, which seems a perfect date for a new enlargement,"
The Albanian prime minister met with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and
French President Jacques Chirac, for talks aimed at strengthening bilateral
ties. Nano lamented France's paltry investment in Albania. Currently the only
significant project, worth €75 million (US$97.8m), is the construction of a
Club Med resort village in the southern Albanian town of Saranda, which is
expected to open in two years.
The key Kosovo question
On the future of Kosovo, the Albanian prime minister said the UN-run
province bordering his country, formerly part of Serbia, should eventually
become an "independent state". Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants
independence, which Belgrade considers unacceptable.
Talks on Kosovo's final status are expected to start this year under UN
auspices, but the international community has been insisting that Belgrade and
Pristina first have dialogue on practical issues.
In the short term, Nano said the UN administration in Kosovo should be modified
to be "less international and more European". He called for an "EU
administration for Kosovo that would make current integration strategies in the
Balkans more coherent."
CB issues licence to Union Bank
Albania's central bank said recently that it issued a preliminary banking
licence to Union Bank, the country's third private bank, New Europe has
Union Bank has to complete its infrastructure and start operations within 12
months before getting the final licence, the central bank said in a statement.
All commercial banks should have a basic capital of 1bn lekas (US$10.6m or 8.2m
Euro), a request that was revised and raised recently from 700m lekas. Sixteen
other commercial banks - two Albanian and 14 foreign - are operating in the
country. Most banks came to Albania in the aftermath of the 1997 collapse of a
pyramid investment schemes that led to the fall of the government.
Tirana and Ljubljana sign science cooperation agreement
Albania and Slovenia have signed an agreement on cooperation in science, which
will provide the framework for cooperation between scientists from both
countries, the Slovenian Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology
said, STA reported.
The accord was signed in Ljubljana on February 23rd by Albanian Minister of
Education and Science, Luan Memushi, and, Jure Zupan, the Slovenian minister of
higher education, science and technology. Albania is the last country of the
Western Balkans to sign such an accord with Slovenia. Slovenia has actively
participated in the creation of special measures for the integration of the
Western Balkans in the European research framework, the ministry said.
Turkish PM visits Albania
Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently paid a two-day visit to
Albania to focus on strengthening political and economic relations and regional
stability, the Albanian government's press office said, New Europe reported.
Erdogan, travelling with about 100 businessmen, met with his Albanian
counterpart, Fatos Nano, President Alfred Moisiu and parliament speaker, Servet
Pellumbi. He also addressed Albania's parliament. Both Turkey and Albania are
courting membership in the European Union and the leaders discussed their
integration efforts. They also signed an agreement on air and sea cooperation,
the statement said. "Such a visit is expected to mark an important moment
in the further relation of our two countries," the statement read. Turkey
has been an important political and financial supporter and partner to
post-communist Albania offering assistance in areas including army reform.