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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)

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Alfred Moisiu

Update No: 097 - (26/05/05)

Berisha Re-elected Leader of Albania's Main Opposition Party 
The longstanding Albanian politician, a former president, Sali Berisha, was re-elected leader of the major opposition Democratic Party (DP) during the party congress at the end of April, a critical event at a vital moment.
Berisha was the sole candidate for the position. Addressing delegates in congress, he said he expects a strong showing from DP in the imminent parliamentary elections this summer. He plans to become prime minister in the case of an outright DP victory.

Democratic Party to win Albanian elections 
This is on the cards. The American Democratic Institute (ADE) has announced that the DP will win the parliamentary elections on 3rd July 2005 with 42 percent of the votes. 
251,000 people from 12 different cities have participated in the first survey regarding the July 3rd elections. The survey included people from varying social classes and ADE officials have concluded that the most advantageous party in the upcoming elections is the DP. 
While 42 percent of those who will vote in the elections expect that DP will win, 34 percent believe that current Prime Minister Fatos Nano's Socialist party will win, a stable percentage. 
The Socialist Movement, which separated from the Socialist Party for Ilir Meta's Integration, appears to have support from 11 percent of the voters, while King Leka I.'s National Development Movement Party comes in last with four percent. 
The study admits a three percent margin of error. 

Albania, Italy discuss bilateral relations 
President Alfred Moisiu met with Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Antonione in Tirana on 12th May.
They discussed bilateral relations, especially the importance of Italy as a main foreign trade partner. They also talked about the July parliamentary elections in Albania. Antonione said he hoped they would be an expression of true democracy.

Albanian political parties sign elections code of conduct 
The good news here is that the leaders of Albania's main political parties have signed a Code of Conduct for the elections, trying to guarantee that all parties will recognize the results, respect the law and conduct a peaceful electoral campaign.
The pact was initiated by President Alfred Moisiu, who said Albanians must leave behind the problematic and contested political elections of the past "to mark a new qualitative step on the great path of democracy." He called on the political leaders to cooperate for the good of the country.
Parliament has decided to establish 14 working groups, to verify voters' lists ahead of the parliamentary elections this summer. Officials say the groups will oversee lists for Tirana and other large municipalities, including Durres, Shkoder, Vlora and Korca. 

EU to increase assistance to Albania 
Can Albania shake off its reputation, not just for shady elections, but for gangsterdom and lawlessness and secure a place in the queue for membership of the EU? It is a country with a bleak past until very recently. But does it now have a brighter future?
The answer will become clearer after the election in July. But it will be the conduct of the poll as much as its outcome that will decide whether Albania becomes a candidate for EU accession.
The officials in Brussels are certainly hoping for the best and are doing everything to send the right signals to Tirana. The Ministry of European Integration announced in late April that the EU will increase its assistance to Albania by 5m euros, to a total of 63.5m euros. 
The money, in the form of grants, will be provided over the next five years and will be spent on revamping the judiciary and the prison system, increasing administrative capacity, and improving the environment and infrastructure.

Who will win the July elections?
Fatos Nano, the Socialist prime minister, is seeking a third straight election win over Sali Berisha, the former president and leader of the right of centre Democratic Party. In 2001 the Socialists benefited from a boom from the impact of the Kosovo War of 1999, which brought massive international aid and credits, while foreigners came to town in droves. GDP growth has been in the 7-8% range subsequently and Albania is no longer the poorest country in Europe.
Both Nano and Berisha support Albania's full integration with Western Europe at the earliest possible date through membership of Nato and the EU. And both stress that political stability is no longer in doubt in spite of problems with organised crime, trafficking and corruption.
But their fierce personal rivalry, the fact that their respective power bases in the north and south of the country reflect a traditionally violent fault line in Albanian politics, and the widespread availability of automatic weapons all give cause for concern.
There is little popular enthusiasm for another round in the grudge match between the socialist and democrat leaders.
After 8 years in power, Mr Nano's Socialists face a mounting "fed-up" factor. At the same time memories are still fresh of the anarchy that followed the collapse in 1997 of the fraudulent pyramid savings schemes tolerated by Mr Berisha and the democrats.
Ilir Meta, the reform minded former prime minister who battled unsuccessfully to unseat Mr Nano as the socialist party leader, hopes his left of centre splinter group will attract enough votes from young Albanians to hold the balance of power.
The European Commission has warned that if elections fail to meet international standards, stalled negotiations with Albania on a stabilisation and association agreement - for the first step to candidacy for EU membership - would be frozen. Albania is the only Balkan country that has failed over the past decade to hold an election accepted by the international community. Elections in 2001 won by the Socialists were flawed by ballot box stuffing, intimidation of voters by police and forged voter registrations, according to international observers.

OSCE to monitor the elections
This time the political parties have agreed to work closely with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Tirana to revise the electoral law, re-draw constituency boundaries and update the register of voters.
But foot dragging by political leaders and internal party bickering over details has undermined the role of the OSCE. Only a handful of municipalities met the most recent deadline for presenting updated voter lists.
Mass migration from desperately poor rural areas has shifted an estimated 200,000 voters to constituencies in towns. But homes in the sprawling squatter suburbs around Tirana and other cities lack street addresses and fixed-wire telephones.
Given that the votes of internal migrants are likely to decide the election result, revising the electoral register has assumed a huge significance. Information is so hard to come by that US officials have come up with high-resolution satellite photographs of Tirana to match residential properties in the illegal settlements with voters' names.
Whoever wins will be hoping for OSCE acknowledgement of a fair result and a renewal of talks with Brussels. Things certainly hang in the balance for the Albanians.

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Albanian, Montenegrin foreign ministers agree to develop cooperation

The Albanian minister of foreign affairs, Kastriot Islami, and his Montenegrin counterpart, Miodrag Vlahovic, stated their willingness for the further development of the economic relations existing between the two countries at a meeting on 13th May in Tirana. They confirmed the establishment of a joint interministerial group on the Albanian-Montenegrin cooperation, ATA News Agency reported.
The two ministers agreed on the application of some agreements related to the cooperation in the economic and transport domains, the free movement of people and the fight against organized crime and illegal trafficking. According to Islami and Vlahovic, "These agreements are an indication of not only the bilateral cooperation but also the willingness and commitment of the two countries to a region of European standards."

Olim eyes Ukrainian sunflower oil

Major Albanian oilseed processing company Olim SH.A is interested in long-term cooperation with Ukrainian exporters of crude sunflower oil, the company spokesman said recently, APK-Inform reported.
The spokesman said that Olim SH.A so far had no working experience with Ukrainian and Russian partners, but was highly interested in establishing such contacts. For this purpose the company's representatives will take part in the 4th international conference "Grain Industry-2005," organised by APK-Inform in Kiev. During the course of the conference the company's management is planning to establish business links with Ukrainian and Russian exporters of grains, oilseeds and processing products. Olim SH.A was established in 2000. It operates an oil extraction plant and produces sunflower oil. Its annual crushing capacity is about 40,000 tonnes of the seeds. The company holds the leading position on the local market of vegetable oil, controlling about 55% of the sunflower oil market in Albania. It exports packaged oil to Macedonia and the Serbian province of Kosovo. The company's spokesman said sunflower oil was the most consumed kind of vegetable oil in Albania.

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