Books on Albania
Update No: 110 - (27/07/06)
Death of a hero
A helicopter transporting Albania's former Deputy Prime Minister Professor
Gramoz Pashko to Italy crashed into the Adriatic Sea on July 17th. Pashko was a
leading figure in bringing to an end the socialist dictatorship in 1990-91.
Professor Pashko was one of the founders of the ruling Albanian Democratic
Party, a rector at New York University in Tirana, a former economics minister
and Deputy PM.
The crash of the Albanian helicopter with six people on board, including ex
Deputy Prime Minister Gramoz Pashko, is a motive for fresh attacks between Prime
Minister Sali Berisha and Chief Prosecutor Theodhori Sollaku.
Theodhori Sollaku is expected to present a report on the case before the
Parliament. The newspaper points out that the report supports the opposition's
accusations the Albanian Interior Ministry hid the results of the interior
investigation, according to which the crashed helicopter was mended with
Profile of Pashko
It is worth dwelling on the deceased's role in Albanian history for a while. In
early 1990 Pasko, an economics professor at the early age of 35, called for an
end to one party rule at considerable personal risk.
For the regime of Ramiz Alia, successor to that of Enver Hoxha, had declared its
refusal to follow the trend of revolution in 1989. Indeed, Albania was so
isolated that it might have seemed feasible to continue state socialism
indefinitely. Under Hoxha ties had been broken with Tito's Yugoslavia, the USSR
and post-Maoist China (where he correctly, as it turned out, "smelt the
whiff of revisionism in the air" as long ago as 1952). For a year after the
fall of the Berlin Wall the Party of Labour and its brutal secret police, the
dreaded sigurimi, continued to tyrannise the people.
But the economy was deteriorating so badly that a new course obviously had to be
set and foreign help attracted. Inevitably this meant via liberalization and an
opening up to the world. Prossor Pashko, with the authority of being the
best-trained economist in Albania, declared that the economy could no longer
He forged with Sari Berisha, the present premier, the Albanian Democratic Party
in 1990, the first independent party since the mid-1940s. Berisha is a Moslem
from the north; while Pashko was from a Greek Orthodox family in the south - a
good combination in a country with 70% Moslems and 20% Greek Orthodox to appeal
nation-wide. Pashko, indeed, was the grandson of the Patriarch of the Albanian
Orthodox Church, persecuted under communism, but now undergoing a great revival.
With his moral authority to add to his professional competence, he was also an
outstanding orator, who in Tirana and Vlore, the southern port he represented as
an MP, would address large spontaneous rallies, a very novel phenomenon in
Albania. A direct democracy was being born.
Fluent in English, Pashko was the very man to persuade the world, and more
particularly the Greeks, to accept the democratic changes under way in Albania.
The Democratic Party won the first democratic elections in 1991 and Pashko
became economics minister and deputy premier under Berisha, but definitely the
brains in the new administration.
The economy was now in free fall. But he laid the foundation of a stable
economy, which is now bearing fruit. His one mistake was to adopt shock therapy,
which for a while compounded the dire situation. 'Shock therapy' was then all
the rage as a nostrum disseminated by the monetarists, as in Russia. But it at
least made the transition to capitalism irreversible, which is why it was
adopted in Moscow too.
He addressed the transition to a market economy with gusto, despite innumerable
social and economic problems. He fell out with Berisha over his authoritarian
style and resigned. Industrial failure culminated in a breakdown in law and
order in 1997, when a vast pyramid financial scheme scandal broke out. A
disillusioned populace voted the Democrats out in that year, voting in the
former Socialists, who had, however, reformed themselves. They benefited hugely
from the Kosovo War, as foreign aid and credits and foreign personnel poured in.
The economy began to grow at around 7-8% per annum, the Socialists being
re-elected in 2001.
Pashko had returned to academic life, holding posts in Scotland, the US, Italy
and Greece. In 2000 he was made Rector of New York University in Tirana, where
he nurtured a new generation of Albanian intellectuals, scholars and
Berisha made a comeback last year, but Pashko this time stayed in academia
though still a very well-known and much-liked figure in Albania, a brilliant
raconteur, especially with a glass of his favourite whisky in his hand. His loss
for the Albanians is irreparable.
Apulia president moots renewable power plant
Niki Vendola, president of the Apulia Region in Italy, has proposed to Albanian
authorities to build alternative and renewable energy power plants in the
country with the support of Apulia-based companies, Italian news agency ANSA
Vendola visited Tirana accompanied by Italian ambassador to Tirana, Attilio
Massimo Iannucci, and met Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, Minister of
Economy and Energy, Genc Ruli, and Tirana mayor and leader of the socialist
opposition, Edi Rama. "In Apulia we have companies in the renewable energy
sector and I propose to the Albanian authorities the realisation of investments
in this sector, especially as regards Aeolian energy, solar energy and
biomass," Vendola said. Prime Minister Berisha showed interest in the
project, and minister Ruli suggested the launch of a study to estimate Albania's
potential in this sector. Berisha underlined that, apart from the collaboration
in the fight against crime and smuggling, the relations with Italy should focus
on economic cooperation and investments in order to attract ever more Italian -
and Apulia-based in particular - companies to Albania.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Calls to boost trade with Slovenia
There are a lot of unused opportunities between Slovenia and Albania in terms of
economic cooperation, Economic Affairs Minister, Andrej Vizjak, said as he
addressed an Albanian-Slovenian business forum in Tirana recently, news agency
At the forum, Vizjak pointed out that the June 12th Stabilisation and
Association Agreement (SAA) between Albania and the European Union represented
another step by Albania towards the EU, but that it is also important for
economic cooperation between Slovenia and Albania as it presents basic
guidelines for such cooperation. Slovenia supports the continuing stabilisation
of the economic and political situation in Albania, he explained, adding that
the "EU enlargement and stabilisation of the situation in Albania will be
two of Slovenia's priorities of the country's stint as the EU president in
Cooperation talks with Turkish interior minister
Albanian Interior Minister, Sokol Olldashi, met with his Turkish counterpart,
Abdulkadir Aksu, as well as with a number of high-ranking officials from the
country's security agencies, SETimes reported recently.
Olldashi and Aksu discussed ways to step up cooperation between the two
countries. The two also talked about Albania's progress in meeting NATO
membership requirements. Albania's State Police General Director, Bajram Ibraj,
and his Greek colleague, Anastasios Dimoschakis, discussed the fight against
organised crime. The two focused on measures against illegal traffic of drugs
and stolen cars, as well as on ways to improve border protection and
communication between the two countries' police services.
6.5m Euro in EBRD loan for roads upgrade
Albanian Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications plans to
sign a loan agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(EBRD) for a loan of 6.5 million Euro for a road rehabilitation and upgrading
programme focused on the Kamza Interchange in the Tirana entrance and PIU
assistance, news agency reporter.gr said recently.
The General Roads Directorate (GRD) will be the implementing agency. The works
involve the construction of an approximately 1,040 kilometre road, traffic lanes
and a roundabout at a total cost of six million Euro.
Serb-Albanian relations determined via Kosovo
Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, recently said the relationship between
ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo would
determine Serb-Albanian relations in the Balkans, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
"The Albanian citizens of Kosovo should feel their national responsibility,
because it is on their attitude towards Kosovo Serbs that the Serb-Albanian
relationship in the Balkans depends," Berisha told journalists after a
meeting with his Kosovan counterpart, Agim Ceku. "This relationship should
be friendly and cooperative," said Berisha, who arrived in Pristina
recently for a three-day visit to Kosovo at Ceku's invitation.
Albanians make up around 90 per cent of the population in Kosovo, the scene of
bloody ethnic repression carried out by Slobodan Milosevic's armed forces in
1998 and 1999. NATO reacted and expelled Belgrade's army, police and
paramilitaries from Kosovo in June 1999, paving the way for the arrival of a UN
administration in the province. Kosovo has retained a high potential for ethnic
violence, now with Serbs as the target, as demonstrated by massive anti-Serb
riots two years ago and occasional attacks since then. Albanian leaders insist
that the entity's problems can only be resolved by a sovereign Kosovo, while
Serbian politicians warn that independence would lead to an exodus of the
remaining Serbs. More than 100,000 Serbs have fled the province since 1999.