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Albania  

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ALBANIA


  
  

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
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)

Books on Albania

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
28,748

Population
3,544,808

Capital
Tirana

Currency
Lek

President
Alfred Moisiu


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 second-hand parts.

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 sustain itself. 
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 professional people.
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.

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ENERGY

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 reported. 
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.

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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 reporter.gr said. 
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 2008."

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.

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FOREIGN LOANS

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.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

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) reported. 
"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.

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