Books on Albania
Update No: 107 - (28/04/06)
Albania is in the good books of international financial
institutions, notably since the Kosovo War of 1999. Wars can sometimes bring
benefits to neglected countries. That war certainly put Albania on the map.
The 1999 Kosovo War marks the turning point for the Albanian economy. Previously
in a most dire state after a financial crash in 1997, the war led to a massive
international presence to deal with the huge refugee problem, with 240,000-
260,000 Kosovar Albanians streaming in.
International aid agencies and the impact of the vast military effort, whose
base was Albania, gave the economy a terrific boost, much as the Korean War did
the postwar Japanese economy or the Vietnam War did the economies of the Asian
Its Socialist governments under Premier Fatos Nano, from 1997 to 2001 and from
2001 to 2005, saw the country pulled round from being the basket case of Europe
to being a force to be reckoned with. It has had an economy forging ahead at an
average 7% for nearly a decade.
Last year the conservative former premier Sali Berisha was re-elected,
benefiting from the usual swing of the political pendulum.
Turkish maestro comes to town
UNDP chief Kemal Dervis, a brilliant Turkish economist and financier, arrived on
a two-day visit to Albania on April 10th in a bid to strengthen his
organisation's partnership with Tirana. Dervis praised Albania for its
co-operation with his organisation and development efforts, and pledged
continued assistance to the country.
"Albania has been a role model for other countries in its pursuit of human
development and in its strong commitment to the Millennium Development
Goals," said Dervis, the third highest-ranking UN official, during a visit
to Tirana. "Albania recognised that good governance is a crucial component
of development by making it a priority in all of their work. I applaud Albania
Dervis's two-day stay was his second visit since 1991, and the first since he
became UNDP head in May 2005.
Dervis met with Prime Minister Berisha and Parliament Speaker Jozefina Topalli.
"The priority you have given economic development -- since the time you
were president -- it is obviously having a result," a UNDP statement quoted
Dervis as saying after his meeting with the prime minister.
During the talks, Berisha briefed him about Albania's efforts in the fight
against organised crime, trafficking and corruption, and about concrete legal
initiatives, including the law to counter conflict of interest and nepotism.
The two also discussed the UNDP programme in Albania, particularly in four new
areas of cooperation: Combating extra-legality and undertaking tax reform;
information and communication technologies for schools; the Brain Gain
initiative; and environment and tourism.
The e-schools project focuses on the modernisation of school computer labs, the
establishment of broadband Internet connectivity and the training of teachers.
Around 1,749 primary schools and 384 high schools will be the primary
beneficiaries of this project, which will help Albanian students acquire skills
and take advantage of modern information and communication technologies. The
UNDP has set aside US$1.3m for the first year of implementation of the 36-month
The projects on combating extra legality and supporting ecological initiatives
and cultural tourism were also expected to be inaugurated during Dervis's visit.
The Brain Gain initiative would assist the government in its effort to utilise
expatriate Albanian expertise for the country's socio-economic development.
Recently Dervis visited a police station commissariat in Tirana, which has been
renovated under an ongoing project in support of security sector reform,
financed by various international and bilateral donors, including the UNDP.
Addressing deputies in parliament later, Dervis urged politicians to stay united
on issues of national importance, stressing that stability is key to sustainable
economic development and growth. Income per capita in Albania could double in 20
years if it promotes "private entrepreneurship and markets, as well as a
good government that makes sure that markets are competitive, that they are well
regulated, that the law applies equally to all," the AP quoted him as
"So Albania needs both effective government and competitive markets ...
What is crucial is to enforce the rule of law and not allow criminal elements to
distort the economy to their advantage. Political instability is the biggest
enemy of rapid and sustained growth," Dervis said.
Bucharest offers EU backing
Romanian President Traian Basescu on April 13th, at the Cotroceni
presidential palace, received Albanian Premier Sali Berisha. During the meeting
the two men said that Albania's initialling of the Agreement of Stabilization
and Association to the European Union was a favourable moment, which must be
turned to account in their bilateral relations.
Romania's President emphasized Romania's willingness to offer Albania concrete
support in distinct fields in the process of coming closer to the EU, the
consolidation of the institutions of the state of law included. Another subject
on the agenda of the talks referred to the political situation in the Western
Balkans, with emphasis on the questions of the status of Kosovo.
President Basescu also stressed the fact that Bucharest hosting the meeting of
the heads of government in the CEFTA countries, in which the Albanian Premier
also took part, reflected the support offered by Romania to giving a concrete
form to the aim of the European prospect and of connecting the Western Balkans
again to the positive developments at European level.
British Airways to start its first ever flights to Albania
British Airways (BA) announced it would start a number of new routes this
summer, including its first ever flights to Albania's capital Tirana, AE news
The new service will operate three times a week and it will link Albania's
capital with Gatwick airport in London. The flights will be scheduled for
Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. According to BA projections about 25,000
travellers will use the new London-Tirana route in the first year, with the
number rising incrementally afterwards, according to a company official. BA's
flights were postponed earlier due to security concerns with the Mother Teresa
International Airport of Albania. German-led Airport Partners Consortium
renovated Tirana's Mother Teresa International Airport to bring security up to
Increased loans and profits for Alpha Bank
Alpha Bank's Albanian branch reported a 109 million Euro growth for 2005 and
estimated 2008 projections at 305 million Euro, according to a recent
presentation by Alpha Bank of Greece, AE news agency reported.
In 2005 the Albanian branch of Alpha Bank reported gross revenue of 141 per
cent, Alpha Bank of Greece announced. Meanwhile, profits through its Albanian
branch reached seven million Euro in the same period up from 2.9 million Euro in
2004. Such profits resulted from strong growth in the bank's lending accompanied
with a rather soft increase of deposits, the bank reported. The performance of
the Albanian branch was strong compared to the average profit levels of the
Alpha Bank group, but faired comparatively lower for its deposits. Alpha Bank
operates in six different countries in Southeastern Europe. Its Albanian branch
makes up 3.8 per cent of its activity abroad. Its operation in Albania also
makes up 6.6 per cent of all total foreign deposits.