Books on Albania
Update No: 118 - (29/03/07)
Albanian parliament approves government reshuffle
Albania's National Assembly on March 19th approved the reshuffle in the PM Sali
Berisha's Cabinet, made exactly a week earlier. The shake-up in Sali Berisha's
government came just a month after the ruling Democratic Party (DP) had suffered
major losses in local elections, when the socialist opposition bloc gained
victory in Albania's largest cities, including the opposition leader Edi Rama's
victory in the capital, Tirana.
Weeks after these setbacks, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has decided to
make some key changes to his government. Describing the move as a bid to
galvanise Albania's reform process, Prime Minister Sali Berisha proposed a
reshuffle of his cabinet on March 12th. The changes are also intended to broaden
the ruling coalition and help ensure that it has the 84 votes needed when
Parliament elects a president in June.
Gazmed Oketa has been appointed as new Deputy Prime Minister, Bujar Nishani is
the new Minister of Interior, Ilir Rusmajli is the new Minister of Justice, Ili
Pango is the new Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport, Majlinda Bregu took
up the post of Minister for European Integration - all members of Sali Berisha's
Nard Ndoka, the leader of Democratic-Christian Party, was appointed as new
Minister of Health. Unlike other nominees whose election was hailed by the
ruling coalition only, Ndoka garnered full support both by the ruling and the
opposition lawmakers. Appointing Ndoka as health minister means adding eight
votes to the coalition's majority.
The opposition strongly criticized some of the newly elected ministers,
especially the new Interior Minister Bujar Nishani. The opposition lawmakers
blamed Nishani of improper conduct and inappropriate stands toward the
President approves the reshuffle
President Alfred Moisiu had seven days to decree the new members of the
government. It is the first reshuffle since DP came to power after winning the
July 3rd, 2005 parliamentary elections. It had spent eight years in opposition.
Berisha's government now has support from 80 of the 140 deputies in Parliament,
a number that falls short of the 3/5ths majority needed for some laws, including
approval of a new president.
Direct presidential election suggested
The incumbent, Moisiu, was selected after a compromise between the majority
and the opposition in 2002, leading Albanians to refer to him as the
"consensual president." However, hopes of a similar deal this time
around appear dim.
Berisha has proposed DP's Bamir Topi as a possible choice for president. "I
think the president has to be a popular figure and I think that Topi is the most
appropriate. He has a long political career to carry this duty," the prime
However, the opposition baulked, saying it can negotiate with the majority only
if the prime minister resigns.
Berisha says the time has come to consider having the people, rather than
Parliament, elect the head of state. This, however, would require changes to the
The Albanian-Croatian axis
Albania is hoping for NATO membership next year and signed a Stabilisation
and Accession Agreement with the EU last spring.
Albania and Croatia are to strengthen their relations, leaders from the two
countries said in Tirana on March 16th. Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and
visiting Croatian President Stipe Mesic said their two countries have already
enjoyed a very good relationship.
The two countries are struggling to join the NATO and are parties to the
Adriatic Charter, which they signed, along with Macedonia, with the US in 2003
to facilitate their entry into the club.
Berisha also expressed the hope that Croatia's experience in implementing the
EU's Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) would benefit Albania.
Croatia has already begun entry talks with the club, a few steps ahead of
Albania which just signed the SAA pact with the EU last June.
New oil pipeline from the Black Sea to the Adriatic
Meanwhile the business of government goes on. A major energy project is afoot
across the Balkans.
Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria have agreed to build an east-west oil pipeline
from Burgas to the Albanian port of Vlore. The 556-mile pipeline is also due to
be completed in 2010, costing an estimated US$1.2 billion.
More gas terminals, power plants will be built
Albanian authorities have defined three areas in southwest Albania for the
construction of gas terminals and power plants, B92 reported on March 7th.
The project is aimed at becoming a transit point for international gas networks
and to overcome a power crisis in the former communist country. Three companies
will build terminals for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, on areas covering 60,
120 and 30 hectares around Vjosa River in Fieri district, about 100 kilometres
southwest of Tirana, the government said in a statement.
Swiss EGL, Dutch-based Trans European Energy and international consortium ASG
Power SA have been authorised to build the terminals and power plants, and were
expected to apply soon for construction licenses, officials said. The projects
will supply Albania with power, as well as providing gas and power through
international connections to the European grid. Authorities could not say
exactly when the projects would start, or how much investment they entailed. The
ASG Powers SA, based in Lugano, Switzerland, and Trans European Energy would
likely start their projects this year, said Gjergj Bojaxhi, vice minister of
Trade, Industry and Energy. EGL was more interested in building a gas pipeline,
he said. Albania has suffered power cuts during post-communist period since
1990. Last month the Albanian Electro-Energy Corp, known as KESH, signed a 92
million Euro contract with Italy's Maire Engineering SpA to build a 100 MWh
oil-based thermo-power plant in Vlora, 140 kilometres southwest of Tirana,
completing it in two years.
FOOD & DRINK
FAO to finance Food Safety and Agro-Industry
The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will intervene with
concrete projects for development of agriculture and agro-industry in Albania,
sources were cited by website reporter.gr as revealing.
Minister of agriculture, food and consumers' protection Jemin Gjana discussed
the continuation of FAO projects and the implementation of a new project worth
US$ five million in the sector of food safety during a meeting in Tirana with
FAO representatives. Minister Gjana pointed to the importance his ministry
attaches to food safety in the country, assuring FAO representatives of a
concrete cooperation in implementation of this new project.
Business council in cooperation with Turkey
Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, and his Albanian counterpart, Besnik
Mustafaj, participated at a meeting of the Turkey-Albania business council on
February 9th, TurkishPress.com reported.
Addressing Turkish and Albanian entrepreneurs, Gul was cited as saying that the
economic relations between the two countries was good, but added that it could
further improve. Gul noted that businessmen had an important role to play in
improving economic relations, but acknowledged that there were tasks which
needed attention of the respective governments first. He also called for a quick
adoption of a free trade agreement between the two countries, pledging that the
Turkish Parliament would pass the agreement within two to three weeks, it was
reported. For his part, Mustafaj was cited by the website as saying that Albania
needed foreign investments and that his country could learn from Turkey's
experiences regarding the issue. "We have to take example of a country like
Turkey which issues investment licences in just a week. This vision of state
which overcame bureaucracy and prevented corruption serves all society and
businessmen," he was quoted as saying. Foreign Minister Gul was later
received by Albanian President Alfred Moisiu and separately met Albanian
Parliament Spokesperson Jozefina Topalli.
World Bank gives 60m Euro loans to Albania
The World Bank said on February 23rd that it had approved two loans totalling 60
million Euro to Albania. The resources are intended for traffic infrastructure
and assistance in land reform, AENews reported.
A 25 million Euro loan will help the Albanian government complete and maintain a
16-mile segment of the 105-mile road linking the Albanian port city of Durres
with the Morine border crossing point to Kosovo, according to a World Bank
statement. Another loan of 34.96 million Euro is to be used for a land reform
project, assisting Albanian authorities to improve the land administration and
management by public entities and individuals. The growing transport demand in
Albania reflects the structural changes in the economy and changes in trade
flows in the region. However, the quality of road infrastructure compares poorly
to regional comparators. Lack of maintenance has contributed to the
deterioration of the network and increased the costs for road users. Road
accidents are a serious and increasing public health issue. Poor transport
infrastructure is negatively impacting the standard of living of the Albanian
population. To resolve these problems, the Government of Albania has recently
adopted the Albanian National Transport Plan, and confirmed that the Durres -
Milot - Morine corridor is its foremost priority.
A 12.5% stake in AMC may be sold to Cosmote
Greek mobile operator Cosmote's 82.4 per cent-owned subsidiary in Albania is
interested in buying 12.5 per cent stake in AMC, Greek mobile operator at a
reasonable price, AENews reported.
Cosmote would buy this stake at a reasonable price, as Cosmote also owns 97
percent of Cosmo-Holding Albania, which in turn controls 85 per cent of AMC. In
2006, AMC had a customer base of about one million and recorded sales of 151