Books on Albania
Update No: 131 - (28/04/08)
What about Kosovo?
The Albanians are nervous at the moment. They have every reason to be. The
Kosovo question remains unresolved. Serbia is heading for elections on May 11 to
Belgrade is insisting that these be accompanied by municipal elections in Kosovo
organised by itself in the breakaway province that it insists is still part of
Serbia. This is despite February's declaration of Kosovar independence, which
has been recognised by 38 countries.
Kosovo is clearly going its own way. The question is will it join up with
Albania in a greater Albania, beckoning Albanians in Southern Macedonia to
enlist too. This would be a nightmare scenario, risking another round of Balkan
Fortunately, the Albanian political leadership in all parties is level-headed
and eschews the idea. They know full well that irredentism of this sort is part
of the baleful Balkan past and should be firmly put behind it.
The EU beckons
Albania's future lies in a very different direction - the EU. The country has
been doing very well ever since the 1999 war, in which it was decisively and
definitively put on the world map. Its cooperation with NATO forces on that
occasion was exemplary.
It certainly deserves membership of both NATO and the EU in due course.
Naturally, many Albanians think that in both cases it is overdue. But Brussels
is biding its time here. It was badly bitten by premature admission of Bulgaria
and Romania before they had fully addressed problems of corruption and
transgression of rules of good governance.
The Albanians also have a way to go in this regard. Brussels does not want to
lose leverage to influence developments here.
Albania amends parliamentary voting system
Albania is modernising its political system ahead of time, to prepare for EU
entry. It has passed constitutional amendments to create a voting system that
increase proportional representation in parliamentary elections, local media
reported on April 22.
Lawmakers in the 140-seat parliament voted 115-13 to approve the reforms, which
have been backed by Albania's governing Democrats and main opposition
Socialists. The new voting rules replace the former partial majority system in
favour of proportional representation within each of Albania's 12 administrative
But the rules have been widely contested by the smaller parties, which they
believe will make winning national representation a harder task.
The new amendments, which take effect immediately, introduce new parliamentary
procedures for confidence votes, presidential elections, as well as the status
of the country's prosecutor general. Under the new rules, the parliament will
need only a simple majority of 71 votes to elect the country's president in the
fourth round of voting. This is down from 83 deputies, or three-fifths of the
Albania's prosecutor general will have a fixed five-year term instead of an
unlimited one, and parliament will automatically be dissolved and early
elections declared if the government loses a confidence vote.