Albania’s capital expenditures

Tirana, Nov. 19, 2008 ( – Almost 89 per cent of Albania’s capital expenditures during 2008 have been spent for the Albania-Kosovo highway, – data published by Ministry of Finance suggests.

For the nine months ending on Sept. 30, Albania had spent 40 billion lek, (€328 million), from its 45.5 billion capital expenditures budget for the highway. About half of this sum was raised in the international market as syndicated loans. Albania will need to invest another €250 million to complete the 60 kilometer long highway.

The Albanian Government admitted in August that the highway linking the country’s coast with Kosovo will cost €630 million, more than €200 million than the original contract of €418 million.

The admission came in a letter by Albania’s government to the International Monetary Fund.

The highway, which links the port of Durres with Kosovo, is the country’s biggest public works project in decades, however its has been dogged by allegations of irregularities and corruption.

Prosecutor-General Ina Rama is probing alleged irregularities in the tender for the construction of the highway won by the American-Turkish consortium, Bechtel-Enka.

Former Prosecutor-General Theodhori Sollaku began an investigation last year into alleged irregularities surrounding the awarding of the tender.

The investigation led to a request by Sollaku that parliament lift the immunity of Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha, who was at the time of the tender, the Minister of Transport.

Basha’s immunity was lifted by parliament at the end of December.

A few weeks earlier, President Bamir Topi had dismissed Sollaku, following a call for his sacking by a parliamentary commission, and nominated Rama, a former Serious Crimes Court Judge, as his replacement.

Local media have reported that several other officials from the roads department of the Transport Ministry are being investigated along with Basha.

Although Basha has sought to characterise the investigation as a politically-motivated attack by Sollaku, since Rama took over, she has continued to push ahead with the probe.


Once Albania and Croatia formally join Nato

PRESIDENT George Bush yesterday signed papers to declare formal US support for Nato membership for Albania and Croatia, countries he once said were in the “shackles of communism”.
At a White House ceremony, the President signed accession protocols to move the two countries a step closer to membership in the expanding military alliance. Nato currently has 26 member countries.

“The citizens of Albania and Croatia have overcom
e war and hardship, built peaceful relations with their neighbours and helped other young democracies build and strengthen free societies,” he said.

“Once Albania and Croatia formally join Nato, their people can know if any nation threatens their security, every member of our alliance will be at their side.” albanian news

President Bush said the United States looked forward to the day when Nato embraced all the nations of the Balkans, including Macedonia, whose membership is being held up by Nato member Greece because of a bilateral dispute over the use of the name Macedonia.

The President also reiterated US support for prospective Nato members Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying: “The door to Nato membership also remains open to the people of Serbia, should they choose that path.”

The ceremony followed President Bush’s meeting in the Oval Office with Nato Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who noted that Albania and Croatia will be the 27th and 28th members of the alliance.

“Their accession will be a boon for Nato, as it will strengthen our common effort to safeguard and promote security and stability,” he told a room filled with about 160 politicians, members of the diplomatic corps, the US ambassadors to Albania and Croatia, and members of Albanian-American and Croatian-American groups.


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Albania welcomed on Saturday the signing of its NATO

TIRANA, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) — Albania welcomed on Saturday the signing of its NATO accession protocol by U.S. President George Bush, saying it is of historic significance for the tiny western Balkan country.

“The signing of the protocol by Bush is itself a great evaluation of Albania’s past achievements, and it is also a huge responsibility for our country to press ahead,” Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha told a press conference.

Bush signed papers on Friday to accept Albania, along with Croatia, into NATO, a move that will get the two Balkan countries one step closer to membership in the expanding military alliance.

Albania and Croatia were invited to join NATO at the alliance’s summit in Bucharest, Romania, at the beginning of last April.

The two countries will be eligible to join NATO when all 26 allies have ratified the accession protocols which were signed in Brussels in July.

source of original article :

Operate in Albania

The farm which will be built by Italian company Moncada Costruzioni in cooperation with Albanian Enpower, will rise in the area of Karaburn and Kurvelkesh, near Vlora and will have a production capacity of 500 MW.

The electricity production of the first Albanian wind farm will begin in 2010.

The farm which will be built by Italian company Moncada Costruzioni in cooperation with Albanian Enpower, will rise in the area of Karaburn and Kurvelkesh, near Vlora and will have a production capacity of 500 MW.

According to the website of INFORMEST, Service and Documentation Centre for Economic International Cooperation, an underground transmission line placed at 825 metres in depth will connect the port of Vlora with Brindisi in order to carry to Italy some 400 kW of electricity.

The Albanian Government approved in August the exploitation of a forest area of 95.7 hectares in the municipality of Vlora for development of the farm.

The cost of the farm was estimated at some 750 million euro, while the energy line connecting Italy and Albania will cost some 250 million euro.

The authority which regulates the energy sector in Albania has issued the first license for energy production to company Hera which will construct in the south-east part of the country a plant of 240 million euro for production of 150 MW.

Italian Italgest also announced that weighs the idea to build a plant of 150 MW near Tirana for the total cost of 202 million euro.

Albania – Malta 3-0

A goal in injury time of the first half paved the way for Albania to record a comfortable 3-0 win against lowly Malta in their second game of Group One in the World Cup qualifiers.

Despite showing signs of improvement, the Maltese side failed to hold on to the 0-0 result by the end of the first half, as Bogdani headed in a Dallku’s cross from the right hand side.

Albania pushed from the very first minute to take the lead, therefore this goal came as no surprise, even though it was initially difficult to penetrate the stubborn Maltese defence.

The visitors started venturing more forward in the second half, but Albania were still the more dangerous side. The home side managed to score their second goal of the night in the 84th minute following a defensive blunder which allowed Duro to beat Haber from close range.

Albania added a third goal in the 90th minute when Dallku headed in a Skela corner from the right hand side.

In the end it was a deserved win for Albania, even though the final score might have been too harsh on Malta.

Albania now have four points in the group along with Sweden, one point ahead of Portugal, whereas Malta remain all alone at the bottom with no points to show.

Both teams will be playing again in the World Cup qialifiers next month when they face Hungary and Denmark respectively, away from home.


ALBANIA: Arian Beqaj, Ervin Bulku (54′ Elvin Beqiri), Ansi Agolli, Almend Dallku, Lorik Cana, Debatik Curri, Klodian Duro (85′ Besart Berisha), Jahmir Hyka, Ervin Skela, Altin Lala, Erjon Bogdani (73′ Hamdi Salihi)

MALTA: Justin Haber, Aaron Xuereb, Shaun Bajada, Etienne Barbara (46′ Cleavon Frendo), Luke Dimech, Gilbert Agius (85′ Terence Scerri, Roderick Briffa, Michael Mifsud, Kevin Sammut, Andre Schembri, Jamie Pace


Albania Tirana New

Albania has yet to catch the tourist bug; and there are many people who think it’s for good reason. Tell people you are going to Tirana and they think you are doing something that is either dangerous or just plain crazy. Aren’t you liable to be robbed? How do you get there? And what on Earth can you do there when you arrive?

That attitude is, depending on your perspective, either a relief – a place in Europe genuinely exotic and not yet full of stag parties – or becoming rapidly out of date. Visit Tirana now and you will see a part of Europe yet to succumb to mass tourism, where you can still glimpse just how different some parts of our continent were a few generations ago. Only two hours from Gatwick you can step back into a Europe that still uses animals to pull ploughs. But at the same time you can stay in hotels offering superb service and you can meet a thoughtful and well-travelled people. You can also visit some of the most ancient Greek and Roman sites of the Mediterranean.

The main thing to understand about Albania is that it is only just escaping from a difficult period in its history. It suffered under a particularly oppressive form of communism, when virtually all contact with the outside world was forbidden. It emerged from this with a speculative boom and a national pyramid-selling scam, so its first experience of the market economy was a catastrophe – encouraging huge numbers of Albanians to emigrate, mostly illegally, to either Greece or Italy, but with quite a few ending up in Britain. Albania is trying to be a normal European country, but it has all sorts of difficulties. There is still a rough edge to society: you don’t have to listen hard to hear bitter complaints about corruption, the driving is terrifying and while the local practice of firing Kalashnikovs into the night has diminished, my friends and I were awoken in the hotel by what we thought was a gunshot. But despite this element of spice, Tirana does not feel dangerous: we walked about at night with no sense of concern at all.

The mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, has been an outstandingly successful civic leader. When he took over in 2000 the place was a mess. There was no proper sewage system or rubbish collection, and the city was dominated by grey, communist-era, blocks. It was pretty dangerous too: he survived a couple of attempts on his life.

Rama sorted out the rubbish, turned the parks in the city centre into well-tended grassy spaces where people now picnic and play games, and, most spectacularly, had the buildings painted in bright colours. That last idea was a stroke of genius. He had been an artist, actually living in Paris, and appreciated that while Tirana could not afford to rebuild, it could transform itself with paint. It was a cheap and effective way of signalling the end of the drab communist era, and bringing a renewed sense of life to the whole city.

The mechanics of getting to Albania are easy. BA flies non-stop from Gatwick to Tirana. The local currency is the lek, but euros are universally accepted. Most prices are reasonable by our standards, restaurants and hotels are excellent and English is quite widely spoken.

What to do when you get there depends on what you like. You could lie on a beach and drink Campari sodas, since Tirana is only an hour’s drive from the Adriatic coast. But that would be something of a waste.

To get a feeling for the country’s rich history, go to the new Archaeological Museum. It is a manageable size, has a good curator and the exhibits are well-signed and explained. It is also a good introduction to Apollonia, which lies two hours south of the capital. This city was founded by the Greeks and then taken over by the Romans. At its peak it would have been about the same size as Roman London, with perhaps 70,000 inhabitants in all, and was described by Cicero as “a great and important city”. It occupies a whole hilltop, and is surrounded by two-and-a-half miles of wall. You can also see the remains of some temples, the theatre and a couple of villas – and have lunch at the excellent restaurant at the entrance.

But perhaps the most tantalising feature of the site is that only about 5 per cent of it has been excavated, so at some stage there will be a huge amount unearthed. Knowing this, as you stand among the mounds and ruins, you are left wondering what treasures might still be buried beneath your feet.

For a rather different historical experience go to Kruja, which is less than an hour from Tirana. This was the main place of Albanian resistance to the Ottoman invasions. It was a fortress city, and now has a museum celebrating the life of the national hero, Skanderbeg, who defeated the Turks on a number of occasions after they had captured Constantinople, only to succumb to malaria in 1466. He managed to delay the invasions for some 20 years, though their advance was only finally halted at Vienna in 1529.

Alternatively, if you are into more modern history there is a fine example of the Fascist architectural style at one end of the main street (this is now part of the university) and there are some archetypal communist buildings too. There is also a fine museum of nationalist/communist art, which tends to depict heroic guerrillas fighting for freedom and then working in the steel mills to create a greater Albania.

The centre of Tirana is dominated by a grand avenue, laid out by the Italians, with civic buildings and parks alongside. It is basically a late 19th- and 20th-century city, and as it was really only a large village until as recently as 150 years ago.

The shops and restaurants probably have a wider appeal. Prices in the boutiques are substantially lower than in Western Europe, sometimes radically so, which makes you wonder quite how the goods got there. As for restaurants, there are a host of places within walking distance of the centre of Tirana, which offer straightforward Italian or similar style food and most of them are good at what they offer.

While the city cannot currently compete in the variety of its attractions with other more popular European destinations, the most enticing feature of Tirana is that it is an interesting example of a capital that has picked itself up from the floor, dusted itself down, and now puts a cheerful face on for the rest of the world, rather than being a European cultural or architectural gem.

The thing I find most fascinating about Albania is seeing a country come to terms with an undoubtedly difficult history. This is a place that has been repeatedly trampled by invaders, and it has had its difficulties compounded by political and economic mismanagement. It has only recently become a functioning democracy, and it still faces daunting problems, of which the most serious, according to Rama, is finding jobs for its people. Yet it has a very clear national identity, its own language, and an interesting and talented people. To go there gives a feeling for Europe’s extraordinary diversity and long history but also, as Albania awakes, part of its future too.


Albania Outrage

The shocking death of a businessman turned whistle-blower has triggered comment across the Albanian blogging community. Kosta Trebicka provided powerful testimony on the ammunition trade in Albania and developments leading to the Gerdec catastrophe.

Trebicka was found dead near his car in a remote area, apparently after going on a solo hunting trip. Experts from the FBI in Washington have joined the investigation because Trebicka also testified to the US Congress on the ammunition affair.

Bloggers are furious. Some blame the government, saying an obvious cover-up is in progress. Others question such accusations, saying Albania’s leaders had no interest in getting rid of Trebicka, since prosecutors already have his testimony.

“From all I have read, it seems like an accident, and for me it’s not normal to politicise somebody’s death,” writes Endri at shekulli.

Writing at peshkupauje, Fredi believes Trebicka’s death is bad news for Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, if for no other reason than people will automatically suspect him of collusion. “But why would Berisha eliminate Trebicka? If he really felt endangered by testimony, he could act differently — closing his mouth with money or other favours as happens commonly in the business world.”

By contrast, Skenderbeu is sure the death “was no accident”.

“It’s a typical mafia murder — elimination of witnesses,” he writes. “One thing I’m sure of: in the next elections, Berisha and Co. won’t get my ballot.”

Lejla, however, blasts Berisha’s political opponents for using the case to score political points. “This is unbelievable for me, and this political tactic is disgusting to me,” she writes. “Everything bad that is happening in Albania they are trying to pin on the government. They don’t even care about Albania– they just want to win the election.”

Finally, Detari warns against amateur detective work. “Each and every one of us tries to play the crime expert. I know that you saw many TV series about very complicated crimes, but TV and real life are two very different things,” he writes.