Adoption of cross-party consensus in Parliament 17 Nov as lawmakers approved creation of parliamentary commission for electoral reform and passed 2 laws. Followed agreement by ruling DP party and opposition SP 15 Nov on pact addressing major European Commission progress priorities. Move welcomed by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele as bringing end to 2-year political stalemate, however several issues remain unresolved. Follows Oct European Commission assessment that Albania failed to meet political criteria needed to attain EU candidate status.
The EU’s present visa regime with the countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Serbia-Montenegro including Kosovo) is fostering resentment, inhibiting progress on trade, business, education and more open civil societies, and as a result contributing negatively to regional stability.
Pan-Albanianism is seen by many observers as a serious threat to Balkan stability. A century of shifting borders has left ethnic Albanians scattered across Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the National Liberation Army (NLA) in Macedonia, and other groups have all waged campaigns of violence in support of enhanced rights for ethnic Albanians. Where is the ceiling to their ambitions?
Political feuding virtually paralysed the Albanian government in the first half of 2002, until the European Parliament brokered an agreement between the main political parties which led to the election of retired army general Alfred Moisiu as the consensus choice for president.
The Socialist Party’s decision on 21 August to nominate Ilir Meta for another term as Prime Minister closed out the longest election in Albania’s turbulent post-communist history.
This report describes the current situation in Albania, paying particular attention to relations with the country’s Balkan neighbours, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece.
Local elections in Albania on 1 October 2000 will mark the first test of popular support for the ruling Socialist-led coalition since it came to power following the violent uprising in 1997.
Originally published in The Balkan Regatta
Originally published in Transitions Online