Earlier this week, Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani welcomed Bulgarian president Peter Stoyanov at the Rinas Airport in Tirana. After one-on-one talks, the two presidents signed several bilateral agreements. The Bulgarian president also met with Skender Gjinushi, the Speaker of the Albanian Parliament, Prime Minister Ilir Meta and leaders of the various parliamentary parties. The two presidents visited the city of Durres and stressed the necessity of soliciting contracts for the East-West Corridor and for construction of the Burgas-Skopje (Shkup)-Vlora pipeline, the so-called Ambo project.
Bodo Hombah, coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, made a two-day visit to Tirana this week. At a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, Hombah declared that Albania's projects under the Stability Pact have been covered financially and their implementation is expected to begin within the current year. According to Hombah, there is a firm commitment to include Albania in a long-term development perspective.
In an interview with the newspaper Albania, Sabri Godo stated that independence is the only possible solution to the Kosovo crisis. Speaking after the conference "Kosova and its Neighbours," held in Priština (Prishtine), Godo, the President of Albania's Foreign Parliamentary Commission and of the Republican Party Assembly, congratulated Albania's political leadership for its recent visits to Kosovo.
According to the newspaper Shekulli, the Council of Europe (CE) is preparing a report critical of Sali Berisha and Fatos Nano, the presidents of the Democratic and Socialist parties, respectively. The CE report allegedly contends the Democratic Party's Berisha has used undemocratic methods to eliminate political adversaries within the party. The report also points to the efforts of Nano, the Socialist leader, to undermine the governing ability of Prime Minister Ilir Meta by pressuring him to give the green light to governmental reshuffling.
Spartak Poci, Albania's Interior Minister, made a two-day visit last week to Montenegro. According to a source in Poci's ministry, the aim of the visit was to coordinate efforts to combat illegal trafficking between the two countries. Poci met with Vukasin Maras, his Montenegrin counterpart, and Prime Minister Filip Vujanović.
The Albanian Institute of Statistics (AIS) last week published the results of a study that shows that about 92 percent of Albanian businesses are "small" and only about 5 percent "mid-sized." According to AIS research, 52 percent of Albanian enterprises are engaged in trade and commerce, while industrial enterprises make up 77 percent of small, 9 percent of mid-sized and 14 percent of "large" businesses. In the construction field, 37 percent of enterprises are small, 42 percent mid-sized and 21 percent large. In total, 66 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is accounted for by large enterprises.
The Albanian Customs Office has reported that no vegetables or fruits have been imported into Albania since 20 May. With the arrival of the warm summer season, Albanian farmers have produced ample fresh agricultural and animal products to meet domestic needs. The end to imports of these products came three weeks earlier than last year, a fact expressive of the expansion of domestic production. Albanian farmers have also begun to export domestic produce to the European market, and at least three foreign companies have signed initial contracts to buy the first agricultural products of the season.
The association "For a Cigarette-Free Albania" and the National Centre for the Promotion of Health Education last week published the results of a study of Albanian smoking habits. According to the study, Albanians spend USD 260 million per year on cigarettes. In Tirana alone, citizens spend USD 185,000 a day on cigarettes – a total of about 19.4 cigarettes per person per day. Each year, 6050 tons of cigarettes are consumed, or 16.6 tons per day. Nationwide, some 60 percent of Albanians are smokers, compared with about 41 percent of those in the capital.
According to sources in the Education Ministry, Albania will soon allow private universities. Ministry experts are currently preparing a draft law that will amend existing education laws in Albania, which now prohibit private universities. Sources in the Ministry told reporters that various foreign offers have been made to open private institutions of higher education in Albania.
The Albanian Film Archive will be participating in the 3 to 11 June Congress of the International Film Archives Federation in London. At these meetings, Albanian Film Archive officials expect to sign contracts with the Spanish Film Archive Centre to institute a new cultural exchange in which Spain will host an Albanian film week, after which Albania will reciprocate. Albania has been a member of the International Film Archives Federation since 1963.
European lyrical singers will participate in the International Festival of Lyrical Voices in Tirana 2 to 4 June 2000. This is the first international festival of lyrical voices to be honoured by the name of the renowned Albanian singer Marie Kraja. 25 singers from Albania and other European nations will compete for festival prizes.
The international association "Arts et letters de France" has awarded its Gold Medal to Albanian writer Ylljet Aliçka for his novel The Writers. The annual writing competition gave its highest award to the novel, which was translated by the French ambassador to Albania, Patrik Krismant, and appeared last year in the French magazine Agone editeur.
Artur Nura, 3 June 2000