Mejdani meets World Bank boss for Albania
President Rexhep Mejdani met this week with Arntraud Hartman, World Bank director for Albania and Croatia. According to the President's press office, Mejdani suggested to Hartman that all development must take into account the internal migration of the Albanian population, which necessitates new policies, especially for poor and rural areas.
According to the same source, Hartman reported that after three years of development, Albania's privatisation proceedings are farther advanced than those of other countries in the region.
Defusing relations with Macedonia
Sabri Godo, president of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission, had praise for his Macedonian counterpart, Jordan Boškov, following a meeting this week. Boškov told Godo that Macedonian authorities do not back assertions by some Macedonian academics that the potential establishment of a privatised Albanian-language University of Tetovo has "greater Albanian" political aims.
According to Godo, Boškov also said Macedonian parliamentarians have distanced themselves from a declaration by the Macedonian Minister for the Diaspora, who said earlier that Albanian's 350,000 Macedonian citizens are being persecuted.
Members of both delegations asked for a reciprocally realistic treatment of delicate issues, affirming that exaggerated statements such as that of the Diaspora Minister cannot be repeated.
Aside from some aggressive posturing on the part of extreme groups, there does exist a common will for cooperation between the two countries, according to Godo, "and as matters progress we will find a common language through which to move forward."
Still no homecoming for Zog's descendants
In recent days, a group composed predominantly of right-wing members of parliament has once more argued for "historical justice" and demanded parliamentary action to abolish laws that prevent the return of the family of King Zog.
After the fall of Enver Hoxha's regime, which first prohibited the royal family's return, the king's son, Leka Zogu, was again expelled from Albania during the reign of the political right-wing under then-President Sali Berisha.
The former Communist and present Socialist Party members, dominated by party conservatives and headed by Fatos Nano, still hold emotional and historical biases against King Zog I that have translated into a political agenda against the return of Leka Zogu.
The hard-line leftists are vehemently opposed to the royalist proposal and, concerned about the possible influence of Zogu's political party in the upcoming municipal elections, immediately launched a negative media campaign against the royal family.
A parliamentary session on the motion to enable King Zog's descendants to return is expected next week.
Berisha to boycott upcoming elections?
Some Albanian analysts, predominantly in the leftist media, fear a boycott of the upcoming elections by opposition parties loyal to former Albanian president Sali Berisha.
According to these analyses, Berisha may boycott the elections out of fear that his Democratic Party will suffer heavy losses, which would have an adverse effect on his political future as party leader.
Meanwhile, the daily Shekulli quoted unidentified diplomatic sources as saying that Berisha is continuing his intransigence on the composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC).
"The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international representatives in Tirana pressured state authorities to make compromises on the composition of the CEC," the newspaper noted, saying that these were specifically constructed with securing Berisha's cooperation in mind.
"Still, Berisha refused to arrange for the Democratic Party to cooperate" in the selection of the CEC member to chosen from among the opposition, Shekulli noted.
Political wrangling in Socialist Party
Kastriot Islami, former deputy prime minister in the cabinet of Fatos Nano, accused the Nano's Socialist Party leadership of following a "strategy based on the interests of clans or personal factions instead of that of alternatives."
Recalling the last Socialist Party congress, Islami told reporters, "In the last congress, two groups were featured: that of Nano, and that of Majko - or, to be more precise, the anti-Nano faction within the party. Majko lost that battle, and Ilir Meta struck a compromise with Nano that was more personal than politically representative."
According to Islami, the compromise deal needs to be analysed and the need for a new alternative alliance within the party should be recognised.
Recent results indicate that Musa Ulqini, a member of Majko's anti-Nano faction, has won the presidency of the party's influential Tirana branch. The moderates now control most of the executive body, which will make things more difficult for Nano as he seeks to maintain his role as head of the ruling party.
Turkish NATO boss to follow exercises
On Thursday 22 June, NATO Southern Wing Commander General Tamer Akbas arrived in Tirana, where he was greeted at Rinas airport by Albanian Air Force Commander Perlat Sula and Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Okcun.
Accompanied by the Turkish ambassador, Akbas met with President Rexhep Mejdani, Prime Minister Ilir Meta and Defence Minister Luan Hajdaraga.
At the special invitation of Aleks Andoni, Chief of the Army General Staff, Akbas will closely follow the "Cooperative Dragon 2000" exercises during his ten-day stay in Albania.
Cooperation with Italy on organized crime
A group of Italian of anti-Mafia prosecutors headed by Chief Prosecutor General Pier Luigi Vigna visited Albania last week.
The Italian prosecutors met with Prime Minister Meta, Attorney General Arben Rakipi, Justice Minister Ilir Panda and Interior Minister Spartak Poci, discussing new geographical cooperation between bilateral and multilateral institutions.
Vigna declared that international crime knows no borders, making necessary a united front in fighting it.
Attorney General US-bound
Albanian Attorney General Arben Rakipi is planning a several-day official visit to the United States at the invitation of the US Justice Department. Rakipi's will be the first visit of an Albanian attorney general to the US.
His delegation will meet with US Attorney General Janet Reno and will be received at United Nations headquarters in New York.
"Meetings are also anticipated with [Rakipi's] counterparts in Washington, DC, and New York and with officials of the FBI and the CIA," Ardian Visha, spokesperson of the Tirana Attorney General, told reporters.
Unemployment runs at 40%
Figures published recently by the Albanian Institute of Statistics indicate that 239,688 citizens were registered as unemployed in the first three months of 2000.
According to the institute, unemployment in Albania stands at 18.3 percent, but it is believed that real unemployment may be as high as 40 percent. Experts say that emigration is high principally because of limited job opportunities and low incomes, especially in agricultural sectors.
Albania to get political science program
According to Ylli Pango, Dean of the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Tirana, Albania will soon have a political science faculty. As a result, the number of Albanian students who study diplomacy abroad will be reduced and professors in the Faculty of Law will have increased teaching loads.
Artur Nura, 24 June 2000