Corridor 8 becoming reality
At an inauguration ceremony for the Durrës - Rrogozhinë highway last week, Prime Minister Ilir Meta said the completion of this segment marks the end of the first stage of Corridor 8. He also announced that asphalt surfacing has begun on the Rrogozhinë - Elbasan segment and that the Librazhd - Qukës portion of the roadway is almost completed. Construction of the Qukës - Qafë - Thanë section is also underway.
The Phare Program Cross-Border financed the Durrës - Rrogozhinë highway, at a cost of 20.5 million euros. This segment of the Corridor 8 project is 38.6 km long and 11.5 m wide.
Although the Prime Minister claims that, day by day, Corridor 8 is becoming a reality for Albanians, some independent analysts and politicians criticise the government for not taking the actions necessary to complete Corridor 8 according to specifications and on time. A project to reconstruct the Durrës seaport, for example, has been blocked temporary because of Greek gasoline stations being built within the seaport. Independent politicians do agree, however, that the corridor must consist of motorways rather than highways.
Dangerous situation in Haracine
Albania government spokesman Thoma Gëllçi issued a statement last week defining the situation in Haracine as particularly dangerous. "The Government of Albania is closely following developments of the situation in Macedonia, especially in the zone of Haracine," and considers the area "dangerous for further escalations and threatening to the security in Macedonia" and the broader region, according to the statement.
Gëllçi also said the Albanian government maintains its position of denouncing any violence that seriously threatens and compromises the prospects for political dialogue. According to Gëllçi, the government considers that an end to fighting is "indispensable" to facilitating the swift progress of such dialogue, one goal of which must be dealing with the grave humanitarian situation of the populations displaced by the violence.
Meta congratulates Berlusconi
Prime Minister Ilir Meta sent congratulations and good wishes to the new Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, for building his new government and for success in implementing its objectives during its popular mandate.
Meta referred to the very good relations that traditionally exist between Albania and Italy, and said the two governments will continue to move toward further strengthening and improving them in pursuit of common interests.
Italian senator Brienza visits Albania
Sources in the Prime Minister's office say that Ilir Meta met with Giuseppe Brienza, senator and vice president of Italy's Puglia region, during Brienza's recent visit to Albania. Both parties stressed again the good relations between Italy and Albania and favorable prospects for strengthening them further. Prime Minister Meta said that this improved co-operation would draw on the good relations between Albania and Puglia.
The two leaders' talks focused on future co-operation in the area of education, particularly as regards university and post-graduate qualifications, and discussed projects and initiatives related to education and professional qualification.
Still no tourists on the Albanian coast
According to information sources in the Committee for the Development of Tourism in Albania, despite sunny days and warm temperatures, the Albanian seashore remained sleepy and silent in the first days of June. Meanwhile, the Greek islands and the beaches of Italy are overflowing with tourists.
The Committee said that the number of domestic and foreign tourists reached about 900,000 last year, and official figures put the income from tourism at some 350 million US dollars.
Investments in Berat's education field
According to the Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA), investments in the educational sector in Berat during 2001 have already amounted to over USD 300,000. Fatos Zotka of the district's education department reported to ATA that some of the reconstructed schools have already been opened. Zotka said the reconstruction of two schools was financed through a grant of USD 150,000 provided by USAID. According to ATA, the Albanian government has also allocated USD 150,000 to reconstruct several schools in the district.
Tirana International Hotel to be privatised
The Ministry of Public Economy and Privatisation (MPEP) has announced plans to privatise Tirana's main hotel, the Tirana International. MPEP intends to use Technical Co-operation Funds to hire a privatisation adviser to help the Albanian government initiate, prepare and complete the privatisation of DV-Albturist Hoteliers Sh.P.K., the company that owns the three-star hotel in the centre of the capital city.
Union for Victory's political platform
Sali Berisha, chairman of the Democratic Party and the centre-right electoral alliance Union for Victory, stated during an electoral meeting that only the economic consolidation of the country would improve the welfare of the Albanian people.
Consolidation of the economy based on efficient exploitation of local capital is a key plank in the Union for Victory platform, according to Berisha, who said that privatisation conducted with transparency and with benefits for all is the goal of the Union for Victory once in office.
In a departure from traditional rightist approaches, Berisha said that improving taxation policies and decreasing levies will boost trade, increase profits, and result in wider circulation of goods and money in the hands of citizens and, consequently, would improve the country's general welfare.
Artur Nura, 15 June 2001
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