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Albanian Times, Vol. 2, No. 3, January 22, 1996

From: Albanian Times <AlbaTimes@aol.com>

The Albanian Times (by AlbAmerica TRade & Consulting International) Directory

CONTENTS

  • [1] Berisha, Goncz Discuss Economic Ties

  • [2] Germany To Support Training for Albanian Military

  • [3] European Leftist Concerned About Albanian Controversial Law

  • [4] Authorities Vow Fight Against Food Tamperers

  • [5] Former Communist Officials Summoned For Hearing

  • [6] Albanian Project Drilling Starts, NEBEX Reports

  • [7] Albanians Jailed In Greece To Complete Terms At Home

  • [8] Albania Imports Grain To Ease Bread Shortage

  • [9] Balkan Pipeline May Carry Azeri Crude

  • [10] Respect Land Deadline, Officials Warn

  • [11] EU Funds Vaccination Campaign in Albania

  • [12] Tirana Craft Company Back to Work

  • [13] Former President Alia Called to Testify

  • [14] Albanian Teen Dies, Others Injured in Fleeing Attempt

  • [15] Tirana Court Orders Arrest of Former Communist Officials

  • [16] Austria's Klestil Pledges Support for Albania

  • [17] Berisha Gets High Marks In Opinion Poll

  • [18] New Greek Premier Set For Change

  • [19] Tirana Hails Choice of Greek PM

  • [20] Albania in Berlin's Green Week Fair

  • [21] Officials Move Ahead With Privatization Scheme

  • [22] Berisha Says China Visit Important

  • [23] Hungarian President to Discuss Economic Ties in Tirana


  • [1] Berisha, Goncz Discuss Economic Ties

    Albania and Hungary will make joint efforts to speed up their integration in Europe, President Sali Berisha told reporters after a meeting in Tirana with Hungarian President Arpad Goncz who arrived on January 24. Both sides signed agreements on land transportation and on mutual protection of investments. We also agreed to sign other economic cooperation accords, Berisha said. Both presidents attended later a meeting between Albanian and Hungarian businessmen. Private businesses in Albania have asked to set up a Hungarian-Albanian bank in Tirana to facilitate trade operations. (Albanian Times, January 24)

    [2] Germany To Support Training for Albanian Military

    German parliamentarians said in Tirana that Bundeswehr will support a long term training program for the Albanian military personnel. Friedrich Schultz and Reiner Krzishewitz, members of Bundestag's Defense Commission were meeting with the Albanian Defence Minister, Safet Zhulali. Minister Zhulali called the relations with Germany a priority and praised German aid in training of the Albanian military personnel. Mr. Zhulali pointed to the need for expanding such an aid in logistics, military medicine and transportation.(ATA/Albanian Times, January 23)

    [3] Authorities Vow Fight Against Food Tamperers

    Albanian authorities have pledged war on adulterators who they say are paralysing the market. Food inspection officials in the Ministry of Agriculture are stepping up efforts to curb sale of debased foods, imposing huge fines on violators. Aduterated foods and drinks worth about $400,000 have been destryed in the last six months, ministry officials told reporters in Tirana. Defrauding consumers by selling them doctored products not only threatens consumers lives but also paralyses honest manufacturers and undermines the future of such important sectors as wine industry, Bashkim Dumani, inspection official at the ministry said. Everyone should be involved in this fight, he added. Dumani called on food and drink manufacturers to protect themselves by creating their own associations. In the local media there have been reports on large quantities of allegedly adulterated wine sold on New Year's eve in major cities of Albania. (ATA/Albanian Times, January 24)

    [4] Former Communist Officials Summoned For Hearing

    Nine former communist officials, under custody since Sunday, were summoned for a hearing session in Tirana on January 23. Aranit Cela, Simon Stefani, Manush Myftiu, Rrapi Mino, Veiz Haderi, Qemal Bregasi, Llambi Gegprifti, Hekuran Isai and Foto Cami have been accused of crimes against humanity. Prosecutor Shkelqim Ganaj asked the court to change the status of custody from jail to house arrest for the defendants Foto Cami and Aranit Cela due to their poor health and old age. Both of the defendants are over 70. Manush Myftiu also was under home arrest and was not present at the court hearing. The prosecutor asked that Hekuran Isai, Simon Stefani and Rrapi Mino remain in jail as a security measure. Three other defendants Qemal Bregasi, Veiz Haderi and Llambi Gegprifti were abroad and authorities are trying to secure their extradiction in order to carry out the ruling, Ganaj said. The defendants summoned in court opposed the ruling and asked to be investigated under house arrest or in bail. The court decision on their request is expected withing five days. (Albanian Times, January 23)

    [5] Albanian Project Drilling Starts, NEBEX Reports

    NEBEX Resources Ltd. (NBX:ASE) reports that drilling has started in Albania on copper-gold-zinc massive sulphide targets identified on the Mirdita concession, according to Canada Newswire. This initial large-scale drill program on the Albanian project is for 30,000 feet. The contractor, Midwest Drilling of Winnipeg, transported a drill from Canada. Reports of previous drilling included a 3.3 metre intersection which averaged 3.7% copper, 19.4% zinc and 13.96 grams/tonne gold. Another hole had 4.05% metres of 2.3% copper, 17.5% zinc and 7.4 grams/tonne gold. A report by the Company's consulting geologist noted that there are more than 20 known sulphide prospects that require further testing. NEBEX has an option to earn an 80% interest in the Mirdit concession in north-central Albania. Other exploration continues to further evaluate the Mirdita and three other concession areas. NEBEX Resources is a Canadian mining exploration company currently focussed on Albania and the Yellowknife gold camp where follow-up drilling is being carried out on an earlier gold discovery. The Alberta Stock Exchange has neither approved nor disapproved the information contained herein. (CNW, January 23) For further information: Brian Douglas, President, Jim Kelly, Vice-President, 403-262-6064.

    [6] Albanians Jailed In Greece To Complete Terms At Home

    About 790 Albanian inmates held in Greek prisons will complete the remainder of their sentences in their home country, according to Albanian sources quoted by Gazeta Shqiptare. The first group of inmates includes 14 women and 140 teen age offenders. The extradictions are based on the agreement signed by the Justice Ministers of Greece and Albania in Tirana on August 16. The move follows violent incidents in Greek prisons, in which Albanian inmates were reportedly involved. The European Commission recently offered $1,3 million to improve prison conditions in Albania. Meanwhile, on January 21, Greek police arrested 43 Albanian illegal immigrants, including three who were carrying eight kilos of hashish, Athens News Agency reported.

    [7] Albania Imports Grain To Ease Bread Shortage

    Large amounts of grain are being shipped to Albania from neighboring Macedonia at the request of the Albanian government struggling to maintain stable bread prices. Albania has signed a contract with Macedonia on a grain supply amounting to 10,000 tons, officials sources told reporters in Tirana. The government, resisting pressures from grain merchants, has refused to exceed certain bread price limits and is selling bakeries flour at prices lower than international market quotas. Officials say the bread shortage situation is normalizing. (Albanian Times, January 23)

    [8] Balkan Pipeline May Carry Azeri Crude

    A major trans-Balkan pipeline planned to carry Russian, Azeri and Kazakh crude could be a major supplier for oil-hungry Europe, Reuter reported on January 22. By the middle of next year, early crude oil exports from a huge $8 billion project should have started flowing through Russia and out of the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. It is the long term production from this project and others which Vuko Tashkovich, the president of the Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian Oil Corp (AMBO) is targeting as part of his plans to build and operate a trans-Balkan pipeline from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. The company intends to build a 567 mile pipeline from Bourgas on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast to Albania's Vlore on the Adriatic Sea, but only if it can win the backing of the foreign companies operating in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and secure the support of Russian firms. Tashkovich is undeterred by the competition. He says the AMBO route would cut the cost of transporting former Soviet crude to refiners in the Mediterranean and the United States and alleviate congestion in the already crowded Bosphorus strait. "Our prices will be competitive with tankers," he told Reuters. While he claims Azerbaijan and certain foreign lenders have expressed an interest in the route, he acknowledged this has not yet amounted to any sort of commitment and admits the interest from the foreign oil companies has at best been lukewarm. "The western oil companies are very cautious, especially Chevron (the major foreign operator In Kazakhstan). They are treading very carefully," said Tashkovich. The Azeri oil consortium is not expected to make any sort of decision on the long term export route from the Caspian at least until next year. (Reuter/Albanian Times, January 22)

    [9] Respect Land Deadline, Officials Warn

    Albanian officials have called on all land beneficiaries to speed up submitting property identification papers before the March 31 deadline. The would be owners are required by a government commission to present identification papers in order to actually own the share of land they have been given "for use". They also include former land owners expropriated by the communist regime who are claiming compensation. However, many claimants have refused to accept the government allocated share raising problems with the quality of land or its distance from the market. The commission has warned that the deadline should be respected or "the opportunity to receive free land from the state would be missed". The deadline was set by the parliament in legislation passed last December. The Minister of Agriculture and Food Hasan Halili told reporters that after the deadline, all land without proper identification will become government property and will be put for sale or lease. (Albanian Times, January 22)

    [10] EU Funds Vaccination Campaign in Albania

    The European Commission is funding a project in Albania worth 150,000 ECU to vaccinate children against polio, a Commission press release said on January 22. The aid, channelled via the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), will enable an Italian non-governmental organisation, Associazione Italiana per la Solidarieta tra i Popoli (AISPO), to vaccinate 350,000 children nationwide under the age of five. The grant will pay for vaccine, a cold chain and a health education campaign. ECHO's partners in the field will work closely with Albania's Ministry of Health. The project is scheduled to last four months and is in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) plan to eradicate polio in Albania by the year 2,000. The European Commission agreed to put nearly three million European currency units ($3.75 million) into a range of humanitarian aid projects in east and central Europe. (Albanian Times, January 22)

    [11] Tirana Craft Company Back to Work

    Albania's biggest handicraft enterprize has resumed operation after a three year long shutdown, Radio Tirana reported. The company, Ndermarrja Artistike Migjeni, was partialy bought by a family business and is employing about 400 people. The owner, Ismail Gjura, has been investing with 5 foreign companies after some heavy remodelling in the shabby factory structures. With silver crafts for starters, Gjura hopes to expand his operation in other yet unprivatized sections of the enterprize - embroydery and copper ware. Company officials have blamed city authorities for procrastination.(Albanian Times, January 23)

    [12] Former President Alia Called to Testify

    Albania's prosecutor's office has again called former communist president Ramiz Alia as a witness to testify on a shooting incident 5 years ago when he held office. The hearing is related to the slaying of 3 anti-communist protesters in Shkodra on April 2, 1991 and other charges raised by a so-called Forum of Intellectuals. Alia, who until last year was in jail for abuse of power may be put again under arrest, according to reports. The number of former communist officials arrested on charges of political persecution while in power before 1990, has climbed to 30 since December with 9 other former officials arrested on January 20, Reuter reported. The officials were charged with expulsions and deportations which trespassed the two communist constitutions of the period in which they held office. The arrested include former politbureau members, a former supreme court chairman, and communist party leaders. The charges could lead to jail sentences ranging from 15 years to life. (Albanian Times, January 22)

    [13] Albanian Teen Dies, Others Injured in Fleeing Attempt

    A 17 year old Albanian boy died and more than two dozen were injured during an attempt to flee to Italy on board of an inflatable boat which caught fire 5 miles from the southern port of Vlora, Radio Tirana reported on January 21. The incident occurred 5 days ago, the radio said. The Albanians, trying to reach Italy in search of jobs, were rescued by the Italian vessel "Laura Express", patrolling the channel between Vlora and the Italian port of Otranto. The injured were taken to a Vlora hospital. There is no word on their condition.

    [14] Tirana Court Orders Arrest of Former Communist Officials

    A Tirana court ordered the arrest of nine former officials for alleged crimes during the communist regime, Albanian media reported on January 20. Former politbureau members Simon Stefani, Manush Muftiu, Llambi Gegprifti, Foto Cami and Hekuran Isai are among the persons whose arrest was ordered. They are part of a long list of former officials accused of trespassing the constitutions of the period in which they served and of committing crimes against the population. The list containing 36 names was prepared by a group of intellectuals and includes former President Ramiz Alia. No court order has been released for the arrest of Alia who has already served prison term for abuse of public funds. A court order for the arrest of 14 other former officials was released last month. (Albanian Times, January 20)

    [15] Austria's Klestil Pledges Support for Albania

    Austria will support a start of negociations on Albania's eventual admission to the Europian Union, Albanian President's office said on January 20. The statement came after a meeting in Vienna between Albanian President Sali Berisha and Austrian President Thomas Klestil. Klestil said it would be reciprocally beneficial if powerful and successful Austrian companies invest in Albania. He promised more investments in support of Albania's backward infrastructure, Berisha's office said. Berisha, returning from a China trip, praised relations with Austria, saying "they correspond with the friendship between the two countries." (Albanian Times, January 20)

    [16] Berisha Gets High Marks In Opinion Poll

    A survey conducted by U.S. polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, shows that President Sali Berisha has a strong approval rating with over 40 percent of voter support, Reuter reported on January 20. About 41 percent of those interviewed said they would vote for Berisha and his Democratic Party and 19 percent said they supported the opposition socialists and their jailed leader leader Fatos Nano. About 16 percent of voters were undecided or declined to respond. The poll shows 61 percent of eligible voters had a favourable impression of Berisha, while 37 percent said their impression was unfavourable. Two percent were undecided. The general elections will likely take place in May and must be held in the first half of 1996. The date will be set once Albania's parliament is dissolved in March. In 1992, Berisha's Democratic Party won 62 percent of the vote, with 65.71 percent of the seats in the 140-member parliament. The Socialists won 25.73 percent, with only 27.14 percent of seats. International financial organisations have praised Albania's economic record since the democrat take over, reining in galloping inflation to six percent a year in 1995, boosting economic growth and keeping a stable exchange rate for the local currency, the lek. The new opinion poll showed 66 percent of voters were satisfied with the progress of economic reforms, while 33 percent were not. The survey polled 1,050 eligible voters across Albania from December 4 to 16, 1995.

    [17] New Greek Premier Set For Change

    New Prime Minister Costas Simitis's new cabinet is likely to focus on turning around Greece's ailing economy and keeping the ruling socialist party united, Reuter reported on January 20. Simitis, 59, a German-educated lawyer and economist faces the tough task of bringing in enough younger reformists to push for change and keeping enough of the old guard to hold the party together. He is an advocate of more development funds, more privatisation and greater compliance with European Union standards. Simitis is expected to make sweeping changes not only at major ministries but on the boards of state companies and banks. The most striking change is likely to be at the foreign ministry where Papandreou's personal friend Karolos Papoulias looks set to pass the portfolio to Theodoros Pangalos, the outspoken former European Affairs minister. The new premier has called for a less emotional approach to Greece's fragile relations with Balkan neighbours Albania and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, saying economic ties should be strengthened. He will swear in the government on January 20.

    [18] Tirana Hails Choice of Greek PM

    Albanian Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi welcomed the election of Costas Simitis as Greece's new prime minister and said he hoped the Albanian-Greek relations will be a model for cooperation in the region and beyond, Radio Tirana reported. Albanian-Greek relations have shown signs of improvements since last spring after a bitter dispute in 1994 when Albania convicted five ethnic Greeks on espionage charges. This month, Albanian President Sali Berisha lifted visa requirements for Greek citizens although Albanians still require visas for Greece. An estimated 300,000 Albanians have illegally entered the country in recent years mostly in search of seasonal jobs. (Albanian Times, January 19)

    [19] Albania in Berlin's Green Week Fair

    Liquors, honey, olive oil, fish and vegetables are Albania's major items in Berlin's Green Week Fair. Albanian officials say they are trying to improve marketing techniques, a lesson they have drawn from last year's participation. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is acting as coordinatior for the Albanian private companies which are exhibiting their produce on their own expenses, officials said. (Albanian Times, January 19))

    [20] Officials Move Ahead With Privatization Scheme

    Many Albanian hesitate to invest their privatization vouchers, Radio Tirana reported. About 30 percent of vouchers distributed so far have not been invested. Vouchers have dropped 20-22 percent in real value and many think this is not the right time to invest. Vouchers are going through a lot of unregulated trading which officials do not consider illegal. In an attempt to speed up privatization, the government is encouraging people to visit Savings Bank branches in their living areas to withdraw their share. Citizens of Tirana and Albanian citizens living abroad have until the end of January to withdraw their vouchers, officials say. the government has set the end of June as the deadline when all vouchers must have been invested or they would turn into valueless paper. (Albanian Times, January 20)

    [21] Berisha Says China Visit Important

    President Sali Berisha described his three day China tour as very important and a complete success. "In talks with President Jiang Zemin we agreed to enhance political and economic cooperation" Berisha told TV interviewers in Beijing. "I asked the President (Jiang Zemin) to encourage Chinese investments in Albania and I presented him the real possibilities that exists in Albania for foreign investments," Berisha said adding that President Jiang was willing to renegotiate Albania's debt to China, estimated at $35 million. Trade between the two countries amounts to $20 million, up from 1992. Recalling past ideological friendship between the two communist governments, Berisha said China gave Albania a precious aid but it was mismanaged by the Albanian leadership of that time. This is the highests ranking visit by an Albanian official to China since the two countries broke apart in late 70s. (Albanian Times, January 18)

    [22] Hungarian President to Discuss Economic Ties in Tirana

    Hungarian President Arpad Goncz will focus on economic issues when he visits Albania this month, a Hungarian diplomat told reporters in Tirana. Hyngary is willing to deepen economic cooperation with Albania, the secretary of the Hungarian embassy in Tirana Shandor Abai said. A big team of investors which will accompany the President during his visit from January 24 to 26, will seek specific possibilities to invest in Albania, the Hungarian diplomat said. The two sides are expected to sign agreements on lifting reciprocal taxation and protecting investments, the official said. The agreements aim at improving trade relations between Hungary and Albania which according to Mr. Abai have been declining in the recent years. Albania's biggest trade partner is Italy followed by Greece. Statistics show that Albania's trade with other former European countries is rather insignificant. (Albanian Times, January 18)

    The material was reprinted with permission of AlbAmerica Trade & Consulting

    International. For more information on ATCI and the Albanian Times, please

    write to AlbaTimes@aol.com

    Copyright (c) ATCI, 1996

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