Election 2000: the political campaign
Albania is finding it difficult to shed the mentality of the previous Communist dictatorship, as the competing political parties continue to be associated with individual strongmen leaders. This has been particularly evident recently on the part of both the ruling Socialist Party and it main opposition, the Democratic Party, led respectively by former premier Fatos Nano and former president Sali Berisha, whose strong individual differences affects Albanian politics adversely.
Socialist Party President Fatos Nano, remarking that a victory in the upcoming 1 October elections will be a challenge for better Socialist governance, couldn't refrain from saying that the Socialists were introducing their platform with an attitude quite different from the Democrats' hoarse shouting, manipulation of figures, and robbing of the government. Not long ago, Nano, campaigning in southern Albania near the Greek and Macedonian borders, accused his primary opponent Sali Berisha of seeing every Greek and Macedonian citizen as an enemy of Albania.
Berisha, the authoritarian president of the Democratic Party, which along with its smaller political party allies governs the opposition coalition, did not miss this opportunity to address the undecided electorate, which is dominated by people dissatisfied with the current Socialist governance. The Democratic Party does see Greece and Macedonia as necessary partners for Albania, he said—but couldn't resist adding that when the Democratic Party comes to power Fatos Nano will leave the country for Thessalonica!
On the whole, the two main political party leaders do not seem too far apart in this regard, especially when considering how each man dominates the inner workings of his party. During his years in power (1992 to 1997), Berisha evidenced a style of leadership based on the authoritarian and populist traditions that still dominate this post-Communist country. It should be said that the ruling leftist Socialists' program, headed by Fatos Nano, has made an effort to adapt to the requests of various international bodies and in this regard is not much different from the opposition Democrats of the centre-right.
US Ambassador appeals for calm campaign
"Albania's political parties have the responsibility of not using their political platforms to incite violence or menace the public order," said American Ambassador Joseph Limprecht in remarks to the seminar "Legal State and Public Order in Albania," in which President Rexhep Mejdani and many members of parliament participated. In his speech, Limprecht said it is unacceptable for the competing parties or their leaders to create a dangerous atmosphere that could pose difficulties for the OSCE and other organizations that are trying to help Albania develop a normal democratic electoral process.
Army chief replaced
Rexhep Mejdani, President of the Republic and General Commander of the Standing Army, has replaced Army Chief Aleks Andoni with Brigadier General Pellumb Qazimi. "You are taking on this new duty at a time when new a impetus is needed in the integration of our army with NATO," said Mejdani in his nomination of the new army chief. US Ambassador to Albania Joseph Limprecht hailed the appointment of Qazimi, a graduate of London's Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, as a positive step.
USA again supports Corridor 8 project
Dede Kola, spokesperson of the Economic and Commercial Cooperation (ECC) Ministry, has announced that ECC Minister Ermelinda Meksi is participating in the international Southeast Europe Energy and Transportation Conference, being held in Philadelphia. Kola said that "the Americans expressed once more their interests in energy and transportation projects in the region, and specifically in (the East-West) Corridor 8." On behalf of the Stability Pact, Meksi presented to the conference the Albanian projects being developed for the seaports of Durrës and Vlorë, as well as the road-building projects that will link the Albanian coast with Macedonia.
TRP comments on the University of Tetovo
According to the office of the Transnational Radical Party (TRP) in Tirana, European Council President Pierre Moscovici has promised the support of the European Union for the privately-run University of Tetovo, an Albanian-language institution of higher education in Macedonia. Moscovici expressed the EU's support in response to a recent query from European Parliament member Olivier Dupuis, who is also general secretary of the TRP.
French Minister Moscovici applauded the good will of Macedonian politicians for cooperating on sensitive questions such as this and affirmed his conviction that the Macedonian authorities will work toward stabilising the development of the new university. OSCE representative for minorities, Van der Stoel, will work with the Macedonians to help attract donors from the European Community and its member states.
European Parliament Members Dupuis and Doris Pack, during budgetary proceedings for 2001, presented an amendment to the EP's Foreign Affairs Committee calling for a pledge of EUR 10 million from the amount allotted to the Western Balkans to help co-finance the University of Tetovo. "Such an initiative would be a concrete response to the new law on university education adopted by the Macedonian parliament last July," reads a statement released by the TRP in Tirana, "according to which instruction in languages other than Macedonian can be offered. The new law will allow the Albanian-speaking community of Macedonia to have access to university."
New documentary on US Albanians
Researcher Nasho Jorgaqi and director Adem Belliu will begin shooting a film on Albanians in the US during the next few weeks in New York City. Jorgaqi told a reporter from the newspaper Shekulli that most of the screenplay is already concluded and that the stories told by Albanian immigrants in the United States will fill in significant and personal details.
Artur Nura, 15 September 2000
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