Albania in the 21st Century

In January 2001, Yugoslavia resumed diplomatic relations with Albania, which had broken off during the Kosovo war in April 1999. Armed actions by extremist Albanian irregulars in Macedonia (so-called National Liberation Army, UÇK) and Serbia (so-called Liberation Army of Preševo, Medvedja and Bujanovać, UÇMB) provoked a new Balkan crisis, which escalated from January 2001 and only in the summer of the same year with the Treaty of Ohrid / Skopje was defused.

In the parliamentary elections on June 25 and July 9, 2001, the PSSh clearly won; The reform-oriented Meta was once again commissioned as Prime Minister to form a government in August, but resigned on January 29, 2002 after internal party disputes with the traditionalists over nano. On February 22nd, Majko was elected as his successor, on June 24th, 2002 Alfred Moisiu (* 1929) as candidate of the government and opposition for the new president (sworn in on July 24th). The agreement with Berisha made it possible for Nano to take over the office of Prime Minister again on July 26th, after Majko had announced his resignation on July 25th. Meta became deputy and foreign minister, but gave up his ministerial office again in July 2003 after renewed internal differences. With an emphatically pro-American policy, impoverished Albania tried to secure urgently needed Western financial aid and future affiliation with the EU.

In the parliamentary elections on July 3, 2005, the PDSh became the strongest force. Its chairman, the previous opposition leader Berisha, formed a coalition government as prime minister with the involvement of the Republican Party (PRSh). As a first step on the way to EU membership, Albania and the EU signed a Stability and Association Agreement on June 12, 2006. Berisha when the EU signed, pledged further reforms, in particular cracking down on corruption and organized crime. The local elections ended on February 18, 2007 with a respectable success for the opposition left alliance. The alliance, led by the PSSh, appointed the mayor of the majority of the twelve district capitals, including the provincial capital Tirana; the right-wing camp around the PDSh, which has ruled since 2005, achieved successes in small towns and in the countryside. The election was preceded by months of disputes over the electoral process. The election of the state president also became a political issue. With the victory of Bamir Topi (* 1957), the deputy chairman of the PDSh, in the fourth ballot on July 20, 2007, the left’s strategy of boycotting parliamentary elections after five unsuccessful ballots failed. Topi took office on July 24, 2007. In June 2007, G. W. Bush was the first US president to visit the country. On April 1st, 2009 Albania became a member of NATO, on April 28th, 2009 Albania officially applied to join the EU.

According to necessaryhome, the parliamentary elections on June 28, 2009 resulted in a stalemate. The Alliance for Change, led by Prime Minister Berisha’s PDSh, became the strongest force (70 of 140 seats). The “Union for Change” alliance led by E. Rama by the PSSh had 66 seats. The LSI won 4 mandates. Berisha formed a coalition government with the involvement of the previously opposition LSI. The parliament confirmed the new cabinet on September 17, 2009. The socialists spoke of election fraud. Their MPs boycotted the work of the representative body. The economy was relatively stable despite the global financial and economic crisis. The banking sector also got away largely unscathed, but the inflow of money from Albanians abroad declined. The conflict between the government and the opposition in the wake of the 2009 parliamentary elections continued in 2010. The narrowly defeated PSSh stuck to its allegations of election fraud and continued to boycott the work of parliament. Socialist supporters demonstrated for a recount of votes. On November 8, 2010, the EU interior ministers lifted the visa requirement for Albanians. In January 2011 riots broke out in Tirana after an opposition rally. Four people were shot dead by the security forces. Berisha then accused Rama of attempting a coup, while the latter, conversely, blamed his political opponent for the escalation. In February 2011, the police were able to thwart an attempt on Rama. The local elections on May 8, 2011 were also considered to be a test of democracy internationally. In Tirana, after the vote, the incumbent mayor of many years, Rama, was just ahead. After evaluating further ballots thrown in the wrong ballot box, the government candidate was declared the election winner despite violent protests by the opposition. In early September 2011, Rama announced the return of the opposition to parliament, v. a. with a view to Albania’s possible accession to the EU. However, in view of the political instability, the EU progress report of October 12, 2011 still ruled out accession negotiations. Problems in the economic area were also caused by the high national debt, corruption and the still poor infrastructure. The domestic political crisis that has persisted since the parliamentary elections in 2009 continued in 2012. The PSSh stuck to its election fraud allegations. Despite a request from the EU, the government and opposition failed to agree on a consensus candidate to succeed President Bamir Topi. On June 11, 2012, the parliament elected the PDSh politician B. Nishani in the fourth ballot for the new President (swearing in: July 24, 2012). In October 2012, the EU Commission recommended granting the country candidate status.

In April 2013, Prime Minister Berisha had to reshuffle his cabinet after the LSI left the government in the run-up to the parliamentary elections to join the opposition. In these elections, which took place on June 23, 2013. the opposition alliance »Alliance for a European Albania«, dominated by the socialists under E. Rama, won 84 seats on June 23, 2013. The “Alliance for Employment, Prosperity and Integration”, under the leadership of Prime Minister Berisha’s PDSh, only had 56 seats. The newly formed coalition cabinet consisting of PSSh, LSI, PBDNJ and PKD under the leadership of E. Rama was confirmed by Parliament on September 15, 2013. In June 2014, the country received a traffic jam from an EU candidate country. As a prerequisite for such negotiations, the EU Commission made, among other things, Administrative and judicial reforms. The differences between Albania and Serbia v. a. regarding the recognition of the former Serbian province of Kosovo as an independent state continued. Nevertheless, there were further rapprochements. On May 27, 2015, A. Vučić, the Serbian Prime Minister, was a guest in Albania. In November 2014, Prime Minister E. Rama made a historic visit to Belgrade.

After months of debate, the parliament decided on July 22, 2016 to reform the country’s judiciary. The move was expressly welcomed by the EU. Disputes between the government and the opposition over the implementation of the judicial reform and a possible reform of the electoral law increasingly weighed on domestic politics. On February 18, 2017, there were mass protests in Tirana. a. the opposition PDSh and its supporters against the government. Over 100,000 people took part in the demonstration. By Lulzim Basha (* 1971) The PDSh led to boycott parliamentary work and preparations for the parliamentary elections planned for June 18, 2017. The center of the extra-parliamentary protest was a tent in front of the Prime Minister’s office. The PDSh and its supporters called for the resignation of Prime Minister Rama and the formation of a transitional cabinet. Attempts at mediation by the EU between the warring political camps initially remained unsuccessful. On April 28, 2017, under the boycott of the PDSh, parliament elected the previous speaker of parliament and former head of government I. Meta from the LSI to succeed B. Nishani in the office of President. In response to international pressure, the government and the PDSh reached an agreement on 17/18. 5. 2017 on a compromise to resolve the domestic political crisis. The opposition party put an end to its protests, returned to parliament and confirmed that it would participate in the parliamentary election, which has now been postponed to June 25, 2017. In return, a cabinet reshuffle took place on May 22, 2017 to ensure a fair election process, in which the PDSh was able to appoint six ministers and the deputy head of government. In the parliamentary election, the PDSh recorded its historically worst result, gaining around 28.9% of the votes and 43 seats. The PSSh was able to gain significantly compared to the last election and achieved an absolute majority with a result of around 48.3% of the votes and 74 seats. The third largest parliamentary force was the LSI with around 14.3% of the vote and 19 seats. On July 24, 2017 I. Meta sworn in in the office of President. E. Rama formed a new cabinet supported only by the PSSh, which was ratified by Parliament on September 13, 2017.

Albania in the 21st Century