Does Fatos Nano want the Presidential Office or the Leadership of the Socialist Party?

By Tirana Times Editorial Staff A year ago, when Fatos Nano resigned from the leadership of the Socialist Party, few believed that the man that led the Albanian left through good times and bad would quit active politics forever. His

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Much ado, for 1 Euro

By Ilir Ciko The latest “Albania 1 Euro” proposal created an unnecessary debate among economists who struggled to argue about the cons and pros which this proposal would generate for the Albanian economy. Given the lack of long term vision

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VMRO model and SP

By Ilir Kulla When the right wing Macedonian party VMRO-DPMNE (Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity), went over to the Opposition, very few people thought it would make a quick come-back. There were also rumors for a long time afterwards

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Kosova’s final status ritual

By Janusz Bugajski The status of Kosova cannot be resolved between Prishtina and Belgrade. Unfortunately, Belgrade refuses to admit that it is not a relevant factor in Kosova’s future and as a result international actors are conducting an elaborate diplomatic

Read Full Article
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                    [post_content] => By Tirana Times Editorial Staff
A year ago, when Fatos Nano resigned from the leadership of the Socialist Party, few believed that the man that led the Albanian left through good times and bad would quit active politics forever.  His resignation on September 2005 was seen as temporary or a tactical withdrawal in order to make a comeback at a more opportune moment.  One of the scenarios talked about was a return to politics after the possible loss of local elections by the Socialist Party.  According to this scenario, Nano would blame the new leadership of the SP and especially its young Chairman, Edi Rama.  Since Nano had created the precedent of leadership rotation after a loss in elections, the victory of the governing majority in the elections should have triggered Rama's resignation or increased pressures within the party for him to step down.  Rama is particularly vulnerable to such a defeat since he is also mayor of Tirana municipality.  
Yet, local elections have not taken place, the new leader of the Socialist Party has not lost any important political battles and Nano is already back in the limelight.  He has accused Rama of ineffective opposition to the present government although there has been no public test as yet of his ineffectiveness.  According to Nano, Rama is following Berisha's heavy-handed style of leadership within the SP.  Since the accuser has been unable or too lazy to elaborate on his accusations, they remain unfounded on hard facts or deductive argument.  But the rich political CV of Fatos Nano shows that he has quit the party twice and both times was able to comeback.  This is the third attempt, but circumstances have changed.
Since his resignation, the ex-Chairman of the Socialist Party has not been present in Albanian politics.  His chair as Member of Parliament remained empty and he was missing from the extra-parliamentary give-and-takes of political life as well.  It was as if he never existed.  Yet talk of his comeback as future President of the country never subsided. So, does Nano want to be President or leader of the Socialist Party?
Parliament will have to choose the new President next June and it seems unlikely he will come from the ranks of the center right coalition. The eighty four votes needed seem to necessitate a consensus with at least a faction of the 'united opposition.'  Will Fatos Nano provide that faction?
In order to be president, Nano need not seek the leadership of the Socialist Party.  All he needs is his own vote as a member of parliament, that of his followers in parliament and the blessing of the ruling majority which is one or two votes shy of the magical number 84.  The pie is large enough for both sides: if Nano becomes President, he can come back with the laurels of a "father of the nation" while Berisha dodges the bullet of early parliamentary elections.  Yet, the right-wing laurels would not fit well the traditional leader of the left.  This proposition is too unethical even for the strange habits of Albanian politics.  Nano would need a sizable backing from a considerable segment of the present opposition in order to become president.  In other words, he needs to dominate the socialist caucus and deny the presidential office to any candidate that does not get his approval.  
But, if Nano can go so far as to act as the referee deciding the presidential game, than why should he not attempt to get back the leadership of the party?  That way he would come to power not as a symbolic head of state but as a Prime Ministerشhe most important seat of power in the Republic.
In both cases Nano will need to dominate the socialist parliamentary group.  Whatever the early moves of his comeback, the real battle will be for the hearts and minds of the socialist members of parliament.  That is, Nano's reentry in politics will be a battle for the SP leadership that may harm the party's chances in the upcoming local elections and splinter its electoral message or the party itself.  We have to wait and see.
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                    [post_content] => By Ilir Ciko
The latest "Albania 1 Euro" proposal created an unnecessary debate among economists who struggled to argue about the cons and pros which this proposal would generate for the Albanian economy. Given the lack of long term vision on Albanian economic perspectives, the debate needs to be focused on these perspectives and not miss the point.
The 1 Euro proposal is not an idea of Mr. Berisha, - neither is it new. Promotions aiming to attract investments, both domestic and especially by foreign sources, have been used in many transition countries in the past and often they have been successful. Albania is not an exception. The Albanian legislation is considered to be very supportive for the promotion of foreign investments and even more generous in this aspect as compared to other countries in the region. By the same token, similar promotions have been used in the past and thanks to their success some hundred million Euros have been injected in the Albanian economy and as a result, more than ten thousand Albanians find themselves employed at fruitful partnerships between private investments and public properties. No matter that today that exactly such successes in the past have been a preferred target for political criticism.
If it is true that in other countries in the past and in Albania as well, such methods for investments promotion proved to work, then there should be no question on their validity for the future. Whilst it is useless to debate on the ownership of such ideas, which are explained in details in every undergraduate microeconomics textbook, the key point with the 1 Euro idea at this moment is not in what it brings, but in what it is missing.
This because businesses in Albania have repeatedly said that their problems have nothing to do with the costs of registering a business, nor with the costs of physical entry to Albania, nor with the high cost of land or water. The problems of Albania are those which everybody foreign or not knows: lack of secure electricity supply, inadequate infrastructure, lack of water, lengthy and bureaucratic procedures, weak capacities of public administration and even worse of political parties, uncertain land ownership, non-performing and deformed market institutions mainly due to existence of artificial monopolies and (wrong) state interventions in the market, in addition to the corruption which is invisible and everywhere found. All these problems are the main theme of every international report on Albania, including reports prepared by the Albanian Government.
Under such conditions and constrained by limited budget, every government has to set priorities for intervening in the market. If aiming to make any correction at all, every step made must take in consideration the real needs the private investors have in Albania; otherwise everything would be just waste of efforts. In other words, not 1 Euro nor a 1 cent incentive - but even paying foreign investors to come to Albania simply won't work if they will not be sure if tomorrow they'll have 10 or 15 hours electricity supply.
The latest proposal on 1 Euro package is missing the real debate with what problems businesses have to invest in Albania. All such promises were part of the electoral promises that brought victory to the DP in the last elections and most of them were part of the government's program which is approaching its first year of implementation. Sadly, on all such promises, very little if anything at all has been achieved. You could just travel from Shkoder to Saranda to observe how many hours per day of electricity supply receives the national economy or try to get a birth certificate and see how much time, efforts and money is wasted. More than enough to understand that whilst others are progressing ahead, we stay in stand-by position and in some aspects, regress. Another example: although much has been said about monopolies, they are still alive and perhaps even in better shape than a year ago. Because for a careful analyzer it is not difficult to find out that not only promises are not maintained, but in cases such as monopolies, there is clear evidence for the consolidation of new monopolies of different types, which today dominate the Albanian market.
For this reasons the 'new reform' 1 Euro doesn't bring anything new for the Albanian economy but it sounds more as the latest invention which is expected to fascinate and make us forget about past promises on monopolies, corruption, electricity, land for emigrants, VAT and tax reductions etc. And as such it is not difficult to imagine that a few months later it would be followed by some other promises. Sort of like offering electricity for 1 Euro or anything else that may be thought up by a state which continuously reinvents the wheel on paper but forgets to do the basic things which the people demand of it.
                    [post_title] =>  Much ado, for 1 Euro 
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                    [post_content] => By Ilir Kulla
When the right wing Macedonian party VMRO-DPMNE (Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity), went over to the Opposition, very few people thought it would make a quick come-back. There were also rumors for a long time afterwards that the VMRO-DPMNE was heading towards disintegration. It is a fact that the moral and political cost for the VMRO was very high. It had managed a country, which from an important period of stability and economic prosperity had slid into a situation of armed civil and military conflict and had then slunk away, its tail between its legs, following the Ohrid Agreement and its loss in the 2002 elections. 
Such names as Lube Boshkovski not only disappeared from the political scene, but they even ended up on trial for war crimes at The Hague. The several months long conflict bore an exceptionally heavy cost for the none to wealth pockets of  the Macedonians; about 1.5 billion dollars, from which a good part was spent on buying tanks and helicopters from the Ukraine. But the situation change very swiftly.
Following the withdrawal of its leader Lubco Georgevski, the VMRO-DPMNE, restructured and purged the whole party, from the leaders in the centre down to the base. Nikola Gruevski, who was elected Chairman and came as former Finance Minister in the  VMRO Government focused on stimulating and supporting new and young figures, who, not only had sound moral integrity, but were financially supported by the party to improve their qualifications, with Masters Degrees and specialization courses in the West. The results were not late in showing. Two years after the VMRO had gone over to the Opposition, the process of structuring and modernizing had progressed a great deal. In the local elections, the VMRO won the municipality of Skopje and four years later, it won the general elections, returning to power. Irrespective of the fact that the governance of the Left wing was successful in general, once again the young and fresh team Grueviski lined up in the elections, arose more trust in the people and swept this party back into office in neighboring Macedonia. 
In the Socialist Party of Albania, following the resignation of Mr. Nano, the former founding leader and Prime Minister of the country and of the left wing Majority, a young politician was elected Chairman of the SP, up until that time a successful administrator of the Municipality of Tirana. However, straight after his election, the vital process of the reform of the Socialist Party was bought to a halt and the conservative course within the SP hardened even further. Apart from the Chairman, the majority of the other members of the leading structures of the SP are still the same much consumed figures of the past eight years of socialist governments. This raises serious question marks about the ability of the Opposition to make itself credible to both the Internationals and the local public if it decides to line up a new governing team made up of the consumed political figures of the SP. Perhaps the example of the VMRO in the neighboring country of Macedonia is of value for the Albanian Opposition too as a successful model worthy of copying.
The author is an independent annalist 

                    [post_title] =>  VMRO model and SP 
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                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
The status of Kosova cannot be resolved between Prishtina and Belgrade. Unfortunately, Belgrade refuses to admit that it is not a relevant factor in Kosova's future and as a result international actors are conducting an elaborate diplomatic ritual prior to recognizing Kosova as an independent state.
The ritual consists of three elements: negotiations, pressures, and promises. The objective of the ritual is also threefold: to demonstrate that Kosova's independence is the only viable option; that Serbia has participated in the process, and that the outcome is internationally legitimate.
Negotiations are conducted to show that at serious dialogue is underway. Pressures are exerted on both the Serbian and Kosovar sides to continue talking. Promises are given that willingness to compromise in the non-status discussions on decentralization and minority rights will be rewarded. 
The only surprise in this process is that the Serbian government believes that it can affect the outcome through intransigence and threats. Such tactics play into the hands of international mediators who simply underscore that Serbian leaders are living in the past and out of touch with reality.
However, if Serbia were to boycott the status talks then it would lose all international credibility. Serbia's best option would be to recognize Kosova's independence in return for concrete benefits from the EU, NATO, the U.S., and other major international players.
This is not a question of "selling out" Kosova, as it is not Serbia's to sell, but of conducting a rational cost-benefit analysis. Belgrade's openness to Kosova's independence would greatly raise Serbia's international status. It would open up investment possibilities and contribute to transforming the country from a Balkan problem to a Balkan pivot.
Prime Minister Kostunica's assertion that Serbia will never give up Kosova is a self-defeating political tactic Moreover, Kostunica's threat that Kosova's independence would bring the Radicals to power also has the reverse effect. EU and U.S. leaders are not impressed by the message that if Serbia does not get what it wants then it will destabilize itself and start another war. Such a scenario could actually lead to the loss of even more territory.
Even while it faces the inevitable, Belgrade engages in a "propaganda of success" campaign for its domestic audience and claims that its position has impressed the international audience. The Serbian government is also engaged in an amateurish media offensive in the West by demonizing Albanians as "Islamic radicals" who will allegedly create a "terrorist state" in Europe. Such disinformation will further stiffen U.S. resolve that Serbia is manipulating the specter of international terrorism for its own political ambitions.
Serbia is not Russia and being a lightweight on the international stage it cannot claim that Kosova is another Chechnya and be allowed to swallow the territory and eradicate the independence movement. If Serbia's only contribution to the global anti-terrorist campaign is to distract attention by claiming that the most pro-American population in the Balkans are actually anti-American terrorists then Belgrade's credibility will plummet. Indeed, by demonizing Albanians as Islamic extremists, Belgrade is deliberately damaging relations between moderate Muslims and Christians.
For international representatives, Kosova's status is to be resolved this year. Once the Contact Group confirms its agreement over the political solution, then the UN Security Council will vote for a timetable of supervised independence. UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari is likely to recommend independence, arguing that because the two sides cannot reach a compromise while urgent decisions need to be made, the only durable option is independence based on the principles of self-determination.
China will abstain and Russia will not vehemently oppose the initiative but will seek to use the Kosova case to its own advantage in the South Caucasus. Russia's alleged Slavic Orthodox solidarity with Serbia exists in the realm of myth. Throughout history Muscovy has been primarily concerned with projecting its own great power ambitions regardless of temporary alliances and it is time for Serbia to face this reality as well.
                    [post_title] =>  Kosova's final status ritual 
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            [post_content] => By Tirana Times Editorial Staff
A year ago, when Fatos Nano resigned from the leadership of the Socialist Party, few believed that the man that led the Albanian left through good times and bad would quit active politics forever.  His resignation on September 2005 was seen as temporary or a tactical withdrawal in order to make a comeback at a more opportune moment.  One of the scenarios talked about was a return to politics after the possible loss of local elections by the Socialist Party.  According to this scenario, Nano would blame the new leadership of the SP and especially its young Chairman, Edi Rama.  Since Nano had created the precedent of leadership rotation after a loss in elections, the victory of the governing majority in the elections should have triggered Rama's resignation or increased pressures within the party for him to step down.  Rama is particularly vulnerable to such a defeat since he is also mayor of Tirana municipality.  
Yet, local elections have not taken place, the new leader of the Socialist Party has not lost any important political battles and Nano is already back in the limelight.  He has accused Rama of ineffective opposition to the present government although there has been no public test as yet of his ineffectiveness.  According to Nano, Rama is following Berisha's heavy-handed style of leadership within the SP.  Since the accuser has been unable or too lazy to elaborate on his accusations, they remain unfounded on hard facts or deductive argument.  But the rich political CV of Fatos Nano shows that he has quit the party twice and both times was able to comeback.  This is the third attempt, but circumstances have changed.
Since his resignation, the ex-Chairman of the Socialist Party has not been present in Albanian politics.  His chair as Member of Parliament remained empty and he was missing from the extra-parliamentary give-and-takes of political life as well.  It was as if he never existed.  Yet talk of his comeback as future President of the country never subsided. So, does Nano want to be President or leader of the Socialist Party?
Parliament will have to choose the new President next June and it seems unlikely he will come from the ranks of the center right coalition. The eighty four votes needed seem to necessitate a consensus with at least a faction of the 'united opposition.'  Will Fatos Nano provide that faction?
In order to be president, Nano need not seek the leadership of the Socialist Party.  All he needs is his own vote as a member of parliament, that of his followers in parliament and the blessing of the ruling majority which is one or two votes shy of the magical number 84.  The pie is large enough for both sides: if Nano becomes President, he can come back with the laurels of a "father of the nation" while Berisha dodges the bullet of early parliamentary elections.  Yet, the right-wing laurels would not fit well the traditional leader of the left.  This proposition is too unethical even for the strange habits of Albanian politics.  Nano would need a sizable backing from a considerable segment of the present opposition in order to become president.  In other words, he needs to dominate the socialist caucus and deny the presidential office to any candidate that does not get his approval.  
But, if Nano can go so far as to act as the referee deciding the presidential game, than why should he not attempt to get back the leadership of the party?  That way he would come to power not as a symbolic head of state but as a Prime Ministerشhe most important seat of power in the Republic.
In both cases Nano will need to dominate the socialist parliamentary group.  Whatever the early moves of his comeback, the real battle will be for the hearts and minds of the socialist members of parliament.  That is, Nano's reentry in politics will be a battle for the SP leadership that may harm the party's chances in the upcoming local elections and splinter its electoral message or the party itself.  We have to wait and see.
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