Albania in the Context of the European Economic and Political Crisis

Berisha Takes Power

Berisha and his Democratic Party won the elections again in 2005 and have led the country for 2 terms till 2013. Since the social situation was stabilized to a certain extent, Berisha stayed faithful throughout these years to his neoliberal agenda. First of all, he has constantly tried to control independent institutions such as the general prosecutor, the Presidency, the judiciary and various other institutions. One could say that Berisha has the profile of Erdogan to a certain extent.

  • He has implemented a flat tax of 10% on corporate income—one of the first countries to do this in the region.
  • Public properties are sold in ridiculously low prices, from parks to army barracks.
  • Healthcare is supposed to be affordable to Albanians, but due to the lack of investments by the Government, people are forced to go and get their treatment from newly opened private hospitals unaffordable to Albanian families.
  • His government has invested only in infrastructure, more specifically on highways and roads, and has reduced the funds for the local government. Some successful investments are done actually in agriculture helping the farmers.
  • Based on the recommandations of IMF to fight the effects of the crisis, his government has reduced the public administration by 10% and the administrative spending by 25%.
  • A new financial reform was planned for the higher education where the public budget on higher education will be divided between public and private universities in the name of fair competition

On March 15th, 2008, 26 people died in a village near Tirana due to an explosion in a factory where army shells were being dismantled by villagers without any safe working conditions working on behalf of NATO suggestions to dismantle the arms of the Dictatorship Era. Natural resources like chrome and oil are exploited viciously by monopolistic companies related with Berisha and his family. An example of this is the city of Bulqiza with the so-called death-mines. We are periodically informed that a miner has died inside the galleries working under miserable conditions. The city is dependent on the mines, but differently from 20 years ago when it employed 10 000 workers now it employs only 600. The different companies exploit the mines for a year or so and they leave without investing to improve the conditions of the mines and the conditions and wages of the workers.

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