Albania. A major blast accident occurred in an armory at
the village of Gėrdec outside the capital Tirana in March.
More than 20 people were killed and hundreds more were
injured in a series of explosions that were triggered when
arming old Communist-era ammunition was disarmed. More than
300 buildings were completely destroyed and several thousand
houses were damaged. The Prime Minister ordered an
investigation into the accident, but Defense Minister Fatmir
Mediu chose after a few days to resign. The opposition
demanded the resignation of the entire government.
Countryaah reports, the destruction that occurred when the accident occurred
was because Albania had demanded from NATO to destroy
100,000 tons of old ammunition. At the NATO summit in April,
the Defense Alliance decided to invite Albania, as well as
Croatia, as a new member. A formal agreement was signed in
July with a view to completed membership in April 2009.
The collapse of a number of investment funds - the
so-called pyramid schemes - at the end of January 1997 set
in motion a political and social chain process. One in six
Albanians was on the streets and in the main cities -
including the capital Tirana - an armed uprising broke out.
The uprising de facto dissolved the Albanian state. Military
bases and police stations were attacked and in many cases
police and soldiers joined the uprisings. The result was
that 80% of the country's weapons fell into civilian hands
and the armed clashes left 1,500 dead. Berisha was forced to
speed up parliamentary elections until June of that year. It
was won by the Socialist Party led by Fatos Nano.
Berisha resigned in July and the government was placed in
Nano's hands as prime minister. In September, the PD
National Council, led by Berisha, decided to leave
Parliament after a quarrel with a socialist deputy. By the
end of the year, the Nano government had regained control of
the country and had managed to reduce inflation. The
Socialist government promised to implement a reform program
that included included the revitalization of economic life
through a privatization plan. In March 1998, the IMF paid
tribute Nano government for its work and promised over a
three-year period to provide financial support for the
country's economic reforms. But a short time later, an
internal showdown in the Socialist Party forced the prime
minister to retire in September. The government was handed
over to Pandeli Majko, who in 1999 had to hand it over to
Ilir Meta, who is also from the Socialist Party.
In the face of the increasingly violent civil war in
Yugoslavia, Albania began to call on NATO to intervene in
protecting Kosovo Albanians. The local mafia in Albania was
already supplying Kosovo's liberation army with weapons.
When NATO finally launched its attacks on Yugoslavia in the
spring of 1999, Albania had to simultaneously accept tens of
thousands of Albanian refugees and serve as a base for NATO
Although the Socialist Party again won the parliamentary
elections in 2001 on a policy of integration in Europe to
solve the country's energy crisis, it paralyzed new internal
conflicts, which Nano characterized as corrupt and
incompetent. Both politically and economically, the country
was paralyzed and the energy crisis was further compounded
by a particularly severe winter. The government had a
shortage of currency for imports and therefore restricted
itself to declaring the country in a state of emergency. In
some areas, the power was interrupted for up to 20 hours
In February 2002, Meta decided to resign as prime
minister. He was replaced on the post by Pandeli Majko.
Following a new political turmoil, in August 2002, Fatos
Nano took over for the third time the post of government
leader and chairman of the Socialist Party. That same month,
the self-proclaimed throne, Leka Zogu, the son of former
King Ahmed Zogu returned to Albania after 63 years in exile.
There exists an "arms culture" in Albania. There are
still hundreds of thousands of weapons in circulation that
were captured by the police in 1997, and every Albanian has
access to acquire a Russian gun, a Chinese machine gun or
ground to air rockets. Many of these weapons are sold to
other countries around the world.