Albania. A major blast accident occurred in an armory at the village of Gërdec 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.
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.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of AL in general and in geography as Albania in particular.
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 troops.
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 daily.
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.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Albania in 2008 was 2,947,912, ranking number 138 in the world. The population growth rate was -0.920% yearly, and the population density was 107.5921 people per km2.