Natural resources, energy and environment
Albania is rich in minerals and mining has contributed to the economic upturn that Albania experienced during the 2000s. The country’s energy needs are mainly met by its own hydropower and oil – both domestic and imported.
Copper, chromium, nickel, zinc and iron have been mined mainly in the mountainous areas of the north for centuries. Prior to the fall of the communist regime in 1991, the mining sector accounted for a large proportion of export earnings. Despite antiquated technology, Albania was one of the world’s largest chrome producers. Copper extraction was also significant.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Albania with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
During the economic collapse of the 1990s, production fell sharply. The copper and nickel mines were closed for a few years before recovery was resumed. All mining is now done privately. Foreign companies have invested mainly in the copper and chrome industries.
Albania receives almost all of its domestic energy from hydropower, from which virtually all electricity is also extracted. During the communist era (1945–1991), hydropower was also sufficient for exports. However, increased demand during the 1990s led to energy shortages and recurrent electricity cuts. Many of the older power plants are in great need of repair. A serious problem is extensive theft of electricity.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, AL stands for Albania. Visit itypeusa for more information about Albania.
In 2012, Ashta, the largest new hydropower plant in the country since the 1980s, was inaugurated. Albania is estimated to exploit less than half of its hydropower potential, and plans for a strong expansion of energy production have been hampered by unclear tendering procedures and suspicions of corruption.
Most of the total energy demand is covered by oil, both imported and domestic. Since 1998, foreign oil companies have been active in the country. Albania also mines small amounts of natural gas and lignite.
Albania is facing severe environmental problems. Most of the environmentally hazardous communist-era industries have not been modernized, and the rapid migration into the cities is diluting environmental degradation. The financial appropriations for improvement are small and the legislation in this area is weak.
A law on waste management has been a contentious political issue for several years. Several governments have tried to push through a proposal to allow the import of waste to Albania but encountered vigorous protests. The supporters justify it by favoring Albania’s recycling industry, while opponents say that importing hazardous waste material threatens to make the country the “dump” of Europe.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
807 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
2306 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
5,717 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
2.0 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
38.6 percent (2015)
Corruption charges against ex-minister
The government is prosecuting former Defense Minister Arben Imami (2009-2013) for abuses of power, misappropriation of state funds and violations of public procurement rules. He is accused of illegally buying TV advertising for the Ministry of Defense. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.
No to Syrian nuclear weapons
The government rejects a request by the United States to handle and destroy the chemical weapons collected in Syria. After popular protests against the plans, Prime Minister Rama says that Albania does not have the capacity to handle such large quantities of nuclear weapons. It is believed to be around 1,300 tonnes.
Closer status as EU candidate country
The European Commission recommends that Albania be given official status as a candidate for membership in the Union. The Commission refers to the new laws passed and a well-conducted parliamentary election, but emphasizes that work on corruption and organized crime must continue.
The police are reorganized
The government is beginning a comprehensive restructuring of the police force as a result of a rapidly increasing number of reported crimes. The number of senior commanders is reduced by one third, the national police chief and all county police chiefs are replaced and, among other things, the traffic police are dissolved.
Tony Blair becomes the government’s adviser
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair becomes an adviser to the government. How much he gets paid is not revealed.
Too few female candidates give fines
The Central Election Commission fines all parties for not having enough female candidates in an election in the parliamentary elections. According to the electoral law, at least 30 percent of the eligible candidates must be women, a requirement that no party fulfilled. In total, the electoral commission takes back nearly SEK 1.5 million from the state grants that the parties received before the electoral movement.
Prohibition on import of waste
The government prohibits the import of waste. This eliminates the need for a referendum that was announced until December 22.
Socialist-led government formally takes office
Parliament approves the new Socialist-led government and Edi Rama takes up as prime minister. Rama, a former artist and art professor who also was Tirana’s mayor, promises to fight corruption and speed up integration with the EU.
New bipartisan government is presented
The incoming Prime Minister Edi Rama presents a government of 21 ministers, including himself and a Deputy Prime Minister. The Socialist Party receives responsibility for 14 ministries and the coalition partner LSI for 5. Six of the ministers are women, which is the most so far in an Albanian government. Among other things, Albania gets its first female defense minister.
New leader of the Democratic Party
PD elects Tirana Mayor Lulzim Basha as new party leader after the outgoing Prime Minister Berisha. Basha has previously been Minister of Transport, Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs.
Clear election victory for the Socialist Alliance
The Socialist-led Alliance for a European Albania receives 57.7 percent of the vote and 83 seats in Parliament, while the DP-led Alliance for Work, Welfare and Integration receives 39.4 percent and 57 seats. Other parties receive a total of 2.3 percent of the vote, but no mandate. The turnout is 53.5 percent according to the Election Commission.
Berisha admits to being defeated
After three days of silence, Prime Minister Berisha acknowledges that the government alliance has lost the election. Berisha also announces that he is retiring as PD leader. Thereby, there is concern that this choice would also be followed by unrest.
The election gets approved
The European Commission congratulates Albania on a well-executed election and hopes that the remaining stages of the electoral process will be carried out in accordance with international standards, that is, without protests from the losing side. The OSCE also approves the election as “free and fairly fair”.
Opposition activist is killed
An activist for the Socialist Party is killed and a candidate for PD injured in an exchange of gunfire outside a polling place on Election Day. There are data on voice purchases at several locations in the country. Before the vote count even got underway, both camps declared themselves victors.
Three important laws are enacted
The government and the opposition share a common cause and adopt three laws that are necessary for the EU to give a clear sign for membership negotiations. One of the laws governs the work of the Supreme Court, one applies to the position of public servants and the third concerns the workings of Parliament. Thus, the proposal for a referendum is out of date (see March 2013).
Iranian opponents arrive
The first 13 members of the Iranian resistance movement MEK arrive in Albania after being forced to leave their refuge in Iraq. A total of 210 members have been offered residence permits in Albania (see March 2013).
The opposition claims electoral fraud
The socialist opposition claims to have found major shortcomings in the electoral votes ahead of the June elections. According to the Socialist Party, over 25,000 names are suspected of being duplicated, while over 350,000 people are missing addresses.
Two alliances are formed
Two large party alliances are formed before the parliamentary elections. The Alliance for Work, Welfare and Integration, which rallies around PD, includes 25 parties, while 37 parties with socialist PS at the forefront go to elections under the designation Alliance for a European Albania. Newly formed New democratic spirit stands beside the alliances.
Criminal investigation against the Socialist leader
The Prosecutor’s Office is launching a preliminary investigation into crimes against Socialist Party leader Edi Rama, who is suspected of abusing power during his time as mayor of Tirana until 2011. According to the municipality, he must have illegally granted building permission for a house in the capital to his wife’s relatives. Parliament also votes to investigate allegations against Rama for physically attacking the Albanian ambassador to the OSCE following a speech in Vienna on April 24; The investigation will be conducted by five members of the PD.
Continued power struggle in the Electoral Commission
Two members of the electoral commission, both nominated by the Socialist Party, submit their missions in protest of what they describe as the government’s unconstitutional behavior. The representative of the Greek minority party decides to boycott the work of the Commission, which now consists of only four people. The OSCE appeals to the political parties to abort the power struggle that is about to sabotage the elections.
A member of the Election Commission is appointed
Parliament appoints a member of the Central Election Commission; He had been nominated for the assignment by LSI while the party was cooperating with PD. When LSI switched to the opposition, the balance of power within the electoral commission changed. Now the government’s dominance is restored by selecting a PD-loyal person. The EU and the US criticize what they regard as political involvement in the work of the Election Commission.
LSI allies with the Socialist Party
The Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) interrupts government cooperation with the Democratic Party (PD) and allies with the Socialist Party ahead of the June parliamentary elections.
Residence permit for Iranian opponents
Prime Minister Berisha offers a residence permit for 210 members of the Iranian resistance movement Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), who for security reasons have to leave their refuge in Iraq. However, MEK believes that all 3,200 members and relatives who are in Iraq need protection and that the group must, for the time being, be held together. The offer is interpreted as an attempt by Berisha to appease the United States, which has criticized the Albanian judiciary and nationalist statements by the Albanian government.
EU criticism of proposals for referendums
EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle strongly criticizes the Albanian government’s proposal to hold a referendum on three legislative changes needed for Albania to start negotiating membership in the EU. Füle says that issues like these require a consensus between government and opposition and are not at all suitable for a referendum. Parliament’s treatment of the legislative changes has been curbed by the increased tensions before the parliamentary elections.
Guard managers are being released for deadly shootings
Two former chiefs of the Guard Force Republican Guard are set free of deaths by four protesters in January 2011. According to prosecutors in the Tirana court, they both fired a gun into a crowd protesting alleged cheating in the 2009 election. Ballistic checks, carried out by the US Federal Police FBI, must have substantiated the prosecution’s evidence. The guards were charged with three of the four fatalities.