Term Paper: Corruption in Albania

Pages: 10 (2895 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper

Albania

Over the years, the country of Albania has experienced a great deal of turmoil as a result of corruption. This corruption has been detrimental to the citizens of Albania and Albania's relationship with the European Union. The purpose of this discussion is to explore corruption in Albania, how it affects Albania's relations with NATO and EU and stakes involved, i.e. turning to religious extremism etc. The discussion will also connect it to the general terms of "effective governance" and "reliability." Let's begin our discussion with a brief historical overview we will then analyze political, economic and international relations.

Brief historical overview

The current turmoil in Albania initially began in 1943 when the German Army occupied Albania. A struggle for power ensued between the partisan groups supported by both the Axis and Allied powers (Haslam, 2007). Eventually the Country fell into the control of Communists in 1944 and the People's Republic of Albania was established thereafter in 1946. At this time Supreme Comrade Enver Hoxha became the leader of Albania (Haslam, 2007). Under his rule, ruthless dictatorial leadership was ever present and Albania created close but brief partnerships with China, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia (Haslam, 2007).

This communist regime led the country for many years and by the 1970's Albania had become a very isolated nation. When Supreme Comrade Enver Hoxha died in 1985, Albania and its people began to crumble under the weight of incredible economic hardships that had never been present in Albania (Haslam, 2007). By 1991, many distressed Albanians sought asylum by taking refuge in the embassies of foreign countries in the city of Tirana. There were also some Albanians who hijacked ships on the coast and sailed to Italy (Haslam, 2007). In addition, the statue of Hoxha's in the middle of the capital city was destroyed. However, the most substantial offense came when many Albanians lost their entire savings in 1997 when a pyramid scheme collapsed (Haslam, 2007). Following this development the nation collapsed into violent chaos, during which guns were taken from the governmental arsenals and gangs and violence took over the nation (Haslam, 2007).

Although the world has long been aware of the economic and social collapse of the nation, the extent of the corruption has not always been fully understood. According to one article published in 2001

Almost half of Albanian citizens admitted to paying bribes, while two-thirds of public officials admitted that bribery was a common phenomenon in the country. However, even at this time, corruption did not present a dire issue for Albania in the eyes of the international community. The country had just recovered from the turmoil following the collapse of the pyramid [financial investment] schemes [in 1997 in which thousands of Albanians lost their savings]. Corruption indices were going down as the state was consolidating and the economy was recovering. In 2000, the World Bank ranked Albania as Europe's seventh-most corrupt country (Klan, 2001).

At the current time Albania is beginning to slowly recover from the pains of its past; however there is still a great deal of corruption within the country. This corruption effects Albania's relationship with European neighbors and the international community (Cuervo-Cazurra, 2006). The next section of this research will focus upon the political, economic and international relations of the country.

Political, economic and international relations

Political

From a political standpoint, the nation suffered greatly at the hands of communist leaders who ignored the will and the needs of the people. These political leaders did great damage to the nation and this damage has greatly affected the ability of the country to move forward, although the nation has seen some recent progress. One of the most tactile outcomes of the political climate in Albania can be seen in the migration of many Albanians. According to an article entitled Albanian Migration and New Transnationalisms following the demise of the communist regime there were post communist changes that occurred in Albania and also in the neighboring countries and Italy and Greece. As a result there was a characteristically intercontinental socio-cultural experience that occurred (Mai & Sievers, 2003).

As a result of this change certain Albanian experiences and practices have fashioned Albanians which in many cases is still an aspect of "intergenerational family memory and expectations, or which may have constituted Albanian Diaspora identities and communities abroad to which the new Albanian migrants today relate in various ways (Mai & Sievers, 2003, pg 939)." In this instance the political structure and its subsequent collapse have led to socio-cultural changes that will endure well into the future.

Since the time of communist rule the nation has experienced great difficulty while attempting to become a democracy. According to Nordinger (2005), the only type of political situation that is comparable to the rule of Hoxha is that of North Korea. This comparison can be made because of the manner in which Hoxha isolated Albania from the outside world and people were not even allowed to have vehicles. This isolation was even inclusive of other communist nations such as China and the Soviet Union. In addition, just as with North Korea, the people of Albania were close to experiencing famine prior to the end of Hoxha's rule (Nordinger, 2005).

Although the aforementioned nature of Albanias political structure has made it difficult for Albania to become a democracy, the people of Albania have an important Allie in the United States. According to (Nordinger, 2005), the nation of Albania is extremely pro-American unlike many other European nations. In fact Albanians have been very receptive to American input. The loyalty that Albania has shown toward America exists for several reasons. The first of which has to do with a declaration by President Wilson during the rule of Hoxha in which he asserted that Albania should be an independent nation. Additionally the lives of many Kosovar Albanians were saved when President Clinton bombed Serbia during the 1990's (Nordinger, 2005). As a result of this relationship with the United Sates, Albania has sent troops to Iraq a part of the allied forces.

Even though the nation of Albania has experienced many challenges on the road to becoming a democracy, it has improved greatly in a few areas. For instance, for many years Albania was the poorest nation on the continent of Europe, however it is no longer the poorest (Nordinger, 2005). In addition, it appears that a great deal of the overall climate in Albania is beginning to improve as a result of the will and effort of the Albanian people and assistance from other countries. For example the social and economic conditions in Tirana, the nation's capitol has improved greatly in recent years (Nordinger, 2005). These improvements are the direct result of improved economic stability, which encourages investment. The author points out that there are many new thriving businesses. In addition there is a great deal of new construction throughout the capitol. In addition many of the old buildings in the city have been painted and renovated (Nordinger, 2005).

Although there has been a great deal of progress, the crime rate in Albania is still high. In addition, in recent years there has been a significant increase in Muslim extremism (Nordinger, 2005). The author explains that the majority of the country is Muslim and there has been some Saudi involvement in the economic improvements that are taking place in Albania. Muslim extremism is a problem throughout the world but because of the somewhat unstable nature of the Balkins and past problems in the region, Islamic extremism is particularly worrisome because it may prove to be a destabilizing force. In addition, the recruitment of extremists is also a significant problem and is due in part to the poor economic condition of the country and corruption which has led to the distrust of the government and its agents.

However, at the current time Albania is still one of a handful of Muslim countries that is willing to pursue democracy and speak out against terrorism (Nordinger, 2005).

The author also reports that two of Albania's political goals have to do woth becoming a member of NATO and the European Union (Nordinger, 2005). Achieving these goals could allow Albania to experience the political power that is seeks. In addition the joining of these organizations will allow for greater economic and social stability.

Within Albania the pursuit of democracy has led to the development of nearly 50 different parties (Nordinger, 2005). The most preeminent of these political parties are the Democrats and the Socialists. According to the author these parties are led by two larger-than-life political bosses: Fatos Nano, the Socialist (and current prime minister), and Sali Berisha, the Democrat (formerly in power). One Albanian says to me, cynically, but perhaps not inaccurately, that the Socialists and the Democrats are like two great mafia families. The Socialists are regarded as center-left, the Democrats as center-right. The Socialists have campaigned on Continuity and Progress. The Democrats have campaigned on Reform and Clean Hands -- also a 50% tax cut (Nordinger, 2005)."

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