On April 18, the government approved the plan for 2011-2014, which foresees economic growth from seven to eight per cent and hopes to reduce the unemployment rate by eight to ten per cent, but it has been met with sceptism by some analysts. The plan aims to fight the informal economy, create a sole agency for tax and customs revenues, improve fiscal policies, and revitalise agriculture.
Category Archives: balkans
Kosovo’s success as an independent, multiethnic, and democratic state is critical to security and stability in the Balkans, a region whose peaceful development is vital to the United States’ broader strategic goal of building a Europe whole, free, and at peace. With this in mind, five priorities guide U.S. assistance: building the institutions of Kosovo’s government and society, ensuring that Kosovo remains the home of all its diverse peoples and that they all join in the process of building Europe’s newest democratic country, furthering the development of the country’s economy so that all its citizens can enjoy the benefits of prosperity, ensuring that society and government are firmly grounded in the rule of law, and cementing progress in all these areas through the realization of Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic future. This assistance will be implemented by a number of U.S. agencies, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Departments of State, Defense, and the Treasury.
Albanian-American Enterprise Fund Returns $15 Million to U.S. Treasury | U.S. Department of State Blog
January 19, 2011, the Albanian-American Enterprise Fund (AAEF), recipient of a U.S. government grant, returned $15 million to the U.S. Treasury. This payback represented the successful completion of a program established by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1995 to promote the growth of the private sector in Albania and assist the country’s transition out of Communist isolation and towards a market-based economy.
Kosovo, the young Balkans nation, is on the right path to become “India of Europe” in terms of information technology development and customer service call center for Europe, especially the German speaking states.
In Kosovo, currently are operating 28 companies as call centers, while the trend of opening of these businesses is growing. In these companies have over 600 employees, whose average age ranges 18-25 years.
These companies provide services to the field of Telemarketing, customer service, billing and account maintenance and technical support.
Vjollca Cavolli, executive director of the Association for Information and Communication Technologies in Kosovo said that Kosovo has the potential and capacity to provide services to call for European countries, in particular the German states.
The number of Kosovars who speak the German language is the highest in the Balkans.
At a meeting of the South East European Co-operation Process, SEECP, in Montenegro’s seaside resort of Budva, Sutanovac stressed that Serbia has a significant role in promoting that cooperation
He warned that, “despite the evident improvement of the regional spirit and cooperation, we should not close our eyes to obvious problems.”
“In addition to the unresolved status of Kosovo-Metohija, the region is also burdened with issues of insufficiently developed economies and high unemployment rates,” Sutanovac pointed out.
According to the minister, additional areas of concern include high levels of corruption, organised crime, trafficking in people, narcotics, weapons and body parts and failures to resolve issues of return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.
“The unsatisfactory quality of life is what should concern us politicians the most, because we are here primarily for the benefit of citizens,” he stressed.
The SEECP meeting brought together the defence ministers of member states from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.
Sutanovac noted that the entire region was committed to membership in the European Union and that “regional cooperation is a key segment of the EU’s policy towards the Western Balkans, since the EU itself came into being through the development of regional cooperation.”
He said that “in 2011 we have results which clearly show that there is no alternative to resolving disputes and problems through cooperation.”
“If we take the example of Serbia, only in terms of bilateral relations in the field of defense until and including 2010, we see that it has established contractual relations with all the countries in the region, except Albania, but this is something Serbia will work on in the foreseeable future,” he added.
During the gathering in Budva, the Serbian defense minister held bilateral meetings with his colleagues from Montenegro, Boro Vucinic, from Turkey, Mehmet Gonul and Albania, Arben Imami.
BELGRADE, Feb 15, 2011 (AFP) — The western Balkans region, for so long riven by ethnic divides, now finds itself grappling with political divisions that have induced a governmental paralysis in some of Europe’s poorest countries.
Deadly protests, strikes and parliamentary boycotts all underline how the region has struggled to absorb not only the legacy of the past but also the impact of the economic downturn.
Observers say one of the casualties is enthusiasm for membership of the European Union, with governments which have long been pushing to join facing a backlash at a time of high unemployment and falling living standards.
“The national issue is not the main concern any more. The issue of employment and corruption is what really concerns the people nowadays,” said veteran Balkans watcher Jacques Rupnik.
The sense of crisis has been felt most acutely in Albania which has been gripped by a political deadlock ever since the opposition refused to recognise results of parliamentary elections in June 2009.
Tensions boiled over last month when clashes between the security forces and anti-government protestors left four people dead in the capital Tirana.
Marko Prelec of the International Crisis Group (ICG) said the violence should have served as a wake-up call as to the tensions mounting in what, after Moldova, is Europe’s poorest country.
“Everyone underestimated the severity of the situation in Albania,” he said.
In neighbouring Kosovo, a similar vacuum is in danger of forming with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci still trying to cobble together a fresh coalition after being forced into early elections in December.
Although Thaci’s party did come out on top, he fell some distance short of an overall majority and his focus has not been helped by allegations linking him to organised crime and organ trafficking. He denies the accusations.
It’s much the same story in Bosnia — another part of the former Yugoslavia mired in warfare in the 1990s — which still has no central government, four months on from its elections.
Macedonia’s main opposition parties are boycotting the parliament and want early elections.
And in Serbia, the region’s powerhouse, a wave of strikes by public sector workers and opposition protests have cranked up the pressure on Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic ahead of legislative elections due in spring next year.
“After two years of economic downfall and stagnation, the people are exhausted and nervous, and the government is still on the defensive,” analyst Dimitrije Boarov wrote in Serbia’s private weekly Vreme.
To date, Slovenia is the only former Yugoslave republic that is a member of the EU.
Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia all have their eyes on a seat at the table but while support among the population remains relatively high, there are clear signs of it slipping.
A December survey showed that 57 percent of Serbs were in favor of joining the EU, the first time that the support level had fallen below 60 percent.
In Croatia — the first on the list of EU hopefuls — a recent poll showed that the number of people had dropped to 49.4 percent, albeit still ahead of the 40.3 percent who were opposed.
Rupnik, a researcher at France’s Science Po University, said that the apparent growing indifference towards EU membership there was due partly to the slow pace of membership talks.
He warned against an ambiguous approach where Europeans “pretend to support enlargement” and Balkans countries “pretend to prepare” for it, but without in reality making the tough decision.
Even if Croatia is closing in on its goal of EU membership, that is only after five years of talks.
Although Prime Minister Sali Berisha has made Albanian membership his number one goal, its application has gone nowhere amid the domestic crisis.
Belgrade’s ambitions are also being stymied by its continued dispute with Kosovo, insisting that the breakaway region is still its territory.
The net result could be “a premature Euroscepticism,” said Rupnik.
“People doubt the European project even before it is reached,” he added.
[Description of Source: Agence France-Presse]