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Released on 2012-08-09 18:00 GMT

Email-ID 378597
Date 2011-01-26 01:09:57
From TrapWire in response to Marko's questions --

Fred -- Just in. Haven't had time to give a good scrub/spell check etc. so
might be a bit raw. (His English is excellent, but not perfect). M


1. Any thoughts on what repercussions unrest in Albania could
have for the region as a whole?

Instability in Albania generally means instability within the
Albanian diaspora in the region.

. Kosova: Just came out of general elections and is now facing an
internal crises . The winning party does not have enough votes to elect a
PM or create a new government. At the same time, the leadership of the
winning party has been accused for war crimes and trafficking in human
organs by a Swiss reporter. These issues have endangered the current
political process towards Kosovo independence. Negotiations with Serbia
are now on hold. An unstable political situation in Albania will be a big
loss for Kosovo. Kosovo has no representation in international
institutions and Albania is her biggest supporter and ally regarding
Kosovo foreign policy. A crisis in Albania will make the dialogue between
Kosovo and Serbia, which is seeking a division of northern Kosovo.

. Macedonia: Our neighboring country has a population of 30%
Albanians, who have been in constant conflict with the Macedonian
government regarding their rights as a minority. Macedonian-Albanians are
divided in to two groups: one that is more liberal and has assimilated
into Macedonian society; and the other a much more radical group that is
in conflict Macedonian policies. Add to this Macedonia's on-going conflict
with Greece, and one could speculate that any major crisis in Albania will
only compound the problems inside Macedonia -- particularly for those
Albanians seeking greater rights inside Macedonia. There is a precedence
for this problem during the 1997 conflict in Albania.

. Greece: Our only neighboring country with EU membership is still
going through a very bad political and economic crises itself. There are
almost 1.5 million Albanians living in Greece -- many are illegal
immigrants working illegally. Another crises in Albania could likely fuel
another mass exodus to Greece (and Italy) -- particularly now that
Albanians can finally travel without visas in Europe.

2. After 1997 anarchy, weapons flowed across the borders to Kosovo and
Macedonia. Any chance that another crisis has an effect on neighboring

In my opinion, it is unlikely the current situation will
deteriorate to the point of 1997, which was fueled by economic collapse
rather than only political differences. Albanians still have strong
memories and feelings about this period, and would likely try to avoid a
repeat...particularly as the only groups who will profit from another
crises would be the weapons, drugs, and fuel traffickers .

3. What is Berisha's role in neighboring Kosovo and
Macedonia. Does he have influence with Kosovo leadership? Or Macedonian
Albanian leadership?

Generally speaking, Berisha does not have much of a role in
the region. He continues to be viewed as a model of the old leadership.
Clearly, Kosovo will always need the support of the Albanian PM
and his government; however, many Kosovars remember that Berisha gave only
lukewarm support to the KLA, and was believed to have profited
personally by allowing fuel shipments into Serbia and Montenegro, despite
the NATO embargo at the time. Berisha is still viewed as
having too close of ties to Serbia -- one of his closest contacts is Damir
Fasllic, a character who is believed to have contacts at the highest
levels of the Serbian government. Berisha does not appear to
have particularly strong ties to Macedonia and, with the loss of
Jukanovic, probably has limited influence in Montenegro as well

4. If there is a change in government to Edvin Rama, would
it in any way change the situation in Albania or region?

Edvin Rama is the leader of the Albanian opposition Socialist
Party -- which represents about 50 % of the Albanian voters. Rama is known
as a head-strong and somewhat radical figure amongst the
international community in Albania. He is not very good at dialoguing --
often creating situations that neither side can win. Despite
these weaknesses, Rama represents the "modern" leader that many Albanians
have been hoping for since 1990. His work in modernizing and cleaning-up
the capital has made him very popular, and given him the image
of someone who can get things done for the people (He has twice been
re-elected as mayor). Rama's popularity and modern thinking has
been commented on favorably by many EU leaders and representatives.