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The Role of the International Community

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

The OSCE focused much of its efforts on preparations for the October 1 local elections throughout Albania. Ambassador Geert Ahrens, the head of the OSCE Mission to Albania, chaired an election working group which met with Albanian officials and political party members almost daily-starting in March-to address specific concerns regarding the electoral code and voter registration procedures. The OSCE's Warsaw-based Office of Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights, which usually is not involved in municipal elections, sent eighteen long-term observers and 239 short-term observers to monitor the vote.

Council of Europe

Albania made substantial progress in meeting its legal reform obligations to the Council of Europe. In September 1999 the government ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, a step that could provide Albania's ethnic Greek minority (who constitute 3 percent of the population) with greater linguistic freedom, autonomy in education, recourse against discrimination, and increased access to the media. Following threats of expulsion from the Council of Europe if Albania did not end capital punishment, the Constitutional Court ruled in December 1999 that the death penalty was incompatible with the Albanian constitution. Confirming the decision in April 2000, Prime Minister Ilir Meta signed Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the document was ratified by the Albanian government in September 2000. The Council of Europe appointed a special representative in Albania in May 2000 to increase contacts with the Albanian government and civil society.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Following the refugee crisis in 1999, 1,300 NATO troops remained in Albania in 2000 to provide support to NATO's neighboring Kosovo Force and to show NATO's commitment to supporting stability in Albania, a member of the alliance's Partnership for Peace program.

European Union

The E.U. provided 35 million euro (U.S. $31.5 million) in financial assistance to support Albanian reform efforts in 2000, but remained skeptical about initiating the integration of the country into E.U. institutions due to insufficient "institutional and political reform." Relations with most E.U. member states continued to improve in light of Albania's pro-Western stance during the Kosovo crisis. Based on a series of agreements, Italy and Albania increased cooperation in fighting organized crime and cross-Adriatic smuggling and trafficking in humans.

United States

The U.S. government continued to maintain close ties with Albania in 2000, allocating an estimated U.S. $32 million in aid to support the country's reform efforts and strongly supporting the government's participation in the Balkan Stability Pact. The U.S. also strengthened economic relations with Albania when the Senate voted in November 1999 to grant Albania Normal Trade Relations status with the U.S.

International Financial Institutions

Citing the Albanian government's steadfast pursuit of sound macroeconomic policies and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing at around 7 percent, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave Albania a positive economic assessment in June 2000 and continued providing financial assistance for poverty reduction and the facilitation of economic growth. The World Bank also continued to provide Albania with loans to support water supply rehabilitation, a microcredit project, as well as reform in the fields of education, the judiciary, public administration, and the banking and insurance industries. Albania also joined the World Trade Organization in September 2000.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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