In addition, there is a strong press that is actively involved in bringing political struggles to the attention of Albanians. The press appears to be very competitive throughout the country and in Tirana in particular (Nordinger, 2005). The freedom and presence of the press is a good sign of a bourgeoning democracy.
When elections do occur in Albania, observers have reported large turnouts of nearly 50% (Nordinger, 2005). The voting process is similar to that in Iraq in which voter's thumbs are marked to verify that they have voted. Once the voter fills out a ballot it is folded and place info a box. Although some of the elections have been observed as fair, observers have received complaints during elections that they registered to vote but they were not allowed to do so because their names were not on the rolls (Nordinger, 2005).
However the author reports that is many cases it is all but impossible to determine the difference between intentional corruption during the voting process and disorganization. With all this understood it is evident that the people care about their country and want to be active participants in the democratic process (Nordinger, 2005).
As it pertains to the economic relations between the country of Albania and the rest of the world, the history has been shaky at best. As a result of the pyramid scheme and the subsequent collapse of the nation's banking system, foreign investors have been hesitant to invest in the nation. As a result the Albanian economy has suffered greatly.
At the current time a great deal of the economy in Albania is dependent upon Albanians that no longer live in the country.
It is important to understand that throughout the 1980's and 1990's (particularly after the pyramid scheme) many Albanians migrated to other countries. Some Albanians ended up in other European countries while others found refuge in Canada and America. Today many of the people that migrated during the aforementioned time periods send money back to Albania to assist relatives.
As was stated previously, there has been an increase in the success of business enterprises in Albania. There is also a greater amount of economic stability when compared to the past. However, corruption and the consequences of corruption still exist throughout the nation and this has an effect on the economy and every aspect of life in Albania.
As it pertains to international relations, specifically the European Union and NATO, there are many issues that the nation faces. The first of which has to do with the manner in which these organizations view Albania. From the standpoint of international relations, membership to these two groups could assist Albania greatly in the areas of economic, social and political growth. The corruption that has existed in the country for so long makes it difficult for Albania to have good international relations and/or engage in diplomatic activities. However, both NATO and particularly the European Union have been actively engaged in assisting Albania in becoming members of these two organizations.
As it pertains to NATO Albanian forces have participated in assignments with NATO forces and the organization has attempted to assist Albania in meeting the membership requirements established by the organization. A relationship with Albania is not only beneficial for the stability of Albania but the entire region. NATO understands this truth and as such it has made great strides toward ensuring that Albania can become a NATO member.
As it pertains to the European Union there have been several programs that the European Union has created in conjunction with Albania to assist the country in the first steps towards becoming a member if the European Union. One such program is the Stabilization and Association Agreement signed in 2006 (EU-Albania Relations). This particular agreement established the structure for shared commitments related to political, trade and economic issues. The agreement is also designed to be supportive of regional collaboration (EU-Albania Relations). In addition to this agreement there are also other assistance and contractual agreements that the EU and Albania have entered into (EU-Albania Relations).
The stakes involved are significant as it relates to joining NATO and the European Union. As it relates to NATO a great deal of what is at stake has to do with the formation of greater economic and social stability in addition to increased economic relations with foreign countries. According to a speech made to NATO by former president of Albania (2002-2005), Alfred Moisiu "Albania supports democratic processes in Kosovo as well as on-going efforts by both the international community and NATO to build stability there. We believe that the Alliance's presence in the region remains indispensable. This is because stability in parts of the Balkans remains fragile and certain questions of vital importance for our security remain unanswered (Moisiu, n.d.)."
The former president goes on to point out the need for Albania to meet membership requirements especially as it pertained to the condition of Albania's armed forces (Moisiu, n.d.). At the time of the speech the former president asserted that Albania needed to increase defense spending and ratify civilian control over the forces. It is evident that Albania is committed to becoming a NATO member and the nation is very aware of what is at stake.
As it relates to becoming a member of the European Union, there is also a great deal at stake. The stakes are economic, social and political. From an economic standpoint the European Union has proven itself and continues to emerge as a significant source of economic power in the world. As such, if Albania becomes a member of the European Union it would benefit greatly from the economic stability that such an alliance would present.
Overall as it pertains to NATO and EU membership, the most significant stake has to do with the potential rise of Muslim extremists in the nation. As was discussed previously, poor economic conditions and corrupt governments often lead to the uprising of Muslim extremists. Membership to NATO and the EU may provide Albania with the stability needed to avoid such a rebellion.
Effective Governance and Reliability
The end of corruption and membership to NATO and the European Union are important because they present the prospect of effective governance and reliability. Because of the communist and corrupt past of the nation effective governance has been difficult. In other worlds because of the former structure of power and the corruption that still exist, Albania's government could not govern in a manner that would benefit Albania and Albanians socially, economically or militarily. However, Albania's efforts towards the formation of a democracy have been instrumental in laying the foundation for more effective governance.
Additionally, Albania's burgeoning democracy and potential for NATO and the EU membership are important as it relates to reliability. Both NATO and the EU act as alliances that assist one another as it relates to social and economic stability. For many years Albania was so isolated and could not depend or rely on other nations when trouble arose. However, Albania's potential membership to these two organizations will greatly improve the reliability of Albania and other member states.
The purpose of this discussion was to explore corruption in Albania, how it affects Albania's relations with NATO and EU. The research found that Albania has suffered from a great deal of corruption and as a result the nation was left in economic and social turmoil. However, the research also suggests that the nation's relationship with NATO and the EU has improved in recent years and may actually result in membership acceptance.
We also found that EU and NATO membership may bring greater stability to the region which will increase effective governance and reliability.
Cuervo-Cazurra, Alvaro. 2006. Who Cares about Corruption?. Journal of International Business Studies 37, no. 6: 807+.
EU-Albania relations. Official Website of the European Union. http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/albania/eu_albania_relations_en.htm
Haslam, Nick. 2007. Albania Awakes: Isolated for Decades by Its Paranoid Communist Leader, Then Ravaged Civil Unrest and Economic Collapse, This Forgotten Corner of Europe Is Making a Remarkable Recovery. Geographical, March, 76+.
Klan, Alfred Peza. July 30, 2001 Corruption in Albania: Up from the Bottom (independent weekly magazine), Tirana, Albania,. http://www.worldpress.org/1001cover5.htm
Mai, Nicola, and Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers. 2003. Albanian Migration and New Transnationalisms. Journal of Ethnic…