According to this article Bush in Albania, the country has been making the transition from 46 years of Communism to multiparty Democracy and a free market economy. President Bush even claims that Albania "is a country that has cast off the shackles of a very repressive society and is now showing the world what's possible."
And then we have this article- Legal Market Necessary for Democracy in Albania which claims that between 80 and 90 per cent of property and business assets in Albania are extra-legal, or outside the formal economy, and that this must be brought under control BEFORE Democracy can operate and thrive. The claim that Albania is a Democratic society is obviously quite a stretch of the imagination if no more than 20 per cent of the people live within the legal framework. Few people can obtain loans, contracts can not really be enforced, and you rarely get an invoice for anything. There is still no credit bureau, so how can anyone know who is trustworthy or not?
Even the Albanian UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis, attending a meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto today in New York, said that “when there is extra-legality, democracy cannot function.” Note he didn't say "has a hard time functioning", but it CANNOT function. This is obviously the most important issue for the country, but how can it ever be solved when the leaders are completely inept and untrustworthy themselves?
I'm looking forward to seeing the results in October of Mr. de Soto's own Institute for Liberty and Democracy's study which "which aims to create a basis for a reform programme that would empower Albanians currently shut out of the formal economy to enter into their country’s financial future." Of course a study like this can be a very useful tool but only if it is diligently listened to and put into action. That's a rather absurd idea in a country where all levels of government act like children and waste millions of dollars every year on projects that only serve their own interests.
I've been mulling over an idea for some time now. In a country like Albania where so many of the politicians have connections to the previous Communist regime, wouldn't it make sense to bring in an independant world leader, who has proven his/her skills, to guide the country for 5 years? Find a independantly wealthy person who has absolutely no connections to anyone in Albania, has integrity and the strength to resist corrupt practises, then give them the reins. Okay, it's a crazy idea- I admit it- if only because none of the current politicians in this country would be willing to give up their hold on power, not even for the good of all.
Aha... apparently I'm not the first one to think this is a good idea! According to this article there are plenty of Americans who would be more than happy to give us GW Bush... and they'll throw in "Gonzales, Karl Rove and Cheney" too! And Albania wouldn't even have to rename a street for them, nor issue any postage stamps with their grinning faces on them. And we can give them some of our own politicians in return. Now that part sounds tempting to me!
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