A ‘new, beautiful beginning’ for Albania

TIRANA – Sali Berisha, winner of last Sunday’s elections in Albania, promises «a new and beautiful beginning for all those who look forward to the future.» He seems a completely different person to what he was in 1993-97, when he fired up followers and opponents, sparking political passions that culminated in the armed «pyramid uprising» against him. The people who took up arms against the man they hated in 1997 have brought him back into power eight years later in the most democratic elections in Albania’s history. A highly organized election strategy, a low profile and modern unifying political discourse, combined with popular discontent at the corruption of Socialist Fatos Nano’s government, conferred a resounding victory on Berisha that took Western diplomats in Tirana by surprise. In his first interview with the foreign press since the election results were announced, Berisha spoke to Kathimerini about how he achieved victory, how he will govern, and how he views Greek-Albanian relations, the Greek minority and Archbishop Anastassios. As for relations with Greece, he counts heavily on friendly relations with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and President Karolos Papoulias. His election has not brought peace to the political scene in Albania, as Nano alleges vote-rigging and has lodged a number of objections.

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