The bilateral cooperation between Italy and Albania, that aimed to guarantee assistance to the Albanian population after the fall of the regime, saw a first important moment with the large Joint Commission, gathered in Rome in November 1992. Here, the delegations of the two Countries, chaired by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs determined the opening of the working tables for the planning of cooperation interventions in the development, economic, cultural and emigration sectors. As for cooperation development, it was renewed the importance of the intergovernmental understanding in the planning and programming phase of the cooperation initiatives, according to the economic and social objectives established beforehand.
At the end of the two year period (1991-92) during which the Italian assistance was essentially in the form of emergency aid grants (over 143 billion lire allocated, of which 128 billion in the form of food aid), the Joint Commission agreed on the need to encourage an evolution of the cooperation relations between the two Countries, towards direct interventions that aimed to promote a self-sustained development based on market economy. The three year Plan for the period 1992-94 was thus set up as a structural programme, articulated in development initiatives that focused on the infrastructures, agriculture, construction and consultancy sectors, for an overall amount of 218,5 billion Lire (about 113 million Euro).
Hereinafter, Italy and Albania worked together at the drafting of a Country Plan (the first for the Italian Development Cooperation), necessary for the next cooperation agreement and at the origin of a Declaration of Intent, through which the Parties agreed on the planning of interventions completely in line with the General Action Directorates for the rehabilitation, the economic and social development in Albania, identified by the Albanian Government in accordance with the major bilateral and multilateral donors. Specifically, the guidelines of the Italian intervention aimed to:
- reinforce the Albanian democratic institutions and administrative structures;
- pursuean economic development based on the complete implementation of the market economy, with particular attention to social issues.
On the basis of these premises, the 18th December 1997a Protocol of Agreement was signed in Tirana, for the bilateral technical cooperation between the Italian Government and the Albanian Government, for the three-year period 1998-2000. Funds for over 210 billion Lire (about 108.4 billion Euro) were allocated, to which we must add other resources for various assistance initiatives, up to an overall amount of 317.2 billion Lire (about 163.8 million Euro)
In 2001, this three year cooperation programme 1998-2000 was integrated with the adoption of other commitments, while the to Governments began to develop a third cooperation agreement, with which they defined the aid strategy for the three year period 2002-04.
The negotiations with the Ministry of Economy started in September 2001from an analysis of what had been accomplished in the previous three-year period and from the evaluation of the development priorities defined by the Albanian authorities in the reference document (PIP – Public Investments Programme).
The cooperation Protocol signed on 9th April 2002, related to the three year period 2002-04, had scheduled new commitments, funded by grant and aid credits, for an overall amount of 202 million Euro. The allocated resources allowed Italy to reinforce its commitment to join the Albanian Government in the development and European integration process that was started. In particular attention was given to strategic sectors such as: infrastructures and public services, development of the private sector and of the SME, agriculture, institutional reinforcement, as well as human resources development and adjustment of social services.
In this framework it is worth mentioning the approval on behalf of the Italian Parliament of the Law 84/2001, to which the Development Cooperation participates in a substantial manner and that aims to translate in practical terms the commitments adopted by Italy regarding the “Stability Pact”. These commitments include an additional allocation of about 50 million Euro per year, to be destined to development and democratization activities in the States of the Balkan area.
The new commitments engaged in the three year period 2002-04 Protocol are divided by sectors in the following diagram.
Among the most consistent interventions it is to be mentioned:
- Electric power supply, to face the severe lack of energy in the winter of 2001-2002, that had created social problems and had paralyzed the production system (after the supply of the first payment of 10 million Euro, in 2002, the remaining 20 million Euro, as allocated for the realization of the dispatch Centre of the KESH);
- Interventions for the rehabilitation of the water and sewage system of Tirana;
- Two programmes in the transport sector, aimed to reinforce the north-south axis (Shkoder - Hani Hotit Road) and the enhancement of the Balkan Corridor VIII (Lushnje - Fier - Vlore Road);
The structural support to primary, secondary and higher education system;
- The support to the development of Albanian SME, through credit line, guarantee fund and technical assistance;
- The support in the agriculture sector (through the support to FAO programmes, the improvement of food control systems, the rehabilitation of the pumping stations, in floodable agriculture areas, etc.);
- The support in the environmental, cultural, institutional, social and vocational training fields.
Some of the initiatives that the parties had initially agreed on in the Cooperation Protocol 2002-2004 were subject to changes (both financially and in terms of the type of intervention) or have been substituted with other interventions considered of greater importance, taking into consideration the evolution of development conditions.
Besides the initiatives included in the Protocol of Agreement , Italyalso supports a series of other interventions, financed through bilateral or multilateral channel, or promoted by NGOs, for an overall amount of over 98 million Euro. Among these, there are a strengthening programme of the KESH for the reinforcement of the Albanian electrical system, and an intervention of rehabilitation of the water network in Tirana. The other initiatives are mainly for the support of the poorer groups of the population and are implemented in sectors such as education, healthcare and civil society, initiatives in favour of women, agriculture and environment.