Albania - Foreign policy
Nano served as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the government of Ilir Meta, and was the first representative of the Albanian government to visit Yugoslavia after the two countries reestablished relations in December 2001.
In 2002, Nano's predecessor, Pandeli Majko, participated in a number of international meetings, including one in Bucharest, Romania, of the heads of the ten countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) that are candidates for membership in NATO. The prospect of joining NATO has widespread support in Albania, but the country must demonstrate firm commitment to economic and judicial reforms to gain membership.
Another notable meeting was Majko's March 2002 visit with the ambassador from China. That nation was formerly one of Albania's closest allies, although relations cooled during the 1970s and had not recovered as of the end of the twentieth century. The Chinese are particularly interested in becoming involved in the construction of a dam and hydroelectric power plant in Albania, a project under consideration for funding by the IMF and the World Bank that would bolster Albania's inadequate power supply.
The EU has been working with Albania since the late 1990s on an SAA. A draft, presented in November 2001, was aimed at preparing Albania for eventual EU membership. Stabilizing the government is a necessary first step, and the EU wants Albania to clean up its election procedures, to privatize the country's banks, to eliminate political interference in the court system, and to improve management of the country's electric utilities.
Every Albanian prime minister must try to convince other governments that his government will soon restore order to Albanian politics, and Nano appeared to be achieving some success in the months following his taking office in July 2002. By October, the EU agreed to reopen negotiations with Albania on the SAA, and established February 2003 as the date for the next round of negotiations.
As of 2002, Greece held the rotating EU presidency, and Greek foreign minister George Papandreou listed EU ratification of SAA accords for Albania and Macedonia and their Balkan neighbors as a top priority. Thus, Nano realized that, with Greece as an important ally, Albania needed to work quickly and with commitment to achieve the goals of the SAA. He aggressively sought support from Albania's neighbors in the Balkans to form a regional Parliament as evidence that the days of factional squabbling in the region are in the past.