The last of the foreign troops who came to Albania to contain nationwide violence have now sailed off, leaving the country’s new government this week to fend for itself against armed gangsters and the effects of an economic meltdown. So far it seems to be coping.
The new prime minister, Fatos Nano, announced Wednesday that 100 police commandos who descended on the port town of Vlore on Monday had arrested 30 members of an armed gang and had the gang boss, “Zani,” cornered. Another 100 soldiers, about the only intact unit of the Albanian army, had taken control of Vlore’s harbor, the transit point to Italy for smuggling drugs and people, he said.
Since Vlore was the heart of a rebellion against the government of President Sali Berisha, which was turned out of office in elections in June, Albanians are taking the restoration of order in the town as a harbinger of better times ahead. The State Department declared Tuesday that Albania was safe enough for the return of embassy staff members and other American officials who were evacuated in mid-March.