Albania: Nishani sworn in as new president

Former conservative interior minister Bujar Nishani was sworn in Tuesday as Albania’s new president, and promised to work toward the country’s eventual membership of the European Union.

By (AP)

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Published: Wed 25 Jul 2012, 2:04 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:35 AM

The 45-year-old replaced President Bamir Topi for a five-year term, during which the tiny Balkan country has promised to continue political reforms as part of the EU integration process.

Nishani was elected by parliament last month, despite a refusal to take part by the main opposition Socialist party which had demanded a more consensual candidate. Though largely a ceremonial post, the president has some authority over the country’s judiciary and armed forces.

Considered a close ally of conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Nishani becomes Albania’s sixth president since the fall of Communism in 1990.

Albania applied for EU membership in 2009 but in seeking official candidate status has twice been turned down by Brussels — for failing to adequately strengthen and reform the parliamentary and other democratic institutions.

Albania is hoping for a positive response this fall.

“A European Albania is our citizens’ expectation,” Nishani said after his swearing in ceremony. “A European Albania is the road ahead and our final destination.”

Nishani was elected after days of deadlocked negotiations between Albanian political parties that failed to produce any consensus on a candidate.

He had twice been elected to parliament with the conservative Democrats and had previously served as justice and interior minister. He graduated from a military academy in Albania and also studied in the United States and Albania, earning a postgraduate degree in European Studies.

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