International real estate investors will be keeping a keen eye on developments in Albania as it seemingly heads for EU membership.
Albania applied for EU member candidate status in April 2009. Last October, the European Commission recommended granting candidate status to the country, provided that it meets the proper reforms in the judiciary and public administration sectors.
Last month saw the election of the new Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Edi Rama, leader of the Socialist Party. With almost all the votes counted after the election took place on June 23rd, his coalition took 84 out of 140 seats in parliament - a landslide with the result ending 8 years of rule by Sali Berisha's Democratic Party.
The newly elected socialist party has lined up British former PM, Tony Blair, to advise the government towards the ultimate goal of EU membership for Albania. A formal contract has not been drawn up, but it is expected that Mr Blair will advise on boosting the European integration process, attracting investment and promoting tourism.
Albania Minister of European Integration Majlinda Bregu "The Albanian government has fulfilled the obligations and the European Commission has appreciated the technical criteria. We will complete our final progress report in August, on which the commission will take a decision and publish its report in October. I am optimistic that Albania has met ... all obligations to obtain EU candidate status,"
Hot on the heels of Albania's general election, neighbouring country Croatia was last week granted its long awaited European membership, offering hope for its Balkan brothers. This will no doubt also translate into rising tourist numbers and provide a boost for the Albanian property market as more and more people explore this new EU member nation and its adjacent lands.
Peter Walshe, Marketing Director of Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa, luxury residential development located on Albania's Adriatic coast comments:
"The election has opened the gates for Albania to become an official candidate to join the European Union, which would come as welcome news for those wishing to invest in this beautiful country, unspoilt by stampedes of tourists and boasting stunning natural landscapes with white sandy beaches and crystal clear seas." .
With EU accession within reach coupled with cheap and easy access from the UK and a growing economy, Albania is fast becoming a highly desirable holiday home destination.
Peter Walshe "Unlike its Balkan peers, Albania has avoided recession. With on-going positive GDP growth as well as growing visitor numbers thanks to a wider range of promotional and infrastructure projects, this well-kept secret of the Adriatic coast could provide the perfect property investment opportunity for those looking for a second home in Europe but without the premium price tag. And now, new low-cost carriers are starting to fly there from more and more European cities which can only be positive."