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Albania: OSCE Envoy Says West Must Provide Aid

Tirana, 1 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - OSCE envoy Franz Vranitzky said today that the international community must now follow through with economic support for Albania following Sunday's elections.

Vranitzky, who brokered a deal between the country's political parties in March to hold the early election, had brief meetings with President Sali Berisha and interim Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino soon after arriving in Tirana today. The former Austrian chancellor said he was told by Berisha that he had accepted the verdict of the people which meant his Democratic Party would now be entering opposition. Unofficial results indicate a victory for the opposition Socialists. Before the election Berisha had said he would step down if his party lost.

Vranitzky told reporters that Sunday's election and the second round on July 6 should be considered a first step toward reconstructing Albania. He said that rebuilding the shattered economy, modernising infrastructure, and reforming the judiciary and other institutions had to be the top priorities as the West begins financial support.