H.E. Dr. Makbule Ceco
The Deputy Prime Minister of Albania and Minister of Labor and Social Affaires

The twenty-fifth Special Session of the United Nations General
Assembly on Human Settlements Habitat II

New York
June 7, 2001

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

During the last decade, our country has made an obvious progress in its road of democracy, civilization and Euro-Atlantic integration. Albanian society has reached important progressive developments, and sometimes has experienced several dramatic events which have had their impact on the population, especially on the most vulnerable people.

Ten years transition's experience of Albania have demonstrated that values of democratic system, advantages and possibilities of development through growing of free initiative, establishing of political, economic, financial and social conditions for implementation of international standards of human rights and freedoms have found a huge support from the population of the country. Albanians have supported the democratization and development processes, being conscious of perspectives they opened to the country. They are, also, convinced of difficulties for achieving such objectives, especially of the social cost of implementation of economic reforms in the country.

Transition period for Albania has been very difficult, compared to other countries of Central and Eastern Europe having joined the democratization process. This is due to its original circumstances and to the fact that political class has not always been successful in finding the most efficient means arid ways for reformation and development of the Albanian society.

Since the beginning of the 90-ies, Albania started to experience processes and vigorous urban growth. These processes were carried out under conditions of a slow development. Some of the reasons that made the process of country urbanization a serious problem under economic, social, political and spirit context were:

- The very high flow of emigration and internal migration;
- The degradation of health and social services system and relatively low rhythms of its reforming;
- Great economic differentiation and polarization, and for this reason social exclusion of several groups of population.

Regarding demographic aspect, urban processes in Albania were reflected to the growth of population in cities and urban areas. Meanwhile, quantitative urban growth was not compensated and accompanied by the preparation of living conditions according to city standards, and by the increase of capacities and the role of political, economic and cultural centers and institutions established to urban peripheries. These urban peripheries are transformed into main enclaves of poverty and problematic demographic growth. Lack of minimum living conditions, the scarcity of necessary infrastructure, of vital and social
services have been among the main concerns of government. Albanian Government, in collaboration with international financial institutions as World Bank and International Monetary Fund, as well as the governments of some neighboring countries has considered the problems caused by uncontrolled urban growth and by internal migration as a real priority. Recently, the government has taken a number of legal, financial and institutional actions to solve the problems related to population of large cities peripheries, and will not allow them to be treated as low-rank people.

We are also trying to base new phenomenon of population housing on the spread of urban culture and values system. Quantitative urbanization aspects are based on legal and economic actions, which will lead to the promotion of qualitative aspects of urbanization process. Tradition of collaboration of government and state institutions with civil society, community and private business is being created. This tradition and these efforts are supported by legal and financial measures.

The urbanization in Albania is being implemented as a complex process, as a combination of in-urbanization (massive settlement of population in cities), and ex-urbanization (space extension of urban phenomenon). Another significant aspect of the urbanization process is sub-urbanization, that means the weakness of economic impact in rural areas and their transformation, especially those areas near or in suburbs of big cities, in part of urban centers or metropolitan structures.

Urban processes have emerged and implicated problems regarding the suitable conditions for settlement of the population. Efforts are being done to support by economic and financial measures the right for human shelters, a fundamental human right. Albania is in the process of ratification of the European Social Charter (Revised) and is taking into consideration the financial cost of the implementation of its standards. Besides the problems of settling, consequences of economic situation at the beginning of the '90-ies, the problems of laving a suitable human settlement are aggravated because of some specific developments in the country. Therefore, the ruin of financial pyramids at the end of 1996 and beginning of 1997, besides human, political, economic and financial consequences, caused serious problems in the settlement to a considerable number of Albanian families. Compensation of this loss, which has a very high financial cost, can not be afforded only by internal resources of the country, remains a priority of the Government.

Giving priority to some emergent needs of the population, due to some specific circumstances, has influenced the delay in preparing long-term politics for the development and solution of problems and consequences of uncontrolled urbanization and population settlement. We are going towards overcoming emergencies. Albanian Government leas prepared the Action Plan for Population Settlement Strategy, which is based on the co-operation between central and local government, between government and civil society, community and private businesses etc. The objective of this Strategy is not only the support of poor groups, considering the economic, social, health conditions and payment capacities of families and individuals, but the creation of conditions and opportunities for the programmed solution of settlement problems of the population.

Thank you.