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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08TIRANA149 2008-02-27 15:23:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tirana
Cable title:  

THE RESURRECTION OF FATOS NANO? WE'RE STILL WAITING

Tags:   PGOV AL 
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6740
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TIRANA 000149 

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TAGS: PGOV AL

SUBJECT: THE RESURRECTION OF FATOS NANO? WE'RE STILL WAITING

REF: A) 07 TIRANA 659, B) 07 TIRANA 637, C) 07 TIRANA 26



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The role of former Prime Minister Fatos Nano in
Albanian politics has been debated widely, particularly since his
fall from the Prime Ministership and resignation as chair of the
Socialist Party (SP) in 2005. Relinquishing the SP mantle to Tirana
Mayor Edi Rama seemed uncharacteristic at the time for the man who
is an ambitious political operator, and he was expected to rise
again. So far his political intentions have not been clarified, and
his actions since 2005 lack cohesiveness. Some insiders believe he
has shifted his focus to business and personal interests ahead of
politics; others expect his political ambition remains unquenched,
and he waits only for an opportunity to return prominently to the
national scene. Nano's recent flirtation with Movement for
Socialist Integration (LSI) Chair and former Prime Minister Ilir
Meta has set Tirana abuzz with speculation that his comeback is
about to begin. Certainly, few here believe he has departed the
political stage for good. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) In 2005, the SP lost its parliamentary majority and its
leader, Fatos Nano, lost the post of Prime Minister. He
subsequently resigned the party chairmanship and Tirana Mayor Edi
Rama was chosen the new leader of the opposition. Fatos Nano,
four-time prime minister and chair of the SP since its 1991
beginnings (interrupted only by the four years he spent in jail for
corruption), was rejected by the party. He left quietly, returning
to his business interests while maintaining his seat in parliament
(but participating only rarely in its sessions).



3. (SBU) Nano remained a force in the SP, splitting the party with
his core group of supporters who had never supported Rama. During
the SP's boycott of local elections in early 2007, Nano used his
influence against Rama to work behind the scenes (accompanied by
public photo ops) with Prime Minister Sali Berisha to negotiate an
end to the impasse and set the date and terms for elections. (Ref
C) While his influence may not have been decisive, his return
sparked rumors that he would quietly continue to assist Berisha in
return for his support for the presidency in summer of 2007.
Whether or not such a bargain was struck, Nano failed in his
presidential bid after the third round of votes, and further
fractured the opposition by publicly defining who was for him, and
thus against Rama. The MPs who voted for him for president, labeled
the "Nano Six" were expelled from their party. (Refs A and B)



4. (U) Nano next appeared again to rival Rama in the fall of 2007,
taking the leadership of a group of the party who were dissatisfied
with Rama's recent changes to the SP structure. He embarked on a
grassroots "listening campaign" to shore up his base of political
support, only to abandon the effort after just four meetings. Rama
proceeded with a remarkably similar approach of his own, which has
become a cornerstone of his populist approach to opposition
leadership.



5. (U) Since then, some critics of Nano have gone public. In a
recent public interview, a former Nano loyalist, SP Member of
Parliament Petro Koci, bitterly declared his deep disappointment in
Nano, citing his unwillingness to follow through on his own
political initiatives since 2005 and his refusal to show leadership
(lacking a political platform or vision) despite continuing efforts
to shore up a political base. He accused Nano outright of pursuing
short-term business interests at the expense of his political
supporters, abusing their faith for financial gain while abandoning
their causes.



6. (SBU) COMMENT: Nano's public handshake with Berisha during the
2006-7 election boycott (Ref C) was not viewed as the triumphant
return of a statesman that Nano may have expected. Although the
meeting may have achieved a short term goal, the sight of Berisha
seeking advice and support from a man rumored the most corrupt in
Albanian politics, as well as his former arch rival, smacked of
opportunism on both sides. Nano's few initiatives since then - his
campaign for the presidency and aborted "listening tour" - have not
raised his stock with the public or within his party.



7. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: Theories abound regarding Nano's
intentions. Conspiracy buffs suggest he was outwitted by a
Berisha-Rama agreement to deny him the presidency (by installing
Bamir Topi in the position, Rama removed a key Democratic Party
operative while Berisha got "his man" in the job) and is waiting for
an opportunity to stage a comeback. Others suggest Nano has put
politics on hold to focus exclusively on business interests that
will increase his personal wealth through existing political and
social connections. If this is true, he may have no need at this
time for a political role beyond his seat in parliament. Finally,
it is possible that Nano's failure to take the presidency last year
and the lack of momentum in his most recent political gambles
demonstrate that Albania has moved past the Nano era. However, few
count him out. His recent public flirtation with LSI's Meta -- who

TIRANA 00000149 002 OF 002


soon thereafter announced that LSI was removing itself from the
opposition coalition with Rama's SP -- has sparked speculation of a
new Nano-Meta partnership in the advent of next year's elections.
In sum, few here are willing to discount the wily Nano as a residual
force in Albanian politics or underestimate his ability to play
hardball in staging a return to the political scene.
WITHERS