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The EU provides financial assistance to candidate and potential candidate countries and helps them reform and adapt their institutions and legislations. Financial assistance takes the form of projects on the ground following phases of programming and contracting. Hundreds of projects are being carried out across all sectors, countries and regions.
Albania’s modern history can be described with Tirana’s cafés, and each phase had a defining locale. When Albania opened in 1990, the Dajti Hotel was a hub of social life. The café with a parquet floor and high windows offered a tranquil place to talk politics, mostly with former communists who felt at ease in the faded room. By my arrival in 1993, Tirana’s elite drank coffee in the pyramid, the former EnverHoxhaMuseum. Journalists, ministers, and members of parliament sat at low tables with red upholstered seats to gossip and scheme. Over time, cafés grew around the pyramid’s edge, down the boulevard, and into RiniaPark, each with a specific clientele: pro-government journalists, opposition journalists, writers, professors, actors, and exiled Kosovars. From 1994 to 1997, the liveliest café was Bar West on RiniaPark’s northern side, known as Fidel’s after the name of its owner. A prefabricated glass-and-metal hut, it served the politicians, journalists, and intellectuals who opposed Berisha and the spies who monitored their lives.
Everyone played it cool, sipping espresso in the morning and raki inthe afternoon, watching who talked with whom. To this day, a weekly magazine from Tirana has a political gossip section called “Bar West.”