Socialist Albania set to sign up Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Picture: PA
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Picture: PA
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Albania’s new government is set to hire Tony Blair as a consultant, after the opposition Socialist party won a landslide victory in elections on Sunday.

Socialist leader Edi Rama’s left-wing coalition recorded a resounding victory in the parliamentary polls, securing 84 of 140 seats in the Albanian parliament and a return to power for the Socialists for the first time since 2005.

Mr Rama, who won international plaudits as mayor of Tirana, met Mr Blair at the former prime minister’s office in London last month. A formal contract has not been drawn up, but it is expected that Mr Blair will advise on attracting investment, promoting tourism and boosting the European Union integration process.

A video broadcast on Albanian TV in the wake of last month’s meeting showed a smiling Mr Blair telling Mr Rama: “I will be very happy to help you, 
I am very interested in your country.”

Albania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, with average income just £216 a month. Mr Rama ran on a campaign promising reform of Albania’s public sector, increased job opportunities and a restarting of the country’s stalled bid to join the European Union.

Another former New Labour exponent, Alastair Campbell, was widely credited with playing a key role in the Socialists’ victory. Mr Blair’s former director of communications, gave advice on election strategy and policy generation to the Socialist Party in the run-up to the vote.

A spokesman for Tony Blair said: “Tony Blair sends his warmest congratulations to Eddie Rama on his victory. As we have said before, we would be delighted to work with the new government of Albania. But, the fact is, no contract has been signed and if it were to be, our work would be done on a not-for-profit basis.”