No longer than two months, while dinning with my boyfriend at the ground floor restaurant of the Twin Towers in Tirana, we couldn’t stop overhearing the conversation coming from the next table on my right. An educated Russian man with a distinguished rasping accent was sitting in the table next to us with two locals. An immediate thought crossed our minds: “A Russian Oligarch doing business in Tirana!” Well, not knowing their occupation we could only make an educated guess judging by their “oil-natural gas-investment”-keywords used in their settled evening talks.
This morning while going through the daily press, I noticed suddenly a small paragraph written in a rather gossiping form about Albpetrol getting privatized at an initial price tag of €150 million. The unofficial sources claims that the potential buyers of Albpetrol are the Sebro-Russian group Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS). Company’s main business is the petroleum, natural gas exploration, production, importing, processing, and marketing of oil products in Serbia. NIS was privatized in 2008 by Gazprom holding the majority of shares. Since then Serbia and Russia have signed an agreement giving 51% of NIS’s shares to Gazprom (for a total value of €400 million and €550 million in investments until 2012). This news was not officially confirmed by the Albanian officials at METE (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy), but it is logical to think that prior to 2013 elections it might be a good time for our government to cash in some millions.
Plus to make the rumor even more amusing let me tell you that the last entry for booking a hotel in Himara through booking.com was a Russian. Surprised! I’m not really. Just looking at our neighbors in Montenegro, Budva has turned into the new Mallorca of Russia, the ultimate vacation spot for many Russians. Some local Montenegrin papers are writing figures like 40% of property in Montenegro is owned by Russians and that Russian money has also totally inflated the housing market by the Montenegrin coast.
Just driving there you can easily see €1 million price tags on a house in vicinities of Budva and Kotor. Not mentioning here how hard and expensive it gets to fly to Podgorica or especially Tivat from a non-Russian destination. To make the story short, I’m dying to see how the likelihood of a Russian influence in Albania will develop in the near future. And please don’t forget to tell me if you see Russians by the Ionian coast this summer, ok…