Saturday November 10, 2007
Still, Albania is undaunted. In a proposal that has alarmed neighbouring Greece but elicited interest from Italy, the country is proposing to host nuclear plants that would supply electricity across the Adriatic by way of an underwater cable.
The news emerged at an Italo-Albanian business conference in Tirana, where the prime minister, Sali Berisha, said he aimed to turn Albania into a regional energy superpower - a glorified socket on the Adriatic capable of supplying cheap electricity to Balkan neighbours and Italy.
An Albanian civil nuclear programme could not only help the country fill its own gaping power shortfalls, but get around popular resistance in Italy to nuclear generation. A referendum there in 1987 led to a five-year moratorium on nuclear power, and no government has since dared reopen the issue. But the idea has prompted alarm in neighbouring Greece.
The daily La Stampa yesterday reported that talks had been held with the Italian grid operator, Terna, on linking the Italian and Albanian electricity networks. Pier Ferdinando Casini, a leading candidate to take over from Silvio Berlusconi as leader of the Italian right, said the chance "must not be allowed to slip".
The prime minister, Romano Prodi, is due to visit Albania for talks early next month.