Prof Dr. Sali Berisha
Born on October 15, 1944 Sali Berisha graduated from the Medical Faculty of the University of Tirana in 1967 “with honors”. He specialized in cardiology and was subsequently appointed as an assistant professor of medicine at the same university and as staff cardiologist at the Tirana General Hospital.
During the ‘70s Mr. Berisha gained distinction as the leading researcher in the field of cardiology in Albania and became professor of cardiology at the University of Tirana. He was selected in 1986 as a member of the European Medical Research Committee of WHO. During this period he published a number of articles in prestigious European medical magazines and journals. In 1989 he was awarded the title Professor at the Tirana University.
Following the death in 1985 of the Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, Sali Berisha became increasingly active in intellectual circles with his ideas for democratic change and introduction of a multi – party system in the country. In the late 80’s and very early 90's Sali Berisha succeeded to voice his opinion through a number of articles and interviews in the then state controlled media and foreign press, about human rights, freedom of speech and introduction of a multi-party system as the basis for democracy in Albania.
In December 1990, Berisha joined in the very first day, a series of students’ demonstrations that forced the communist regime to introduce a multi – party system. Mr. Berisha founded and emerged as the leader of Democratic Party (DP), the first and largest of the new opposition parties. He was formally elected DP chairman in February 1991. Although the DP was unable to match resources of the ruling communist party in the first pluralistic parliamentary elections in March 1991, it won 39 percent of the popular vote and emerged as the main opposition party in the People’s Assembly.
The newly elected communist government was toppled soon in the same year by the noncommunist trade unions strike, and the DP entered coalition government mandated to stabilize the country and organize early elections. The March 1992 parliamentary elections resulted in a dramatic reversal of the results of the previous year, with the Democratic Party winning 62 percent of the popular vote and 92 of the 140 seats in the People’s Assembly. Following the resignation of President Alia, the DP-dominated People’s Assembly on April 8, 1992, elected Sali Berisha to the position, as the first noncommunist head of state.
Following his election as the President of Republic of Albania, Mr. Sali Berisha and the democratic government were engaged into a profound course of political, economic, institutional, legislative and multifaceted reforms.
A deep reform of propriety, population residences, as well as of all small and medium state enterprises was accomplished over the period ’92-’96; the marked was liberalized while the inflation was brought down drastically while the GDP rose to an average of 9 percent. As a result during the period between’ 93 – ’96, 75% of GDP was generated from the private sector.
Albania opened towards the West; became a member of Council of Europe in 1995; signed the Partnership for Peace Agreement in 1993 and established a close cooperation with EU countries and USA.
All laws of communist dictatorship were replaced with new laws of European standards and a series of institutions, which have not been in place before, like Constitutional Court and High Council of Justice were established.
In ’97, right after the rebellion organized by the former communists, who took advantage of the collapse of fraudulent pyramid schemes, Mr. Berisha resigned from the President’s Office, since DP turned into an opposition party in the general parliamentary elections of that year. He was reelected the Chairman of Democratic Party and this is a position that he has been holding from ’97 up to date.
Mr. Berisha led the coalition of the center right wing parties in the general political elections held in 5 rounds in June-August 2001. Although OSCE/ODIHR questioned seriously the legitimacy of those elections the DP led coalition won 37% of the votes. On the 1st of July 2005 Sali Berisha led a coalition of five center-right parties, which eventually won a majority of 74 MP’s from a total of 140. He was appointed Prime Minister of Albania on the 8th of September 2005, with a majority vote of 81 MP’s.
In 2009 the majority led from Sali Berisha was reconfirmed in general elections that were certified by OSCE/ODIHR as meeting most OSCE commitments. Subsequently, the DP entered in a governing coalition with the Socialist Movement for Integration, a center-left party.
Since 2005 Prime Minister has championed a vast number of reforms in all fields of economy, legislation, finances, health, education, defense, public order etc. Major infrastructure investment program has been and continues to be carried out throughout the country with mainly focus in roads and ICT infrastructure while modern digital technology has been introduced in civil registry, citizen identification and integrated border control and management.
He also successfully led a vigorous campaign against corruption which has simplified bureaucratic procedures, drastically improved the business climate, introduced, flat tax 10 percent, a leading full electronic procurement, modernized the custom system, with the result of doubling of the state budget in four years and a drastic increase of revenues. During this period Albania signed and implemented the Stabilization Association Agreement, gained full NATO membership, applied for candidate status for European Union and was granted a visa - free travel regime for the Albanian citizens in the Schengen area.
He is married to Liri Rama, a pediatrician, and the couple has two children, a daughter, Argita, and a son, Shkelzen. He has a good command of the English, French, Italian and Russian language.