With the elections to the
farce/nuisance known as the European parliament over, what we have all
known for some time is now obvious, that the EU experiment is in
trouble. Dont expect change any time soon. Politicians are usually a
pig-headed bunch. They will press ahead doing unpopular things until
the tide of votes eventually sweeps enough of them away. The effect
that attitude will have is to make matters even worse, as more and more
extremists start screaming for change, or break-up.
What that means for the rest of us is that the political side of the EU
is going to be fraught with fights for the next four or five years. The
economic side is therefore going to continue to be a mess since it is
predicated on political decisions rather than economic ones.
Of great concern at the moment is the build-up of US troops in the
Baltic states. This is making the Russians increasingly jumpy. As I
have been saying for years, NATO is the most destabilising institution
in Europe. It should have been dismantled when the USSR disintegrated.
It now acts as a threat, and Russia is bound to respond to threat.
The country has been attacked too many times in the last 200 years for
the people not to feel threatened by the Western powers, and they feel
seriously threatened right now.
In this respect it is interesting to note that Putin's popularity in
Russia is very high, whereas the popularity rating of just about every
president and prime minister in Western Europe is sagging somewhat.
We have one other thread to the EU mess, and that is France. Those who
can be bothered to cast the mind back a decade or so may remember that
there was talk of an inner and an outer EU circle, and the inner circle
was going to be driven by the French-German love-in. That has come
apart at the seams, with France spiralling into recession, and
navel-watching. And since the EU elections we now see the xenophobia
stakes rising on all fronts.
On top of all this we have the continent still mired in stagnation,
with the euro unrealistically high, and bank instability across the
eurozone, which is preventing economic expansion. Most nations are
still in recession, or hobbling along at parity. Even Germany's latest
figures show stagnation.
What all this presents us with is a picture of a continent that is in a
serious mess. This is not the time to be investing in continental
Europe. I have been saying for nearly a decade that you should keep
your money out of Europe. Invest in the UK, or further afield, but not
in continental Europe.
There might be a couple of exceptions to that. Norway has been doing
well of late, but that is generally not seen as a place to buy houses.
The other exception is Albania. I haven't written much about the
country since I last visited, which was back in 2005.
I dont want to raise the question of oil under the northern Greek
islands, but that is most certainly a sore point for Greeks. It even
became a heated topic of conversation on an otherwise pleasant cruise
around the islands of Lake Nicaragua earlier this year. I dont know the
full story, but that oil appears to be held hostage to something else.
There is a long-drawn-out conspiracy theory at the bottom of this, and
how much of it is true I dont know. What I do know is that there is a
massive oil field in that part of the world, and the epicentre appears
to be under the rugged, fissure-cracked mountains that form the
backbone of Albania. It is a large enough field to be called an
elephant. That's big.
Investment is going to start pouring into this country, probably as
soon as later this year, or, at the latest, next year. This will mean
boom time for the little country. It will mean a massive increase in
the quality of the infrastructure. At present a motorway is being
constructed along the north-south axis. Spurs will be taken off that,
the ports will be developed, and the corridor between Tirana and Durres
will boom. Hotels will spring up, and the place will suddenly burst
onto the international map.
I think it would pay anyone of adventurous nature to visit, and
concentrate on the area around Sarandra, which has a ferry across to
the neighbouring Greek island of Corfu. It's a nice part of the world.
I've long thought of buying there, and thought it would be the next
in-place after the development of Montenegro. However, property matters
have crawled to a halt almost everywhere in Europe, and that includes
Montenegro. However, Albania is going to be the exception.
I'll try and do an article on the country in a later bulletin. I
certainly enjoyed my time in the country, but found very real problems
with the internet and money matters once you are outside the commercial
zone between port and capital. I expect that to change rapidly once the
funds start to pour in to develop the black gold under those forbidding
mountains. Tourism will surely follow the infrastructure upgrade.
Since writing this article a couple of weeks ago, things in the
eurozone have taken yet another turn for the worse. I'll update next