Throughout its modern history, with the exception of the disastrous "self-reliance" period in the 1970s and 1980s, Albania has relied on foreign aid to achieve economic growth. Each interruption of aid has had immediate and dramatic effects. Between 1955 and 1960, foreign assistance augmented Albania's state budget 233 percent, and industrial output rose by an average of 16.5 percent annually; between 1960 and 1965, aid augmented the budget 130 percent, and yearly industrial output rose only by an average 6.8 percent annually.
The Stalinist economic system's breakdown left Albania with acute shortages of many of the basic necessities of life, especially food. Having no choice but to turn to the West for aid, Albania's leaders got responses from the United States, the member states of the European Community, and Turkey; Greece and Italy were particularly forthcoming. Italy, which was interested in providing assistance mainly in order to stem inflows of Albanian job seekers, pledged more than US$300 million in food, raw materials, and replacement parts alone. Western economists estimated that in 1992 Albania would need some US$500 million worth of food, basic consumer goods, and materials for its factories. Law-enforcement problems and poor, often predatory, local administrations complicated aid deliveries, and on occasion mobs stormed and looted food warehouses and trucks. In many areas, the local communist bosses controlled the only aiddistribution network. They often stole relief supplies and denied deliveries to ordinary people. In mid-1991 the Italian army launched "Operation Pelican," sending 750 troops to protect convoys delivering aid from the ports of Vlorė and Durrės to Albania's twenty-six district centers. Western aid to Albania was also directed at longer-term goals. In July 1991, the European Community enrolled Albania in its program for technical assistance to the former communist countries. Germany granted assistance to improve health services, the drinking-water supply, and student housing.
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