Bamir Topi

President of Albania

(AP, AF, Reuters, Albanian presidency website)

Bamir Topi was sworn in as president of Albania on July 24th, 2007, four days after winning a parliamentary vote for the post. He replaced Alfred Moisiu.

Born in Tirana on April 24th, 1957, Topi is a biologist by training and holds a PhD in the field. After working in the town of Petrela, he joined the Institute for Veterinary Studies in Tirana in 1984. After obtaining his PhD in Italy, Topi headed the institute, serving as its director from 1992 to 1996.

He was first elected as member of parliament in 1996, and was appointed to the post of agriculture minister, which he served as until 1997, when civil unrest and popular protests forced Sali Berisha's ruling Democratic Party to step out of power.

Topi, deputy chairman of the Democratic Party, was then elected twice more as a member of parliament and served as head of the party's caucus.

Ahead of the official end of Moisiu's five-year mandate on July 24th, 2007, political bickering among the parties in Albania's 140-seat legislature resulted in three failed attempts to choose the country's next president, raising the spectre of early parliamentary elections.

Topi was elected in the fourth ballot on July 20th with the support of 85 of all 91 lawmakers attending the voting session, including several members of the opposition Socialist Party, who disregarded the party's call for a boycott of the vote.

As he assumed his post four days later, Topi promised to work for his country's integration into the EU and NATO. "Everything needs to change as we are coping with new historic challenges wanted by the Albanian people," the new president said at the start of his five-year term. "Albania [is under going] historic moments linked to its democratic future, to its road of no return to the Euro-Atlantic family."

Topi is the author of a number of political articles and publications in the field of biology.

He is married with two daughters.

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