Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kosovo: Kurti Doesn't Show, Trial Postponed Again

Pristina | 16 April 2010 | Petrit Collaku
Albin Kurti, leader of Vetevendosje, says his movement could take part in elections
Albin Kurti, leader of Vetevendosje, says his movement could take part in elections
Kosovo police failed to bring Vetevendosje [Self-determination] leader Albin Kurti to the District Court of Pristina today. As a result Kurti's trial was postponed yet again; it scheduled to resume Monday, April 19.

EULEX, the EU rule-of-law mission, also said that the appointed ex officio lawyers did not show up at the courthouse, thereby violating their official duties.

“The court will issue a new order to compel Albin Kurti to be present for the next hearing,” the EULEX press release reads.

“The court will send the papers to the Kosovo Bar Association for the necessary steps to be taken in order to address the disciplinary infringements which were committed during the hearing.”

The trial has already been postponed on a number of occasions. Kurti was not present at yesterday’s hearing either, and the trial was pushed to today.

Vetevendosje activists claim that Kurti is not hiding and that he is continuing to work normally. This was the seventh attempt of the court to bring Kurti to trial.

The Prosecution is represented by a prosecutor from the Special Prosecution Office.

Three of the top ranking EU officials in Kosovo, Pieter Feith, the EU Special Representative in Kosovo; Yves de Kermabon, the Head of Mission EULEX Kosovo; and Renzo Daviddi, the Head of EC Liasion Office to Kosovo, issued a statement today condemning the attack on Kurti's former defence attorney, who was egged while entering the courtroom yesterday to tender his resignation.

In the statement: the three officials said: “We strongly condemn the attack yesterday on the lawyer in the Albin Kurti case, Mr. Avni Gjakova.

“It is vitally important for the rule of law that institutions and those who have the duty to work within them are able to work without political interference, disruption or violence. Respect for institutions and those who serve in them is a fundamental principle of the rule of law in a democratic society and a core European value.

“We call upon local authorities to protect the independence of the judiciary as part of the consolidation of the rule of law and advancing Kosovo’s progress toward a European future.”

Police finds on terrorist group

A car whose luggage compartment contained weapons, hard electronic computer discs, forged identity cards and many thousands of euros in cash, as well as two apartments that were possibly safehouses of the terrorist organisation "Revolutionary Struggle" are the new findings of the Greek police in investigations being carried out on the specific case.

Police chief Eleftherios Economou made relevant announcements on the findings on Thursday evening, beginning his briefing by referring to the vehicle found and which belongs to one of the defendants.

Greeks in New York Ready for Sunday’s Big Parade

Philip Christopher, Ernie Anastos, Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, along with Boy & Girl Scouts of America the Grand Marshals.

New York.- The 2010 Greek Independence Day Parade will be held Sunday April 18, 2010. This is the 72nd annual parade celebration of Hellenic heritage and freedom, commemorating the 189th anniversary of the Greek declaration of independence, March 25, 1821.

The Parade has become a New York City tradition since 1938, and attracts a vast number of New York marchers and participants. It is a culmination of a month long celebration of Greek heritage are hosted and organized by the Federation of Hellenic Society of Greater New York. Dinners, a White House gathering, a beauty pageant, City Hall celebrations, a ceremonial flag raising and numerous other activities all lead up to the Parade on Fifth Ave, commencing from the Pierre Hotel.

The Greek government will be represented by vice minister of Foreign Affairs Spyros Kouvelis, while it is expected the Cypriot government to be represented by a cabinet member. In addition 8 members of the Greek Parliament are expected to attend.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kadare Cancels Greek Visit Following Racist Chants

Tirana | 16 April 2010 |
Ismail Kadare
Ismail Kadare

Renowned Albanian writer Ismail Kadare has canceled a visit to Greece in the wake of racist chants against Albanians sung during a military parade in Athens at the end of March, local media reported on Thursday. Kadare was scheduled to hold a speech on April 19 at the Megaro Mousikis University in Athens. In a letter to the university Kadare wrote that, although he was a great admirer of Greek literature and culture, he does not find any trace of such culture in the recent military parade.

“Being aware of the recent events in Athens expressing racism against Albanians I am canceling my visit to your country,” Kadare is cited as writing by local broadcaster Top-Channel TV. “You know very well my admiration for Greek literature and culture, but I believe that in this climate that lacks civility, my visit would be premature,” Kadare adds.

Albania pushes for EU talks despite political deadlock at home


Albania, whose Socialist opposition has been boycotting parliament for a year now, is pressing ahead with efforts to eventually secure EU membership.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha on Wednesday (14 April) submitted answers to a questionnaire that will enable the European Commission to issue to member states an opinion on the Western Balkan country's application to join the EU.

Tirana is pursuing EU membership

EU enlargement chief Stefan Füle told Mr Berisha that "the timing of the opinion will largely depend on the quality and completeness of the information". He told journalists that before the next local elections in Albania, due next spring, the Commission would deliver a "balanced and fair assessment"of the situation, paying particular attention to the country's fulfillment of the political criteria for admission.

International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have concluded that general elections in June 2009 "did not fully realise Albania's potential to adhere to the highest standards for democratic elections".

In an interview with WAZ before meeting Mr Berisha, Mr Füle made it clear that the country needs to improve the functioning of its political system.He suggested that the commission might have additional questions once it studies the current answers.

"There are issues- and one particular - that makes the whole process more difficult and it is the stability of political institutions in Albania," Mr Fule said."I visited recently Albania and expressed deep concerns about the parliament still not being able to play fully its role."

The centerpiece of the commission's opinion will be Albania's compliance with the so-called Copenhagen criteria, which make a country eligible to join the EU. These criteria include having institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, a functioning market economy, and readiness to meet the obligations of EU membership. Member states, which have the final say on the issue, differ on the Albania's readiness.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy tried to reassure Mr Berisha calling his government's answers to the commission questionnaire a "historical document". But he warned that the EU is following domestic political developments with "interest and attention."

The commission is also studying answers by Montenegro, which, according to diplomats, stands a good chance of winning a positive opinion and possibly candidate status this year.

Member states are still expected to start the same procedure with Serbia, which applied for EU

membership last year. The application was not dealt with yet because of its failure to fully cooperate with The Hague war crimes tribunal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sllavo Macedonians want Bulgarian passports before visa liberalization out of pragmatism, says Branko Crvenkovski

The same request, they made the Albanian politicians in Tirana: Before the liberalized visa, then become Population Count.

Branko Crvenkovski, FYROM president between 2004 and 2009, thinks the Slavo Macedonians who want to get a Bulgarian passport after the visa liberalization has sharply dropped, FYROM media reported.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Bulgarian Socialist Party Chairman Sergey Stanishev, Branko Crvenkovski said: “I cite your question and I do not agree with it: ‘Many citizens returned to their roots after Bulgaria joined the EU.’ Why did not they return before Bulgaria’s joining the EU?

Why in other cases in the region when a country joins the EU, do citizens of other countries want to have a passport to travel freely? Why after the visa liberalization, which was adopted as a measure in reference to FYROM, Serbia and Montenegro, did suddenly this process decrease radically? The people are pragmatic; they want to travel, get educated, trained, have business relations,” said Crvenkovski.

The same request, they made the Albanian politicians in Tirana: Before the liberalized visa, then become Population Count.

Tirana believes that the Albanians will be "sold" to the Greek passport if the General Population Count will be done before Europe offers to Albania for visa liberalization.

Albania PM Faces Criticism over Political Stalemate

| 15 April 2010 | Gjeraqina Tuhina, Besar Likmeta
Sali Berisha (archive)
Sali Berisha

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has delivered in Brussels a copy of his country's completed European Union pre-accession questionnaire, and faced criticism over the country's deadlocked political situation from the EU enlargement commissioner.

Berisha delivered the questionnaire, which concerns a country's readiness to join the bloc, to EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele.

“I used the opportunity of our meeting to reiterate the concern over the lack of progress in normalizing the political situation in Albania,” Fuele said late on Wednesday.

“Parliamentary work does not comply with EU standards and democratic institutions,” he added.

Albania’s right-wing government, headed by Berisha, and the opposition have been locked in a dispute over the results of the June 28 parliamentary elections, which were narrowly won by Berisha's party. The opposition has been boycotting parliament and has called for massive protests against the government.

The proper functioning of state institutions is among the key conditions for countries aiming to join the EU. While the present political situation will be reflected in the European Commission's evaluation of Albania's responses to the EU questionnaire, Fuele noted that he hoped that this element would be included “in the past tense”.

“A lot is indeed at stake, and I pointed out that there is a certain window of opportunity for all those involved who have a share of responsibility to find a solution in such a way that the opinion refers to this issue in the past tense,” Fuele said.

Albania's responses to the EU pre-accession questionnaire are included in the several hundred page long document that the prime minister delivered to Fuele, calling it “the largest book printed in Albanian history”.

About 1,200 Albanian experts and more than 30 international experts were involved in completing the questionnaire.

According to Fuele, the date when the Commission might publish its opinion on Albania's responses will depend on the “quality and completeness of the information”.

The enlargement commissioner promised that the opinion will be fair and objective but warned that Brussels will give particular attention to Copenhagen Criteria and obligations from the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

More than seven months after parliamentary elections were held in Albania, the country still has not managed to solve the political crisis it faces and establish a properly functioning parliament.

The Socialist led opposition claims that the election was marred by fraud and seeks a recount, arguing that complete transparency in the electoral process is necessary in order to avoid irregularities in the future – a constant problem over the last two decades as Albania emerged from the Stalinist regime of former dictator Enver Hoxha.

Meanwhile, the majority refuses the recount, contending that the courts have already denied the Socialists such a petition and that parliament would be overstepping its position and taking on the role of the judiciary if it moved to recount ballots.

The Socialists, who have boycotted parliament for more than six months because of the disagreement and who have returned only to discuss the investigative parliamentary commission that would address the elections, have threatened to depose the government by protest if their requests are not met from the majority.

President of Albania, orders the construction of cemeteries for Greek Soldiers

Albania’s President, Bamir Topi (foto) ratified the agreement between Greece and Albania on the “research, identification and burial of Greek soldiers who died in Albania during the Greek – Italian war in 1940-41”

According to the relevant agreement, signed in Tirana on the 19th of November 2008, two cemeteries (and memorials) will be constructed in Klisura and Korce, in honor of Greek soldiers killed during the Greek – Italian war.

Samaras, Papandreou discuss economy

While in Albania, never has made meeting of politic leaderships, during the last years

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras met with Prime Minister George Papandreou at the Maximos Mansion on Wednesday afternoon and discussed developments on the economy.

"I was briefed, I briefed, we discussed in depth the crucial aspects of the economic crisis. I believe that with the suitable mixture of economic policy we can cope by ourselves," Samaras said after the meeting.

Asked by the press on the activation of Greece's support plan, Samaras said "the less we speak the better it is for the economy."

It is very interesting to note that, recently the Albanian media, disseminate "success of the government" for Albania's accession to the European Union, although the country is a deep political crisis and political forces interact with each other, including the Albanian opposition.

The example of Greece, the country which is in financial crisis, not missing the prime minister's meetings with the chairman of the opposition.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ilir Meta pact with the party of the Chams

TIRANA - The Chams party, which has two MPs in Parliament has decided to cooperate with the SMI. The Agreement on Parliamentary Cooperation between the two parties, was signed today between the chairman of SMI, Ilir Meta and PDU's chairman, Shpetim Idrizi.

After the agreement two party leaders have declared that the respective parties have more in common goals, that integrative processes of the country, respect for human rights and the problem of "Cham case".

"Both parties have priority as the country's integration," said Meta, who stressed that the rights, must be recognized for the Cham population.

According to Meta, the collaboration will be extended further and will in Parliament and outside it, while the same Idrizi is declared, asserting that cooperation between parties would be counterproductive.

"We will meet all political forces, but point out that LSI was the only political force that the chame issue has been on its agenda," said Idrizi.

Ta Nea: Turkey accuses 3 Greek nationals of espionage

Turkish court brought accusations over espionage to three Greek nationals from the Muslim minority on the Kos Island, Greek "Ta Nea" newspaper reports.

According to the indictment, the three, who were detained on December 2009, used to provide information to the Greek secret services for USD 300 to ISD 2,000 monthly.

The three Greeks are threatened to up to 20 years in jail. Court hearings on the case continue.

Vecernje Novosti, Serbia: Georgios Papandreou – PM winner

Belgrade. Until recently he used to be just ‘son and grandson of great politicians’ but now Georgios Papandreou is ‘the winner in the Brussels battle’, the steersman of the Greek ship, which is still far from a safe quay, Serbian Vecernje Novosti newspaper writes, adding that it is absurd to call the person who is prime minister of the most indebted country in the EU a winner.

“Six months ago Papandreou took the hot potato, inheriting the irresponsible and corrupted rightist government. Suffering defeats, one after another, it finally seemed as if he is one step closer to victory, or at least to the real chance of thinking about it.

Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German financial newspapers, Brussels sent the news for acceptable mechanism for European aid for Greece. It is not perfect credit but anyway beggars cannot be choosers. The International Monetary Fund, which is ready to pay for the euro area entry through Greece, is not rushing too much and soon the total sum of EUR 45 billion will be poured into the empty state funds.

Meanwhile, Greek police is neutralizing the Revolutionary Struggle terrorist organization in the country.Trade unions’ leaders realized the significance of the moment and the need to help the prime minister and the strikes were stopped.
The tourist season is drawing near and will bring fresh money to fill in at least part of the budget gaps.

In Istanbul, Turkish Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas is foreseeing ‘new age’ of the Greek-Turkish relations.A solution to the two decades old name dispute between Athens and Skopje is also coming into view.In Cyprus, where Papanreou is on a visit at the moment, we hear about ‘the unity and progress of the two communities’ more and more often,” the Vecernje Novosti writes.

Albanian President visit Skopje

Albanian President Bamir Topi will visit FYROM at the invitation of his counterpart Gjorge Ivanov, Albanian media informs.

Topi’s agenda also envisages meeting with the FYROM Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanovksi and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Topi will also make a statement before the MPs.
After years of large-scale transformations, for Albania, EU membership is not a pipedream, but a ''future certainty''. Premier Sali Berisha, who at a conference in Brussels on the future of Albania in the EU - organised at European Parliament by the Schuman Foundation - is convinced of this, and took stock of the achievements in the last five years which have changed the face of the country. ''I do not have a membership date yet,'' said the prime minister while speaking to journalists, ''but it will happen before I might suppose''.

The strong points of the government presented in Brussels by Berisha are currently the systematic fight against corruption and crime, fiscal reform and salary increases, in addition to the growth of the social budget and privatisations. All factors that have contributed to maintaining Albania's economic growth faced with the global crisis. ''Today - said the prime minister - exports are recovering, as are profits and bank loans''. ''In the EU membership process,'' explained Berisha, ''reforms for Albanian citizens have been started that provide the chance for people to have services and prospects equal to those of European citizens.'' According to Berisha ''now Albania is one of the safest countries, with the crime rate that is lower than the EU average''.

more see:

Ruling Albanian party threatens with parliamentary boycott

The Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) is straining the rhetoric towards its coalitional partner in the FYROM government VMRO-DPMNE, the "Dnevnik" daily reports.
DUI made it clear that it will block the adoption of the amendments to the Constitution unless its request for decisions at the Constitutional Court to be passed under Badinter principle is accepted.

After this statement of party’s leader Ali Ahmeti, on Tuesday DUI MPs left the Committee on Political System, as the materials for the sitting have not been translated in Albanian.

VMRO-DPMNE refused to comment on Ahmeti’s threats. Party’s chairperson Trajko Veljanoski declared he does not believe that DUI members will really block the work of the parliament.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Albania Submits Completed EU Questionnaire

Tirana | 13 April 2010 |
Sali Berisha
Sali Berisha
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced on Tuesday that the government had filed the EU questionnaire on the country’s readiness to join the bloc.

“We hope to receive an objective evaluation from those who review it,” Berisha said during a cabinet meeting.

The Albanian premier used the occasion to invite the opposition to contribute to the country's EU accession process.

“I call on the opposition to contribute with all its potential to the country's [EU] integration process,” Berisha added.

The 384 page document, which includes over 2,200 questions, is considered an important formal step on Albania’s road to the EU.

The completion of the questionnaire has required the involvement of all of the Albanian public administration in the last three months, including government agencies and the judiciary.

Albania received the 35 chapter questionnaire in mid-December; it was handed directly to Berisha by the head of the EU delegation in Tirana, Helmut Lohan.

Albania to destroy old ammunition by 2013

TIRANA, Albania -- Defence Minister Arben Imami said on Monday (April 12th) that the country plans to have all old ammunition destroyed by 2013 under a new dismantling effort in Elbasan and Polican, financed by Denmark. In need of dismantling are more than 90,000 tonnes of ammunition inherited from the communist regime.

After a ceremony to inaugurate the effort, Danish Ambassador Karsten Ankjaer Jensen said that by destroying the ammunition, Albania will separate itself from its past. More than two years ago, an explosion at a dismantling depot in Gerdec outside of Tirana, killed 26 people and left hundreds homeless.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Euro-Zone Nations Offer $40 Billion to Greece

Greece’s European partners say they are offering Greece euro30 billion ($40 billion) in loans this year to help ease its debt crisis.
Olli Rehn, the EU monetary affairs chief, says the International Monetary Fund will make a “substantial contribution” as well, probably about euro10 billion.
He says the funds will be available if Greece makes a formal request for financial assistance, something it has not yet done.

Rehn said Sunday at an emergency video conference, the finance ministers of the 16-eurozone countries agreed that the loans would carry an interest rate of about five per cent – less than commercial market rates but more than beneficiaries of IMF usually pay.
Greece’s debt crisis has hiked borrowing costs for the Athens government and slammed Europe’s common currency.