Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kosovo police arrest 5 members of Muslim sect for plotting armed attacks

Kosovo police say five men belonging to a Muslim sect have been arrested for plotting armed attacks.

Police spokesman Arber Beka says 120 policemen took part in the arrest of two ethnic Albanians and three minority Muslim Bosniaks in the western town of Prizren early Saturday. Police found machine-guns, hand guns and military uniforms in at least eight locations in the town. Five laptop computers believed to hold data about possible targets were also seized.

Beka could not say if the five are suspected of having links to international terrorism but did not deny the possibility.

No details were given about the nature of the allegedly planned attacks.

Most people in secular Kosovo are Muslim.

Greek, Serbian FMs meet in Athens

22 May 2010, Source: FoNet
ATHENS -- Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met with his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremić and said that relations between the two countries are excellent.

They spoke about the European perspective of the Western Balkans, which Greek believes should join the European Union by 2014.

Droutsas added that in order to reach that goal, “respecting the principles of good neighborly relations is a very important condition.”

Jeremić said that Serbia has shown good will and he hopes that the countries of the region will show the same at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sarajevo on June 2, adding that he hopes the summit will be “a strong signal for the EU that the region has matured and is ready to cooperate, despite differences.”

KFOR to Halve Troop Numbers This Year

KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo
KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo
KFOR, NATO's Kosovo Force, has said it hopes to cut troop numbers from 10,000 to 5,000 by the end of the year.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed on Friday, during a visit to Kosovo, comments made the day before by NATO Supreme Allied Commander US Admiral James Stavridis about troop reductions.

“The security situation continues to improve. Yes, there are political complications and the occasional security incident but the general trend is steadily in the right direction,” Rasmussen told reporters, according to AFP.

NATO’s Kosovo force already slashed its numbers from 13,800 last year to 10,000 this January.

Rasmussen added in a statement: “We will stay as long as it takes to finish the job.

“But I also have to stress that even when KFOR completes its transition to deterred presence we will still have more than 2,000 troops on the ground and many more on call if needed.”

The NATO delegation met Kosovo’s leadership and discussed the issues facing Kosovo, including the importance of cooperation between the communities and relations with Belgrade.

Rasmussen and ambassadors travelled to the Decani Monastery and held an extensive discussion with Bishop Teodosije.

Rasmussen assured the bishop that security for cultural and religious sites remained a priority.

Earlier this year KFOR handed over security for Gazimestan, a tower marking the Battle of Kosovo just outside Pristina and an important site for Serbs, to Kosovo Police, despite protests from Belgrade.

Kosovo singer Vesa Luma, with property in Dhrimades, Himara

According to "Gazeta Shqiptare" the singer from Kosovo, has bought land in Dhermi, but sources from Himara, declare that "any person, can not buy property under legal documents, as long as there is no official registration of property, because the population wants to return the 7501 law, to the legal owners.

If such a thing is true, then we deal with a process where the cadastre offices in collaboration with the justice system in Albania, is making false documents, against property of the inhabitants of Himara, before becoming an official registration for all the Ionian Coast Region.

Meanwhile, singer himself, says that soon there will also to have a new house, built on land that has just bought, in Drimades Beach.

The singer from Kosovo, as it seems, is the first public person, that shows publicly that she has "property" in Himara Region, which is a very important news regarding developments in this area.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The crisis froze the Greek arms programme

The economic crisis has frozen the arms programme of the Greek Armed Forces, Greek newspaper To Vima reported. In attempt to deal with the chaos of arms supplies, the Greek Defence Ministry has decided not to sign the agreements for the purchase of the French frigates FREMM, the new military jet, and the Russian armoured machines BTR-3.

Instead, the ministry will speed up the supplies for spare parts for the F-16 jets and the supplies for the first batch of 15,000 100-mm shells for the tanks Leopard 2.

The German tanks were bought without ammunitions and have mainly been used for parades until now. Greece, however, plans to purchase the 6 French frigates, worth EUR 2.5 billion, in the future. >

Serbian Orthodox Church appoints hardline Bishop Amfilohije as new church leader in Kosovo

BELGRADE, Serbia — The Serbian Orthodox Church has appointed a hardliner as the new bishop in Kosovo after a predecessor was replaced over an alleged financial fraud.

The church says that the new spiritual leader of Serbs in Kosovo will be Bishop Amfilohije Radovic, who is notorious for his nationalist and conservative beliefs.

The appointment late Thursday signals that the Serbian church remains firm in its rejection of Kosovo's Western-backed declaration of independence in 2008.

The Serbian church considers Kosovo the cradle of its foundation. Hundreds of Serbian monasteries, some dating to the medieval era, are located there.

The previous Kosovo bishop, Artemije, was replaced in February over allegations that he embezzled church and state funds.

NATO Council to Visit Kosovo Today

Pristina | 21 May 2010 | Petrit Collaku
NATO headquarters
NATO headquarters
The NATO mission in Kosovo, KFOR, has announced that the North Atlantic Council will visit Kosovo today.

The North Atlantic Council, NAC, is the decision-making body of NATO and is comprised of the 28 NATO permanent representatives under the chairmanship of the Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

NAC will meet with KFOR commander Markus Bentler; the head of the UN mission in Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier; EU rule-of-law mission head Yves De Kermabon; OSCE head Werner Almhofer; and Greek Ambassador Dimitris Moschopoulos, the EU facilitator for the protection of the religious and cultural heritage.

“The delegation will also meet Fatmir Sejdiu and Hajredin Kuqi,” the KFOR press release reads. The NAC delegation will visit Visoki Dečani Monastery and meet with His Grace Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan.

Tadić, Christofias: Excellent relations
21 May 2010 | 09:26 | Source: Tanjug
NICOSIA -- Serbian President Boris Tadić and Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias met in Nicosia on Thursday, on the first day of Tadić's two-day visit.

Christofias, Tadić in Nicosia on Thursday (Tanjug)
Christofias, Tadić in Nicosia on Thursday (Tanjug)

At a joint press conference after meeting Tadić, Christofias said that Cyprus supports Serbia and all Western Balkan countries on their path towards integration in the European Union.

The integration of these countries in the EU would contribute to the stabilization of the situation and relations in the region, he said.

Tadić said that the good bilateral relations are traditional, dating back from a very difficult time for Serbia.

He expressed gratitude to Cyprus for its support to Serbia in the process of EU integration and to its defense of its territorial integrity in Kosovo.

Cyprus is one of the five member states of the European Union which have not recognized the unilateral declaration.

The two presidents, however, emphasized that much more must be done to foster economic cooperation, as bilateral trade totaled only EUR 15mn last year.

Tadić was also scheduled to meet later with Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus Chrysostomos II.

On the second day of his visit to Cyprus, Tadić will, together with Christofias, open the Cypriot-Serbian Business Forum.

Tadić will afterwards meet with Cypriot Parliament Speaker Marios Karoyan.

Kasoulides, mediatior of EPP-ESP for the crises in Albania

A Initiative to resolve the political crisis in Albania made this week in Strasbourg, by the Presidents of the two largest political groups in the European Parliament, Mr Joseph Daul (EPP) and Martin Schulz (Socialists Party).

Daul and Schulz, flanked by responsible for external affairs, J. Kasoulides (which extended for this reason 'to stay in Strasbourg), Adrian Severin and Hannes Swoboda of the Socialist Party, the President of the EP Delegation for relations with the countries of the Western Balkans, Mr Edward Kukan invited in the european capital for talks with the Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, and the Socialist opposition leader Mr. Edi Rama for many months to resolve the political crisis in country.The meeting was called and attended also by the European Commissioner for Enlargement Mr Stefan Fule.

Noted in particular that the Socialist opposition has strongly contested the transparency of the electoral process and the outcome of elections in Albania last June, holding dozens of protest and boycotting the meetings of the national parliament, making it impossible to adopt laws and harmonization with the acquis communautaire.

In the same direction and controversial - legal-request to open the polls last June, several members of the Socialist Party escalated their reactions, moving the last few days on hunger strike.

Berisha and Rama was coordinating a working dinner between Mr Schulz, Kasoulides, Severin, Swoboda, Kukan and Fule noon Thursday. The same evening, before the start of the official dinner between all sides, the J. Kasoulides together with Msts Daul and Kukan had separate meeting with Albanian Prime Minister whose party belongs to the EPP, while the Mr. Schulz met with Mr. Rama.

Ultimately, the talks between all sides Thursday night lasted over six hours and made progress on several points. Light remains an issue that is most critical to resolve the most difficult to find the right formula. In this case, by the EPP and the Socialist Group proposal was presented to Mr. Kasoulides that emerged at that time in accordance with the views expressed yesterday and agreed to allow time for two weeks on both sides to come under this proposal. A New meeting scheduled to take place in Strasbourg on the sidelines of the next plenary session of the EP, which starts on 14 June. Meanwhile agreed the immediate termination of the hunger strike by the socialists, the occupation of roads and demonstrations and the return of opposition to the work of the Albanian parliament.

The Agreement was chosen as a place to Strasbourg for a symbolic and is the capital of the European Union and the City of reconciliation and peace. The active involvement of the EPP in this endeavor is based on written recommendation of J. Kasoulides upgrade of parliamentary diplomacy in the context of increased powers for the European Parliament since the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon.

EU urges Albanian government, opposition to find solution to standoff

The European Union has urged government and opposition leaders in Albania to find a "national, sustainable and imminent" way forward to a solution to the standoff over opposition allegations of fraud in the June 2009 elections.

On May 19 2010, a group of socialist MPs and their supporters who had been on hunger strike in Tirana, where a makeshift tent camp has been erected by protesters, ended their hunger strike – and the following day prime minister Sali Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama met for dinner in Strasbourg at an event arranged by European Parliament centre-right leader Joseph Daul and socialist group leader Martin Schulz.

Media reports from the Albanian capital on May 20 quoted Rama, who is also mayor of Tirana, as saying that his group was ready to negotiate an end to the crisis to open the way for transparency and towards European integration.

The dinner arranged by Schulz and Daul represented an invitation to the rival Albanian leaders to work towards a solution brokered at European level.

In a statement on May 20, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said that they supported the Daul-Schulz initiative.

"Albania stands at a crucial moment on its path towards EU integration," Ashton and Fuele said in a joint statement in Brussels.

"The EU is seriously concerned about the continuing political stalemate. We are concerned about the dysfunctional parliament and the possible systemic effects across their institutions," Ashton and Fuele said.

It was high time to find a solution to the crisis that would stand the test of time, the statement said.

"Albania’s prospects should not be further affected by a continuation of the status quo," the statement said, calling on Berisha and Rama to "take responsibility for finding a national, sustainable and imminent way forward in line with the aspirations of the citizens of Albania, the constitution and the principle of transparency".

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Greek economic situation and the impact of Albanian and Macedonian relations

by Constantine Holevas
Political analyst

Anyone watching the FYROM and Balkan issues remembering the history of Bulgarian nationalism in Macedonia used the Greek crisis of the 1890s. In 1893, just a year in which Xarilaos,Trikoupis admitted that "unfortunately, Bulgaria established the EME (Macedonians Revolutionary Organization), known as the first Bulgarian V.M.R.O.

This organization took over the propaganda against Greece and played a key role in Makedonian race. Today this name has two commas. One in Skopje, which govern, and a small in Bulgaria. In 1898 after the Greco-Turkish war and the imposition of the Greece of the International Audit, then just founded in Sofia in Makedonian revolutionary committee. Its name derived with gunmen who clashed with the local Greeks of Macedonia and the volunteers who came from free Greece.

History thus teaches us to be careful because our problems are many happy and try to exploit the situation. Especially in our relations with FYROM and the name issue I think for many other reasons the time is inappropriate for any negotiation. First, because the crisis has weakened the image of Greece as a strong economic partner in Skopje. Second, because despite the Greek retreat and formal acceptance of a composite name, no recession seen from Skopje. Thirdly, because we are in a phase aggressive against pseudo Macedonian nationalism.

It is telling that the new Ambassador of FYROM at the Vatican is a close associate of schismatic "Orthodox Church in Macedonia, which is not recognized by any Orthodox Church. This shows that Skopje intend to use every means, even the Church ", built by Tito for international propaganda.

The fourth reason for caution is required as the revival of Albanian irredentism in Kosovo triangle-FYROM and Serbia. If implemented Kosovo, goes to Skopje in the scenario, FYROM likely be divided. So why Greece continues to discuss the assignment name, history and culture in a state that does not know if there will be day after tomorrow?

Recent news informs us that on May 11, 2010 the Albanian militants were killed in crossfire with the police near Skopje in FYROM border with Kosovo, one of the most serious incidents of ethnic violence after armed break 2001. In their possession was found a large quantity of arms and badges with the symbols of UCK, the known us since 1999 the Albanian Liberation Army. Two of the dead were citizens of FYROM, Albanian, and the third Albanian residents of Kosovo.

The truck found three grenade launchers, three grenades, bags, six bags of TNT explosives, rifles accuracy, mines and ammunition. A week before this incident, the Skopje police had discovered four caches with large amounts of Albanian weapons in the same area, but the guards weapons escaped. While the streets of Skopje, Albanian NGOs organized demonstrations to demand the equal use of the Albanian language in parliament and the substantial transformation of the state from Slavic "Macedonia" in Albanian and Slavic partnership with many other smaller minorities.

The message of the Albanians in FYROM, which is 30% and encouraged the secession of Kosovo is clear: "If the Slavs of Macedonia did not give us 50% of power, then you fight for the secession of the weapons and we will unite with Kosovar brothers. Of course such a possibility that the Slavs of Skopje will seek support elsewhere and most likely to turn to Bulgaria, which officially regards them as Bulgarians.

The chance to have a few years or split completely in FYROM is great. Besides the U.S. in the Albanian factor help more because of the area population. It will be very upset by the split of Fyrom. In the Balkans the U.S. are trying to propitiate the Muslim component to balance their approach to the Middle East. Obviously the whole revival of the Albanian projects not only about FYROM. Physics Albania, so-called softer vision of "Greater Albania" has bad intentions to Serbia, Montenegro and to Greece.

Reporters and other visitors from Northern Epirus inform us that they have raised the slogans on the walls for the Cham Propaganda against Greece. The Greek official inaction and lack of response damages our national image. Furthermore it is useful to review the immigration policy of the present government, quite rightly, as requested by Antonis Samaras, for reasons of national security. The massive influx of Albanians and naturalization in our country, may produce minority claims. Not overlooking the peaceful Albanians but nobody can exclude that among the immigrants here are dangerous and nationalists organized .

When there are disputes on territorial details, solutions are provided by third parties charged with the task.
It is a national shame to buy weapons that we do not need over an imaginary danger that can be resolved politically.

Theodoros Pangalos
Deputy prime minister of Greece during the Erdogan visit to Athens, May 14-15, 2010

One of the oldest principles of negotiation is to never sit at the table when in want and weakness.

Practice shows that "negotiating" when you cannot meet the minimum requirements of mutual deterrence is tantamount to opening the gates and accepting it is time to surrender.

The just-completed two-day visit of Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan to the Greek capital, at the head of a battalion of Turkish cabinet ministers and prominent members of the Turkish business world, was a supreme example of artfully exploiting Greece's headlong rush into a "negotiation" she can neither control, nor actually fathom thanks to her irreparable economic collapse and a domestic front dominated by fear, desperation, and a sense of advancing futility concerning the future.

Mr. Erdogan has already established a commanding presence as a strong-minded leader, wily international player, and devoted patriot, who anchors his determination in deeply devout Muslim underpinnings and full-bore commitment to Turkey's claims as a regional superpower and primary world actor.

Some years ago, when visiting Thessaloniki during an international meeting, the Turkish PM highlighted who he is via a highly symbolic, poignant gesture. With fellow government leaders lining up for a photo opportunity, Mr. Erdogan spotted that some asinine Greek aide had placed name tags for each of the leaders on the ground, to mark participants' positions for the photo shoot, and next to each tag a plastic copy of each nation's national flag.

With the Greek prime minister, Kostas Karamanlis, nonchalantly stepping on the Greek national symbol as he took up his spot, Mr. Erdogan stopped, bent down, lifted the Turkish flag, kissed it, and kept it to his chest. The photo shoot was over and the Turkish prime minister had starkly underscored where he stood vis-a-vis his Greek counterpart......

more see:

Albanian opposition 'ready to negotiate'

Socialist  Party leader Edi Rama at a rally in Tirana

The Albanian government has been at a standstill for most of the last year, as the opposition Socialists protest a disputed election. But their leader says he's ready for talks with the ruling prime minister.

Albania's opposition leader agreed Thursday to talks to end a nearly year-long feud with the reigning conservative Democrats, and called off a hunger strike by supporters.

"We are ready to negotiate and to deal with the crisis, so as to open the road to transparency and towards European integration," said Edi Rama, head of the opposition Socialists and also mayor of the capital Tirana.

The crisis has paralyzed governmental operations in Albania since last June's disputed elections, which the Democrats narrowly won. That led the Socialists to accuse the ruling party of ballot fraud and demand a recount, which the government contends would be illegal.

The Socialist party has boycotted parliament since September, although members did attend some sessions in March. Twenty-two opposition lawmakers and some 200 supporters had been on hunger strike for the last 19 days, trying to pressure the government to recount the votes.

The impasse has damaged the country's reputation with the European Union, which it hopes to join.

But it is the EU which hopes to take the lead in getting the parties to compromise. Heads of the European Parliament's conservative and leftist parties invited Rama and Prime Minister Sali Berisha to a dinner in Strasbourg, with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule in attendance.

"The participants at the dinner will extensively discuss the ways and means to end the political deadlock in Albania," Berisha's office said.

Editor: Martin Kuebler

Thaci has luggage searched at airport

20 May 2010
PRIŠTINA -- The luggage of Kosovo Albanian Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was searched in detail at the airport in Priština airport, Albanian language daily Zeri writes today.

Hashim Thaci (FoNet, file)
Hashim Thaci (FoNet, file)

Thaci, and four other Priština government officials, Fatmir Limaj among them, “experienced a detailed search while passing through the airport's VIP zone on their departure for Turkey”, the daily wrote, adding that EULEX customs officers carried out the search.

They also had to walk several meters, because their car was not allowed to get close to the airplane, which is a customary practice, according to the article.

The door to the VIP zone, through which Kosovo's top-ranking officials usually drive, was blocked by a car of EULEX customs service, while several customs officers of the mission were standing nearby, said the report.

EULEX officials did not release many details on this unusual customs control, but they clarified that it was a legal procedure.

Customs officers of Kosovo and EULEX, in cooperation with the airport security, today carried out a luggage control using scanners and X-rays in the VIP zone of the Priština airport, which is a legal procedure, EULEX spokesperson Blerim Krasnici said.

He did not specify whether the luggage checks were carried out with a particular goal.

EULEX recently carried out a search of the Ministry of Transport, headed by Fatmir Limaj, on suspicion of that a large sum of money was embezzled.

The trip of Thaci, Limaj and other ministers is taking place only a few days after the Franco-Turkish consortium had been granted a concession on the Priština airport.

The selection was followed by corruption accusations by several competitive companies, opposition parties and representatives of the civil society, said reports.

Security News

Tirana: There is risk of civil war in Albania, says analyst

Tirana. There is a risk of civil war in Albania, if the ruling power and the opposition do not find a solution to the political crisis in the country, says Willibald Frehner with the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Tirana, Macedonian A1 TV reports.

Frehner remarks that the mass projects, the hunger strike and the lack of solution for the political issues pose a serious threat, which may lead to civil war.

According to Frehner, Albania needs a fast solution before it’s too late. He called the two parties to listen to the appeal of the international factor.

more see:

Vreme: Macedonia should not expect miracle in June, says Greek PM

Greece will not give up on its position over Macedonia and the country will start the EU accession talks when the name dispute is solved, despite the pressure Athens has been put to, Greek Prime Minister Georgi Papandrou said at the meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski held in Madrid, Macedonian Vreme daily writes, citing anonymous government sources.

Papandreou was explicit that Macedonia should not expect a miracle in June and it is impossible for the Council of EU to pass a decision that does not meet the approval of all member states.

I want to see all Balkan countries integrated in NATO, says NATO Secretary General

I am grateful to Bulgaria for its strong commitments to our Alliance. Since Bulgaria joined NATO, it has showed its clear commitment and responsibility, as well as great contribution to our operations, especially in Afghanistan.

“My vision is to see all Balkan countries integrated in NATO,” the NATO Secretary General said. He added that his dream will come true when all Balkan countries become members of NATO.

PM Borisov, on the other hand, said that Bulgaria is one of the pillars of the Alliance.
KFOR could reduce troops to 5, 000
20 May 2010, Source: Tanjug

WASHINGTON -- NATO could speed up its plans to reduce the military presence in Kosovo, said reports this Thursday.

The number of KFOR soldiers could go from 15,000 to 5,000 in 2010, announced NATO Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis.

“The situation in the Balkans is not perfect but it is improving,” Stavridis told a press conference.

“I will reduce the number of soldiers in Kosovo from 15,000 to 10,000, or maybe even to 5,000 later in 2010,” Stavridis was quoted as saying.

NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced in September 2009 that the alliance would stick to its plan to cut down the number of KFOR soldiers from 15,000 to 10,000 in 2010.

At the time, Rasmusen pointed out that a detailed analysis of the security situation in Kosovo would precede every decrease in the number of soldiers so as to avoid any negative consequences to the region.

Albanian leaders invited for EU talks, hunger strike ends

Members of Albania's opposition demanding a recount nearly a year after a parliamentary election ended a 19-day hunger strike on Wednesday after pressure from the European Union.

Thursday, 20 May 2010 12:59

Members of Albania's opposition demanding a recount nearly a year after a parliamentary election ended a 19-day hunger strike on Wednesday after pressure from the European Union.

Some of the hunger-strikers, who had been taking only water, were taken to hospital at the end of the strike.

Camped out in white tents outside Prime Minister Sali Berisha's office, 22 lawmakers and 200 backers of the opposition Socialist Party had started the hunger strike to demand a recount of the June, 2009 election, which gave Berisha's party only half the seats in parliament.

The Socialists, who have nearly half the seats in parliament, have alleged widespread fraud and boycotted parliament since September except for brief periods from March.

The heads of the European conservative and leftist parties in the European Parliament have invited Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama to a dinner in Strasbourg, which will be attended by the EU's Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.

"The participants at the dinner will discuss extensively the ways and means to end the political deadlock in Albania," Berisha's office said.

Some Albanian commentators said Berisha and Rama would be given a take it or leave it choice on a draft compromise.


Albanian opposition ends hunger strike pending EU-sponsored compromise talks

TIRANA, Albania - Albanian opposition lawmakers and supporters late Wednesday ended what they said was a 19-day water-only hunger strike after political leaders agreed to EU-sponsored talks to end a political crisis.

The Socialists said top officials from their party and from Prime Minister Sali Berisha's Democrats will attend Thursday's meeting in Strasbourg, as well as European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele.

A statement from Berisha's office said talks would focus on "ways to end the political deadlock in Albania."

The Socialists claim June's parliamentary elections were rigged to ensure Berisha's re-election. The prime minister, who controls 75 of parliament's 140 seats, has rejected calls for a re-count.

Twenty-one opposition lawmakers and 180 supporters started the hunger strike, camped below Berisha's office.

Opposition leader Edi Rama said he hoped the talks will produce "a lucky day."

"We guarantee that ... we are ready for new sacrifices, if the solution does not come," he told supporters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Army chief: Biggest threat from Kosovo
Večernje novosti
BELGRADE -- The unilaterally declared independence by Kosovo poses the biggest threat to Serbia, Chief Of General Staff of the Serbian Army Lt. Gen. Miloje Miletić says.

Lt. Gen. Miloje Miletić (Beta)
Lt. Gen. Miloje Miletić (Beta)

"The territory of Kosovo and Metohija is a stronghold of organized crime and it is currently the biggest security challenge for Serbia," Miletić in told Belgrade's Večernje Novosti today.

When asked whether he expects a new wave of violence in Kosovo after a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), he replied that a "violent threat is an already tried and used method of Kosovo Albanians use to impose pressure on the international community".

"If the court decision is not in keeping with their interests, which I sincerely hope it won't be, destabilization and violence are possible. I have received assurances by the KFOR commander that their troops will prevent any such event," said Miletić.

Underscoring that "according to the experience so far, any instability in Kosovo and Metohija directly jeopardizes security in the region as a whole, particularly in the south region of central Serbia", he said, adding that the Serbian Army "is ready to respond to such a scenario and has enough capacity to secure peace in the area".

Miletić also said that there was need to hold high-level meetings with KFOR and those meetings will become more frequent in the future.

In regards to the army reform, Miletić underscored that the crisis had not seriously affected the reform of the defense system and that Serbia will have an army served by professional soldiers instead of conscripts by the beginning of 2011 at the latest.

“Our army will have 30,000 people, with an active reserve force, it will be well trained, armed and ready to respond to all security risks,” said the general.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

OSCE offers solution to Albanian political crisis


TIRANA, Albania -- The OSCE office in Tirana announced on Monday (May 17th) that it has a compromise that would end the longstanding political crisis. Last week, OSCE Ambassador Robert Bosch said that a proposal had been presented to both the government and opposition Socialist Party (SP)

. While Prime Minister Sali Berisha has said he is unaware of any proposal, SP leader Edi Rama says it calls for opening ballot boxes used during the disputed June 2009 general elections to investigators from a third party, the Venice Commission.

SP lawmaker Arta Dade insisted on Monday that Berisha acknowledge the proposal exists.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sejdiu: Kosovo in Sarajevo “only as state”
Source: Beta

PRIŠTINA -- Fatmir Sejdiu says Kosovo will participate in the Sarajevo conference “only if participants are represented with full state symbols”.

Fatmir Sejdiu (FoNet, file)
Fatmir Sejdiu (FoNet, file)

Even though Priština has confirmed participation at the Western Balkans-EU summit scheduled to take place in Sarajevo on June 2, they have stated that they will not agree to participating under the name “Kosovo-UNMIK”.

“We will participate only if the conditions are the same for us as they are for all other countries. If every country is represented with state symbols, we will participate,” the Kosovo Albanian president said.

“It is unacceptable for us to participate under a sign that says ‘Kosovo-UNMIK’ or with ties to UN Resolution 1244, which is what Serbia wants,” Sejdiu said, adding that Kosovo was recognized by 67 countries and that “Serbia wants to overlook that fact”.

As for the opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the legality of the Kosovo Albanian unilaterally proclaimed independence, Sejdiu said that he was “convinced that no court can pass a decision that will go against the will of the people”.

“The arguments we sent the court are irrefutable. The arguments that our partners in Germany, France, Great Britain and other countries sent to the ICJ are also arguments that support the recognition of Kosovo’s independence,” he concluded.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians made the unilateral proclamation more than two years ago, to meet with Belgrade's rejection.

Greek deputy minister resigns over singer husband’s millions in tax debts

Greek Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou (photo) submitted her resignation Monday over her spouse’s ongoing tax debts.
Her husband, a famous local singer, is said to owe about EUR5.5 million in back taxes, fines and accumulated interest.
“The Prime Minister George Papandreou accepted her resignation,” the government spokesman said.
Sources close to Gerekou say that these debts were accumulated before she met her husband, Tolis Voskopoulos, but she wanted to spare the government any embarrassment at a time when authorities are imposing austerity measures and cracking down on tax evasion.
The socialist government has recently said that tax cheats will be given no quarter and that it intends to eliminate any hint of corruption, favoritism or ‘clientism.’
“Gerekou also informed the prime minister that she had no involvement in her husband’s prior tax matters,” the government spokesman added.

Uncovering Albania's role in the Kosovo war

After the arrest of a man in Kosovo on war crimes charges this month, the BBC's Nick Thorpe visits Albania, which is at the centre of the EU-led investigation into torture and murder.

Boy on the beach at Durres, Albania
Durres is a popular holiday spot, but is implicated in a dark chapter of history

The Hotel Drenica still graces the sea-front in Durres, on Albania's Adriatic coast - one of a long line of hotels and restaurants waiting for the summer influx of tourists.

Children take their first dip of the season in the warming sea, while their parents sip coffee and watch them from the terraces, and boys play soccer on the sand.

Ties to neighbouring Kosovo run deep. Tens of thousands of refugees found shelter here during the war, and local people are proud of their role in helping their ethnic-Albanian brethren in their hour of need.

Many bars incorporate Kosovo in their names. In the 1998-99 conflict, the Hotel Drenica was at the centre of everything - it was the local headquarters of the Kosovo Liberation Army. ....

Macedonia lives in uncertainty, ethnic fears, contradictions, says EU envoy

Macedonia lives in some uncertainty, ethnic fears and contradictions. For certain months there has been some climate of uncertainty about where the country is heading to, says EU envoy to Macedonia Erwan Fouere, Macedonian Vecer daily reports.

Fouere thinks that the government of PM Nikola Gruevski should focus on reforms and strengthening the political dialog as the best way to cope with the mistrust and the advantages provided by Macedonia’s multiethnic character.

The EU envoy recommends that the country pays particular attention on the municipalities on the borders to Albania and Kosovo, which are considered highly delicate and which require harder economic efforts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Business protection against court decisions"

The Vlora region, not only the judicial decisions but also the regional prosecutor, is linked with inters group that control the industry of business particularly in field of construction

TIRANA-Konfindustria today expressed concern that judicial decisions are often heavily affect equality in the business market, so for these reasons, experts in the field will monitor and make public any wrong decision related with court and attorney decisions.

In a press release, general manager of Konfindustria, George Buxhuku suggested that the concern is based on complaints of business people, that "there is doubt, that representatives of the justice system and particularly to their judicial decisions rather than professional and subjective equality is seriously affecting the business market, being used as a tool in the hands of one party to harm their competitors in the market.

According Konfindustria, always growing phenomenon, especially the main seat in Tirana, Vlora and Saranda.

Under these conditions, Konfindustria in collaboration with international specialized institutions in the field is preparing an action plan for monitoring and assessing the observance of professional standards and legal procedures by decisions of courts and prosecution for business competitiveness.

And if that business concerns are verified, then those documents will be forwarded for assessment, provides Konfindustria exactly "at state institutions as President of the Republic, the High Council of Justice, Ministry of Justice, etc..

In Addition in Vlora region, not only the judicial decisions but also the regional prosecutor, is linked with inters group that control the industry of bussines particularly in field of construction.

Greece to support 2020 Istanbul Olympic bid

(ANA-MPA) -- The signing of the Olympic Truce initiative by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan concluded a landmark two-day visit by the Turkish leader to Athens.

Appearing at a brief ceremony in front of the imposing Panathinaiko Stadium in central Athens -- the venue for the first modern Olympic Games of 1896 -- with his counterpart, George Papandreou, Erdogan referred to the "great honor in signing my name to this book; to put my signature for a world of peace".

Papandreou, a major proponent of the Olympic Truce concept since his tenure as foreign minister ahead of the 2004 Athens Games, emphasised the importance of Turkey's support for the idea, which sends out a clear message "by Turkey and Greece to the world".

Moreover, Papandreou said Greece will actively support a bid by Istanbul to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

"We are particularly pleased that Greece has expressed its support, and will extend its know-how (in case Istanbul hosts the Games)," Erdogan added.

Earlier, the two leaders had a private lunch with their spouses at the central Athens hotel where the Erdogan couple stayed.

Greek Minority in protest, blocks the national road

"This is discrimination against the business and economy with ethnic background"

Argirokaster-Representatives of the Greek minority in the South are cast today in a peaceful protest against the government and tax policies.

A convoy of cars are run Kakavija customs point, in protest against the government which is pursuing policies that are discriminatory under the minority and not favorable.

Participates in protest HRUP's head, Vangjel Dule which the government has appealed the Prime Minister Berisha to rethink this category.

"The protest is made for abusive policies pursued by the tax authorities in the South and among minorities. There are dozens of cases, often biased and political order that is leading to bankrupt businesses - Dule said.

According to the protesters, recently wrapped up the activity of a bus transportation company serving the residents of Dropullit for transport to Greece and it is unacceptable to them.