Thursday, March 3, 2011

Albania Announces Greek Population Census

The Albanian government has announced its decision to take a census of the Greek population within its boarders. The last census was taken in 1989. At that time, according to official results there were 59.000 Greeks living in Albania, however, given the circumstances of total lack of freedom, the results of that census cannot be considered as credible.

The government of Sali Berisa has programmed the census to be taken in April. In general, the procedure, as it has been already planed, meets the international standards. Among the questions to be asked, are some concerning religion and nationality.

Nevertheless, on the occasion of this census, nationalist groups in Albania intensify the anti-Greek propaganda. There are widespread rumors of Greek claims on Albanian land and appeals for national awakening. The opposition party has already taken advantage of those circumstances and the government of Berisa can even be accused of national treason.

The question remains, what will Greek foreign policy do in order to ensure full compliance with the legal procedures of the census, assuring to the free will of the Greek community in Albania.

Athens News Agency

Weapons used in two policemen's slaying not used in other criminal act, police announcement says

The Kalashnikov weapon and the pistol found in the car used by the assassins of the two policemen in Renti on Tuesday afternoon were "clean."

According to an announcement by the police, a ballistic examination completed in the laboratories of the crime service, revealed that the weapons have not been used in another criminal act. However, as was revealed by police sources, there had been another Kalashnikov weapon that the perpetrators took with them and police do not consider it improbable for the specific weapon to have been used in other crimes. The perpetrators did not fire with this weapon in the clash in Renti.

As it was clarified by the police investigation, the perpetrators were four and not three as was mentioned in initial reports and this results from the testimonies by witnesses of the armed robbery that they had carried out earlier at a kiosk in Menidi.

According to the testimonies, the robbery was carried out by three persons with two Kalashnikovs and a pistol while the fourth accomplice of theirs drove the stolen car.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Two shot dead as 'Kosovan' gunman opens fire on bus picking up American soldiers from Frankfurt Airport

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:36 PM on 2nd March 2011

  • Lone Kosovan gunman, 21, shot dead soldier and driver
  • Kosovoan authorities identify suspect as Arif Uka
  • The bus driver and a passenger are dead
  • Troops had just arrived in Germany from Britain
  • 'Too early to say if it is terrorist attack,' say police

Two U.S. airmen were today shot dead after a gunman opened fire on a bus of American troops who had just arrived at Frankfurt Aiport in Germany.

The attacker - identified as 21-year-old Kosovan named Arif Uka - gunned down his first victim as the soldier stood in front of the vehicle at Terminal 2.

He then turned his weapon on the driver as he sat behind the wheel and shot him dead. Witnesses described Uka brandishing a knife and shouting as he pulled the trigger.

Two dead: A lone gunman smuggled himself onto a U.S military bus at Frankfurt airport and then opened fire

Two dead: A lone gunman smuggled himself onto a U.S military bus at Frankfurt airport and then opened fire

Motives unclear: Police say it is too early to discuss whether the incident is a terrorist attack

He then attempted to flee the scene but was tackled by airport security who detained him until police arrived.

Tonight the U.S. military confirmed that two U.S. airmen had died in the attack. Two more are seriously injured

Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the 'terrible incident' at the airport and said that Germany would do 'everything possible' to bring the perpetrator to justice.

German sources said that they could not reveal any details about the suspect at this stage.

But Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi said that he had been identified as Arif Uka a Kosovo citizen from the northern town of Mitrovica. He had recently been living in Germany.

'This is a devastating and a tragic event,' Rexhepi said.

'We are trying to find out was this something that was organised or what was the nature of the attack.'

Stationary: The bus was parked outside Terminal 2 of the airport when the attack occurred

En route: The soldiers had just arrived in Germany having left their Lakenheath base in Britain

The incident happened at Terminal 2 of Europe’s second biggest airport, which is a major interchange for troops travelling to and from Afghanistan.

According to CNN, the troops were U.S. airmen stationed at Lakenheath base in Britain. They had only just arrived in Germany.

Police spokesman Jürgen Linker said: 'It seems to have all happened on the bus.'

It is unclear at this stage whether the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack and Mr Linker said it was too early to discuss the gunman's possible motives.

Speaking after the attack, Interior minister Boris Rheim told German newspaper Bild that the investigation was in its earliest stages.

'If there’s a terrorist background I can’t tell you at the moment but it’s not being ruled out,' he said.
'We’re questioning the perpetrator very closely.'

Armed: The attacker was also said to be carrying a knife

Security: Police shield the bus with the airport in lockdown

Frankfurt Airport is only a short distance from the U.S. Air Force's headquarters in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, though the U.S. military has several major bases in the Frankfurt region, which is often used as a logistical hub for operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

It is understood that the troops had just arrived In Germany and were on their way to a base when the attack happened, although the number of soldiers on the bus at the time is unclear.

The U.S. Army Europe said it had no immediate information on the incident but was checking into it.

The airport,which is 7.5 miles south west of the city of Frankfurt, was today sealed off by police and army. .

Eight officers shot, 2 dead in shootout

(ΑΝΑ-ΜPA) -- A total of eight police officers were struck by gunfire during a deadly shootout with three or four assault-rifle wielding perpetrators Tuesday afternoon in the working-class district of Renti, near the port of the Piraeus.

Two motorcycle policemen were fatally shot in the incident, one dying at the scene and the other roughly three hours later at a local hospital. The fallen officers were identified as Georgios Skylogiannis, 22, who joined the force in 2009 and special police guard Ioannis Evangelinelis, 23, who joined in 2008. Another policeman is in serious but stable condition after sustaining a gunshot wound in the abdomen, while a fourth was shot in the knee.(ΑΝΑ-ΜPA)

The violent incident occurred during a police chase and after the vehicle driven by the gunmen, a Volvo SUV, was identified as sporting stolen license plates. The vehicle itself, later found abandoned with two assault rifles and a handgun inside, was also stolen from a private residence in northern Athens that was also burglarised. (ΑΝΑ-ΜPA)

Another four motorcycle officers were hit by gunfire but emerged unscathed thanks to the bullet-proof vests and helmets they were wearing. The assault rifles were identified as the AK-47 type, i.e. "Kalashnikovs".(ΑΝΑ-ΜPA)

The incident comes a week after police intercepted a getaway car on a south-central highway carrying five armed suspects, all Albanian nationals, suspected of robbing a handful of banks and post offices in the Fthiotida prefecture in the course of several days. One suspect was killed during the incident while the others were arrested. (ΑΝΑ-ΜPA)
OSCE Will Closely Watch Local Polls in Albania

OSCE Secretary General says his organisation will field a strong presence in the May 8 local elections, seen as a key test of the country’s stability.
Besar LikmetaTirana
"We are preparing for a large presence of international observers, which, together with local observers, will guarantee a good electoral process," Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said in Tirana.

Brichambaut held meetings on Monday and Tuesday with Albania’s highest officials, including President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and opposition Socialist leader Edi Rama.

The opposition has adopted an ambiguous position toward the upcoming ballot, saying it will not boycott the vote while claiming conditions for a free and fair ballot do not exist.

“A boycott of the election by the opposition is only a dream that [Prime Minister] Sali Berisha entertains,” Rama said.

"[But] elections cannot be held in these conditions and we have underlined our desire to change them," he added.

Following a violent opposition demonstration on January 21 in which four protesters died and dozens were wounded, the Socialists have demanded early general elections and a provisional government of technicians to ensure that the polls are free and fair.

Berisha's centre-right government and the Socialist opposition have engaged in a tense political standoff over the past 18 months concerning the results of the June 2009 general elections, which the Socialists lost but which they say were marred by fraud.

The January 21 protest turned into a riot when several hundred marchers attacked a police barricade set up to protect the Prime Minister’s office, using sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails.

Police responded with tear gas, water cannons and later with live ammunition fire, leaving four dead and dozens wounded.

Prosecutors are currently investigating the murders, the organisers of the protest and the violent demonstrators that attacked the police.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Greek - Albanian paradoxes

Berisha, includes in the coalition government, PDIU of Cham Community

The Greeks of MEGA, "in silence" for agreement Berisha-Idrizi

What is happening between the representatives of the Greek community in Albania as part of the government, is incredible. "Silence and fear", not only to deal with nationalist tensions created by blocking the counting of the population, but with great paradox, is happening, just in these days, when Prime Minister Berisha, included in his government, the Party of the Cham Community PDIU.

Some functions in departments of Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication, are provided for PDIU, while it is expected that the Democratic Party of Sali Berisha, with the election agreement approved by PDIU, of the Cham Community.

But while there is no reaction from the representatives of the Greek ethnic Party, MEGA, where many members including the Minister of Labour, Spiro Ksera, Director of Committee for Minorities Kostandina Bezhani, deputy director of the Property Registration Office Kosta Barka and hundreds of other representatives from The Greek Community in the government Berisha, are silent, putting in doubt the integrity of this political force.

The issue becomes more complicated when thought that the coalition of "unsustainable" of the Berisha government, includes two political poles, with diametrically opposed nationalist weight on one side, Shpetim Idrizi PDIU leader, and on the other, an exponent who is "charged publicly" by PDIU, Spiro Ksera as "servant of Northern Epirus and the Greek nationalism."

This is an important paradox for future political developments in Albania, where the Cham Community, is formalizing the agreement in the government coalition, with part of the Greek Community.
The fire of ethnic strife may burn in Macedonia again

43520.gifThe Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia can become the next hot spot in the world. Recently, the local Interior Ministry called the administrators of Facebook to block the profiles of the users who incite ethnic strife. It is not ruled out that the country may soon become another stage for the Slav-Albanian conflict.

"According to Putytin, the Macedonian statehood is seriously threatened. "Many Macedonians have Bulgarian passports, and it is possible that in the future the territory of Macedonia will be divided between Bulgaria and Kosovo, and Macedonians will be a minority in both countries. Serbia could play an important role in defending the independence of Macedonia, but difficult economic and political situation does not allow it to be a stabilizing factor in the Balkans," he said.

In mid-February in the capital of the country Skopje a brawl broke out between Macedonians and Albanians. The latter did not like the fact that a museum shaped like an Orthodox church will be placed in the city center. As a result, eight individuals, including policemen who tried to bring order, were injured with various degrees of severity.

After the incident Macedonian Interior Ministry has asked the administration of Facebook to deactivate the profiles and pages of the groups that citizens have created to appeal to ethnic hatred. The police emphasized that the network is used by extremists to promote the idea of hatred and religious intolerance, which may threaten Macedonian statehood.

The concerns of the Macedonian security forces are well grounded. Approximately a quarter of the two million population of the country are Albanians. The maps of "Greater Albania" issued in Albania and Kosovo from time to time display the capital of Kosovo, as well as one of the main shrines of the Balkan Slavs, Ohrid Monastery. When we consider what the Albanians have done to the Kosovo churches and monasteries, the possibilities look cheerless.............................

more see:........

Del Ponte wants Kosovo organ case

1 March 2011 Source: Tanjug
ZURICH -- Ex-Chief Hague Prosecutor Carla del Ponte she would like to investigate the case of organ trafficking in Kosovo.

Carla Del Ponte (FoNet, file)
Carla Del Ponte (FoNet, file)

She told Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung that she believed an independent international institution should be established to conduct the investigation.

"An independent international institution should be created to conduct the investigation and protect the witnesses," Del Ponte responded when asked what needs to be done following the report on organ trafficking by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty.

"For me personally, it would be a challenge to head the investigation in Kosovo," Del Ponte said and added that she "sees no one has thought of that".

"I have a good knowledge of the casefiles, and I also have connections and could carry out the investigation quickly," said the former Hague chief prosecutor.

She assessed that it remains to be seen how strong the political will is in this matter, and noted that the EU and the U.S. should help with the investigation.

Asked if she did the right thing in making serious accusations without the necessary evidence, Del Ponte said that the evidence was insufficient for an indictment but that the indications were serious.

"I mentioned the organ trafficking in my book so that someone could start the investigation we were not able to," Del Ponte said.

The Marty report alleges that ethnic Albanian KLA was involved in organized crime and atrocities committed against Serb civialians in Kosovo, including their kindappings and trafficking in their body parts.

KFOR to Halve Troop Numbers in Kosovo

The NATO-led force in Kosovo, KFOR, has announced that it will reduce the number of its troops to 5,500 from 10,000.

Voice of America, B92

This was confirmed for Voice of America by the force's commander, German General Erhard Buehler. He said it was proof that the mission had been successfully carried out.

"The Kosovo operation has been successful for years, and now we need to organise for, I'd say, the last third of out mission," he said.

"We are reducing the troops to 5,500 from 10,000, which is the so-called second step, and in the future we will have territorial commands everywhere in Kosovo with liaison officers and observer teams. We'll also have two battle groups and one tactical reserve," said Buehler.

He also said he believed KFOR would be able to respond to any situation with its reduced numbers.

"The security situation is good, peaceful. It's not yet stable, especially in the [predominantly Serb] north, so the key efforts are still in that area, but I think we can allow ourselves to reduce the number of troops in Kosovo," Buehler explained.

NATO troops entered Kosovo on June 12, 1999, after 78 days of air strikes on Serb positions aimed at halting ethnic cleansing against Albanians under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. During the initial days of the conflict, NATO's peacekeeping operation had approximately 50,000 troops on the ground.

BBC World Service ends Albanian language broadcasts

BBC Albanian website - screen grab The BBC served an Albanian-speaking audience plagued by civil unrest in the 1990s

Related Stories

The BBC's Albanian Service has made its last broadcast after nearly 20 years serving audiences in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

It is one of five language services closing after cuts announced by the BBC World Service in January.

The Albanian Service first operated in 1940-1967, then resumed broadcasts in 1993 as Albania emerged from communism.

The service came into its own as Albania was shaken by civil unrest in 1997, the BBC's Sean Fanning reports.

Around 750,000 people listened across Albania, Kosovo and part of Macedonia.

The service was a major source of information for people in the region during the Kosovo conflict in 1999.

The head of the service, Ilir Nishku, said he felt "sadness because we are closing... but also a sense of pride at what we have achieved".

The main reason for the closure is wider budget cuts, but BBC management also cite the development of local media and Albania's eventual membership of the European Union.

Critics argue that while local media is free, much of it is polarised and there is still a need for an independent voice in the region.

Reactions by Northern Epiriotes in Greece, about the census population, postponed in Albania

Message to Papoulias, "Greek politics stop the games, against Northern Epiriotes"

Provision of Greek citizenship for about 20 thousand Northern Epiriotes as immigrants, has become deeply effects of electoral votes from the major parties in Greece.

Athens has not yet decided what strategy it will follow the census block in Albania, with which about 500 thousand Northern Epiriotes was expired, the cards homogeneous in the end of this year. Poatpones (blockage) of a census in Albania, has followed the initial reaction from homogeneous Northern epiriotes who live and work in both countries as Greece and Albania.

They think that the inclusion of Greek President Karolos Papoulias, over all parties concerned politically vote by Northern Epiriotes in Greece, will be able to resolve a matter of international arena. According to a statement distributed by Greek internet connections in the system, the call is addressed to President Papoulias, the first in view of universal human rights in Albania, in which particular, blocking the process of the population, is regarded by them as "failed efforts of Athens to protect the interests of the ethnic Greek community and simultaneously enables Tirana, to continue suppression and persecution of thousands of ethnic Greeks, who have been denied for the right to have the greek nationality by the Albanian authorities for tens years ago.

Messages for Greek President Karolos Paoulias, who is originally from Northern Epirus, continues with irrefutable facts of the entire spectrum of Greek politics, which use homogeneous Northern epiriotes, to obtain votes in Greece, while in Albania, Athens supports in order the monopolies investment of Greek citizens, leaving aside national interests of the Greek ethnic Greek community in Northern Epirus.

Northern epiriotes, finally felt that Athens has failed to protect the dignity and integrity of them, while in their lands in southern Albania, Northern Epirus, the Albanian government has issued laws and decisions, registering land and property, in favor of own national interests.

Omonia Thessaloniki: We expect improved return of Mr. Theo. Economy in Korca
Letter of Protesters, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Athens

We are working in Northern Epirus and Macedonia in Thessaloniki, many more objects to the withdrawal of the Consul General in Korce, Theodore Economou-Kamarinos because it is the only true patriot Consul that our country, Greece has sent so far in Korce.

We are concerned for that the suffering of our grandparents, our parents, our brothers in prison, murders in exile, have suffered from the dictator schemes. Even today we do not have fundamental rights to liberty, to confess that we are Greek in origin.

We await the return of Mr. Theodore Economou - Kamarinos upgraded and not scared and humiliated.
General Board of "Omonia" Thessaloniki

Monday, February 28, 2011


52 Albanian personalities, message to President Topi, against registration of ethnic and religious

52 eminent personalities of the country have responded through a petition to the president, prime minister and speaker of the parliament on the issue of the census on ethnic and religious.

52 personalities, among them writers, politicians, historians, artists and representatives of civil society through a petition expressing concern for the population on ethnic and religious grounds, calling it unconstitutional. They refer to Article 20 of the Constitution, which recognizes the right of national minorities to express freely their ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural.

52 names of the country, including former presidents Meidani and Moisiu, historians Xhufi and Sabri Godo, former Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj, etc.. expressed demand for self-declaration of nationality in the current conditions is great risk, so there is no benefit from ethnic and religious census, adding that such recording elements do not exist in any of the 27 EU member states.

In their petition addressed to senior state leaders, important personalities of the country suggest at this point that the law on civil status made in this spirit to be repealed as soon as possible. They urge intellectuals and organizations in place to react and to join their petition.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Albania government postpone population census

Tirana, 26 February 2011 (AENEWS) – Albania government decided to postpone the population and housing census by “several months” citing “technical problems”. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Innovation was quoted by local media saying that the “postponement is related to the fact that the municipality workers are currently busy dealing with the next local elections”.
The census was scheduled for the 1 April and will be postponed for October or November, according to the officials.

Albania organized its last census on population and living conditions on 2001, in order to correct the statistical mishmash caused by strong emigration, population displacement within the country and tens of thousands illegal homes constructed since the collapse of communism.

Under political pressure from EU, Albania accepted to add questions on religious adherence and ethnicity in 2011 census, which dismayed a part of the public opinion that are afraid that data collected on ethnicity based on self-declaration will fuel Greek nationalist territorial claims. During the last few weeks several protest against the census on ethnicity were organized.

Currently Albania uses civic registers to account ethnic minorities and by law ethnicity could not be changed on demand.

Greek minority organizations claim that the number of ethnic Greeks in the country was diluted over time by political and social pressure and that the right of self-declaration of ethnicity could resolve such historical problems.

Albanians claims that Greek Government uses its economic muscles to lure Albanians in changing their identity for Athens nationalist claims on Northern Epirus, a region that lives currently in South Albania.

The census 2011 is expected to cost about 15 million euro and is partly financed by the EU funds.

The census is expected to produce more reliable data on the size of the population in the country and the labor force, which is impossible to be calculated based on civic registers because of massive emigration.