Saturday, September 17, 2011

Greece, Israel sign pact on security cooperation

ATHENS (JTA) -- Greece and Israel signed a security cooperation agreement amid declining Israeli relations with neighboring Turkey.

Greek Defense Minister Panos Beglitis, making the first official visit by a Greek defense minister to Israel, and his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, signed a cooperation memorandum on security in Jerusalem on Sunday during the first day of Beglitis' three-day trip.

"I come as my country's defense minister to state our political will as a government, as well as the majority of the country's political forces, for the two countries, the two governments, the two peoples, to work together so that we can further develop and deepen our bilateral relations in all sectors of mutual interest and concern," Beglitis said.

The visit is part of a cooperation memorandum signed last year between Prime Minister George Papandreou and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last week a Greek Parliament committee approved the purchase from Israel of Rafael-made Spice 1000 and 2000 bomb precision upgrade kits at a cost of $155 million for 400 systems.

Israel's ambassador to Greece, Arie Mekel, noted the "unprecedented number of high-level visits" between Israel and Greece this year. He said the visit by Beglitis "highlights again the dramatic upgrade of the relations between Greece and Israel for the benefit of both countries."

Beglitis clarified that his visit concerns bilateral relations with the State of Israel exclusively and is not functioning competitively with other countries in the region.

His visit comes in the wake of the release last week of the United Nations' Palmer report which said that Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal, but that Israel used excessive force when boarding the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara, leading to the deaths of nine Turkish citizens, in May 2010. Turkey has demanded an apology and, with none forthcoming, said it would ramp up sanctions against Israel.

Beglitis was scheduled to meet Monday with Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and also will have a private meeting with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He met previously with the chief of Israel's military, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.

Barak said he was pleased by the upgrading of the military and defense cooperation between Israel and Greece.

"We are seeing with satisfaction the deepening and widening of relations between us and the Greeks in all sectors, including the security sector, and we desire to see the deepening and widening of this cooperation between the governments, between the Defense Ministries and between our peoples," Barak said.

Top Channel Video - Top Story - 15/09/2011

Top Channel Video - Top Story - 15/09/2011

Albania Court Nominates New Experts in Video Corruption Trial

Albania's Supreme Court has nominated three local experts to examine a video recording in the corruption trial against former deputy prime minister Ilir Meta.

Besar Likmeta
Ilir Meta | Photo courtesy of Ministry of Foreing Affairs

Meta was charged with corruption in May after a video was broadcast appearing to show him discussing corrupt deals with another former minister, Dritan Prifti.

The three new experts will review the video’s authenticity, which Meta contends had been doctored and his words taken out of context.

An earlier review of the video was conducted by British and American experts called by the prosecution. This review stated that the tape was authentic but the review has since been dismissed by the court as inadmissible proof.

General Prosecutor Ina Rama filed charges against Meta in early May after a four-month investigation was cinducted, following the broadcast of a secretly filmed video in January .

Transcripts from the video appeared to show Meta asking Prifti, the former economy minister, to intervene in a hydropower plant concession tender. Meta also appeared to mention a bribe by a businessman of €700,000.

Meta also appeared to ask Prifti to hire activists of his own party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI. The LSI is the junior partner in the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha. It controls the ministries of economy, foreign affairs and health.

Although it only holds four parliamentary seats, the LSI came out as a kingmaker in the 2009 parliamentary elections, which were narrowly won by Berisha’s right-wing Democratic Party.

Meta is head of the LSI, and at the time of the recording was both deputy prime minister and foreign minister. The tape also appeared to show him boasting about having influenced a Supreme Court trial involving the same hydropower plant.

Ilir Meta denies allegations of corruption.

Serbia could “respond in kind” to Priština’s moves

PANČEVO -- Serbia could block crossings between Kosovo and central Serbia that Albanians use the most as a reciprocal measure, says Serbia's Interior Minister Ivica Dačić.

Ivica Dačić
Ivica Dačić

He said that Serbia would do so “if the existing situation at the Jarinje and Brnjak administrative crossings continues”.

The minister told Tanjug that Serbia had a plan of action in case the situation in Kosovo deteriorated and explained that the plan did not include military and police.

“It includes reaction of all other state organs in order to prevent all consequences. I mean in the fields of economy, trade, education, health…,” he stressed.

Dačić added that Serbia was ready to continue the dialogue with Priština and that it believed that an agreement on the administrative crossings needed to be reached.

“The issue of who was going to be at the crossings and where the funds collected there would go to was not a subject of the dialogue. In accordance with that we have turned to the EU with an intention to discuss those issues immediately, maybe as soon as at the next session of the dialogue,” he stressed.

The interior minister has assessed that EULEX’s action of Friday was unnecessary and that it only complicates the situation in Kosovo. He added that it was good that Serbs had remained calm since Thaci’s goal was to cause conflicts between Serbs and KFOR and EULEX.

Dačić believes it is “funny” that the Kosovo PM thinks he has occupied northern Kosovo by bringing one customs officer at each checkpoint by helicopter.

According to the interior minister, Serbs should continue with their legitimate interests that nobody can deny.

He added that Kosovo Serbs needed unity and that it was not necessary “that someone goes to Kosovo on weekend to fight for the people in Kosovo and create some incident”.

“Serbs in Kosovo have enough common sense and strength to fight for their requests,” Dačić concluded.

Top Story, Spahiu - Marko strong debate about census

Marko: "Tirana continues to terrorize a big part of Albanian citizens that they do not have sentiments of Albanian nationality"

Spahiu: "
"Greece is financing and sporting the Census as "13 point" that EU is using pressing to Albanian State, for the raise of Northern Epirus Autonomy"

Stavri Marko: "The Albanian President, must to call the National Security Counsil, for the terrorist attack for the case
Konomi’s murder

Spahiu: Konomi’s murder, a clear message
The vice Chairman of the High Council of Justice declared for Top Channel’s program “Top Story” that the murder of Judge Skerdilajd Konomi was a clear message that the executors wanted to transmit.

He emphasized that Konomi was killed for his qualities as a judge, and he also denounced the impunity of justice members. Spahiu emphasized that there are many crimes in Albania for which everyone knows who the author is, but no one mentions it. For this, Spahiu blames the state mechanism.

For the terror case of Konomi, the journalist Marko called during "Top Story" that : "The Albanian President, must to call the National Security Council, for the terrorist attack for the case Konomi’s murder.

During the popular emission "Top Story" o Top Channel TV, Spahiu also, the Head of "Albanian Red and Black Alliance" made a strong debate with the Journalist Stavri Marko for the census process in Albania. Marko declared himself the sentiments as Helleno Epiriot by family origin from Himara and accused for the massive propaganda against the Hellenic Community standing: "Tirana continues to terrorize a big part of Albanian citizens that they do not have sentiments of Albanian nationality"

From his part
Spahiu over all declared that : "Greece is financing and sporting the Census as "13 point" that EU is using pressing to Albanian State, for the raise of Northern Epirus Autonomy"
Albania: Law for nationality change rejected

Law for nationality change rejected
The Constitutional Court rejected the dispositions for changing the nationality in the Civil Registrar.

The Court ruled with six votes in favor and two against for rejecting the disposition of this law, approved in 2009, for the procedures of changing the nationality in the law for the Civil Registrar. Considering the law as illegal, the Constitution Court ruled that it is inconsistent with the term “nationality”.

The appeal at the Constitutional Court was filed by the Courts of Saranda, Shkoder and Permet, which asked the Constitutional Court to declare it as inconsistent. The District Courts declared that the law damaged the Constitutional Principles by obliging the citizens to change their ethnicity.

Based on this law, the courts of the southern Albanian cities have changed thousands of nationalities, from Albanian to Greek. This wave of changes caused the citizens to complain, and the Red and Black Alliance too. During a tour of meetings with the district courts, this law was also opposed by the Vice Chairman of the High Council of Justice, Kreshnik Spahiu.
Albanian Census, EU: Important for economic policies

Census, EU: Important for economic policies
The European Union considered the process of the population and residence registration as indispensable, declaring that for this reason they have been the greatest financial supporters of this project.

“The Census must be seen as a critical and very important operation that would help INSTAT to create a credible statistical system, because the population statistics are the most important for a country. We have given a constant help to this process, because we trust that the improvement of official statistics is a guarantee for democracy and an important input for a good managing of the country, which also helps the economic growth”, declared François Begeot, from the EU delegation.

The UN, which has the human development in the center of its mission, says that a clear data collection would facilitate the process of giving help to the ones who need it and for better distributing the policies for the key sectors.

“The Census will help for a better distribution of the budget and resources in general. It will create a clearer image of the sexual equality in the country and will contribute for a better targeting, for better support in education, health and social assistance. The active and necessary usage will promote the human development in the country; will help Albania’s ambitions towards the EU integration and for achieving the objectives of this millennium”, the official declared.

INSTAT will officially start the population and residence registration on October 1st, also called the Census 2011, for which has been approved a budget of 14 million EUR that will hire 15.000 people.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

KFOR blocks one checkpoint, Serbs another

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- NATO troops in Kosovo, KFOR, tonight used barbed wire to shut down the Jarinje administrative line checkpoint between Kosovo and central Serbia.

German members of KFOR are seen at Jarinje (Tanjug)
German members of KFOR are seen at Jarinje (Tanjug)

As a consequence of this, the traffic at the checkpoint has come to a complete halt.

A little after 19:00 CET,, local Serbs in northern Kosovo used trucks to block the second administrative crossing, Brnjak.

The trucks are placed on both sides of the administrative line.

Serbs also blocked access to Jarinje with one truck.

At the same time, the main bridge in the ethnically divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica remains blocked with large quantities of gravel the Serbs placed on the road.

Serbs also completely blocked the Kosovska Mitrovica-Ribarić road in several places in the Zubin Potok municipality. Near Zupče they created a barricade out of tree trunks, stopping the traffic in both directions.

A large number of cars are seen parked nearby, while Serbs from the Ibarski Kolašin region also joined the local residents at the barricades.

Here, they also put up a large video-beam, so they can watch the European basketball championships quarterfinal match played this evening between Serbia and Russia.

The situation in Zubin Potok is described as peaceful but tense.

All this comes as tensions are running high after the Kosovo Albanian authorities in Priština announced they would on Friday install their police and customs at the two checkpoints in the north.

Local Serbs reject the authority of the government in Priština, as well as the unilateral declaration of independence made by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in early 2008.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Albania, continues to prohibit with a memorandum (Law by Parliament) the right to have their citizens on the sea, the nautical property, while, by the public budget is financing about 34 million euro, for those Coast Guard ships, that never can not justified the maritime borders, for what not exist both nautical system and ships on the sea.

Albania & Chemical weapons

Ioannis Michaletos
14 Sep 2011

The following exclusive report by the Albanian investigative reporter and security analyst Gjergj Thanasi, presents the ongoing process for the destruction of the chemical weapons caches in Albania. During his research, Thanasi made an extensive use of the archive material that was found in the infamous Wikileaks telegrams of the US State Dept, as well as review of the Albanian press on that subject. The research was also presented in the leading Albanian newspaper Shekulli.
“Chemical weapons “ fallout" from wikileaks in Albania

Thanks to the Nunn-Luggar initiative, Albania got rid off her communist era stock of chemical weapons. 48 million dollars of US tax payers were spent to destroy approximately 160 bulk containers filled with 16,6 tons of chemical ammunition consisting of Blister gas(yperite),
Lewisite,Adamsite and Chloropicrin were stored in Qafmolla army facility some 10 miles from Tirana the Capital city of Albania. The process began in February 2005 and Albania was declared free of weapons of mass destruction by OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) in July 2007.
As the proverb say :All is well when ends well, the euphoria on the part of the Albanian Government as well as the American dignitaries served as a cover for grave problems lingering after the destruction of the chemical ammunition.
The recent released wikileaks revealed the lingering problems after the destruction of these chemical weapons. The wikileaks cable 08 Tirana 406 runs: Leaking containers of hazardous chemical waste left behind by the US contractors after a successful chemical agent elimination program had sparked MOD’s interest for help in building a hazardous waste storage facility.
There were 30 twenty-foot containers filled with chemical waste resulting from the destruction of the chemical weapons. The implementing agency DTRA(Defense Threat Reduction Agency) had agreed to pack the waste in double leek-proof containers which would hold the waste secure for 20 years at the Qafmolla army facility.
In Autumn 2007 tests revealed of heavy metal contamination of the concrete pad on which the facility was build. The Savant Environmental a UK remediation specialist determinate that the problem was worse than originally thought. The heavy metal salts put in steel drums had corroded the drums almost immediately. Many containers were leaking salts of heavy metal primary arsenic, lead and mercury. The conexes were not waterproof and since the contaminated components had not been properly cleaned before being put into the conexes , the condensation and water leakage were dissolving some of the contaminants and causing them to leak out into the ground.
The Savant specialists estimated that DTRA containers were only good for five years to ten years of containment not twenty as has been claimed. In case of natural disaster fire, earthquake etc this chemical waste risked to contaminate not only the premises of the facility but also the nearby villages and towns. ETTS (Eisenmann Thermal Treatment Systems) the German company from Stuttgart which carried out the project contrary to a prior written agreement with MOD of Albania left a a highly problematic legacy to Albania, thanks to a written consent of Mr.Fatmir Mediu to store the chemical waste in Albania instead of sending it abroad for further processing as in the case of the 30 tons of fuming nitric acid of dismantled SAM 2 missiles shipped to Sweden(see cable 06 Tirana 747).
Now there are 15 twenty-foot containers of chemical waste resulting from the destruction of the chemical weapons stored in Albania.(see cable 08 Tirana 556 signed by Ambassador Withers) A large quantity of cyanide compounds resulting from the destruction of the chemical waste was packed and shipped to UK by The Savant Environmental.
It is very strange how a project costing 48milion dollars created such problems to ill-equipped Albania. If we compare this project with the Swiss VETOXA(Vernichtung Toxischer Chemikalien in Albanien) carried out by the Swiss company MGC Plasma AG which destroyed 12 tons of chloropicrin and one ton training mixture containing a portion of 5% yperite at a cost of merely 5,3 million CHF.
The chemical weapons destroyed by Nunn-Luggar initiative were in bulk containers easier to deal with while the chemical weapons destroyed by the diligent and parsimonious Swiss were in the form of 15 000 pieces of tear gas grenades (chloropicrin grenades) and 23 000 CW stimulant containers with small quantities of CW agent.
After the destruction of the CW the Swiss left in Albania only 238 empty, perfectly clean chloropicrin barrels as well as the burnt out and harmless barrels of the training gas mixture. All other solid remnants from the destruction process, the slag from the plasma reactor and the filter cakes from the processing of the gas washing water, were declared as special waste material and transported to Switzerland for professional disposal.
The American project cost was more than eleven times higher than the Swiss one for the destruction of almost the same quantity of CW. The Swiss left no poisonous legacy on Albanian soil, while the American project due to the problematic implementation by the German company ETTS had higher costs and problematic chemical waste contaminating the environment.
In any case, it can be concluded that already the Albanians are used to Pentagon being rather slipshod with taxpayers money. A teen ager called Efraim Diveroli won contracts worth almost 300million dollars to supply the government of Afghanistan with AK-47 assault rifles ammunition and produced a scandal with rusty Chinese ammunition bought in Albania violating the US law. He is doing now time in a county jail in Florida, while 26 Albanians lost their lives in the Gerdeci catastrophic explosion in 2008, related to that supply of rusty Chinese ammunition by the MOD of Albania.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Turkey says it is prepared for possibility of war with Israel

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said Monday in Cairo that he is prepared for the worst case scenario with Israel, while Israel scrambles to cover its flanks in a multifront diplomatic crisis.

Palestinian schoolboys hold a poster depicting Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a rally at Gaza Seaport calling on Erdogan to visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Ismail Zaydah/Reuters


By Ariel Zirulnick, Staff writer / September 13, 2011

• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

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Amid a diplomatic assault from three directions that hasIsrael's foreign service reeling, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey is prepared for a military confrontation with Israel should the diplomatic row between the two countries escalate.

In an interview Monday with Egyptian newspaper Al Shuruq, Mr. Erdogan said the "Turkish Navy is prepared for every scenario – even the worst one."

Israeli-Turkish ties have been nearly severed in recent weeks. That's not the only challenge. Over the weekend, angry protesters breached the Israeli embassy in Cairo, and there was rapid movement toward a Palestinian declaration of statehood when theUnited Nations meets later this month. The trio of challenges has put Israel at a tough diplomatic intersection, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

Erdogan, who downgraded Israel's diplomatic mission to Turkey after Israel refused to apologize for its May 2010 raid on the Gaza flotilla that killed nine people, including eight Turks, would not speculate about Turkey's next move, according to Israeli news organization Ynet News, which carried a translation of the Al Shuruq interview.

"I don't want to put the cart before the horses," he said, "because any such plan is hinged upon Israel's response and its willingness to accept a just solution that will preserve Turkey's honor."

"What I can say is that we are committed to four things: Protecting the rights and honor of the Turkish people, stopping Israel from disregarding international treaties and customs, implementation of Turkish demands through international tribunals, and ending the blockade on Gaza."

Erdogan is in the middle of a visit to Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, his first since all three countries ousted longstanding dictators.

Other Arab countries, both those friendly and hostile to Israel, heaped blame on Israel for its isolation from two of its former regional allies. King Abdullah of Jordan, whose country joins Egypt as the only two Arab-majority states that have peace agreements with Israel, said Monday that "Israel's situation is more difficult than ever before," according to Ynet. The Saudi newspaper Almedina wrote that Israel is "more isolated than ever."

An Israeli official downplayed King Abdullah's remarks, framing them as merely his way of smoothing over "internal sensitivities within the kingdom…. The king has strong ties with the US, and has strong interests with Israel," he said. "We should keep that front calm, and follow the developments."

However, Reuters notes that Israel's situation might not be as dire as it appears, at least when it comes to Egypt. Despite public sentiment, the new government cannot afford to lose the billions of dollars in US military aid that it receives as part of its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which it affirmed to Washington after the embassy attack in Cairo.

Adel Soliman, head of Cairo's International Centre for Future and Strategic Studies, also told Reuters that concerns about a Turkish-Egyptian alliance against Israel were overblown and that Erdogan is merely trying to fill Egypt's void as a regional leader.

"Egypt is not in a position to play such a role at the moment so Erdogan is trying to take advantage of that," Mr. Soliman said. "I don't think they will have any big agreements when it comes to Israel. There is a lot of exaggeration. I see it more as theatrics than anything practical."

Obama calls on Europe to resolve debt problems

With both the American and European economies in a fragile state, US President Barack Obama has warned that their economies would continue to be at risk until European leaders work together to solve their debt problems.

In a rare public expression of criticism aimed at America's transatlantic allies, US President Barack Obama has called on European leaders to develop a "more effective set of coordinated policies" to deal with the continent's sovereign debt crisis.

"Right now you have a single currency, but you don't have a single set of economic policies, and that's created great difficulty," Obama said in reference to the eurozone. "It's difficult to coordinate when you have that many countries with different politics and different economic situations trying to agree on a common course."

Speaking to a group of Hispanic journalists at the White House on Monday, Obama said Greece was "obviously the biggest immediate problem" and that the government there was "taking some steps to slow the crisis but not solve the crisis."

"The bigger problem is what happens in Spain and Italy if the markets keep on making a run at those very big countries," he added, saying Washington was "deeply engaged" with European nations on how to solve the eurozone crisis.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Geithner has called on European governments to take more decisive actionUS Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, meanwhile, plans to attend a meeting of eurozone finance ministers later in the week. Geithner just returned to the US from Marseilles, France, where he called on Europe's largest economies to offer "unequivocal" financial support for weaker economies such as Greece.

It would be the first time in history that a US treasury secretary has attended a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, highlighting the concern Washington has over Europe's handling of the sovereign debt crisis.

US stocks, meanwhile, closed higher on Monday after recovering from a short dip of 1 percent earlier in the day. These gains led to positive numbers in Asian markets, with the euro edged up from a seven-month low on Tuesday.

Positive numbers for Asia

World markets and the euro made slight gains on Tuesday as confidence was bolstered by the late rally in the United States, while news of possible financial support for Italy from China did little to ease fears that the eurozone was on the brink of disaster.

A report by the Financial Times said Italy, whose mammoth debt has investors worried it may eventually need a bailout like Greece, Ireland and Portugal, had asked China to make "significant" purchases of Italian bonds.

The possibility of support from China would be good news for Italy, which has seen borrowing costs skyrocket in recent months. But the biggest problem in the eurozone remains Greece, which said it would run out of cash next month without the next installment of bailout funding from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

European stock markets tumbled Monday after German politicians talked openly of the possibility of Greece defaulting on its debt and leaving the eurozone. As trading ended Germany's DAX was still down over 2 percent - following a disastrous showing last Friday, and a distinct downward trend in Frankfurt over the past six weeks.

Cash-strapped Athens

Greece has resumed talks with international lenders to receive its next 8-billion-euro ($11 billion) installment of aid in order to avert a default on its debt as the national government in Athens runs dangerously low on cash.  

Coins above a Greek flagGreece says it needs cash from the bailout funds to stay afloatTalks had been suspended over criticism that Greece had not been taking strong enough measures to restructure its economy and reduce public deficits in exchange for the bailout money. Athens approved a new real estate tax on Sunday to try to shore up its budget.

Greece's second bailout of nearly 110 billion euros, approved during a eurozone crisis summit in July, has run into difficulty as governments in northern Europe become increasingly skeptical of Athens' seriousness in tackling its economic problems.

Finland has demanded collateral from Greece in exchange for its contribution to the bailout. Germany's Christian Social Union, the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, has publicly floated the possibility that Greece could leave the eurozone.

Germany's Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, meanwhile, wrote in a Monday editorial in the daily Die Welt that the eurozone would have to remain open to the possibility of a "worst-case scenario orderly default for Greece."

Authors: Andrew Bowen, Spencer Kimball (Reuters, AP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

Slavo Macedonian Census Scheduled for October

Nine thousand Macedonians will commence training over the next fortnight in preparation for running the country’s first population census since 2002.
Darko Duridanski
The census, which will take place from October 1 until October 15, was originally scheduled for April but was postponed due to parliamentary elections which were held in June.
After the elections, disagreements abounded over the exact ethnic composition of the teams that would go out and collect the census. However last week politicians reached an agreement deciding that teams would be formed of representatives from the two largest ethnic communities in each particular census region.
"The Commission went a step forward and decided to include in the census teams members of the smaller ethnic communities like Montenegrins, Slovenians, Croatians etc. They will take the positions of those candidates that did not fulfill the criteria for census-takers. This means a lot of combinations in the census teams," Vesna Janevska, head of the State Census Commission, SCC, said.
With the teams finalized, time is now the SCC’s biggest enemy. The Commission has to choose and train approximately  9,000 census-takers before October 1. Costs may also have been affected. The census was supposed to cost €14 million, but the six-month delay could have increased this amount.
The last census was held in Macedonia in 2002. The results of this census showed that 64.2 per cent of the two-million strong population were Macedonian and 25.3 per cent were ethnic Albanian. Roma, Turks, Serbs and other minorities made up the remainder of the population.
Macedonia is divided into 44 census regions and according to the SCC about 600,000 families are to be registered. According to census law the oldest member of a family is obliged to answer the census questionnaire, which includes details on their nationality, religion, education and wealth.