Saturday, October 1, 2011

Census officially started in Albania

No participation of 8 ethnic groups including "Omonia"

Census officially started
The population and residence registration has officially started throughout Albania. From this Monday, the registration teams will start knocking on every door.

The representatives of the Red and Black Alliance, which has constantly opposed the part of this process that requires residents to declare their ethnicity and religion, declared in front of INSTAT that this process also violates the recent decision of the Constitutional Court.

“INSTAT and other state administration offices, which are paid with our taxes, have violated the decision of the Constitutional Court. We appeal all Albanian citizens to rip the forms when the registration teams will knock on their doors. This action is not against the law and the constitution, since the law has called these questions as facultative”, declared the RBA representative.

The Minister of Innovation and Technology, Genc Pollo, appealed the citizens to participate in this process, which is being held for the first time after 10 years.
Kurti: Albania's embassies for Kosovo

Kurti: Albania's embassies for Kosovo
In his previous trips in Tirana, Albin Kurti had come as leader of the Self-Determination Movement. This Friday afternoon he met for the first time the Albanian President, Bamir Topi, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edmond Haxhinasto, as leader of the Foreign Policies Commission at the Kosovo Parliament.

The main purpose of this visit was the initiation of an agreement between Kosovo and Albania for a mutual or common representation in other countries.

“As a Commission of Foreign Policies, we have proposed a mutual or common representation of Kosovo by Albanian embassies in countries where Kosovo doesn't have representation”, Kurti declared.

Kurti asked the Albanian President and the Albanian Foreign Minister to be more careful with the relations with Serbia.

“Now that Serbia is more violent with Kosovo, Albania should not create connections with Belgrade, because it wants to present Kosovo and Albania as two seperate things”, Kurti declared.

By commenting the latest events in Kosovo, Mr. Kurti explained the causes that brought the recent tensions.

“I think that the dialogue in Brussels, without imposing any conditions to Serbia and talking only about Kosovo’s interior issues, have encouraged Serbia to undertake the violence in north. Serbia aims to include northern Kosovo in the dialogue through the violence that it is exerting there. The government of Kosovo has not shown seriousness in these talks, but has been obsessed and limited to the border integrity, rather than the territory. Kosovo government undertook a wrong step, without a strategy or a plan, with the only obsession of keeping power”, Kurti emphasized.

For the leader of the Self-Determination Movement, the actions of Mr. Thaci and EULEX forces are insufficient for taking control in Northern Kosovo.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Ethnic Albanians and Bosniaks to Boycott Serbian Census

Minority groups in Serbia are preparing to boycott the country’s census due to disagreements over the ethnicity of data collectors and the language the census forms have been written in.

Bojana Barlovac

Ethnic Albanians in South Serbia and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) from the southwestern region of Sandzak, are set to boycott the population count when it commences tomorrow until its scheduled completion date on 15 October.

Leaders of ethnic Albanians, which make up over 60,000 out of the seven-million-strong population in Serbia, have made a joint declaration calling for the boycott of the census.

“Two formal reasons for the boycott are the fact that questions are in Serbian and Cyrillic and the fact that there is no reciprocity among Serbian and Albanian data collectors,” Riza Halimi, the only ethnic Albanian leader in the Serbian parliament, told Balkan Insight.

With the latter point, Halimi was referring to the pact that only eight of the 22 data collectors expected to conduct the census in Bujanovac, a southern town, would be ethnic Albanians.

Meanwhile, the biggest Bosniak party in Serbia, the Bosniak Cultural Community, BNV, led by radical mufti Muamer Zukorlic, has called upon its supporters to also refrain from taking part in the census.

"Language is one reason and the other one is our previous experience with [the] 2002 census and Belgrade falsifying data in order to decrease [the] number of Bosniaks," Samir Tandir from the BNV, told Balkan Insight.

A statement issued by the Serbian Statistical Office said that a computer program for processing statistical data could work only with one language.

The Office has also printed all the forms in the languages of minorities, English and Latin alphabet for the data collectors in order to "facilitate communication between citizens and enumerators in multiethnic communities."

The Law on Population Census envisages a fine of 20,000 to 50,000 dinars (about €200-500) for anyone who refuses to answer questions or provides incomplete data.

The head count in Serbia was originally supposed to take place in April 2011 but was delayed by six months due to a lack of funding. The survey will be partially funded by the EU.

The last population census was carried out in 2002.

Tadić, Clinton didn’t discuss partitition of Kosovo

BELGRADE -- Serbian President Boris Tadić’s office denied Thursday that the president and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed partition of Kosovo last week.

Boris Tadić (Beta, file)
Boris Tadić (Beta, file)

Belgrade-based daily Danas wrote in its online edition, quoting diplomatic sources, that Clinton believed the meeting was without content, and that she did not hear anything new which would convince her Belgrade was still not playing the “Kosovo partition card”.

"Clinton expected to find out about some new plan or initiative for Kosovo from Tadić, but she heard only what she already knew, including the story about efforts for Serbia's European integration and excellent relations with the U.S., with 'red lines' in Kosovo, which Belgrade cannot cross," Danas wrote, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.

“These are complete fabrications,” Tanjug was told by Tadić's office.

"There was no talk of any partition of Kosovo at the meeting of the Serbian president and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York," said the office, adding all other claims from unnamed sources were also untrue.

Albania Blames Serbia For Kosovo Violence

Albania’s Foreign Ministry says Belgrade is responsible for recent violent clashes between local Serbs and NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo’s volatile north.

Besar Likmeta
KFOR soldier stands guard at Kosovo roadblock | Photo by : FONET

Albania is “following with particular concern the repeated violence [instigated] by Serbia’s parallel structures and criminal organizations in Northern Kosovo against KFOR troops close to the border crossings,” the Albanian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

“[We] strongly back the extension of the sovereignty and rule of law from the government of the Republic of Kosovo over all its territory with the support of NATO and EULEX [the EU rule of law mission],” the statement added.

Northern Kosovo, which borders Serbia, has long been prone to bursts of violence. Its population, which is almost entirely Serbian, does not recognise Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence or the ethnic Albanian-led government in Pristina.

While officially part of Kosovo, it is under the de facto control of so-called parallel institutions funded by Serbia.

These parallel institutions include decision-making bodies such as town councils and mayors.

From its declaration of independence in 2008 until the middle of July this year, northern Kosovo's two border points had been manned only by the international rule-of-law mission, EULEX. However, on 25 July the Kosovo government deployed a number of its special police to these two checkpoints to enforce a recent trade ban on goods entering the country from Serbia.

The presence of Kosovo police officers in northern Kosovo caused friction and a short-term burst of violence erupted. One police officer was killed, one checkpoint was burned down and a significant diplomatic effort ensued with more peacekeeping troops being deployed to the area to restore peace.

“The violence against KFOR troops, the attack on three Albanians in Mitrovica, destructive declarations and the obstruction of the technical dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels are a not a way forward for the European Integration,” Albania’s Foreign Ministry said.

“The dismantlement of the parallel structures and criminal organizations that produce instability and insecurity in this part of the Balkans are a duty and responsibility of Serbia on its road to the EU,” it concluded.

Turkey's Erdogan Cements Ties to Macedonia

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan is paying an official visit to Skopje, aimed at closening the already warm political and economic links between the two countries.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Erdogan was greeted by his Macedonian counterpart, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, at Skopje airport where they held bilateral talks.

The two leaders viewed the recently launched new passenger terminal, part of a 200 million euro investment by Turkey's TAV holdings, which runs Macedonia’s two civil airports.

“At the moment there are around 100 Turkish investors in Macedonia but we would like to see that number grow,” Erdogan told a press conference in Skopje.

The hopes are that this year’s trade exchange between the two countries will amount to some 300 million euros, which would be 30 per cent up on last year.

Both Erdogan and Gruevski stressed that the potential for the future is much greater.

The Turkish leader will also meet President Gjorge Ivanov, Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski, and Ali Ahmeti, head of the ethnic Albanian junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

Gruevski thanked his guest for Turkey’s continuous support for Macedonia’s bid to become a member of NATO, as well as Turkey's support for Macedonia in the bilateral name dispute with Greece.

Greece has prevented Macedonia from joining NATO, arguing that use of the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim towards the northern Greek province of the same name.

In the early 1990s, Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Macedonia under its chosen name.

Since then Turkey has become one of Macedonia's most important regional political and economic partners - and a vocal supporter of Macedonia’s NATO entry.

The exceptionally warm ties were additionally strengthened in 2008 with a treaty for strategic partnership.

Over 70,000 Turks live in Macedonia according to the last census in 2001.

Greek Prime Minister to Visit Ankara

“Georgios Papandreou plans to visit Turkey to upgrade bilateral ties in all fields”, according to a statement of an official from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office to the Hürriyet Daily News.

Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, accompanied by a number of Cabinet ministers, is set to visit Ankara late October or early November.

Despite regional tensions over a Greek Cypriot gas drilling operation in the Mediterranean, the prime ministers of Turkey and Greece have expressed commitments to push ahead with bilateral cooperation talks planned for the coming weeks.

Man key to Israel’s security in Athens

Amos Gilad makes a sudden visit with great importance in Athens!

The Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs of the Ministry of Defense of Israel, the most important security adviser in Israel, comes to Athens to meet with the leadership of the Greek MoD.

This visit, with the tension rising in Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey provoking Israel, Cyprus and Greece, cannot be considered accidental.

The contacts Mr.Gilad had so far with Greek officials in Greece and Israel, have left the best impressions on the Greek side, primarily because of the level of information on issues of interest to Greece. This knowledge is very useful during this period.

Mr.Gilad’s latest statements about Turkey are indicative: “Turkey has a lot to lose with an extremist policy.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Albanian PM Berisha, to visit Skopje

Berisha to visit Skopje
The Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, will visit Macedonia by the end of October, invited by his Macedonian counterpart, Nikolla Gruevski.

This was announced by the Albanian Ambassador in Skopje, Arben Cejku, after a meeting he held in Tetovo with the BDI leader, Ali Ahmeti.

“I announced to Ahmeti the next visit of the Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, in the country of Macedonia, invited by the Macedonian Prime Minister Gruevski”, declared Arben Cejku, Albanian Ambassador in Macedonia.

This visit was predicted for May 2010, but was cancelled by the Albanian Prime Minister due to the political crisis between the government and the opposition in Albania.

Berisha wants to use this visit for inciting the process that allows citizens of both countries cross the border only with identity cards.

Another discussion topic between Berisha and Gruevski will be the recent events in Macedonia, the interethnic relations between Albanians and Macedonians, the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement and Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic perspectives.

During his visit in Skopje, the Albanian Prime Minister will meet the leaders of the Albanian parties in Macedonia.

Kosovo War Crimes Witness Found Dead In Germany

Kosovar member of parliament Fatmir Limaj is facing war crimes charges.

Kosovar member of parliament Fatmir Limaj is facing war crimes charges.

September 28, 2011
A European Union official said on September 28 that a key witness in a war crimes trial in Kosovo has been found dead in a park in Germany.

EU rule of law mission spokesman Nicholas Hawton said German police are investigating the death of Agim Zogaj, known as "protected witness X" in the war crimes trial against a former ethnic Albanian rebel commander who is now a senior politician -- Fatmir Limaj.

Hawton gave no further details.

Zogaj had been granted protected witness status in return for his testimony in the Limaj trial.
Serbia walks out of EU-backed Kosovo talks
28/09 20:54 CET
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Serbia calls off EU-backed talks on Kosovo 28/09/2011 15:34 CET
Tensions rise in Kosovo border area 19/09/2011 20:13 CET
Kosovo policeman dies after botched border raid 27/07/2011 10:17 CET
Kosovo policeman hurt in Serbian border clash 26/07/2011 17:43 CET
EU attempts to ease tension between Serbia and Kosovo 26/07/2011 22:03 CET
Serbia pulled out of EU-backed peace talks on Kosovo on Wednesday after fresh unrest in a disputed border region.
The talks aim to settle a row stemming from Serbia’s refusal to recognise Kosovo’s independence.
On Tuesday six Kosovar Serb protesters were wounded in clashes near the frontier with Serbia.
Four NATO peacekeeping troops were also injured.
Progress in the peace negotiations is crucial if Serbia is to formally became a candidate for EU membership in October.
Kosovo is predominantly ethnic Albanian but its north is home to 60,000 Serbs.
They do not recognise the Pristina government and its attempts to control the border.
Tensions flared in July when Kosovo placed a trade ban on Serb exports.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, vowed to break up the protests in the disputed region.
“We will continue with the removal of barricades and no obstacle can stop the government exerting its authority there,” he said.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Limnos Island, Protests Against New Video Game

The island of Limnos is protesting against its inclusion in a new video game called ‘ARMA III’.

The inhabitants and local authorities of the island claim that the video game is harming its reputation as a peaceful place and constitutes a security threat to the island by exposing its terrain in high-definition, a newspaper reported on Monday.

“We cannot fathom that our island, a place of peace and creation, will be turned into a scene for violence and battle,” Limnos Mayor Antonis Hatzidiamantis told Eleftherotypia daily.

‘Arma 3’ was designed by award-winning Czech developers and in one of its levels a scenario is being played, where NATO Special Forces must destroy an enemy factory, which is actually the local factory of PPC (DEI).

The island lies close to Turkey and this could mean possible national security problems, another official said.

“There are national reasons to keep certain areas on the island secure but (in the game) they are shown in high-definition,” said Kostas Adamidis, head of the local municipal council.

Bolanos: Albanian census without standards, the minorities do not participate

Omonia, is preparing a meeting in Athens on October 2,, to declare official do not take part on Albanian census

TIRANA, minority representatives inside HRUP, through a press statement calling census of population and housing census, statistical census aims to decrease their artificial, therefore call on Greeks and other ethnic groups do not take part in it.

On behalf of HURP, Vasil Bolanos urged all minorities do not become part of this record, because it serves the country outside settlement and democratic standards.

"We conclude that this census, there is no real evidence aimed at members of minorities but rather their statistical contraction and teach in this artificial way of recording the communist policies concerning them.

We declare that we do not know what process or its product. We the representatives of ethnic minorities and ethno-cultural, turn to our members not to engage in a census that serves no actual problem solving, being outside democratic standards, Bolanos said.

Omonia the Greek Ethnic Community in Albania, is preparing a meeting in Athens on October 2,, to declare official do not take part on Albanian census

Turkish ship begins oil exploration off Cyprus

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey is using its navy and air force to escort a ship conducting oil and gas exploration off Cyprus, an official said Tuesday, in the latest development in a disagreement over the ownership of the disputed island nation’s natural resources.

Cyprus is divided into the Republic of Cyprus, in the south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north which is recognised only by Turkey. The Cypriot government began exploratory drilling for oil and gas last week, prompting strong protests from Turkey, which alone doesn’t recognize the Greek Cypriot administration.

In response, Turkey signed an oil and gas exploration deal with the illegal government of the occupied north and sent a Turkish research ship to the Mediterranean to start exploration.

“We will try all channels of peace, but we will also protect our country’s interests until the end,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said Tuesday at an unrelated ceremony to mark the delivery of the first Turkish-made corvette warship to the navy.............

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Visas, Brussels concerned for Albania, Bosnia

Visas, Brussels concerned
Belgium, Germany and Sweden are complaining at the European Commission for the increasing number of asylum seekers from Albania and other Balkan countries that benefited from the visa free regime.

This has obliged the commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom to ask the Interior Ministers of Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia and Serbia information about the measures that they take for preventing this phenomenon.

“I want to draw your attention about the recent figures collected by the alarm system and ask you to take the necessary measures. The data collected by the end of summer and the beginning of September indicate that some countries have a significant increase of asylum seekers, more specifically in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland”, says Malmstrom.

The commissioner’s letter has alarming data attached. Sweden reports that during August, the asylum seekers with Albanian nationality have increased with 163%, compared to the other months.

On the same position is Bosnia, while this tendency in Montenegro and Serbia has decreased.

In Germany there is a 50% increase of Albanian asylum seekers during August, in Belgium 36%.

“I would be grateful to receive from you, before the Ministerial Forum of Ohrid, an answer with a list of the measures that have been taken and those that are expected to be implemented”, says the letter secured by Top Channel.

The Forum of the Interior Ministers EU-Balkan will be held on October 3rd and 4th, in Ohrid. Besides this, the Commissioner Malmstrom invites all regional officials to an urgent meeting with the General Director of the European Commission.

The Spokesperson of the EC, Michele Cercone , declared for Top Channel that if the Balkan countries will not react on time, then the visa liberalization is in danger.

On May 2011, the Commission proposes a security law for the member countries that enabled the temporary visa suspension in case of abuses.

Serbian president: We need restraint, peace in Kosovo

BELGRADE -- Serbian President Boris Tadić has expressed concern over the latest clashes and deterioration of the situation in northern Kosovo.

Boris Tadić (Tanjug, file)
Boris Tadić (Tanjug, file)

He called on Kosovo Serbs to restrain themselves and be peaceful.

The president has strongly condemned use of force and called for calming of the situation because preservation of peace and dialogue were the only way to solve problems.

He added that the international forces were there to protect unarmed citizens and not to clash with them.

“I call on maximal restraint of KFOR,” Tadić stressed.

He repeated that KFOR troops needed to be status neutral and that they must not use force against citizens, adding that Kosovo Serbs needed to remain calm and to avoid reacting to provocations.

“Not a single problem can be solved with violence and endangering of human lives does not contribute to protection of our interests. Human lives are the ultimate value and they need to be protected,” the Serbian president concluded.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Will the Greek minority participate in the census in Albania?

The start of the controversial population census in Albania is approaching (1 October) and the climate remains tense because of the Albanian provocations against the Greek minority living in the country.

The Northern Epirots are in difficult position, after receiving more provocations, not to declare their religion and Greek ethnicity. The Albanians aim at the greatest possible reduction of the power of the Greek minority.

However on such an important national issue, it seems that the Greek minority is divided. On the one hand there are those who say that everyone should participate in the census and declare without fear their Greek nationality and Orthodox religion.

“Only this will give a definitive answer to … the tricks of the Albanians’, they say. Please note that the Albanians have announced even penalties for those that will not declare Albanian ethnicity, creating strong reactions to minority populations.

Omonia’s reaction

On the other hand, the organization of the Greek national minority “Omonia” has expressed the view that Northern Epirots should not participate in the census, because this census will not be based on international standards.

Omonia announced yesterday that it will hold an event in Hotel Divani Caravel, on October 2, at 11 am. Omonia will inform the expatriates, “about the reasons for non participation in the census. We will denounce the parody of this proceeding and we will report the continuing provocative violations of our rights by the Albanian government ” as it is stressed on the announcement.

“What to do?”

So, many are wondering what to do eventually. “Participate in the census, or not?” they ask.

The anxiety is aggravated by the fact that the other Greek party, MEGAN, and virtually all other organizations (Associations, Fellowships) of Northern Epirots have not decided about what ultimately the Greeks must do!

Moreover, the Greek government’s position on the issue remains unknown! Despite the constant exhortations of parties of the opposition- from Nea Dimokratia mostly – to the government to express its position on the census, the government remains “silent”, something that certainly does not help Northern Epirots.


“Just a few days before the census and there is not a common and unanimous effort” say many Northern Epirots who live in Ioannina.
They also stress, that all expatriate organizations, in cooperation with the Greek Government must immediately determine the attitude against the census, whatever might that be as long as everybody will follow it.

Otherwise, if this confusion, that now prevails, continues, “there is a danger that Greeks will be counted as fewer than what they really are, allowing the Albanians to redouble their efforts to shrink our strength.”

Please note that Northern Epirots, according to estimates are around 400,000.

Not credible …

Meanwhile, the annual report of the State Department (the U.S. State Department) for religious freedom in Albania created great concern in Northern Epirus and beyond.

The report states that there are no credible statistics on religious stratification in the country, since the last census in such a subject was done in 1939! The issue of religion is directly related to the population census and, as the reliable website wrote, it has to do “with the objections of the Muslims not to record the religious strata of the Albanian society.”

The Americans see positively, that the great Cathedral of the Resurrection in Tirana is under construction, but they are worried because no land and permission was given for the erection of the cathedral in Vlora as they consider rightful the request of the Church to grant land. Please note, that the Cathedral of Gjirokaster is built, but with many obstacles from the Albanians.


Greek, Turkish PMs hold telephone discussion

Greek prime minister George Papandreou called for self-restraint and calm with respect to security issues in the Middle East, adding that Cyprus, as a sovereign state, has the right to decide on its actions and stressing that unilateral actions that could create problems in the region should be avoided, in a telephone contact on Monday with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Greek government spokesman Elias Mossialos.
The spokesman, during an informal press briefing, said that the Papandreou-Erdogan discussion had not been impromptu but took place in view of the meeting the two premiers had been scheduled to have in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The two premiers discussed, inter alia, the efforts for a Cyprus solution under the condition that there are undisturbed and constructive talks.
Papandreou and Erdogan further discussed the prospect of bilateral Greece-Turkey meetings, given the existence of the High Level interministerial council, Mossialos said, adding that the two premiers agreed that the council will be activated in late October or early November.
The council had initially been scheduled to take place in June, but was postponed due to elections in Turkey.
What Greece always aspires to is a functional relationship with Turkey, and hopes that the situation in end-October or early November will be such as to allow planning to go to Turkey for such a meeting, Mossialos added.
The two premiers further discussed economic relations between their countries, with the focus on exports, tourism and health.


P.O BOX 20314






The Panepirotic Federation of America is urging the United States to take measures to ensure that next month’s census in Albania, which will count ethnic and religious minorities for the first time in decades, is conducted without manipulation, harassment or intimidation.

Earlier this year, the Albanian parliament passed a law stating that a fine of $1,000 will be levied on those who declare an ethnicity in the census that was not previously registered on their family records. This law violates the human rights of Albanian citizens, and the Albanian Constitution and international law, which state that individuals have the right to declare any ethnic identity to which they feel they belong.

This law is a direct attack on the ethnic Greek minority and their basic human rights. During communist rule, members of minority groups in Albania often abstained from officially declaring an ethnic or religious identity out of fear of government reprisal. Now that the opportunity has arrived for the citizens of Albania to freely state their identity, the Albanian government is reverting to its old ways. Ethnic Greeks again have reason to fear openly and officially stating their identity.

As proud Greek-Americans, the Panepirotic Federation of America condemns these actions. The ethnic Greek minority in Albania has faced prejudice for many years. The Albanian government has closed Greek schools, prohibited the teaching of the Greek language, confiscated private land and homes of Greeks, and stolen property of the Orthodox Church. Now the Albanian government seeks to extinguish the Greek identity.

The Panepirotic Federation of America implores Washington to have its representatives in Albania issue statements assuring the country’s citizens that they may declare their ethnic and religious affiliations without fear of reprisals, including the payment of fines.

Demetrios Koutoulas Father Kosmas Karavellas Theodore Retzios

President Head chairman Co- Chair

Panepirotic Federation Northern Epirus Issues

Albania Socialists Sets Terms to End Standoff

Socialist leader Edi Rama on Friday outlined his shopping list of conditions for rebuilding a political consensus in the country and resolving a two-year divisive political stalemate

Besar Likmeta
Edi Rama | Photo courtesy of the Socialist Party

Underlining the opposition’s vital role in passing reforms that require more than a simple parliamentary majority, Rama said a possible political agreement would speed up Albania’s EU integration process.

His proposal includes new rules and procedures for MPs in the assembly and the creation of a new commission for the institutional reform of parliament.

The Socialists also want the signing of an agreement between political parties to complete electoral reform before March 2013, based on the recommendations of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

The proposal also includes the selection though consensus of a series of high state officials, such as a new governor of the central bank, the ombudsman, and the director of the High State Auditing Office.

The Socialists also call for the creation of parliamentary commission to discuss an amendment to the constitution remving top officials' immunity from prosecution.

Rama also said the agreement would include a joint request by both main parties to the prosecutor’s office to probe the deaths of four protestors during the January 21 anti-government riots, and a request for prosecutors to question all officials that are described as corrupt or tied to organized crime in the US secret memos released by WikiLeaks.

The opposition leader also said that they would request a new media law, which would put a stop to political pressures and create political balance on the board of directors of Albania’s state television.

Its unclear what the response of the government will be to the opposition’s proposal. The Socialists and the Democrats, Albania’s main political parties, have been at loggerheads with each other ever since the 2009 disputed parliamentary elections.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Albanian PM: Kosovo idyllic place, Marty report fiction

NEW YORK -- Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha said in his speech at the UN General Assembly that Dick Marty’s report on human organ trafficking was a “fiction”.

Sali Berisha (FoNet)
Sali Berisha (FoNet)

He tried to explain that the crisis in northern Kosovo had occurred because criminals were resisting Priština's alleged attempt to introduce the rule of law.

The Albanian prime minister almost idyllically described the situation in Kosovo. He said that it was a place with the highest standards in protection of freedom and minority rights in the region, where the Serbian cultural heritage was more protected than ever.

“The biggest problem for Kosovo Serbs today is that tensions were caused and orchestrated with a nationalist aim. The only threat they are facing is the fact that they are means of goals from the bitter past that must never return,” Berisha said.

He claimed that Priština’s attempt to take over the checkpoints in northern Kosovo was in accordance with the agreements reached during the dialogue in Brussels, adding that the Priština authorities did not want anything else but to establish a constitutional order on its sovereign territory.

“The effort, however, caused a strong resistance of criminal groups and organized gangs,” he pointed out.

According to him, parallel structures financed by Belgrade have turned three Serb communities north of Kosovska Mitrovica into a safe haven for organized crime and all kinds of smuggling.

“Belgrade’s efforts to keep the parallel structures in those three communities show that it still believes in the change of borders in our region based on a failed and long outdated idea of ethnic clean territories of Greater Serbia,” Berisha said in his speech.

Pointing out that respect of the existing borders in the Balkans was a fundamental condition for permanent peace and stability, the Albanian president called on the UN members to recognize unilaterally declared independence of the southern Serbian province.

Kosovo, according to him, represents a significant factor of peace, stability and cooperation in the region.

Berisha said that Marty’s report on human organ trafficking represented an attempt to draw the attention from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was not against the international law.

He stressed that the report reminded him of Agatha Christie’s novels and that it was in fact a copy of Serbian War Crime Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević’s report.

“The report is fiction and its only purpose is to divert attention from the International Court of Justice's decision in favor of Kosovo's independence,“ the Albanian official stressed.

He confirmed, however, that Albania had officially called on EULEX to conduct the human organ trade investigation in its territory as well.

Just at the moment starting the Albanian census process on October 1

Bulgaria Grants Citizenship to 11 441 Applicants in 2011

Bulgaria Grants Citizenship to 11 441 Applicants in 2011: Bulgaria Grants Citizenship to 11 441 Applicants in 2011
The frontrunner of the initiative to process faster applications for citizenship and granting more passports was the now-former Minister without Portfolio for Bulgarians Abroad, Bozhidar Dimitrov. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria has granted citizenship to 11 441 people since the beginning of 2011 until mid-September.

Meanwhile, 125 individuals have given up on their Bulgarian passports.

The data comes from the Justice Ministry. The fastest processing of the applications for citizenship has been declared a priority by the cabinet of the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party after it took office in the summer of 2009.

The frontrunner of the initiative was the Minister without Portfolio for Bulgarians Abroad, Bozhidar Dimitrov, who later resigned, but a record number of applications were approved in 2010 under his leadership – nearly 15 000 compared to 9 000 in 2009 and 7 113 in 2008 with the trend continuing in 2011, according to the data.

The most passports in 2011 have been granted to people with Bulgarian origins – 5 533 from Macedonia and 1 593 from Moldova. 26 passports were given for important contributions to Bulgaria in the public and economic sector, science, technology, culture and sports; 9 competitors and coaches have also received Bulgarian citizenship, compared to 32 and 21 respectively in 2010.

In 2011, 78 people became Bulgarian citizens under general naturalization which includes marriage with a Bulgarian while 352 have reinstated their Bulgarian citizenship, compared to just 78 in 2010. 19 people have given up their Bulgarian passports in 2011, compared to 125 last year.

A total of 16 271 applications have been processed and 4 514 have been rejected with the main and most common reason being false documents.

From January 1, 2002, until June 30, 2011, Bulgaria has received 127 006 citizenship applications and has granted passports to 68 539, according to data from the President's Office – mainly to people from Bulgarian origins or having at least one Bulgarian parent - 35808 from Macedonia, 18 646 from Moldova, 3 318 from Serbia, 2 733 from Russia, 2 526 from the Ukraine, 2 081 from Israel, 1128 from Albania.

Tags: Bulgarian origins, Bozhidar Dimitrov, Minister without Portfolio for Bulgarians Abroad, passports, grant, citizenship, applications, initiative, GERB

Greece: Pangalos says “yes” to coalition government

Talking on the Athens 9,84 radio station, vice president Theodoros Pangalos said no to early elections but yes to a coalition government made up of the two major political parties.

“Elections should be held within the time frame provided for by the constitution, which is every four years. Traditionally, and on principle if you will, I am an enemy of early elections", he said.

But he welcomed the possibility of a PASOK-New Democracy coalition government, due to the crisis in the country, and seemed positive towards "a government that will result from the support of both parties. I'm not saying whether it will be the same persons, how they would regulate their relations, and the correlations of powers. This issue is not my concern. I'm not the leader of my party and obviously all the elected members of the party will express their opinion, including the Bureau of the Parliamentary Group, the PASOK Political Council etc., as well as their New Democracy counterparts."

He clarified that he prefers the exhaustion of the four years to "having someone else, about whom we know nothing beyond generalities, who says 'I'll do other or better things', and vote upon this basis, solely motivated by the current discontent and pressure on public opinion."