Saturday, June 8, 2013

Kosovo Liberation Army Fighters Jailed for War Crimes

Three former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas known as the ‘Llapi Group’ have been convicted of torturing wartime prisoners and sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison.
Edona Peci
Pristina The court in Pristina found the three men guilty of war crimes against civilians at a Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA detention centre in Llapashtica/Lapastica during the 1998-99 conflict with Serbian forces.
Latif Gashi, now a lawmaker with the ruling Kosovo Democratic Party, was sentenced to six years in prison.
Rrustem Mustafa was sentenced to four years, while the third defendant Nazif Mehmeti was sentenced to three years.
The men collectively known as the the ‘Llapi Group’ –Gashi (known as Lata), Mustafa (known as Remi) and Mehmeti (known as Dini) – all held command positions within KLA.
The court’s verdict said that they “acted in concert with other unidentified individuals and pursuant to a joint criminal enterprise, ordered and participated in the beating and torture of Kosovo Albanian civilians detained in the detention centre located at Llapashtica/Lapastica, in an attempt to force those detainees to confess to acts of disloyalty to the KLA from October of 1998 until late April 1999”.
Jonathan Welford-Carroll, the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX judge said that the men had “joint responsibility” for committing war crimes.
“Latif Gashi was at the centre of an interrogation system of beatings and torture… in his role as the head of KLA intelligence,” Welford-Carroll said while explaining the verdict.
“Although he was not the leader, Nazif Mehmeti was enthusiastic and brutal,” Welford-Carroll continued.
“Rrustem Mustafa had superior command responsibility to prevent and stop the acts, although it cannot be said that he ordered them,” he said.
But EULEX prosecutor Charles Hardaway stressed that the case was not aimed at the KLA itself.
“It must be clear that the KLA was not on trial here, the defendants were. It is paramount to understand that guilt is individual, not collective, and the court rightly found that these individuals committed unlawful actions,” Hardaway said.
The men rejected the verdict and said they would appeal.
Latif Gashi giving statement to media after the verdict was given; Photo: Edona Peci
“The criminals are the ones we put in detention and not us,” Gashi told reporters after the verdict was announced.
“All that remains to us is the legal battle and we are convinced we will win it,” Mustafa said.
This was the third trial of the Llapi Group case and started at the end of March.
The case was first investigated in 2001 and 2002 by the UN mission in Kosovo.
In 2005, after a two-year trial which concluded with guilty verdicts for the defendants, Kosovo’s supreme court ordered a retrial because the allegations had not been proved “beyond all doubt”.
In 2009, the three former KLA commanders were again found guilty of war crimes and jailed for the torture and inhumane treatment of detention camp prisoners.
They appealed against the verdicts and in 2011, the supreme court ordered a partial retrial

Protesters' Siege of Bosnia Parliament Alarms Serbs



Bosnian Serb politicians say they may stop attending State Parliament sessions in Sarajevo after the recent blockade of the building left them feeling physically endangered.
Elvira M. Jukic
The government of Bosnia's mainly Serbian entity, Republika Srpska, is to hold an extraordinary session to discuss the safety of its officials.

It comes after protesters trapped them - and hundreds of others - in the State Parliament building in Sarajevo for hours on Thursday night, through until dawn on Friday.

Mladen Bosic, President of the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, one of two major ruling Serbian parties, on Friday said those trapped inside the parliament and other ministries were turned into political hostages.

“This is just the beginning of this story. Now comes an analysis of our further steps because everything points to the fact that, for us from Republika Srpska, Sarajevo is not a safe city,” Bosic said.

He said it was questionable whether Serbian members of the State Parliament would return to attend another session in Sarajevo.

“In the coming days we will take a stand on this, but, until then, sessions of parliament can be held in Pale,” Bosic said, referring to the small town near Sarajevo in Republika Srpska.

His party colleague, Aleksandra Pandurevic, an MP, on Twitter on Thursday described the protesters as a lynch mob.

“The protest in front of parliament was set up by Bosniak [Muslim] parties, and they want to lynch us from Republika Srpska,” she wrote. “The building is blocked and they're calling for us Serbs.”

The protesters - who were demanding adoption of a law on personal numbers - have denied targeting any ethnic group.
They say they wanted to put pressure on parliamentarians to adopt the law on personal numbers, which would allow newborns to get important documents such as passports.
But those opposed to the law were overwhelmingly from the Republika Srpska, which is why some Serbian MPs felt at risk.

Pandurevic noted that the Interior Minister of Sarajevo Canton had refused to send the police to end the siege.
This clearly was a political decision and, due to the overall situation it was not unsafe for Republika Srpska representatives to come to Sarajevo, she continued.

“Whether lawmakers from the Federation [entity] will be ready to come to East Sarajevo or Banja Luka [in Republika Srpska] I don't know,” she said.
“But we can guarantee their security, and that no citizens will be gathering around where the parliament sessions are being held to protest.”

The Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, Zeljka Cvijanovic, also described the protests as politically orchestrated, suggesting that they had little to do with the dispute over personal numbers.

“If it all started with [the dispute on] personal numbers, it sure got wings and a political dimension,” she added.

“Nothing will be the same as it was,” Cvijanovic added. “This situation showed in what conditions the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina function.”

Dusanka Majkic, of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, said the police in Sarajevo, and the State Security Minister, Fahrudin Radoncic, had failed to uphold people's safety and the right to freedom of movement.

During the blockade of state institutions on Thursday, a total of 1,500 people, including all parliamentarians and 350 foreign investors, were trapped until 4am Friday. “Bosnia and Herzegovina showed those 350 donors what kind of country it is,” Majkic said.

Domestic Spying: How the NSA is Watching You Through a PRISM

domestic, spying:, how, the, nsa, is, watching, you, through, a, prism,
Domestic Spying How the NSA is Watching You Through a PRISM
For those of you who are still unaware, the Washington Post and the Guardian released stories yesterday claiming that an anonymous NSA official released information to them about a secret wiretapping system called the PRISM / US-984XN. This system ties into virtually every major email and social media provider, allowing NSA officials to view every electronic transaction a user engages in through those social media systems. The list of providers working with the NSA include Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype and AOL. This system is always up, and does not limit the NSA's access based on warrants issued by a judge.
A whistle-blower tried to expose this system of integrated intelligence collection years ago. William Binney, a former NSA employee with the signals intelligence agency within the DoD, stated the NSA "has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email." Binney said the system at the time was called "Stellar Wind."
This is a separate incident from the Verizon phone number scandal, where the NSA was issued blanket search warrants by a judge allowing them to collect the phone records of virtually every subscriber. Verizon is the only provider we are aware of, but there is a high likelihood that most of the other major cellular providers were issued similar warrants. While we know the NSA got the call records, statements made by the NSA indicate that the calls themselves were also recorded.
These combined scandals, as well as the FBI's recent demands that all corporations incorporate backdoor wiretapping abilities into their own software, paint a picture of a supremely paranoid sociopathic state that has turned its formidable intelligence services against its own population.
People should ask themselves a few questions. If you were going to plot a terrorist operation against the U.S., would you use unencrypted social media or cellular text messaging to organize your plot?  There are thousands of way to communicate messages online that make it impossible for the state to intercept or decrypt the messages being sent. It seems to me that those are the means of communication the NSA should be most worried about if it was really trying to stop foreign terrorists from plotting an operation in the U.S. The systems described in these scandals are explicitly designed to target U.S. citizens.
With the PRISM system and cellular phone tapping systems, the government is collecting and storing virtually everything U.S. citizens are doing online. Remember that massive data center that the NSA built in Buffdale Utah?  A data center that big isn't designed to hold a supercomputer; it's designed to store and analyze massive amounts of data.  Supercomputers are relatively small. You don't need that much floor space for a supercomputer. However, you do need that much space if you are storing vast amounts of data. Given the statements made by Binney and the recent information that has come out regarding the scandals, it appears that the U.S. government is storing virtually everything everyone in the U.S. is doing online.
Listening to Binney tell his tale is absolutely chilling:
Wiki notes that "after he left the NSA in 2001, Binney was one of several people investigated as part of an inquiry into the 2005 New York Times exposé on the agency's warrantless eavesdropping program. Binney was cleared of wrongdoing after three interviews with FBI agents beginning in March 2007, but one morning in July 2007, a dozen agents armed with rifles appeared at his house, with one of them entering the bathroom where Binney was toweling off after a shower, pointing a gun at him. In that raid, the FBI confiscated a desktop computer, disks and personal and business records. The NSA revoked his security clearance, forcing him to close a business he ran with former colleagues, which cost him a reported $300,000 annual income."
Binney says he decided to blow the whistle when he realized that the systems he helped build were being deployed against U.S. citizens without their knowledge. He goes on to say that the systems can even listen to your phone if you are not making a call, turning your iPhone into an iBug. Binney estimates that the data center in Buffdale is capable of storing 100 years worth of the entire world's electronic communications. The purpose is to monitor what everybody is doing, rather than to help capture terrorists.
Binney says that the system he helped build is designed to tie all of the information from systems like PRISM, and the cellular phone tapping programs, into one gigantic data store that builds profiles on every single person that it collects data on. At this point, it's safe to say that the NSA has a profile on virtually every single person reading this article. The system is designed to create a composite image of a person's life, tying all of the collected information from hundreds of different sources into a searchable timeline.
Binney said the program was originally implemented under George Bush, with George Tenet and Dick Cheney knowing about it.  Binney said they wanted to highly classify the "extreme impeachable crimes" they were committing. He goes on to say that "this is something that the KGB or Gestapo would have loved to have about their populations.  And just because we call ourselves a democracy — right? — doesn't mean we will stay that way."
When we put all of these reports together, and analyze them along side the state's actions against whistle-blowers like Binney and Bradley Manning, it demonstrates that the U.S. classification system is not designed to keep sensitive information out of enemy hands, but rather to keep the U.S. public from learning about the pervasive security state they live under.
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's prime minister convened his party leadership on Saturday to discuss anti-government protests that have entered their ninth day, as an opposition party leader urged the government to call early elections and renew its mandate.
With thousands of people still occupying Istanbul's central Taksim Square, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with top officials from his Justice and Development Party in Istanbul. He has said the protest must end immediately.
Speaking after the meeting, party spokesman Huseyin Cilik ruled out early elections, saying rumors that the 2015 general elections would be moved forward were bogus.
Earlier, the head of Turkey's nationalist party, Devlet Bahceli, had called for early elections for Erdogan to reaffirm his mandate.
"The prime minister's stance and the tumult have deepened the crisis," Bahceli told reporters. "The prime minister's time is up, we believe he has to renew his mandate."
The protests began as a sit-in at a park in Taksim Square to prevent a redevelopment project that would replace the park with replica Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall. The mall idea seems to have fallen by the wayside, with Erdogan recently saying an opera house, theater and possibly a museum would be built instead.
But violent intervention by police to eject the protesters on May 31 outraged many, and the protests spread to dozens of cities across Turkey.
Over the past nine days of demonstrations and frequent violent confrontations with police, three people have been killed — two protesters and a policeman — and thousands have been injured.
The protests have attracted a broad array of people angered by what they say are Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian ways and his intervention in private lives. They point to attempts to curtail the selling and promotion of alcohol, his comments on how women should dress and statements that each woman should have at least three children.
A devout Muslim who says he is committed to upholding Turkey's secular tradition, Erdogan vehemently rejects charges of autocracy and points out that he enjoyed 50 percent support in the last elections in 2011.
Over the past week, protesters — mainly young, secular and middle-class, but also including some religious Muslims who were formerly Erdogan supporters — have set up camp in Taksim Square and its Gezi Park. They have vowed to remain there until the development project for the area is canceled — something Erdogan has shown no signs of being willing to do.
On Saturday, Istanbul's mayor confirmed that the government would go ahead with plans to reconstruct the Ottoman barracks in Taksim but had abandoned plans to build a shopping mall, luxury hotel or residences. He said all projects would be progress in consultation with civil society groups.
But the protests continued. Hundreds of football fans from Istanbul's rival soccer teams Fenerbahce and Besiktas joined forces Saturday to march from the Bosphorus to Taksim Square to show their solidarity. The Fenerbahce fans arrived from the Asian side of the city onboard a ferry, cheering and waving team scarves as they joined up with the Besiktas fans.
In Ankara, police removed about a dozen tents erected by protesters at a park in the capital, Ankara. No trouble was reported. Police in the city set up barricades as thousands of people began a march toward a central square.
While Taksim Square has been generally quiet for the past few days, clashes have broken out in other parts of the city. Riot police used water cannon and tear gas against protesters who set up street barricades in the Sultangazi neighborhood on the outskirts of Istanbul overnight.
Witnesses said at least one person was injured, hit in the face by a tear gas canister. Early Saturday, bloodstains could be seen on the ground amid debris from burned garbage bins and damaged shops.
Suzan Fraser contributed from Ankara, Turkey.

Albanians will found the association of their communes in FYR Macedonia

ilir dedaSkopje, June 5, 2013

Albanians in Western FYROM will found the association of their communes in the future.
This was said by the former advisor of the President of Kosovo and analyst, Ilir Deda, who currently heads the institute for political research and development KIPRED.

“In FYROM we have a stagnation of the situation, because the Prime Minister doesn’t want to take the country to the NATO, whereas Albanians want the country to become a member of NATO”, said Deda in the conference “Serbia and the European Union-a new opportunity”. Talking about the developments in FYROM, Deda said that in the future, Albanians will found the association of their communes in this country.
Commenting on the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, Deda said that this agreement has many unclear elements and that it bears the danger of Serbs to abandon Kosovo again.

“Over 21 thousand Serbs in Kosovo work in the state administration and are paid by Serbia. What will happen to these people when the implementation of the Brussels Agreement takes place? Kosovo cannot accept all this administration and pay it, because due to the current circumstances, only 4 thousand Serbs can be accepted in the administration”, said the executive director of KIPRED Institute.

US State Department Issues Travel Alert for Turkey

By on 7.6.13

The US Department of State alerts US citizens traveling to or residing in Turkey to the continuing public demonstrations taking place throughout the country. There have been numerous reports of violence, injuries, and at least two confirmed deaths resulting from or related to clashes between protestors and Turkish law enforcement authorities.

US citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security.  This Travel Alert expires on July 5, 2013.

Violent altercations have occurred in areas of Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, Mersin, and elsewhere.  The Turkish National Police and protestors continue to clash in some locations.  Individuals caught in the vicinity of violence have been injured and/or detained, including U.S. citizens.  Labor organizations have announced plans for strikes.

U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Turkey should be alert to the potential for violence.  We strongly urge U.S. citizens to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  There have been no direct attacks on U.S. citizens.

Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news media for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, and follow instructions of local authorities.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens and nationals traveling to or residing in Turkey enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  U.S. citizens and nationals without Internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Enrolling signs you up to receive updated information about areas abroad and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or consulate to communicate with you or your designated contact in case of emergency.

Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or a regular toll line at +1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  Download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Google play market to have travel information at your fingertips.

Contact information for the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Turkey:
  • The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, tel: (90)(312) 455-5555, fax (90)(312) 468-6131.
  • The U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul is located at 2 Uçsehitler Sokaði, 34460, Istinye, Sariyer, tel: (90)(212) 335-9000, fax (90)(212) 335-9102.
  • The U.S. Consulate in Adana is located at 212 Girne Bulvarýý, Güzelevler Mahallesi, Yüreðir, tel: (90)(322) 346-6262, fax (90)(322) 346-7916.
  • The Consular Agency in Izmir can be reached at tel: (90)(232) 464-8755, fax (90)(232) 464-8916.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Turkey protests: Erdogan rejects EU criticism

Turkish policeman spraying tear gas against a woman in Istanbul, 28 May 2013Turkish officials admit that the police response to the initial protest was excessive
Turkey must investigate the excessive use of force by police against anti-government protesters, a senior EU official has said in Istanbul.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele was speaking ahead of talks on Turkey's ambition to join the EU.
In response, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said similar protests in Europe would be dealt with more harshly.
Turkey has seen a week of civil unrest sparked by a police crackdown on a local protest over an Istanbul park.
Mr Fuele and Mr Erdogan were both speaking at a conference in Istanbul on Turkey's relations with the EU.
The EU enlargement commissioner said the EU had no intention of giving up on Turkey's accession, but Turkey had to maintain values of freedom and fundamental rights.


Turkey's long march towards the EU has slowed in recent years to a reluctant crawl. Formal talks on membership began in 2005, but there's been a distinct lack of enthusiasm on both sides.
It has been a virtual stalemate since 2010 when France and Cyprus vetoed the opening of negotiations on 11 of the 35 policy areas, or chapters, which countries have to complete to be eligible for membership.
As a result, support for EU membership in Turkey itself has plummeted. But there have been signs recently that things are changing. Both Germany and France have suggested that they want to get things moving again - and it's expected that talks on one of the blocked chapters, regional aid, will begin later this month.
It's only a small step forward, and there is a very long way to go. German Chancellor Angela Merkel admits that she still has doubts about Turkish membership, but she wants the process to continue.
The fact that Turkey's economy has continued to boom, while the eurozone has been mired in crisis, may have contributed to the change of heart.
The other member of the EU's big three, the UK, has always been a leading supporter of Turkey's application.
He urged a "swift and transparent" investigation and those responsible should be held to account.
"Peaceful demonstrations constitute a legitimate way for groups to express their views in a democratic society," he said.
"Excessive use of force by police against these demonstrations has no place in such a democracy".
In response, Mr Erdogan accused the EU of double standards, saying police in Europe and the US used the similar methods.
"Similar protests have taken place in Britain, France, Germany and bigger ones in Greece," he said.
His government was open to "democratic demands", he added, but would not accept "terrorism, violence and vandalism".
The Turkish leader also complained about the slow pace of the EU accession process, saying Turkey faced "unjust obstructions".
Human rights concerns have always been an important obstacle to Turkey's membership bid, along with the division of Cyprus and other issues.
The BBC's Mark Lowen in Istanbul says the pull of the EU has waned considerably in Turkey in recent years.
When accession talks began in 2005, over 70% of Turks were in favour of joining; now, some polls put support at just 30%.
PM Erdogan: "We won't allow any interference in the will of the people"
Many Turks see a bloc unwilling to welcome a large Muslim-majority nation to the east, especially with the opposition of founding EU members such as France, our correspondent says.
The Turkish government has acknowledged that police used excessive force against the original protest over the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park in Istanbul.
But they say the wider protest movement that ensued in cities across the country has been hijacked by extremists.
On Thursday night Mr Erdogan was welcomed back to Turkey by thousands of cheering supporters who waited at the airport to greet him.
It was the first major show of support for Mr Erdogan following a week of protests in which his opponents have called for him to resign.
How the crisis spiralled - in 90 seconds
Four people, including a police officer, are reported to have died since the protests began, with thousands more hurt and hundreds arrested.
The government says more than 500 police officers are among the injured.
The protesters accuse Mr Erdogan's government of becoming increasingly authoritarian and trying to impose conservative Islamic values on a secular state.
His Justice and Development Party (AKP) has governed Turkey since 2002, winning successive election victories.
Map of protest locations in Turkey and Istanbul

Israeli Arrow II ready for Syrian missiles. US Patriots for Jordan. Moscow backs Hizballah

DEBKAfile Special Report

02 June.The IDF has disclosed that Israeli Arrow II missile batteries stand ready to intercept Syrian missiles launched against Israel. Israel Air Force Colonel Zvika Haimovich told reporters Friday: “Syrian batteries are in a high state of operability ready to fire at short notice…We have not yet been called into action on the northern front, but I believe we will be.” The US has assigned Patriot interceptors and F-16 warplanes to Jordan. DEBKA reports close coordination between the Israeli Arrow and US Patriots deployments in Jordan and Turkey.

“We are looking at all aspects, from the performance of weaponry to the way the Syrians use it, said the Israeli air force officer. “They have used everything that I am aware exists in their missile and rocket arsenal [against Syrian rebel forces]. They are improving all the time, and so are we… but we need to study and be prepared.” Israel has beefed up its deployment to more than four nationwide batteries for repeated interception.

Radical Albanian party seeks "participation" in Montenegro

PODGORICA -- Self-Determination Movement leader Albin Kurti is considering the possibility for this Kosovo-based party to "indirectly" engage in Montenegro's political life.
Self-Determination members take part in a protest in Kosovo (Beta, file)
Self-Determination members take part in a protest in Kosovo (Beta, file)
According to Podgorica's Vijesti newspaper, the leader of the radical ethnic Albanian party is trying to find "the best model" for this - but "without it being perceived as a direct provocation toward the existing Albanian parties in Montenegro."
Kurti's goal is reportedly to help those parties improve the status of Albanians in Montenegro.

Self-Determination activists on Tuesday briefly interrupted the Kosovo-Montenegro Friendship Forum, by putting up a banner reading, "Albanians are discriminated in Montenegro, this is no friendship," in front of the stage.

Meanwhile, Mehmet Bardhi, leader of the Democratic Alliance of Albanians in Montenegro, has been quoted as saying that the "Albanian question" in that country has not been solved.

Speaking on Thursday, Bardhi also noted that ethnic Albanians in Montenegro faced discrimination.

Neither the government nor the opposition showed their readiness to accept Albanians as equal citizens, he further charged.

According to Bardhi, nobody should be surprised if Albanians from Kosovo and Albania were to raise their voice against the discrimination of their compatriots in Montenegro.
Step by step.........

Leader of opposition meets voters in Berat, Prime Minister Berisha holds meetings in Kucove

Sali-Berisha-Edi-Rama-fushate-bashkeBerat, June 7, 2013
The leader of the Socialist Party, Edi Rama held a meeting today with voters in Berat where he promised the opening of 300 thousand new jobs.
According to him, employment will assist the community and the program of the Socialist Party is a detailed program, stressing that the resources of the country can be exploited without spending too much money.
Rama also launched accusations against the head of the government, Sali Berisha by saying that the PM is the worst communist ever existed and that people should vote the Socialist Party on June 23 in order to make that day a liberation day.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sali Berisha was in Kucove today, where he promised the construction of a high school in Perondi, while stressing that investments in these areas will triple.
“We will protect your produces, whereas Rama promises the lifting of VAT for milk, wheat, eggs, etc. If VAT is lifted, then the country will be swarmed by foreign products which will send domestic products to bankruptcy. Join us in support of your farms, for higher wages and pensions, join us for the integration of Albania in the European Union, vote the Democratic Party”, said Berisha. /ibna/

Porti i Vlorës, tre anijet e NATO-s, vizitë jo të paralajmëruar

Albanian media say three NATO ships entered the port of Vlora, in formation war, the Albanian defense ministry, says the opposite
\ Two weeks ago, the Albanian parliament voted for NATO law, which authorizes NATO forces, to enter without special request from TiranaPort of Vlora, three NATO ships, unofficial visit. DM reacts

Three NATO SNMCMG2 Mine Counter-measuring Ships have anchored on Friday morning in the port ofAulona.

Three vessels requesting mines, installed in NATO Base in Naples, one British, one Turkish and one Italian, arrived in the early hours of the morning at the Port of Vlora. According to port authorities but also the Albanian military naval authorities, their visit is a visit informal and unofficial. In meetings that they have not included or government officials and central and local government will have several visits to the area known. 
According to the same sources of Balkanweb, there has been a confirmation of what has been their mission before arriving in Albania, but learned that the ships have stayed a few days on the island of Malta.NATO military authorities did not declare to the media about the purpose of their visit, expected before their departure to have a common train but this news is not confirmed as the Albanian authorities or NATO military

NATO ships that arrived today in the coastal port city will leave on June 10.

Albanian Defence Ministry has reacted in the media about the information distributed in the lineup today for the arrival of three boats fighting NATO in Vlora bay, stating that they are on aid mission to Albania.


Standing NATO Mine-Countermeasures Group 2, is a multinational, integrated maritime force - made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team - that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions. Usually the Force is employed in the Mediterranean area but, as necessary, will be available anywhere NATO requires it to deploy.

Albanian Socialist arranged $10,000 payment for Obama photo

Patrick Howley
Investigative Reporter
An Albanian politician under investigation for corruption arranged a $10,000 contribution to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in order to set up a photo opportunity between Obama and the leader of the Socialist Party of Albania.
Edi Rama, the Socialist party candidate for prime minister in Albanian elections later this month, was photographed with the president at an October 2012 fundraiser. Rama has been heavily promoting this appearance with the U.S. leader in the apparent hope that it will help the Socialists gain power in the election.
What Rama doesn’t mention is that the photo was arranged with the help of  a $10,000 Obama campaign contribution made by an Albanian resident of New Jersey.
Rama’s Socialist Party is attempting to unseat Democratic Party prime minister Sali Berisha in the June 23 Albanian parliamentary elections and elect Rama as prime minister.
Albanian politician Dritan Prifti, who was then a member of the Socialist Party, arranged for Rama to attend a $40,000-a-head San Francisco fundraiser with Obama on the night of October 8, 2012, an Albanian National who has close relations with the Socialist Party and who has worked in the Albanian government told The Daily Caller.
The source, who insisted on anonymity, told TheDC that Prifti compelled an Albanian resident of New Jersey and his wife to donate $70,000 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012 just days before the fundraiser and to bring Rama as his personal guest
Part of this contribution was intended as a $10,000 payment to the Obama campaign for the photograph. Foreign nationals like Prifti and Rama are legally prohibited from directly donating to U.S. political campaigns.
Prifti, who has since split with Rama and the Socialists due to a political feud and is now running for Parliament as an independent, claimed in a video released in Albania late last month that he arranged Rama’s photograph with Obama, which Rama is now showing off in his home country to help him in the elections.
On October 9, 2012, Rama tweeted in Albanian, “Ne fund nje takim i paharrueshem me Presidentin Obama! Fat dhe nder per shqiptaret ky mik i madh ne Shtepine e Bardhe.”
Rama’s tweet, translated to English, means, “At the end, an unforgettable meeting with President Obama! Fate and honor that Albanians have such a great friend in the White House.”
“Yesterday Edi Rama showed the media the picture that he took with Barack Obama. I want to remind Edi Rama that I organized this meeting with Obama.  I was the person who personally undertook the organizing of this meeting and I realized this meeting for Edi Rama,” Prifti said in Albanian, according to a translation of the video.

“Rama was supposed to travel to this dinner along with Prifti and one other Socialist parliament member, but Prifti was denied the visa to travel with Rama because he was under investigation for corruption in Albania,” according to the Albanian source.
“The reason that Rama did not publish this picture immediately was that he felt journalists would find out that he had paid money for the picture,” according to the source, who claimed that the photograph cost $10,000.
Rama posted the photograph on his Facebook page May 24, and the photo has been published extensively in the Albanian press. Julianna Smoot, deputy manager for Obama’s 2012 campaign, appears in the background of the photograph.
Prifti and Rama arranged the meeting by persuading Bilal Shehu, an Albanian resident of New Jersey who had never before donated to a political campaign, to contribute $70,000 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012 on September 28, 2012, according to the source. This source did not say how the two convinced Shehu to make the donation.
Edi Rama and Bilal Shehu. Facebook
Shehu brought Rama to the fundraiser as his personal guest, and his wife Aida Shehu contributed $10,000 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012 on September 28, 2012.
Until his emigration to the United States in 2009, Shehu  was a customs agent in Albania earning the equivalent of between $5,000 and $8,000 per year. He is now listed as the co-owner of Eliot Kleri, LLC, a small limousine company in Hawthorne, New Jersey. According to FEC records, Shehu had never before donated to an American political campaign.
Shehu did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Shehu has been photographed with Rama on multiple occasions.
Bilal Shehu and Edi Rama. Daily Caller source
Rama, who served as a board member of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation of Albania, has been his nation’s primary opposition leader since 2005. Rama recently announced that Tony Blair would serve as a consultant to his government in order to help Albania gain membership in the European Union by enacting the kinds of social reform policies that Blair implemented as prime minister of the United Kingdom in the 1990s.
The United States reportedly “brought its influence to bear in Albania” in April in an attempt to help reconstitute the country’s electoral commission prior to the June 23 elections.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Fron Nahzi

Albanian Elections: Promises of Change, Really?

Posted: 06/06/2013
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Campaign. Much like the 1963 epic American comedy, the runoff to Albania's June 23 national elections has brought together a cast of old and new characters from Albania's ongoing democratic evolution. They are scrambling from one end of this tiny country to another like Keystone Cops. They all promise EU membership, an end to corruption, and to do away with unemployment (an estimated 28 percent of youth is unemployed). Most recently the ruling party has upped the ante by promising free visas to the U.S.
The cast is led by the aging Sali Berisha, a self-appointed guardian of democracy, current Prime Minister, and the leader of the ruling Democratic Party. His challenger is young Edi Rama, Chairman of the Socialist Party, former Mayor of Tirana, and one who prefers steak tartare in a country where well done is the norm. Both leaders claim a vote for their party will lead to change in the country. Berisha's slogan is "We Are Change and We Are Moving Forward". Rama has countered with the slogan "2013: The Year of Change", as in "let's get rid of Berisha", and for good measure he has flung the notion of "Rebirth" in the slogan.
In the wings there is the nationalists Red and Black Party, which was doing surprisingly well in the polls until its leader demanded $100,000 from party members to have their names placed on the ballot. Party members fled the movement and so with it collapsed Greater Albania. Then there is the newly created New Wind/Fresh New Democratic Party led by Bamir Topi, former President of the country. A relative unknown, Berisha handpicked and propelled Topi to the Presidency. Topi took a position against Berisha and soon found himself out of a job. Topi has taken his revenge against Berisha on the campaign trail where he hopes his Fresh Party will unseat the old man. Fresh may get a few seats in parliament but doubtful enough to rouse the winds of change.
The key player is Ilir Meta, the Janus head of the Socialist Movement for Integration, a splinter party that broke ranks with the Socialist Party in 2004. With a steady 5% of the popular vote, Meta has taken the role of king maker. Since 2009 he has shared a bed with Berisha. Meta served as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Berisha's government. He was caught on video tape by one of his own party members demanding kickbacks for a state tender. Berisha quickly came to his rescue. Against the testimony of independent criminal experts and the cry for justice by both European and US diplomats, Berisha and his courts determined the tapes were altered and had the case thrown out of court. Meta walked away with pockets lined of money and into the arms of Edi Rama. No surprise his party's slogan is "Walk Faster". It's doubtful Rama will be able to keep pace with him, as some insiders believe Meta has already begun a dastardly plan to steal the Socialist Party away from Rama and become Prime Minister.
With a seven point lead in the most recent polls, Rama's Socialists are expected to win the elections. But Albanian political campaigning does not begin or end with the elections. They are an all season sport. Losers never quit complaining and the winners never quit boasting. Promises made during the elections are quickly forgotten and a finger pointing policy is quickly adopted. For more than twenty years each party has promised to change the country but not one party is willing to change. And the only kind of change the public would like to see is less cash in their leaders' offshore bank accounts and more change, as in cash, in their own pockets or... a free visa to the U.S. Oy vey!

"Brussels agreement to be respected to last letter"

BELGRADE -- Serbia will do "exactly what has been proscribed by the implementation plan" by June 28, i.e., EU's decision on a date for the start of membership talks.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
It is ready to adhere to its part of the agreement to the last letter, but it expects the same from the Priština side, said Marko Đurić, advisor of the Serbian president.
Đurić, one of the heads of the Belgrade team for the implementation of the Brussels agreement, explained in an interview for Tanjug that the meetings between working groups in Brussels are currently discussing the details of further development of the implementation process, adding that he is certain that if Priština does not interpret the agreement unilaterally, the solution can be reached.

"We expect clear moves from the Priština side since only that can lead to a favorable result in the field and political stability and guarantee survival to the Serb community and a general progress for both sides," he said.

Asked about the first thing to be fulfilled in terms of the implementation plan, Đurić said that the bill on amnesty in Kosovo-Metohija is a necessary condition.

“Priština is on the move, it has to adopt the bill on amnesty and to create conditions for the integration of justice, police and all other structures to be carried out in a legally proper manner in the interest of our side and all others who are involved in the process,” Đurić said.

Đurić could not specify the areas in which Serbia will have to change its laws, but added that the Belgrade team has offered its suggestions in this respect preliminary in the talks between the working groups.

Speaking about the working process in the implementation groups, Đurić said that it often happens that Priština appears with stands that make the entire process regress.

The Belgrade team does not have adequate interlocutors, unrealistic requests are being set contrary to the agreement and a message is being sent that the crucial role belongs to the mediator that is the EU, he added.

"It appears that Priština is in no hurry in terms of certain topics, which are as a rule politically sensitive areas as they imply considerable concessions and establishment of Serb institutions and bodies with clear empowerments," he said.

“They do not send adequate representatives with jurisdictions to bring political decisions and in such cases the things come to a bit of a halt. Sometimes, it appears that these halts have a certain kind of political instructions in the background, however it is in our interest to adhere to the agreement so the responsibility for everything else can be laid on the other side,” Đurić said.
The head of the Catholic Church of Albania, reacts to the motive of the general released from military high post, with Catholic backgrounds

Archbishop of the Catholic Church, Rrok Mirdita, sent a letter yesterday  to the former-chief of  General Staff of the Armed Forces, Sander Leshi, which expresses surprise for his removal from office.
In the letter signed by Monsignor Snatch Mirdita, expressed concern for the former general statement Lleshi, that his dismissal was due to the pressure of the Albanian Forum Canadian Catholic faith.
"I do not want to believe that the President of the Republic has acted under pressure from a militant group that attacked because of your Catholic identity, because I want to believe that freedom of religious belief of every citizen of Albania is not only recognized, but also the protected by the state at any level. would be very disturbing if it was not so "finishes leader of the Catholic community in Albania.
The newspaper "Panorama"