Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tirana: "Thorough investigation of Kareli's death"

Tirana: "Thorough investigation of Kareli's death"
After an Albanian prisoner killed a Greek prison guard, father of two, and after the prisoner died of internal injuries caused by beating, the Albanian Foreign Ministry reacted with a press release:

“We want to express our condolences for the tragic losses of the prison guard, Jorgos Cironis, and the Albanian prisoner, who was serving his sentence in this prison. The Foreign Ministry has asked our embassy in Athens and our consulate in Thessalonica to watch this matter closely”, the reaction says.

The Ministry declared that they are waiting for the coroner’s report, which could give a better view of the case.

“The Ministry condemns the attacks against law enforcing authorities, and every attack against Albanian citizens who serve their sentences in the Greek prisons. We encourage the Greek authorities to continue with a thorough investigation and bring those who are responsible to justice”, the reaction says.

The defendant’s mother: “They never allowed me to meet him”

The mother of Ilia Kareli declared that she has never been allowed to see her son since 1997, when he was imprisoned.

She said she had traveled to Greece in very bad health conditions, only to meet her son in prison, but she was never allowed to see him.

“They never allowed me to meet him. His deep despair led him to that crime. He deserved to be punished, but not to be beaten to death. He made requests to meet me but they never allowed him. I don’t think there was another reason why he did this”, she says.
Albania rejected the EU candidate, Rama-Meta responsible 

The former prime minister Sali Berisha accused again Mr. Rama and Mr. Meta for blocking the EU integration process of Albania. According to him, the fact that the government does not respect the laws, fight against crime and corruption and lack of implementing the necessary reforms lead to a negative response from the EU countries.

“The PM attacked those countries that votes against granting Albania the candidate status. Edi Rama accused these countries for being extremists and for suffering from Islamophobia, but this kind of talking is unacceptable for our partners and for also for the Albanian people”, says Berisha.

The accusations made from Rama would soon get the answers from German chancellor, Angela Merkel and UK PM, David Cameron and Mark Rutte continues the ex Prime Minister. Albania did not get the EU candidate status because she needs more results in fight against crime and corruption, implementing reforms etc.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Putin calls Obama to discuss Ukraine

President Barack Obama waves to Governor of Riyadh Prince Khalid Bandar bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud and other Saudi officials next to his helicopter in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, March 28, 2014 Barack Obama is visiting Saudi Arabia following a trip to Europe
Russia's Vladimir Putin has telephoned President Barack Obama to discuss the US proposal for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
Mr Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing, the White House said in a statement.
According to the Kremlin, Mr Putin suggested examining how the situation could be stabilised.
Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine has sparked international condemnation.
In the hour-long phone call, the US president urged Mr Putin to avoid the build-up of forces on the Russian border with Ukraine.
The two leaders agreed that their foreign ministers would meet soon to discuss the next steps.
The US proposal, developed in consultation with Ukraine and other European countries, includes the deployment of international monitors to protect the rights of Russian speakers in Crimea, and the return of Russian troops there to their bases.
Mr Obama received Mr Putin's call in Saudi Arabia - the latest leg of a trip which also took the US president to Europe where the Ukraine crisis dominated discussions.
The Kremlin said in a statement that the Russian president drew Mr Obama's attention to "the continued rampage of extremists" in Kiev and various regions of Ukraine.
Mr Putin suggested examining possible steps the global community could take to help stabilise the situation, the Kremlin statement said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Head of the Russian Interior Ministry's branch in the North Caucasus Kazimir Botashev at the presentation ceremony of the top military brass in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 28, 2014. President Putin welcomed military leaders to the Kremlin on Friday
Meanwhile in New York, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had been assured by President Putin that the Russian leader "had no intention to make any military move".
Russia's reported troop movements near Ukraine's eastern border - described as a "huge military build-up" by Nato - has triggered fears that Mr Putin's interest in Ukraine is not limited to Crimea.
The BBC's North America Editor, Mark Mardell, said Friday night's phone call could indicate tentative progress towards a diplomatic solution - just when fears were growing in the West that Russia could be about to stage an invasion of eastern Ukraine.
The US and its allies have imposed sanctions on members of Mr Putin's inner circle, and threatened to take action to target the Russian economy, in response to Moscow's actions in Crimea.
Map of Crimea

Ukraine crisis: Russian troops on border spark US alarm as fears of invasion grow

Obama urges Putin to 'de-escalate the situation'

Us Editor
While Moscow has said the soldiers are merely involved in military manoeuvres, fears are growing in Washington that preparations may be under way for fresh incursions into parts of eastern Ukraine in the wake of the annexation earlier this month of Crimea. US officials believe that the positions of the troops are being deliberately concealed and that supply lines for a possible invasion have already been established.
President Barack Obama told CBS News that he could not tell what Moscow’s intentions are and urged the Kremlin to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation”. The massing of its soldiers may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine or it may be [that Russia] has additional plans,” he said.
The Pentagon believes that roughly 50,000 Russian soldiers may now be in position in Crimea itself and along Ukraine’s eastern border. Such a force could be used for lightning strikes into parts of eastern Ukraine which have large Russian populations.
Mr Obama attributed the taking of Crimea, which has triggered the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War, to a long-festering sulk on the part of Mr Putin. “I think he’s been willing to show a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union,” Mr Obama said as he left Rome for Saudi Arabia after days of meetings in Europe dominated by discussions of the crisis.
“You would have thought that after a couple of decades there’d be an awareness on the part of any Russian leader that the path forward is not to revert back to the kinds of practices that were so prevalent during the Cold War,” Mr Obama added, “but in fact to move forward with further integration with the world economy and to be a responsible international citizen.”
Vladimir Putin meets newly promoted officers yesterday from the Russian armed forces, which he praised for their role in Crimea (Getty Images) Vladimir Putin meets newly promoted officers yesterday from the Russian armed forces, which he praised for their role in Crimea (Getty Images)
Any further land-grabs by Mr Putin would be in spite of efforts by Mr Obama and the EU to isolate him diplomatically and financially. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said Moscow should heed the easy passage on Thursday of a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the taking of Crimea, even if it had no legal teeth.
The St Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya conceded publicly that it had been forced to give up all its foreign-currency business and execute only rouble-expressed transactions as a result of US sanctions directed against it because of the Crimea annexation. The US Congress meanwhile is expected early next week to pass a new law extending $1bn in loan guarantees to Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that Moscow has taken “retaliatory measures” to Western sanctions, “which are largely tit-for-tat”. He wouldn’t elaborate on the new targets.
In a Kremlin ceremony meanwhile, Mr Putin celebrated the taking of Crimea. “The recent events in Crimea were a serious test,” Mr Putin was seen declaring on state television. “They demonstrated both the completely new capabilities of our armed forces and the high morale of the personnel.”
The US State Department has played down suggestions by Ukraine’s ambassador to the US that as many as 100,000 Russian soldiers now threaten his country. But Washington accepts that the numbers are none the less growing.

Russia "astonished" by Obama's version of Kosovo UDI

MOSCOW -- Russia said on Friday it was "astonished" by a statement made by U.S. President Barack Obama concerning the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
Obama told a gathering in Brussels earlier this week that the ethnic Albanian proclamation, made in 2008, was preceded by "a referendum," and that this referendum was carried out "in cooperation with the UN and neighboring countries."
Obama's speech was meant to accuse Russia of distorting the facts related to Crimea when that country cited the Kosovo case as a precedent.

The UDI, made by the assembly of its southern province, was rejected by Serbia as unconstitutional, while Russia refused to recognize it. The United States, however, were among the first countries to recognize the territory as independent.

"Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea," the U.S. president said in his speech at Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

He also said that NATO's 1999 war against Serbia was launched "only after the people of Kosovo were systematically abused and killed for years."

“This claim on the part of the U.S. president causes astonishment since there was no plebiscite in Kosovo, all the more so a plebiscite coordinated with the international community,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said, and added:

“A decision of breaking away from Serbia was taken by 'parliament' in Priština in 2008. However, we can only agree that fateful decisions should be taken through referendums, the way it was done in Crimea, not in private."

Several western analysts and experts on the Balkans also reacted to Obama's statement, including James Ker-Lindsay of the London School of Economics, who qualified it as "an incredible mistake," and noted that "an unofficial" independence referendum had been organized by ethnic Albanians - but that it took place in 1991, and that only one country, Albania, recognized its results.

Cato Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter told Tanjug that Obama's statement was a regrettable attempt at distorting history, "especially given that the initial territorial amputation of Kosovo from Serbia was carried out in 199 by the U.S. and their NATO allies." This analyst also noted that this act was accompanied by "a shaky facade of international approval after the fact."

The orchestration of Kosovo's independence in 2008, Carpenter stressed, represented an arrogant instance of bypassing the UN Security Council, in violation of previous UN resolutions.

"Borders will not be redrawn in Balkans"

SARAJEVO -- The British foreign minister says there will be no more drawing of borders in the Balkans and that only a united Bosnia in its present borders can join the EU.
William Hague was quoted as saying in Sarajevo on Friday that any reasons for the breaking up of Bosnia-Herzegovina would encounter "strong resistance from the United Kingdom and the international community."
He is added that this belief is shared with all his colleagues from the 28 EU member states.

"I'm a big proponent of future membership of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the EU and NATO, but this will only happen if it is able to function as a state. This means that it is important that the map of Bosnia-Herzegovina is final, that people can come together to cooperate," Hague was quoted as saying.

He pointed out that the situation in Bosnia must not be linked to the events in Ukraine and that there is no basis to compare the Serb Republic and Crimea.

He added that the steps that Russia took over the case of Crimea are "a horrible example of an unlawful annexation," which all EU members condemned.

Hague arrived in Sarajevo on Thursday with American actress Angelina Jolie to attend a conference dedicated to prevention of sexual violence in conflicts.

The British official and Jolie also traveled to Potočare near Srebrenica, where they had a series of meetings with the families of the victims and survivors of sexual violence during the war in Bosnia.

Photo of the Day: Washington D.C. Himarrioton Society Board members after meeting with Christopher R. Carver, Albanian Desk Officer at U.S. Department of State

Ljubčo Georgievski, the former Prime Minister of FYROM explains why Macedonia is only Greece and that his people are Slavs.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The  "Himara Issue": Albanian Prime Minister Rama, dismisses the Prefect of Vlora

Charges: Approved division of property under the 7501 Law, in the Himara Region

The appeal of 1500 citizens with origin from Himara, with American citizenship, addressed to the U.S. Secretary of the State, John Kerry, for properties of Himara strong influence to the Albanian government

Tirana. Albanian Prime Edi Rama has ordered the removal from office of Prefect of Vlora, Besnik Dervishi. The news was made public by the office of Prime Minister of Albania itself . Dervish was in office from October 2013, which was faced with numerous complaints of citizens of Vlora and Himara region, for shares of the Albanian Police, for demolition of houses with permission.

But according to reliable sources of SManalysis , the reason for discharge Prefect of Vlora, was the adoption of titles of property, in violation of the laws and constitution of the country, from Himara Municipality, a process orchestrated by corrupt oligarchs and the Albanian mafia.

Meanwhile, the public appeal of 1500 citizens with origin from Himara, with American citizenship, addressed to the U.S. Secretary of the State John Kerry, for the return of their property before 1945 in the Himara Region, has been the main cause, in which Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, has ceased Prefect of Vlora, Besnik Dervish.

On 23 November of 2013, The Himara Municipality, has "adopted" in a clandestine manner, the approval of the distribution of property titles, for about 300 citizens from Himara, with the Law 7501. The process was called corrupt by the opposition and civil society of Himara, while within a few days, Prefect of Vlora, have adopted, in violation of the law and the Constitution.

Obama, Pope Francis meet for first time

By Halimah Abdullah, CNN
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Watch this video

President Obama meets the Pope

  • The meeting between the Pope and the President could help smooth tensions with Catholics
  • Abortion and Obamacare mandates on contraception are areas of disagreement
  • One place for common ground could be the plight of immigrants and the poor
  • Pope Francis' popularity could give President Obama a small bump in the polls
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama gave Pope Francis a bag of seeds as a gift, a fitting token as their first-ever meeting provided a fresh start of sorts between the administration and Catholic leadership after years of strained relations.
"These, I think, are carrots," Obama told the Pontiff, showing him one pouch. The seeds were inside a box made from timber from the first cathedral to open in the United States, in Baltimore.
The two world leaders greeted each other with a smile and a handshake, and posed for pictures before sitting down across a table from each other.
It was an important meeting that had its share of light moments.
Photos: Popes and U.S. presidents Photos: Popes and U.S. presidents
Pope Francis\' first year Pope Francis' first year
Rock star Pope shakes up the Vatican
The President at one point quipped, "His Holiness is probably the only person in the world who has to put up with more protocol."
The goal of the meeting: Focus on areas where two of the world's most influential men agree and gently tread ground where they differ.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Obama pointed to the Pope's concern for income inequality, saying, "Given his great moral authority, when the Pope speaks it carries enormous weight."
Continuing to focus on income inequality, Obama said, "And it isn't just an economic issue, it's a moral issue. I think the Pope was speaking to the danger that over time we grow accustomed to this kind of inequality and accept it as normal. But we can't."
The President said he admires the Pope's courage to speak out on economic and social issues.
"It doesn't mean we agree on every issue, but his voice is one that I think the world needs to hear. He challenges us," Obama told the newspaper. "He implores us to remember the people, especially the poor, who are affected by the economic decisions we make."
The meeting took place two days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a contraception mandate included in the President's signature health care reform law.
The law exempts churches and houses of worship from the requirement, but nonprofit, religiously affiliated groups are required either to provide contraception coverage to their employees directly or through a third-party insurer.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been vocal in its opposition to the provision, said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the organization.
Pope Francis' most irresistible moments
Jimmy Carter for Catholic women priests
Photos: Gateway for migrants, refugees Photos: Gateway for migrants, refugees
"Religious liberties and right-to-life issues are a concern," she said of the tension between American Catholic leadership and the administration. However, "the U.S. bishops have appreciated the administration's cooperation on issues of mutual concern."

Steven Seagal: Vladimir Putin's Crimea actions very reasonable

Steven Seagal said Putin's "desire to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the military base in Sevastopol … is very reasonable."
Steven Seagal said Putin's "desire to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the military base in Sevastopol … is very reasonable."

Steven Seagal's new role seems to be defending President Vladimir Putin's actions in Crimea.

The hard-man film star, who is thought to be an acquaintance of Putin because of a shared love of martial arts, has expressed his support for Russia's actions in Crimea in a 2,000 word interview with state-run newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta.According to The Moscow Times, Mr Seagal, who is currently shooting a new film in Romania, said President Vladimir Putin's "desire to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the Russian Black Sea military base in Sevastopol … is very reasonable."
In the interview Seagal reportedly says he considers Putin "one of the great living world leaders" and that he "would like to consider him as a brother." He also criticises what he describes as the "idiotic" US policy on Ukraine.
In an interview last year the star said of Vladimir Putin that: "I would like to think I know him well. But I know him well enough to know that he is one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader alive."
Seagal is not the only action star to have waded in on the subject of Crimea.
Former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger offered some less-than-helpful advice for world leaders when asked about Crimea in a recent interview to promote his new film 'Sabotage'.
“I think what they all need to do now, is stop whatever they are doing and watch the movie ‘Sabotage’”, he said.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Greece replaces Turkey in annual naval exercises with Israel, U.S.

Noble Dina 2014 naval exercise
Special to

ATHENS — Greece has hosted a regional naval exercise.
On March 25, Greece has hosted Noble Dina 2014 in cooperation with Israel and the United States.
The two-week naval exercise, headquartered in the Greek island of Crete, was taking place in the eastern Mediterranean.This marked the third edition of Noble Dina, designed to focus on search-and-rescue and anti-submarine warfare missions.

Officials said Greece replaced Turkey in U.S.-sponsored regional naval exercises with Israel. Ankara has refused to participate in major exercises with Israel for nearly five years.
Israel has contributed a range of assets for Noble Dina. Officials cited a Dolphin-class electric-diesel submarine, Saar-5 missile boat, two Saar-4.5 platforms and a frogmen unit.

The first stage of the exercise was scheduled to last 24 hours in Crete. Later, Greece, Israel and the United States were expected to conduct a port security maneuver.
Koco Danaj: Presevo Valley has the right to be part of Albania

Koco Danaj, head of List for Natural Albania says that Presevo Valley has the right to unite with Albania and Mr. Jonuz Musliu demand is right and is made in the right moment. “The Valley is an Albanian territory that was taken from Albania in the London Conference 1912-1913, like other territories such as Cameria”, Danaj says, by adding that the demand complies with the international laws.

“France considers her territory a group of Island in the Central America like San Martin etc, like UK considers the islands called Malvines, which are close to Argetina”, Danaj adds. He then asks: Why not to take in consideration the union of Presevo with Albania?

In the last parliamentary elections in Serbia, the ultra nationalists of Dacic and Vucic won and now control 82 % of the Serbian Parliamentary. Danaj says that these forces in the past have committed genocide against Albanians. “They aim today to “democratically” clean the Valley.

The Medgegja example and the ethnic cleansing after 2000 proves that very well”, Danaj says and asks all political parties in Tirana and Prishtina to support Mr. Musliu’s demand. /

Albania has an Al Qaeda problem. And it's starting to fight back

The authorities have arrested eight people on charges of recruiting militants to fight in Syria.





Syria 03 21 2014Enlarge
The deaths of Albanians fighting in Syria for groups such as ISIS have put the security services on alert. (Mohammed Wesam/AFP/Getty Images)
TIRANA, Albania — Police detained most of the suspects during dawn raids on two mosques in the Albanian capital earlier this month.
The eight people arrested included two radical imams, Genci Balla and Bujar Hysi, believed to be the spiritual leaders of an extremist Islamist group.
They’re suspected of recruiting dozens of militants for Al Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting in the Syrian civil war.
The authorities also issued international arrest warrants for five more suspects believed to be fighting in Syria.
Observers say radical Islamic groups have operated here for decades, living mainly on the fringes of society, using websites and social networks such as YouTube and Facebook to spread radical propaganda.
Although the majority of Albanians are Muslims — at least nominally — Albanian society is largely secular.
Genci Balla, also known as Abdurrahim Balla, had previously attracted attention for his fiery internet sermons promoting jihad and radical militant groups fighting in Syria.
“Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State [of Iraq and al-Sham] are the only groups that are fighting to create an Islamic state where Sharia law will rule,” he said in a sermon posted on YouTube. “The Syrian Free Army ... don’t want Islam to rise up.”
The arrests follow an investigation by the general prosecutor’s office and police, who seized a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, a hand grenade and hundreds of rounds of ammunition during the raid.
It came amid growing concerns about the number of ethnic Albanians from Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo reported to have joined militant groups fighting in Syria.
Some 300 Albanian fighters have joined the militant groups Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, or ISIS, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, a think tank based in London’s King's College.
Edval Zoto, a Tirana-based counterterrorism expert, says the deaths of Albanian citizens fighting in Syria put the security services on alert.
However, prosecuting them will be difficult, he says. “It’s difficult to collect evidence that will stand up in court.”
More from GlobalPost: As the Kremlin celebrates, Russia’s liberals wallow
The government boosted its counterterrorism operations after passing a number of amendments to its criminal code earlier this year. They included sentences of up to 10 years in prison for citizens who join conflicts abroad for political, ideological or religious reasons.
Kosovo has also passed a similar law, imposing sentences of up to 15 years in prison for those caught fighting abroad.
Although he supports the changes, Zoto says more must be done.
“Radicalization occurs among individuals who are sidelined from society or belong to small groups,” he says. “Having an open public debate about the phenomenon is a real deterrent.”

Kosovo? Hong Kong? Abkhazia? Few Precedents for Russia's Crimea Takeover

Artur Bainozarov / ReutersMuscovites walking past a mural showing a map of the Crimean peninsula in the colors of Russia’s national flag and the words “Crimea and Russia.”
Correction appended

Russia's takeover of Crimea is the first acquisition of foreign territory by a major power in more than a decade, and some observers, lawyers and scholars say it is difficult to justify the move based on past precedents.
The Kremlin has described the joining of the strategic region to Russia earlier this month as a legitimate agreement between two independent governments following Crimea's rapid declaration of independence amid a political crisis in Ukraine. Russian leaders have emphasized that the region's splitting from Ukraine and the referendum in which Crimean voters chose to join Russia were actions expressly in line with international law.
Western powers have vehemently disagreed. They maintain that the annexation was a flagrant violation of international legal standards, while some observers have called the action one of the most significant challenges to the current international order since the end of the Cold War.
Alexei Malashenko, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center, said the argument over the legality of the move was an empty one, since international law can be interpreted and manipulated in different ways and loopholes can always be found.
"International law is just paper that has lost its value long ago," Malashenko said by phone.
Territorial annexations have become increasingly rare since the end of World War II as more traditional imperialist systems of government have faded, and most of those takeovers have not been recognized by the international community.
For Russia, the takeover of Crimea is the first acquisition since the period of the late 1940s to early 1950s after World War II, when the Soviet Union acquired part of Finland, the Baltic states, part of East Prussia, Western Belarus, Western Ukraine, Moldova, South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The South Kurils are now also claimed by Japan, which calls them the Northern Territories.
Many enclaves around the world have declared independence in recent decades, but often have not been formally joined to other countries. For example, Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia following a brief war between Georgia and Russia in 2008, and Russian troops continue to occupy the territories, but the Kremlin has not moved to make the disputed republics part of the Russian Federation.
Perhaps due in part to Crimea's military importance for Russia's Black Sea Fleet and its historical ties to Russia, the Kremlin went a step further with the peninsula. According to Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the Merkator research group, the decision on whether to occupy a territory or to annex it depends on the "extent of the elite's craziness."


Russia has pointed to one past international case in particular in arguing that the West is being hypocritical in its criticism of the takeover of Crimea: Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.
The Kremlin, which strongly opposed Kosovo's split from its ally Serbia, has cited the International Court of Justice's 2010 ruling that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence without Serbia's agreement complied with international law.
But many differences exist between the situations in Kosovo and Crimea, observers say.
Unlike in Crimea, it took Kosovo many years to declare independence, Malashenko said. In Crimea, the parliament voted in late February to hold a referendum on the peninsula's status on May 25, then later moved the date to March 16.
"This is not the way it is done," Malashenko said, adding that a year ago nobody had even considered the issue of Crimea splitting from Ukraine.
Kosovo was also the site of a military conflict and ethnic cleansing, whereas Crimea has seen no major violence for decades, he said.
The Russian government has cited supposed threats by "bandits" and Ukrainian ultranationalists as justification for authorizing Russian troops to enter Ukraine to defend Russian citizens. But there have been virtually no reports of violence against Russians in Crimea.
Another difference between Kosovo and Crimea, Oreshkin said, is that Kosovo, unlike Crimea, was not annexed to another country.

Annexation, or Legitimate Treaty?

The Kremlin has argued that Crimea's joining Russia was the result of a legitimate agreement between two independent states, with supporters comparing it to the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997 under a bilateral agreement.
Another comparison made by supporters of the Crimean referendum is that with Saarland, which had been run by France under a League of Nations mandate since 1920 and held a referendum to join Germany in 1935.
Curtis Doebbler, a U.S. human rights lawyer, agreed with the Russian government's position.
"An annexation of territory infers an act that is done against the will of the people of the territory concerned," he said by e-mail. "When the people of a territory that is part of one state express the free and uncoerced will to join another state, it is more correct to speak of the exercise of self-determination."
He also argued that the fact that Crimea's decision to declare independence was "encouraged and protected" by Russia did not discredit people's expression of self-determination.
Lorand Bartels, a lecturer in international law at the University of Cambridge, rejected Russia's arguments, however. He said there was no right of secession from a parent state except when the people are under risk of serious threat of harm, which was not the case in Crimea.
"As to the 'treaty,' this depends on there having been a state capable of concluding such a treaty with Russia," he said by e-mail. "There are various reasons why there was not."
Bartels said that if there were a right of self-determination exercisable by secession in this case, the Crimean referendum was not a valid exercise of that right due to "procedural irregularities."
Several deputies of the Crimean parliament have said that they were absent at the parliament session in late February that approved the referendum but had been recorded as present, and that there had been no quorum at the meeting.
Critics of the Crimean referendum have also argued that few independent observers were present and have accused the authorities of cracking down on independent journalists, allowing Russian citizens to vote and falsifying turnout numbers. Russian and Crimean authorities say the vote was legitimate.
Bartels also argued that the requisite "independence" of Crimea was lacking thanks to Russian control over the territory.
"The purported independence of the state was tainted by at least a threat of use of force, and most likely use of force itself, making it illegal to recognize the state, and rendering the statehood of Crimea a nullity," Bartels said.
Opponents of the current Crimean government have argued that its decisions were illegitimate because it was allegedly appointed under duress when armed men without insignia seized the parliament building in late February.
Bartels argued that Russia's takeover of Crimea was illegitimate also because the peninsula's independence from Ukraine was not recognized by any other state, and "hence there was no entity capable of concluding a treaty with Russia."

Nazi Comparisons

The most controversial comparisons made regarding the joining of Crimea to Russia have been to territorial acquisitions by Nazi Germany ahead of World War II.
One such comparison has been to Germany's 1938 takeover of Sudetenland, a German-speaking region of Czechoslovakia. Just as in Russia's takeover of Crimea, Germany said it sought to protect local residents from abuse by the government.
Another case that has been called similar is Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938, called the "Anschluss." Malashenko, of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said this was different from Crimea, however, because Austria was an independent state rather than part of another country.
During the Anschluss, Germany forced Austria to install pro-Nazi politician Arthur Seyss-Inquart as chancellor, who then invited German troops to invade the country. Critics have compared the move to pro-Russian forces' takeover of the Crimean parliament in late February, installment of Sergei Aksyonov as prime minister and subsequent invasion of Crimea by Russian troops.
German troops were met by cheering crowds in Austria — a move that some said paralleled the friendly reception given to Russian forces in Crimea.
Following the occupation of Austria by German troops, a referendum was held in which 99.7 percent voted in favor of annexation, according to official results. A similar landslide of 96.77 percent was the official result in the Crimea referendum on March 16.
The Anschluss of Austria by Germany was recognized by the international community, while Russia's takeover of Crimea was not, but both referendums were criticized by foreigners for alleged violations.
When justifying the Anschluss, Germany argued that Austria's population consisted of ethnic Germans, and the ethnic argument was also a major one for the Kremlin, which has emphasized that most of Crimea's population, or about 58 percent, are ethnic Russians.
The issue of shared ethnicity has also been raised in other arguments over territory. India invaded the Portuguese colony of Goa and annexed it after a brief military conflict in 1961, noting that the region, which had been ruled by Portugal since the 16th century, is populated by an Indo-Aryan people. Portugal initially called the move an illegal annexation, but over a decade later recognized Goa as part of India.

Shared History

Another argument frequently used by Russia in justifying its seizing of Crimea is that the region had been part of Russia before 1954, and that its transfer to Ukraine was a pure formality since both Russia and Ukraine were parts of the Soviet Union at the time.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used a similar justification when he invaded Kuwait in 1990, saying it had been part of Iraq during the Ottoman period. After the invasion, a formally independent republic was established in Kuwait and subsequently it was joined to Iraq. The annexation was never recognized by the international community.
Israel has appealed to history in its territorial occupations, saying that Palestine and parts of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan were parts of the Jewish lands described in the Bible. Though most of the territories occupied by Israel have not been formally integrated into the Jewish state, the country brought some of them under its jurisdiction, including Palestine's East Jerusalem in 1967 and Syria's Golan Heights in 1981.
Viktor Nadeyin-Rayevsky, a research fellow at Moscow's Institute of World Economy and International Relations, rejected any parallels with Israel, saying that Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem and Golan Heights had been declared illegitimate by the United Nations. He also noted that Crimea was part of Russia in recent history, while he said Israel's claims were "mythological."
Security considerations also played a role in Israel's takeovers because the occupation and annexation of surrounding Arab lands "was the only way for it to survive," Malashenko said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Abkhazia and South Ossetia split from Georgia in 2008. In fact, they formally seceded from Georgia in the early 1990s, while in 2008 Russia recognized their independence.
 Great Geopolitical games of U.S. in Balkan Region


Crimea Domino Effect : US To Greece is required, not to block Macedonia to NATO. Albania wants from Greece, recognition of Kosovo, but Greece seek large Autonomy Republic of Northern Epirus from Albania, Montenegro hesitates for NATO, while Bosnia risks split in tow.

Albanian nationalist Kreshnik Spahiu: we will not allow any government Rama effort, to divide ethnic Albanian territory, based on the Greek historic claims

U.S. diplomacy efforts intensify for the next NATO summit in Bucharest. According to Greek sources, the Balkan region, especially triangle Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, has become the subject of diplomatic changes within the western alliance of NATO.

This is because the case of Crimea, can clash and unexpected situation in the Balkan region, which still lies partly under the control of NATO. Countries like Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Serbia, are outside the NATO alliance membership, which can cause insecurity crisis in the region.

But according to information reserved from Greek media, there are efforts within the alliance and U.S. diplomats in particular, that we made ​​maximum efforts for the NATO in next Bucharest summit, to join the remaining countries in Balkans.

Of course Greece is playing a primary role, adding diplomatic efforts recognized Kosovo in exchange for broad autonomy for Republic of Northern Epirus, for which the principle of self-determination, the historical principle and values ​​of the western alliance, to serve for a reformation , in the region.

Meanwhile, yesterday, during a TV interview News 24,the  Chairman of Red & Black Alliance Party, Kreshnik Spahiu, declared: "The Government of Rama, is negotiating, for maritime border with Greece, to provide a large autonomy in the South of Albania, for Northern Epirus. we will not allow and will make major protests, even though the solution will be the recognition of Kosovo, by Greece ".

Putin Ally Silvio Berlusconi Condemns 'Reckless' G7 Russia Ban

Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin
Silvio Berlusconi (L) and Russian president Vladimir Putin Reuters
Former Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has condemned the G7 decision to suspend the 16-year collaboration with Russia in the G8 group of leading industrialised nations as "reckless and counter-productive".
The 77-year-old media mogul, banned for two years from public office after he was found guilty of tax fraud, lamented that Western leaders in The Hague have taken decisions "far from the constructive spirit" of collaboration with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Italy's disgraced ex-premier is widely regarded as Putin's closest friend among senior western politicians. During the Ukraine crisis, he reportedly told ambassador John Philips at the American embassy that "it would be an error to isolate Russia" and called for the US to "involve the Kremlin."
Berlusconi and Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) listens to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as they toured villa La Certosa in Sardinia August 29, 2003REUTERS/ITAR-TASS/PRESIDENTIAL
Berlusconi and Putin are bound by a decade-long, sincere friendship. The 77-year-old invited the Russian leader to his private villa in Sardinia in 2008. Putin has long defended Berlusconi and once dismissed concerns over the former prime minister's sex scandals by saying: "They mainly criticise him because they are jealous."
In the wake of the renewed Western crisis with Russia, Berlusconi claimed he was responsible for the transformation of the G7 to G8. "I was the one in 1994 who invited President Yeltsin at the G7 in Naples and in 2001 to change the G7 to G8 with Putin in Genova. In 2002 I concluded the strategic deal between Nato and Russia at the international meeting in Pratica di Mare.
"I think that these decisions taken by Western diplomacies are reckless and far from this constructive spirit," he said.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Balkan worries of the Syrian aftermath

By Ioannis Michaletos |

The recent arrests of Jihadist recruiters in Albanian and Serbia relating to the Syrian conflict and the revelation of the involvement of the Furqan NGO and its two coordinators, “IC and SP”, is a short glance of the networking involved between a substantial and radicalized Wahhabi/Salafi base centered in Bosnia-Herzegovina and their “brethren” in Syria. It is estimated that around 1,000 Balkan Islamists have fought or are currently engaged in battles in Syria.
Balkan jihadis in Syria pose in photo
Balkan jihadis in Syria pose in photo
In various occasions media reports and assessments by international security organizations point out of around 5,000-6,000 radicalized Wahhabis at any given moment in Bosnia. Significant groups are also based in the Raska-Sanjak region in Serbia and in Eastern Montenegro, Kosovo, FYROM, Albania and Southern Bulgaria. Moreover cells are to be found in Greece composed by newly established immigrants and in Istanbul from where the main coordinating center for Jihadists from Europe entering Syria is based. Furthermore separate groups are located in Croatia, in Milano and in Vienna, thus encompassing almost the whole of Southeastern Europe.
The Wahhabi movement described is the main network through which foreign fighters to Syria are recruited. From the aforementioned regions such as Bosnia, every week for the past few months a new death of a “martyr” is announced in the media signaling casualties from the ongoing war and the strong interaction between Balkans and the Middle East in the realm of religious fanaticism.
Due to the security issues involved, Bosnia and Herzegovina has recently passed a law that prohibits the Wahhabis to recruit people for the war abroad. A similar measure is pending in the southern Serbian province of Raska-Sanjak. According to Deputy Prime Minister of the country Rasim Ljajic, Serbia is preparing amendments to the Criminal Code that would classify the specific Wahhabi recruitment for the war in the country punishable by imprisonment.
The current law does not provide for any penalties for those who go to war campaigns, or for those who organize them. The activity of the Jihadi propagators and instigators is mainly concentrated in rural areas and a large number of Wahhabi is particularly active in the border areas with Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro.
Wahhabis in Novi Pazar, Sandzak and other cities came into play in the hectic war in Syria when their leaders under the direction and with the money obtained outside of Serbia, began to recruit volunteers for the army of the Islamic State of Iraq itself (ISIS), linked to Al-Qaeda war against Bashar al-Assad.
According to all available information, during the course of the current war in Syria, 35 Jihadists from Raska-Sanjak alone have been killed. While the Jihadists from the battle field send pictures with AK-47 and dismembered Syrian civilians in their internet forums, a debate has already emerged in the local Islamic communities if this behavior is actually counterproductive or sinful, a process that will be elevated due to the recent decision by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates to classify both Al Nusra and ISIS as terrorist groups, along with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is assessed that a massive return of Balkan Jihadists will occur over the coming weeks, culminating by early summer 2014.
In a wider level, according to a past research by Steven Oluic Assistant Professor of the US Military Academy: ” Although several community leaders, journalists and NGO representatives lament that this region is an economic disaster, the modern and impressive facilities of the Islamic Community and International University of Novi Pazar suggests that significant funding is coming from some unknown donor(s)….journalists based in Belgrade and Novi Pazar, many NGO representatives and Serbian security officials contend that money is being funneled into the Sandzak from wealthy Mideast donors via Austria, Bosnia and even Hungary….The magazine “SAFF,” the flagship journal of the radical Sarajevo-based Aktivna Islamska Omladina (Active Islamic Youth) or AIO, can be found in bookshops and kiosks. The AIO is a vocal critic of US policies in the Middle East and has been tied to Al Qaeda….Syria was mentioned several times as a location where many Bosniaks receive their cost-free religious education in what was termed the “Sheriat Faculty” whereupon they return as hodzas (Islamic instructors) to Europe. A brother of one of these students stated that “there are many of us there (Syria).”
At this point it should be noted that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s links with the Balkans were strong even since the late 80′s and before the dissolution of the then Yugoslavia. The infamous Abu Hamza Syrian national has been- along with others- preparing a full scale infiltration of the region which then evolved into the introduction of 15,000 “Mujahedeen” into the Western Balkans in the early 90′s.
Nowadays a return of Jihadist from Syria, coupled with an expanded Schengen travel zone across the EU and the implosion of the worldwide Islamic radical scene into countless small segments with no distinct hierarchy and leadership poses a significant difficulty in the international security authorities to pin-point future probable actions, whilst it seems that Jihadism is relying more and more of the “lone wolf” modus opperandi, whereby propagators instigate attacks on a “spontaneous level” by “wannabe” Jihadists, such as was the case over the past few years in Lyon, Brussels, London and Boston.
The case of Muamer Effendi Zukorlić
Muamer Zukorlic born February 15, 1970 in Orlje, Tutin, SR Serbia, then Yugoslavia) is the Grand Mufti of Sandzak, who now operates as a grand Mufti at the top, in the 2007 formed Islamska zajednica u Srbiji (“ Islamic Community in Serbia ” ), headquartered in Novi Pazar
He graduated from the Gazi Husrev – Medresa in Sarajevo and from the Department of Islamic Sharia Faculty in Constantine, Algeria. Further studies led him to Lebanon. He is the founder and Rector of the International University in Novi Pazar and the first Dean of the Faculty of Islamic studies.
In 2004, he protested vigorously against the introduction of a Remembrance Day for the Saint Sava of Serbia to the local state schools. In 2006, Zukorlic signed to an open letter of Islamic scholars to Pope Benedict XVI after his “Regensburg speech”. He was one of the 138 signatories of the open letter A Common Word between Us and You, the personalities of Islam to “leaders of Christian churches everywhere “.
Zukorlic since 2012 has showed that he wants to play an active role into the Serbian politics and he was even a Presidential candidate, while he is often accused as an instigator of the “Green corridor” axis based between Kosovo-Sanjak and Bosnia a sort of an autonomous Islamic state in the heart of the Balkans.
In an interview in 2011 to a Bosnian paper Dnevni avaz, Zukorlic publicly claimed that he wants an autonomy for the region and specifically added that “”Sandzak’s autonomy needs to be carried out in our minds and with our organizational capacities….We decided to open Sandzak representative offices in Brussels, Washington, Istanbul, and Sarajevo”. Zukorlic has a Twitter account “”, where interesting, rather populist and certainly out of the ordinary for an Imam tweets are beamed on a regular basis, suggesting aims for continuing on a political consolidation of his persona in the region, a fact that has little been researched concerning his overall motives. The changes that were caused in the entire Islamic world due to the Syrian unfolding crisis will soon rather than latter reach Novi Pazar and play a role in the domestic religious and political scene.
In overall political trembles should be expected once the returnees from the “Syrian front” arrive in Sarajevo and Novi Pazar, as well as in Priznen and in Tetovo, with a fresh defeat and accusations of treason towards their “brethren” both in the Balkans and in the Middle East. The role of Turkey would be crucial and few researchers realize around the explosive situation nowadays in Istanbul and Ankara where a full blown psychological war is being waged against Erdogan that will culminate no later than in the 1st anniversary of the 2013 revolt in the Gezi Park in Istanbul.
In such a case further issues are to be assessed for, both by local Balkan states and by EU ones, due to credible fears that literally thousands of uncontrollable Jihadists may set foot in the Balkans for the second time in 20 years.

Worry in Albania that Russia’s aggression may destabilize the Balkans

Serbia may be tempted to radicalize once again, threatening the prospect of peace and stability in the region

Members of Albanian parliament worry that the Russian aggression in Ukrain’s Crimea may an inspire Serbia to abandon its current policies and endanger the prospects of peace and stability in the Balkans.
“It may have implications in the Balkans because it is clear that Serbia may change its approach in new context provided that this Russian expansion continues,”, Ben Blushi, an MP of the ruling Socialist Party said during a session of the Commission on Foreign Policy of Kuvend (the Albanian parliament).
Blushi went as far as to wonder on the ways which the Russian new aggression will transform the European Union itself and eventually affect Albania’s efforts to become a member country of the block.
The socialist MP, who has clashed, at times, with the current prime minister and chairman of his own party, Edi Rama, asked for a report from the Defense Minister of Albania on the role of Albania as a member of NATO in these changing circumstances. His request found support from other members of the commission on both sides of the aisle.
Ukraine is not so far from Albania, Blushi argued. “As a NATO member our borders are not only in Vermosh and Konispol (respectively most northern and southern villages of Albania), but all the way to Lithuania, Poland and wherever NATO-s area extends”, he said.
Kastriot Islami a member of parliament from the opposition Democratic Party echoed his colleague’s concern on the effects that the Russian moves in Crimea may have in our region and particularly in Kosovo.
Islami asked for more expert information on the recent events underlining that most of what is going around comes from media and that is not always verifiable. He asked for experts of the Foreign Affairs and Defense ministries to supply the commission with updated reports.
The former Foreign Minister agreed with Blushi that as a member of NATO, Albania should be more attentive to these developments while evaluating their effects in the region.
The Democrat MP also wondered on EU’s abilities to respond to Washington’s demand for a tougher stand on Russia.
“If the United States of America has a more radical stance, by asking for… tougher economic sanctions against Russia, the European Union, for widely known reasons of economic interdependence and geographic proximity will look for a softer approach,” he said.
Arta Dade, another former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the past Socialist administration and current Chairman of the Commission on Foreign Affairs, confirmed that Albania’s position on the developments in Crimea will reflect those of NATO and EU.
(Written by Denion Ndrenika/Translated by Ruben Avxhiu – Illyria)

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Attack with antitank missile, against the house of the Mayor of Farke, near Tirana Region

Notorious Ukrainian nationalist militant shot dead in police raid (GRAPHIC PHOTO)

Published time: March 25, 2014 05:05 
Notorious Ukrainian right-wing militant leader Aleksandr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi, has been shot dead during a police raid against his gang, confirmed Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior.
Muzychko was killed in Rovno, western Ukraine, where he coordinated actions of local groups belonging to the nationalist Right Sector movement.

Police discovered a spare loaded magazine for a Makarov pistol and a total of $3,500 and 5,000 Ukrainian hryvnas in cash on Muzychko’s body, UNN agency reported to a Ukrainian Interior Ministry official as saying. Muzychko received three gunshot wounds to his chest and two to his right leg, the official said.
At a press conference dedicated to Muzychko‘s death, First Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov announced that charges of hooliganism and obstructing law enforcement agencies had been filed against Muzychko March 8, and on March 12 Muzychko was put on the Ukrainian police’s wanted list.
Yevdokimov provided a dramatic version of the events leading up to Muzychko’s death.

The operation to arrest him took place in a village near Rovno, where the militant leader and three of his bodyguards, all of them armed, were in a local restaurant, called “The Three Crucians.”
An assault group from the Sokol special police task force stormed the restaurant to detain Muzychko and his henchmen. The militant leader made an attempt to flee through a window. He opened fire, and two of his bullets wounded a police officer, who returned fire and shot Muzychko in the leg. Other police officers shot in the air, Yevdokimov said.

Aleksandr Muzychko (Still from YouTube video/TVRivne1)
Aleksandr Muzychko (Still from YouTube video/TVRivne1)
Even after Muzychko fell to the ground, he continued shooting.
“When [the police] attempted to detain him, they found out he was wounded. The medics who arrived at the scene proclaimed Muzychko dead,” Yevdokimov said.
The three bodyguards, who were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and Makarov pistols, were detained by police.
A former senior official at the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) told RIA Novosti that the objective of the operation – carried out by SBU with the help of the Interior Ministry – was to kill Muzychko, rather than to detain him.
The goal of the operation was not to detain, but to neutralize Muzychko, to remove him from the stage,” the source said, adding that the militant leader was undermining the new Ukrainian authorities and pursuing his own interests through his leadership of the Right Sector movement.
Muzychko himself earlier said he believed he could be killed. In a video address recently posted on YouTube he said that the leadership of “the Prosecutor General's office and the Interior Ministry of Ukraine made a decision to either eliminate me or to capture me and hand me over to Russia, to then blame it all on the Russian intelligence.”
The man was known for his radicalism, attacks on local officials during the coup in Kiev, and refusing to give up arms after the new authorities were imposed.

Under the name Sashko Bilyi, he took an active part in the First Chechen War in 1994-1995, when he headed a group of Ukrainian nationalists fighting against Russian troops.
Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Aleksandr Muzychko in early March. The Ukrainian was accused of torturing and murdering at least 20 captured Russian soldiers as he fought alongside Chechen militants.

Aleksandr Muzychko came under the spotlight of the Russian authorities after a series of scandals in Ukraine, when the radical nationalist leader went on with the rampage against regional authorities, lashing out at a local prosecutor, threatening local authorities with an AK-47 and making openly anti-Semitic statements.

Poll: 54 percent support EU membership

BELGRADE -- A majority of Serbian citizens would vote in favor of their country's membership in the EU in a referendum, according to a new survey.
(Tanjug. file)
(Tanjug. file)
The survey was commissioned by the Beta news agency and conducted by Ipsos Strategic Marketing.
"Since the end of 2012 we have an upward trend, today we have more people than a year or a year and a half ago supporting entry into the EU," said representative of Ipsos Strategic Marketing Predrag Kurčubić.

If a referendum on this issue were called now, 54 percent would vote in favor. Beta said in its report that "29 percent would definitely vote in favor, 26 percent likely, while 19 percent would be certainly against, and eight percent would probably say 'no'."

The survey's results were presented on Tuesday in Belgrade. It was conducted February 22-27 on a representative sample larger than 1,000 respondents.

Beta news agency editor-in-chief Ivan Cvejić said that the agency as part of the Argus project would give to the media even more analytical materials on the negotiations on Serbia's membership in the EU, especially on chapters 23 and 24, the judiciary and the rule of law and human rights, which, as noted, will require fundamental changes in society.

The stance towards EU membership "is somewhat at odds with the opinion of citizens on international institutions and countries, considering that 27 percent said they had a positive opinion about the EU," the presentation also heard.

The fact that twice as many respondents supported Serbia's entry into the organization made Kurčubić conclude that Serbians "expect certain benefits from the EU, would be ready to support it because they expect something positive to happen."

21 percent said they believed Serbia will never join the EU, 35 percent think it will happen by 2020, and 19 percent that it will take place after that date.

73 percent of respondents said that Serbia will during the negotiations face greater challenges than other countries in the region that have joined the EU, while 18 percent think it will have the same treatment. Nine percent did not know the answer to that question.

Kosovo is a requirement about whose importance for EU entry the greatest number of citizens agree, Beta said, adding that this number is "about one in three, while all others are below 10 percent."

Those who took part in the poll believe that the next country from the region to join the EU will be Montenegro (38 percent), and 23 percent thought it will be Serbia.