Saturday, April 4, 2015

UN: 20,000 Foreign Fighters from 100 Countries Stormed to Syria and Iraq

Published: Fighters from 100 nations – more than half the countries in the world – have joined militant groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, according to United Nations.
Photo from: Al-Alam
Photo from: Al-Alam
Worryingly, the report warned if ISIS was defeated in the war-torn region then the barbarous foreign fighters could be scattered across the world, DailyMail reports.
The number of foreign fighters worldwide soared by a staggering 71 per cent between the middle of 2014 and March 2015 after ISIS gained significant territory, Al-Alam reported.
Syria and Iraq were by far the biggest destinations, with over 20,000 foreign fighters travelling to the region to fight for mainly ISIS but also the Al-Nusra Front.
The panel said the thousands of foreign fighters who travelled to both countries are living and working in ‘a veritable “international finishing school” for extremists’ as was the case in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
Afghan security forces estimated in March – three months after British troops withdrew – that about 6,500 foreign fighters were active in the country.
And it said hundreds of foreigners are fighting in Yemen, Libya and Pakistan, around 100 in Somalia, and others in the Sahel countries in northern Africa, and in the Philippines.
The panel of experts monitoring UN sanctions against Al-Qaeda said in the report that the scale of the problem has increased over the past three years and the flow of foreign fighters is higher than it has ever been historically

Fico: Slovakia will not recognize Kosovo

Apr 3, 2015

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said that his country would never recognize independence of Kosovo and greeted Serbia’s constructive approach in the region.
Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
We are closely in touch with the developments of Belgrade- Pristina relations, but like Serbia, Slovakia has no reason to change its stand on the Kosovo issue.
We will not recognize Kosovo, Fico told a joint press conference with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic in Bratislava.

Tsipras visit to Moscow: The agenda of the talks with Putin

First entry: 3 April 2015 - 12:16 Athens, 09:16 GMT
Last update: 01:15 Athens, 22:15 GMTPolitics
Tsipras visit to Moscow: The agenda of the talks with Putin
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will pay a working visit to Moscow on April 8-9 at an invitation of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
According to the announcement of the prime minister's press office, "the talks of Greek Prime Minister with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will include issues of bilateral interest, such as, among others, trade and economic cooperation issues, investment, energy, tourism and educational-cultural cooperation, in view of the events of 2016 Greece and Russia bilateral year."
At the same time, the leaders of the two countries will discuss issues related to EU-Russia relations, as well as current developments in regional and international issues.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Trans-Atlantic Partnership Between U.S and Albania for Hemp Products Arrive in Time for Cannabis Cup


DENVER, COLORADO--(Marketwired - April 3, 2015) - BREAKING NEWS: Trans-Atlantic partnership between U.S and Albania for cannabidoil and other legal hemp products may be arriving just in time for 2015 Cannabis Cup in the Mile High City later this month. This civil society movement, originally formed in 2013 may very well revolutionize America's legalized marijuana and hemp industry, as we know it today. 

Koço Kokedhima, a member of Albanian Parliament from the Socialist Party says "Albania produces cannabis of high quality, well known in Europe," as mentioned in a February article by Balkan Insight, Albania MP Backs Farmers Selling Pot Abroad. Kokedhima has been in communication with Congressional Committee on Eurasian Affairs in Washington, D.C. (CCEA) regarding a meeting taking place later this month to discuss a development stage program for exporting cannabis products from Albania to the United States.
CCEA chief director Cary Lee Peterson says "the Albania-U.S. bilateral partnership for hemp goods is still young, as its been nearly two years since forming Albania New Millennium Civil Society Program to get to this point today. Thus, this opportunity was something that was definitely considered in the beginning but hasn't really taken legs until this year."

Hemp-based cannabidoil, also known as CBD has become a popular topic due to the variation of health benefits it allegedly offers and the ambiguous federal regulations that make it legal throughout the U.S. as described in an October 2001 news release by Drug Enforcement Agency, in addition to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco, Calif.) decision in 2004 regarding HIA v. DEA case. DEA failed to comment when contacted regarding this matter and responded with a generic letter with general information that can be easily found at DEA website.
Despite the grey-area with federal regulations on hemp products, in states like Idaho, local regulations on cannabidoil (for medicinal and recreational consumption) remain prohibited for sell and use, as mentioned by chief representative at Idaho Office of Drug Police on Tuesday's article by Idaho State Journal.

The cooperative initiatives between CCEA and Albanian government, originally established by an intergovernmental partnership from 2013 may be the game changer to enable eradication of illegal drug trafficking in Albania, create several job and government taxation opportunities on both sides, and regulate the distribution of legal hemp products sold in United States through licensed resellers in Colorado, Alaska, Washington and 12 other states where CBD oil is legal. This is a positive aftermath from the 2014 seize by Albanian national police, who destroyed around 40 tons of cannabis crop (as reported by Huffington Post last year), which impacted less than ten percent of Albania's cash crop, according to cannabis market statistics from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In spite of Albanian legislation that prohibit use of marijuana, Balkan cannabis is known for its very high quality, tremendous supply from farmers, and extremely low cost that is unheard of in America. An Albanian farmer Agon tells Tirana news blog that 'He's happy to cooperate with Albanian government and legally sell our crop to the Americans rather than illegal drug traffickers, who have brought extreme risk to his village, farm, and family over the past decades"

A representative of Balkan Herbal Industries, an Eastern European wholesaler of health and beauty products says 'they anticipate for the potential opportunity to supply U.S companies very lucrative and plan to eventually expand its product line to the U.S. before end of 2015.'
In 2014 an article at boasts of the hottest publicly traded marijuana companies as Novus Acquisition & Development, Abattis Bioceuticals Corp, United Cannabis Corp. Cannabis Sativa Inc., mCig, Inc., Greengro Technologies, TerraTech Corp, and Mentor Capital, Inc., which all stand to benefit from a new trading relationship between Albania and U.S. for hemp products as cannabidoil purchased from a distributor like Balkan Herbal Industries, recently appointed by Albania-America Cannabis Chamber of Commerce to work as an exclusive vendor for United States.
BHI comments that 'they will announce details of their plans for U.S. markets during Cannabis Cup' being held in Denver, Colorado from April 18-20.
Article by: Melanie Schultz

NATO Trains New 'High Readiness' Task Force

Spanish Navy Marines take position during a NATO Response Force training exercise.
© AP Photo/ Daniel Tejedor

With many countries in Eastern Europe on edge over increased military activity, NATO has decided to form a new fighting force designed to respond swiftly in the face of threats.

The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) will include about 5,000 troops, primarily from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, with maritime, special operations and aviation units.
A US soldier greets the media as custom officers inspect an Abrams main battle tank, for U.S. troops deployed in the Baltics as part of NATO's Operation Atlantic Resolve

At the Gates: NATO Says Its Military at Russian Border 'Below Substantial'

The “spearhead force,” as NATO describes it, is meant to give the rest of the 30,000 service members in the NATO Response Force (NRF) time to mobilize.

NATO Defense Ministers decided to create the high-readiness force “In light of the changing security environment to the east and south of the Alliance’s borders,” the coalition said on its website.

The force is in the midst of part one of a training exercise dubbed Operation Noble Jump. Having begun on April 1 and concluding on April 10, the exercise includes missions in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, and marks the first time that the forces will practice rapid “orders to move,” NATO officials said.

The second part of Noble Jump will occur from June 9 to June 20 at the Zagan Military Training Area in Poland, officials said. It will be followed by Trident Juncture 2015, a military exercise in Italy, Spain and Portugal from October 21 to November 6.

Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the commander of US European Command and supreme allied commander of NATO operations, has repeatedly said that the entire NRF needs to be ready. He said at a forum in Brussels last month that NATO is not just establishing the high-readiness task force, but also working to speed up how the rest of the response force moves.
U.S soldiers walk next to a Patriot missile defence battery during join exercises at the military grouds in Sochaczew, near Warsaw
U.S soldiers walk next to a Patriot missile defence battery during join exercises at the military grouds in Sochaczew, near Warsaw

NATO: Iran Deal or Not, Missile Shield Will Stay

Breedlove told the House Armed Services Committee in February that Europe will be the primary contributor of land forces for the high-readiness task force, but the US must contribute some troops to help with cohesiveness.

United States troops have spent years training with the NRF since it was established in 2003.

Last month in Latvia, US Marines joined troops from Lithuania, Luxembourg, Canada and Germany for a five-day training assignment. The Marines took part in the Black Sea Rotational Force, which cycles through the Baltic region regularly for training assignments on Russia’s western flank.

Read more:

Former President of Omonia Vasilis Bolanos, convened by the Attorney General, of Vlora

 How much longer, must we to hide, this news?

Albanian State holds in a difficult position, the former President of Omonia (The Greek Ethnic Community in Albania) Vasilis Bolanos, to "kidnapped" Himara, the "strong castle center of Hellenism" in Southern Albania.. by improper use of the Prosecution and Institutions of Justice to blackmail the leadership of Omonia, and seriously damaging the national interests of the Greek Community in Albania..

Former president of the Municipality of Himara, accused of planning permission granted in 57 cases, without legal documents ..causing financial and environmental damage, particularly in the logging of secular olive trees..

Charges from SAI, Vasillis Bollano is Sending to the General Attorney of Vlora District, by January 2013, but paradoxically the process was interrupted and resumed after two years, in February 2015, just the time when he was replaced by the president of Omonia, a period of dark full of blackmail and unexpected.

The strategy of the Albanian state, is to bend, leaders of Greek Minority and to silence journalists for the human rights, and this is confirmed, the charges for Bolano, for which the total indifference of Omonia on the New Territorial Division in Himara Case, clearly shows that Bolanos has been "hostage by the" Albanian State "...

 But if it turns out that, Vasilis Bolanos, was held "hostage" for at least several years, the "Albanian justice" to achieve the objectives of the Nationalist Albanian State, against the population and the Greek Community of Himara, then Athens, should intensify an international survey to the Albanian Government.

The New Territorial Division by the Albanian Parliament, went against the interests of the Greek Community of Himara, without protest and referendum, which was designed to evolve from Omonia, which implies in discussion "Appeal of Albanian politics, the Greek side.

Vasilis Bolanos invested by the Greek political and diaspora communities in order to serve the Greek Community in Albania, but the burden of Greek leadership in Albania, has fallen very recently, especially after the 2011, The scandalous Census Process and the New Territorial Division, which means that recent efforts of the Albanian Nationalist State, regulating the territory of  "The Greater Albania".

US Navy guided-missile destroyer enters Black Sea – reports

Published time: April 03, 2015 21:29
Guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (image from
Guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (image from
American destroyer USS Jason Dunham has crossed the Bosporus and entered the Black Sea, according to Russian military and diplomatic sources. The US Fleet previously announced it would support Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The ship will reportedly stay in the Black Sea water zone until April 14, and it is expected to visit the Ukrainian port city of Odessa.
“The American destroyer has completed the passing of the closed sea [the Bosporus] and entered the zone of the Black Sea,” a diplomatic source told RIA-Novosti on Friday.
The specific goals of the destroyer have not been named, but the US 6th Fleet earlier said in a statement that “the ship’s presence in the Black Sea demonstrates the United States’ commitment to working closely with allies to enhance maritime security and stability, readiness, and naval capability.”
Jason Dunham is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer of the US Navy, introduced in year 2010. It is equipped with two missile launchers “Aegis” that are able to carry up to 56 “Tomahawk” cruise missiles. The ship with a 380-strong crew also has a group of two SH-60 “Sea Hawk” helicopters on board.

At the beginning of March, six NATO warships participated in naval drills in the Black Sea. The operation, headed by the US, included anti-air and anti-submarine exercises.
Within the framework of the Atlantic Resolve activities, around 750 US Army tanks and thousands of troops were deployed to the Baltic states. The build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe, according to the alliance, is the means “to deter Russian aggression.”

Moscow has repeatedly slammed NATO’s increased activity near the Russian borders.
“NATO buildup on the eastern flank, or in the so-called ‘front-line countries,’ is an unprecedentedly dangerous step that violates all agreements, including the Russia-NATO Founding Act, which is still in force,” the ministry's spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, said at a news conference.

SManalysis asks the US Ambassador in Tirana, Donald Lu, for Himara Issue

Turkey Launches International Mosque-Building Program

In this 2008 file photo, Albanian Muslims pray to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Turkey is planning to build a mosque for Albanians in Tirana.
In this 2008 file photo, Albanian Muslims pray to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Turkey is planning to build a mosque for Albanians in Tirana.
Turkey currently is building 18 large Islamic religious centers around the world. The projects include a mosque in Tirana, Albania which will hold more than 4,000 worshippers. Turkey will also build mosques in the United States, Russia and Kyrgyzstan. It has similar projects set for the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the Palestinian Territories and Somalia.
Observers say President Erdoğan's goal is to establish Turkey as leader of the Muslim world. This was the country’s position during the Ottoman Empire, which ruled from the 14th century through the early 1900s.
Asli Aydintasbas writes about politics for Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper. She says the president cares very much about his historic legacy and his international legacy.
She also says he wants Turkey and the world to see him as a person who has advanced the interests of Islam and Muslims. She says this is why he so strongly supports the mosque-building project.
Yuksel Taskin is an expert on politics at Istanbul’s Marmara University. He says President Erdogan and his ruling AK Party share the goal of returning Turkey to the power of its Ottoman past.  
Mr. Taskin says the party is trying to re-create the golden age of Islamic civilization. He says the AKP see Turks as the leaders of such a rebirth.
The Diyanet is the government group that administers the Islamic faith in Turkey. President Erdoğan has expanded the group’s international office. Supporting religious education is a main element in Turkey’s campaign for greater influence over Islam internationally. Turkey has offered financial assistance to foreign students who want to attend its universities. The government also supports international student exchanges.
However, Turkey is not the only country interested in leading the Islamic world. Other Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia are also seeking to fill the role. For many years, Saudi Arabia has been spreading its oil money around Islamic countries.
Istar Gozaydin is a professor of religion and politics at Istanbul’s Doğuş University. She says the Balkans is the main region for the competition between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
She says she thinks the two countries once balanced each other in efforts to build mosques and create communities for them. But now, she says, it is more of a competition, especially in Bosnia
Experts say President Erdoğan may well be looking to the language of the street to rise above such obstacles. Increasingly, his speeches appear to be aimed at ordinary Muslims, in Turkey and around the world. His talks often include a strong anti-Western message.
Politics writer Asli Aydintasbas says the president is behaving as if he already leads the world's Muslims. She says she thinks Mr. Erdoğan believes he would be elected leader of the Muslim world if the community could hold such a vote.
President Erdogan is increasingly campaigning against what he considers the growing threat of Western "Islamophobia," – prejudice against or fear of the religion of Islam and Muslims.  He is also demanding that the United Nations Security Council create a permanent seat for a Muslim nation.
Observers warn that such rhetoric is likely to continue as Turkey’s campaign to lead the Islamic world progresses.
I’m Jim Tedder.

Dorian Jones reported this story. Marsha James adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Main opposition wants committee to probe Greek economy since 1981

First entry: 3 April 2015 - 19:40 Athens, 16:40 GMT
Last update: 19:40 Athens, 16:40 GMTPolitics
Main opposition wants committee to probe Greek economy since 1981
Main Greek opposition party New Democracy (ND) will submit its own proposal to establish a parliamentary committee that will examine what has happened in the country’s economy since 1981 and the reasons which led the country into a bailout deal.
The cutoff point is the year ND lost to the socialist Pasok, which governed for all but four of the next 23 years.
The Syriza/Independent Greeks coalition government wants the committee to examine only the period from 2009 onwards. Greece's bailout deal was signed in May 2010.
According to ND the procedure should start after the agreement between the government with its partners on June, state Athens New Agency reports.
During the ND informal political council, headed by party leader and former prime minister Antonis Samaras, it was said that the government wants to turn the spotlight elsewhere.
It was decided that ND will vote against the proposal of Syriza but its members will participate in the Parliamentary Committee.
“They are discussing about what happened on 2010 and 2012 but they don’t know what will happen tomorrow” New Democracy party members said.
They also stressed that ND agrees on the need to investigate how Greece signed the bailout deal. However, they underlined that they won’t vote for Syriza’s proposal because they disagree with its "divisive" rationale.

FM: Region should build ties based on interests

BELGRADE -- Countries in the region should focus on finding common interests in order to overcome recent incidents, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has said.
Dacic addresses reporters on Friday (Tanjug)
Dacic addresses reporters on Friday (Tanjug)
Dacic on Friday addressed his regular monthly news conference to say that these incidents "once again strained relations between Serbia and Croatia and Serbia and Albania," Beta reported.
"The Serbian-Croatian and Serbian-Albanian relations are important for the whole region. Overall, we all need to focus on trying to define common interests and avoid 'the drone syndrome'," he said, in apparent reference to a football game incident last October.

"There are historic things that we do, and then the things that take us two steps back," he remarked.

Dacic also stressed that Serbia "wants to have best possible relations with Croatia as a neighbor and a very important country in the region - while Serbia is certainly the most important country in the region - because our relations are very important for the overall stability in the region."

He then "expressed hope that the latest incident when a Croatian flag was burned by Hague indictee Vojislav Seselj and statements of Serbian Minister of Labor Aleksandar Vulin will not damage earlier agreements between the Serbian and Croatian sides," the news agency reported.

"We wish to separate those issues that need to be talked about more, that are open issues from the past, from those concerning current bilateral relations and cooperation on our European path, and establish common interests and common projects for the future. The nature and course of our relations will depend on the possibility of approaching that in a truly responsible manner."

He added that it was "important to move toward normalization of relations."

Asked whether he thought that Vulin's statements about Zoran Milanovic and Ante Gotovina, when he referred to the latter as "Ustasha," contributed to the deterioration of relations between the two countries, Dacic said he "cannot accept that Vulin's statement caused this whole incident," adding that "all was not perfect before, either," and that "the first statements of the kind came from the Croatian side."

"It is very important that various incidents do not cast a shadow on the publicly pronounced desire for improving our relations," Dacic said, adding that he received assurances from the Croatian side that "bilateral relations and open questions should not be the subject of our relations in the international arena" .

The foreign minister also said that Serbia "expressed dissatisfaction and handed a note" to Albania because of anti-Serb provocations in Tirana after the Albania vs. Armenia football match, during which a Serbian flag was burned, and banners displayed reading, "Serbia, welcome to hell."

"This is not the first time, but certainly we need to refrain, as much as possible, from unnecessary provocations and incidents that burden our bilateral relations," said Dacic.

"We must look to the future and whether we can overcome some of the emotions that apparently still exist in our relations. It is always better to build relationships on interests and not on emotions. That's what the EU was built on. Certainly not on love," he added.
During the same news conference, Ivica Dacic announced that a meeting of foreign ministers of Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey on energy security would be held in Budapest on April 7.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama will visit Brussels on April 21, where they would meet to discuss joint participation in regional infrastructure projects, he added.

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Ertugrul Apakan and member of Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini will visit Belgrade on April 8, Dacic said, according to Tanjug.

The Serbian foreign minister also announced that he would attend a UN conference in Qatar on April 12 and that Foreign Minister of Zambia Harry Kalaba would visit Serbia on April 14.

Dacic added that his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Serbia on April 28.

"This is our most important foreign policy activity in April," Dacic told reporters.

He also said the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in talks with Greek Foreign Ministry to prepare a meeting between Serbian and Greek prime ministers, Aleksandar Vucic and Alexis Tsipras.

Dacic announced that a new meeting within the Brdo Initiative will be held in Slovenia on April 23, adding that EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers of France and Germany, Laurent Fabius and Steinmeier, will be among the participants.

Edgars Rinkevics, the foreign minister of Latvia, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU), will visit Belgrade on April 22, while the visit by Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn "is being worked on," according to Tanjug.

Luxembourg will take over the rotating 6-month EU presidency from Latvia in July.

Πρώην πρόεδρος της Ομόνοιας, Βασίλη Μπολάνο, στο Γενικό Εισαγγελέα, της Αυλωνας


 Πόσο καιρο, θα πρέπει να κρύβουμε αυτή την είδηση?

Αλβανικό κράτος κατέχει σε δύσκολη θέση, το πρώην πρόεδρο της Ομόνοιας, Βασίλη Μπολάνο, για να απαχθεί την Χειμάρρα". περνώντας αρκετές ορόσημα στην ελληνική αλβανικών σχέσεων, σε προσβολή των εθνικών συμφερόντων, της ελληνικής κοινότητας, ειδικά στη Χιμάρα ..

Ο πρώην πρόεδρος του Δήμου της Χειμάρρας, κατηγορείται για οικοδομική άδεια που χορηγήθηκε σε 57 περιπτώσεις, χωρίς υποθήκες ... προκαλώντας ταυτόχρονα υπονομεύει το δέντρο της ελιάς.

Χρεώσεις από SAI, αποστέλλεται στην Εισαγγελέα, από τον Ιανουάριο του 2013, αλλά τον Φεβρουάριο του 2015, όταν δεν υπήρχε ο πρόεδρος της Ομόνοιας, Μπολάνος διώκεται, και για ανάκριση στην εισαγγελία.

Η στρατηγική του αλβανικού κράτους, είναι να λυγίσει, οι ηγέτες της ελληνικής μειονότητας και να φιμώσει δημοσιογράφους, και αυτό επιβεβαιώνεται, οι χρεώσεις για Μπολάνο, για την οποία, η αδιαφορία της Ομόνοιας για την Εδαφική Διαίρεση στη Χειμάρρα, δείχνει σαφώς ότι Μπολάνος, είναι "
όμηρος απο το «αλβανικό κράτος»...

 Αλλά αν αποδειχθεί ότι, Βασίλης Μπολάνος, κρατήθηκε "όμηρος" για αρκετά χρόνια τουλάχιστον, από την «αλβανική δικαιοσύνη» για την επίτευξη των στόχων της εθνικιστικής αλβανικού κράτους, σε βάρος του πληθυσμού και την ελληνική κοινότητα της Χιμάρας, τότε η Αθήνα, θα πρέπει να εντείνουν μια διεθνή έρευνα κατά της αλβανικής κυβέρνησης.

Η νέα εδαφική διαίρεση, πέρασε ενάντια στα συμφέροντα της ελληνικής κοινότητας της Χιμάρας, χωρίς διαμαρτυρία και το δημοψήφισμα, το οποίο σχεδιάστηκε για να εξελιχθεί από την Ομόνοια, το οποίο συνεπάγεται στην συζήτηση »προσφυγών, πολιτική της Αλβανίας, με την ελληνική πλευρά.

Βασίλης Μπολάνος έχει επενδυθεί από την ελληνική πολιτική και τις κοινότητες της διασποράς, για να εξυπηρετήσει την ελληνική κοινότητα στην Αλβανία, αλλά το βάρος της ελληνικής ηγεσίας στην Αλβανία, έχει πέσει πολύ πρόσφατα, ιδιαίτερα μετά την Απογραφή του 2011 και την Eδαφική Διαίρεση, πράγμα που σημαίνει οτι πρόσφατες προσπάθειες της αλβανικής εθνικιστικής κράτος, για τη ρύθμιση του εδάφους της "Μεγάλης Αλβανίας" . .

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Greece "does not agree" with sanctions imposed on Russia

MOSCOW -- Greece "does not agree" with the sanctions of the West against Russia, as it considers them "a road to nowhere," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
In an interview for TASS ahead of his visit to Moscow, he noted there was a chance to raise the level of trade between the two countries "to a higher level."
"We can have a significant partnership that will give Greece the ability to export agricultural products to the Russian Federation," Tsipras stressed.

"You know that in recent years this relationship suffered a blow from the previous government in my country that did not do what they could have done to avoid this senseless, in my opinion, policy of sanctions because of the crisis in Ukraine. This has resulted in an embargo on Greek agricultural products, which caused significant damage to the Greek economy," he said.

The head of the Greek government recalled that as soon as he assumed office, he received a message from European Council President Donald Tusk, who took Greece's position on the issue of sanctions "for grated."

"I called him, and (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) Federica Mogherini and said to them: 'Do not take the position of Greece for granted, the situation has changed, and now there's a different government in Greece. And now you have to ask us before making decisions',"- said Tsipras.

"We do not agree with the sanctions. I believe that this is a road that leads to nowhere. I support the view that dialogue and diplomacy are necessary, you need to sit down at the negotiating table and find solutions to most problems," he said.

"Economic war is a blind alley of politics," the Greek prime minister remarked, and added:

"I believe that the Minsk agreement is a very important achievement and that every effort should be made to end the tension in Ukraine."

He noted that when he first took part in a EU summit on March 19-20, he asked, "How do you imagine a new security architecture in Europe? Do you see it with Russia on the opposite side, or with Russia in the process of dialogue and mutual understanding?"

According to Tsipras, he received "no reply" from a majority of his colleagues.

"In my view, the answer is clear: a new European security architecture must include Russia," he concluded.

The European Union on Monday warned Greece not to seek assistance from Russia - as that would violate the common EU policy.

"Nobody joins NATO by force, Serbia included"

BELGRADE -- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that this western military organization "does not force any country, Serbia included, to join."
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
He added that he was "satisfied with the military cooperation so far."
"I respect the decision of Serbia (not to join NATO)," Stoltenberg said in an interview with Voice of America, and added that partnership cooperation so far "proved to be very good."

He pointed out that "no member of NATO in the history of this organization joined by force" and that each country itself decides who will be its allies.

Asked about "the growing influence of Russia in the Western Balkans," Stoltenberg noted that this was "a very diverse region, where some countries are already members of NATO, while others, such as Serbia, have parter relationship."

He then recalled that as the son of a Norwegian diplomat serving in Serbia he spent a part of his childhood in Belgrade, about which he has "fond memories."

Dacic sees "syndrome of destabilization"

BELGRADE -- "There is a syndrome that is often manifested - when something moves towards normalization, mechanisms that damage it are initiated," says Ivica Dacic.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
The Serbian foreign minister and first deputy prime minister spoke for B92 late on Tuesday, and when asked "who was initiating these mechanisms," failed to provide a specific answer - but gave several examples:
"We spoke with the EU representative about normalization, and now comes the news that Pristina wants a declaration on genocide committed by Serbia. You have a historic visit of (Edi) Rama, then comes the drone. You have (Aleksandar) Vucic's visit, then comes Rama's statement about a chance for unification of Albanians."

As for the Hague Appeals Chamber's decision to demand Vojislav Seselj's return to custody, Dacic described it as "scandalous" - one that "destabilizes Serbia and the region." Another cabinet minister, Aleksandar Vulin, said it represented "a direct attack on the Serbian government and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic."

"If there is some intention behind it, then it is certainly to undermine stability. Serbia has its reform course, set objectives in relation to the EU, in relation to the region, and in relation to Russia, but there are these mechanisms that are triggered whenever something moves towards normalization. However, no one has a legal argument to impose their positions on us," Dacic said.

He added that the government is yet to decide on whether Seselj will be arrested if he does not return to the Hague detention unit voluntarily.

"First, we want to fathom the essence. It should be noted that Serbia is drawn directly into their deals and conflicts. It never happened before that someone was granted temporary freedom without a Serbian policeman coming to collect them. We were not informed about it, and the decision to release (Seselj) was made, not only without consulting Serbia, but without any information about the conditions. We were informed only of one obligation, not to issue him a passport," Dacic said.

According to this official, the November decision to release Seselj was "a deal between him and the Hague in which Serbia did not participate."

"Now the situation has completely changed and Serbia should now, apparently, participate. It does not matter whether someone will respect the decision of the police, whether there will be clashes, what matters is that the decision itself is not only strange, but scandalous," Dacic said.

He dismissed the claims of former U.S. Ambassador William Montgomery that the conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine and the pressure exerted on Serbia "can lead to deep divisions in society."

"This is a thesis that comes from people ignorant of the political situation and the history of Serbia. And if there is pressure, we do not talk in that way, we hide nothing, we are going to the EU and Russia knows it, it is not creating problems and not forcing us into the Eurasian Union - and on the other hand, why should it be contentious for the EU that we have relations with Russia when they have more trade with them?" Dacic said.

He stressed that "Serbia does not tolerate pressure" and is "not facing ultimatums."

Dacic also commented on a possible government reshuffle to say his Socialists (SPS) are the only coalition partner to Vucic's SNS, while all other parties who entered the government ran on the SNS ticket in the last election.

"So if there is talk about changing the coalition partner, it is logical this is about changing the only one. For me, the crucial question is whether we share the same views about the essential, major issues."

Asked if he was upset by the prime minister's attitude towards him and the SPS and by "certain statements made by Minister Zorana Mihajlovic," Dacic said, "we should not insist on love or hate," and added:

"The prime minister can say everything, we have been through a lot together, we held these same positions only in reverse. There is no malice, every day we cooperate, we speak every day, two or three times since this morning. We respect the election will of the citizens. You cannot force everyone to love each other, it is important to do the same job. Problems can exist, as long as they are on a personal level."

Over 4,000 suspected corruption cases reported in Albania during one month

TIRANA, March 30 (Xinhua) -- A total of 4,256 suspected corruption cases have been reported via a national anti-corruption portal, launched by the Albanian government in early February, according to report published on Monday by Albania's ministry for local issues.
The report finds that as many as 4,256 corruption cases, 905 of them in the country's education system, have been recorded from Feb. 2 to March 3.
The national anti-corruption portal was launched last month to enable citizens to report cases of corruption via the online program, e-mail and telephone with the aim of tackling corruption in the country.
According to the report, 412 reported cases have been dismissed, while decisions are expected to be made on the rest of the reports, Albanian telegraphic agency said.

Albania authorities evacuate residents after explosion at a Bankers Petroleum oil well

Associated Press
TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian authorities are evacuating residents of a village following an explosion at a Canadian-owned oil well. No injuries were reported.
A statement from the Calgary-based Bankers Petroleum Ltd. said an "uncontrolled leak of natural gas occurred during drilling operation" Wednesday in Marinze, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital Tirana.
Residents were being evacuated due to fumes from the blast, which the company said were not harmful. It said it was working with local authorities to evacuate residents and later clean the area.
Energy Ministry spokesman Dardan Malaj said some residents were refusing to leave their homes.
Bankers Petroleum has been operating in Albania since 2004, and produces up to 1.2 million tons of oil per year. Last year, Albania produced a total of 1.4 million tons.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Serb players quit Albania club after flag incident

Incidenti me flamurin, portieri serb ikën nga Apolonia test
Associated Press

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian football club FK Apolonia says two Serbian players have left the topflight team following an incident involving the Albanian flag.

The incident occurred on March 22, when Serbian goalkeeper Vilson Cakovic grabbed the flag from a fan who ran onto the pitch before a penalty shot.

Club manager Kamber Memallaj said on Wednesday that Cakovic and countryman and midfielder Djordje Djordjevic agreed to quit "fearing the lack of a calm atmosphere at future games."

Traditional animosity between the Balkan countries was rekindled last year when a drone carrying a nationalist Albanian banner was flown into a Belgrade stadium hosting a Euro 2016 qualifier between Albania and Serbia.

Apolonia lies ninth in the 10-team Kategoria Superiore.

Brussels talks conclude with no deal, Greece still optimistic

First entry: 31 March 2015 - 13:22 Athens, 10:22 GMT
Last update: 05:45 Athens, 02:45 GMTPolitics
Brussels talks conclude with no deal, Greece still optimistic
The Greek delegation which participated in the Brussels Group meeting is returning to Greece and talks will continue in Athens on Wednesday, several media reported on Tuesday, citing sources close to the delegation.
Talks between technical teams are continuing  and are expected to conclude in the weekend, the same sources said, adding that the Greek side has positive expectations about the result of the negotiations.
"The Brussels Group process has been concluded," a government official told Reuters, referring to the informal name of the EU/IMF lenders. "Significant steps of progress were made. The technical teams will continue to collect data in Athens."
A fourth source close to the talks told the agency the halt in negotiations was not a sign of a rupture but an indication of slow-moving progress in the discussions, which may be continued in Athens on Wednesday.
Other government sources told state news agency ANA-MPA the two sides agreed to speed up the fact finding process in Athens, adding a EuroWorking Group teleconference will be held on Wednesday. 
However, on the side of the country's lenders, it is said that it will be very difficult to reach a decision this week, ahead of Catholic Easter this Sunday.
European Council president Donald Tusk has warned that an agreement is unlikely before the Easter break.
Speaking in Madrid, Tusk explained that the technical talks over Greece’s economic reforms are very complex.
Reuters, enikonomia

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Prosecutor dies after Turkey hostage siege; 2 gunmen killed

Reports: 2 killed in Turkish hostage situation

Reports: 2 killed in Turkish hostage situation 02:44

Story highlights

  • The left-wing Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front claims responsibility
  • Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz dies after a hostage siege in Istanbul
  • Prosecutor was assigned to the case of a teen who was injured in anti-government protests
Istanbul (CNN)A prosecutor involved in a controversial case died Tuesday after he was shot during a hostage siege in an Istanbul courthouse.
Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz died in the hospital from injuries he suffered during the attack, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, speaking to reporters on Turkish television.
The two gunmen who took the prosecutor hostage were killed in a shootout with police after a standoff that lasted for hours.
The teen died the following March after having spent nine months in a coma. The case, with its overtones of possible police overreaction, has been politically contentious, just as the protests themselves were.
In an online post widely cited in Turkish media, the left-wing Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front claimed responsibility for the attack. The post said the gunmen were seeking to avenge Elvan's death.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the gunmen as terrorists and said they were disguised as lawyers when they entered the courthouse.
"This is not to be taken lightly," he said.
The gunmen took the prosecutor hostage around 12:30 p.m. in his office on the sixth floor of the Caglayan district courthouse, the semiofficial Anadolu Agency reported.
Police evacuated that floor of the building, the agency reported, and snipers were deployed.
An explosion, followed by sounds of more gunshots, could be heard coming from the courthouse Tuesday evening, hours after the siege began.
Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altinok said Kiraz had been shot before Turkish security teams entered the room where the hostage crisis was unfolding.
"There is nothing else to do but to pray at this moment," Erdogan said.
The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, known as the DHKP-C, is viscerally hostile to the Turkish state, the United States and NATO, and has had links with the far left in Europe.
The Marxist-Leninist group claimed responsibility for a 2013 suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.
Among other attacks attributed to the DHKP-C was the assassination of a former justice minister, Mehmet Topac, in 1994, as well as the murders of a number of senior police and military officials and, 1996, a prominent businessman, Ozdemir Sabanci.

The USS Forrest Sherman Destroyer in Vlora Bay

U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu and Albanian Minister of Defense Mimi Kodheli, visited today the USS Forrest Sherman ship anchored in Vlora. The navy is part of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, which enjoys a very active cooperative relationship with Albanian Navy. This relationship includes regular exercises between transiting U.S. Navy ships and Albania’s Navy. These exercises improve our interoperability and strengthen our common ability to provide maritime security in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
“The bond between our two navies is just one facet of the broad and enduring military-to-military relationship between our two countries, exemplified most recently by our shared service and sacrifice in Afghanistan as part of the enduring NATO mission there,” said Ambassador Donald Lu during his visit to the USS Forrest Sherman ship anchored in Vlora.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Parade in NYC celebrates 194th anniversary of Greek Independence

MYFOXNY.COM - Thousands of people came down to New York City on Sunday to celebrate the Greek Independence parade.
The parade celebrates the 194th anniversary of Greek Independence.
The parade represents the largest gathering of Greek-Americans outside Greece.
It is a day of remembrance, pride and inspiration for the Greek-American Community.
The parade is also a celebration of the creation of an independent Greek nation.
In 1828, with the help of a French expeditionary force, the Greeks drove the Turks, who occupied Greece for hundreds of years, out of the Peloponnese and proceeded to Central Greece. As a result of years of negotiation, Greece was finally recognized as an independent nation in May 1832.
The victory is celebrated March of every year by the modern Greek state, which is a national day, and for many Greek expatriates, an international holiday.
Since 1938, the parade attracts over 100,000 spectators annually with approximately 25,000 participants.
The parade started on 64th Street and 5th Avenue. Rolled north to 79th Street, while the floats went up to 81st Street

Greek President Pavlopoulos pays official visit to Cyprus – PHOTOS

First entry: 30 March 2015 - 12:15 Athens, 09:15 GMT
Last update: 12:15 Athens, 09:15 GMTPolitics
Greek President Pavlopoulos pays official visit to Cyprus – PHOTOS
Greek President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos visited Cyprus on Monday in order to have an in-depth discussion with President Nicos Anastasiades on the latest developments on Cyprus issue ahead of the possibility of the restart of the negotiations.

"EU perspective crucial for Kosovo dialogue"

SPLIT -- EU perspective has made a considerable contribution to promoting the regional cooperation and relations in the Western Balkans, says Ivica Dacic.
(Tanjug/Serbian MFA)
(Tanjug/Serbian MFA)
It was also "the key factor that contributed to the success of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina," the Serbian foreign minister said during a conference in Split, Croatia, late last week.
“The success of this dialogue is yet another confirmation that the enlargement policy still stands as a strong driving force in the Western Balkans,” Dacic said at the Third EU-Southeast Europe Summit.

Dacic noted a major halt in the EU enlargement in the Western Balkan would bring about multiple negative consequences for economic development and thereby the region's political stability, said a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Serbia's first strategic foreign policy priority is the EU membership, while traditional political, economic and cultural relations with Russia should by no means bring Serbia's foreign policy priorities into question, Dacic said.

Serbia is working hard on opening a number of negotiating chapters during this year, Dacic said and expressed hope that the Council of Ministers will decide on opening new chapters in foreseeable future.

During the gathering he also stated that Serbia was "continuously advocating for intensifying all forms of regional cooperation that would contribute to the region's stability and its European integration and international affirmation."

“We are working hard on strengthening the connections in the region in the fields of economy, transport, energy and infrastructure, which would ensure a stronger connection with the EU, create new, more favorable conditions for movement of goods and people and step up our business competitiveness,” Dacic said.

Serbia has successfully completed the screening process so now is the time for a new phase in its membership talks, Dacic said.

The conference in Split has brought together Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro Igor Luksic, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania Ditmir Bushati, as well as State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania George Ciamba.