Friday, October 30, 2015

Pristina to receive "serious response" over suspension


Aleksandar Vucic has said that Serbia will in the coming days provide "a serious response" to Pristina's announcement of suspension of the agreement on the ZSO.
Source: Tanjug
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
The agreement concerns the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) in Kosovo, and was reached during the EU-sponsored Kosovo negotiations in Brussels.
Speaking for Serbia's state broadcaster RTS in Moscow late on Thursday, the prime minister said: "We must have a serious and responsible response and it will come in the days ahead of us, and it concerns above all the European Union and their attitude toward us all. We'll see, I shouldn't prejudice."

Asked to comment on "why Brussels is silent on the issue for now," Vucic said that "speaks very strongly in itself."

He described Pristina's decision as "difficult and bad news, and at the very least, irresponsible behavior."

"Somebody would say that one can always expect this from Pristina, and I think it is unexpected news because this is very irresponsible behavior. That's the mildest term I can use, without giving any further assessment," said he.

Vucic stated that the Brussels agreement was negotiated for months, that the talks were "difficult and full of compromise," and that "signatures that are now not respected were put on it."

"Somebody put their signature, my signature means something, the signature of anyone from Serbia meant something for me, of Borko Stefanovic, Boris Tadic, and Ivica Dacic. To them (Pristina) their signatures mean nothing, and they did that a day after they got the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU," Vucic said.

"Agreement has to be respected"

Both parties in dialogue on normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations have to implement what has been agreed, Maja Kocijancic, the spokesperson of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, said late on Thursday.

"Everything that has been agreed in the context of dialogue should be implemented regardless of internal procedures that we do not want comment," Kocijancic said when asked how Brussels will react to Pristina's decision to postpone the implementation of the agreement on the ZSO.

Pristina has postponed the agreement until the local constitutional court evaluates the constitutionality of the agreement reached in Brussels in August.

"Representatives of Serb Municipalities could be arrested"


If the Constitutional Court in Pristina decides that the Brussels agreement on the ZSO is contrary to the laws of Kosovo, it will not be implemented.
Source: Tanjug
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
This was announced by Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa.
Mustafa told the Kohavision broadcaster that the agreement on the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) "was signed only after he received assurances from the EU and the U.S. that it will not be possible to form a 'third authority in Kosovo'."

"The points of agreement on the ZSO will be forwarded to the Constitutional Court who will decide. If the Constitutional Court says some of the points of the agreement are not in accordance with the Kosovo Constitution, we will not implement them, and if the entire agreement is declared unconstitutional, then we will not implement it," said Mustafa.

This will, he said, "be decided by the Constitutional Court - otherwise the agreement will be implemented because it is an international obligation."

Mustafa also said that his government "could declare the ZSO illegal if does not adhere to the laws and the rules" of the government in Pristina.

"They (Serbs) can declare autonomy today but that would not be valid, because they are forced to respect the laws of Kosovo. Otherwise Kosovo's institutions will have to take measures. Those who violate the law can end up in jail and that is guaranteed by the agreement on the judiciary," said he.

After weeks of blockade of the Kosovo parliament by three opposition parties that are against the agreement, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, in agreement with parliamentary parties, forwarded the document to the Constitutional Court.

The radical opposition Self-Determination party said they will not recognize the decision of the court, either, and will continue to block the assembly.

This development - which came a day after Pristina signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU - is considered by Serbia to be an act of obstruction of the implementation of the Brussels agreement.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in Moscow after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Serbia will provide "a serious response" over Pristina's moves.

NATO warships Response Force in Mediteranean Area

foto e NATO












NATO warships have lined up to within just a few hundred feet of each other and taken part in a complicated group exercise for Exercise Trident Juncture 2015.
In total 18 warships, from 11 nations, took part in the series of complex manoeuvres which covered hundred of miles of the Western Mediterranean over several hours.

Watch the video here : bit.ly/1RCQpbm
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Serbia accusing EU official Ana-Maria Bura for taking Kosovo's side in negotiations

Serbia accusing EU official Ana-Maria Bura for taking Kosovo's side in negotiations GazetaExpress Thursday, 29 October 2015

Ana-Maria Bura, special advisor for dialogue to the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini is causing major problems to the Serbian negotiating team in Brussels, claimed Serbian PM Vucic cabinet staff.

Express
Bura, a staffer of the Greek Foreign Ministry is slowing down the process for the Association of Serb-majority municipalities, that is hugely important to the Serbian team.
During an official dinner for Kosovo and Serbian Prime Ministers, Vucic openly stated that he is "greatly disappointed with Bura's engagement" in the dialogue process with Prishtina. Sources from Kosovo team also said that Bura is openly taking Kosovo's side during the negotiations, backed by Brits and Germans.
According to reports from Serbia, Bura was engaged in drafting of the Chapter 35, specifically in matters concerning Kosovo. Belgrade called the draft "terrible" that indirectly demands Kosovo's recognition. Bura added these key points after direct consultations with Germany and Britain.
In particular, London and Berlin, insist that all Serbia's progress towards EU membership be directly subject to the normalization of relations with Kosovo; so this condition is framed in several areas of the draft framework for the "chapter of Kosovo".
Ana Maria Bura has been employed in EU High Representative office, since the time of Baroness Catherine Ashton. She finished her studies in Athens and is of Albanian ethnicity.

Mediterranean Sea, a great concern for military crash

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rF18FExrHPQ/VjIN0e_w4JI/AAAAAAAAIss/cjP9mDiVYhE/s1600/28-10-2015-13-45-5630b544467e8.jpg

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Aircraft from NATO Allies are assisting the Baltic States, Albania and Slovenia to preserve the integrity of their sovereign airspace in peacetime, and to ensure their collective security.

NATO

NATO opens Trident Juncture exercise to international observers

NATO

  • 29 Oct. 2015
  • |
  • Last updated: 29 Oct. 2015 16:09
Observers from member nations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and from other countries around the world have been invited to witness NATO’s biggest military exercise in over a decade, Trident Juncture 2015, which is currently taking place in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Trident Juncture shows the Alliance’s commitment to transparency and predictability on military activities,” said General Hans-Lothar Domröse, Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command Brunssum, and of the exercise. “I welcome that several countries chose to send observers to Trident Juncture. This exercise is defensive in nature, the scenario and adversary are fictional.  We hope that by inviting observers we can help to build trust and confidence.

Trident Juncture 15, involving 36,000 troops from more than 30 nations, will certify next year’s NATO Response Force headquarters and the functions of the new very-high readiness Spearhead Force. Under the OSCE Vienna Document 2011, exercises must be notified to OSCE member states 42 days in advance if exceeding 9,000 troops, and observation is required starting at 13,000 troops.  Allies respect these conditions.

Under the Vienna Document 2011, three separate Russian inspection teams arrived this week – one each in Italy, Portugal, and Spain. In each country, the teams were provided with briefings about Trident Juncture 15, and have inspected military activities being carried out as part of this exercise. The inspection in Italy took place between 26 and 28 October, and the inspections in Spain and Portugal are on-going between 27 and 29 October.
Also under Vienna Document 2011 rules, observers from Germany, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States will visit Spain between 1 and 4 November, as this is where the largest concentrations of troops will be during the exercise. This observer programme of military activities was coordinated with Spain and NATO’s Conventional Arms Control Coordination Cell.
In the interest of promoting transparency, NATO has also decided to invite observers from eleven other nations to Trident Juncture 15: Algeria, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Serbia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

Albin Kurti: What's happening with "Zajedica" in Kosovo, will happen, you tomorrow with Himara and Southern Albania

Vizion Plus

During an interview for TV "Vision Plus", leader of Self Determination in Kosovo, Albin Kurti, has warned Albania that it is happening in Kosovo today for Autonomy for Serbs, will take place soon in Albania for the Greeks.

Within a week, present to the National Televisions of Albania (TV Klan and Vision Plus), the nationalist politician of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, has warned twice a policy of Albania, having paralleled the requirements of the West for the autonomy of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo will also coming soon to the Greeks in the south of Albania.

Kurti expressed openly that the parliament of Kosovo policy initiatives, goes against the Albanian aspirations to achieve the aim of uniting the Albanians under the Greater Albania.

But if Albania, all nationalist forces in Albania, it will support the opposition in Kosovo Parliament, then prepare in Albania, to see how Greece will join Himara and the South of Albania., Said Kurti.

A week ago, the same statement, Kurti was announced during the show to follow in Albania, Klan - Opinion TV.

Turkey at Odds With NATO Allies Over Role of Kurds in Fight Against ISIL

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2015, file photo, a Syrian Kurdish sniper looks at the rubble in the Syrian city of Ain al-Arab, also known as Koban

© AP Photo
World

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan Turkey pledged "to do what is necessary" to stop Kurds from declaring autonomy in the border town of Tel Abyad.

Turkey is poised "to do what is necessary" in order to prevent Kurds from declaring autonomy in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, located near the Turkish border, the country's President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by media reports as saying. Advances made by autonomy-seeking Syrian Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), have irritated Ankara, which sees their plans as a threat to Turkey's national security and says it could stoke separatism among Turkish Kurds.
Earlier, Turkish fighter jets attacked the Syrian Kurds' armed People's Protection Units (YPG) several times after they defied Ankara's orders not to cross the Euphrates River's western area. The YPG fighters and their Kurdish Peshmerga allies in northern Iraq have played a key role in fighting ISIL.

In light of its failure to find partners in Syria to fight ISIL, Al Nusra and other terrorist organizations, the US has sought to work together with the YPG.  Retired General John Allen testified before Washington's Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US Mideast strategy, where he said the US was in a "very delicate, diplomatic process" in trying to work with Turkey and the YPG at the same time. Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is affiliated with the PYD, remains designated as a terrorist group by the US State Department.
However, Erdogan blamed the PYD for conducting "ethnic cleansing" in the area, saying that Western support for the Syrian Kurdish militias is tantamount to backing terrorism.
"The PYD is committing ethnic cleansing here [of] Arabs and Turkmen. If the Kurds withdraw and don't form a canton, there's no problem. But if the mindset continues, then what is necessary will be done or we face serious problems," Erdogan said.
He also said that Turkey is "determined to fight anything that threatens us along the Syrian border, inside or out."
His remarks came as Turkey launched a two-front military campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
The Turkish military campaign against the Islamic State and PKK positions takes place amid a surge in violence after a suicide bombing in the Turkish border town of Suruc killed 32 people, most of them Kurds, and injured over 100, and the murder of two police officers in the southern city of Ceylanpinar. The Suruc suicide bomber was reportedly affiliated with ISIL. The PKK claimed responsibility for the Ceylanpinar killings, saying that the policemen had backed the Islamic State group.

Bushati: With Greece, we are open to address issues ,,,, but nothing moves



Invitation from Athens to Tirana, to open issues related to relevant international agreements between Greece and Albania, Tirana means only maritime border.

Tirana between two fires, one hand "wants" the implementation of the agreement in Kosovo for Autonomy for Serbs, on the other hand, closed roads to open issues from the past, for Autonomy in the Southern of Albania


During an interview for "Gazeta Shqip", the Foreign Minister of Albania Ditmir Bushati, expressed before a group of students, recent movements of Albanian diplomacy, in connection with Kosovo, Serbia and Greece.

Bushati expressed his readiness to support the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo for the creation of Serb Municipalities (special autonomy for the Serbs in Kosovo) by opposing some of the most violent reactions undertakes opposition in Kosovo. However, to Tirana, the European perspective of Kosovo, is more important than nationalist clashes in the Parliament of Kosovo.

Meanwhile, as regards the problem with a major foreign policy of Albania, Greece, Tirana, is expected to debate the issue of the maritime border, for which as said Bushati, has a decision of the Constitutional Court, for which Tirana has closed this agreement.

But on the other hand, Bushati admitted that will have to step in a process, to open a series issues with Greece. During his statements, there was not observed a parallel between measures under autonomy for the Serbs in Kosovo and ongoing requirements of Athens, on issues relating to Southern Albania.

Greece had declared the initiative, to open the issues of International Agreements with Albania, for which has blocked an EU progress report, for Albania, but at the same time has changed a series of diplomats, to prepare a dossier with requirements to Albania.

According to sources from the Greek press, Greece is just the time to address to Tirana, a series of issues concerning the South of Albania, keeping the "frozen", the Euro-Atlantic integration processes, as in Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

U.S. "strongly supports" Montenegro's NATO membership

B92

The U.S. strongly supports Montenegro's membership in NATO, it was said as Montenegrin Speaker Ranko Krivokapic met with influential congressmen and senators.
Source: Tanjug
(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)
In addition, the need for continued efforts in the area of the ​​rule of law, but also in the fight against corruption and strengthening of the public support was stressed, said the Montenegrin state television RTCG on its website.
During Krivokapic's conversation in Washington with Congressman Michael Turner and Senator John McCain, unequivocal support was given to inviting Montenegro to join NATO during the December summit of foreign ministers, Krivokapic's cabinet said in a statement, adding that NATO membership will mean a step forward for the country.

During the meeting they also discussed the current situation in Montenegro, caused by the protests of the opposition Democratic Front which wants the government to resign, and Krivokapic said that "ultimatums are not democracy, peaceful protests are one of the vital tools of democracy, but they are in no way a stable, nor a final tool."

He concluded that "all flows must return to institutions, the Parliament of Montenegro that is the place of agreements and decision-making."

Krivokapivć took the opportunity to also, while in Washington, call on all political actors to return to parliament and said that the government must be "an expression of indisputable legitimacy, of the will of the citizens, and therefore the best decision for Montenegro."

During his visit to the United States, Krivokapic has been meeting with officials in the State Department who condemned the violence that erupted on Saturday during a protest of the Democratic Front in Podgorica.

PM: Serbia to buy Russian weapons for defensive purposes

B92

Aleksandar Vucic has said that Serbia will buy "a part of its armaments from Russia" that will not be offensive in character, but serve to protect the country.
Source: Tanjug
(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)
Answering journalists' questions regarding the potential cooperation of Serbia with Russia related to procurement of new weapons, Vucic on Wednesday said that our country "must buy a part of its armaments - but will strive to manufacture some of it in Serbia, in cooperation with Russia."
"That's our job. It is not realistic to buy too much, but we will get some weapons," said Vucic.

He declined to specify which weapons, because discussions are under way, but reiterated that, "in general, the job of the prime minister and the cabinet is to care about the security of the country."

"If they ask why we need all this, let them raise the question of why some in our surroundings need it, when they are surrounded by NATO countries on all sides, only one country is not (a NATO member), and that is Serbia," said Vucic.

As he pointed out, "Serbia is silent when some others receive combat helicopters, armored vehicles, howitzers," and "asked why some people are being given lauchpads, while others acquire ballistic missiles."

"And tomorrow you will ask me - under some other constellation of forces in the world - 'what did you do to protect your country?' We're not going to get weapons, which are, let's put it that way, offensive, but we have to protect our territory," underlined Vucic.

According to Tanjug, Vucic, who is on a three-day visit to Russia, announced he would on Wednesday meet with the representatives of the Kamaz manufacturer "in connection with the purchase of trucks for howitzers in a factory in Velika Plana."

Vucic will talk about the acquisition of weapons again when he meets with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin tomorrow - "to see what the two countries can do together and how to put to use Serbia's defense industry."

"Innovative Development"

The Moscow International Forum for Innovative Development "Open Innovations 2015" was opened on Wednesday by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The participants were addressed by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Presenting Vucic and the Serbian delegation, Medvedev said that the friends from Serbia are honorary guests of the forum.

He said that three industrial revolutions have taken place and that the fourth one will most probably follow, because progress cannot be stopped. Should the government interfere in these processes, how to build up a business model and how to protect and file patents, these are the questions now, Medvedev said.

Addressing the gathering, Vucic said Serbia would embark on reforms to boost development in education and science.

According to him, "the previous year and a half had seen significant economic reforms implemented in Serbia."

"In the years ahead we will have extensive reforms in our system of education and science that are a precondition for improving our economy and GDP," said Vucic.

He said that the government planned to introduce dual education, but also to change the working habits of the population, adding that he would therefore invite eminent speakers from today's forum to share their knowledge and experience with people in Serbia.

The Forum participants will discuss dramatic changes that came as a result of introducing new technologies in the fields of productivity, environment, education, medicine and entertainment.

Amid Washington-Beijing Row, French Frigate Sails to South China Sea

A Filipino security personnel keeps guard outside French surveillance frigate, Vendemiaire, as it docks at Manila's south harbor, Philippines on Wednesday March 18, 2009.

© Aaron Favila
Asia & Pacific

A French warship docked in a Chinese port Tuesday to start an extended visit to China's naval fleet in the South China Sea, where disputed territorial claims have ignited a row between Beijing and Washington.

The Vendémiaire docked at Zhanjiang in the southern province of Guangdong on Tuesday morning for a four-day "friendly visit," the official People's Liberation Army Daily said.
The French frigate will take part in a maritime exercise on accidental encounters at sea, and French and Chinese naval personnel will visit one another's ships and play soccer, the short report added.
The activities will "increase mutual understanding, trust and cooperation between the two nations' navies," it said.
The visit – the Vendémiaire's eighth to China – comes ahead of French President Francois Hollande's visit to China next week.
Beijing slammed Washington for sending a US guided-missile destroyer close to one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea earlier this week. Beijing said it had warned the ship and called the US ambassador to protest.
France and the United States are both key members of NATO.
The USS Lassen's patrol on Tuesday was the most significant US challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China claims around artificial islands it has built in the Spratly archipelago, Reuters reported.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

Madeleine Albright's Scrap With Pro-Serbian Activists in a Prague Bookstore

Deana Kjuka


"You're a war criminal," she says. "Get out."

The Atlantic
Video has emerged showing Madeleine Albright in a verbal altercation with a group of pro-Serbian activists in Prague. The former U.S. Secretary of State got involved in a heated exchange with the activists who remonstrated with her over her role in the American-led 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and her reported interest in a Kosovar communications firm. At a book-signing event, promoting her memoir "Prague Winter," in the Czech capital's Luxor bookstore on October 23, members of the civic group, "Friends of Serbs in Kosovo" entered into a verbal confrontation with Albright and her representatives.

The two videos, which were uploaded to YouTube by the group were published by the Czech publication Parlamentni Listy on its website on October 25. The videos show the verbal jousting that ensued after one of the group's members, Czech film director Vaclav Dvorak who made the documentary "Stolen Kosovo," walked up to Albright and asked her to sign a DVD copy of his film.

In one video, Dvorak is accompanied by a cameraman as he comes up to Albright's desk and tells her: "I brought you a film I recorded in Kosovo and I also wanted to remind you of your other deeds," at which point he places posters on her desk with a picture of Albright and the logo of Kosovo's IPKO state telecommunications firm. Parlamentni Listy reports that one of the posters had photographs of Serbs killed during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999.

The following video, however, only shows a poster featuring the IPKO logo:
Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937 and speaks Czech, tells Dvorak and his group that she will not be signing the posters, at which point a woman from the crowd asks her if she is ashamed to sign them. Following a mild scuffle between security staff and the group (at the 01:22 mark in the video above), Albright gets up from her chair and screams "Get out!"
The second video which appears to be shot from a different angle, shows the same scene with additional footage. After being called a war criminal by someone in the crowd, Albright answers back, "You're a war criminal." She can be heard a few more times screaming, "Get out." At the 01:02 mark, however, she gets up from her chair one final time and yells, "Disgusting Serbs! Get Out!" before being escorted away from the scene by her handlers.

Anton Dvorak told "Parlamentni Listy " that he had not expected such a feisty response from the septuagenarian former diplomat. "... I was surprised by her reaction," he said. "We politely came to give her the film we recorded in Kosovo, regardless of the fact that it concerns "stolen Kosovo" -- which was gifted to the narco mafia with the help of NATO bombings and aggression -- and the IPKO company that enabled Albright to line her pockets."
In September, Bloomberg reported that the bidding for Kosovo's state-owned post and telecoms company "...has attracted interest from European and Turkish phone operators, as well as from an investment company headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was a major backer of Kosovo in its war against Serbia."

Jaroslav Foldyna , a member of the Czech Social Democratic Party who was present at the event, claims that the protest was not planned. Rather "it was a spontaneous protest by people interested in politics who do not agree with what Albright did in the Balkans."

Richard Klichnik, the organizer of the signing event for the Argo publishing house, denied claims that Albright became upset and initiated the verbal attack on the pro-Serbian group. "It was about pro-Serbian activists who had posters and flyers connected to the conflict in the Balkans," Klichnik said. "It was clear that they came to provoke."

This is not Albright's first incident in her birthplace. On a visit to the Law Faculty at Masaryk University in Brno in March 2000, Albright was attacked with eggs by two Czech anarchists. She served as U.S Secretary of State from 1997 until 2001, presiding over the controversial 1999 NATO air bombing of the former Yugoslavia, aimed at driving Serb troops from Kosovo.

A New Cold War Deep Under the Sea?


The World Post

Posted:
SUBMARINE CABLES



But recent reports by a variety of sources indicate renewed interest by Russian submarine forces in surveillance of those cables, including detailed monitoring and targeting of the system. The tactical reasons for doing so are plain: in the case of heightened tensions, access to the underwater cable system represents a rich trove of intelligence, a potential major disruption to an enemy's economy and a symbolic chest thump for the Russian Navy.
Placing the submarine activity in the larger context of Russian geopolitical strategy, it is possible to see the broader rationale for these moves at this moment. First, such actions play well to a domestic Russian audience that wants to see Russia as the global counter-weight to the U.S. Russian President Vladimir Putin above all else craves respect, and his actions -- from invading Georgia to annexing Crimea to muscling into Syria on the side of the reprehensible Assad regime to active surveillance -- enhance his international importance and profile.
The movement of information is the lifeblood of the global economic system: it needs to be more secure from accident and attack.
Second, these types of high tech, delicate and complex undersea maneuvers constitute important training and preparation for the Russian Navy. The ability to tap these cables for intelligence as well as attack them with precision is a skill-based activity that requires detailed knowledge and real precision work at depth according to many reports. Practice is vital.
Additionally, the underwater maneuvers are a signal to the U.S. and its allies, much like the other recent aggressive international moves coming from Moscow. Russia is reaching for many other Cold War tools as well, including aggressive long-range bomber patrols above NATO nations (particularly the Baltic states) and building up significant military capability in the Arctic.
Are we headed back to another Cold War? Probably not, despite the ominous range of activities. We should remember that we still cooperate with Russian on a wide range of activities: counter-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa, counter-terrorism information sharing, counter-narcotic activity in Central Asia, support to Afghanistan and constructing the controversial but widely accepted counter-proliferation agreement with Iran. Unlike the Cold War, there are zones of U.S.-Russia cooperation today.
We should convene an international conversation about protecting the underwater fiber optic grid system, much as we do for air and sea lanes of communication.
The Cold War dwarfed in size and scope anything we see today. The war saw millions of soldiers facing each other across the Fulda Gap in central Europe; two immense battle fleets grappling with each other across the oceans of the world; and two massive nuclear arsenals on a hair-trigger alert, ready to launch within minutes. We are not remotely at that point today.
So what we should do in response to Russian behavior around the world, including reports of underwater cable surveillance? We must avoid stumbling backwards into a new Cold War. This means maintaining open lines of communication, searching for zones of cooperation where we can find them (from the Arctic to Arms Control) and taking a deep breath when we see provocations before we respond militarily. We should convene an international conversation (to include Russia of course) about protecting the underwater fiber optic grid system, much as we do for air and sea lanes of communication.
But we must also stand firmly behind established principles of international law: nations should not simply annex the territory of their neighbors, as was done in Ukraine; nor should they support brutal, lawless, illegal regimes like that of Assad in Syria. We should rally as much international support as we can muster to criticize such behavior, and when it is particularly egregious -- as in Ukraine -- impose sanctions.
Our naval forces need to be ready to defend our submarine cables, exactly as we defend our electrical grid, industrial base and transportation networks.
Another important component is operational. Our naval forces need to be ready to defend our submarine cables, exactly as we defend our electrical grid, industrial base and transportation networks. That means a robust, highly technical and capable undersea Navy. The U.S. leads the world in operations underwater, and we absolutely must maintain that edge.

In this context, exercises and operations with key allies and friends to protect this shared and vital undersea infrastructure is a good signal to send to the Russians as well. NATO allies, Japan, Australia and many other friends have significant undersea capabilities: by practicing and operating together, we help create a stable and protected global communication grid.
Finally, we need to build more resiliency and redundancy into the underwater cable network. It is far too vulnerable to sabotage, especially at the terminals where the cables are in relatively shallow water. We need more "dark cables" that are not operational but kept in reserve. The movement of information is the lifeblood of the global economic system: it needs to be more secure from accident and attack.
We need more 'dark cables' that are not operational but kept in reserve.
Russia's robust Cold War-like moves should be concerning, but we should remember what a weak hand of cards Russia actually holds: a declining population, high rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, few real allies and an economy that is a one-trick pony. As Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said with a bit of hyperbole, Russia is "a large gas station masquerading as a country."
Despite these fundamental weaknesses, under Putin, the Russians will reach for Cold War tools in an effort to prove their global relevance. It will not broadly succeed as a strategy, and we should not overreact. Instead, let's take sensible steps to maintain a dialog, cooperate where we can, confront where we must and protect our vital infrastructure and interests around the world -- including in the deepest parts of the sea.

Survey: Greece is Albania's main risk, Serbia comes in second


    
With the publication of a survey on the citizens' perception about the relationship between our country and Serbia, was inaugurated the Center for Albanian-Serb relations. The center formalizes the cooperation of civil society between Tirana and Belgrade, the cooperation between the Institute of International Studies of Albania with that of the European Movement of Serbia.

"This instrument will help improve the climate in the relationship between the two countries," said Albert Rakipi from the Institute for International Studies. Despite the perception of Albanian society, relations between Albania and Serbia are deemed as normal. 45.6% of respondents think so, despite 29% of those who think they are "bad".

Respondents have confidence that relations will improve in the future, while surprising is the belief of the citizens in over 90%, that this is good for both countries. Albanians see Greece as their first threat. 31.6% while Serbia is ranked second in the list of some of the countries involved in the survey with 27.8%.

Albanian citizens believe that there are already conditions for building friendly relations, but the vast majority of respondents, 72%, said there is no doubt that Serbia was responsible for the game.

"Die Welt": The Balkans is sliding into chaos

DIE WELT

The prestigious German newspaper "Die Welt", in a long article regarding the tense events in the Balkans, writes that this region is slipping under chaos. The newspaper writes that every day in the Balkans pass thousand of refugees, but it seems that they have been forgotten. Below the southern Balkans, the conflict is escalating.

"In Pristina, as well as in Podgorica, Montenegro, cities turned into chaos during the weekend. Protesters had clashed with police. Tires burned, grenades, tear gas and Molotov cocktail were used", the newspaper writes, analyzing the fragile security situation in most of the Balkan countries, reports "Republika.info".

It seems that neither the European Union has not found any means of pressure to find a solution to the politicians in conflict. While, according to Die Welt, citizens are deeply disappointed.

Meanwhile in Kosovo, a country populated mainly by Albanians, for almost two decades they are dealing with the integration of the Serb minority. After many hardships, the EU had eased some agreements, through which about 70,000 Serbs would have autonomous rights.

"The opposition in reponse paralyzed the work of the parliament, by throwing tear gas during plennary sittings" the newspaper writes.

While in Montenegro, writes "Die Welt", the candidate country for EU and NATO, the opposition also wants to oust Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

According to the German newspaper, countries need to be calm, because they are calculated as the poorest in Europe. By escalating a conflict, foreign investors will not come at all to these countries, "Die Welt" writes.

The European Commission condemns demolition of St. Athanasius in Himara



The demolition of the church of St. Athanasius in Albania Himare condemned the European Commission, responding to a question from the New Democracy MEP Manolis Kefalogianni.


Recall that the Albanian authorities had proceeded in August to demolish the church, causing a strong reaction in Athens. "EU does not tolerate the violences on Human Rights" commented the representative of Foreign Minister Christos Koutra.


The European Commission replied to Mr. Kefalogianni that respect for human rights and religious freedoms are the European Union's fundamental values.


He also stressed the need for a candidate country to serve the rule of law and preserve the freedom of religion and cultural heritage.


According to the MEP of ND, the European Commission stated in its reply that it attaches the utmost importance to religious freedom issues of the accession countries and that the vast this respect deficit observed in Albania will be reported on in the forthcoming Annual Progress Report.


Rama invites Chinese investors to do business in Albania

Prime Minister Rama started a three day visit to Hong Kong. The economic Forum is the focus of the first visit. This forum was attended by about 100 entrepreneurs from Hong Kong and China, interested to invest in Albania and increase exchanges with our country.

In his speech, Prime Minister Edi Rama said Albania is a country with great potentials and is ready to welcome investors from China and Hong Kong.

"Today's event gives us the platform to discuss the current investments and the future in our country, because our government intends to expand the agenda of domestic investments, engaging in businesses and investment communities in Hong Kong and China.

The Albanian government, is engaged to reshape the pattern of economic development, according to real development resources, ranging from oil and minerals, to energy, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. Albania offers to foreign investors comparative advantages in terms of geographical location, tax system, labor costs.

"Investing in Albania does not mean simply to invest in Albania, but to invest in a much wider market and having greater expansion in an area encompassing the entire Western Balkans. A few years ago it was impossible to imagine this area as a common market, but today it is in fact a common market. In terms of taxes and labor costs, we are in a very favorable position, but especially the labor cost is very low. I also share with you a very encouraging growth figure. We returned to a systematic trend growth. Last year it was 2.1%. At the end of the year we aim to achieve 2.7-3%, which is certainly not enough for our economy, but it is very encouragins", Rama said.

Also Albania, concluded his speech, the prime minister, it is a place worth coming not only to invest, but also for holidays. Tourism is a priority sector of the economy and has a high development potential.

"The main goal of ours is to make Albania more attractive for visitors from China, to create a tourist market for visitors from China. I am sure that people who are part of this industry and have invested abroad would see Albania as very attractive in this respect". Prime Minister Edi Rama will also meet with the governor of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying. /albeu.com/

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

EU signs SAA with Kosovo

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Kosovo has signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
Source: Tanjug
Tanjug said this was announced by Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
The SAA was signed by Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn on behalf of the European Union, and Prime Minister Isa Mustafa on behalf of Kosovo.

This is the first legal document signed between Kosovo and the EU, and Tanjug reported it learned from the European Commission that the document is modeled after similar agreements the EU has with territories that are not internationally recognized as independent states, such as Taiwan, and is without prejudice to the issue of Kosovo's status.

Although Kosovo officials are trying portray this event as a step towards the accession of Kosovo to the EU, the organization's officials pointed out that this is not the case.

"The first step towards enlargement is to seek candidate status, Kosovo cannot do that for as long as it is not recognized as independent by all EU member states and European institutions," an EU official who wished to remain anonymous has been quoted as saying.

Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania do not recognize Kosovo, while European institutions maintain neutrality toward its status and add an asterisk to its name in official documents.

Ethnic Albanians in this southern Serbian province unilaterally declared independence in early 2008. Serbia considers the proclamation a violation of its Constitution and territorial integrity.

The October 28, 1940 ‘OXI’: Brave Words by Brave Men

October 28_ 1940
By Philip Chrysopoulos -
Oct 27, 2015
Greek Reporter

October 28_ 1940Few great moments of Greece’s history are so well documented as the defiant “OXI” Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas told the Italian Ambassador in Athens Emanuele Grazzi at three o’clock in the morning of October 28, 1940.

Grazzi visited Metaxas’ home to deliver an ultimatum from Italian leader Benito Mussolini.  Il Duce, as Mussolini was affectionately called by Italian people, demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece unopposed.

Faced with the preposterous demand, the Greek prime minister delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day: “Alors, c’est la guerre.”  This brief phrase, “Then, it is war,” was quickly transmuted into the laconic “Oxi“ by the citizens of Athens.

Metaxas’ stance expressed the feeling of all Greeks. The Italian ultimatum was in full sequence of the war actions of both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy throughout Europe and Africa. It was preceded by the torpedo attack of an Italian submarine against Greek warship “Elli” on August 15, 1940 at the port of Tinos island.

On the morning of October 28, Ioannis Metaxas addressed the Greek people over the radio. His proclamation was:

“The moment has come that we will fight for the independence of Greece, its integrity and its honor.

Even though we kept the strictest neutrality and equal distance to all, Italy does not recognize that we should live as free Greeks and asked us today at three in the morning to surrender part of our national territory of their choice otherwise they would start military moves against us at six in the morning. I replied to the Italian ambassador that I consider the request and the manner the request was made as Italy’s declaration of war against Greece.

Greeks, now it is time for us to prove if indeed we are worthy of our ancestors and the freedom that our forefathers secured for us. Our nation as a whole will rise united as one body. Fight for our Homeland, our women, our children and our sacred traditions. Now we fight for everything.”

The Italian army attacked at 5:30 in the morning, half hour before the expiry of the ultimatum. But Greece’s General Staff had prepared its defense and the Greek army managed to smash the Italian divisions at the mountains of Pindos and Kalpaki in the Epirus region.

For 75 years, the first radio broadcasted report of the Italian attack rings eerily in the  ears of every Greek: “Αι Ιταλικαί στρατιωτικαί δυνάμεις προσβάλλουσιν από τις 05.30 ώρας της σήμερον τα ημέτερα τμήματα προκαλύψεως της Ελληνοαλβανικής Μεθορίου. Αι ημέτεραι δυνάμεις αμύνονται του Πατρίου εδάφους.”

(The Italian armed forces have attacked today at 5:30 in the morning our embankments in the Greek-Albanian border. Our forces are defending the fatherland.)

The Duce wanted to advance very quickly in Ioannina and Metsovo, but the Italian army met the fierce resistance of the Greek divisions. Within three weeks, Greece was completely free of the invading forces and began a counterattack, driving deep into Italian-held Albania.

Mussolini was humiliated and enraged. Adolf Hitler was also furious at what he viewed as Mussolini’s blunder. The Greek victory delayed, or rather completely changed Hitler’s plan. In those dark hours, Greece was the only country in Europe that resisted the advancement of the Axis.

1990s Albanian Refugee Route Could Reopen

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Refugees heading for Western Europe could start using a route from Albania to Italy previously used by tens of thousands of Albanians after the Communist regime collapsed in the 1990s.
Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian migrants arriving at the Italian port Bari in 1990s. Photo: Wikicommons
Albania has said it is ready to play its part in the European Union plan for accommodating 100,000 refugees in the Balkans, but Tirana also fears that the country could be used as a new route to Western Europe for incoming migrants.
“It is believed that with the coming of winter the route could shift towards Albania,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said after a high-level meeting with EU officials and Balkan leaders in Brussels on Sunday.
Brussels meanwhile asked Albania, Greece and Macedonia to take measures to "strengthen the management of the external land border", an EU press statement said.
According to Albanian authorities, former military base in town of Bilisht in south Albania close to a Greek border is already ready to accommodate some 500 refugees.
Other abandoned military bases are also being prepared for possible influx of refugees coming from Greece.
After Hungary closed its borders, refugees have been seeking alternatives routes north.
The Strait of Otranto between Albania and Italy is 72 kilometers wide at its narrowest point and drew international attention in 1991 when tens of thousands of Albanians use it to flee the country after the fall of the Communist regime.
Albanians also used the sea crossing in 1997 when the country was swept by civil unrest.
On March 1997, 84 people, mostly women and children, drowned after their boat sank in the Straits.
Despite its perils, the route has also been used by drug smugglers and human traffickers.
During the 2000s, it was mainly used to transport illegal narcotics to Italy.
In 2006, overwhelmed by the large number of motorboats shipping drugs from Albania, the Albanian government decided not to allow any private small boats to sail in the country’s territorial waters.
The so-called sea moratorium remained in effect for six years but was eased gradually after maritime police forces increased their ability to control Albanian waters. 

PM: "Somebody" wants to destabilize Balkans


Aleksandar Vucic said in Moscow on Tuesday it was "obvious there is increasing tension in the Balkans, and attempts at an overall destabilization of relations."
Source: Beta, Tanjug
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
The Serbian prime minister spoke with reporters on the sidelines of a sitting of the Business Council of Serbia and Russia, and added that "somebody is making a lot of effort" to destabilize relations in the Western Balkans.
According to the Beta agency Vucic then stated that he "knows, but won't say" who these "forces" are - but that he thought it was "plenty obvious."

"It's enough to look at the situation in our surroundings for that to be completely clear. Why would I speak about it publicly, I have no intention, it's enough that I know, and that the government knows, and is taking steps," said Vucic.

He added that "they are attempting to spread this to Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and Belgrade."

Vucic said that "Serbia will do everything to preserve peace and stability in the region, this is its priority goal."

"If anyone needs peace and stability, it's Serbia, and Serbia will know how to secure it," said he.

"32 places"

Serbia now ranks as No. 59 in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business list, up by 32 positions compared to last year, Aleksandar Vucic has said.

Speaking in Moscow on Tuesday, he said this was an indicator that Serbia provides a safe business environment.

The score did not even take into account the reforms carried out in the most recent period, Vucic pointed out at a meeting with Serbian and Russian businesspeople in Moscow.

"This is important news, not only for the citizens of Serbia, but also for those who want to invest in the country, because they can count on a serious and safe business environment," said Vucic.

Stressing that Serbia made the strongest progress of all countries, Vucic added that the government of Serbia will strive to further improve its ranking and enter the top forty in the world.

The Serbian prime minister is currently on a 3-day visit to the Russian Federation, during which he will meet with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Greece, Macedonia, Albania to Strengthen Border Control


© AP Photo/ Borce Popovski

Greece, Macedonia and Albania committed to tighten control over their external borders.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Greece, Macedonia and Albania committed to tighten control over their external borders, a joint plan adopted on a meeting of the leaders of both EU members and non-EU states said. Earlier on Sunday, the leaders of 11 European countries, as well as EU agencies agreed on the 17-point joint plan of actions to cope with Western Balkans migration flows.
“Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania will strengthen the management of the external land border,” the plan published on Sunday said.
According to the plan, EU border agency Frontex should also assist Greece in the registration of refugees and migrants who have not yet been registered in the country.
Europe has been beset by an enormous refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing to Europe to escape violence and poverty in their home countries. Over 710,000 migrants arrived in the European Union during the first nine months of 2015, according to Frontex.

Albania-Italy route could see new migrant flow, EU fears


 

BRUSSELS

The European Union is concerned that people-smugglers could open a new sea route to Italy from Albania if land borders in the Balkans are sealed, EU officials said on Sunday.Two decades after the 80-km (50-mile) Adriatic crossing saw shiploads of Albanians fleeing post-communist chaos, EU and Balkan leaders meeting in Brussels to try and control refugee movements planned to agree tighter supervision of the overland route to Albania from Greece, where most migrants enter Europe.
"There is a risk that the route to Albania and Italy may become the new route in winter," one senior EU official told Reuters.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was attending the meeting hosted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Italy, where the bulk of migrants have arrived in the south from Libya, was not invited to the Balkan conference.
Nearly 500,000 people, including many Syrian and Iraqis but also Asian migrants, have reached Greece from Turkey in the first 10 months of 2015, according to EU figures. Most moved on to Macedonia on their way via Croatia or Hungary to Germany.
However, with Hungary sealing off its borders and other states taking similar steps, tens of thousands are now facing worsening weather stuck in the Balkans. The sea route to Italy, though barred by mountains between Greece and Albania, could offer a faster, but perilous journey.

Former UNESCO chief against Kosovo's membership

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Former Director-General of UNESCO Federico Mayor opposes Kosovo's membership in the organization, and stresses that the UN is in need of deep reforms.
Source: RTS, Tanjug
(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)
The renowned Spanish diplomat told Serbia's state broadcaster RTS said that as the 70th anniversary of the United Nations is marked, it is unacceptable that a group of the most powerful countries is deciding about the future of the world.
Mayor, who was taking part in a European Center for Peace and Development conference in Belgrade dedicated to globalization, the migrant crisis, and Pristina's UNESCO bid, said that while holding the top UNESCO job, he "five times condemned the NATO military action in Kosovo." He noted that the invasion of Kosovo was not approved by the UN and that such an issue can always be reconsidered.

"For Serbia, but also for the world, it is important to say that the world does not want a plutocracy, an oligarchic rule of rich countries," said the diplomat, who served as UNESCO's director-general from 1987 until 1999.

According to him, the UN should be reformed also through efforts to as soon as possible end the rule of the most powerful, namely, G7, G8, and G20. All countries in the General Assembly, 193 of them - need to be deciding on the future of the world, he said.

Asked whether it is possible to reform the world organization when UNESCO, which deals with education and culture, is, in the Kosovo case, being abused for political purposes, along with a violation of international law, Mayor answered in the affirmative.

"As I consider that the decision on the recognition of Palestine is good, there are other issues, which may again be considered," said he.

Mayor pointed out that he was deeply opposed to foreign military action in Kosovo while he was UNESCO's director.

Asked how he would vote on Pristina's bid to join UNESCO, Mayor said he had not changed his position and would be opposed, "without any doubt."

Pavlopoulos: “Macedonia is self-evidently and obviously Greek”


The Greek President attended the official celebrations for the patron saint of Thessaloniki

Monday, October 26, 2015

To Vima 
Pavlopoulos: “Macedonia is self-evidently and obviously Greek”
2
The President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos underlined that “Macedonia is self-evidently and obviously Greek”, following the festive doxology at the Holy Temple of St. Demetrius in Thessaloniki.
According to the President, the teachings of St. Demetrius – one of the most glorified and popular saints in Orthodox Christianity –  the Greek nature of Macedonia is self evident. Mr. Pavlopoulos also underlined the importance of the city’s liberation during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 on the name day of St. Demetrius.
Furthermore, the President argued that the teachings of St. Demetrius inspire the Greek nation to not count the size of its force, bur rather its faith in ideals, to the point of sacrificing in defense of the country.

PM Tsipras rejects three European proposals for refugee crisis


Greek govenment reportedly satisfied with the outcome of mini-Summit on refugee and migration crisis

Monday, October 26, 2015

To Vima 
PM Tsipras rejects three European proposals for refugee crisis
1
Following the conclusion of a mini-Summit on the refugee and migration crisis in Brussels, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the press that he rejected three proposals.
The first proposal that was rejected referred to the creation of a 50,000-strong refugee “ghetto” within Greece. This camp – essentially a small town – would be on top of the existing reception centers of 7,000 on the islands and 20,000 in Attica and northern Greece. The Greek PM explained that his counterproposal of rent subsidy for 20,000 refugees in Greece was accepted. Aside from contributing to the development of the Greek economy, PM Tsipras added, the measure will also help integrate refugees in Greek society.
The second proposal rejected by the Greek authorities would allow an EU member to disallow entry of refugees from another EU country. Should this have come into effect, PM Tsipras explained, the wave of migration may stop with a domino effect mostly affecting Greece. Instead, it was decided to notify the country of passage of the number of refugees for which it is responsible.
The third proposal which was also rejected involved launching a new Frontex operation at the borders in the north of Greece, in order to avert and control migration towards FYROM. The Prime Minister argued that protecting borders is exclusively a national concern, further noting that the involvement of Frontex will be limited to documenting refugees who have not yet gone through the procedures on the islands.
Ultimately, the Prime Minister commented, the mini-Summit concluded that Turkey will play an important role in addressing the refugee and migration crisis. The Greek PM underlined that further coordination with Turkish authorities is needed towards this goal, however he stressed that each country has the responsibility of protecting its territorial waters.
According to PM Tsipras, the European Commission is preparing a series of proposals for Turkey in an effort to provide a decisive solution to the major problem. Although Europe has been slow to respond to the refugee crisis, PM Tsipras estimated that steps have been taken in the right direction.
The refugee crisis is undoubtedly beyond us and that a coordinated European response is necessary, otherwise the cohesion of the European Union itself may be at risk. Common sense, solidarity and shared responsibility must prevail, PM Tsipras further added.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Kotzias to Tirana: Some play with fire with the dream of "Greater Albania"



"Within the Albanian leadership some playing with fire. They dream of "Greater Albania", arrived to do acts knew only from Islamic Jihadism in the Middle East"

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Nikos Kotsias, gave an interview in newspaper Real News and answered many questions.


Especially for Albania, was one question. So when a journalist asked him:
 

The last time we were provocative actions against the Greek Minority in Albania in Himara. What are your priorities regarding Tirana and the idea of ​​"Greater Albania"?

He answered:

"The Albanian people are a dynamic factor with a lot of energy, which should be the channel for the benefit of the communities and countries in which they live. Albanians are a friend of people with much in common with us, fortunately with no trace of religious fanaticism. 


To Albanian leaders, we have made proposals for dialogue and solutions to the problems that exist or arise from the application of international law. Officially they have responded positively. With Albanian Foreign Minister I want to believe that "we have good chemistry."

"On the other hand, "we do not close our eyes". Within the Albanian leadership some playing with fire. They dream of "Greater Albania", arrived to do acts knew only from Islamic jihadism in the Middle East. I think that these forces should be gathered, do evil in the Balkans.

Source

Albania Offers Rewards to Tax Fraud Spies


Albania is setting up a fund to reward citizens who report on fiscal evasion as part of the government campaign against the informal, cash economy.
Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
 
 Merchants protesting in front of Tirana Municipality after their goods were confiscated | Photo: LSA/Malton Dibra.
Albanians who report fiscal evasion in businesses can now seek a reward from the general taxation directorate as part of new measures to fight fraud.

Taxation officials covertly acting as customers will also be identifying businesses that do not generate the required cash register receipts.

Albania's council of ministers is setting up a fund of around 72,000 euros, which will be used for the rewards, and for the goods that tax officials buy in shops while checking up on receipts.
The finance ministry has yet to decide on the exact sums of money that citizens can claim in rewards if they hand in useful fiscal evasion information.

The initiatives are the latest result of the so-called "war against informality" campaign, which Edi Rama's government launched in September.

Rama said that within 300 days the government would take whatever steps it needed to end informality and fiscal evasion.

Small businesses have since become particularly subject to inspections. Fines, confiscations of goods and even arrests have followed in the wake of the campaign against fraud and fiscal evasion.

The government is taking action under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to halt a fall in revenues.

However, data released by the Ministry of Finance suggests that in September the campaign has had limited results so far.

Statistics show that the overall fiscal revenue from taxes and customs for September 2015 was around 1.6 million euros less than in September 2014.

Source

Omonia to the Reorganization structures within the National Northern Epirus Council








Athens, Sunday, October 25, 2015

PRESS RELEASE

A large Information and consultation meeting with members of the General Council and representatives of Omonia, aimed at rallying the Greeks of Northern Epirus and the reorganization of the National Northern Epirus Council.

A first meeting took place Saturday in Athens and was aimed at informing and raising awareness of Northern Epirus in Greece together on issues related to Education in Northern Epirus, the Ownership and the development of a national strategy for the Northern Epirus.

Among other things the Chairman of Omonia. Leonidas Pappas emphasized the necessity of a more direct contact Omonia to Northern Epirus living in Greece which could be done by "setting up local branches starting from the Athenian capital and why not their spread and throughout the Greek territory where they live and work hundreds of thousands of our compatriots. "

He also emphasized the need to find financial resources so that it can Omonia be financially independent from interests and may have operating offices for the Northern Epirus public not only in Saranda other in other regions both in Northern Epirus and Greece .

He announced it, that within weeks will begin to operate the new website of Omonia from where you can every Northern Epirot update on the project, its activities and the developments in our hometown.

Press "DEEEM Omonia"
Athens 25/10/2015

source

Russian Presence Near Undersea Cables Concerns U.S.

 

New York Times

WASHINGTON — Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of conflict.
The issue goes beyond old Cold War worries that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: In times of tension or conflict, the ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
Inside the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence agencies, the assessments of Russia’s increasing activities are highly classified and not publicly discussed in detail. American officials are secretive about what they are doing to both monitor the activity and find ways to recover quickly if cables are cut. But more than half a dozen officials confirmed in broad terms that it had become the source of significant attention in the Pentagon.
“I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,” said Rear Adm. Frederick J. Roegge, commander of the Navy’s submarine fleet in the Pacific, who would not answer questions about potential Russian plans for cutting the undersea cables.
Cmdr. William Marks, a Navy spokesman in Washington, said: “It would be a concern to hear any country was tampering with communication cables; however, due to the classified nature of submarine operations, we do not discuss specifics.”
In private, however, commanders and intelligence officials are far more direct. They report that from the North Sea to Northeast Asia and even in waters closer to American shores, they are monitoring significantly increased Russian activity along the known routes of the cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce.
Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea.
“The level of activity,’’ a senior European diplomat said, ‘‘is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War.”
One NATO ally, Norway, is so concerned that it has asked its neighbors for aid in tracking Russian submarines.
Adm. James Stavridis, formerly NATO’s top military commander and now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said in an email last week that “this is yet another example of a highly assertive and aggressive regime seemingly reaching backwards for the tools of the Cold War, albeit with a high degree of technical improvement.”
The operations are consistent with Russia’s expanding military operations into places like Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Syria, where President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to demonstrate a much longer reach for Russian ground, air and naval forces.
“The risk here is that any country could cause damage to the system and do it in a way that is completely covert, without having a warship with a cable-cutting equipment right in the area,” said Michael Sechrist, a former project manager for a Harvard-M.I.T. research project funded in part by the Defense Department.
“Cables get cut all the time — by anchors that are dragged, by natural disasters,” said Mr. Sechrist, who published a 2012 study of the vulnerabilities of the undersea cable network. But most of those cuts take place within a few miles from shore, and can be repaired in a matter of days.
What worries Pentagon planners most is that the Russians appear to be looking at vulnerabilities at much greater depths, where the cables are hard to monitor and breaks are hard to find and repair.
Mr. Sechrist noted that the locations of the cables are hardly secret. “Undersea cables tend to follow the similar path since they were laid in the 1860s,” he said, because the operators of the cables want to put them in familiar environments under longstanding agreements.
The exception are special cables, with secret locations, that have been commissioned by the United States for military operations; they do not show up on widely available maps, and it is possible the Russians are hunting for those, officials said.
The role of the cables is more important than ever before. They carry more than $10 trillion a day in global business, including from financial institutions that settle their transactions on them every second. Any significant disruption would cut the flow of capital. The cables also carry more than 95 percent of daily communications.
So important are undersea cables that the Department of Homeland Security lists their landing areas — mostly around New York, Miami and Los Angeles — at the top of its list of “critical infrastructure.”
Attention to underwater cables is not new. In October 1971, the American submarine Halibut entered the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan, found a telecommunications cable used by Soviet nuclear forces, and succeeded in tapping its secrets. The mission, code-named Ivy Bells, was so secret that a vast majority of the submarine’s sailors had no idea what they had accomplished. The success led to a concealed world of cable-tapping.
And a decade ago, the United States Navy launched the submarine Jimmy Carter, which intelligence analysts said is able to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on communications flowing through them.
Submarines are not the only vessels that are snooping on the undersea cables. American officials closely monitor the Yantar, which Russian officials insist is an oceanographic ship with no ties to espionage.
“The Yantar is equipped with a unique onboard scientific research complex which enables it to collect data on the ocean environment, both in motion and on hold. There are no similar complexes anywhere,” said Alexei Burilichev, the head of the deepwater research department at the Russian Defense Ministry, according to sputniknews.com in May 2015.
American concern over cable-cutting is just one aspect of Russia’s modernizing Navy that has drawn new scrutiny.
Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of American naval forces in Europe, speaking in Washington this month, said the proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force was increasing.
Citing public remarks by the Russian Navy chief, Adm. Viktor Chirkov, Admiral Ferguson said the intensity of Russian submarine patrols had risen by almost 50 percent over the last year. Russia has increased its operating tempo to levels not seen in over a decade. Russian Arctic bases and their $2.4 billion investment in the Black Sea Fleet expansion by 2020 demonstrate their commitment to develop their military infrastructure on the flanks, he said.
Admiral Ferguson said that as part of Russia’s emerging doctrine of so-called hybrid warfare, it is increasingly using a mix of conventional force, Special Operations mission, and new weapons in the 21st-century battlefield.
“This involves the use of space, cyber, information warfare and hybrid warfare designed to cripple the decision-making cycle of the alliance,” Admiral Ferguson said, referring to NATO. “At sea, their focus is disrupting decision cycles.”