EVANGELOS VENETIS *
One of the most geopolitically sensitive areas in the world, the Balkans is a reference point to geopolitical developments internationally. Today the region is again being tested by the huge wave of refugees and migrants coming from the Middle East and elsewhere. The Western Balkan states' prospects of European integration and joining the Schengen Area that had developed over the past two decades have been shaken by the refugee crisis, which has led to a shift in their European orientation. Due to the geopolitical failures of the West, Turkey’s inability to control the illicit people-trafficking network on its soil and the closed-border policy of Austria and its Visegrad allies, Greece has more or less been cut off from the rest of the peninsula, leaving the sea route to Italy as the country's only connection to the rest of Europe. This situation has brought Greece, already straining under an unrelated economic crisis, to the brink of having to declare an emergency situation.
The collective memory of nations is the basis of the existence of their culture and determines their behavior. The older a nation, the deeper its history and its collective memory. Greece and Albania are the two oldest nations of the Balkan Peninsula, each with its own collective memory. The memory of having to flee their homelands is still fresh in the memory of both countries. In Greece, people today still remember the Greek refugees who fled Asia Minor in 1922, as well as the waves of mass emigration in the 19th and 20th centuries. Hence they have a personal understanding of the refugee issue and many among them have tried to offer the refugees hospitality, despite the acute economic crisis and the un-European stance of some other European states.
For their part, Albanians also keep alive the memory of their recent waves of emigration, to Turkey on several occasions in the 20th century, and mainly to Greece and Italy some 25 years ago. They remember the harsh scenes of August 7-8, 1991 when thousands thronged the port of Durres to board ships and cross the sea to Italy. They remember how there Albanian refugees were greeted by the Italian Carabinieri in Bari: Some reports say 12 were killed by Italian gunfire and many fell into the sea from the ships. Meanwhile, Albanians remember that Greece, in contrast to Italy, opened its border and Epirus Greeks welcomed hundreds of thousands Albanian refugees in a hospitable manner, welcoming them, giving them food, water and shelter, providing them with accommodation and helping them to move south to the major urban centers of Greece. Greeks gave them work and they in response helped the Greek economy to grow further. In austerity-hit Greece today there are hundreds of thousands of Albanians workers who send valuable revenue back home. Understanding what it means to be a refugee, many Greeks did then what many are doing today. But what is the Albanian government doing?
While the Albanian people maintain their collective memory of this period, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama seems to have forgotten. As a result he has increased security at the border with Greece, theoretically refusing entry to refugees currently trapped in Greek territory. It seems that the Albanian prime minister did not listen to his Socialist MPs, behaving in an un-socialist manner and giving reason for opponents within his own party to challenge him, for they know that the Albanian people think differently from him. The fact of the matter is that instead of first cooperating with neighboring Greece on a mutual basis, Mr Rama prefers to assign the security of Albanian territory to Italy, forgetting the events of 1991 and giving the impression that Albania is unable to handle its own security by itself.
On the contrary, Greeks and Albanians have sent their message to Mr Rama. The inhabitants of Konitsa summarized the message of Albania's moral obligation to behave reciprocally toward Greece and to open the border. It's true that the reciprocity being sought today is not quite the same as in 1991 because today the refugees to Albania are not Greek. However, it can be said that Greece, like Albania then, is facing a crisis in terms of both social conditions and state security.
Thus, instead of closing the borders, Mr Rama needs to understand that now spring has arrived, the snow is melting and mountain passes are opening. At the same time, refugees are already moving northward to the border with Albania. And he cannot do anything to stop them from crossing the high mountains of Epirus. Rather than relying on the Italian police, surely it would be wiser to share the expertise of Greece in terms of management of refugee reception centers. Along with Athens, he would be able to handle refugee flows better.
Today, with Greece being completely isolated – without deserving such treatment by its European peers – developments urge the Albanian government to act on a moral basis in cooperation with Athens to cope with the refugee crisis and respond in a proper manner to the humanitarian call for the protection of refugees. How civilized a country is is not measured by how technologically advanced it is or high standards of living, but by the hospitality it offers. The long-term benefits for Albania will be multiplied if it cooperates with Greece than if accepts the ephemeral rewards of the northerners. Any hopes of maintaining a united Europe rest with the generous attitude of Greece and Albania in the refugee crisis.
Nowadays, the ongoing refugee crisis triggers strong memories for both Greeks and Albanians. Both peoples have besa, or faith. Today, in the person of Mr Rama, Albania is invited by history to display besa to Greece. If Mr Rama refuses to remember, he will be forgotten by his own people.
* Evangelos Venetis is head of the ELIAMEP Middle East Research Project, Athens, and the Refugee Studies Program, Stavros Niarchos Center for Hellenic Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Friday, April 8, 2016
Pristina "cannot make the creation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) conditional."
SOURCE: TANJUG FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2016 | 09:10
This was announced by the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo, which added: "Especially not on telecommunications, whose implementation had been hampered by Pristina's unconstructive approach."
Previously, Edita Tahiri, who serves in the Kosovo government, said that the ZSO will not be set up before Kosovo receives a dial code.
"Besides being insincere and unconstructive, with moves like this one, the politics pursued by Pristina are also becoming completely meaningless," the office's deputy director, Dusan Kozarev, said.
A statement added that the agreement on telecommunications has not been implemented because Pristina has not created the conditions for the operation of a company of the MTS operator in Kosovo and Metohija.
"Once this has happened, Kosovo will, as agreed, receive another dial code for a territorial area within Serbia," he added, noting that telephone traffic between central Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija will then be taking place without the use of dialing codes, and under local tariffs.
"All Mrs. Tahir has to do is read the agreement she signed, and implement it," Kozarev noted.
"All this, of course, has nothing to do with the undertaking to create the conditions for setting up the ZSO," Kozarev said, adding:
"To us, the setting up of the Community of Serb Municipalities is the main reason to participate in the dialogue, and the deadline for drafting its charter was December 25 last year. When the Community of Serb municipalities is established, its Secretariat will, precisely in accordance with the agreement on telecommunications, be available on +381 dialing code," the statement said.
Kozarev further stated that if Pristina does not want normalization of relations and dialogue with Belgrade, "it should announce this clearly - instead of lying and deceiving the domestic public on a daily basis, guided by election campaign, internal political reasons," and added that the EU, as the mediator in the dialogue, is likely already tired from the behavior of Pristina politicians - "but we expect they will take steps to remove absurdity from this process, that has already become chronic."
A second group of migrants was returned to Turkey.
A boat carrying migrants to Turkey leave from Greece. Giorgos Moutafis / Reuters
J. WESTON PHIPPEN GLOBAL
The second group of ferries left Greece for Turkey Friday with migrants to be returned across the Aegean Sea as part of a deal between the European Union and Ankara.
The boats left the islands of Samos, Kos, and Lesbos with 120 migrants for the Turkish town of Dikili. Many were Pakistani, Turkey’s interior minister said, and others were from Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The deportations began Monday as part of a deal to slow the influx of migrants to Europe, and also reduce the human-smuggling business. Under the controversial deal, any migrant who arrived after March 20––and who had not filed for asylum––would be deported to Turkey. In exchange, the EU would take an equal number of Syrian refugees. One challenge the EU has faced amid the worst migrant crisis on the continent since World War II is differentiating between those it considers genuine asylum-seekers, typically Syrians, from those it doesn’t. The deal is meant to address those concerns. The agreement also would give Turkey around $3.2 billion to help with the millions of Syrians who’ve fled there since the start of their civil war five years ago.
After Monday, the first day boats ferried migrants back to Turkey, protests on the Greek islands shut down further deportations. Some migrants sat in the middle of roads and refused to move. One man, inside the Moria registration camp, climbed to the top of a utility pole Wednesday and threatened to hang himself. Even Friday, as the boats readied to depart, local Greek protesters swam in front of a boat, hoping to stop it. Eventually, the coast guard pulled them from the water and took the protestors to a police station, The Guardian reported.
European countries had at first allowed migrants to cross the borders freely. But in early March, Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia closed their borders, creating a bottleneck on the migrant route and backlogs in Greece.
About 325 migrants have now been expelled from Greece—with Friday’s second round of deportations. Meanwhile, Greek authorities said that in the past 24 hours about 150 more migrants had crossed the Aegean Sea. Many arrived on the same islands from which the others had just been deported.
As many as 71.6 percent of respondents in a new B92/CeSID poll think that Serbia's membership in the EU and in NATO would not be good.
SOURCE: TANJUG FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2016
At the same time, more than 55 percent think Serbia should "stick with Russia" - and the number of those who support this policy is constantly growing. A little over 19 percent disagreed, while 21.5 are undecided.
Only 11.2 percent agreed with the assertion that "it is good for Serbia to join the EU and NATO." 14 percent of respondents were undecided on this issue.
Opinion polls have shown increased euro-skepticism in Serbia over the past years - however, this trend in usual in all candidate countries.
Asked about "the priority topic" in the ongoing campaign is, 38.5 percent said it was the standard of living and high unemployment, 18.2 named "economic topics," while 11.1 percent chose rights of workers and pensioners.
Nine percent said it was investment in agriculture, while 7.4 percent opted for the fight against corruption and crime.
Friday's poll is one in a series produced by B92 and CeSID during the election campaign. The results are presented by Filip Cukanovic on B92 TV at 16:00 and 20:00 CET on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSAPRIL 8, 2016
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Less than a week before visiting Washington, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump would be a threat to his country and to U.S.-Albanian bilateral ties if elected president.
Speaking on a talk show late Thursday on Kosovo's private television Klan Kosova, Rama said that Trump's election would bring "major damage" to the U.S. and also be "a real threat to Albanian-American ties."
"Donald Trump is a threat to America and, no doubt, a threat to Albanian-American ties," he said.
Rama was in neighboring Kosovo, two countries with the same ethnic Albanian majority population, to take part in a ceremony for new President Hashim Thaci Friday.
Rama said he was not referring to the Republicans but to a "character that has disturbed" some Republicans so much that they are now willing to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Rama, also leader of the main governing left-wing Socialist Party, will visit Washington next week where he is planning to meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
© AFP 2016/ ARMEND NIMANI
Former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) militant Hashim Thaci was treated to a lavish inauguration ceremony on Friday, the ceremony attended by over a thousand guests from 50 countries, including diplomats from states which recognize Kosovo, which broke off from Serbia in 2008. Sputnik offers a brief analysis of the alleged ex-bandit turned president.
Thaci, who has a long record of participating in Kosovar politics, previously served as the head of the breakaway republic's foreign ministry, as deputy prime minister and, between 2008 and 2014, as prime minister. He began his political rise in the early 1990s when, using the moniker 'The Snake', he became a member of the KLA leadership's inner circle, responsible for securing funds and arms, and for training militants in neighboring Albania to be sent to Kosovo.
In her 2008 book entitled The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) prosecutor Carla Del Ponte alleged that Thaci was directly involved in the KLA's illegal organ trade; the KLA was accused of harvesting the organs of mostly Serbian prisoners of war at secret detention centers in Albania.
In 1999, the prosecutor wrote, about 300 Serbs and other non-Albanians were kidnapped and taken to northern Albania, where their organs were removed, and sent, for profit, to hospitals across Europe.
In late 2010, Swiss politician Dick Marty presented an expansive report on the issue to the Council of Europe, saying there were "credible, convergent indications" that the illegal organ harvesting was indeed taking place, and that Thaci was the head of the "mafia-like" group responsible for the organ harvesting, as well as drug and weapons smuggling to countries across Europe.
Thaci denied the allegations and said that he would file a lawsuit against Marty, but never did.
© AP PHOTO/ VISAR KRYEZIU
Kosovopranos: German Intel Had Mafia Dossier on Kosovan President Since 2005
Most recently, a leaked internal Federal Intelligence Service report published by WikiLeaks confirmed that the newly-elected president has links to contract killers, revealing that he had been one the leaders of the Drenica criminal group, linked to organ, arms and drug trafficking operations and connected to other criminal groups including the Czech and Albanian mafia.
With The Hague vowing to establish a special court to try war crimes committed during the war in Kosovo, it remains unclear whether Thaci, one of the founders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has itself been accused of war crimes, will appear before the court.
However, if his attitude toward the court is any indication, probably not. Thaci, the BBC recently pointed out, "welcomed the establishment of [the] tribunal," and "personally led the process to establish a special court."
"We have nothing to hide. It's an opportunity to deal with the past and move forward, and also a chance to explain that the war was a just struggle," the suspected ex-gangster told the broadcaster.
Serbian FM: Hague Tribunal Failed to Punish War Crimes in Kosovo, Stirred Nationalist Sentiments
Sputnik Serbian spoke to Zivojin Rakocevic, a political analyst and writer from Kosovo's Serbian enclave of Gracanica, to get a sense of the real implications of his confirmation as president.
Unfortunately, Rakocevic noted, Thaci's main 'accomplishment' during his years in Kosovar politics has been to expel the Serbs from cities across the region, including the capital of Pristina, where only a few dozen mostly elderly Serbs from the estimated 40,000 who once lived there now remain.
"At the same time, he managed to destroy Kosovar Albanians' future. Today, 80% of them want to leave Kosovo, which NATO bombed with shells containing depleted uranium, and Thaci finished off with his criminal structures," Rakocevic said.
"He has destroyed any possibility for Serbs to return to this region, and dealt a blow to the Serbian Orthodox Church. He has control over the Islamic radicals, and can use them at any time."
"But his greatest achievement," Rakocevic scornfully recalled, was that after all his crimes, many of them documented by Western political, legal and intelligence officials, "Thaci remains a legitimate, important 'friend of the international community' and of Western powers."
Russian Foreign Ministry Blasts the Hague for Unfairly Targeting Serbs in Prosecutions
For his part, Beljulj Becaj, a Kosovar Albanian political analyst from Pristina, told Sputnik that Thaci's 'achievements' did not earn him the presidency. In his words, the alleged ex-gangster was only able to become president thanks to Kosovo's flawed electoral system (in Kosovo, the president is chosen by the parliament).
"The presidency must serve as a unifying factor, while Thaci is a divider. Factually his achievements contradict what is stated in the constitution."
Becaj noted that Thaci's election would only increase the trust gap between the government and the opposition, and would result in growing discontent not only among the opposition, but from the majority of Kosovars as well.
"The weight of the crimes of the past, if this information is correct, is not what Kosovo needs. Kosovo must have a president who would serve as an exponent of integrity, morality and justice," the political analyst emphasized.
Unfortunately, the breakaway's political establishment, and their benefactors in Europe and the US, seem to have accepted a situation where the geopolitical project they helped initiate in 1999 by bombing Yugoslavia is now headed by a suspected criminal, whose gang is suspected of some of the most grisly crimes imaginable.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Baku – APA. Albania is very much concerned about the escalation of violence, demolition of civilian facilities and casualties in human lives occurring during the recent crisis over the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh region, said Ilir Rexhep Meta, Speaker of the Albanian Parliament.
He responded to The European Azerbaijan Society’s (TEAS) questions with regard to the military provocation and violation of the ceasefire by the Armenian forces on the contact line separating the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces.
Albania support efforts of international community and the call for an immediate cease fire and de-escalation of the situation and protection of civilian population, the speaker said.
“International law and rights must prevail and parties must negotiate for a comprehensive, final and long-standing settlement in respect of all UNSC Resolutions. This crystal clear acknowledgement, also shared by the EU and the OSCE, has to be the base of every stable solution of this conflict,” he added.
Based on these acts and principles, the region of Nagorno-Karabakh constitutes an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Minsk Group is the right platform to involve all actors to negotiate and facilitate this solution, the speaker stressed.
“Albania believes that the principle of territorial integrity is a pivotal discipline in interaction of modern states, and that includes the condemnation of occupation and displacement. Albania fully backs the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. It is highly relevant for the international community to make all and sincere efforts for a safe return of the refugees to their homes as soon as conditions allow. Every aggression has to be stopped and prevented otherwise its consequences can be devastating. Especially the life of innocent civilians needs to be protected,” Ilir Rexhep Meta said.
According to the speaker, the on-going refugee crisis in the Middle East, Balkans and Europe is a bad example of conflicts not being contained.
“This has to be the main objective of all international cooperation. Otherwise we risk having a deterioration of the situation in a complex region neighboring a devastating war and with high potentials to aggravate consequences over peace, stability and global economy. Peace and stability in Azerbaijan and the wider region are very important for Albania, Balkans and Europe. The strategic projects on energy diversification, energy security and the future of Southern Gas Corridor are vital and must not be jeopardized from another conflict,” he added.
Azerbaijan made a first move in the right direction, the speaker underlined. “It demonstrates the commitment for peace by Azerbaijan and needs an appropriate response from the other side. We therefore call for the immediate withdrawal of the military forces of Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions,” he concluded.
The Associated Press
An army helicopter crashed Wednesday into a lake in northern Albania, killing two pilots and injuring the other crew member on board, officials said.
Local mayor Tonin Marinaj said the helicopter crashed into Shkodra Lake near the village of Grizhe some 108 kilometers (67 miles) north of the capital, Tirana.
Albania's defense ministry said the EC145 helicopter with three crew members on board was on a training mission. Health Minister Ilir Beqja said the surviving crew member was hospitalized with a broken arm.
An official in the Shkodra region, Paulin Radovani, said divers recovered the bodies of the two slain crew members from the wreckage.
Albanian media said residents reported hearing an explosion before the helicopter crashed into the water.
The army chief of staff, Major Gen. Jeronim Bazo, called for public patience as investigators collected evidence of what caused the crash. He said the helicopter entered service only in November and was deployed primarily for search-and-rescue missions. He said the two dead pilots had "reasonable experience and were trained domestically and abroad."
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Source: Sofia Globe
April 5, 2016
Plans are for Roman Catholic church head Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomeos and the head of the Greek Church, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymus, together to visit refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos.
This emerged after a meeting on April 5 of the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Church of Greece, over which Hieronymus presided.
Hieronymus told the Synod that Pope Francis had expressed a desire to visit Greece, to build awareness among the international community of the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the wider Mediterranean area and in the Middle East that were strongly affecting Christian communities, but also had led to a major humanitarian crisis for desperate refugees seeking a better future in Europe.
A Greek Church statement said that the Holy Synod had accepted the proposal for the Pope to visit an Aegean island because it would be a one-day, non-protocol and “clear humanitarian and symbolic visit”.
The Holy Synod decided to propose a visit to Lesbos, which it described as one of the many islands that had deeply experienced and still experienced the tragedy of the refugee problem.
It noted that this was at a time that Greece, in spite of major problems, was bearing on its shoulders the brunt of refugee flows.
“A Greece called upon to prove, even alone, that Europe principles and values still exist,” the Holy Synod said.
The Synod said that it further decided, especially given that the unity of the Orthodox Christian churches was being tested, to invite Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomeos. In the world Orthodox Christian community, among the leaders of the church, the Ecumenical Patriarch is officially regarded as “first among equals”.
The personality and authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch, together with the gravity of the presence of Pope Francis, would send the world a very strong signal about alleviating the problems of refugees and simultaneously, a call for appropriate action to protect Christians suffering cruelly in the wider region of the Middle East, the Greek Church said.
No date for the visit has been announced but Greek media reports said that April 14 and 15 were possible dates.
The Sofia Globe
06 / 04 / 2016
The Soros-funded framing of the document release aimed to smear Putin, but did more to expose the collusion of Hillary Clinton, David Cameron, and other Western scam artists.
On Sunday, the "Panama Papers" were released to the world, in the single greatest incriminating document leak in world history. The documents, all from a single Panamanian law firm specializing in tax sheltering, Mossack Fonseca, were released to a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Obama Defends Costly NATO War Machine Over Trump’s ‘Ill Advised’ Opposition
The documents were reviewed and maintained by a shadowy network including George Soros and several CIA funded organizations, including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Unsurprisingly, headlines relating to this group focused on Russian President Vladimir Putin, a world leader not even named within the Panama Papers.
In recent days, however, as international news agencies and curious civilians scour over the two terabytes of documents, with more to come — thanks to the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks — attention has turned toward Westerners implicated in the release.
Perhaps the most notable Western leader exposed in the Panama Papers is David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, whose father transitioned their family firm from Panama to Ireland after the leader took office. His father’s company dodged British taxes for over 30 years through the offshore arrangement, but the British Prime Minister insists that neither he nor his wife and children received any benefit from the holding that maintained the Cameron family’s fortune.
Cameron Refutes Having Offshore Income After Panama Papers Leak
British Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn has called for an immediate investigation as to whether Cameron family wealth is still held in other offshore investments to the detriment of the British public. Corbyn denounced Cameron, saying "it’s not a private matter if tax has not paid so an investigation must take place."
Additionally, on Tuesday, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson offered his resignation after the leak implicated the country’s leader in using offshore shell companies to mask political kickbacks and other forms of corruption.
It was also revealed that some 200 US citizens were also implicated. The list includes Americans who have since been accused or convicted of serious financial crimes, including securities fraud and Ponzi schemes.
White Nationalist Robocalls for Trump in Wisconsin Cause Outrage
Perhaps the most telling Panama Papers revelation of the past 24 hours came not from the documents themselves, but from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server. In a series of emails revealed yesterday, in 2011 then-Secretary of State Clinton pushed the Panama Free Trade Agreement, despite warnings from watchdog groups that the agreement would exacerbate the growth of tax havens and increase money laundering activity.
That trade deal, opposed by her Democratic presidential opponent Bernie Sanders, was actively lobbied for by Clinton’s State Department administration and Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal. Interestingly, the list of implicated leaders reads like a who’s who of Clinton Global Initiative supporters, from the king of Saudi Arabia to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Additionally, the most heavily implicated Western financial institution in the Panama Papers, Deutsche Bank, paid Clinton $485,000 in speaking fees shortly after the trade deal was ratified.
Former NYC Mayor Accuses Hillary Clinton of Being 'Founding Member of Daesh'
In 2011, Secretary Clinton released a statement lauding the agreement from a non-corruption angle, stating that it "will make it easier for American companies to sell their products" and that the Obama Administration "is constantly working to deepen our economic engagement throughout the world, and these agreements are an example of that commitment."
On Tuesday, candidate Sanders blasted Clinton, saying that she "helped push the Panama Free Trade Agreement through Congress as Secretary of State and the results have been a disaster."
Η Αλβανική Κυβέρνηση συνεχίζει να κακοποιεί τους λατρευτικούς χώρους προκαλώντας το θρησκευτικό αίσθημα των Ορθοδόξων
Απριλίου 6, 2016 ΕΠΙΚΑΙΡΟΤΗΤΑ Σχολιάστε
Το Σάββατο 2 Απριλίου στο χωριό Βουνό της Χιμάρας, πραγματοποιήθηκε εκδήλωση στον προαύλιο χώρο του Ιερού Ναού Αγίου Σπυρίδωνα όπου με τυμπανοκρουσίες παρουσιάστηκε η «συντήρηση» του ναού, από τον πρωθυπουργό της χώρας κ. Έντι Ράμα.
Η αλβανική κυβέρνηση, ίσως επειδή είναι εγκλωβισμένη με «τα του Καίσαρος» βρήκε διέξοδο με «τα του θεού» προκαλώντας για μία ακόμα φορά το θρησκευτικό αίσθημα των κατοίκων της περιοχής. Οι επεμβάσεις στον Ιερό Ναό έγιναν χωρίς να ερωτηθεί η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία. Για τον λόγο αυτό δεν υπήρχε συμμετοχή πιστών στην εκδήλωση. Είναι πρωτοφανές να παρουσιάζεται ένα έργο που υποτίθεται ότι προφυλάσσει και αναδεικνύει την θρησκευτική παράδοση και να μην παρευρίσκεται ένας ιερέας.
Το θράσος τους είναι τέτοιο που λίγες ώρες πριν την εκδήλωση, τα τοπικά στελέχη του Σοσιαλιστικού Κόμματος παραπλανούσαν τον κόσμο λέγοντας πως θα παραβρεθεί σε αυτήν ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος. Ο λαός της Χιμάρας γύρισε την πλάτη στις μεθοδεύσεις τους και αναγκάστηκαν προκειμένου ο πρωθυπουργός να μην μιλάει μόνος του να επιστρατεύσουν ως κοινό τους δημοτικούς και κρατικούς υπαλλήλους και τους εργάτες που απασχολήθηκαν στην «αποκατάσταση»
Τέλος σημειώνουμε πως όλα αυτά συμβαίνουν ενώ ο ναός και τα κτίσματα της Ιεράς Μονής Αγίων Θεοδώρων παραμένουν με απόφαση της αλβανικής κυβέρνησης χωρίς σκεπή εδώ και δύο χρόνια με κίνδυνο να χαθούν για πάντα. Μετά την κατεδάφιση του Αγίου Αθανασίου στους Δρυμάδες, η αλβανική κυβέρνηση και ο δήμαρχος προχώρησαν σε άλλη μια πράξη που αγνοεί την τοπική κοινωνία σε συνέχεια της πολιτικής αλλοίωσης της εθνικής και πολιτιστικής μας κληρονομιάς.
Για μία ακόμη φορά η αλβανική κυβέρνηση μέσω του ίδιου του πρωθυπουργού Έντι Ράμα και ο δήμαρχος Χιμάρας Γιώργος Γκόρος, επιβεβαιώνουν την εχθρική τους στάση απέναντι στην ταυτότητα της Χιμάρας και τον πολιτισμό της.
Χιμάρα 04 Απριλίου 2016
Δ.Ε.Ε.Ε.Μ. «ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ» ΠΑΡΑΤΗΜΑ ΧΙΜΑΡΑΣ
Monday, April 4, 2016
© Sputnik/ Vladimir Ivanov
According to the statement of South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov, the possibility of a referendum was discussed during his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The referendum, which would allow the South Ossetian President to send Moscow an official request to join the Russian Federation, will be held in the near future, Tibilov said at a press conference on Monday.
"We discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and came to the conclusion that it is South Ossetia's domestic issue. This question needs legal framework and it is necessary to make amendments to the RSO constitution to implement it," Tibilov said.
Tibilov explained that the amendments to Article 10 of South Ossetia's constitution will give the President "the right to appeal to the Russian President" with a request to create a common organ to which South Ossetia would delegate its powers.
Russia Provides Int'l Court of Justice Materials on 2008 South Ossetia Conflict
"Thus we would free Russia from political risks that could occur in the event of direct entry," the politician explained.
According to Tibilov, the referendum is expected to be held in the near future in the next couple of months. It will be held "not in a year or two or even six months, but earlier," Tibilov said.
South Ossetia has the status of a partially recognized republic, which proclaimed its independence from Georgia in December 1991. The legal status of the region as an independent republic is recognized by five states — Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Tuvalu.
© Sputnik/ Eduard Pesov
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry held a phone talk Monday, expressing concern over the rising tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh and calling for an immediate resumption of the ceasefire regime, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
© Sputnik/ Asatur Esayants
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988, when the Armenian-dominated autonomous region sought to secede from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, before proclaiming independence after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. In September 2015, the conflict escalated, with the sides blaming each other for violating the truce.
"It was agreed that Russia, the United States and France — as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group — should step up their efforts in assisting in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Lavrov and Kerry condemned the attempts of certain 'external players' to fuel up the confrontation in Karabakh," the statement reads.
Source: Vecernje novosti, Tanjug
Immediately and without delay send international forces to that area "to prevent conflicts and take other measures to protect the Bosniak people in this part of Serbia," writes Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti.
The decision to invite UN force was "made under cover of night, on Saturday evening," said the article, adding it was taken during an extraordinary session of the "rump" BNV, considering that 17 councilors from the "For Bosniaks, Sandzak, and the Mufti" list did not attend. They claim they were not consulted about the items on the agenda.
According to a statement issued by the BNV, agreed on by Ugljanin's remaining 18 councilors, "the entire international community is urged to establish a special mission in order to prevent conflicts and stop the further intimidation and threats against Bosniaks, but also preventively stop a new wave of state terror, crimes and ethnic cleansing in Sandzak."
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told the newspaper that the request was nonsensical and that "no one in the world will react to it."
"Peace and stability in Serbia are not threatened. This is an obvious and big provocation aimed at triggering a destabilization of the country," he stated.
Another Bosniak politician from the region, Deputy Prime Minister Rasim Ljajic, said that Ugaljanin's request is "nothing new" and that the Serbian government "should not react."
"For 25 years Ugljanin has been asking for one and the same thing, and nothing will come of it. The man has remained trapped in the 1990s. The demands made no sense then, and even less now, and will end up in a trash can at the offices of the EU and the UN. If the government were to react to such nonsense it would have no time to deal with anything else," Ljajic told Vecernje Novosti.
As announced, the BNV has addressed the OSCE, the EU, and the Council of Europe - for the sake of "protecting Bosniaks who are a nation under threat discriminated against in Serbia," and whose position is "untenable."
Serbian Assembly's Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality chairman Meho Omerovic strongly condemned the request sent to the UN Security Council, which calls on this international body "to provide international forces to prevent conflicts and protect Bosniaks from of terror, repression and assimilation, and the Council Europe and the OSCE to establish a special observer mission in Sandzak, which is under the administration of Serbia."
"Ugljanin has in the crudest possible way abused the BNV, put it into the function of his sick desire to preserve a bit of some sort of power, at the cost of spreading fear. This insane call is only a confirmation that the man has lost all contact with reality. The rhetoric of representing the situation in Sandzak as a place ruled by terror, repression and assimilation is seriously sick, but also very dangerous," said Omerovic.
He added that Ugljanin is trying to spread fear in order to gain "some votes."
"If Bosniaks should be protected from someone, they should be protected precisely from Ugljanin. He is disgracing the institution of the BNV, using it for the most base and terrible spreading of lies, fear, of disturbing all citizens," said Omerovic.
Nikolia Apostolou, Bradley Secker and Victor Kotsev, Special for USA TODAY 12:43 p.m. EDT April 4, 2016
The migrants are being sent to Turkey as part of a controversial plan to curb the flow of refugees. USA TODAY
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Turkey announced that three boats carrying a total of 202 migrants landed in this western port city. They were put on buses and whisked to an unknown location, possibly to a refugee camp near the Bulgarian border or the town of Duzici near the Syrian border.
Merve Demirkan, a spokeswoman for the Turkish foreign ministry, said she was not authorized to reveal information about their destination.
Most of the migrants were non-Syrians, such as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, according to the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet. At the same time, 16 Syrian refugees from Turkey arrived by plane in Hanover, Germany, according to the German press agency, DPA.
That is in keeping with the EU-Turkey agreement, which stipulates that the EU will take in one legitimate asylum seeker from war-torn Syria currently in Turkey for each Syrian returned to Turkey. The political bloc does not consider asylum applications from people who want to settle in Europe for purely economic reasons to be legitimate.
The agreement will see the EU pay an additional $3 billion to Turkey for hosting refugees. An estimated 2.7 million Syrians fleeing their country's civil war are currently in neighboring Turkey, which has said it lacks resources to manage that many without EU aid.
Monday's operation started hours earlier than initially announced to avoid protesters. Before dawn, six buses entered the Moria detention center on Lesbos and loaded people to be deported — one policeman from Frontex, the European border agency, for every deportee.
A small group of people arrived to protest the EU-Turkey deal. "Turkey is not a safe country," said Natasha Tsangarides, one of the activists who came to the port. "They've already done deportations back to Afghanistan, and there were also reports of them even not letting Syrians back in."
About 2,900 migrants are currently detained on Lesbos, a short ferry ride from Turkey, and more than 2,700 have said they would apply for asylum. That means they cannot be deported until they have a hearing, a process that could take weeks.
Human rights groups have been critical of the EU-Turkey plan, saying Turkey cannot adequately care for them. "This is the first day of a very difficult time," Giorgos Kosmopoulos, the head of Amnesty International in Greece, told the Associated Press. "The EU is forging ahead with a dangerous deal."
More than 1 million people migrated to Europe last year, prompting a public backlash over concerns about security and strains on domestic resources. Those complaints led to the new agreement for handling the flow of migrants.
A total of 50,000 migrants are stranded in Greece, a convenient gateway to Europe, after several EU and Balkan countries closed their borders and blocked the migrants from traveling west and north. Only those who arrived in Greece after March 20 will be detained for deportation.
Manolis Chatzichalkias, who represents refugees in the detention camp detailed how one of his clients, a member of the oppressed Ajlaf Muslim minority in Pakistan, has not been told of his legal options.
“People inside the camp are given a paper that tells them their rights as detainees, but doesn't inform them of their right to apply for asylum,” said Chatzichalkias. “Pakistanis are definitely being misinformed on their right to claim asylum.” Chatzichalkias was told they either didn't have the right to apply for an asylum or that their applications would be turned down, because they are considered economic migrants, not people fleeing for personal safety.
The vetting process could take a long time since there currently are only eight workers handling asylum claims. Although the EU has promised to send people who specialize in asylum applications, only officers from Frontex and French riot police have arrived so far to keep migrant crowds orderly.
For the migrants trapped in Greece, frustration is rising. In the Lesbos town of Mytilini, an old military camp in an olive grove has been turned into the Moria detention center, where 2,900 migrants are being held in crowded conditions behind a barbed-wire fence. Even though the number of new arrivals has dropped from 1,000 to 300 a day, there still isn't enough space to put them all.
At the Moria camp, children play in the dirt and the gravel, while dozens of people form a long line under the hot sun to get their food. Shouting is constant as people jump the lines while others complain about the small portions. At night, dozens of people sleep in the open because there are not enough places in the tents and shelters for everyone to find a bed.
The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders have both warned that conditions in the Moria camp are deteriorating.
Still, the migrants keep coming. On a recent morning, a Greek coast guard vessel docking in Lesbos brought more than 150 people intercepted trying to cross from Turkey. Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Eritreans and a few Pakistanis were among those rescued.
A Syrian refugee, Selout Essa, 17, stepped off the vessel and asked, "Are we going to be arrested by the Greek police?"
Essa was taken on a police bus to the Moria detention center with her family and is still waiting. She doesn't know if she'll ever get to Germany, the family's destination.
“I want to go to Germany to be safe,” said Essa. “My mother is sick. Her blood pressure is very high and she needs medicine. You know, we can't find her medicine in Syria. We are afraid to be sent back to Turkey.”
Apostolou reported from Mytilini, Greece, and Kotsev from Istanbul. Contributing: Will Cummings and Kim Hjelmgaard.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Albanian private television station News 24 on Monday quoted Genci Daci as saying his brother Almir Daci had been killed in Syria. Genci Daci said he got the news in a phone call from Almir Daci's wife. It wasn't immediately clear how he was killed.
The 32-year-old Almir Daci, a former imam in the village of Leshnice, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital, Tirana, left Albania in 2013. He took his wife and two children with him.
Scores of Albanians are believed to have joined Islamic extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. Police said they couldn't confirm Daci's death.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
© AFP 2016/ JOHN MACDOUGALL
Right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is rapidly gaining popularity amid a deteriorating situation with refugees in Germany. The party is advocating for a stricter migration policy and proposes alternative, tough, ways to resolve the current crisis.
German AfD Party Accused of Stirring Xenophobia Over Anti-Mosque Proposal
The current migration crisis has overwhelmed Europe and Germany in particular, causing anti-Islam sentiments among Europeans and raising concerns about the continent's security.
The country's officials are looking for ways to resolve the refugee crisis and are trying to fight the rise of Islamophobia.
In an interview with RT, Hansjoerg Mueller, an official at the AfD's Bavarian branch, shared the way his party is seeking to resolve the current situation. The AfD was established in 2013 and has become notorious for its statements perceived by some as being of anti-refugee and anti-Islamic in nature.
"There has been no such case in the entire history when a large influx of people from other societies with different cultural values would not lead to a civil war," Mueller said.
"That's what we want to avoid. Our party believes that the best solution would be to close borders to refugees, while maintaining existing economic relations. Some people do not understand our position on this issue, in particular the German state media. However, we do not advocate for an end to economic cooperation," the politician added.
According to Mueller, most migrants coming to Europe are not refugees from the war-torn zones, but rather economic migrants in search of a better life.
"The vast majority of refugees coming to Germany aren't refugees, [they] have been living in refugee camps in Turkey [and] don't come from war areas. These people only seek a better life," Mueller argued.
The politician stressed that economic migrants and those who really needs help should be separated from each other and dealt with in a different way. He advocated for helping "real refugees" and restricting the inflow of those illegally entering the German border for economic reasons.
"Alternative for Germany is the only party that really cares about these people," Mueller said. "But in order to really help refugees we have to sort them out, bring in real refugees, care about them and feed them. But this is impossible if they're [confused] with economic immigrants," he added.
Mueller also stressed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's policy of open doors violates the country's constitution and the Dublin Convention.
"To protect the constitution, it is necessary to protect our borders. They are to be shut down, and those who illegally entered the country should be deported," Mueller concluded.
© AP Photo/ Oded Balilty
Two Turkish naval ships entered the port of Ukraine’s Odessa on Sunday, the press service of Ukraine’s Navy reported.
The Turkish Navy sent its TCG Salihreis and TCG Bartin frigates to the port of the Ukrainian city of Odessa under the framework of military cooperation between the two countries.
"Today, on April 3, two military ships of the Turkish Republic's naval forces, TCG Salihreis and TCG Bartin, came to Odessa. The two-day visit of the Turkish ships in the Ukrainian port is happening in accordance with the plan of activities on the international cooperation of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2016," a statement published on the Facebook account of the Ukrainian Navy said.
As of late, both Turkey and Ukraine have been actively pursuing bilateral cooperation, especially in terms of their military.
Just last month, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited Ankara to meet with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Strange Bedfellows: Turkish-Ukrainian Friendship Unlikely to Last Long
The US intelligence company Stratfor said the meeting between the two leaders was coming in "direct reference to Russia" with which both countries currently have very strained relations after the Turkish military shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria and the military conflict in Ukraine's Donbass.
Both Poroshenko and Erdogan condemned the reunification of Crimea with Russia and expressed their intent to "coordinate efforts to de-occupy Crimea," the National News Agency of Ukraine (Ukrinform) said.
"I and Mr. President [Erdogan] called for the joint efforts which will be focused on de-occupation of Crimea. To this end, we plan to unite efforts within the framework of international organizations as well as on the basis of new international formats," Poroshenko was quoted as saying.
The two countries also agreed to join their naval forces last year to strengthen regional security in the Black Sea.
Albanian Flag during pro Muslim protest, in Belgium.
Police detain a group of people at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Belgium, Saturday, April 2, 2016. Authorities had banned all marches in Brussels, after a far-right group announced its plans to hold an anti-Muslim rally in the city. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden
AP Photo/ Visar Kryeziu
The leak of a secret BND dossier on Hachim Thaci which reports that the newly-elected Kosovan President had links to a contract killer and was involved in the trafficking of people, arms and drugs is more confirmation that Western politicians have chosen to support Thaci in the knowledge of his criminal past.
Police officers look towards the Macedonian mountain village of Gosince from a police check point set near the northern Macedonian border with Kosovo. (File)
© AP PHOTO/ BORIS GRDANOSKI
Macedonia Interior Ministry Conducts Large-Scale Operation at Kosovo Border
Wikileaks has leaked a secret German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) dossier on Hachim Thaci that dates back to 2005, after the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader had served the first of his two terms in office as Kosovan Prime Minister.
The dossier reports that Thaci, who has recently been elected president of Kosovo, was one of the leaders of organized crime in Kosovo, and part of an international criminal network with involvement in contract killings and the trafficking of people, arms and drugs.
"Kosovo is a center of organized crime that supervises criminal activity across Europe," the BDN reports.
"Kosovo is divided into three zones of interest of organized crime – Drenica, Dukagjini (Metohija) and the north-eastern part of Kosovo around the river Lab, which are controlled by former KLA leaders. They are closely linked with the local government and Albanian politicians who also have influence in southern areas of Serbia and Macedonia."
"The Drenica region is controlled by the so-called Drenica group organized around Thaci Hashim, Haliti Xhavit and Selimi Rexhep. This group works closely with organized crime structures in Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic," the BND wrote.
The dossier reports that Hashim's Drenica group of criminals established their own security forces, with the direct support of the Czech and Albanian mafia in the Czech Republic.
'Mafia State': Washington Turns Blind Eye to Organized Crime in Kosovo
Kosovo's National Intelligence Service (SHIK) also engages in criminal activity, the BND wrote.
"SHIK came into being in its current form in the second half of 1999 in Pristina at the initiative of Thaci … the service engages in spying, intimidation and elimination of democratic forces (via professional killers), particularly the opponents of organized crime. There are well-organized SHIK branches in the Albanian diaspora," the BND writes, and goes on to name the leaders of the SHIK network in Germany.
The BND reveals that the Kosovan President-elect is suspected to have given orders to a contract killer called Bekimi, and has links to money laundering, fuel and cigarette smuggling through the Salbatring company in Pristina.
According to the agency's intelligence from 2003, he was involved with wide-scale arms and drugs smuggling through a criminal network in Hamburg.
"One of the biggest financiers of Thaci and the KLA during the war in Kosovo in 1999 and the war in Macedonia was a group of organized criminals centered around Mehmeti Nazar, who lives in Dallas, Texas," the BND wrote.
Another of Thaci's backers is Ekrem Lluka, who is a "known smuggler of all kinds of goods: weapons, cigarettes, fuel, trucks and appliances" and suspected of involvement in the financing of Islamic terrorist groups.
The existence of the decade-old BND dossier on Thaci is further evidence that western governments have supported Thaci's government of Kosovo, in which he has twice served as Prime Minister, in full knowledge of his links to organized crime.
Thaci, who is currently Kosovo's Foreign Minister, is due to be inaugurated as president of Kosovo on April 7 after a majority of Kosovo's parliament voted for his election. Among those who congratulated him on the election were the German ambassador Angelika Viets, and her counterparts from the US, UK, France and Italy.