Saturday, May 31, 2008

Balkans are no longer a hotbed of crime, UN report says

"Albania has the worst crime problem in the region and remains the "soft underbelly" of the Balkans for organized crime", Costa said.

Published: May 29, 2008
BELGRADE: The Balkans, once known as a hotbed of crime and violence amid wars in Yugoslavia and the transition from communism, have become one of the safest areas in Europe, a United Nations report said Thursday.

But organized crime and its links to politicians and business continue to pose serious challenges in several Balkan countries, said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which compiled the report.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)
Greeks in Albania: Language Issues Land Mayor In Trouble

Saturday, 31 May 2008

The actions of a mayor attempting to highlight the marginalization of Greek language by removing Albanian road signs has landed him in trouble with Tirana. Below is an article published by BalkanInsight:
An ethnic Greek mayor in Albania has been indicted after he ordered the destruction of road signs because they were not bilingual. Mayor Vasil Bollano from the town of Himara on Albania’s coast, ordered the removal of the signs in December 2007 arguing that the signs should have also been in Greek, because he considers the area a Greek minority zone.

The removal of the signs caused road chaos because they were along a section of Albania’s coast which is very popular with tourists. Prosecutors have filed charges against Bollano for abuse of power, arguing that his actions were against the law and cost Albanian taxpayers roughly €170,000.

Bollano’s statements have got him in hot water before. He previously declared large swathes of southern Albania are Greek land and claimed autonomy for the area. Estimates of the Greek minority in Albania range from three to seven percent of the total population.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ethnic Greek mayor charged over removing road signs
Thu 29 May 2008, 15:34 GMT

By Benet Koleka
TIRANA (Reuters) - An ethnic Greek mayor in Albania has been charged for removing road signs in his area and demanding they include Greek place names, officials said on Thursday. Sokol Malaj, the lead regional prosecutor, said Vasil Bollano had overstepped his authority and his actions disrupted traffic on a roughly 60-km (40-mile) stretch of road.

"Mr. Bollano has the right to manage the road inside his municipality, but not beyond. He issued an illegal order and damaged the signs," Malaj told Reuters by phone. The signs were written in English. "My witnesses say he told them the signs would be put back only if they are written in Greek," Malaj added. "Someone visiting the area for the first time wouldn't know where to go."
The indictment issued by the prosecutor requested for the mayor to be tried on charges of abuse of office.

Bollano is on his third term as mayor of the western Himara region, an ethnically mixed area stretching over the southern half of Albania's coastline across from the Greek island of Corfu.
Bollano has come to symbolize the push for more rights for Albania's ethnic Greeks, especially the use of their language. The large Himara region is mixed, with Albanian and Greek-speaking villages next to each other among rolling hills and olive groves.

Bollano told Reuters the signs bearing the words "Himara Municipality" and the emblems of the European Union and Albania, had been put up without his knowledge and in breach of the law.
"The language was not the issue, the official rules and competences were the issue," he said. "The signs were also written in English, and they could well be written in Greek. It is the municipality council that has to decide about it."

Albania warming to nuclear power

By Svetlana Kovalyova - Reuters
MILAN - Albania wants to develop nuclear power generation and is ready to invite Italians to build a nuclear plant on its soil, Albania's Prime Minister Sali Berisha told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. «Our country is open to atomic energy. It is open to everyone,» Berisha said in an interview published yesterday. Berisha said Albania was still working with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the necessary regulatory work to start nuclear power generation.

«As soon as we are ready, it would be ideal to reach an agreement with neighboring countries, first of all with Italy,» Berisha said. Tirana would offer Italy a deal to build a nuclear plant in Albania financed by the two governments. If state funds were not to be available, Tirana would turn to private investors, he said. Berisha said his government has yet to contact Rome, but an Italian group which he did not name had already visited Albania to discuss building a nuclear plant there. The site is yet to be determined, he added.

Italy is the only Group of Eight industrialized nation without nuclear power after rejecting it in a 1987 referendum in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. But calls for a nuclear revival have intensified under the new government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as oil prices soared to record highs. «I have not yet talked to the Italian government, because the previous one was against nuclear power. But with Berlusconi everything changes,» Berisha said.

Albania to Open Embassies in Estonia, Norway and PortugalBalkan Travellers

29 May 2008 The Albanian government has said it intends to open three new diplomatic missions in Estonia, Norway and Portugal, national media reported today. The need for opening the new embassies stems from the improvement of Albania’s relations and the intensification of its economic ties with the three countries, as well as the support they gave to Albania in its European integration, Lulzim Basha, Albania’s Foreign Minister explained.

His decision has been opposed by the Finance Mininster, Ridvan Bode, who suggested that embassies in neighboring countries continue to share the workload, in order not to increase public spending.According to the official website of Albania’s Foreign Ministry, the country currently has a total of 46 diplomatic missions in states and international organizations around the world. Albania has embassies and consulates in all the Balkan countries, except for Bosnia and Herzgovina, and in 14 Western and Central European states.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Photo: Greek American Boston Parade 2008.

The Parliament calls PM Berisha to resign Bollano and Ksera.

Some member of Albanian Parliament denounced today the “anti Albanian rhetoric” used not only by Mayor of Himara Vassilis Bollanos but also Argjirokastra Prefect Spiro Ksera.

The rise of attacks targets to the tow important high represent of Greek Ethnic Minority of Albania, the Chairman Bollanos and V/Chairman Ksera, under accuse of penal arrest against Albanian Constitution, understands the beginning start to the last politically offensive to block any geopolitically request based to the Human Rights of Greek Minority. The parliamentary member Arta Dade former F/Minister of Socialist Party, Pellumb Xhufi former V/Minister and represent of Movement Integration Socialist Group and Blerim Cela high represent of Democratic Party of Sali Berisha, called to arrest all persons beginning from Bollano to Ksera and others.

The member of Albanian parliament accused high represents of Hellenism in Albania as protagonists who want to create geopoliticaly problems between Albania and Greece for “Protocol of Corfu of 1914”. This protocol is firmed in May 17, 1914 in Island Corfu, under the represent of great powers with participation of Albanian, who decided to give large autonomy the Greeks of Albania.

According to “Gazeta Shqiptare” an Italian independent media very aggressive against Hellenism in Albania, in the anti Albanian rhetoric figures with authority, includes the Mayor of Argirocaster and chairman of Socialist Party Flamur Bine, who accuses by the newspaper as linked with northern epiriotes represent in Greece.

In addition the newspaper “Shekulli” writes for the decision of Vlora`s Persecutor to arrest Vassilis Bollanos. The offensive of Albanian media supported by Albanian institutions is accompanying as “last final act of strategy goals” to attack the Greek Minority by Albanian nationalist segments, obligating the high represent of Albanian State, to take strong measures shutting firstly politically represent of Hellenism in Albania, Himara and Argjirokaster.

According to publicist Fatos Lubonja one of tentative to arrest Vassilis Bollanos is the objective to conquest Ionian Coast territories by Albanian Mafia linked politically by Tirana.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The most known publicist of Albania Fatos Lubonja, ex politic prisoner during Dictator Regime, under the title “The last massacre against Southern” comments on “Korrieri” Newspaper for e mafia plan against Himara Region and Ionian Coast line, to conquest land and proprieties of Himara people under the “Macro Developments Projects of Albania Tourism Strategy”.

Lubonja refers a TV debate with presence of Tourism Minister of Albania Ylli Pango and the Director of World Bank Project for Ionian Coast Jamarber Maltezi (son in law of Prime Minister Berisha) who declared for developments of Ionian Coast constructing “Tourist Villages” on the lands of Himara peoples.

Lubonja comments that the attacks against the Mayor of Himara Vassilis Bollanos and the Greek minority of this zone made by Albanian media linked with politic mafia which are exactly the idea to ocupet lands and to construct “tourist perandory” under the developing tourist villages such are Kakomea and Draleas..

Lubonja comments also the last visit of the Albanian president Bamir Topi in Himara who expressed his opinion to develop the Himara Region which “has remained backwardness since 1950” but in fact according to Lubonja tell us a strategy to change the vaw from ethnic historic characteristic villages with beautiful beaches of Himara Region to the massive building construction such is the Durresi, Saranda and Shengini Region.

“It is the conflict of the owner properties and panic of (Greek) minority to be occupied from incoming from all the other regions (of Albania) together with the small dangerous street that which have saved from (ecologic) massacre the rest virgin region of South Albania. I’m afraid the (whispering) campaign, even the attacks against the “Greek Bollano” could be effort to bear down the last obstacles for beginning of the massacre” notes Fatos Lubonja on his comment.

original in albanian:
Albania Insists on EU Visa Regime Liberalisation
27 May 2008 The speaker of the Albanian Parliament, Jozefina Topalli, insisted that the EU liberalise its visa requirements towards Albanian citizens at a conference on the perspectives before South-eastern Europe that took place in Brussels recently, national media reported today.

The Albanian government is aware of its commitments, Topalli said at the conference, according to the daily Albanian newspaper Koha Jone, but using double standards towards various countries regarding the visa regime is not right. Topalli also claimed that the inability of Albanian citizens to move freely around the EU is causing them serious problems, which is why Albania will continue to negotiate the full liberalisation of the visa regime.

EU in an initiative to ease the visa restrictions for the Western Balkan countries, the EU has already started a dialogue with Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania. Though all the countries are expected to fulfil certain criteria, such as document security and tackling organised crime and corruption before the restrictions are completely dropped, some benefits have been enjoyed by Albanian citizens since the beginning of the year: Some categories of visa applicants, such as students, cultural workers and journalists now go through a facilitated process and the fee to obtain the travel permit was lowered.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Greek FM criticises 'baseless irredentism'

Greece reacted immediately on Sunday to the latest provocation emanating from a high-profile official from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), with the foreign minister referring directly to "outdated and historically baseless irredentism", in reference to statements in Rome by the head of the unrecognised so-called "Macedonian Orthodox Church".

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said such irredentist statements are dangerous for "regional cooperation and stability in the fragile region of the Balkans".