Friday, June 5, 2009

US Concerned Over Albania Poll

05 June 2009

John L WithersThe US ambassador in Tirana expressed concern on Thursday about the process of issuing voters new identity cards in order to cast ballots in June 28 parliamentary elections, which will be a crucial litmus test for Albania's EU aspirations.

About 760,000 of Albania's three million citizens do not have passports, and will be allowed to cast ballots in the upcoming elections only upon obtaining new identity cards. While the opposition says the process of issuing new identity cards ahead of the election is running out of time, the government says everything is going according to plan.“I cannot say how extensive these problems are but there are examples of them, particularly for people who live in smaller towns it is very important that these problems are solved as soon as possible to give them the possibility to apply for the ID cards,” Withers told a Friday press conference.

“These are the people that are most at risk, in my view, of disenfranchisement and that is a serious concern because one of the critical elements of any election that meets a universal international standard to be called free and fair is universal suffrage – that anyone who wishes to vote has the opportunity to vote, and that there are no barriers that would prevent that person from voting,” he added.

According to the Interior Ministry, out of a voter list of nearly 3.1 million, 1.2 million citizens have already applied for the new identity documents, while 696,311 had already been handed new IDs by Wednesday With Albania newly-promoted to NATO membership status and having filed for EU candidate status, the ballot is seen as a crucial test of the county's democratic credentials.

Albania will assist in the establishment of Kosovo Security Forces

Albania's ambassador to NATO, Artur Kuko during an official visit that is developing today in Pristina has guaranteed that Albania will provide its assistance in the establishment and formation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF).

"Albania will help Kosovo if the making available to some experts, as well as a financial support from the Trust Funds", has claimed Kuko. During the meeting held with members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Assembly of Kosovo, Albanian diplomat is regarded as something positive functioning of NATO through KFOR in the new state and has given his guarantee that Albania will raise the voice for NATO in Kosovo.
Newborn state peers into a hazy future

By Neil MacDonald

Newborn, the block letter monument to Kosovo’s independence, has lost its glossy sheen since it was installed in central Pristina 16 months ago. The signatures of citizens and well-wishers – scrawled in black marker over the yellow-painted sheet metal – now mingle with urban grime, shreds of kebab wrapper and the occasional flyer for an upcoming concert.

The 24m-long, 3m-high English word has become a familiar part of the untidy cityscape. Yet the new Balkan state, which declared independence on February 17 of last year, continues to struggle for international acceptance.

Report: Albania ID Process Problematic

Tirana 04 June 2009

Aplying for new IDA newly released monitoring report by the European Movement in Albania, EMA, funded by USAID, says that the process of distributing new identity documents to voters ahead of June 28 elections is problematic.

About 760,000 of Albania's three million citizens do not have passports, and will be allowed to cast ballots in the upcoming elections only upon obtaining a new identity card. According to EMA, the process, which started on January 12, has been marred by confusion due to government mishandling of the legal framework for the procedure. The report notes that the process lacks a well-placed public information campaign, which should have tackled the changes in the legal framework.

The report states that roughly 90 per cent of the people interviewed did not have enough information regarding reimbursement programs for socially vulnerable groups. The monitoring report looked at the situation of distributing new identity cards in the capital Tirana and the cities of Durres and Shkodra. With Albania newly promoted to NATO membership status and having filed for EU candidate status, the ballot is seen as a crucial test of the county's democratic credentials.

While the opposition says the process of issuing new identity cards ahead of the election is running out of time, the government says everything is going according to plan, describing opposition accusations as political hysteria.According to the Interior Ministry, out of a voter list of nearly 3.1 million, 1.2 million citizens have already applied for the new identity documents, while 696,311 had already been handed new IDs by Wednesday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


NATO, Russia ministers to meet on Corfu June 27

Photo: NATO`s Supreme Commander James Stavridis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The foreign ministers of NATO and Russia will meet in Greece on June 27, the first such high-level talks since Russia's war with Georgia last August, the Western military alliance said on Wednesday.

The two sides had aimed to hold the meeting in May, but Moscow postponed it after NATO expelled two Russian diplomats over a spying scandal. NATO froze normal contacts with Russia in protest at Russia's intervention in Georgia.

"There is agreement to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at foreign ministers' level on June 27 on Corfu," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai. "This is taking forward the decision by (NATO) ministers to reestablish contacts at the political level."
Appathurai said Corfu had been chosen as it would be the venue of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperration in Europe.

"This is a good chance to get Minister Lavrov and Clinton without interrupting the travel schedules too much," he said. NATO had said coordinating the schedules of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been an obstacle to rescheduling the meeting.

The work of the joint Russia-NATO Council was suspended after Russia's intervention in Georgia and the ministerial meeting will be the culmination of a gradual restoration in contacts.
NATO and Russia said last week that the mood between them had warmed, clearing the way for better cooperation on global security issues including piracy and Afghanistan.

NATO is particularly hopeful of greater cooperation on Afghanistan, where the 28-nation alliance has been struggling to contain a growing Islamist insurgency.

Note: Just after tow days of NATO-Russia meeting in Corfu, Albania is to hold politic elections. According to ODIR observatories team established in Tirana, the Albanian elections could bring serious consequences if Tirana continues to ignore free and Democratic elections.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PASOK Leader, Georges Papandreou raises the Northern Epirus issue

Papandreou meeting with representatives of homogeneous Voreioipeiroton

ATHENS 03/06/2009 "For us, it is obvious obligation of our state of the final restoration Northern epiriotas in Greece and, of course, the support of the Greek ethnic minority in the ancestral homes, with concrete measures which are committed," said the President of PASOK, George Papandreou, which met with representatives of homogeneous Voreioipeiroton.

Specifying by the steps the president of PASOK spoke of:

- Direct, non-discriminatory and transparent performance of citizenship to all nationals who are entitled.
- Consideration of all outstanding insurance homogeneous especially to receive a pension of OGA. - Prepare an integrated development plan and investment in regions where there is a strong Greek element, with an emphasis on social infrastructure, culture, the special network, water supply and support entrepreneurship.
- Effective protection of property of Voreioipeiroton.
- Promotion of education by constructing school buildings, production of school books to teach children and the history and culture, and geography.

"Our commitment is to create opportunities of study in Greek universities and the educational and economic support of Greek education in Albania", added Mr. Papandreou. The President of PASOK stated to family ties with the continent, while also mentioned in the policies of the PASOK government for Northern Epirus. "We started the process of naturalization Voreioipeiroton, but also regulate the issue of military service. When tried in 2003 to deliver the performance of Greek nationality, had the strong opposition of the Southwest. And if by late 2003, it was because, as know very well, there was much debate around the issue of dual citizenship.

But, immediately, and as opposition tabled two Bills, supporting your request along with forcing the government to adopt the request for the award of citizenship. Why has different between PASOK and New Democracy ", said Mr. Papandreou. The President of PASOK criticized the government that "where refused citizenship, converted the right of naturalization, a customer relationship, and acting selectively and slowly.

Attempts, namely, to keep Northern Epirus to ransom." "We say it is your right to have citizenship. It is an issue that should be resolved transparently, to be paid immediately and without any bureaucratic or other rousfetologiki delay," said the president of PASOK.

Mr. Papandreou expressed his complete opposition PASOK in the "absence of position on the south-west of ethnic persecution and the" silence "for the firm, a conviction in absentia to imprisonment of five multi-homogeneous, and the condemnation of the president of Omonia, the Mayor Himaras, Mr Bolanou. " "The PASOK, from the early'90s, and worked systematically to improve bilateral relations with Albania and the rapprochement with the EU and we will continue to do everything but the obligation of Albania to fulfills the requirements of the EU conditions relating to human rights, particularly rights that the Greek minority in Albania "said Mr. Papandreou.

"We want Greece to be protagonist next days, for the integration of Western Balkans into the EU requires of course to fulfill the conditions of these countries respect the rules, human rights, but requires on the other hand, and the EU to invest in this region of the Western Balkans, to help them reach a better level for joining the EU ", said Mr. Papandreou, criticizing the government for lack of this effort. The President of PASOK stated in the end of the social democrats in Greece and Europe, and the five national priorities which will go "people a PASOK government. RHP.
Bolanos Bile (Greece - Albania)

By Dean Kalimniou

Australian Macedonian Advisory Council
June 03, 2009

His Honour, the Mayor of Cheimarra Vasilis Bolanos, is currently languishing in prison. Some people have called him a criminal. I on the other hand, believe that he is the most stalwart Hellene I have ever had the privilege to meet. A cursory glance of any given year's batch of Diatribes will reveal as least one or two references to him. Vasilis Bolanos is the mayor of a historically Greek region that successive Albanian governments have deemed fit to keep out of the recognized "Greek minority zone."

As a result, the Greek character of the majority of the inhabitants of the region is denied to them and they cannot enjoy the basic privilege of education in their mother tongue, or even the basic human right of being able to determine their own ethnic identity. Despite this non-recognition, successive Albanian governments have had to deal with the election of an ethnic Greek mayor over successive elections. This is somewhat embarrassing as it is difficult to explain why an ethnic Greek would be continuously re-elected in a region that is supposed to be non-Greek.

Over the years, various Albanian groups have: beaten up and stabbed voters, stolen ballot boxes, engaged in blackmail and resorted to the Courts in order to have elections that Vasilis Bolanos had won, invalid. Despite all this, Vasilis Bolanos gets re-elected every time.I will never forget driving with him through the village of Shen Vasilj, (Άγιος Βασίλειος), formerly inhabited exclusively by ethnic Greeks. As we struggled to negotiate the tortuous, pot-holed road, we came upon a desolate square, bordered all around by drab yellowing stone walls.

On the far wall, in red ink, this slogan slashed its way across the brick-work: «ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ ΣΤΟΥΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ.» I looked at the ruddy complexioned Bolanos out of the corner of his eye. His jaw had tightened, his lips had pursed so that I could see small rivulets of veins appearing at the corners of his mouth. Then with a twinkle of this eyes, he quipped: "Yeah, well now I think you know what these people's attitude is to Greek package tours.".................continues......

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Pros and Cons of the Albanian Parliamentary Elections

The Parliamentary Elections of June 28 will decide much about the future of Albania. The Democratic Party and the Socialist Party will seek to win the majority of the electorate votes. The new electoral system adopted in December 2008 will make it difficult for a single Party to form the government. The small parties like L.S.I. or the newly-formed G99 will decide who will create the government.

Those are both Left Parties but their willingness to collaborate with the Socialist Party if it wins the election will depend on the offers they'll receive to be part of the government. The pre-election polls conducted by Zogby International and the "Gani Bobi" Institute in Pristina show the results being very close. The final result will depend on how the undecided electorate will vote.

The Democratic Party governing Albania hopes to win its second consecutive mandate. In the last four years a lot has changed in Albania. Not even the parliamentary opposition can deny it. In April the country was accepted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The reforms undertaken in Albania during the democratic government has been praised by a lot of high officials in the European Union and United States.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Albania, Kosovo prime ministers inaugurate highway

The prime ministers of Albania and Kosovo inaugurated Sunday the first highway link through northern Albania's rugged mountains, nearly two decades after the fall of communism in Albania.
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha met his counterpart from Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, at the last tunnel dug along the 164-mile (265-kilometer) road. The meeting was seen as a step toward stronger ties between ethnic Albanians on both sides of the border.

Several thousand people marked the event by dancing to traditional music and waving Albanian, Kosovan and American flags. "Today we have decided that there are no mountains, no obstacles, there is nothing that spiritually or physically stops this nation," Berisha told the crowd.
But according to Albanian opposite the inauguration of highway link Pristina - Tirana is the biggest corruption of Berisha government.

Anyway for the Albanians in Kosovo, FYROM and diaspora, the inauguration of highway is finally the aspiration of Greater Albania, that unites the Albanian lands on the Balkans.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Albanian Parties Launch

Sali BerishaAlbania’s main political parties officially kicked off their electoral campaigns on Thursday, beginning the countdown for June 28 elections - a key vote for the country's EU aspirations.

In a rally at the University of Tirana campus, where two decades ago students launched a series of protests that would spell the end of Albania’s communist regime, Socialist leader Edi Rama called on Albanians to vote for change on June 28.

“I call on you to take part in the change of the country with your vote, a change that goes beyond the left and the right,” Rama said, addressing a crowd of opposition supporters. “I call upon all that want new politics, better schools, more work, more infrastructure and a better quality of life to turn the page of history,” he added.

Rama's arch rival, Prime Minister Sali Berisha, launched his campaign by promising a gathering of women greater representation in the government. “The next four years will be the years of the development of the country,” said Berisha. “During my new mandate I will draft a legal framework to support women in opening businesses, increasing their access to labor and the highest echelons of the administration,” he added.

Since the collapse of Albania's communist regime, elections have been marred by irregularities and vote-rigging, hampering the country's European Union integration. As such, many observers view the June 28 ballot as an opportunity for the Albanian political classes to improve their image and demonstrate their legitimacy.