Saturday, August 15, 2009

Macedonian Party May Ask Albania to Block NATO Bid

Skopje, 14 August 2009

Photo: The Leader of DAP Menduh Thaci

DPA leader Menduh ThaciAlbania should block Macedonia’s NATO accession if Skopje continues to neglect its large Albanian community, the head of an ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia says.
Menduh Thaci, the head of the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, told a Monday press conference that he considered asking Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha to block Macedonia's NATO membership bid during their meeting in Tirana last week.“I changed my mind, scared that he could misunderstand me”, Thaci told the media, “but I made up my mind to mention this to him the next time we meet”.

Thaci, whose party was previously part of the ruling coalition, now accuses his former coalition partner, the ruling centre-right VMRO-DPMNE, of promoting ethnocentric policies that favour the ethnic Macedonian majority.Albania and Macedonia were initially slated to receive an invitation to enter NATO in 2008, but Macedonia was left out due to Greece's unwillingess to allow its neighbour to enter the alliance while the countries' naming dispute remains unresolved.With the eighth anniversary of the Ohrid peace accord approaching, Thaci reiterated that he believes that stipulations therein concerning the promotion of the ethnic Albanian community's rights remain unfulfilled.

The accord ended the 2001 ethnic Albanian insurgency and ostensibly paved the way for biculturalism.“This agreement doesn’t function”, Thaci said, adding that a superseding deal should be created that would supplement the accord.Despite recent calls from the EU ambassador to the country, Erwan Fouere, that the DPA not boycott parliament, Thaci said that his party has already taken this decision and would not be participating in the legislature from next week “until this government falls”.

The DPA boycott will not harm the government's work since the party has only three deputies in the 120-seat parliament. However, observers are concerned that the move could harm the country’s EU accession process by ruining the impression that positive inter-party dialogues exist. This is one of the benchmarks that the EU requires of Macedonia.Thaci's critique comes only a couple of months before the European Commission publishes its annual report on the country’s reform progress this autumn. Skopje hopes the report will include a recommended date for the start of EU accession talks.Since Macedonia became an EU candidate in 2005, the EC has refused to recommend the start of the talks three years in a row, citing insufficient reforms.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ethnos, Greece: Skopje attacked over issue with Bulgaria

Photo: Spaska Mitrova, a bulgarian woman homogen, continues to be in arrest from Skopie authorities, some days ago. Sofie has declared that Skopie never will be joint in NATO Alliance and EU, if the bulgarian homogen will continue to persecuite in prison."
In Albania there are 5 himariotes with greek homogen nationality denied from albanian Tribunals under accuse of "Using greek nationalist symbols during a denostration in Himara Region", and 15 others are in process undwr accuses: "We need the greek policies to protect us and our families from albanian dictature".

While Sofie, makes veto for Skopie, Athens "very indiferent" for the human rights of the situation of the greeks in Northern Epirus.

12 August 2009 FOCUS News Agency

Athens. After the Bulgarians, Menduh Thaci too will demand that FYROM’s accession to NATO be halted but this time by Albania, the Greek newspaper Ethnos reports. The leader of the Democratic Part of Albanians (DPA) announced that over the next several days he would visit Sofia and meet with the new Bulgarian government headed by Boyko Borisov.

Thaci also stated he intended at his next meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha to request that the procedure for Skopje’s accession to the Alliance be blocked. In Thaci’s words his decision had been prompted by the policy adopted by FYROM’s government, which has caused the country’s isolation from its neighbours as well as permanent discrimination of Albanians in all spheres of life, Ethnos reports. Last week Thaci met with Berisha.

Even back then Thaci was considering whether to table the issue of blocking Macedonia’s accession but eventually changed his mind. DPA leader’s visit to Bulgaria has assumed special significance while the crisis between Skopje and Sofia has not yet been overcome, Ethnos reports.

The US Ambassador to Skopje too meddled in the case. Asked about Bulgaria’s threat to veto FORYM’s accession to NATO and the EU, he said that problems must be resolved in diplomatic manner. “The US continues to support the country in the procedure for full-fledged accession to NATO and the US” the Ambassador stated adding that Skopje must not create over nothing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Security News on the Region, The Greek-Turkish escalation on Aegean


Not too long ago we highlighted
the importance of abandoning the peculiar idiom of “Greek-Turkish rapprochement,” a linguistic contraption that is wholly of Greek manufacture, as part of purposefully re-defining symbolism in the battle against the Turkish threat. In this present phase of "no war, no peace" so deftly manipulated by our neighbors, words and gestures are almost as important as bullets. And effective symbolism remains a key weapon in parrying Turkish thrusts calculated to sow fear and anxiety among Greek "policy makers," who have delivered, over time, ample examples of hesitation, miscalculation, division, and confusion.
To remember Liddel Hart's apt words: "The profoundest truth of war is that the issue of battle is usually decided in the minds of the opposing commanders, not in the bodies of their men."
On August 6, the Greek Government took a fateful step in the field of symbolism. In a surprise move (which was not all that of a surprise to those who follow the affairs of the Ministry of Defense) it retired the chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Dimitrios Grapsas, and replaced him with Gen. Ioannis Yaghos, the chief of the Air Force General Staff.

The midsummer announcement of General Grapsas's (not so) abrupt departure immediately stirred intense political speculation. Some in the press claimed that the general was unceremoniously retired because he had become "too much of an irritation" to the Government with his allegedly "uncompromising" stance toward Turkey, a fact that was corroborated, journalists said, by a report, conveniently leaked to a weekly newspaper, that General Grapsas had approved the dispatch of commandos to bolster the defense of Greek island territories in the Aegean. In plain English, these reports claimed that General Grapsas was too much of a fighter for the tastes of a political leadership committed to not "provoking" Turkey by strengthening Greek defenses in light of the recent steep escalation of Turkish belligerence in the Aegean!

This interpretation has been of course strenuously denied by the Government. Let us though accept it, for a moment, as a working hypothesis; there is indeed enough undeniable precedent to suggest that this and previous governments are hardly proactive in shaping a national strategy based on true "deterrent punch" rather than furtive, almost phobic, diplomacy, not to mention the hollow and toothless recycling of "arguments" praising international law as Greece's greatest guarantee of not having to fight a shooting war with Turkey.

In any conflict, perceptions of strength and weakness of the opponent play a critical role in shaping one's strategy. The aim of manipulating threats of force in the pre-shooting stage of any confrontation is to encourage an adversary to adopt a concessions posture. Turkey, by constantly reminding Greece that coercive action is indeed likely if Turkish demands are not met satisfactorily, executes a classic maneuver based on exploiting the expressed aversion of the Greek adversary, re-confirmed almost daily, to even the notion of a resort to arms. This asymmetry defining the "no war, no peace" state of affairs between the two countries, even junior students of strategy will tell you, offers Turkey a robust advantage over what looks increasingly like a fearful and indecisive Greece.

If indeed we accept that this is the "operational environment" of the Turkish challenge to Greece, any Greek gesture that might appear the result of a conscious effort not to get the Turks "angry" is a disastrous step in the direction of a total concessions posture -- an alternative future Greek politicians swear they are working hard to avoid.

The implications of letting a man of General Grapsas's reported reputation go, in the middle of a major Turkish surge in the Aegean, shouldn't be too difficult to understand. To use an analogy from competitive team sports, this is an elementary point no professional coach dares ignore: you don't pull your fighters from the field when "aggressive defense" may be the only play called for under the developing circumstances of the game. Any such action would communicate to your opponent the unmistakable message that you have made your peace with the expectation of defeat.

"Stuff happens" as Donald Rumsfeld once memorably said. The Greek Government should keep these two words well in mind, along with the implicit warning they carry, when it apparently heeds the righteous indignation of Turkish mass media at the news that Greek commandos allegedly are sailing to protect Greek sovereign territories in the Aegean and, coincidentally, dismisses its chief of the joint chiefs of staff at the same time! Last we checked, such a reaction could be construed by even well meaning parties as the Greek Government's tacit acceptance of Turkey's license to dictate how Greek defenses are manned and when.

Greek politicians need to urgently return to the books to study Clausewitz's "grammar of war" in addition of course to the works of Thucydides. Since this is not a credible scenario, however, they should at least begin to absorb some of the more recent lessons of history. They should, for example, leaf through the chronicle of our own military campaign into Asia Minor in 1919-1922 and re-read the chapters on how cashiering able field commanders because of political motives accelerated the road to the gravest disaster of modern Hellenism.

There is always a wrong time for everything. The past is replete with the bleached bones of those who took the wrong turn, gave the wrong impressions, or persisted in ignoring very clear signals that their "measured" behavior had the exact opposite influence on potential foe bent on bringing harm to them. Gestures like what has just transpired at the top echelon of the Greek armed forces can profoundly undermine one's security narrative, with no credible hope of recovery. This is no time for dangerous experiments or dilettante performances for the benefit of one's own personal political aggrandizement or cultivating one's foreign "friends." Hopefully those at the helm realize this, although, sometimes, we seriously doubt it.

Albanians refuse meeting in organ removal probe

Mon Aug 10, 2009
By Benet Koleka

TIRANA, Aug 10 (Reuters) -
An Albanian family refused on Monday to meet a European human rights team investigating a Serbian allegation that Serb civilians had been kidnapped in Kosovo in 1999, taken to Albania and had organs removed.The Council of Europe team, accompanied by Albanian justice ministry officials, wanted to talk to the Katuci family about allegations that their house had been used as a makeshift clinic to harvest organs from Serbs abducted during the 1999 conflict between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Witnesses and television pictures from the village of Rripe in the north-central Mat region showed angry villagers blocking the visitors in a two-hour standoff.Dick Marty, the Swiss senator who is leading the inquiry by the Strasbourg-based Council, met Serbian and Albanian officials last week and was not present."We want the general prosecutor to come here, to allow them in. They have no documents," said Abdulla Katuci, 78. Women of his family shouted at the Albanian officials, saying they had no right to investigate for a second time.

Family members had previously said they had "never harmed anyone" and were eager to clear their name.U.N. investigators searched the Katuci house thoroughly in 2004 for evidence of organ harvesting. They found blood stains, gauze in the garbage area and, dug out from an area near the river flowing below the meadow, syringes.Villagers would not let them dig up graves in the local cemetery to exhume bodies, saying relatives were buried there, and the case was dropped for lack of evidence.

The allegations resurfaced last year in a book by Carla Del Ponte, the former chief United Nations prosecutor for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, who said there had been reports that some 300 Serbians held in Albania had had organs removed.Serbia then asked the Council of Europe to persuade Albania to allow a new investigation into the allegations -- which both Albania and Kosovo deny.Albanian prosecutors say the issue has already been investigated by local authorities amd U.N. war crimes tribunal investigators and proved untrue. (Editing by Tim Pearce)
The Albanisation of the names of Greek villages of Northern Epirus

«Αλβανοποιούνται» τα ονόματα των ελληνικών χωριών της Βορείου Ηπείρου

Ο Κώστας Καραμανλής βοήθησε τον Σαλί Μπερίσα να επανεκλεγεί πρωθυπουργόςκι αυτός τον «άδειασε»Στο ύπνο πιάστηκε, ως συνήθως, το υπουργείο ΕξωτερικώνΤΗΝ ΑΠOΦΑΣH ΤΟΥ ΝΑ ΠΡΟΒΕI ΣΤΗΝ ΑΛΛΑΓH των ελληνικών τοπωνυμίων στη Βόρεια Ηπειρο ανακοίνωσε στον αλβανικό Τύπο ο πρωθυπουργός της χώρας κ. Σαλί Μπερίσα, τρεις μήνες μετά την επίσκεψη του Ελληνα πρωθυπουργού κ Κώστα Καραμανλή στη γειτονική χώρα.

Συγκεκριμένα, ο κ. Σαλί Μπερίσα έκανε γνωστό ότι προτίθεται στο αμέσως επόμενο χρονικόδιάστημα να αλλάξει όλα τα ελληνικά τοπωνύμια πόλεων, κωμοπόλεων, χωριών και συνοικιών, αντικαθιστώντας τα με νέας «κοπής» αλβανικά! Σε αλβανικές εφημερίδες γράφτηκε ότι πρόκειται για μία από καιρό ειλημμένη απόφαση, η οποία ήρθε η ώρα να υλοποιηθεί, τώρα που ήδη έχει εξασφαλιστεί η υποστήριξη της Ελλάδας στην ευρωπαϊκή πορεία της Αλβανίας.Ηδη, η προαναγγελθείσα απόφασή του έχει προκαλέσει μεγάλη συζήτηση στην Αλβανία.
Από τα μέλη της κυβέρνησης, πάντως, ο μόνος που αντέδρασε είναι ο υπουργός Εξωτερικών τηςχώρας κ. Πασκάλ Μίλο.Στις δηλώσεις που έκανε για το θέμα είπε ότι η απόφαση του πρωθυπουργού είναι «γελοία» και επισήμανε ότι ο κ. Μπερίσα «γυρίζει το ρολόι της Ιστορίας πίσω». Συγκεκριμένα, δήλωσε: «Η απόφαση αυτή θυμίζει το δικτατορικό καθεστώς Χότζα, όταν εκατοντάδες χωριά είχαν αποκτήσει σοσιαλιστικές ονομασίες εν μια νυκτί».Σα να μην έφτανε αυτή η προκλητική και ανιστόρητη ενέργεια Μπερίσα, λίγες ημέρες νωρίτερα το υπουργικό συμβούλιο της Αλβανίας είχε απορρίψει και την αίτηση του Αρχιεπισκόπου Αναστάσιου και ελληνικών φορέων για την ίδρυση ιδιωτικού εκπαιδευτηρίου.
Το πρόσχημα που χρησιμοποίησε το συμβούλιο προκειμένου να ματαιώσει την πρωτοβουλία ήταν ότι το εκπαιδευτήριο θα είχε ως επωνυμία την ελληνική λέξη Logo (Λόγο).Οπως ήταν φυσικό, η απόρριψη του ονόματος «Logo» και της προς έγκριση άδειας για ελληνικό εκπαιδευτήριο έχει προκαλέσει έντονη ενόχληση στους ελληνικούς φορείς τηςΑλβανίας. Είναι μάλιστα χαρακτηριστική η απορία που εκφράζουν ομογενείς, πώς είναι δυνατόν να απορρίπτεται ένα εκπαιδευτικό ίδρυμα μόνο και μόνο επειδή έχει ελληνική λέξη στην επωνυμία του και την ίδια ώρα η ελληνικότατη λέξη «democracy» να χρησιμοποιείται στο όνομα της χώρας - Δημοκρατία της Αλβανίας (Democracy of Albania). Ι
σως θα έπρεπε, συμπληρώνουν δηκτικά οι ίδιοι, να εξαλειφθεί και από εκεί η ελληνική λέξη και μαζί με αυτή, πιθανώς, και η έννοιά της…Πρόσφατα, μάλιστα, είχε δημιουργηθεί παρόμοιο θέμα με τα τοπωνύμια, όταν το αλβανικό υπουργείο ΠΕΧΩΔΕ τοποθέτησε κατά παράβαση του νόμου όπως καταγγέλλουν οι κάτοικοι δίγλωσσες πινακίδες στις ελληνόφωνες περιοχές: στα αλβανικά και στα αγγλικά και όχι τρίγλωσσες, δηλαδή οι δύο προαναφερθείσες γλώσσες συν τα ελληνικά. Ο δήμαρχος Χιμάρας κ. Βασίλης Μπολάνος επενέβη και αφαίρεσε τις πινακίδες από την περιοχή του,καταγγέλλοντας το αλβανικό κράτος.
Λίγους μήνες μετά καταδικάστηκε για την πράξη του αυτή από τα αλβανικά δικαστήρια!
ΤΟΥΣ ΕΙΔΕ ΓΙΑ ΛΙΓΟ ΚΑΙ ΑΝΕΠΙΣΗΜΑΗ επίσκεψη Καραμανλή απογοήτευσε τη μειονότηταΤο σκληρό του πρόσωπο προς την ομογένεια δείχνει το αλβανικό κράτος τέσσερις μήνες μετά τα σφιχταγκαλιάσματα Καραμανλή - Μπερίσα στα Τίρανα. Ο κ. Κώστας Καραμανλής είχε επισκεφτεί τη γειτονική χώρα στα τέλη Απριλίου και είχε ανταλλάξει ευχές καλής γειτονίας με τον ομόλογό του κ. Σαλί Μπερίσα. Ο Καραμανλής είχε δηλώσει τότε ότι η ελληνική εθνική μειονότητα στην Αλβανία αποτελεί έναν ισχυρό δεσμό, ζωτικής σημασίας,μεταξύ των δύο χωρών.
Στοίδιο μήκος είχε κινηθεί και ο κ. Μπερίσα, ο οποίος είχε υποστηρίξει σε δηλώσεις μετά τη συνάντηση ότι η κυβέρνησή του εργάζεται για τη βελτίωση των συνθηκών διαβίωσής της μειονότητας, κάτι που όπως τόνισε χαρακτηριστικά θα συμβάλλει σημαντικά στην περαιτέρω σύσφιγξη των σχέσεων μεταξύ των δύο χωρών. Παρά τα μεγάλα λόγια, όμως, τέσσερις μήνες μετά η κυβέρνηση Μπερίσα κάνει στροφή 180 μοιρών και ανακοινώνει τις δύο αποφάσεις της αλλαγή ελληνικών τοπωνυμίων με αλβανικά και απαγόρευση της ίδρυσης ελληνικού εκπαιδευτηρίου από την Αρχιεπισκοπή που απαξιώνουν την ελληνική μειονότητα στην περιοχή.

Κατά την επίσκεψή του στην Αλβανία ο κ. Καραμανλής δέχτηκε μόνο ανεπίσημα εκπροσώπους της μειονότητας, και αυτό μόλις την τελευταία στιγμή στο ξενοδοχείο του.Σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες, η κίνησή του αυτή απογοήτευσε την πλειονότητα των ομογενών, οι οποίοι περίμεναν μια πιο θερμή επίσημη στήριξη. Πέραν τούτου, ο πρωθυπουργός δεν έκανε καμία αναφορά στα πραγματικά προβλήματα που αντιμετωπίζουν οι Ελληνες της Βορείου Ηπείρου, δεν έθεσε τα ζητήματα που απασχολούν τη μειονότητα στην κυβέρνηση Μπερίσα, ούτε άσκησε κανενός είδους πίεση έστω και προσχηματική για επίλυσή τους ως αντάλλαγμαστη στήριξη που αφειδώς παρέχει η Ελλάδα στην ενταξιακή πορεία της Αλβανίας. Αντίθετα, η κατάσταση που βιώνουν οι ομογενείς έχει παγιωθεί εδώ και χρόνια με... αρνητικό πρόσημο.