Saturday, January 9, 2010

Greek PM condemns terrorist attack outside Parliament building

Democracy can not be terrorized, Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Saturday evening, shortly after an unprecedented terrorist bomb attack occurred outside the Greek Parliament building in central Athens.

There were no injuries in the blast, which only caused minor damage, mainly broken windows. The home-made time bomb was reportedly placed in a dustbin only 30 meters from the Parliament building, and went off around 8 p.m. local time.

Police evacuated the area around Syntagma Square in 15 minutes, after an unidentified man made a warning phone call to a local newspaper.
It was the first time a guerrilla group targeted the Greek Parliament, located in one of the best guarded areas of the Greek capital.

As the Greek premier issued the laconic statement from his office inside the Parliament, Protection of Citizen Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis rushed to the scene. The minister observed that apparently the terrorists did not intend to cause casualties this time, but only meant to cause panic and terror.

"But we are not afraid and we don't get terrorized," Chrisohoidis said. "I assure you that the perpetrators will get arrested, as they deserve it."
Counterterrorist experts analyzed evidence gathered from what was left from the explosive device and footage from surveillance cameras, in an attempt to identify the terrorists. They believe that this attack was meant to be mostly symbolic.

Greek far Left groups have stepped up attacks since December 2008, after the fatal shooting of a teenager by police fire, and have threatened with more attacks against political and financial targets in the future.
Police were on alert in the past few weeks, because on Jan. 12 the socialist new government, which has promised a tough antiterrorist policy, celebrates its first 100 days in office.

On Dec. 27 there had been another terrorist attack at the offices of a Greek insurance company on a main Athens avenue, which caused severe damage to the building.

In that case police had also received a warning phone call a few minutes before the blast, and evacuated a full-packed cinema next to the offices.
A guerrilla group called "Conspiracy of Nuclei of Fire-Nihilists Sect" claimed responsibility for that attack, and counterterrorist experts believe that the same group is responsible for the attack outside the Parliament.

Bomb in the Greek parliament

January 9, 2010, 20:01

At 19:59 just exploded a bomb, which was placed in a dustbin in front of Parliament, above the Unknown Soldier.

This followed a warning telephone call at 19:45 in Eleftherotypia newspaper. The stranger who has telephoned 17 minutes time limit for detonation, the explosive device, however, exploded in 15 minutes.

Early reports indicate that the bomb was triggered by clock mechanism.

According to information from the Ministry of Protection of the Citizen, the leadership of Police considered fortunate that no injuries or casualties.

more in greek;

Seven NATO countries to help Albania

Seven member countries of NATO will bring aid to Albania, which is submerged in its northwestern part. Two neighboring countries, Italy and Greece have offered greater assistance. Italy launches today two helicopters to Albania with a capacity of 47 ACH type transport 37 troops. Likewise, 12 trucks, pumps, boats, tents, generators, food, medicines and clothing.

While Greece has begun to Albania two firemen teams with a staff of 29 persons, 4 cars, together with equipment, 2 boats with motor, powerful pumps 7. They will be accompanied all the way to Shkodra by a team of firemen's station of Gjirokastra and a police patrol road.

According to Ministry of Interior, other countries of NATO have offered assistance. France - 12 pumps and generators 8. "Slovenia, 13 generators (GNR), Austria, 8 generators, Moldova, food and medicines.

NATO helped Albania after he made the request inter-ministerial committee, which specified the aids needed our country. "Continue contacts with other countries to provide assistance mainly in equipment", makes known the Ministry of Interior.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Albania asks EU for flood assistance

BRUSSELS, Albania has requested the activation of a European civil assistance program to deal with flooding from heavy rains and melting snow, authorities said.

A state of emergency was declared Saturday in northern Albania, where 2,200 buildings were flooded and hundreds of families evacuated, the European Commission said in a release Friday.

The European Civil Protections Mechanism, which pools the civil assistance capacities of member states, was activated late Thursday, the commission said.

Albania has requested boats and helicopters for evacuations, along with water pumps, power generators, food and medicines for those in evacuation centers.

A team of civil protection and flood assessment experts was expected to arrive in Albania late Friday, the commission said.

The flooding is expected to worsen in the coming days, it said.

Afghanistan is not Vietnam (Albania)

If President Obama learns from Britain’s mistakes in 1943 with Albania and meets Afghan warriors on their terms, the United States can end the war and win the peace in Afghanistan, honorably

But it is a lot like Albania.

About 70 years ago, Albania – a small, mountainous country in the Balkans, was still populated by numerous “fanatical” warrior tribesmen. During World War II, Germany occupied this land. Given the strategic importance of the Balkans, the Allies, led by the British, sent in covert operatives to try to organize an indigenous Albanian resistance.

These Allied operatives were unable to think like tribal warriors and that is why they failed. If President Obama learns from Britain’s mistakes and meets Afghan warriors on their terms, the United States can end the war and win the peace in Afghanistan, honorably.

Albanian tribal culture was, and still is, founded on kinship. Loyalty was rendered, first and foremost, to family and tribe.

In 1943, the nation of Albania was scarcely 30 years old and tribesmen felt little or no loyalty to the state, which they believed was corrupt. On top of that, Albanian tribal culture was a feuding culture. Some tribes were friendly while others were sworn enemies.

This created an ever-shifting, almost incomprehensible network of tribal coalitions and factions, much akin to that in Afghanistan. As one Allied officer noted, “To spend hours trying to make an Albanian see the British point of view is a waste of time; the only possible method is to persuade him that some project desired by you is desirable from his point of view as well.”

In the end, the Albanians were not persuaded. The costs were high: At least 14 Allied operatives and untold numbers of Albanians died and tons of equipment were lost. By 1945, the Germans had departed, leaving Albania in the hands of a ruthless Communist dictator, Enver Hoxha.

It doesn’t have to end similarly in Afghanistan.

What was true for Albanian tribesmen in 1943 is true for Afghan tribesmen in 2010; they will act first in their own self-interest and that of their family and tribe. Their primary loyalty is not to a government or ideology. It appears that Mr. Obama and his military commanders understand that. But the lessons of the Allied failure in Albania go deeper.

The first lesson: Traditional Albanians depend on a centuries-old system of customary law called the Code of Lekë, which is based on the concept of honor – ndera. The Afghan equivalent is nang. An Albanian warrior would rather die than dishonor himself and his family, and Afghan warriors are no different.

This made things very difficult for British operatives, who could not convince Albanians to act dishonorably – to betray family or friends who worked for the Germans, for example – and no amount of money or shame could sway them. Likewise, American soldiers must take seriously the Afghan customary law code, the Pashtunwali. In every joint action we take, in every negotiation, honor is at risk, and without honor an Afghan, just like an Albanian, is nothing....

more see:

Girl beats boys to pluck cross from water

TIRANA (Reuters) - A 16-year-old Albanian girl broke with tradition by retrieving a cross from the bottom of a wintry Ionian Sea ahead of a dozen boys and men diving for it as part of a male-only Orthodox ceremony.

Katerina Munguli plunged several meters to pick up the metal cross on Wednesday to the surprise and delight of the crowd and the priests near the pier of Kakome Bay, which faces Greece's holiday island of Corfu, an official said.

"It was a cold day and she competed with several boys and men. The cross was metallic and it went down to the bottom, quite several meters down," Vladimir Kumi, the chairman of the local council, who co-organized the ceremony, said by telephone.

"We were all happy a girl got it. She is the youngest of four sisters and behaves a bit like a boy," he added.

The council awarded her a prize of 10,000 leks (80 euros) and the priests gave her an extra prize, Kumi said.

Diving for the cross is done in several Orthodox countries to mark Theophany, also known as Epiphany, a Christian feast day in January. In Greece, women began to take part several years ago, but in Albania, Munguli was the first female reported to have joined in.

Religious practice was banned by Albania's communist regime in 1967 and allowed again in 1990 after communism was toppled. Major religious ceremonies are now popular among Albanians, who are mainly Muslim, although regular worship is less common.

In Albanian cities, traditional gender roles are changing, but in the countryside women are largely confined to domestic tasks.

High Council of Albanian Justice, removes immunity of judge from North Epirus, Thoma Nika

A paradox??? Three judges in Vlora with old Greek origin, are without immunity.

High Council of Justice in an emergency meeting behind closed doors, has revoked the immunity of judge Thoma Nika. Nika exercising the profession of judge in Vlora. Thoma Nika is the fourth judge to the Supreme Council of Justice removes immunity.Collection of KLD's was led by deputy Kreshnik Spahiu.

It is interesting fact that the High Council of Justice of the country led by President Bamir Topi, has also punished three other judges from the Court of Vlora, originating from North Epirus.

Analysts expect that this action continues to provoke great indignation in courts and prosecution of the Province, especially the political penalties that have taken to the Chairman of Omonia and Municipality of Himara Vassilios Bollanos.
Tadić's office denies there was "agreement"
8 January 2010 | 09:25 | Source: FoNet, Beta
BELGRADE -- President Boris Tadič did not reach any agreement with the temporary institutions of Kosovo regarding his stay during Christmas in the monastery of Dečani.

This is according to a statement late on Thursday from the president's press service.

Tadić's cabinet stressed that the president informed only the EU high representative for foreign policy's personal representative about his trip to Kosovo.

According to an RFE report, a Kosovo Albanian official said in Priština yesterday that Tadić "broke an agreement and made political statements".

KFOR commander in Serb monastery
8 January 2010 | 11:06 | Source: Tanjug
DEČANI -- KFOR Commander Markus Bentler on Thursday visited the Serb Orthodox monastery of Visoki Dečani one hour after President Boris Tadić left.

A protest organized over Tadić's visit by ethnic Albanians in the village of Dečani was an isolated case and that KFOR was capable of maintaining security in Kosovo, the German general told Tanjug news agency.

"I said this in my New Year message, and I am saying this again now. The situation is peaceful and stable. There are always people in Kosovo who make strong statements, who demonstrate and try to block roads, and compared to the total population, their number is very small," Bentler said.

A group of about a hundred ethnic Albanians blocked the road leading from Dečani village to the 14th century Serb monastery for several hours on Wednesday, shouting "UCK" (Albanian for the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA) and "Tadić get out".

KFOR's Italian troops who guard the monastery stepped up security due to the protest, reports said.

Bosnia Protests Israeli Al Qaeda Claims

Sarajevo | 08 January 2010 |
Bosnian FM Sven Alkalaj
Bosnian FM Sven Alkalaj

Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj had a phone conversation with Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman to voice his protest against his statement that al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups were trying to set up bases in the Balkans.

Alkalaj called Liberman to protest against his statement implying that Bosnia was fertile ground for the recruitment of terrorists, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Alkalaj stressed that such statements are unfounded and are harming our country’s international reputation,” the statement said.

During the phone conversation, Alkalaj stressed that Bosnia was committed to fighting terrorism and that Bosnian and international intelligence and security agencies did not have any evidence of terrorists training or recruiting in the country.

Alkalaj instructed Bosnia's ambassador in Tel Aviv to request a meeting with the Israeli Foreign Ministry to discuss the case further, the statement added.

After meeting his Macedonian counterpart in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Balkan nations would be the next target of the global jihad network.

Liberman said that intelligence gathered by agencies around the world showed that Islamist terrorist organisations were already recruiting members and seting up cells in the Balkans, adding that Islamic and Saudy charities were chanelling funds to Muslims of Bosnian and Albanian origin.

Albania: Whole villages in North flooded

08. January 2010.

The Albanian Government could declare a state of emergency as early as this afternoon in the north-west of the country, where entire villages are now flooded, said President Sali Berisha.

The Albanian Government could declare a state of emergency as early as this afternoon in the north-west of the country, where entire villages are now flooded, said President Sali Berisha.

Around 5,000 hectares have been flooded due to the bursting of the banks of the river Drini, where three major water power stations are sited, and whose reservoirs have been left permanently open so as not to put their dams at risk.

The situation is unfortunately not improving explained the Premier today, repeating his appeal to the population in the area at risk to abandon their homes.

More than 600 families have already been moved to the city and if the water level rises further, around 9 thousand people will have to be evacuated. "We are now thinking only about saving people and not losing a single citizen" declared Berisha.

The army and police forces have been working in the flooded areas for several days, and helicopters patrolled the skies today so as to be able to carry out any emergency rescues necessary.

Information for Travelers

Warden Information, US TIRANE EMBASSY

January, 7, 2010

Increased water flows in the rivers running in northern Albania

Heavy rains and melting snow have increased water flows in the rivers running in northern Albania, mainly the Drini and Buna, resulting in extensive flooding in the Drini River Delta, mainly in the coastal floodplains and regions of Shkoder and Lezhe. Parts of the Tirana-Shkoder Road have been reported flooded, with traffic being limited to high-clearance vehicles. Additionally, the road between Shkoder and Tropoje is reported as impassable to normal traffic. The villages of Dajc and Obot have been ordered evacuated, and more evacuations are possible. Peace Corps Volunteers regularly assigned in the affected areas have been temporarily relocated to Tirana.

The U.S. Embassy in Tirana encourages all U.S. citizens in the affected region to monitor news channels for announcements of road closures and evacuations, and to exercise extreme caution. Travel into the affected area should be avoided at this time.

U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website, and the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review to "A Safe Trip Abroad," which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Albania are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Tirana through the State Department's travel registration website, so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Albania. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy in Tirana is located at Rr. Elbasanit, No. 103, Tel: +355-(0)4-224-7285; Fax: +355-(0)4-237-4957; E-mail:

Notes & commentary on the current aspects of Balkan security

Interview with Ioannis Michaletos: Balkans and security

The following interview was provided by the writer to the Ukrainian newspaper “DAY”, and the journalist Victor Kaspruk, on December 2009, regarding the security issues in the contemporary Balkans associated with ethnic animocities.

The Balkans still remains a region in Europe that contains a multitude of issues that can have a potential negative impact for the European security structures and the presence of extremists, is a source of concern for the international authorities.

Mr. Michaletos, in one of your articles you write that: “The current situation in the Balkans reveals a worrying trend of political and security developments that may lead to renewed round of brinkmanship, even of conflict, between different countries and ethnic groups”. Is there is going to be deterioration of this situation?

The Balkans traditionally are a sensitive and I may say unstable region in Europe. It is an area of religious, economic and ethnic cleavages between the West and the East and with a colorful history of confrontations between great powers.

Currently the unstable world situation that has been created due to the financial crisis, has affected the Balkan states, along with older conflicts that are still open. Therefore, one can assess that there are worrying trends in certain fields that may be cause for attention. Minority issues that are being promoted to an extent by influential global interests are a major source of concern.

Of course I cannot predict that a conflict is underway, but I am pretty certain that the political situation in the Balkans cannot be considered as stable and everything is on the table.

The Albanian minority in FYROM, is it a real problem?

The Albanian minority in this country -mostly Muslim-, is characterized by a high birth rate in comparison to the rest of the Christian population. That causes frictions and with the assistance of radical-nationalistic Albanian elements from Kosovo and Albania, it is certainly a major factor for future problem.

In 2001 a short-scale civil war erupted and since then the power within the country was divided between the Albanian minority and the Slavic majority. Sooner or latter similar conflicts may erupt, if the nationalistic tendencies of the Albanians are not accommodated or compromised.

Albanian President Berisha in a recent visit of his in Kosovo has stated that there should be no borders between the Albanian communities in the Balkans. Does he wants a Greater Albania?

He gave that impression and there is definitely a movement in Tirana towards that goal. As anyone can imagine that means a Pan-Balkan war and catastrophe. On the other hand Berisha faces heavy political opposition in his country and he may adopt a nationalistic stance so as to distract public opinion from corruption charges and accusations concerning abuse of power and favoritism in his own administration.

In any case it is something to be seriously assessed for, when examining present day Balkan politics, because the situation may get out of hand rather easily.

The Greek movement Omonia in Southern Albania demanded that Albania provides the minority Greeks the same rights that Albanians have in FYROM. Do you see a pattern here for all the other minorities in the Balkans?

A pattern has already emerged and it is time that the Balkans enters a stage of a “traditional balance of powers structure”, otherwise minority issues will tend to erupt from time to time and disrupt the political climate in several countries. The international authorities have played a very bad role concerning the minority issues.

Of course it should be noted, that for the Greek minority in Albania for instance, there are serious issues of human rights violations.

Therefore if the Albanian government pursues the aim of becoming the protector of Albanian minorities in the region it should comprehend that in its territory there is sizeable Greek minority, as well as, a Slavic one.

I think solutions could be found if the leaders of the region act seriously and look into the problems of their own countries, having as main criteria the progression of their societies and the increase of their economic status in parallel with the adherence to the rule of law and democracy. Then many issues could be dealt with in a most sincere and natural manner.

It is a well known fact that the Balkan radical Islamists have an articulate propaganda system composed by companies that issue magazines, record music and create websites, aiming at spreading, mostly Wahhabi values?

This is correct. Balkan radical Muslims are to a great extent prone to extremism and adherence to the so-called Wahhabi system originating from the Middle East. This is an issue that is being going on since the early ’90’s and in some cases over the past generation or so. Quite a few of those have already being arrested for various serious offences, including the one of terrorism and they assisted acts of terrorism in an international level.

They have substantial economic support from Middle Eastern countries and from radical Muslim communities in Austria, Italy, Germany, Turkey and Switzerland.

In a sense the Balkans are being formed into a semi-Muslim region where the radical element is pretty strong and increasing?

This is true for Kosovo and Bosnia and to a lesser extent for Albania, FYROM and Montenegro. In essence the countries of the Western Balkans are facing an infiltration of the Islamic political and religious power which is manifested by economic means, through the construction of hundreds of Mosques and by the proliferation of NGO’s and other organizations. Moreover the demographic balance is changing in favor of the Muslim minorities.

Over the past two decades, the Balkan region has experienced a surge in organized crime activities due to war, embargoes and dramatic power shifts. Do you believe that the influence of criminal networks is crucial to the current political scene of the Balkan states?

Organized crime is very strong in most Balkan countries. All international organizations responsible for these issues such as EUROPOL, INTERPOL and other, have noted that the organized crime members have been able to penetrate effectively state mechanisms and have placed their own people within the apparatus thus being able to dictate policies or influencing the security and judicial authorities.

In regions such as Kosovo, organized crime is the only stable and unquestioned authority, whereas the state can be considered as a feeble byproduct of the former.

Are organized crime groups in the Balkans interrelated and do they cooperate with each other regardless of ethnic or political frictions?

There is cooperation amongst most members of the organized crime groups in the Balkans, but at the same time there are definite ethnic groups.

The key word is: Specialization.

The Albanian organized crime groups are specialized in heroin and arms trafficking and are also strong in human trafficking.

Bulgarian groups, tend to specialize in human trafficking and smuggling of goods and weapons.

Croatian groups in cigarette smuggling and automobile theft.

The important aspect is that all “ethnic mafias” cooperate with each other in order to facilitate illegal goods exchanges. For instance one sells narcotics in order to receive weapons and so on. In a sense it is a perfect example of inter-ethnic cooperation regardless of everyday animosities.

Kosovo “precedent” might prompt some Muslim countries to recognize Turkish Cyprus?

This is the main reason why Cyprus will not recognize Kosovo. Moreover I assume that the Muslims countries that have strong non-religious forms of administration such as Algeria, Libya, Syria, Indonesia, Lebanon and others, will not recognize Kosovo or the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus.

In a wider sense the Kosovo precedent is here to stay and alter the basic canons and norms of the international law. It was a big mistake and an ultimate contradiction on terms of ethical supremacy that certain countries committed.

I am afraid that this “precedent” will come to haunt in political terms most of the countries that have already agreed to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. When one plays with history, he is only naive.

The realm of history is the kingdom of the unknown and once you have showed arrogance to it, you are bound to accept anything as a token of return from something that no one can control no matter how strong he is in material terms.

The recognition of Kosovo created a historical chasm between the ethical spirit of the Western world and its material strength. And the price unfortunately will be paid in time and terms unknown for the time being.

The following interview was provided by the writer to the Montenegrian newspaper “DAN” on the 6th of December 2009, regarding the expansive trend of cocaine smuggling into the Balkans, which are used as a gateaway for re-exporting this narcotic substance to Western Europe.

The issue has gained momentum over the past year in most European states, due to the significant amounts of seized cocaine quantities and it also relates indirectly with counter-terrorism issues, since the proceedings of cocaine smuggling are being directed to extremist groups in South America.

In your opinion, where is the cocaine that arrives in Montenegro destined to?

The bulk of the cocaine arriving in ports of Montenegro is destined for European markets and the local Balkan ones. The Kosovo territory plays an important role because shipments are gathered there and then are distributed in the north from Bosnia or Serbia to Croatia and Hungary and then to Western-Central Europe.

Other shipments travel to the South through FYROM-Albania and Greece and then to Western Europe mainly through vessels.

Europe is certainly a prime destination for Latin American cocaine traders, for two reasons. One is the rise of Euro against the Dollar. The latter is the currency used in all Americas, so the smugglers earn a harder currency (The Euro) which they exchange for Dollars thus increasing their financial strength.

The second reason is the unification of Europe and the non-existent border controls in an area of almost 500 hundred million people that created over the past decade tremendous opportunities for all kinds of illegal activities. The police authorities in many European countries proved ineffective to deal with this kind of situation.

Is the corruption and involvement of organised crime in local pollitics in Montenegro related to the cocaine smuggling in the region?

Corruption in political and social level plays a vital role in the cocaine contraband and of course in any other kind of illegal activity. Although there are not presently so many evidents of high-level corruption regarding cocaine trade, it could be safely assumed that it exists, since in a small country it would be almost impossible to have a rising trend in this illegal sector without the knowledge of the authorities.

Money laundering – How does it relate with the above?

Money laundering takes numerous forms. The most usual ones, especially in the Balkan countries, is to launder capital through: Construction, real-estate, tourism, foreign currency exchange bureaus, gas stations, transport companies, cazinos, night-clubs, NGO’s and insurance companies. This is more or less the main sectors where the attention of international authorities is being concetrated and it also involves all Balkan countries and Montenegro as well.

Which countries from South America export cocaine to the Balkans?

It is Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru, Ecuador which are the traditiional production or distribution centers of cocaine in Latin America. Organized crime networks in these countries have all found links to crime syndicates in the Balkans and cooperate with then strongly over the past decade.

Lastly, which European criminal networks organisations that coordinate the cocaine trade?
There have been numerous reports about N’draggeta, Kosovar Mafia and others.

Usually the connection between all these groups is to have intermediate groups of people that facilitate transportation. Ship owners, transport companies, corrupted public officials and indepedent traders, act as liaisons between a group like Ndragheta for instance and the Cali cartel.

It is difficult to pin point the exact human network involved, because this is police work ,but we can speculate that Italian and Balkan groups have the majority of this illegal trade under their influence presently and seem to be able to evade prosecution in the upper level, despite many succesfull operations by the security authorities of many states the past few years.

The use of intermediates seems as very effective by these networks that are able not to “get their hands dirty” and evade prosecution.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spanish PM calls on EU to support Greece

MADRID - Spanish Prime Minister and current European Union President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said here Thursday that the EU should demonstrate its solidarity towards Greece in handling its economic difficulties.

Presenting to reporters the Spanish EU presidency's priorities, Zapatero expressed his belief that the EU Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Central Bank would support Greece by indicating the path that should be followed and the proper measures that should be taken in order to deal with its economic difficulties.
President in Kosovo; K. Albanians block road
7 January 2010 | 09:30 -> 12:48 | Source: Beta, Tanjug
DEČANI -- President Boris Tadić has spent the night in the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Visoki Dečani, in Kosovo.

Tadić in Dečani this morning (Beta)
Tadić in Dečani this morning (Beta)

He was attending Christmas Eve celebrations there along with the monks and several hundred Serbs.

Tadić will also attend Holy Liturgy at the monastery this Christmas Day, which Orthodox Serbs celebrate according to the Julian calendar.

The president arrived to the 14th-century monastery on Wednesday afternoon, to send a message of peace "to all people".

Tadić made a statement after this morning's Holy Liturgy at the monastery by saying that Kosovo needs reconciliation above all, both among individuals and among peoples, "because that is the solution to the sufferings and problems that stem from the past".

more see;

Dnevnik: Idea about Serbia’s mediation in name dispute should not be rejected a priori

Serbia’s proposal to be mediator in the negotiations between Macedonia and Greece over the name dispute should not be rejected a priori, examining it as if Belgrade aims at establishing itself the position of a leader in the region, Macedonian Dnevnik daily writes.

Serbian President Boris Tadic, who presented the idea at the annual conference of the Serbian ambassadors, said that Belgrade wishes to solve state issues with Skopje, as well as the issue concerning the status of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

The newspaper also publishes a statement of Liljana Jakovlevska, an analyst of the Macedonian-Serbian relations, who says that Belgrade’s wish to establish itself as a leader in the region is obvious, while Macedonia has missed its chance.

Macedonian diplomat, who wished to stay anonymous, said that Tadic’s idea should not be rejected. The Skopje-Athens negotiations proceed under UN’s auspices but the opportunity to open a new unofficial channel for information exchange should not be neglected.

Sali Berisha declares state of emergency in Shkoder district due to floods

Tirana. Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has declared a state of emergency in the district of Shkoder due to floods caused by heavy rain and the rising tide of the Adriatic Sea, Serbian ATA news agency reports.

The prime minister has ordered that all people in the flood-stricken areas be evacuated. Berisha interrupted his vacation for the end-of-year holidays to visit the villages hit by the rising tide of the Adriatic Sea.

The evacuated inhabitants will be accommodated into hotels and students’ hostels and will be provided with food, clothes and shoes.

Islamic jihad to target Balkans next, Israeli foreign minister says

Islamic Jihad organisations that already had infiltrated countries in Africa and South America intended doing the same in the Balkans, through similar methods including huge transfers of funds and the establishment of cells, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

Lieberman was speaking after meeting visiting Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski on January 5 2009.

Intelligence services had evidence that Islamic terrorist organisations were already recruiting in the Balkans, Lieberman said, according to Israeli media reports.

Islamic and Saudi charities were continuously transferring funds to Muslims of Bosnian and Albanian origin, the Jerusalem Post reported him as saying..............

more see;

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

President to spend Christmas in Kosovo

President Boris Tadić will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Visoki Dečani.

Orthodox Serb Christians celebrate the holiday on January 7, according to the Julian calendar.

Tanjug reported that the presidential press service said in Belgrade on Tuesday that the "EU representative for foreign policy and security's representative" was informed about the visit, "according to an already established procedure".

A Kosovo Albanian government representative in Priština today by saying that it was "approved by the Kosovo government".

Tadić on April 17, 2009, at the same monastery in the province

Albanian opposition determined to continue parliamentary boycott


TIRANA, Albania -- Opposition Socialist Party (SP) leader Edi Rama said on Monday that his party is determined to continue its parliamentary boycott until the government agrees to investigate the June 2009 general elections.

Rama insists they were manipulated by the majority Democratic Party, despite the fact international institutions praised the elections process.

The SP has been boycotting parliament since September, hampering the EU accession process.

Greek PM meets Serb president

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking after his meeting with Serb President Boris Tadic in Belgrade on Monday, said that he had excellent talks with him, bilateral relations were excellent and expressed the wish that they will be deepened even further.

The prime minister said that talks focused on the problems of Kosovo, Bosnia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as those of Greek-Turkish relations and of Cyprus, adding that Greece and Serbia have common aims on these issues.

Papandreou noted that his presence in Belgrade is also a signal for the starting of an effort to enable the western Balkans to join the European Union in 2014.

"Greece is in the front line of the initiative that constitutes a basic aim for peace, cooperation and stability in the region," Papandreou said.

On his part, the Serb president termed Papandreou "one of the most important politicians" that he has met and said that "we talked about our bilateral relations, the economic state of our two countries that are being struck by the economic crisis" and expressed hope that solutions will be found.

He added that they also discussed the problems of the region, such as that of Kosovo and thanked Papandreou and the Greek government "for support for the effort of Serbia to defend the territorial integrity of the region with diplomatic means."

Tadic further said that Serbia's European course was discussed, stressed that his country will continue reforms and expressed hope that Serbia's cooperation with The Hague will be completed soon so that his country's effort for accession to the EU, as suggested by the '2014 agenda', that the Serb president termed important, can be continued.

Speaking later to Greek reporters at the end of his talks in Belgrade, Papandreou said that the invitation to address the 3rd Congress of Serbia's Diplomatic Corps was "extremely honourable".

The prime minister underlined the starting of the Greek initiative for the accession of the western Balkans to the European Union in 2014, saying that "we shall provide an impetus for this intiative of ours, this brings our country to the front line and, in any case, a momentum is always created by setting targets."

Papandreou added that even if no decision is taken on the 2014 agenda, in every case a date will be provided for the accession of these countries.

Referring to his talks in the country, Papandreou said that he discussed with the Serb leadership economic relations between the two countries and tourist development issues, stressing that as the Serb side informed him a poll held after the abolition of the visa for EU countries, 65 percent of Serbs said that they prefer Greece as their first option for travel.

Papandreou added that also discussed were the issues of Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the question of Cyprus and issues concerning the wider region.

On the question of the name of FYROM, the prime minister said that it is very crucial particularly for the states that comprised the former united Yugoslavia to know the Greek positions very well, "because they know each other very well and they can also take initiatives". He added that in any case, the message for FYROM "is that we are here to help".

Asked, lastly, whether pressures are being exerted for a solution to the issue of Cyprus and if the solution is close or far, Papandreou said that he did not wish to make predictions on such a composite issue, adding that "we are requesting from the international community and the EU to contribute with diplomatic pressures towards Turkey" and pointed out that a solution to the problem is very important for our relation with Turkey and for the neighbouring country's European course.

Albania Threatens Forced Evacuation

Tirana | 05 January 2010 |
Floods in the low plains in northern Albania have led to a rapidly deteriorating situation during the last 24 hours, and meteorologists warn that the worst is not yet over. The Albanian government said on Monday that intends to force the evacuation of villagers who refuse to abandon their homes.

Local televisions have reported that the majority of inhabitants in the flooded areas refuse to move, saying that they want to save their domestic animals first, which are the major cash revenues in rural Albania.

“If it will be necessary, we will use [force]. We have done so before because our first duty is to save people’s lives. We will help farmers as well to remove their domestic [animals],” Leonard Olli, head of the National Emergency Team said in a press conference. Local television Top Channel reported that around 100 inhabitants who were evacuated on Sunday had returned in their flooded homes, saying that they did not like the living conditions in the facilities offered by the government. Around 570 houses are reported flooded while 200 more are isolated by the rising waters of the Drini River. The government said that 3500 hectares of farmland is now under water.

“The situation will worsen in the next few days. We expect storms and heavy rains in the low plains in the north,” said meteorologist Rezarta Xhakollari.

In the mean time, the Socialist Party in opposition criticised the government for the inadequate management of the river flows.

“The government is more interested to import electricity than to produce it, and this is the real reason of the last flooding,” Ilir Beqja a MP from the Socialist Party said. Usually three big dams on the Drini River regulate the flows, but these days, all the reservoirs are full and the national electricity corporation has been obliged to open the side gates.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Papandreou : Rapid integration of the West Balkans in the EU achievable

January 4, 2010

ImageGreek Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorgos Papandreou said in Belgrade today that the year 2014 is a target year for all the West Balkan countries to join the European Union. At the ambassadorial conference in the Serbian capital, Papandreou said that the West Balkans must take major steps forward and relieve the region of the burden of wars and conflicts of the past.

Reminding that Greece has launched an initiative for all countries in the region to become full EU member states on the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Papandreou said that the goal is achievable.

Regarding the thorny Kosovo issue and whether Greece has been pressured to recognise Kosovo's unilaterally declared independence, Papandreou stated that Athens' position on the issue "is known and will not change."

"The stability of the greater region and international law remain the cornerstones of our policy and in this spirit we are focusing on efforts that are aimed at the creation of a safe and prosperous environment for all people in Kosovo, the Serb community included," Papandreou stated, adding that "the protection of the cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo is immensely important and our involvement in the region is proof of our dedication to these goals. This means that preserving the Serbian cultural and religious heritage is a top priority for everyone in the EU."

He pointed out that EU membership implies peaceful resolution of conflicts, respect of human and minority rights and the fight against illegal migration, organized crime and corruption. Speaking of the status of Kosovo, the Greek Prime Minister stated that it is a complex issue and emphasized that Athens supports the solution based on the UN Charter and international law.

Papandreou reiterated that Greece supports the position of the Belgrade authorities that succeeded in having the UN General Assembly request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo.

Ambassadors' conference starts in Belgrade
4 January 2010 | 09:32 -> 18:21 | Source: FoNet, Tanjug
BELGRADE -- Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić on Monday opened the two-day Ambassadors' Conference in Belgrade.

Papandreou and Jeremić at the conference today (Beta)
Papandreou and Jeremić at the conference today (Beta)

The guest of honor of the event this year is Greek Prime and Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Jeremić said in his speech that Serbia's foreign policy priorities this year will be continued EU integration, peaceful defense of the constitutional order, consolidation of stability and cooperation in the region, and deepening of economic cooperation with other states worldwide.

He announced that the country will this year "continue with the carefully balanced and active foreign policy", to be based "on four pillars" – and noted that this was "defined by President Boris Tadić".

Those four pillars, Jeremić reminded in his address, were "Brussels, Moscow, Beijing and Washington".

Tomorrow, the conference will hear speeches from Tadić, PM Mirko Cvetković, and police and defense ministers, Ivica Dačić and Dragan Šutanovac.

The event is meant to provide Serbia's diplomatic representatives abroad with the guidelines for 2010.

Papandreou meets State Department official

Prime minister and foreign minister George Papandreou and alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas met on Wednesday with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, on the sidelines of the 17th ministerial conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which winds up in Athens later in the day.

The one-hour meeting covered international issues and bilateral topics, while the prospect of Papandreou paying an official visit to Washington in the new year was also discussed.

The Greek side briefed Steinberg on developments in the region, including Athens' political initiative to give impetus and prospect to the Western Balkan countries for accession to the EU in 2014, as well as Greece's "positive intentions" on FYROM's prospects and its initiatives to create a positive climate, including direct contacts between the leaderships of the two countries in tandem with the UN-mediated procedure for resolution of the FYROM name issue.

Steinberg was also briefed on developments in relations with Turkey and on the course of the Cyprus issue.

The two sides further discussed US President Barack Obama's policy on Afghanistan and the decision to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan before withdrawing forces in July 2011, and other regional issues.

Papandreou and Droutsas are also slated to meet with Turkish foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu later Wednesday on the sidelines of the OSCE conference, while the foreign ministry announced that a reply to Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's letter to the Greek premier will not be forthcoming on Wednesday.

Teqja Group opens 40mn-euro DIY hypermarket in Albania

"This is a 40-million-euro investment and 23 million were provided through the support of Tirana Bank ( and Alpha Bank (,” Chairman Dionis Teqja told the inauguration ceremony.

Tirana - 04.01.2010

Albania’s Teqja Group has opened a do-it-yourself hypermarket in the capital of Tirana, a 40-million-euro investment.

Launched on Dec.30, Megatek will supply in-store consumers, construction companies and other DIY retail outlets with over 30,000 products including home decoration, lighting, electricity, construction materials, tools and gardening.

The 62,000m2 store is located on 150,000m2 of land near Tirana airport on the Tirana-Durres highway, near the country's main industrial centre.

"This is a 40-million-euro investment and 23 million were provided through the support of Tirana Bank ( and Alpha Bank (,” Chairman Dionis Teqja told the inauguration ceremony.

Megatek is owned by Dionis Teqja, who also holds Teqja Ltd. industrial equipment, and Teqja International (, a plastic pipes manufacturer.
Minister speaks on problems in Kosovo
3 January 2010 | 11:05 | Source: FoNet
BELGRADE -- Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović said that the government is committed in its fight for Kosovo and strengthening the economy of the Serb community.

Goran Bogdanović (FoNet archive)
Goran Bogdanović (FoNet archive)

He repeated that the only legitimate local self-administration in Kosovo is made up of the people that were elected by Serbian law during the May 11, 2008 elections, but added that his ministry will take care of all Serbs living in Kosovo.

He said that Serbs in the province can survive only if they are able to live and work there, and not through social programs and humanitarian aid, adding that security problems in Kosovo are greater than the problem of poverty.

Bogdanović said that his ministry is putting great effort into improving security in Kosovo, so that Serbs and other non-Albanians can move freely throughout the territory without people being looked according to ethnicity.

He said that the ministry is working on achieving maximum freedom of movement through talks with KFOR, EULEX and UNMIK.

The Serbian government has also set aside significant funds aimed at helping the unemployed in Kosovo, with some EUR 5,000-6,000 for every unemployed person from the state, to be used in the right way and to help open up new jobs, he said.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tirana declares state of emergency in Shkoder district due to floods

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has declared a state of emergency in the district of Shkoder due to floods caused by heavy rain and the rising tide of the Adriatic Sea, ATA news agency reports.

The prime minister has ordered that all people in the flood-stricken areas be evacuated. Berisha interrupted his vacation for the end-of-year holidays to visit the villages hit by the rising tide of the Adriatic Sea.

The evacuated inhabitants will be accommodated into hotels and students’ hostels and will be provided with food, clothes and shoes.

Georgios Papandreou meets with Mirko Cvetkkovic and Boris Tadic in Belgrade

Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Greece Georgios Papandreou is to visit Belgrade today, online edition of Greek "Naftemporiki" newspaper writes.

Papandreou will take part in the annual conference of ambassadors to Serbia. During the visit in Belgrade he will meet with his counterpart Mirko Cvetkovic and the president of the state Boris Tadic.

A two-day conference of Serbia's ambassadors will begin in Belgrade today, and will be attended by Greek PM and Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

On the first day, the conference will be addressed by Papandreou, and Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić, who will speak on foreign policy priorities.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Science and Technological Development Božidar Đelić will also speak at the event.

On Tuesday, the conference will be addressed by President Boris Tadić, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Ivica Dačić and Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac, the Serbian MFA has announced.

The conference is meant to provide Serbia's diplomatic representatives abroad with the guidelines for 2010.


The "Liberation Army TSAMOURIA» (UCC) and Turkish designs!

by George Despotides
Geopolitical Analyst

TSAMOURIA, the Albanian revisionism considers the region of Epirus, which includes the geographical areas of Igoumenitsa, Parga, Paramythia Filati and Margariti, that is the current Thesprotia.

Of course, in addition to Thesprotia, Albanian interest at first sight difficult to interpret, observed on Western Thrace.

Former Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, deals in detail with the Muslim minority there. In the past, has criticized the Greek state for policy-cleansing against the minority. Noted that he has done research in the field with visits to Western Thrace.

The question of the Chams and their protests, which smoldering for some time, back in the news as a threat or claim by the Albanian state or integrated into the overall strategy to unite the "liberated Albanian homelands........

more in greek:

Over 400 kg of cannabis from Albania seized in Italy

Tirana. More than 400 kilograms of cannabis from Albania have been seized in Italy, the Albanian media announced.

The drug was found on Saturday during a check of a motor boat close to the Italian city of Lecce. The police say the drugs have an Albanian origin, but an investigation has not been opened yet.

The Italian authorities say that cannabis contraband from Albania has risen in the past few months.