Saturday, February 27, 2010

White House on Obama-Papandreou meeting

The White House released a statement on Saturday announcing a March 9 meeting here between US President Barack Obama and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

The White House also referred to Greece as the "birthplace of democracy" and its standing as a US ally in joint efforts aimed at stability and prosperity in the latter's region and throughout the world, as well as to deep historical and cultural bonds between the two countries.

Matthew Nimetz meets Dimitris Drucas over name dispute with Macedonia

Athens and Skopje have different view for the resolution of the name dispute but I believe there is a basis upon which we will continue working, said the UN Mediator in the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece Matthew Nimetz said after the meeting with Greek deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Athens Dimitris Drucas, reported.

Macedonian online edition quoted Nimetz who added he informed Greece about the negotiations held in Skopje two days ago as well as about his ideas on continuing the negotiation process. The edition reported Drucas assured Nimetz Athens is still engaged with the resolution of the name issue acceptable for both countries.

Spokesman of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs Grigoris Delavecuras informed the new approach of Greece on the name issue, the efforts and the messages the country sends to Macedonia were discussed at the first meeting betweenNimetz and representatives of Greek government.

Albania's Socialists end parliamentary boycott

TIRANA, Albania -- As promised, lawmakers from the opposition Socialist Party (SP) returned to parliament Thursday, ending their six-month boycott of the institution.

"This parliament has a conflict to resolve and we are here to give it a chance to resolve it," said Gramoz Ruci, head of the 65-member SP group.

He stressed that his party will not drop its demand for a thorough investigation into the June 2009 general elections, which the SP says were manipulated.

The party is requesting the establishment of an inquiry panel to investigate possible violations during that vote. SP members returned to parliament after international mediation in the conflict.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Albania urged not to obstruct organ-farming probe


A UN official has urged Albania to stop hampering efforts to investigate claims that hundreds of Serbs were tortured and murdered for their organs in the country during the Kosovo war.

Belgrade says the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) abducted up to 500 Serb civilians and took them to neighbouring Albania for organ removal during the 1998-9 conflict with Slobodan Milosevic’s forces.

The allegations were first made public in a memoir by Carla Del Ponte, the former chief UN war crimes prosecutor, who said her office had received information about a possible Albanian trafficking network selling human organs abroad for transplanting.

She wrote that her colleagues did not find enough evidence to proceed with the case, but Serbia has demanded an inquiry, and advocacy group Human Rights Watch has reviewed the information referred to by Ms Del Ponte and said it merits investigation. “The bottom line appears to be that the issue is definitively stalled,” said UN special rapporteur Philip Alston at the end of a week-long visit to Albania.“None of the efforts to investigate have received meaningful co-operation on the side of the government of Albania.

“While various explanations were offered to me, they amounted in practice to a game of bureaucratic and diplomatic ping-pong . . . ,” he said. Mr Alston said it would be in Albania’s interest to have the claims investigated. “Given the strength of the belief . . . that allegations of hundreds of people killed in Albania after June 1999 are unfounded, it would be in the government’s best interest to facilitate an independent and objective investigation by one or other of the international entities currently focused on the issue,” he said.

Ms del Ponte wrote that UN investigators found medical equipment and evidence of extensive bloodstains at a house in Albania where witnesses said the organ removals took place.Human Rights Watch says it has seen an official UN report that largely corroborates those claims. Officials in Kosovo insist the allegations are part of Serb efforts to discredit their new state.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

EU Says Albanian Political Crisis Must Get Solved

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha gives a press conference on April 28, 2009, outside government headquarters in Prague. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)
A delegation of the Council of Europe, which arrived in Tirana on Tuesday, urged the Albanian government prime minister, Democrat Sali Berisha, to quickly solve the conflict over election fraud still lingering over the June 2009 parliamentary election.

The delegation proposed setting up a parliamentary committee chaired by the opposition to help reconcile the PM and opposition leader Edi Rama. Rama is Tirana's mayor. Since last September, the opposition has boycotted parliamentary sessions, especially after Berisha ignored their request for a vote recount.

The fairness of the poll was considered critical to Albania’s integration into the European Union. The former communist country applied for EU membership in April, 2009 and still needs to solve major challenges like corruption and drug trafficking before being admitted into the European family.

The EU has set the accession of Western Balkan countries as a priority step in the further enlargement of the union

Greek anger at German reports

foc_prosbl_arthroParliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos yesterday condemned German press reports on Greece’s financial crisis that he said “surpassed all limits” and invited Germany’s ambassador to Greece, Wolfgang Schultheiss, to discuss the “offensive” coverage.
Petsalnikos was responding to two articles – one in Stern magazine in the form of an open letter to Greeks from disgruntled German taxpayers, which also appeared in the February 19 issue of Athens Plus, and the other featured in an issue of Focus magazine whose front page depicts a statue of the Venus de Milo making an obscene gesture under the title “Greek cheats.” The House speaker condemned the two reports as “anything but objective” and containing “inaccuracies and false information.”

Petsalnikos accused Stern of offering an “oversimplified and populist take” on Greece’s financial crisis by lambasting Greeks for frittering away German taxpayers’ savings. In a letter sent to the magazine, Petsalnikos argued that Germany too had reaped benefits from European Union membership, stressing also that it was Greece’s main arms supplier. He noted that Germany was one of the countries that benefited most from EU membership, with more than 60 percent of its exports going to member states in 2007.

The provocative German press reports, and in particular the manipulated depiction of the Venus de Milo, prompted more angry comments from Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis. The mayor urged “men of culture across the world to protest” against the “shameful” front-page cover. He also called on Germany to pay Greece reparations for losses suffered by the country during World War II. “You owe us 70 billion euros for the ruins you left behind,” he said.
(source: kathimerini)

Trial Against Kurti Postponed Again

Pristina | 23 February 2010 | Petrit Collaku
Albin Kurti
Albin Kurti
Kosovo's police have not yet arrested the leader of Kosovo's popularist Vetevendosje or Self-determination movement, Albin Kurti in order to face trial.
The EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX judge Ferdinand Bouttier De Mongeau ordered police on Monday to arrest Kurti since he failed to attend a trial against him. Prior to the trial, Kurti said he would not attend as he does not recognise EULEX’s jurisdiction in Kosovo.
Police failed to find Kurti after searching his apartment. Vetevendosje activists did not let them check their offices, noting police did not possess such a mandate. The residing judge has set the trial for 2 March.
“The next hearing is on March 2nd and the reason is because of the absence of Kurti and also of a panel member because she is still sick,” Kristiina Herodes, justice spokesperson at EULEX told Balkan Insight.
Kurti faces charges of ''attempting to cause general danger and/or large-scale property damage, obstructing official persons in performing their duties, and inciting people to break a police cordon'' during a Vetevendosije protest in 2007.
The protest was against the Ahtisaari proposal plan for Kosovo's future in which two Vetevendosje activists were killed and dozens injured.
Instead, police arrested two Vetevendosje activists, Glauk Konjufca and Zgjim Hysenim based on a warrant arrest issued by Municipal Court of Pristina charging property damage.

Konjufca and Hyseni are accused of damaging more than 20 EULEX vehicles during a protest held last September. The protest was organised by Vetevendosje against a policing agreement between EULEX and Serbia.
A group of influential NGOs have called for the Kurti case to be dropped and some 80,000 signatures have been collected from people in a petition called ''Against the EULEX trial of Albin Kurti''.
Recently, Kurti said that the movement is considering whether to participate in the next national elections as a political party.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Greater Albania claims to be "half of Europe?


February 17 marks two years since that day, the Albanian government of Kosovo declared independence. Since then, the department recognized the province from Serbia, only 65 of the 192 UN member countries.But many Albanians, however, believe the region's independence a foregone conclusion. And the first step towards the creation of Greater Albania, which, except for Albania and Kosovo should enter some areas of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia proper, and Greece.

Preparing for the separation region was long. In 2006, the UN special envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari presented a plan whereby the edge received "managed independence, the Albanians would restrict the power of the representatives of EU missions, the OSCE and the UN. A year later, there were elections, not recognized by Belgrade and were rejected by local Serbs. Premier Hashim Thaci has become - a man accused of ex-prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal Carla Del Ponte's involvement in the illegal trade in organs of murdered Serbs.

February 17, 2008 Parliament edge in the absence of Serb deputies adopted a declaration of independence. Several days later, it acknowledged the United States and most EU states. Russia, China, India, Brazil, as well as Greece, Spain, Romania and Slovakia have refused to do so, declaring the action of Kosovo Albanians flagrant violation of international law...

more see (in Russian) :

U.N. Sleuth Calls on Albania to Allow Organ Inquiry


TIRANA (Reuters) - A United Nations expert accused Albania on Tuesday of stalling an international investigation into allegations of torture, killing and organ trading during the 1999 Kosovo conflict.

"None of the efforts to investigate have received meaningful cooperation on the side of the government of Albania," Philip Alston told a news conference.

Explanations offered to him by officials "amounted in practice to a game of bureaucratic and diplomatic ping pong in which the responsibility for not responding to requests was moved from one office to the next."

"Each insisted that if requested by the right authorities and under proper conditions they would not hesitate to cooperate. But the bottom line is that the issue is definitely stalled."

Former U.N. War Crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said in a book published in 2008 her team had investigated reports that around 300 Serbs held in Albania had had organs removed, apparently for trafficking.

Alston, a U.N. Special Rapporteur mandated by the Human Rights Council to monitor extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Albanian authorities had told him the allegations were politically motivated and baseless.

He said there were investigations in progress by the Council of Europe, Serbia's war crimes prosecutor, and EULEX, the European Union police and justice mission in Kosovo.

"The (Albanian) government should do everything it can to facilitate an independent and objective investigation by the international entities investigating abuses," he added.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has dismissed Del Ponte's charges as fiction. However, claims persist that either Serbs or Kosovo Albanians seen as spies were tortured or killed in Albania in the camps of the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army.

Serbia welcomed Alston's comments. Bruno Vekaric, a spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutor, said Serbia would support an independent international investigation. "That would be the right path to find out the truth and achieve full regional cooperation," he said by telephone from The Hague.

In 2004, U.N. investigators searched a house belonging to an Albanian family after allegations ethnic Albanian guerrillas in Kosovo had removed body organs from Serbs seized during NATO's 1999 air campaign against Serbia to stop ethnic killings.

Investigators said they found bloodstains, gauze in the garbage area and syringes but not enough evidence for a case.

(Additional reporting by Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade; editing by Adam Tanner and Andrew Roche)

World Security Network reporting from Washington D.C., February 22, 2010

"An exceptional biography is the basis for an exceptional memoir written by Walter Laqueur"
An exceptional biography is the basis for an exceptional memoir written by the old wise man Walter Laqueur: "Best of Times, Worst of Times: Memoirs of a Political Education.", who is a member of the International Advisory Board of the World Security Network Foundation. By the way it is his book number 21. (Order this latest book in here)

Walter Laqueur was born 88 years ago in the German town Breslau, which is since 1945 now Wroclaw in Poland. In 1938 he emigrated to Palestine. He was co-founder and editor of the Journal of Contemporary History in London and the Washington Quarterly. Professor Laqueur taught at the universities of Georgetown, Chicago, Harvard, John Hopkins, Brandeis, and Tel Aviv. He chaired the International Research Council of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. for a long time, where he is living. See his fascinating curriculum vitae here.

Walter Laqueur has been writing, teaching and acting as a policy adviser over sixty years in three continents, primarily in the field of twentieth century history and politics. In this engaging memoir, Laqueur focuses on the political and historical events that have shaped his thinking and inspired his intellectual work.

He describes growing up in Nazi Germany; discusses Marxism, the Soviet Union, and the part he played in Cold War politics; and reflects on the image his generation had of Zionism, Israel, and the Middle East. Walter Laqueur shares his appraisal of Beltway politics and think tanks, concluding with his views on guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and the future of Europe.

Walter Laqueur has resolved the tension between being a highly respected historian, normally arms length from events themselves, and having been an active observer and player during 'his' twentieth century. With the knowledge and experience of his long life, he deserves the title of an 'old wise man'.

BrigGen (ret) Dieter Farwick, WSN Global Editor-in-Chief, took the opportunity to interview Walter Laqueur:

Dieter Farwick: You grew up in Germany between 1920 and 1938. It must have been a hard time, especially for a young Jew. What are your main memories?...

more see:

Monday, February 22, 2010

The euro will face bigger tests than Greece

By George Soros

Published: February 21 2010 18:40 | Last updated: February 21 2010 18:46

Otmar Issing, one of the fathers of the euro, correctly states the principle on which the single currency was founded. As he wrote in the FT last week, the euro was meant to be a monetary union but not a political one. Participating states established a common central bank but refused to surrender the right to tax their citizens to a common authority. This principle was enshrined in the Maastricht treaty and has since been rigorously interpreted by the German constitutional court. The euro was a unique and unusual construction whose viability is now being tested.

The construction is patently flawed. A fully fledged currency requires both a central bank and a Treasury. The Treasury need not be used to tax citizens on an everyday basis but it needs to be available in times of crisis. When the financial system is in danger of collapsing, the central bank can provide liquidity, but only a Treasury can deal with problems of solvency. This is a well-known fact that should have been clear to everyone involved in the creation of the euro. Mr Issing admits that he was among those who believed that “starting monetary union without having established a political union was putting the cart before the horse”......

more see:

Council of Europe mediates in Albania crisis

Associated Press

A Council of Europe delegation is meeting with Albania's top political groups in an effort to resolve a drawn-out political crisis over alleged electoral fraud in last June's polls.

The main opposition Socialist Party has been boycotting parliament demanding a vote recount, which Prime Minister Sali Berisha's governing Democratic Party has ruled out.

The office of President Bamir Topi says that during the two-day visit the delegation will try to help the president resolve the political deadlock.

The Democrats control 75 of parliament's 140 seats; the Socialists have 65. Important laws, such as on EU membership, require a three-fifths majority, or 84 votes, to pass.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Albania, Italy Dismantle International Drug Ring

Albania's Chief Prosecutor Ina Rama
Albania's Chief Prosecutor Ina Rama

Two dozen suspects in four countries have been arrested as part of a major anti-drug operation, code named "Sunrise", launched by Italian and Albanian prosecutors.

The head prosecutor of the city of Lecce, Cataldo Motta, and Albanian general prosecutor Ina Rama presented the results of the five year investigation at a press conference on Friday in the southern Italian town.

“This is a demonstration of the good cooperation between the authorities in the two countries,” Motta told reporters in Lecce.

Albania’s top prosecutor told the media that the war against drug traffickers needed teamwork and that cooperation would continue.

“We have the good will to continue to cooperate in the [war against drugs] as this is the only way to achieve good results,” Rama said. “If we continue to cooperate it will certainly achieve other similar results,” she added.

During the investigation, which was launched in March 2005, Italy’s financial police were able to sequester over 1.3 tonnes of marijuana, trafficked from Albania into Italy across the Otranto channel in the Adriatic Sea, and 10 kilograms of heroin.

Motta told reporters that the narcotics syndicate is believed to have trafficked at least one more tonne of marijuana into Italy.

According to the Italian media 23 suspects have been arrested in Italy, Albania, Greece and Belgium. Five of the arrests were carried out on Friday in Albania, while the majority of the suspects detained in other countries are also Albanian citizens. The operation represented the first case of direct cooperation between Italian anti-mafia authorities and Albanian prosecutors.


The Albanian extremists, the role of the NLA, (AKSH)and how they want to use the Albanian gangs in our country (GR)?

According to "The Press" the script interface of the perpetrators of Albanian terrorist groups, shooting the international action, which could lead to an entire network, which has preoccupied the American secret services CIA.

The UCK actions in Athens?

The paramilitary extremist organization who dreams of "Greater Albania" and threatening spread to the Balkans has its tentacles stretch out in the capital and agents undertake action slowly? The issue began, according to reports - which the competent authorities do not confirm - the carnage in Vyrona Quartier and investigations that followed, during which the secret criminall police, found notices of UCK, with the huge number of weapons possessed by Albanian bandits.

Whether the Albanians are criminals by employing UCK - after, not confirmed, job notices - safety principles that broaden the scope of their search.....

According to "The Press" the script interface of the perpetrators of Albanian terrorist groups, shooting the international action, which could lead to an entire network, which has preoccupied the American secret services CIA.

According to a report by the CIA, the NLA, which controls the trade in illegal weapons in the Balkans established in Veleshta village in Albania, Kosovars has enlisted hardliners controlling the Tetovo, Haracinovo and the mafia in Skopje...