Saturday, April 3, 2010

Albania struggles to deal with Communist past

Since the collapse of Communist rule in Eastern Europe in 1989, the countries involved have explored different ways of dealing with the past. Albania took a different path to many, something which is still affecting it today, says the BBC's Iain MacInnes.

Jani Plaku
Jani Plaku says he is not concerned with revenge

"All my life, since I was a child I have been searching for information about my father. I wanted to know who my father was."

We met Jani Plaku on the outskirts of Tirana, where he led us to a site, surrounded by police tape.

It was the latest part of his search for information about his father - the bodies of 19 people, buried where barracks once stood.

Barracks 313, which had once been a communications post during communist rule in Albania, is now revealing the secrets of its past.

Mr Plaku's father had been an expert in oil exploration, but the communist authorities believed he was working against the government, and charged him with sabotage.

Following a trial, where he protested his innocence, he was executed in 1976....

more see:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Omonia condemns the participation of 2 members of the Albanian Parliament in anti Hellenic events in Albania


The desecration of the Greek flag and anti-Hellenic slogans were heard outside the Greek Embassy in Tirana and other Albanian cities are operations both absurd and obscurantist, and racist slogans were heard from individuals during the celebrations of the National Anniversary in Athens, are actions that cause the feelings of all soundly thinking citizens, Greeks and Albanians. It's irresponsible actions by people seeking to destabilize.

We also condemn the participation of 2 members of the Albanian Parliament on the these events. While Greece racist slogans condemned all united by politics and the perpetrators of the incident and apologize to the relevant state institutions in Albania, racist, anti-Hellenic events organized by members of the Albanian parliament.

The symbols of all nations are sacred and no one can defile. We urge the Albanian courts to show similar sensitivity also implies that the constitution and laws to ensure that the culprits be brought to justice.

DM Venizelos visiting Russia

MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos) - Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos held talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov and other Russian leadership representatives focusing on the promotion of Greek-Russian defence cooperation, as well as international agenda issues and the regrettable affairs being created by the terrorist attacks.

The defence minister reassured that the Greek people share the sadness and indignation of the Russian people and expressed his absolute solidarity for the struggle against terrorism and every act of violence directed at innocent citizens. He also laid flowers at the Lublianka metro station, where 24 citizens were killed during Monday's suicide attack.

FYROM - Albania

FYROM President Reacts to Greek Racist Chants

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Georgi Ivanov
Georgi Ivanov

Greece should change its general attitude towards its neighbours to prove its good intentions, FYROM President Georgi Ivanov said on Tuesday, reacting to the recent racist chants heard at a Greek military parade. “Unfortunately this is not the first time that Greek security forces practice hate speech in front of state leadership. We are concerned that this time both FYROM and Albanians were hurt,” Ivanov told media.

He noted that suspension of the officer in charge of the parade was not sufficient and that the general attitude that Greek officials have toward their neighbors should shift.

Ivanov had a telephone conversation with his Albanian counterpart Bamir Topi and they both expressed concern over the recent happening, the president said.

Albania and FYROM officially protested to Greece after a video footage taken on Thursday in Athens at the military parade appeared on the internet. The video showed members of the Greek security forces shouting racist slogans against Greece’s neighbours: Albanians and sllavo Macedonians.

“They are Skopians, they are Albanians, we will make new clothes out of their skins,” and “You do not become a Greek, you are born one,” and “We’re going to spill your blood, Albanian pig” were some of the chants that could be heard from the footage.

Athens apologized for the incident, saying that it was an isolated case that did not reflect the opinion of the Greeks. The authorities said that they are probing the case to determine who is responsible for the chanting.

US 'supportive' of Europe's measures on Greece

The US is supportive of the EU's recent decisions regarding Greece and does not believe that other troubled euro countries will line up for the financial rescue mechanism now in place, an American official told this website.

"The US clearly has a very strong interest in the success of the European Union and we were very supportive in the efforts by the EU to work out an agreement with Greece," Robert Hormats, undersecretary of state for economic affairs said in an interview with the "EUobserver".

EU leaders last week agreed to set up a financial rescue mechanism together with the International Monetary Fund which would help out Athens if necessary, while strongly watching over the Greeks' spending cuts and economic reforms.

Washington is very impressed with the reform pledges made by the Greek government, the US official said, while admitting that "obviously reforms are unpopular in some quarters." Athens has already seen a series of strikes and protests turning violent amid rising popular discontent over the governments' economic policies.

Greek special forces released officer, honored for difficult missions by Americans

Photo: The Officer released for "racist song" in the parade of independence of Greece, with former U.S. President George Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell

The incident, is become very complex issue of officer's elite special forces of the Greek navy, who chanted racist appeal to the Albanian and Slavic neighbors in the holiday parade of Greek independence, March 25, in Athens.

The Photography has made running of the all Greek media, shows Greek officer released for military mission, after parade. You can see the Greek officer commando with high representatives of SUSA, former US President George Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Greek media, simultaneously align all operations and intervention medals obtained from elite commando officer, as the interventions on behalf of NATO, the U.S. (CIA), EU and against mafia of all those kinds.. including Albanians, etc..

Annyway Athens has released the negrborders FYROM and Albania with an "official Pardon", releasing from the Greek army the officers of the incident.

This particular officer and according to the reports of years of " unbound form , is one of the best commando available to the Coast and the Greek army. Take bravery medal after the successful operation which led in July 2000 when a fully armed Czech villain seized aboard a sailing ship in which a 5 Swiss and Greek. "Plow" to deserving colleagues, the Ionian and Aegean arresting drug dealers and preserving hundreds of illegal migrants. Found in the "front line" in the evening of Imia, conducting patrols within 50 meters of the islet. On Big Wednesday in 1996 - off the Gulf of Mary, in Thesprotia, where Albanian drug dealers, who were on a raft, opened fire on the Greek boat, drops dead the 25 year old the Greek commando Marino Zampatis. And do so without consideration and bribes, but only to ensure the safety and maintaining the integrity of the country ...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EP rapporteur expects visa-free travel for Albania


TIRANA, Albania -- The rapporteur for Albania in the European Parliament's (EP) Foreign Affairs Commission, Nikolaos Chountis, said on Monday (March 29th) that there are no barriers preventing the country from EU visa liberalisation. During a visit to Tirana, officials briefed Chountis on progress made on basic criteria, such as guaranteeing border security, personal ID documents, fighting crime and illegal trafficking.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced on Monday that Albania has completed the questionnaire required to receive EU candidate status, answering nearly 2,300 questions in three months. About 1,200 officials participated in the process, including 28 foreign experts. The questionnaire will be delivered to the European Commission in early April.

Füle: 'I'm enjoying every minute of my work as commissioner'

Published: 30 March 2010

By the end of his term in 2014, Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Štefan Füle hopes to have achieved enough to end talk of "enlargement fatigue" and help EU citizens to see more clearly the benefits of an enlarged Europe.


You were in the region recently and visited Albania, a country that is somewhat invisible in mainstream international news. Since political elections last June, the opposition has boycotted parliament – something that does not augur well for the country's SAP. Albania has applied for EU membership but there are clearly problems. What is your message to Tirana?

My messages to Tirana were rather clear. Firstly, I expressed appreciation for the progress that has been made: Albania has become a member of NATO and the European Council has asked the Commission to prepare an opinion on the country.

But I also stressed the importance of the political Copenhagen criteria. I expressed concern about the stability of democratic institutions and the lack of political dialogue in the parliament. I stressed the importance of this: of course, all laws are adopted here, and there would be no reforms without appropriate legislation.

It is very much in the hands of the Albanians and I hope very much that they will make progress and show that they have a mature democracy. Responsibility lies with both political parties – both the ruling group and the opposition.

Albania has changed enormously: it was an autarchy during the communist period and was in a much worse situation than any other country. Can you evaluate the evolution of Albania in those twenty or so years? Yugoslavia was a very successful country at that time – its citizens enjoyed free movement and millions worked in the West, while no Albanian could imagine even leaving the country…

Obviously every country has its own history and the Western Balkan countries carry a lot of historical baggage. Conflict prevailed too often in the region and Albania in particular has a lot of baggage. So I agree – it is remarkable to see the progress they have made in the last twenty years.

The fact that the European Council asked the Commission to prepare an opinion is proof of the progress made in Albania. That does not mean, however, that the work is done and I think this is the most important message to all the Balkan countries – including Croatia, which still needs to open negotiating chapter 23 on the judiciary and fundamental freedoms.

This is one of the lessons to be learned from the previous enlargement: to put particular importance on the Copenhagen criteria – especially the political criteria – from the very beginning of the accession process until the very end. We need to ensure that countries not only have the legislation and institutions, but also a track record of implementation.

"W. Balkans can't join EU in 2014"
30 March 2010 | 14:57 | Source: Beta
BUDAPEST -- Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Balazs said that the Greek proposal for getting all Western Balkans countries into the EU by 2014 is unrealistic.

Jadronković, Balazs, Jeremić in Budapest today (Beta)
Jadronković, Balazs, Jeremić in Budapest today (Beta)

However, he said that Hungary is ready to help in that goal.

Balazs met on Monday in Budapest with his Serbia and Croatian counterparts Vuk Jeremić and Gordan Jandroković, and Deputy Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.

Balazs said that the ratification of the accession agreement with Croatia can begin in 2011, and that negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro will need several years.

Greece proposed that all Western Balkans countries should join the EU in 2014, symbolically on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Balazs said that Croatia would be the only country that will definitely be able to enter the EU by then.

“We can strongly support this, because the EU cannot forget about the Balkans. If the Balkans lags behind, the region will become a destabilizing factor and then negative trends can begin. But, if the region catches a step towards the EU, then it will become a region for investments,” Balazs said.

He said that it is important to abolish travel visas for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina, since this has already been done for Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

Jeremić, Jandroković and Balazs will hold a joint press conference on Tuesday, after which they will be meeting with Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom.

Albania Press Review - March 30, 2010

Tirana | 30 March 2010 |
Albanian newspapers
Albanian newspapers


A former Austrian Supreme Court judge is to supervise the cases of the World Bank project demolitions in Jale.


The European Parliament rapporteur for Albania says that there are no technical obstacles remaining for the EU to lift its visa regime on Albania.


Albanian President Bamir Topi welcomes the construction of cemeteries for Greek soldiers who died in Albania, but says Greece must recognise the plight of the Albanian Cham minority expelled at the end of World War Two.

"The General of Civil War of 197" Agim Shehu rewarded with 100.000 euro by Albanian court

TIRANA, The Court of First Instance in the capital, three years after returning to the rank of "General" of former Director General of the State Police during 1992-'97 Agim Shehu, actually in the post of director of the investigation to the Directorate General of Taxation, decides to give the benefit of the missed salary for 11 years "asylum" of his in Germany with 100.000 euro.

The decision was issued on the basis of his salary of 1997 with the rank of general, as well as all missing gains made by banking interests after 30 June 1997, when it is away from work until mid in 2008 when it began work at the Directorate General of Taxation.

General Shehu returned to Albania from asylum 9 years in Germany where he was sheltered after the escape from Albania on 30 June 1997. General Agim Shehu was one of the alleged figures for events in 1997 and one person on the curve in the political arena as a violator of human rights and for very similar charges.

Report: Saudis Fund Radical Islam In Balkans

Skopje | 29 March 2010 | Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Newly built mosque near Skopje
Newly built mosque near Skopje
Hundreds millions of pounds, mostly from Saudi Arabia, are being poured into radical Islam groups in the Balkans, British newspaper Sunday Times has reported, citing unnamed Macedonian officials.

The groups are taught to hate the West and some of them recruit fighters for the jihad in Afghanistan, the Sunday Times writes.

“Hundreds of millions have been poured into Macedonia alone in the past decade and most of it comes from Saudi Arabia,” said a Macedonian government source quoted by the paper. “The Saudis’ main export seems to be ideology, not oil.”

According to a classified document seen by the Sunday Times, Macedonia is currently investigating a number of Islamic charities, some in Saudi Arabia, which are active throughout the Balkans and are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.

Some 50 persons suspected of being Al-Qaeda volunteers recruited to fight in Afghanistan are also being followed by the Macedonian authorities, the newspaper reported.

Fundamentalists, like some strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations, are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities in the Balkans, the head of the Macedonian Islamic Religious Community, Sulejman Rexhepi; told the Sunday Times.

He explained that a number of mosques had been forcibly taken over by such groups. Four in central Skopje are no longer under the control of the official Islamic authorities he said, adding that the new imams claim they have been “spontaneously” installed by the “people”.

“Their so-called Wahhabi teachings are completely alien to our traditions and to the essence of Islam, which is a tolerant and inclusive religion,” said Rexhepi.

In some mosques believers are being told that Macedonia, which sent 200 soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, as part of the NATO missions there, has been tricked into supporting a crusade against Islam spearheaded by Britain and America, the daily claims.

Some of the radical groups have up to £225 a month to spare on each of their followers, sources say. In return the followers are expected to grow beards and to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans.

Macedonia is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, while roughly one quarter of its population is Muslim.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bomb Blast In Athens: One child (15 years) Killed

A bomb has exploded in a residential district of central Athens, killing one child (15 years) and wounding a girl, authorities said.
The bomb exploded shortly before midnight Sunday in the central district of Patissia, and had not been preceded by any warning call, police said.
One child (15 years) was killed in the blast, while a girl aged about 10 who had been passing by with her mother was lightly wounded.
The girl was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition, while her mother (from Afghanistan) was slightly injured, local reports said.
The bomb, which exploded outside a civil service school, also damaged nearby cars and adjacent buildings
Albanians protest Greek racist chants during National Holiday


The Greek national flag was set on fire in the Albanian city of Shkoder by students as a sign of revolt regarding the anti-Albanian conduct of Greek soldiers, local media reports from Tirana.

- Our patriotic soul called us to unite at a protest organised by us, students. We don't allow racist chants against Albanians. Our people has been humiliated several times in Greece. We need to react, protesters say.

Greece's flag was also ignited last night in Burrel at a protest staged over anti-Albanian slogans shouted by members of the coast guard unit at a parade celebrating country's independence day.

Protesters manifested their discontent with the "inadequate reactions by the state of Albania in relation to insulting provocations that occur in continuity".

In the meantime, Greek ambassador to Tirana Nicolaos Pazios has apologized for the racist chants by members of the Greek coastal guard.

The ambassador confirmed the Greek Government's readiness to investigate the case and undertake appropriate actions.

Ambassador Pazios expressed regret over the incident during a meeting with Albanian Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Ilir Meta.

FM Meta branded the actions as "scandalous", saluting the swift reaction by the Greek Government, adding relations between two countries would continue to develop.

Albania raises cash to destroy old ammunition

Albania's Defense Ministry says it has been promised $10 million ((EURO)7.4 million) from the United States as part of donations from NATO countries to destroy its massive Communist-era ammunition stockpiles by 2013.

The donation will help fund a (EURO)35.5 million ($47.6 million) project to dispose of about 90,000 tons of excess ammunition that are stored in old army depots and are seen as posing a risk to public safety.

A huge blast in 2008 at a munitions disposal factory near the capital, Tirana, killed 26 people and injured 300.Formerly communist Albania joined NATO last year.

Greek flag burned in Tirana

Only a month ago, the Albanian Parliament voted the discrimination law, for which nobody should feel discriminated, including national minorities.

But in this picture, shown clearly that racist feelings affect hundreds of young Albanian, who show with their nationalist hysteria to Omonia President name Vassilios Bollanos, same symptoms as before in the case of a group of young people from Tepelena, similar a year ago.

In addition, many nationalist sporadic protests against Greece are held in Tirana, Durres, Shkoder and Northern Albania. Its very interesting the fact that the protests where held without authorization of the police authorities, but "accompanied from them".

According to Albanian press, not only Greece's Interior Minister Hristohoidis has requested to be punished the authors, but also the Greek ambassador in Tirana has voiced his forgiveness to Albanian Foreign Ministry.

see video:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Imer Selmani: The non-implementation of the Ohrid Agreement raises question on FYROM’s structure

Leader of the New Democracy party in FYROM Imer Selmani thinks that if the non-observation and non-implementation of the Ohrid Agreement continues “issues on the redefinition of the relations between slavo Macedonians and Albanians as well as about the structure of the country rises legally,” FYROM Makfax agency reported. According to Selmani the relations between slavo Macedonians and Albanians will be reconsidered not “because the Albanians wants it but due to the fact it will be necessary”.

The party leader thinks that in this case none of the issues should be taboo, including the structure of the country “under the form of cannons as it is in Switzerland or like Belgium’s structure”. According to Selmani the Albanians believe in the Ohrid Framework Agreement but do not believe in the will of Skopian political parties to fulfill the agreement, required not only by this document but also by the Constitutions.

On Saturday, during the meeting with supporters of the party in Debar, Selmani accused VMRO-DPMNE of causing religious and ethnical intolerance and of defining FYROM as Orthodox country to the detriment of the followers of the Islam. The Albanian Democratic Union for Integration was accused of “non taking actions on stopping its coalitional partner to violate the rights of Albanians”.

Greek Financial Crisis: Balkan Aftershocks?

James Pettifer, April 2010

The World Today, Volume 66, Number 4

The Greek financial shock has rippled across its hinterland. Solutions for Balkan states may be unappetising: crime and corruption are rampant. And once again, ethnic politics are returning to centre stage.

Balkan neighbours are looking southwards to sunny Greece after the hardest winter for many years with a mixture of schadenfreude and anxiety. The sight of the big neighbour economy reeling under the impact of the debt crisis is refreshing for some after so many years when this NATO and European Union (EU) member was held up an example of European development, as opposed to the messy and sometimes violent post-communist years in the Balkans.

As in late Ottoman times, Greek capital exports have been a main motor of economic development. Some neighbours - Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria - have swathes of local financial capital under Greek influence and control. Greece has also been an important source of funds for post-Slobodan Milosevic Serbia and has stakes in major enterprises in Romania, Moldova and Russia itself.

Although local financial regulators in say, Albania - where approcahing half the banks are Greek controlled - claim they are independent and not vulnerable to capital withdrawal to prop-up Athens-based parents, the reality is more complex. All anecdotal evidence suggests that bank lending slowed to a snail's pace last year and almost stopped altogether in many institutions. The construction industry, the main motor of economic development, has been hardest hit, small local enterprise less so.

Balkan banks did not get involved in complex debt instruments and most banking is simple and traditional, but it has been the main instrument of modernity, just as Greek banks were in Ottoman times. There are also disturbing resemblances to the post-Wall Street Crash period. Then the crisis was slow to hit the nations of southeast Europe but when it did, post-autumn 1930, the force was very severe.

In most countries now, there is strong and continuing input by the international financial institutions, for obvious reasons. This applies particularly to Albania which experienced an armed uprising in 1997. It has been most evident in Macedonia which, almost alone in the region, has for some years held a fixed currency peg between the dinar and the Euro.....

Albania to continue cooperation with Serbia

Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta said that Albania will continue to cooperate with Serbia for the sake of the Albanians in the Preševo Valley.

He said that Tirana will cooperate with Belgrade to improve on the rights and integration of Albanians in southern Serbia.

Meta said that policies of good neighborly relations and regional cooperation play a constructive role in the efforts of the Balkans towards becoming part of the “European family,” the Albanian ATA agency stated.

Meta met with a group of Albanians from the Preševo Valley that study at Albanian universities.

Reminding of his recent visit to Serbia, during which he visited Preševo, Meta said that Serbian officials showed understanding for the concerns of the Preševo Valley residents, and that Belgrade promised to invest efforts in improving their standard of living and their rights through investments in the region.