Saturday, July 10, 2010

EP to Repeat Call on Albania to End Stalemate

Albanians vote in the June 2009 parliamentary electionsEuropean deputies will vote today on a draft resolution on Albania that calls on the politicians in Tirana to end the political stalemate that the country continues to face more than one year after the parliamentary elections of June 2009.

The draft resolution stresses that “fully functioning institutions, especially the Parliament, are the backbone of a consolidated democratic system and (...) an important political criterion for EU integration".

In the resolution that will be voted on Thursday, MEPs acknowledge Albania's progress on reform, but stress the need for further substantial efforts to consolidate democracy and the rule of law and foster the country's sustainable development, including a reform of the judicial system and the fight against corruption, which "is still a prevailing problem".

The text, drafted by Greek MEP Nikolaos Chountis, reminds the Albanian authorities that one of the prerequisites for membership in the EU is judicial reform, including the enforcement of court decisions and ensuring the separation of powers in a democratic society. “A transparent, impartial and efficient judiciary, independent of any political and other pressures or control, is fundamental to the rule of law,” the draft resolution says.
The text of the draft resolution welcomes Albania's initiatives to waive visa requirements for the EU neighborhood countries. However, MEPs warn that these initiatives should be taken in parallel with the visa liberalisation process underway between the Schengen countries and countries of the Western Balkans.
ECHR on Greeks abroad vote

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Greece has “not proceeded to ensure through the necessary legislation that the Greeks living abroad will be able to exercise the right to vote from their place of residence.”Nevertheless, the Court declined to award compensation to the plaintiffs.

The applicants, Nikolaos Sitaropoulos and Christos Giakoumopoulos, both living in Strasbourg, France, appealed to ECHR because they were unable to exercise their right to vote in the Sept. 16, 2007 Greek national elections from their place of residence. Both are Court of Europe (CoE) officials.According to the ruling — issued on July 8, 2010 — the applicants contacted the Greek ambassador to France on Sept. 10, 2007 and requested to exercise their voting rights in France for the Greek parliamentary elections, being permanent residents of France.

Pyrros Dimas in USA invited by Pan Epirotic federation

Members of the board of the Panepirotic Federation of America, and members of the Northern Epirus Society of Boston had the honor of having dinner with 4 time Olympic weight lifting medalist Pyrros Dimas. Mr Dimas with origin from Himara, Northern Epirus is in America for a few weeks.

Mr Dimas in an interview with the Panepirotic conveyed to us that he was extremely happy to meet with representatives of the POA once again. He also wanted to thank all the Epirotes and Greeks in America for the support he has received in the past.


Minelaos Sotiris President Northern Epirus Society of Boston, Dimitris Bollanos, Pyrros Dimas, Nestoras Bollanos, and Dimitrios Koutoulas general Secretary Panepirotic Federation USA

Friday, July 9, 2010

American scenarios: partition of Kosovo?

"The best solution for Serbia is seeking the partition of Kosovo," said Stephen Meyer, a professor at the Political Security and National Defense University in Washington. "Belgrade", says the agency «Makfax», «must first recognize the Kosovo's independence, south of the Ibar river, while ground north of the Ibar (Ibar) be declared Serbian, "said Meyer in an interview at the Serbian magazine" Nin ". The American professor said that Belgrade should send military and police units north the Ibar, not a race, but by helping to ensure peace and protection of Serbs in those areas.

Stiven Meyer a CIA expert, said that the Serbian government should then insist on a new draft resolution the United Nations to guarantee the lives and property of Serbs south of Ibar. Showed, indeed, the view that the request of Serbia to the International Court of Justice to resolve the Kosovo problem was a naive decision of Belgrade. "Unless, of course, if the government is seeking a scapegoat for the loss of Kosovo," said Meyer the reporter of 'Nin'.

Regional Summit in Dubrovnik Kicks Off

Belgrade | 09 July 2010 | Bojana Barlovac
The fifth regional summit on energy, investments and economic development kicks off on Thursday in the coastal Croatian town of Dubrovnik with the participation of leaders from the region and Europe.

The two-day summit, hosted by Croatia, will cover the EU and NATO integration of the Western Balkan countries, co-operation in the energy sector and new economic projects.

The event will be attended by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, as well as the prime ministers of Montenegro, Slovenia, Kosovo and Albania, Milo Djukanovic, Borut Pahor, Hashim Thaci and Sali Berisha, respectively, .

Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj and his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki are also expected, as well as representatives of NATO and the EU and other international organisations.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has canceled his participation at the gathering due to internal political reasons.

Serbia will not participate in the summit. Kosovo PM Hashim Tachi will take part in the event and Belgrade, which strongly opposes the independence of Kosovo, regularly refuses to participate in events where Kosovo representatives are present and not participating under the auspices of the UN.

According to the web portal, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic refused to take part in the summit after Croatian authorities broke a scheduling agreement. Jeremic was reportedly set to speak during the first day of the summit, but was rescheduled to speak on the second day, together with members of the Kosovo delegation, the web portal reports.


Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis appeared at the Woodrow Wilson Center to discuss Greece's efforts to shift away from fossil fuels while still facing an economy-crippling financial crisis. He discussed his nation’s goal of raising renewable energy usage ten-fold to meet European Union renewable targets for 2020.

Greece has attempted to reinvigorate climate change talks by suggesting a regionally focused approach that would allow other countries outside of the European Union to formulate climate measures that fit their national needs. It has already begun negotiating with other Mediterranean nations and has pointed to the possibility of climate-induced droughts in African and Asian as motivation for other countries to utilize the same approach.

In December 2009, the U.N. Climate Change Conference attempted to produce a legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gases, but the "Copenhagen Accord" is not legally enforceable. Countries from around the world are set to meet later this year for U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Diplomatic Diary: Papandreou awarded Germany's Quadriga Prize


Greece's George Papandreou is praised as a role model. Also in diplomatic news: Serbia and Macedonia sign a readmission agreement.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (right) receives the award in Berlin. [Reuters]

Minister George Papandreou was awarded Germany's Quadriga Prize for "Power of Veracity" in Berlin on Sunday (October 3rd). The prize, awarded on the Day of German Unity every year by the non-profit Werkstatt Deutschland organisation, is traditionally given to "role models who are committed to enlightenment". Papandreou vowed his country will manage to overcome its debt crisis and implement the reforms needed to bring its finances in check.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

UN Security Council on tensions in Kosovo

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NEW YORK -- The UN Security Council held an emergency session called by Serbia in New York on Tuesday.

The UN Security Council (FoNet, file)
The UN Security Council (FoNet, file)

The meeting came in order to review the situation in Kosovo after a bomb attack which left one person dead during a Serb protest rally in Kosovo Mitrovica last week. The Serbs were protesting against the opening of a Kosovo Albanian government office there. The Serbs do not recognize the authority of that government.

Serbian President Boris Tadić addressed the council and referred to the incident as a flagrant act of terrorism aimed at sabotaging a solution that would lead to negotiations. The UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, chief and UN SC ambassadors called on dialog.

Tadić also said the "sinister plan to unilaterally install by force an unlawful and unwanted regime in one part of Kosovo" had the backing of EU representative and ICO chief in Kosovo Pieter Feith. While five EU countries have not recognized the Kosovo Albanian unilateral independence declaration, ICO represents the five leading countries that have, and are actively promoting it

European Parliament to Debate on Albania

Tirana | 07 July 2010 |
The European Parliament building, Strasbourg, France. Photo by Davor Konjikusic
The European Parliament building, Strasbourg, France. Photo by Davor Konjikusic
The European Parliament will hold a debate on Albania on Wednesday, with MEPs and the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton expected to participate. The Parliament is also expected to vote on a resolution on Albania drafted by Greek left-wing MEP Nikolaos Chountis. Speaking for Deutsche Welle radio Chountis said that the resolution was the result of the consensus of all the parliamentary groups in the European Parliament.

“My opinion is that we should help Albania to push forward with necessary steps toward democracy in order to move closer to the European Union,” Chountis said.

“We back the visa liberalisation that should happen as fast as possible, however the country has many problems and the government and the main opposition group should try harder to resolve the political crisis,” he added.

Albania has faced political deadlock since the country's June 2009 parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Sali Berisha from the ruling Democratic Party and opposition leader Edi Rama of the Socialists have been locked in a stalemate over the results of the elections, which Berisha's party narrowly won.

Berisha and Rama have so far failed to agree on the powers of a parliamentary commission set to investigate alleged irregularities in the parliamentary ballot held on June 28, 2009.

While the Socialists seek a recount of the ballots, claiming that the government’s alleged fraud was to blame for their electoral loss, the majority insists that the opposition has exhausted all legal means for a recount to take place.

The 3rd meeting of the Epirotes of Europe

The 23rd and 24th of October are the dates of the third meeting of the Epirotes of Europe in Stuttgart , according to an announcement of the Federation.

The first day, a cultural night will be organized with a dancing presentation by dancing groups from all over the Europe. The next day, an economic forum will be organized.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The member of the Greek Parliament, Petros Efthumiou who belongs to the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party is pretending his right to be elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (O.S.C.E).
The imminent elections will be carried out in Oslo of Norway, on Saturday the 10th of July.

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of O.S.C.E is elected with a secret vote by its 320 parliamentary members from the parliaments of the 56 countries participating in the organization.

Mr. Efthumiou has been elected Vice- President of the Parliamentary Assembly of O.S.C.E in July 2009 getting the most votes of all his opponents. He is a member of the Greek representatives since 2004 while in 2006 he was elected Vice-President of the General Committee of Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment of the Parliamentary Assembly of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and in 2008 he was elected President of the same Committee.

In a press conference he gave to the Greek Parliament he commented the Greek candidacy as “one of the best moments of the Greek diplomacy that is much more important in this crucial period for our country”.

Albanians in FYROM: We Want join with Albania

The Albanians of FYROM are seeking to joint Albania!"The exchange of land between Kosovo and Serbia is a risky proposition for all countries in the region," says the Albanian newspaper in FYROM. According to Former Prime Minister of Macedonia, Vlado Buckovski, Macedonia, a country that suffered the greatest impact from a potential 'commercial' exchange of Pristina to Belgrade to the Kosovo region, North Presevo.

The Buckovski believes that the only way to preserve the borders of the Balkans is to integrate the region into NATO. "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was the main loser in such a case. As things came from the Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, must know that this time is the number 'A' priority of the country is to join NATO in order to prevent this from happening, "said Buckovski. According to Chairman of the party BDK Kosovo Chousni Shakira, this is a Serbian political scenario.

"The exchange of land is a game of Serbia. The politicians in Kosovo to show wisdom and not fall victims of this policy because there can be no dialogue on the territorial status of Kosovo. The region of Presevo is ours, which was captured by the Serbs since 1912, "said Shakir (Shaqiri). However, it will add the Shakira that a possible division of Kosovo, Albanians in Macedonia will seek to unite with Kosovo or Albania. If the Macedonians do not want to coexist with the Albanians, through a referendum issue could be resolved, "said the Shakira.

The former interior minister, Lubomir Frckovski, said such a scenario, an exchange of territories "will make Bosnia" Macedonia. Albanian historian Ramiz Abdul will highlight: "Such a scenario, change the border, would cause a major fire that could spread beyond the Balkans"
Zehrudin Dokle: Gora is most preserved Bulgarian brand in Albania
FOCUS News Agency

Zehrudin Dokle, chairman of Culture and Education Society ‘Ivan Vazov’ in Tirana, in an interview to FOCUS News Agency

FOCUS: Mr. Dokle, would you present the Culture and Education Society ‘Ivan Vazov’ in Tirana – what are its tasks and goals?
Zehrudin Dokle: We are working intensively with the preparation of candidate students, who come to study in Bulgaria. Around 200 students have already graduated different universities in Bulgaria. This is our most important activity, on which we work together with the Prosperitet association – Golloborda.
Every year we send around 25 - 30 students to Bulgaria. Most of them prefer to study law, medicine and journalism, as well as the Technical University. They go to study in the cities of Sofia, Svishtov, Ruse, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, Blagoevgrad.
In July, there will be an admission exam in Bulgarian language, history and literature at the embassy. Students are preparing for this exam during the entire year. They go to universities with scholarship.

FOCUS: For the first time Bulgaria has a minister in charge of the Bulgarian residents abroad. What are your recommendations to the Bulgarian institutions for their works with the Bulgarians living abroad?
Zehrudin Dokle: Over the years we had many meetings with high-ranking officials. We met with former president Petar Storyanov, former prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and others. Sometimes, there used to be some stirring-up.
I hope that now when there is a minister in charge of this issue, there will be much more results. This is very important when it comes to Bulgarian citizenship – the situation has been improved. The applications are examined following their order and no applications are being skipped. This means that corruption has been overcome.
This is a very important thing as up to now we used to hear only some promises, which never came true.

FOCUS: Are Bulgarians in Albania interested in obtaining Bulgarian citizenship.
Zehrudin Dokle: There is interest, indeed. However there are many administrative obstacles and red tape. For example, a person should come at least four times to Bulgaria to obtain the citizenship. Up to now, people used to wait for three to four years for it. This might be the rules but they are too complex.
Isn’t it possible to do this through the embassy?

FOCUS: Is it easier to obtain Macedonian passport than a Bulgarian?
Zehrudin Dokle: It is much easier. There aren’t too many requirements to obtain a Macedonian passport. Macedonia and Bulgaria are on different levels.

FOCUS: Have you heard about problems of people with Muslim names to obtain Bulgarian citizenship?
Zehrudin Dokle: Yes, I have. For regions such as Gora, which are popular as Bulgarian regions, such problems have been overcome. In Gora everyone has Muslim name but this area is the most preserved Bulgarian brand, in all aspects – language, traditions, everything.
Problems occur when people are scattered at different places. Then, there are investigations, as if they are criminals.

FOCUS: You say that Gora is the most preserved Bulgarian brand in Bulgaria. Where else there are Bulgarians in Albania?
Zehrudin Dokle: There are Bulgarians in Mala Prespa and Golloborda.

FOCUS: Is there any propaganda on behalf of Skopje that these people are Macedonians?
Zehrudin Dokle: Of course…

FOCUS: What problems do Bulgarians in Albania encounter most often?
Zehrudin Dokle: I don’t think that Bulgarians in Albania face too many problems. Even during the communist era in Gora, the Gorans were absolutely free…

FOCUS: How many Bulgarians are there in Albania?
Zehrudin Dokle: In Gora itself, there are 30 villages – 18 of them are in Kosovo, 9 in Albania and 3 in Macedonia. Only in the Albanian part of Gora, there are around 10,000 people. Nowadays, their grandchildren, grand-grandchildren are scattered throughout Albania.
Anyway, when some say that Bulgarians in Albania are around 100,000, I think that are exaggerating.

FOCUS: Are there Bulgarian schools?
Zehrudin Dokle: There aren’t official Bulgarian schools but there are courses.

FOCUS: Apart from education, how can the Bulgarian state help Bulgarians in Albania?
Zehrudin Dokle: There is always something that Bulgaria can do about the Bulgarians in Albania and for Albania itself. Bulgaria is member of the EU, while Albania is getting ready to join the European family and in this sense there is always something that Bulgaria can do to be useful.
All Albanian governments have been in good relations with Bulgaria, at a really high level.