Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ethnic Greek's murder in Himare sparks protests, Athens reaction


The death of a 37-year-old ethnic Greek man in the coastal Albanian town of Himare on Thursday, who was reportedly run down for speaking Greek in his own shop, sparked a demonstration by local residents, who blocked a busy main highway for several hours on Friday morning in protest.

According to eyewitness reports from the township, Aristotelis Goumas was rammed by a car while riding his motorcycle and fatally injured. Three Albanian men from the central Albanian town of Vlore reportedly first confronted him in his shop, before assaulting him and finally crashing their car into his motorcycle.

Three suspects were charged in the incident, as Albanian authorities initially arrested six men, while local media on Friday referred to a traffic accident instead of a possible homicide. No police press release was issued.

In statements after the deadly incident, Himare Mayor Vassilis Bolanos emphasized that this is "a premeditated crime, as the perpetrators had been provoking the victim for days." Bolanos also referred to phenomena of ethnic intolerance, which he said harm Albanian society.

In Athens, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said the incident and information that the alleged perpetrators acted out of ethnic prejudice have unnerved the ethnic Greek minority in the neighbouring country.

"Such unacceptable and criminal acts aim to generate ethnic tension, with unforeseen consequences, and to undermine Greek-Albanian bilateral relations . The Albanian government must guarantee the proper and swift dispensation of justice, something that will comprise the only answer, in practice, to the reasonable concerns of the Greek national minority in Albania," the spokesman added.

Finally, Delavekouras said the Greek foreign ministry is closely and continuously monitoring all of the issues affecting the Greek minority in Albania, underlining that the respect and protection of ethnic Greeks' rights and security, beyond the self-evident obligation of the Albanian government, is also mandated by international law and the European acquis communautaire, "for which Albania desires integration".

The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also sharply condemned the incident and called on Athens to take all necessary measures to ensure that a full investigation and subsequent judicial actions are taken.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Statement by the Representative of the Ministry of the fatal killing of Greek expatriates in Himare

Athens, August 13, 2010

The Foreign Ministry spokesman Mr. Gregory Delavekouras made the following statement on the fatal killing of Greek expatriates in Himare:

"According to official information provided by the Albanian police in the Greek Embassy in Tirana, Aristotle Goumas, 35, American descent, residing in Albania Himara mortally wounded voluntarily last night in the town of torrents. This is the information that the perpetrators had been ethnically motivated messed within the Greek ethnic minority in Albania.

Unacceptable criminal actions like this are intended to stimulate ethnic tension with unpredictable consequences and undermine the bilateral relations between Greece and Albania. It must be condemned by the entire Albanian society and its political representatives. The Albanian Government should ensure the proper and expeditious administration of justice, which serves as the only practical response to the legitimate concerns of the Greek national minority.

The Greek Embassy in Tirana asked the Albanian authorities to fully investigate the conditions under which it was crime, apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Relevant to the deceased express sincere condolences.

The Foreign Ministry is closely monitoring and consistently all matters relating to the Greek Ethnic Minority in Albania and stressed that respecting and protecting the rights and safety of members of the minority, in addition to mandatory obligation of the Government of Albania for its citizens, resultingboth the conventional international law and the acquis communautaire, integration in Albania is seeking.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Vice President of New Democracy, Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, as an Officer of the Department of Civil Liability for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, regarding the death of Greek descent Gouma Aristotle made the following statement:

"It is logical questions concern the violent death of descent from Aristotle Cheimara Gouma, which has caused the reaction of the Greek minority in Albania.

We urge the Greek Government to proceed immediately take all necessary steps to the Albanian Government to ensure full investigation and justice in this case.

Ethnic killings in Himare

Berisha immediately met after the event two deputies of Chame Party

The Archbishop Janullatos reacts, to maintain control and respected for religions

In case of repeated for the third time in Himare from Albanian citizens, who killed macabre a Greek nationals, residents of Himara. Aristotle Guma 38 years old, found killed after he has made some new hassle with Albanians language in which speaking. Why speaks Greek in Himara "has been the request of Albanian boys to Guma, resident of Himara. Later, they brutally killed Aristotel in old town of Himara.

According to residents who have so immediate response required by the Greek police protection and not by the Albanian side. They blocked the national road in the way of protest and sent an ultimatum to the Albanian state.

Berisha's dangerous game
or diplomacy?

Meanwhile, in order to surprise Berisha met at noon Sunday, two deputies of Albanian Parliament representing the Cham community, Dashamir Tahiri and Shpetim Idrizi.
The Motives of meeting, are still unknown, according to Albanian TV Public,but many observers thought that this movement has been as an counterweight to any of the expected reaction from Athens for the incident in Himara.

Archbishop Janullatos concerned about the killing in Himare.

By a communication of the Albanian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Janullatos has made calls for calm saying that the event is serious and intentional behind the scenes of the Greek Orthodox community.

US 'Slams Albania Attack' on Outgoing Ambassador

Tirana | 12 August 2010 |
John L Withers
John L Withers

US undersecretary for European Affairs Philip Gordon has reportedly rebuked complaints by the Albanian government towards the outgoing US Ambassador in Tirana, John L Withers.

His reported comments came after Albanian Foreign Minister, Ilir Meta, complained in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Withers' stances on government policies, especially toward the judicial vetting process for the Constitutional Court.

Tirana broadcaster Top Channel TV reported on Wednesday that Gordon says in his letter, written on Clinton's request: “The secretary and I have faith in Ambassador Withers and the work he his doing to bring forward our relationship and help Albania achieve it full potential.

“His commitment to the principles of democracy and the rule of law in 26-years of emeritus service, have played an essential role in helping Albania achieve NATO membership and respect the requirements that follow NATO’s accession.”

Referring to the row over judicial appointments, Gordon added the US calls for “complete transparency over judicial appointments and vetting process..”

However, Foreign Minister Ilir Meta on Thursday denied complaining about Withers.

"There is no letter sent to a foreign country complaining about their ambassadors," he told a press conference, describing the media reports as "pure speculation".

Withers relationship with the government was strained by his defence of the independence of the Albanian judiciary, which was widely seen as being constantly under attack by the right-wing of Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

Recently, the US Ambassador had spoken publicly against the majority’s move to strike down high court judges nominations by President Bamir Topi, based on political preferences.

Meanwhile, the Albanian government and pro-government media have described his comments as "personal opinion", rather than position of the US government.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Belgrade: No need for secret talks

11 August 2010 | 15:49 | Source: FoNet, Beta
BELGRADE -- Officials in Belgrade and Priština have been denying involvement in "secret Kosovo talks".

Oliver Ivanović (Tanjug, file)
Oliver Ivanović (Tanjug, file)

Kosovo and Metohija Ministry State Secretary Oliver Ivanović said on Wednesday that Serbia cannot accept direct talks with Kosovo Albanian officials without UNMIK's presence.

Ivanovoić told KIM Radio that while Belgrade and Priština should converse, secret talks "cannot be useful".

"It makes sense that in this atmosphere there is need to talk about those issues important for the survival of the Serb population in Kosovo and Metohija," he said.

However, the state secretary added that such negotiations should be held in the presence of international representatives.

"The format (of the talks) cannot be decided on like that, it must be a format where UNMIK and EULEX will be included regarding the issues related to security," said he.

According to Ivanović, negotiations are in the interest of "local population and the entire region", while the problems faced by Serbs in Kosovo "cannot be solved in secret talks".

"This state of affairs is not sustainable in the long run because it creates tensions that could escalate at some point. Serbs face many problems in their everyday lives and those problems could only be solved in direct talks," Ivanović was quoted as saying.

Albanian mafia leader makes FBI's most wanted list


TIRANA, Albania -- A list published by the New York Post on Monday (August 9th) revealed that two Albanians are among FBI's most wanted criminals. According to the newspaper, the bureau has identified the two as murderers and drug lords.

One of them is Plaurent Dervishaj, 37, who is Albania's most wanted person. The FBI says he murdered one rival gang member and wounded two others in 1998 in Albania.

He is also wanted for allegedly murdering the leader of a rival gang with an anti-tank weapon on August 22nd 1999, in Durres. Authorities believe Dervishaj escaped to the United States in 2006 and now lives in New York.

The other fugitive is Dukagjin Nikollaj, wanted for participation in a criminal organisation. He is the main suspect in a drug trafficking ring from Canada to New York.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Albania's Berisha praises infrastructure investments


TIRANA, Albania -- Prime Minister Sali Berisha visited the southern town of Himara on Friday (August 6th) to promote government investments in developing tourism.

During the inauguration of a rural road, Berisha said the government has mobilised to build modern infrastructure, including 40km of rural roads in the Himara region, as well as 22km of the national road that has boosted tourism in the south. "With this infrastructure ... in years to come Albania will be visited by millions of tourists from around the world," Berisha predicted.
Vecer, Macedonia: Bulgaria - cheapest; Albania – crowded with tourists

09 August 2010 | 09:33 | FOCUS News Agency

Southeast Europe and Balkans
Skopje. Bulgaria is still the cheapest tourist destination in the Balkans, Macedonian Vecer daily writes.

A 10-day stay at the Bulgarian resorts costs EUR 70, but if tourists are more enthusiastic and tenacious in the looking, they may even find a place for EUR 40, Vecer comments. Only the cigarettes are more expensive there, since Bulgaria is a member of the EU.

In Montenegro, on the other hand, prices vary from EUR 60 to EUR 400 for an apartment. Beer and sandwiches cost EUR 1.5.

Half board and lodging on Thasos costs EUR 120. Beer costs EUR 2.
Albania is the hit of the season, visited by 1.5 million tourists. The prices cannot be compared to those in Macedonia, neither can the attitude towards tourists.

Vecer sadly confirms that Ohrid tries to earn its annual turnover only in two months of the year but the quality of the services does not meet tourists’ expectations.

Kosovo Albanians 'Losing Faith in Independence'

Pristina | 09 August 2010 | Lawrence Marzouk
Flags are sold in Pristina for the second anniversary of Kosovo`s  independence
Flags are sold in Pristina for the second anniversary of Kosovo`s independence
Kosovo Albanians are losing faith in their country’s recently declared independence, according to a poll by Gallup Balkan Monitor.

Following Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February 2008, a Gallup poll found 93 per cent of ethnic Albanians thought independence had ‘turned out to be a good thing’.

But this figure was only 74 per cent in a survey conducted last month, following the advisory ruling by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo, ICJ, on July 22 that the state's declaraton did not break international law.

The authors of the report wrote: “This reduction could have been due to the poor economic situation in the country rather than a feeling that independence had been a wrong step.”

The respected international pollster’s report, Focus on Kosovo’s Independence, published on August 5, compared current opinions in Kosovo and the region to those after independence.

According to the study, citizens of Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo felt the Balkans had become less stable as a result of the Kosovo-Serbia dispute, a view shared by ethnic Albanian minorities in Montenegro and Macedonia.

However, 88 per cent of respondents in Croatia and 77 per cent in Albania said they believed independence had been positive for the region.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 58 per cent of citizens of the Federation, formed of Croats and Bosnian Muslims, believed Kosovo’s independence had been good for the Balkans, while in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska people were split, with the same proportion, 21 per cent, saying that it had had a positive and negative impact.

But the majority of people in both ethnic entities believed Kosovo’s independence could constitute a precedent for other separatist movements.

In the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska, 43 per cent of people agreed that Kosovo’s independence had cleared the way for the secession of their entity. More than a third in Federation agreed.

Both Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo had also lost confidence in the idea that the two communities would live harmoniously together.

Belief that there wouldl be peaceful co-existence between ethnicities had fallen from 72 per cent to 60 per cent among ethnic Albanians and from 17 per cent to 12 per cent among Serbs.

Among Kosovo Serbs, the proportion feeling insecure rose from 85 per cent to 93 per cent.

About 38 per cent of Albanians and 58 per cent of Serbs believe the country would function without the presence of Kosovo’s top diplomat, Pieter Feith, who is the head of the International Civilian Office, which supervises independence, and the EU Special Representative.

Arbout two thirds of Serbs were also convinced the EU’s rule-of-law mission, EULEX, had not brought improvement and that EULEX was not doing a good job at maintaining security and stability in the territory.

But ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were more supportive of the mission, with almost half saying that EULEX was better than its predecessor UNMIK and doing a good job.

In Serbia, the Gallup poll found that while three quarters of Serbs felt personally concerned about the issue of Kosovo, 43 per cent believed Kosovo would remain independent regardless of Belgrade’s position.

About 70 per cent of Serbs are unwilling to accept Kosovo’s independence as a price for joining the EU.

The reports reads: “President Tadic is likely to take this as a mandate and retain his forthright position on the issue. Indeed, he is planning to go to the UN to seek a negotiated compromise on the future of the territory.”