Friday, August 20, 2010

Albania Press Review - August 20, 2010
Tirana | 20 August 2010 |

Albanian newspapers
Albanian newspapers
Here are the top stories in Albania’s main newspapers. Balkan Insight has not verified the reports and cannot vouch for their accuracy.


Historian and right-wing politician Sabri Godo has accused the government of failing to react to protestors in the town of Himara who blocked a national road for 14-hours last week, following the death of a Greek minority man.


Albanian intellectuals are split on the merits of building an Islamic centre close to Ground Zero, the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.


Albania's renowned writer and poet, Dritero Agolli, accuses the ethnic Greek mayor of the town of Himara in Southern Albania of creating ethnic tension.

K. Albanians "ready to use force"

20 August 2010 | 09:23 | Source: Danas
BERLIN -- The international community has been notified that the Kosovo Albanian government would use force against the northern, Serb areas of Kosovo.

This is according to a report in the Belgrade daily Danas, which specifies that this would take place if the northern municipalities were to "declare independence".

Priština government's interior minister, Bajram Redzepi, is quoted by the newspaper as saying that in case of such a "secession", they were "ready to react, including an armed reaction, in order to protect the territorial integrity".

Furthermore, Redzepi said, "those who would go for such a move would be arrested".

Redzepi said that KFOR, EULEX and ICO headed by Pieter Feith were all notified of this scenario, and "asked for help so it doesn't come to pass".

All this comes in the wake of a phantom declaration that has been given great attention by the Albanian language media in Priština and local politicians, where an unknown group, calling itself "the Alliance of Municipalities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija" said it would proclaim the north of the province "independent".

It remains unknown who in fact put the text together.

The north is predominantly populated by Serbs who do not accept the Kosovo Albanian unilateral declaration of independence made in early 2008, and are loyal to Belgrade.

The Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija said in a statement on Thursday that the paper was the work of a "handful of irresponsible persons", and called on Serbs in Kosovo not to respond to provocations coming "from Priština and groups of irresponsible persons from the Serb community alike".

Opposition DSS party official and former minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardžić rejected allegations that his party was behind this, to say that this "phantom declaration with an unknown author is murky, politically risky, and one great conspiracy. Whoever is doing this, is working against Kosovo Serbs and the state interests of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija."

"Northern Kosovo is just a geographical and meteorological unit, and its mentioning in any other context either by the temporary institutions of the self-proclaimed Kosovo state or in Belgrade, either by the ruling or opposition parties, is a manipulation, because the whole of Kosovo and Metohija is part of Serbia, according to UNSC Resolution 1244," said Samardžić.

Asked whether this type of provocation and speculation could serve as an excuse for Priština to intervene in the northern, Serb areas, Samardžić said that the "real question is why the main lobbyist of an independent Kosovo Morton Abramowitz was pushing everywhere the story about a possible intervention".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Defence, security discussed by Greek, Israeli PMs

(ANA-MPA) -- Further development of defence relations and cooperation in the defence and security sectors were discussed on Tuesday by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and visiting Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Talks were held on the picturesque isle of Poros, south of Athens, where the two premiers were joined by Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Alternate DM Panos Beglitis. (ANA-MPA)

Both premiers and their wives departed on Tuesday morning for the Saronic Gulf island aboard a coast guard vessel from the Flisvos marina in southern coastal Athens. Earlier, Papandreou and the Netanyahu couple toured the early 20th century armored cruiser "Georgios Averof" as well as the adjacent mid-20th century destroyer "Velos", as both vessels currently serve as floating naval museums.

Albania's Topi returns property law to parliament


TIRANA, Albania -- President Bamir Topi has sent the law on property return and compensation back to parliament, insisting it requires work. In more than two pages of explanation, Topi urged lawmakers Monday (August 16th) to bring the law closer to the constitution and the standards of human rights. His main objection is the so-called "right to property".

Under the current bill, the National Agency for Property Return is entitled to deal with cases involving property disputes. Topi instead maintains such cases should be handled by the courts. The opposition Socialist Party welcomed Topi's reaction, while the ruling Democratic Party, which secured a majority for the law in July, expressed confidence that it will be eventually passed after only minor changes.

Experts believe that The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will be flooded with complaints by Albanians if the measure is enforced.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fall-out continues over death of ethnic Greek man in Himare

(ANA-MPA) -- The prime suspect in the alleged homicide of an ethnic Greek man in the southern Albanian coastal town of Himare, a fatality that sparked heated local protests and top-level official statements in both Athens and Tirana, surrendered to police late on Sunday, Albanian police said.

The man's arrest comes on the heels of a high-profile statement by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha over the weekend, who touched on the possibility that ethnic hatred may have been the real motive behind 37-year-old Aristotelis Goumas' death last Thursday. The victim was rammed by a car while riding his motorcycle, an incident initially attributed by the local press to "road rage".

"The deliberate death of a human being, in every instance, is a deplorable and condemnable crime. The motives, in case (the information) circulated is confirmed, are even more deplorable. The government has asked and is asking from the public safety authorities to make every effort to bring before justice the chief perpetrator of this crime. Let me once again stress, if the motives cited by the mass media and other people are confirmed, then it makes this crime even more inhumane. This is an act of extreme and blind fanaticism," Berisha said, adding:

"I do not believe that there is an Albanian that does not know that the community which lives in that city (Himare) is bilingual, and not just today, but 100 years and 200 years ago."

Eyewitnesses in the coastal Albanian town said Goumas quarrelled with at least three men in his shop on Wednesday because the latter demanded he stop speaking Greek. He was subsequently assaulted by the trio, a day before one of the men allegedly ran him over.

Goumas' death sparked a demonstration by local residents, who blocked a busy coastal highway for several hours on Friday morning in protest. Municipal workers in Himare also held a work stoppage on Monday.

The suspect allegedly driving the vehicle was identified as one Ilir Muca from the town of Vlore.

Speaking on Monday, the leader of the Unity for Human Rights Party, Vangelis Dule, called for a restructuring of police services in the town -- which has see unprecedented growth as a resort over the past decade -- as well as a more ethnic Himariotes on the local force.

The incident also drew stern condemnations from Albania's main opposition Socialist Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration party.

In statements after the deadly incident, Himare Mayor Vassilis Bolanos emphasised 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 the government in Athens to take all necessary measures to ensure that a full investigation and subsequent judicial actions are taken.

"The Greek and Albanian people must condemn and isolate those searching for pretexts and reasons to cultivatae ethnic hatred and tension, because the latter serve the plans of the two people's enemies," a KKE statement read.

Moreover, a spokesman for the right-of-centre Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party, Costis Aivaliotis, underlined in a statement that:

"If we killed everyone that spoke Albanian in Greece we would have transformed the land into a huge cemetery ... There's a difference: on that land (Himare) they have been speaking Greek continuously for 3,000 years".

Netanyahu in Athens

(ANA-MPA) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Athens on Monday for a two-day official visit, following Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's visit to Israel in late July.

The trip marks the first official visit of an Israeli premier to Greece .

Papandreou will receive Netanyahu at the Maximos Mansion government house in Athens .

Talks are expected to focus on bilateral relations and the Middle East issue.