Friday, September 24, 2010


PM Papandreou in flurry of diplomacy in NYC

Papandreou broaches thorny bilateral issues with Turkish, Albanian leaders on sidelines of UN summit

Continuing a public relations drive in the US aimed at drumming up investment interest and attracting much-needed funding, Prime Minister George Papandreou has also held a series of meetings with regional leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to thrash out longstanding foreign policy problems.

Following talks late on Wednesday, Papandreou and Turkish President Abdullah Gul agreed that bilateral ties had improved in recent months following the establishment of a strategic council comprising ministers from both countries that is to convene annually. According to sources, the two men – both former foreign ministers – reported “satisfactory results” from the council’s first session. The leaders also discussed the latest United Nations-mediated drive to reunify Cyprus, which has foundered in recent months as Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and hardline Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have failed to find common ground. Papandreou reportedly asked Gul to help push forward the peace process. The issue is expected to be on the agenda of talks in October, when Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is to visit Athens.

Papandreou also had talks with his Albanian counterpart Sali Berisha and agreed that bilateral relations remained good despite the murder last month of an ethnic Greek man in Himara, southern Albania, an attack that Berisha condemned.

Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, who is in the US with Papandreou, expressed clear frustration at the failure of Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), to visit New York. He and Papandreou had hoped to meet Gruevski for talks about an ongoing bilateral dispute regarding the Balkan country’s official name, particularly following Gruevski’s recent allegations regarding Greek “intransigence” in the negotiations. “If officials in Skopje invested all this time and energy on solving the problem at hand, rather than trying to score political points, we would be making a lot more progress,” Droutsas remarked.

Artur Zhei: Bollano and Doule, threatening the integrity of Albania

Albanian Telegraphic Agency Director, as every Albanian invested by Italian patriotism in the last century, this time charged against Albania, the two leaders of the ethnic Greek community

In the show "Opinion" TV Klan, held a debate about the relationship and tensions Albanian Greek. In one of the most interesting debates, Artur Zhei, Director of ATA Albanian Telegraphic Agency, a publicist Albanian invested by "pro Albania Italian patriotism, accused as enemies of the national integrity of Albania, two leaders of the ethnic Greek minority, Vangjel Doules and Vassili Bollano.

This is the serious charges that carried out publicly against the exponents of the Greek minority, from a political trial against leaders of the Greek minority in 1994. The question led Zhei that, "you go and complain in Greece to Greek Prime Minister Papandreou, the events in Himare, constitutes a violation of national sovereignty of Albania" said Artur Zhei.
Vangjel Doule responded that "this is a new threat in Albania and that pluralism will be taken into account in the analysis of geopolitical factors Albanian".

Apparently, Artur Zhei, seeking to say that the Greeks of Albania, should probably complain to the Prime Minister of Kosovo, or elsewhere, for which crimes and terrorism against the Greeks in Albania's Northern Epirus.

Brief Obama-Papandreou meeting

NEW YORK CITY (ANA-MPA) -- Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held a brief meeting with US President Barack Obama early Friday morning (Athens time) during a reception hosted by the American leader in honour of visiting heads of state and government, held at a Manhattan museum.

The US president reportedly referred to the difficult task facing the Greek government and positive steps taken so far.

On his part, Papandreou congratulated Obama for his opening address at the 65th UN General Assembly and particularly for his recent initiatives vis-à-vis the Middle East, agreeing that all sides must contribute in order to find a solution.

The Greek premier also extended an invitation to Obama and his family to officially visit Greece.

Earlier, Papandreou addressed a "World Leadership Forum 2010" event at a New York hotel hosted by the Foreign Policy Association and presented a comprehensive view of the economic situation in Greece and the country's future prospects.

"Greece is a small country," the Greek premier said, adding that "the economic crisis is not our problem only and this has been shown by developments." Papandreou placed emphasis on the need to further reinforcing cooperation.

"Greece is a different country today, with a cradible government that works with determination in the path of longterm stability and growth," Papandreou noted.

Albanian leader, addressing UN, calls for greater international recognition of Kosovo

Bamir Topi, President of Albania

23 September 2010 – Albania’s President today appealed to United Nations Member States to recognize the independence of Kosovo, saying such a move would help promote peace and stability in the Balkans.

Bamir Topi told the General Assembly’s annual high-level segment that “the matter of Kosovo and its borders belongs to the past” and Serbia and Kosovo should now engage in dialogue on practical issues.

“We have the responsibility towards a country and a people that rightly wish to be among us and have given ample evidence that it truly deserves it,” he said.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, but Serbia has said that it will not recognize the declaration.

In July the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion in which it concluded that the declaration of independence did not violate either general international law, a 1999 Security Council resolution following the end of fighting in Kosovo, or the constitutional framework adopted by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on behalf of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

The advisory opinion, which is non-binding, was issued in response to an earlier request from the General Assembly.

Mr. Topi today urged Serbia and Kosovo to immediately begin dialogue to resolve practical issues, “in the interest of daily concerns of their citizens, to help them but also to facilitate and even calm the situation of respective minorities, Albanian and Serbian. It is time for the solution of problems and issues of representation, language, education or others in the spirit and vision of the common European future.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

FM sharply criticises fYRoM PM's 'no-show' at UN

NEW YORK (ANA-MPA) -- Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas was highly critical of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in statements on Thursday, following the latter's refusal to visit New York and meet with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. "All the time and all the energy that the Skopje side now expends in its effort to create certain impressions that act in the wrong direction; if it instead invested these in finding a solution to the 'name issue' then we would be in a very different position," Droutsas underlined. (ANA-MPA) Gruevski was "creating impressions that do not contribute at all to a solution," he added. While in New York, Droutsas participated in an informal NATO-Russia foreign ministers' meeting held on Wednesday and a working dinner for EU foreign ministers and their Russian counterpart. He also had a round of meetings with several of his counterparts from other countries that will continue on Thursday. On Wednesday night he attended a dinner for leaders, foreign ministers and officials of SE European countries that was also attended by Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Bulgarian Premier Boyko Borisov.

Robbers nabbed trying to drill into bank from above

Main Image
Main Image

TIRANA | Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:20pm EDT

TIRANA (Reuters) - Two would-be Albanian bank robbers were arrested Wednesday as they tried to drill a passageway into a bank vault from a shop they had rented above it, police officials said.

In an aborted heist echoing the plot of the Woody Allen film "Small Time Crooks," the two men were caught after the noise from their drilling between the upper floor shop and the bank vault alerted the authorities.

"We moved in when they were in the last stages of finishing the tunnel," Tirana police chief Tonin Vocaj told reporters.

Armed robberies at small, lightly protected branches of 16 commercial banks have risen over the last few years in Albania, a small and impoverished Adriatic nation of 3.2 million.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Greece's radical positions not in favour of name settlement, says PM Gruevski

gruevskiPrime Minister Nikola Gruevski said Tuesday that latest statements by Greek Premier George Papandreou and Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas given in New York had suggested that hopes created recently in a bid the name issue to be solved had been misleading, because they once again "presented utterly radical positions".

"It is great disappointment and not in line with constructive actions aimed at finding a solution", said Gruevski.

Greece by reiterating its "erga omnes" positions - a name with geographical determinant for overall use and adoption of constitutional amendments if necessary - implies that it is not changing its stances, according to the PM.

"These statements deny many people in Macedonia who have said that Greece is flexible and Macedonia isn't", Gruevski stated.

The PM said he was still optimistic about a possible solution, adding that optimism was not enough, but demonstration of constructiveness from the other party.

"I'm not sure to what extend these stances might improve their positions ahead of the local elections, only time will tell. However, if their positions are truly firm, this won't help in overcoming the dispute. On one hand, Greek officials say they have willingness and constructiveness to solve the issue, on the other they voice their positions, which are utterly radical, even more radical than the positions of the previous government", Gruevski said.

Commenting Greece's remarks that he didn't want to meet with Papandreou, PM Gruevski said that such a meeting was not even arranged. He noted that an open invitation had been conveyed to the Greek Premier for a meeting in Macedonia "if he believes that it could contribute to swift settlement of the name issue".

Moreover, he failed to state precisely whether he would attend the 65. UN General Assembly in New York.

PM Gruevski said that mediator Matthew Nimetz by stating the problem could be solved with dialogue between countries' leaderships didn't indicate that he was quitting his role as mediator.

"He wants to point out that all forms of communication are welcomed in overcoming the name row", PM Nikola Gruevski stressed.

UN agency: 40 youths murdered daily in Europe

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The World Health Organization says 40 young Europeans are murdered every day, with Russia, Albania and Kazakhstan having the highest homicide rates for people aged 10-29.

In its first report on youth violence, WHO's European office says about 40 percent of the 15,000 annual youth homicides are perpetrated with knifes and sharp weapons. Other means include firearms and strangulation.

Homicide is the third most common cause of death after road traffic injuries and suicides for that age group. Eighty percent of the victims are men.

The report — presented Tuesday at a conference in London — says Austria, Armenia and Germany had the lowest youth murder rate among the 53 European nations covered by the survey.




Prot. No. 0825/2010

To the President of the European Commission

Mr. José Manuel Barroso


-Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy of the European Union

Mr. Stefan Fuele

-Albanian Parliament

-Hellenic Parliament

-European Parliament

-Congress and Senate of the United States of America


Subject: Albania, its joining to the European Union and the Greek Ethnic Minority

Honorable Mr. President

As we know, the basic EU principles, principles that have to be respected by the member states and those states that wish to join, are the respect of human life and the non promotion of nationalistic demands.

Among the criteria set by the European Union (EU) to the candidate states, are issues dealing with the minorities and the elimination of any kind of discrimination against them. In order for a candidate state to join the EU all of these conditions must be met.

During the EU meeting with Albania (Tirana 13.01.2003), EU urged them to assume the responsibility to meet all the conditions of eligibility, among which are the full respect and the protection of rights of the Greek Ethnic Minority.

This was also confirmed in the “Thessaloniki Agenda for the Western Balkans: Path towards European Integration” (Thessaloniki, June 2003) as well as in the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement at the start of the process of integrating Albania into the European Union (June 2006).

At the same time EU sets as one of the conditions for the European integration of a state, the respect of borders and the elimination of nationalistic movements that threaten stability.

In reality though, although Albania agreed to implement a series of commitments in order to proceed with the integration process, it is still creating obstacles for the Greek minority on a daily basis.

As examples we mention the following:

-Feeling of insecurity

The most recent example is the assassination of the Greek Aristoteli Gouma in Himara.

Such a brutal action is not only an insult to human life but also to the presence of the native Greek minority in Albania. It is a provocation to human and minority rights, a provocation which reminds us of the times that we all want to forget. Back then, during the Hoxha regime, the Greek existence was undesirable in Albania and had to be eliminated. Thousands of those murdered, even more persecuted and imprisoned during that period, is a harsh reality that everyone wants to forget. The murder though in Himara brings it all back.

In Himara, where most of the Greek population of Albania lives for many decades, every principle of law and protection of human rights is violated. There is no freedom, and besides nationalism and racism are a daily routine. The examples are many and most of the times the attacks on the Greek minority have the support of the Albanian State.

-Greek Property

The Greek minority in its historic course was a permanent target of the Albanian nationalism. With the collapse of the totalitarian regime in the early 1990’s, a great majority of Greeks from Albania emigrated to Greece leaving behind their property which was either bought or confiscated by Albanians who came from the North looking for better fortune in the fertile coast.

The goal is obvious: The Albanians or the state itself to seize their property, by claiming it with documents of questionable authenticity, which are known to the local communities to belong to Greeks and therefore rightfully belong to their descendants as well.

The confiscating of land belonging to Greeks, who have emigrated, is accompanied by blackmail and threats to force them to surrender the land and buildings. Notably the state itself is involved in illegal activities, trying to govern the church property or the community property that the Hoxha regime had nationalized.

All these, aim to the expulsion from their ancestral homes and the de- Hellenization of areas where the Greek minority lives.

-Operations of the Albanian state that would undermine the presence of the Greek minority.

We mention the arbitrary geographic restriction of the minority, the statistical genocide, the violent ethnic alteration of the Greek villages, the expulsion of Greeks from the so-called “minority area”, the cultural de-Hellenization, repression and assimilation policies, a constant effort to reduce the representation of Greeks, and the ongoing interventions for the free use of the Greek language.

-Nationalism which disputes the native land of the Greek minority and the borders with Greece.

According to the new version of the government funded Albanian Encyclopedic Dictionary, which was released recently by the Academy of Sciences in Tirana, Greek cities in Greece are considered Albanian national territories such as Ioannina, Igoumenitsa, Arta and Preveza…

In addition the Greeks are considered as “settlers” in the region since the years of the Turkish occupation, and according to the encyclopedic dictionary they were there to work in the estates of the Farms landlords.

Also in response to the nonexistent problem of the Chams, the descendants of the occupation forces collaborators in Greece, organizations that are often supported by the State, proceed to nationalistic movements.

Already in the Albanian Parliament Chams nationalists, represented by two MPs and an equal number of nationalist parties, organize nationalistic events.

The propaganda is gaining ground in a society which traditionally is possessed by prejudices and stereotypes against the Greeks.

Honorable Mr. President

For all the above we urge the European Union to take measures so that Albania meets its obligations as a candidate state.
We also recommend the EU to put pressure on Albania to fulfill the following obligations:

-The placement of public signs in Greek. This is an obligation of Albania under the Agreement - Framework for minorities which it has signed. The placement of signs will be a formal message to all visitors in Albania, that in the area live people who belong to the Greek National Minority.

-The elimination of minority regions since the Albanian practice of arbitrary distinction between "qualified minority areas" and other purely Greek, such as the Himara, the Koritsa and Premeti, is an issue that refers to divisions of the Hoxha era.

-The introduction of the Greek language in public administration: The Albanian government when addressed to the Greek national minority should use documents written in the Greek language. No administrative or judicial act related to residents will be carried out unless it is written in Greek.

-The creation of a Security Agency of the Ethnic Greek Minority: Due to the increased number of incidents of violent life of the Greek minority we request the creation of a Minority Protection Office.

-The right to education in mother tongue at all levels and degrees of education, where members of the ethnic Greek minority are a majority or a significant proportion of the population, the proper use of learning the mother tongue, the right of preservation of cultural heritage, property restitution, free exercise of religion, freedom of establishment and participation in any political formation, the right to guarantee the participation of Greeks at all levels and sectors of power and the determination of national identity by the free declaration of each citizen, at the time of each census.

Honorable Mr. President

We believe that the integration of Albania into the European Union will be the best solution for the Greek minority in respect to its rights. Because if the European practice, principles and mentality will prevail, then the members of the Greek ethnic minority would be guaranteed the implementation and respect of their rights and would feel equal members of this society. At the same time though, we express its reservations about the real intentions of the Albanian authorities in this direction. We believe that the Albanian authorities create conditions for continuing the same policy towards the Greek minority, demographic and nationalistic, despite the fact that its rights (general and specific context) are guaranteed by international agreements which were ratified by Albania (UN, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, European Union)

Finally, the path of Albania towards the European Union passes through the respect of human, political, cultural, religious, property and educational rights of Greeks in Albania. For any additional information or clarification we remain at your disposal and we hope the integration of Albania to the European Union will provide a start for a better life for the Greek minority and the disappearance of the nationalistic movements in the region.

Respectfully yours,

Press Office

Michael Servos

Albania Moves Closer to Visa Liberalisation

Tirana | 21 September 2010 |
Lulzim Basha and Cecilia Malmstrom
Lulzim Basha and Cecilia Malmstrom

Albania has fulfilled the technical requirements needed for visa liberalisation, the EU Commissioner for Internal Affairs has confirmed.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Monday Cecilia Malmstrom said: “The commission has finished the technical evaluation sent to the parliament and the council, where it is stated that Albania has fulfilled all the required criteria and made all necessary attempts to achieve visa liberalisation.”

Liberalisation would allow Albanian citizens to travel among the Schengen group of countries without the need for a passport.

Shortly after meeting Malmstrom, Albania’s Minister of Interior, Lulzim Basha, said: “For Albania, the process was not just a campaign with a begging and an end, but a continuous drive of reforms to achieve standards that would make the country worthy of EU structures."

A decision by the EU council of interior ministers, on whether to allow Schengen zone travel for Albanian and Bosnian citizens, could come as early as October, following the commission's recommendation.

Visas could be lifted by the end of the year.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Serbian to be taught in southern Albania

Sunday, 21 September 2010

TIRANA, Albania — The Serbian language will be taught in southern Albania to benefit a Serb community living in the Libofsh municipality. Serbian Ambassador to Tirana Miroljub Zaric inaugurated the learning programme on Saturday (September 18th) and promised that similar schools will open in other parts of the country.

Lessons to about 60 children will be taught in Serbian during regular classes in the village of Rrethlibofshe. The Serb community arrived in Albania in 1924, from Novi Pazar. Many of them have preserved their Serbian traditions.

Military News on the region

Greek Frigate "F 465" Themistocles in Morocco

The P / C Themistocles (F 465) of type STANDARD Navy, along with four other ships of the permanent force NATO SNMG2, docking in Casablanca in Morocco from 16 September, where it will remain until the 19th.

The NATO force made a visit to strengthen relations and understanding between NATO and Morocco.The visit aims to strengthen overall relations between the West and Morocco Abu bulwark against Al-Qaeda in North Africa.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Helena Paparizou - © Helena Paparizou
© Helena Paparizou

Albanians welcome Eurovision winner

Helena Paparizou to perform in Tirana

Eurovision 2005 winner, Helena Paparizou will give a live concert in the capital of Albania. The concert will take place on the 25th of September in the stadium of Tirana.

Eurovision winner 2005, Helena Paprizou is extremely popular among Albanians. Her songs have been several times in the top of Albanian music charts. On the 25th of September, Helena Paparizou is going to give a live concert for Albanian fans.

The concert will take place in Tirana, in the stadium Qemal Stafa. The concert starts at19.30 local time. Tickets will be priced 500 lekë (€ 3,70) and can be purchased in every Neptun shop. Together with Helena several artists from the Balkan area will perform in this concert.

For more information, check this events magazine of Tirana.

Albania Corruption Row Flares

Prosecutors Launch a problem While politicians left and right trade allegations of wrongdoing.

Has gone much deeper problem of corruption in Albania. Both major parties, accused each other that are grabbing property and old property owners, while the country is in the way to join the European perspective.

Charges are made for a long time not only from international institutions but also by the European Union, in which the process of property in Albania, is becoming a dangerous match between tow gladiator political concurrent, from both sides of politics.

A bill, passed recently by the Albanian parliament for property and foreign investment, but it was contentious from the opposition, which considered the voting process as "
Attempt against the Constitution of Albania"

Athens has also recently expressed its dissatisfaction official to properties extortion and alienation of the Greeks, especially in southern Albania and the coast.