Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brussels’ Declaration on local elections in Albania

12. May 2011. | 06:38

Source:, Alsat

The European Union evaluates that the Albanian voters voted in a massive way, and the authorities responsible for this process had taken all the necessary measures for everything to go as it should.

It seems that the highest evaluation from the European Parliament (EP) will be given to the citizens for their participation in the voting process.

Through his spokesperson, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fule, gave his preliminary evaluation for the local elections. The EP recommends the acceptance of these elections’ problems in order to make the necessary changes.

“The European Union attentively followed Sunday’s elections in Albania, and OSCE’s preliminary report. According to this report and the latest developments, the process was accompanied by tensions and polarization between the participating political parties. But a full judgment can be given only after making a final analysis until its end.

This means that we will take into consideration the counting process, their report and the solution of complaints about the electoral process.

The European Union evaluates that the Albanian voters voted in a massive way, and the authorities responsible for this process had taken all the necessary measures for everything to go as it should.

So, we especially evaluate the commitment of all citizens in the normal proceeding of this democratic process,” said Natasha Buttler, spokesperson of the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fule.

Albanian Elections Include Greek Minority’s High Abstention & Minor Incidents

Albanian elections were held in a quiet but polarized environment and with strong police presence at the voting centers. Most significant of all was the high abstention. In Tirana and in the north areas of the country, there were some minor incidents. There were also some tensions within the Greek minority.

Two sub-prefecture candidates of the new Greek party MEGA, in Dropolis of Argyrokastro District protested to OSCE about the unilateral involvement in the pre-election campaign in favor of the HRUP (Human Rights Union Party) candidates, of the Argyrokastro General Consulate. At the municipality of Chimara, the process of voting was held peacefully.

In the rest of the Greek minority provinces there was only one voting incident. The ballot boxes opened at 7:00 in the morning and closed at 7:00 in the evening. Some of the first voters were many Greeks from northern Epirus who wanted to go back the same day. At least 1,000 policemen were present at the 994 voting centers to avoid incidents, especially when the ballot boxes would be transferred.

The voting process was attended by more than 5,000 observers. Winner of Chimara Gjergji Goro, candidate of The Socialistic Party, said: “Chimara needed a change”. This statement of Goro, candidate of HRUP and president of “Omonoia” Vassilis Bolanos, was released by TV station “Ora News”.

"Bosnia in worst crisis since war"

NEW YORK -- High representative Valentin Inzko has said in Washington that Bosnia is undergoing the worst crisis since the end of the war in 1995.

Valentin Inzko (file)
Valentin Inzko (file)

The referendum on the Bosnia Court and Prosecutor's Office called by the Serb entity in the post-war Bosnia, the Serb Republic (RS), was "a part" of that crisis, according to the Austrian diplomat.

"It has been 7 months since the elections and the country still has no government, while the RS has called a unilateral referendum against the decisions of the courts and the high representative," Inzko said during a lecture at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

According to him, the RS referendum must not be allowed to happen and destroy the achievements of the last 15 years. He warned that he would make his decision on the issue at the right moment.

Inzko stressed that he was not against the referendum as a notion, but that it had to fit a certain legal framework, meaning that the issues important for the whole country could not be decided in just one part of it.

This is the greatest challenge to the Dayton peace agreement since its signing and it is time the international community dealt with the situation, Inzko underlined.

The international community is united more than ever right now, he noted, adding that he had received support from all members of the UN Security Council when it comes to the referendum.

Albania Video Corruption Scandal Heads to Court

Albania’s General Prosecutor has filed corruption charges against former Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta, after the broadcast of a video allegedly showing him discussing corrupt deals with another former minister.

Besar Likmeta
Ilir Meta | Photo by : Albania MFA

Meta is charged with active corruption and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the video was a montage and his words were taken out of context.

However, prosecutors maintain that they have been able to verify the video as genuine through the help of an American and a British expert.

General Prosecutor Ina Rama filed the charges at Albania's Supreme Court on Monday.

The transcripts of the videotape, which was broadcast in January, show Meta asking the former Minister of Economy Dritan Prifti to intervene over a hydropower plant concession tender, naming an alleged recompense by a businessman of a seven per cent stake or a €700,000 bribe.

Meta also allegedly asks Prifti to hire activists of their party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI. The LSI is the junior government partner in the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, and controls the ministries of economy, foreign affairs and health.

Although it only holds four parliamentary seats, the LSI came out as the kingmaker in the 2009 parliamentary elections, which were narrowly won by Berisha's right-wing Democratic Party.

Meta, who is the LSI head and at the time of the recording served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, also allegedly brags in the videotape about influencing a Supreme Court trial over the same hydro-power plant concession,.................................

Albanian opposition doubts vote count, claims win

Mon May 9, 2011 12:41pm EDT

* Albania's opposition claims local election wins

* Parties divided over whether vote met standards

* EU wants to see dialogue, free and fair vote

By Benet Koleka

TIRANA, May 9 (Reuters) - Albania's opposition Socialist Party expressed doubt on Monday on whether votes would be fairly counted in mayoral elections, vital to the Balkan country's EU ambitions, which it said it had won.

The former Stalinist nation has never held elections deemed fully free and fair, and Sunday's mayoral votes were seen as a test of its readiness for European Union candidate status, an important step towards membership.

"We have won the elections, clearly and unequivocally," Socialist leader Edi Rama, who is also mayor of the capital Tirana, told supporters. "We have prepared for two years for this beautiful day. The list of victories is growing."

The Socialists have refused to accept the result of the 2009 election that gave Prime Minister Sali Berisha a second four-year term. They accuse his government of corruption.

The EU is concerned that the lingering dispute has stymied the country's development.

Vote counting continued on Monday but it appeared the Socialists were winning after initial results.

"I thank all the vote commissioners for applying the anti-manipulation plan to the letter," Rama said. "The battle continues. Now it is the turn of the vote counters to show the same honesty and stamina as the commissioners."

With only a fraction of ballots counted, Rama appeared to be winning the key race for Tirana mayor against former Interior Minister Lulzim Basha, but an exit poll saw Basha as the winner.

The main parties disagreed over whether the elections met EU standards. A 525-strong international election observation team was due to issue its assessment on Tuesday. A Western vote expert told Reuters voting had been generally orderly.

Democracy is just 20 years old in Albania, which is still suffering post-Communist growing pains. Four people were shot dead in January when anti-government protests turned violent.

Berisha, under EU pressure to provide proof the Balkan nation is a functioning democracy, called Sunday's vote "the best elections ever held."

The European Union rejected Albania's application to become a candidate for membership last November. It has made clear the mayoral vote must be free and fair if Albania, a NATO member, wants to be considered for candidate status by the end of this year.

Monday, May 9, 2011

George Goro, wins new Mayor of Himara

The Himara Community, welcomes the winner George Goro

Socialist Party candidate, George Goro, has acquired rival Vasilis Bolanos

In the administrative elections of 8 May, the Municipality of Himara, Socialist Party representative George Goro, is estimated by the people of Himara. beating out other candidates split the winner, including the HRUP Vasilis Bolanos.

Meanwhile. The Himara community, has welcomed the peaceful conduct of elections in Himara, and congratulated the new Mayor of Municipality of George Goro, for victory.

The Himara Community Meanwhile, convinced that the new administrator of Himara, will follow his program for which the maximum vote, to stay flat for private property rights and the development of tourist area of the Municipality of Himara.,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Greece, Population census

A population and residence census will be conducted in Greece on May 10-24, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) announced in a press conference.

A total of 55,000 census-takers will participate in the procedure aimed at putting together demographic, economic and social characteristics of the population which are necessary in decision-making and in planning the country's economic and social policy.

The duration of the procedure will be under 25 minutes and citizens will have to respond to simple questions concerning their residence, the people living in it, their age, profession, education and their employment status. The information that will be collected will be confidential.

Albanians vote in local polls after violent campaign and years of political unrest

TIRANA, Albania — Albanians cast ballots Sunday to elect the local authorities amid reports of incidents among political rivals following an election campaign marred by violence.

The main focus of the poll is the capital, Tirana, where the leader of the opposition and three-time Mayor Edi Rama is running for re-election against former Interior Minister Lulzim Basha of the governing Democratic Party.

( Hektor Pustina / Associated Press ) - Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha casts his ballot for the local elections in capital Tirana, Sunday, May 8, 2011. Albanians have started to cast ballots to elect the local authorities after a campaign marred by political violence.

The first preliminary results are expected Monday, according to election officials.

During the monthlong electoral campaign, police reported about 60 violent incidents, including explosions, several stabbing, beatings and threats that have led to about a dozen arrests. In January, political violence peaked with riots in which four opposition Socialists supporters were shot dead.

More than 5,000 police officers were deployed to protect polling stations Sunday, and authorities and the local media reported a spate of incidents, including clashes between rival voting commission members as well as voters. A private national television station said one of its cameras was stolen.

Police say they have arrested four persons accused of violence.

About 3.2 million people are registered to vote for representatives in a total of 383 urban and rural districts.

While polls officially closed at 7 p.m. local (1700 GMT), official allowed those still queuing to cast their vote.

Turnout at 1400 GMT, three hours before polling closed, was 35 percent, according to the Central Election Commission.

It is unclear whether the vote will help restore political stability following almost two years of opposition anger over the last national election’s contested outcome. About 300 international observers and thousands of local ones monitored Sunday’s vote.

Officials from across the political spectrum called for calm.

“Today’s appeal is for a big turnout and I believe that law enforcement authorities will ensure calm during the day,” President Bamir Topi said.

Albania, the former isolationist Communist country that is now a NATO member, remains one of Europe’s poorest and has enjoyed little political harmony over the past 20 years of democratic government.

A preliminary assessment of the election by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be made Tuesday.

“The political class should show leadership in accepting the outcomes of a democratic election process, with citizens casting the ballots and truthful counting and civilized behavior throughout the process,” said Eugen Wollfarth, a representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

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