Saturday, June 4, 2011

Albanian opposition calls for international help on alleged manipulation of poll results

TIRANA, Albania — Albania's opposition Socialist party has called for international assistance to help resolve a dispute over the mayoral race in Tirana, the capital.

Opposition leader Edi Rama has denounced as "absolutely unacceptable" the verdict of Albania's top electoral court that upheld the victory of the governing party's candidate, former interior minister Lulzim Basha, in the May 8 race.

Rama said "international expertise is the only possibility ... not to further deepen the crisis," and threatened to meet the decision with "unprecedented resistance."

The opposition had appealed electoral authorities' decision to add ballots cast in the wrong boxes in the final tally, giving Basha 81 votes more than Rama, who in the initial count had been ahead by 10 votes.


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Whereas Albanian governments have made some efforts in recent years to improve conditions for the ethnic Greek minority,

Whereas the improvements are not extensive enough to provide the minority basic human rights that they are entitled to under bilateral and international agreements,

Whereas Albania has not met the requirement of the European Union to take an accurate measure of minorities in the country and is finally being compelled to do so later this year,

Whereas ethnic Greeks continue to be blocked from positions of authority in the police, the judiciary, the armed forces and public administration so that they feel powerless and are forced to seek refuge in Greece and abroad,

Whereas Albania has tried to disenfranchise ethnic Greeks and to undermine their cohesiveness through punitive redistricting of voting districts and administrative regions,

Whereas Albanian authorities allow false claims and fraudulent documents to be used to take property from ethnic Greeks which their families owned for generations,

Whereas the Albanian government does not apportion a fair amount of development funds donated by foreign governments, including the United States and Greece, to be used for public projects in areas where ethnic Greeks live,

The members of the Panepirotic Federation of America, meeting at their 37th biennial national convention in St.Louis, Missouri from May 19 – 22, 2011, the 69th anniversary of the founding of their association, adopt the following resolution:

  1. We call on the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and all international organizations to demand that Albania fulfill all its international obligations to ethnic Greeks in Northern Epiros and throughout Albania.

  1. We call on all international organizations that will oversee the census that will measure ethnicity and religious affiliation later this year, to take every precaution to ensure a fair and full count without obstruction or intimidation.

  1. We call on the Albanian government to enhance its full acceptance in the community of responsible nations by restoring its full Greek Minority all educational, religious, political, linguistic and cultural rights due them under bilateral and international agreements signed by its representatives since the country was created in 1913.

  1. We call on the Albanian government to finally honor the 1935 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice to allow ethnic Greeks to educate their children in their mother tongue whenever they live.

  1. We call on the Greek government to raise a strong voice in international organizations for the rights of ethnic Greeks in Albania, especially in the upcoming census, and to do everything in its power to help Greeks from Northern Epiros working in Greece to return to their homes by providing economic assistance that will allow them to earn their livelihood in their native region and maintain its identity.

  1. We call on all ethnic Greek groups, political parties, and organizations in Albania and all Epirot organizations outside Albania to work in unison to ensure a fair and accurate census and to make it possible for all ethnic Greeks working outside Albania to return to their native communities to be counted.

  1. We call on the Greek parliament to adopt a resolution that it will not approve Albania’s membership in the European Union unless it first grants all rights to the ethnic Greek Minority in the country.

  1. We call on all ethnic Greek political parties and advocacy organizations to work toward united action in pursuit of basic rights for the Greek minority and to promote such unity by election of its officers through popular vote.

  1. We call on the United States to do everything in its power to end the occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkish troops; to press the Turkish government to end harassment of the Patriarchate, re-open the School of Halki, and acknowledge the Pontian and Armenian genocide and to press FYROM to stop expropriating the name Macedonia, which has been identified with Greece throughout its history.”

Trouble in Tirana

Albania on the brink

May 19th 2011, 15:43 by T.J.

THE great hope was that Albania's local elections on May 8th would deliver a clear result, in one single bound freeing the country from what Albert Rakipi, head of the Albanian Institute for International Studies, described as the “tyranny of the status quo”. It has turned out to be a forlorn hope. Edi Rama (pictured), head of the opposition Socialist Party, has called for a general revolt against the government of Sali Berisha. Today Albania stands on the brink.

The next few days will tell whether cool heads prevail or if the country slips into serious unrest and, potentially, violence. This morning opposition supporters blocked the main Tirana to Durres highway, while protests broke out in Tirana and several other towns.

Much of the background to the election is in a piece I wrote on the day of the poll. I quoted Mr Rakipi comparing the race to run Tirana to the battle of Stalingrad. This quote is now looking rather prescient.

The immediate problem is that there was no clear victor on May 8th. The Socialists took most of Albania's major towns, but Tirana is in question. Such is the level of distrust in the system that the election count was televised. In Tirana 249,184 people voted; Mr Rama, who is running for a fourth term as mayor, won by just ten votes.

Yesterday the central election commission said there would be a recount it would count voting papers that had been inadvertently placed in the wrong ballot box. This has increased the chances of Lulzim Basha, the candidate of Mr Berisha’s ruling party, taking Tirana. The Socialists claim this is a ruse designed to deny them victory.

The confusion arose because in Tirana there were four ballot boxes, covering the mayoral vote as well as municipal councillors. Some ballot papers inevitably found their way into the wrong boxes. The question of whether they should be considered valid is ambiguous; there are strong arguments on both sides. "Nobody has the right to deny the will of the citizens that exercised their right to vote," says Mr Basha. It seems a reasonable point. On the other hand the electoral code and precedent seem clear: the votes should not be counted.

Albania has been paralysed since a general election in 2009 that the Socialists say was stolen by Mr Berisha. Unsurprisingly the latest development has triggered fury among their ranks. Mr Rama said: “We should do everything with body and soul to stop the government, and the revolt brewing inside every Albanian should spill into the streets.” Gramoz Ruci, a senior party official, said that the Socialists would lead a “popular revolt”.

I asked Erion Veliaj, Mr Rama’s right-hand man, whether a call for an uprising might not be a big risk. A Socialist-led demonstration in February January went seriously wrong when four people were killed by Republican Guards shooting from inside the government building. Mr Veliaj replied: "[After] forging the paperwork live on television [Mr Berisha] is about to now strip our title and declare his guy the winner in an attempt to throw Edi on the street. You tell me what we are supposed to do".

Huge pressure is being applied to both sides from abroad. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, appealed yesterday for "all political leaders…not to put lives of citizens at risk.” José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, has cancelled a planned visit to Tirana on Saturday. He presumably intended to congratulate Albanians on their election and to announce that the country’s stalled EU integration process was now back on track. So much for that. As one European diplomat sighed, “20 years after communism, they seem unable to hold elections which meet basic European criteria.”

This morning Mr Veliaj says that a legal appeal against the planned recount in Tirana will be mounted, but with protests and roadblocks under way, things already look dicey. If Mr Basha is declared the winner he will be hard to dislodge, regardless of any appeal—and the same goes for Mr Rama.

As one source from Tirana wrote to me overnight: “It seems we are entering into a new cycle of political conflict.” What a tragedy for Albanians.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Albanian Military News

134 officers of the Albanian Armed Forces retire in reserve

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Wednesday, 01 June 2011 16:06

134 Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels and Majors, who served in the Albanian Armed Forces, have retired in reserve, after meeting the legal and sublegal terms.
Defence Minister, Mr. Arben Imami, with the order no. 930, dated 27.05.2011, “On the retirement in reserve of active officers”, based on article 102, paragraph 4 of the Constitution, article 19, paragraph 2 and 13 of Law no. 8671, dated 26.10.2000, “On the Attributions and Authorities of the Strategic Conduct of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania”, amended, on article 11, article 24, paragraph 1, letter “a” and paragraph 2 of Law no. 9171, dated 22.01.2004, “On the ranks and military career in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania”, has drawn in reserve 134 active servicemen of the Armed Forces, after having met the criteria of service in the Armed Forces.
"Albanian Lion 2011"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The exercise ends on the coast of Albania

The exercises of the military Navy presence of English and Dutch forces, assisted by an Albanian commando unit, closed today with success.

Russia Warns U.S., NATO Against Military Aid to Syria Protests After Libya

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg

June 2 (Bloomberg) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discusses the outlook for the leadership of the International Monetary Fund. Lavrov, speaking yesterday in Moscow with Bloomberg's Henry Meyer, Brad Cook and Ilya Arkhipov, also talks about bilateral relations with the U.S., Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and the political unrest in Syria. (Source: Bloomberg)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the U.S. and European nations not to encourage anti-government protesters in Syria by holding out the prospect of military support like they provided in Libya.

“It is not in the interests of anyone to send messages to the opposition in Syria or elsewhere that if you reject all reasonable offers we will come and help you as we did in Libya,” Lavrov, 61, said yesterday during an interview in Moscow. “It’s a very dangerous position.”

Rallies against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule have swept Syria, inspired by the uprisings that ousted authoritarian rulers in Egypt andTunisia. Syrian security forces have killed more than 1,100 people and detained at least 10,000, according to human-rights groups. The government blames the protests on Islamic militants and foreign provocateurs.

Russia abstained from the March 18 vote by the United Nations Security Council that authorized the use of force to protect civilians from Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s forces, saying the resolution might lead to a “large-scale military intervention.” Operations led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have stretched far beyond the stated goal of enforcing a no-fly zone, Lavrov said.

Greek Foreign ministry on new Albanian certificates

(ANA-MPA) -- The removal of designations of a holder's ethnic origin from new certificates issued by Albania was a decision that raised questions regarding its motives, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stressed on Thursday.

The spokesman pointed out that the decision reversed the practice of decades and he also noted delays in completing a census of Albania's population due to pressures from nationalist circles opposed to the inclusion of questions on ethnic origin, language and religion.

Combined, these two developments gave the impression that Albanian government decisions were slowly falling in with the dictates of extremist nationalist elements that disputed the existence of ethnic minorities in the neighbouring country and systematically undermined bilateral relations between Albania and Greece, Delavekouras said.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Albania, no taxes for investments in mountain tourism, while the sea motorway, are prohibited to hold by Albanian citizens

The Albanian Prime Minister declared the new reforms for the businesses in Albania. After the health reforms decision, another reform that is expected to be taken by the government is removing all taxes for businesses that invest in mountainous regions.

The Prime Minister Berisha declared that this decision will develop not only tourism, but the entire country, in order to achieve the government’s goal for entering Albania in 2017 in the list of developed countries.

Anyway, Albania became the only country in world that prohibits their national citizens to hold motorway or something other over sea, according to law approved by the Albanian parliament six year ago. In addition Tirana, promoves it tourism as the best of Mediterranean destination.
EXCLUSIVE: WHEN Edi Rama talked with GREEK PM Papandreou and praise hem!


Thursday, June 2, 2011 2011

Minister's newest partition idea involves Albania

BELGRADE -- Kosovo should be divided between Serbia and Albania, says Serbia's Deputy PM and Interior Minister Ivica Dačić.

Ivica Dačić (file)
Ivica Dačić (file)

In an interview for Belgrade's NIN weekly, the leader of the Socialists (SPS) said that the "defense of Kosovo through war was not successful".

For that reason, continued Dačić his series of statements advocating a partition of the province - which he refers to as "separation" - "I speak about separation before it's too late."

Dačić, whose party was in power throughout the 1990s, said that Serbia "made a mistake when it did not discuss Kosovo with Albania, because separation between Serbia and Albania is the only realistic option".

"Serbia should not have recognized any other negotiator from the other side except Albania. Is anyone really that naive to think Kosovo will survive as an independent state," wondered the minister.

He also speculated that Kosovo would join Albania, just as the Serb entity in Bosnia, the Serb Republic (RS), would join Serbia.

"If tomorrow the RS decides to secede in a referendum, what will they become? An independent state, or will they decide to join Serbia?," Dačić was quoted as saying, and adding, "that's normal, because we're the same people".

"And are there different Albanians living in Priština and Tirana? They're talking to us about a multi-ethnic Kosovo? Our people do not need fairy-tales about multi-ethnic life," Dačić continued.

Asked whether it would be easier to partition Kosovo if Serbia and Albania were involved, as opposed to Serbia and the authorities in Priština, Dačić noted that ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are Albania's national minority.

"Someone will say these are 19th century ideas. Perhaps they are, but these are also ideas that were implemented by Slovenians and Croats, as well as Montenegrins," he told the weekly.

Dačić also asserted that he could "neither win political points, nor was seeking them" with making his position on the problem public.

As for the ongoing Belgrade-Priština dialogue, the minister said the essential issue regarding Kosovo would remain unsolved because of the stance of the EU and the U.S., and said the most the talks could achieve was "some kind of special autonomy for Serbs in north".