Saturday, July 16, 2011

Al Jazeera Balkans 'On Air in Autumn'

Station to broadcast 24 hours a day from Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade using state-of-art equipment costing $10 million.

Senka Kurt

Al Jazeera Balkans could start broadcasting as soon as November, the director for programming, Goran Milic, has confirmed.

Work on completing the central studio in Sarajevo for Al Jazeera, nicknamed "the Arab CNN", is still in progress.

A team of journalists, producers and TV workers from many parts of former Yugoslavia has been preparing a promotional TV programme for months.

A 15-minutes promotional show presenting journalists who will work for Al Jazeera Balkans has been already shown to selected viewers.

A TV show covering a story on ex-Yugoslav cities will be soon broadcast, reminding people what Skopje, Belgrade, Zagreb and Nis look like today, Milic said.

"A large part of the team of journalists has already been completed," he added.

The Balkan branch of Al Jazeera will have studios in Zagreb and Belgrade alongside bureaux in Istanbul, Podgorica, Skopje and Pristina.

Reporting will be done in a language that is mutually understood in the countries of the old Serbo-Croat linguistic area: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Serbia; and Montenegro.

The station's codes and rules for journalism are strictly defined. "Personal views do not and will not have anything to do with the programmes. There will be no conclusions or comments," Milic said.

Al Jazeera Balkans general manager, Tarik Djodjic, said programmes will be broadcast 24 hours daily in HD format. The most modern production and broadcasting technologies will be used. The equipment purchased had cost about $10 million, he said.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Greek PM Papandreou invites Putin to visit Greece

ANA-MPA/Greek prime minister George Papandreou extended an invitation to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit Greece, during a telephone discussion between the two leaders on Thursday night, according to Putin's press spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

"The heads of the two governments expressed their high estimation for the current level of Greek-Russian cooperation in a variety of sectors," Peskov told reporters in Magnitogorsk, where Putin is on tour.ana-mpa

Peskov said that Papandreou expressed appreciation to the Russian side for its cooperation, via the International Mediterranean Fund (IMF) and expressed certainty that the temporary economic difficulties faced by Greece will be soon overcome.

Kosovo Parliament Rejects Scrapping Serbia Talks

Opposition calls for Kosovo to suspend dialogue with Serbia have failed to win over a majority of MPs in the assembly.

Petrit Collaku

Three opposition parties in parliament had urged suspension of the dialogue with Serbia, claiming it was against the national interest and that recent agreements threatened Kosovo's sovereignty.

But after six hours of debate on Thursday, the opposition request for a suspension of talks was defeated by 46 to 37 votes. Two MPs abstained.

During the debate, the biggest opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, accused the government of having ignored parliament in reaching a number of agreements.

The party said any such agreements should have been ratified by parliament.

The nationalist Vetevendosje [Self-determination] movement, Kosovo's second biggest opposition party, was equally critical.

The movement's MPs said it feared that future agreements would do even more harm to Kosovo, as they would relate directly to the question of Kosovo’s territory.

Leader Albin Kurti said that the government had effectively conceded that Kosovo's "independence and the sovereignty are not consolidated.

“This contradicts the government’s insistence that independence and sovereignty are not violated by the agreements,” Kurti added.

Ardian Gjini, from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, stated that Kosovo had not presented its interests in the ongoing dialogue and only Serbia stood to benefit.

“Kosovo today does not pursue its strategic interests, at least not through those negotiations. It is not proving that it is following its interests,” Gjini said.

He claimed that Kosovo had entered the dialogue unprepared.

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci responded by reminding the MPs that Kosovo had started the dialogue with Serbia as it had been obliged to do so.

“This technical dialogue is... an obligation from the UN and from the European Union," the Prime Minister said.

Thaci added that the recent agreements with Serbia aimed to improve the lives of ordinary citizens on both sides.

“The dialogue is strongly supported by US government, which together with the EU is a guarantor of this process and of the execution of those agreements,” Thaci noted.

On July 2, Kosovo and Serbia agreed on issues to do with greater freedom of movement, the civil registry and mutual acceptance of university diplomas. The deals followed several round of discussions held since March 2011, mediated by the EU.

The next round of talks, expected to be held by the end of month, will discuss energy, telecommunications, cadastre and customs stamps.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Dozens charged in NY case in violent drug ring

A ruthless syndicate of ethnic Albanians in the United States, Canada and Europe orchestrated a multimillion drug-dealing scheme spanning a decade, at times hiding shipments of cocaine in luxury cars and using gunplay and other violence to protect its turf, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.

An indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charged 37 people with multiple counts of conspiracy to smuggle and distribute massive amounts of high-grade marijuana and cocaine.

A strike force of agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the New York Police Department and other agencies arrested most of the defendants Wednesday during raids in the New York City area, New Jersey, Colorado and Florida.

U.S. authorities said one reputed ringleader named in the indictment, Arif "The Bear" Kurti, already is serving time in Albania for heroin trafficking, but has continued to give orders from behind bars using smart phones smuggled into prison.

Court papers filed in New York described the ring as a network of "several inter-related ethnic Albanian family clans" that spanned the globe in pursuit of illicit profits and used violence "for the specific purpose of intimidating, eliminating or retaliating against witnesses and law enforcement agents."

Earlier this year, three of the defendants gave a "clean-cut" patron of a Bronx bar a vicious beating because they suspected he was an undercover officer who was following them, the court papers said. A dispute over a drug debt prompted two ring members to track down another victim June 4 at a busy Bronx café, where they pulled guns, chased him out the door and shot him in both legs, the papers added.

A four-year investigation found that the ring smuggled tens of thousands of kilos of marijuana into the United States from Mexico and Canada by hiding it in tractor trailers carrying legitimate cargo, court papers said. The drugs were stashed in warehouses in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx before being distributed throughout the city and suburbs.

The syndicate also smuggled cocaine inside hidden compartments in luxury sedans shipped by U.S. car dealers to Albania and elsewhere in Europe, authorities said. Last year, one of the ring's couriers was caught at the airport in Lima, Peru carrying clothing saturated with 24 kilos of liquid cocaine, they added.

Raids in New York on Wednesday resulted in the recovery of 18 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, authorities said. Previous seizures in Manhattan netted nearly $2 million in alleged drug proceeds.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Pan Epirotic Convention, New York, USA Photo: The New President of PFA Demetrios Koutoulas, Gus Bilirakis (US, Republican Congressman) , Leonora Malo, Chrysostomos Dimou, president world council epirotes

Registering property in the municipality of Himare by OSCE, challenged the results of the first monitored in Dhermi

Albanian Mafia, Russian and Italian, interested in registering property in the Municipality of Himara

Western intelligence services, including Greek, American and Albanian, are watching the process closely.

The great interest of American citizens with property in Himara Region

Only a few weeks ago, NATO has taken the initiative to have beaches and territories under control of the Municipality Himara to train Marines.

A week ago, the Mayor Himara George Goro, declared in the presence of non-governmental organizations from Himara, the process of registration of properties will be renegotiated with the OSCE to find a reasonable solution without Law 7501.

Himara, July 12.

The Project has re-begun to implement the first agreement between the OSCE and the Municipality of Himara, the registration of houses and property of residents, a project funded by three European Union countries, including Greece.

Specifically, today in Dhermi, the lists and maps were shown the property, in which appeared more people who have not inherited the property from local residents, while many other families, are not registered properties.

Albanian most
danger Mafia, Russian and Italian , has forced Athens, which considers that about 85% of the population Municipality of Himara to be of Greek heritage antiquity, finances together with Slovakia and Switzerland, a project to define standards, of registration property. The properties of the Albanian citizens with Greek nationality often are attacked by the mafia, assisted by the decisions of the Albanian courts and state institutions.

Reliable sources of Municipality of Himara, say about 80% of community property and the Orthodox Church, were kidnapped by the Mafia with the help of the courts. These lands occupy about 2 / 3 of the entire surface of Himara Municvipality.

Meanwhile, the special is that for the registration of property in Himara, are directly concerned the Western secret services, including Albanian and American ones. That the fact that many American citizens of Greek nationality ancestry in Himara, have returned and are facing a critical situation for the future of their properties.

In a report published by the Albanian Secret Service, in front of the security committee of the Albanian Parliament, stressed that the Albanian Mafia, Russian and Italian are interested to invest around 100 million euros in the region of Himara.

A week ago, the Mayor of Himara George Goro, said in the presence of non-governmental organizations from Himara, the process of registration of properties will be renegotiated with OSCE to find a reasonable solution without Law 7501. But the facts show that the OSCE and the company that is registering properties in the municipality of Himara, but continue to not worry about the protests of many Himara families.

Meanwhile, next week, American Panepiriote Federation, which will convene a Convention in Ioannina, seeing with great concern, registering property and land in the Municipality of Himara, where many of its members, are originally from Himara.

Concern about the process not transparent registration of property by Albanian side, besides the Greek government and directly by Prime Minister George Papandreou, have expressed, U.S. Republican Congressman, Gus Bilirakis, former CIA Director George Tenet and the World Olympic weightlifting Champion Pyrros Dhimas.

Only a few weeks ago, NATO has taken the initiative to have beaches and territories under control of the Municipality Himara to train Marines.

See no evil - EU approach is failing the Albanian people


Today @ 11:49 CET

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT - They say his "emergency" luggage was packed. Someone from enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele's close entourage added that if he had gone to Tirana the next day as planned he would have yelled at Prime Minister Sali Berisha: "Enough - you have to retreat!"

It was 21 January 2011 and the republican guard had just shot dead on live TV four unarmed protesters in an anti-government and anti-corruption rally in the capital city of Albania.

Albanian protests - four people were shot dead. Nobody has been found guilty from the government side (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

Fuele never took that flight. Instead Catherine Ashton, in need of some kind of success for her newborn European External Action Service, sent her special envoy Miroslav Lajcak.

The Albanian leader, in his first meeting with the Slovak former foreign minister said "Please tell me what to do and I will do as you say." But Lajcak, during three rounds of talks, said nothing and did nothing of substance and went home.

He returned to Brussels with the same idea that eurocrats had about Albania all along - that both Berisha and the leader of the opposition, Edi Rama, are not credible and that the EU should leave them at it.

Or, as Fuele recently said in the EU parliament: "The door remains open ... It is your choice. It is absolutely your choice. It is not me who wants to enter the EU."

What is the current political situation in Albania like? A few examples tell the story.

In 2008, 26 people died in a blast at an ammunition depot. After three years of work, a judicial enquiry has not found anybody guilty. The then minister of defence, responsible for military facilities, is now minister of environment.

A few weeks before the 21 January shootings, our deputy prime minister was captured on camera offering €700,000 in a dodgy deal to our minister of economy.

The minister of interior - in office at the time of the killings and implicated in the vanishing of €220 million back when he was minister of transport - is the new mayor of Tirana. Just one person - a protestor - has so far been found guilty for his part in the events. The international community has long forgotten about calls for justice.

And the election? The incumbent stole Rama's narrow victory - in full sight of the EU and the US.

There is more to Albania than this - just look at the European Commission's progress reports on the massive change taking place here in the past few years.

But during this whole turbulent period the only things to come out of the EU institutions are "we have taken note" and "we are following closely ... [sometimes] with concern".

I hope never again to hear these expressions.

Brussels still has time to speak the truth on Albania and to put pressure on the ruling elite to do its job.

Nobody is asking for French jets to hurl missiles at Berisha's degraded regime. But - and I choose my words carefully - we should not let him become a mini-Gaddafi in Europe by closing our eyes to his abuses in the name of a fake stability.

A regime which shoots protesters, fakes elections, neglects reforms and allows top politicians to merrily steal the country's money is not in our national interest and not in the EU's interest either.

It is a regime destined to create a black hole in the western Balkans and to leave the people of Albania on the crossroads of EU integration for decades to come.

The author is the Brussels correspondent for Albanian and Macedonian national TV, Alsat

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Romanian President offends Kosovo

Romania does not recognize Kosovo as a state and the president this country has exploded in a racist accusations against Albanians and Kosovo. Romanian President, Traian Basescu spoke about the Albanians, Kosovo, and why his country does not recognize "Kosovo′s unilateral independence."

Basescu has called Albanians as stupid and trash. He added that this is the reason that his country would never recognize Kosovo′s independence.

"Independence is illegal. Romania will not recognize Kosovo as independent. Albanians are trash and stupid," said Basescu following questions answered if Romania will recognize Kosovo′s independence.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shimon Peres praises decision on Gaza flotilla

Continues the visit of Greek President in Israel

(ANA-MPA) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday thanked visiting Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias for Athens' decision to prevent the sailing of vessels attempting to break through an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza from Greek ports, according to an AFP dispatch from Jerusalem.

"Thank you for stopping the flotilla, in accordance with the recommendations of the UN Secretary General. With this action, you contributed to calming the situation and, in the final analysis, to the good of Gaza," Peres was quoted by AFP as telling the Greek president of the republic, who is on an official visit to Israel.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, via his spokesman, had on May 27 asked of all governments concerned to use their influence to discourage such flotillas to Gaza, expressing fear of violence.

Caption: Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) and Greek President Karolos Papoulias (R) during a welcoming ceremony the former's official residence in Jerusalem on 11 July 2011. ANA-MPA /EPA/Miriam Alster

Tirana recognizes the independence of Southern Sudan

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania has indicated that Albania has formally recognized the independence of Southern Sudan. "The Albanian government welcomed the declaration of independence of South Sudan, on July 9, 2011," said the MFA.

"This act comes as an expression of self-determination for the people of South Sudan, which was confirmed in a referendum on independence, held in January of this year," said the statement of the foreign ministry.

Southern Sudan is the newest country in the world. It declared its independence on July 9, 2011

Explosion at Cyprus naval base, at least 10 dead

A huge explosion - likely sparked by a brush fire that set light to containers of gunpowder - tore through a Cypriot National Guard naval base Monday, causing widespread damage and leading to extensive power cuts, the Defense Ministry said. At least 10 people were feared dead.

The ministry said the explosion occurred at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base on the Mediterranean island's southern coast at around 6 a.m. (0300GMT). State radio said the dead included two Cyprus navy sailors, two soldiers and five firefighters.

State broadcaster CyBC said 59 people had been injured, including two who were seriously hurt but whose lives were not in danger. There was no official death toll.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

FYROM Interested in Purchasing Chalkidiki Property

After the Turks, who want to buy Greek islands in the Ionian and Aegean Sea, now FYROM citizens are interested in Chalkidiki.

On the front page of the Skopian newspaper “Dnevnik”on July 8th, an article is featured: “The “Macedonians will become owners of Chalkidiki” referring to the people from FYROM who want to buy real estates in the popular summer destination of Northern Greece. This is not due to the economic crisis but because in Greece, the law which put obstacles to citizens of non EU countries to buy real estates was amended. According to the article of the Skopian newspaper, this means that “people can obtain property in the region of the Aegean Macedonia and mainly in Chalkidiki and Thessaloniki”, using, in fact, the term “Aegean Macedonia” to describe the Greek region of Macedonia.

Until recently for security reasons there were restrictions concerning buying property in the border regions of Northern Greece and the islands of the Aegean Sea. However, these restrictions are now valid for specific regions of the country and not for the region of Chalkidiki and Thessaloniki.

Hillary Clinton visits Greece in July

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit Athens on July 17-18, the Greek foreign ministry announced on Friday. The visit is taking place at the invitation of Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis.

Investigation has no alternative, says Albania's representative

10. July 2011. | 08:17

Albania is ready to cooperate in the investigation into the illicit trade in human organs in Kosovo, head of Albania's delegation at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) Aldo Bumci stated Saturday, stressing the importance of the investigation.

Albania is ready to cooperate in the investigation into the illicit trade in human organs in Kosovo, head of Albania's delegation at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) Aldo Bumci stated Saturday, stressing the importance of the investigation.

At a panel on the combat against illicit trade in human organs in Kosovo, Bumci said that Albania had cooperated before, in this case with The Hague Tribunal, adding that there is no other alternative to conducting an investigation as soon as possible.

Ukranian representative Sergiy Savchuk expressed satisfaction that the Belgrade declaration will contain a section dedicated to illicit trade in human organs. He stressed that it is important to investigate not only the location where organ removal took place, but also the parties that took over the organs, adding that a worldwide investigation should be carried out.

German representative Viola von Cramon-Taubadel said it is important that the Council of Europe adopted the resolution, which was a prerequisite for conducting an investigation.

Responding to the statements of the debate participants, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic welcomed the commitment of the Albanian authorities to take part in the investigation, and the statement of Albania's representative that there is no alternative to conducting an investigation.