Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ottoman Empire in Kosovo and Albanian history books

How the history of the Ottoman Empire in Kosovo and Albania is written has important implications for Kosovo and Albania's relations with Turkey.

By Muhamet Brajshori for Southeast European Times in Pristina


Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu's concept of "strategic depth" faces problems in Kosovo and Albanian history books. [Reuters]

In the history books of Kosovo and Albania, full of nationalist building discourse, the Ottoman Empire, and in some cases Turkey, are considered an oppressor due to nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule. However, historians argue that this nationalist-based perception could have a long-term impact on relations with a resurgent Turkey in the region.

Olsi Jazexhi, who is doing his PhD on Albanian nationalism, tells SETimes the history books on the Ottoman Empire and Turkey reflect a prejudice that is influenced by so-called Albanian European nationalism, which had different stages of development, beginning during the Ottoman presence until Communist rule.

"All those stages show Europe as a destination of the Albanians, and Turkey as the opposite of it, and since 9/11 show Islam as part of this evil," says Jazexhi.

Describing the Ottoman period, a history book written for primary schools in Kosovo describes the influence of Islam on Kosovo. "Factors which had impact on the spread of Islam were: pressure on the people through land taxes, which should be paid only by Christians, abducting boys and taking them to Istanbul where they faced Islamisation and education in Islamic way, reprisals of the state organs on the population, etc."

In this context, one issue discussed among experts and historians is whether the Ottoman Empire was an occupying country in Albania and Kosovo.............................

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Tadic: Kosovo operation is organized by US

Boris Tadic
The President of Serbia , Boris Tadic, declared that the operation of Special Units in Northern Kosovo was organized by the United States of America. Tadic declared that politics in Prishtina is led by the US ambassador, Christopher Dell, who has always released nationalist declarations.

The Serbian President stated that the dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina will depend on the influence of the US policy in Kosovo. According to him, the Serbian delegation is ready to start the dialogue only if the situation in Northern Kosovo will return as it was before. /

Jet Ski traffickers largest drug to Italy & Greece from Albania

According to the latest an investigation of Europol, Jet ski strong motor vehicle used in these ashore, which is allowed to circulate legally in Albania, is the most effective tool for drug transporting between Greece and Italy, from Albanian Ionian coasts.

resources from the central control of NATO in Durres, inform SManalysis,that the memorandum to block naval enterprise-Albanian citizens, tourism has not only damaged but did not stop trafficking in drugs and arms.

sources of the services of Europol operative control data show that, sea routes off the Ionian coast of Corfu (Grecce) - Albania, Albania - Puglia (Italy), are more efficient ways of drug trafficking.

Albanian extremists' "Red and Black" require changing the history of the Christian to Ottoman

Albanian extremists' "Red and Black" has launched a new initiative to coordinate the initiative against the population census based on ethnicity and religious affiliation.

Representatives of this movement during a meeting held in the town of Pogradec have proposed an initiative to change the labels that are not in Albanian.

Kreshnik Spahiu said that toponyms in Greek or Slavic language should be changed and returned to the Albanian language and for this he added, will be proposed to adopt a special law.

While on the census, Spahiu said that although the government has approved the law, movements against this initiative will continue.

PM accuses K. Albanians of sabotaging dialogue

BELGRADE -- PM Mirko Cvetković said Saturday the interim authorities in Priština caused the crisis in northern Kosovo in order to provoke Serbia to end the dialogue.

Mirko Cvetković (Beta, file)
Mirko Cvetković (Beta, file)

Opening the debate at the extraordinary session of the Serbian parliament on the government-sponsored draft declaration on the situation in Kosovo, the prime minister said Belgrade will remain firm in its stance that the problems in the province can only be solved in a peaceful and democratic manner.

Cvetković said the crisis was caused by Priština's irresponsible and unilateral moves, aimed at changing the reality on the ground, upsetting the Serb population and establishing the interim Priština institutions in the northern part of the province.

"The goal of the interim authorities in Priština was to cause incidents and make Serbia's position more difficult, and in essence, to provoke Serbia to end the dialogue, which was already yielding its first results," said the prime minister.

"Through diplomatic activity, Priština's brutal attempt to impose unilateral solutions was stopped," Cvetković said.

"Our main tool in the fight for Kosovo is dialogue and our policy is not to make a single move which would endanger the survival of Serbs in the province and the stability of the region," explained the prime minister.

The prime minister said that both the international community and the interim institutions in Priština need to understand the Serbian government will never recognize Kosovo as independent and that there are no circumstances or blackmail under which it would do so.

Cvetković called on the international community to work to maintain peace in Kosovo, acting in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1244, and called for a return to the earlier state and reaffirmation of dialogue.

Cvetković urged Kosovo Serbs to prevent the actions of hooligans, who are, as he said, in the direct service of Albanian extremism.

The Serbian prime minister called on the people in Kosovo, above all ethnic Albanians, to refrain from violence, and asked the Kosovo Serbs to be united and not do favors to the extremists who want to take Kosovo away from Serbia.

North Albania, Dibra, raped and stolen four tourists from Czech Republic

Two Czech couples wives are raped and robbed in the early hours of yesterday, while police Debar is working to identify and arrest the perpetrators. Official police sources confirmed to "Gazeta Shqiptare" serious incident that occurred at 08:30 on the Friday at a place called Field of Korab, about 40 km away from the city of Peshkopi.

Learned that four Czechs, were three days in the area known to Korab, and yesterday, had planned to walk the famous green valleys and the area of ​​Korab.

"Initially, unidentified persons have violated (hitting) one of the pairs of spouses, being robbed them and they had bags in the back of other materials. The same fate, few minutes later, it is for spouses and others" - has announced the police. Czechs have just realized that have fallen prey to the abusers, have announced their embassy in Tirana. From this embassy was informed of the Interior Ministry. This has prompted police to put Debar looking for authors.

In the hours of noon yesterday, police have evidence of Czech tourists. Due to the remoteness of the area of ​​Korab center nearest inhabited, suspected perpetrator may have been shepherds in such periods of holiday draw flocks to the mountains of Korab. Also learned that until late in the day Sunday, police escorted about 10 people, but still could not identify the perpetrators of rape and robbery of Czech tourists.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Turkish military snaps
This photograph, taken on August 28, 2010, shows the Turkish Chief of Staff General Isik Kosaner during a military ceremony in Ankara. General Isik Kosaner stepped down on July 29, 2011, and the entire military command have resigned in a row with the government over promotions for generals held in an alleged anti-government plot, Turkish media reported. (Getty Images)

Editor's Note: Soner Cagaptay is Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a Visiting Professor at Georgetown University. He is the co-author, with Scott Carpenter, of Regenerating the U.S.-Turkey Partnership.

By Soner Cagaptay – Special to CNN

Today’s news of the mass resignation of Turkey’s Chief of Staff, General Isik Kosaner and the force commanders is a sign that the Turkish military, the second largest force in NATO, is snapping under the weight of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Since the AKP came to power in Ankara in 2002, civilian-military relations between the governing party, a coalition of conservatives, reformed Islamists and Islamists, and the military, a bastion of secularism, have been tense. But thus far, the military leadership has remained diplomatic, choosing not to confront the government. Yet, with so many top commanders of the Turkish military resigning at once today, this is no longer the case.............................

Albania Blames Kosovo Chaos on Hardline Serbs

Prime Minister Sali Berisha accused Serb ultranationalists of being responsible for the flare-up of violence in Kosovo, while backing Pristina’s drive to regain control of its volatile northern sliver.

Besar Likmeta
Albania's Sali Berisha | Photo courtesy of

“The burning of the border post and the attacks on KFOR troops have been all backed, inspired and paid for by ultranationalist circles in Belgrade,” Sali Berisha said on Thursday.

“Backing the Kosovo government's decision to guarantee constitutional order and exert full control over its territory, the Albanian government condemns the criminal acts of the phalanges of greater Serbia,” the premier added.

Clashes erupted in Serb-run north Kosovo after Kosovo police special units tried to take control of two border checkpoints and enforce a recent embargo on Serbian goods.

On Wednesday, a mob of angry Serbs from the town of Mitrovica burned down the Jarinje border crossing, prompting intervention by KFOR troops, which have since taken control of the two border checkpoints between Serbia and Kosovo.

Belgrade has maintained an embargo on Kosovo exports for the past three years since the former province of Serbia declared independence in 2008. Negotiations sponsored by the EU have so far failed to find a solution to the trade dispute.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha , summer vacation starts in Drymades, Himara Region

Most beautiful beach in Albania, Drymades in Himara Region, came yesterday Prime Minister of Albania Sali Berisha.

Berisha, accompanied by his family, which according to sources, can pass Drymades, breaks up in late August.

However, the arrival of Berisha nin Himara Region, coincides with increasing the intensity of Albanian nationalism, for which the Albanian prime minister, has expressed his criticism against this phenomenon.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister of Greece, Stavros Lambridis, critics Tirana, for favoring policies that makes Albanian nationalism, against the Greek Minority, recalling that the European perspective of Albania, viewed objectively from Athens.

President talks Kosovo crisis in exclusive interview

BELGRADE -- In an exclusive interview for B92 in Belgrade on Friday, Serbian President Boris Tadić addressed the escalating crisis in Kosovo and Metohija.

Boris Tadić (file)
Boris Tadić (file)

Tadić said that the Wednesday attack on one of the administrative line checkpoints - which Kosovo police units tried to take over on Monday, sparking the crisis - could have been the work of criminal structures in Kosovo connected both to Serbs and ethnic Albanians.

He added that it was a "well-known fact that criminal structures from Kosovo and Metohija have strong links to the Priština (K. Albanian) establishment".

It is of utmost importance to investigate who set the checkpoint of Jarinje on fire, the president continued, adding that it was an act that went "completely contrary to Serbia's interests".

"It is not at all impossible that someone from Priština initiated it," said he.

"It must be carefully investigated who gave instructions to burn down that customs crossing where Serbs had a clear, complete majority in line with all previous agreements and acts, that crossing that was not representing any problem at that point, that crossing the burning down of which absolutely represents endangering of Serbia's interests and interests of the Serb people in Kosovo," Tadić told B92.

He said it was not in Serbia's interest for the incident to happen, "because Serbia's international position was weakened immediately," and that he believed that "investigative institutions will find out who did it".

"What is unequivocal is that those people did not come from this side of the administrative line, in other words, they did not come from central Serbia, they came from the other side of the administrative line."

The president also voiced strong criticism of Christopher Dell, who serves as American ambassador in Priština.

"It is surprising that the policy in Kosovo is being implemented by the U.S. ambassador there, who more than once drew attention to himself with his radical statements, along with ICO high representative Mr. (Pieter) Feith. This is one of the facts that we must take into account, which does not mean that the entire U.S. administration stands behind such an action. That is visible from a statement given by U.S. Ambassador (in Belgrade) Mary Warlick, as well as statements made by EU representatives after the crisis broke out," said Tadić..............................

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Greece: Concerned about the growth of nationalism in Albania

Stavros Lambrinidis, Greece's Foreign Minister, has today expressed concern over the strengthening of nationalism in Albania. Lambrinidis said the concern is legitimate.

has made no specifications, but apparently refers to attitudes that were recently holding the Black Red Alliance and a group of intellectuals in Albania.

Foreign Minister
also expressed concern about the state of the Greek minority in the country, saying that the way this minority is treated as a barometer of relations between the two countries. Albania has Lambrinidis remember that it is the obligation for EU integration in the implementation of commitments on minorities.

Albania Backs Kosovo Sovereignty

Albanian President Bamir Topi has called on Pristina and Belgrade to renew their EU-sponsored talks, stressing that Kosovo’s independence is irreversible.

Besar Likmeta
President Bamir Topi during a visit in Kosovo | Photo courtesy of

“Kosovo is a reality known worldwide, and its sovereignty is untouchable and cannot be turned back,” Topi said in a statement released by his office on Thursday.

The president was reacting to the latest flare-up in tensions as Pristina tries to assert control over its volatile north.

The northern part of the country, divided by the Ibar River and dominated by a majority population of ethnic Serbs, has defied Pristina’s authority since Kosovo declared independence in February, 2008.

On Tuesday, clashes erupted after Kosovo police special units tried to take control of two border checkpoints and enforce the recent embargo on Serb goods declared by Pristina.

On Wednesday, a mob of angry Serbs from the town of Mitrovica burned down the Jarinje border crossing, prompting intervention by KFOR troops, which have taken control of two border checkpoints between Serbia and Kosovo.

Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo’s documents, has maintained an embargo on Kosovo exports for the past three years.

Negotiations sponsored by the EU have so far failed to find a solution to the trade dispute.

NATO Concerned About Kosovo After Deadly Border Clashes

US soldiers serving in KFOR check vehicles from Serbia entering Kosovo after reopening a checkpoint, demolished and burned by angry Kosovo Serbs, in Jarinje, July 28, 2011
Photo: AP
US soldiers serving in KFOR check vehicles from Serbia entering Kosovo after reopening a checkpoint, demolished and burned by angry Kosovo Serbs, in the village of Jarinje, on the Serbia-Kosovo border, July 28, 2011

The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency session to discuss Kosovo, where the NATO military alliance and the European Union are struggling to restore a tense peace after border clashes near Serbia killed one ethnic-Albanian policemen and injured four others. NATO says its peacekeepers have taken control of two contested border crossings, but concerns remain about the future.

Serb mob attack

Serbian television shows European Union police rushing to their cars and fleeing as about 200 mostly masked Serbs attack border posts in northern Kosovo near Serbia. The mob smashes doors and windows and soon set one of the outposts on fire in the overnight violence.

Eventually NATO, already stretched by wars in Afghanistan and Libya, managed to send American and French peacekeepers to the troubled area. NATO said Thursday its troops took control of the two border posts, despite being attacked by Serbs armed with fire bombs.

Alliance forces

The alliance has about 6,000 troops in Kosovo, 11 years after it forced Serb forces to end a crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

But the latest violence raises questions about whether NATO has enough troops available if ethnic clashes spread further in Kosovo.

The top-European diplomat in Kosovo, Pieter Feith, has acknowledged the international community is struggling to overcome tensions in northern Kosovo as the 60,000 Serbs there do not recognize the region's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

Serbs are not loyal to Kosovo

Feith, who heads the International Civilian Mission, explains that problems remain as the Serb community in northern Kosovo takes only orders from Belgrade and not from the central government in Kosovo's capital Prisina. But he tells Dutch radio the international community does not want the north to separate and does not want the situation to turn into a "frozen conflict" because it is strategically located in Europe.

Serbia's role

Local Serbs block access to border crossing in Jarinje on Kosovo-Serbia border to protest against Kosovo special police units operation overnight to take control of two disputed border crossings in Kosovo's northern Serb-run border region, July 26, 2011
Local Serbs block access to border crossing in Jarinje on Kosovo-Serbia border to protest against Kosovo special police units operation overnight to take control of two disputed border crossings in Kosovo's northern Serb-run border region, July 26, 2011

Kosovo's government has accused Serbia of encouraging the violence. But Belgrade's chief negotiator, Borko Stefanovic, has denied these charges.

"We do everything to calm the situation down," he said. "And we strongly condemn any violence."

The latest standoff began this week when Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci ordered special police forces to take over the two disputed border posts, which were previously manned by Serb members of the police under EU supervision.

Pristina wants to assert control over the north and enforce a ban on goods from Serbia to counter years of a similar boycott by Belgrade in response to Kosovo's 2008 secession - which Serbia does not recognize.

Thaci has defended the move, although the operation left one ethnic policeman dead and injured four others.

"Black Hole"

Prime Minister Thaci says in a statement the operation was the right decision, because in his words "it was a concrete step in establishing the rule of law" in the volatile north. He says "Kosovo can not remain indifferent" and allow a part of its territory to remain "a black hole, not only for itself, but also for Europe."

Thaci says the European Union's 3,000-member rule-of-law mission "hesitated and refused" to back Pristina's decision to control the two disputed crossings on the border with Serbia. The European Union has condemned Kosovo's operation.

US position

The U.S. government did not condemn the move, but criticized Kosovo for not having coordinated its actions with the international community. That view is shared by top-diplomat Feith.

He says "Kosovo government's wants to establish its authority also in the north." He says the countries he represents "support those efforts to a certain extent," but he adds they reject violence. Feith also says the international community wants the government's authority extended to the whole territory of Kosovo.

But the tensions are overshadowing Western attempts to normalize relations between Kosovo and neighboring Serbia, at a time when they are seeking closer ties with the European Union.

The U.N. Security Council continues to discuss the situation as NATO tries to mediate to help prevent the outbreak of another Balkan conflict

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Minority Serbs in Kosovo reject EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia

MITROVICA, Kosovo - Serbs in Kosovo say they reject an EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia on practical issues because it establishes Kosovo's claim to statehood.

Some 600 representatives from Kosovo's Serb municipalities that defy Pristina's authority said in a document approved Monday the agreement was an act of "national treason and against state interests."

The representatives meeting in the Serb-run part of the town of Mitrovica also called upon Serbia to stop talks with Kosovo's ethnic Albanians and to end co-operation with the EU's 3,000-strong police and justice mission.

Ongoing talks between Kosovo and Serbia have resulted in a deal on freedom of movement, civil registries, diplomas, but have not touched upon the sensitive issue of Kosovo's status.

Serbia rejects Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Deal struck to defuse tension in north Kosovo

JARINJE, PRIŠTINA -- An agreement has been reached today in Kosovo for the Rosu unit of the Kosovo police, KPS, to leave northern Kosovo and return to Priština on Wednesday morning.

Jarinje on Tuesday (Tanjug)
Jarinje on Tuesday (Tanjug)

At the same time, local Serbs will remove road blocks set up last night and during the day on Tuesday in order to prevent the KPS members from reaching administrative line crossings at Jarinje and Brnjak.

This was confirmed by Belgrade team leader in the Kosovo talks Borislav Stefanović, who spent last night and today in the north of the province.

Stefanović made the statement late on Tuesday at Jarinje, and said the deal was reached with KFOR commander Erhard Buehler.

Stefanović also told journalists that it was agreed for Serb members of the KPS to return to Jarinje and Brnjak - as was the case before the crisis broke out late on Monday.

"A difficult night is ahead, during which someone might try to have the Rosu unit move toward the north again," he warned, and called on Serbs gathered at Jarinje to stay vigilant and keep watch in order to prevent such an outcome.

Serbs in the town of Leposavić decided to spend the night on the barricades.

The situation tonight is described as peaceful, but throughout Tuesday tension was running high, escalating at one point into shooting incidents in a day filled with conflicting news and sometimes misinformation coming from Kosovo.

A Rosu member who was wounded near Brnjak in the afternoon has since died in the hospital in Priština, said reports.

Previously this evening in Priština, Kosovo Albanian PM Hashim Thaci called an urgent news conference to say that when his government attempted to take over the checkpoints, its only goal was to "establish law and order in the whole territory of our country."

He told Serbs in the north that the activities of last night and today "were not aimed against them, but in the interest of security".

"We cannot be indefinitely indifferent to having a part of our territory as a black hole. We cannot forever allow endangering of our sovereignty," said Thaci.

He added that Priština "tried to find many practical solutions in the dialogue with Serbia", but that it was not willing to give the right of veto when it came to establishment of law and order in "the republic of Kosovo".

After Thaci finished addressing journalists, they were not allowed to ask any further questions.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians unilaterally declared independence in February 2008, but Serbia rejected it as an illegal act of secession.

The first direct talks between the two sides started in March under EU sponsorship in what is known as the Kosovo dialogue.

But the situation recently deteriorated when the authorities in Priština decided to ban entrance of goods produced in Serbia, citing Belgrade's refusal to accept the customs stamp with "state symbols of Kosovo".

Serbia accepts the Kosovo/UNMIK stamps, which is the format under which the territory joined the regional free trade agreement, CEFTA.

Priština's attempt at taking over the two administrative line checkpoints in the Serb-dominated north was explained with the need to enforce the trade embargo decision.

Serbs north of the Ibar River form a majority, and refuse to accept the authority of the government in Priština.

PM and UEFA chief hold talks on cleaning up Greek football

Prime Minister George Papandreou and UEFA President Michel Platini met in Athens on Tuesday to discuss the problems plaguing Greece's soccer championship, especially in the top divisions. Afterwards, they confirmed the willingness of both sides to put an end to phenomena of violence and corruption in Greek football, Tourism and Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos said. Besides Geroulanos, also present in the meeting were Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis and Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) President Sofoklis Pilavios. Geroulanos stressed that the prime minister and the UEFA president discussed practical ways for meeting the aforementioned goals, adding that "one of them is bringing UEFA know-how to Greek football stadiums".

Germans Interested in Greek State Enterprises

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated she is willing to support the efforts of Greece, in order to overcome the economic crisis.
She believes Greece is lucky to have so many state enterprises. Their privatization in combination with the liberation of some professions will contribute to the recovery of the Greek economy, is her opinion.

According to an article in the Greek newspaper “Eleftheros Typos”, the Germans have organized a detailed plan to help the Greek economy, including agreements for offering the necessary know-how to Greek companies and realization of investment forums and meetings in the fall.
German companies are searching for investment opportunities in sectors like tourism, transportations, energy, new technologies, rubbish disposal and liquid waste disposal.

Serbia's Tadic Pledges 'No War' Over North Kosovo

Serbian President condemns Pristina for sending its police into Serb-run northern Kosovo, while making it plain that he seeks a peaceful resolution of the issue.

Bojana Barlovac

Serbian President Boris Tadic quashed fears a fresh military conflict in the Balkans, saying that Serbia "will not go to war" in response to Kosovo police action in Serb-run northern Kosovo.

Tadic, who traveled to Prague this afternoon, said problems should be solved by diplomatic means.

Tensions grew between the two countries on Monday night after Kosovo Police unilaterally seized two border crossings at Jarinje and Brnjak, which the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX, has controlled since Kosovo declared independence in 2008.

Tadic said he wished to warn "all those in the international community who may be encouraging the authorities in Pristina to embark on such activities", saying they were making "a catastrophic mistake, exposing this part of Europe to immense risk".

Tadic said that "unilateralism of any kind" threatened to "completely derail the process of the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština".

Earlier, Milivoje Mihajlovic, head of the Serbian government's information bureau, said the government wished to peacefully resolve the current stand-off in north Kosovo.

"Kosovo and Metohija is under the protectorate of the United Nations and the international community and we have to try to indicate the point of the problem in these centres of power through diplomatic channels and thus to try to solve it," Mihajlovic said in Belgrade.

Oliver Ivanovic, State Secretary in the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, said the move had been carefully prepared by the authorities in Pristina.

He said the "plan" involved Pristina first blocking the import of Serbian goods, "and then they sent [police] officers to the administrative line [ie the border]," Ivanovic said.

Belgrade Political analyst Jovo Bakic said the surprise action could not have been undertaken without the prior knowledge of the EU and the US. He said the move was designed to pressure on Belgrade to negotiate with Kosovo.

"This is an ultimatum; you will negotiate or we will let the Albanians solve what they want," Bakic said, attributing motives to the international community.

He said that one consequence of the police action in Kosovo could be the strengthening of nationalist parties in Serbia.

Military analyst Aleksandar Radic said he doubted that the affair would develop into a wider conflict at the moment but there was always a risk.

"People on the ground can turn any situation in an undesirable direction," he said.

Radic said that Serbia's room for manoeuvre was limited, and all it could do is to invest its efforts in a diplomatic solution.

Meanwhile, opposition parties in Serbia demanded a tougher response from the Serbian government, which is led by the pro-EU Democratic Party.

Slobodan Samardzic, of the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, accused officials of reacting too slowly.

He claimed that people in Kosovo had known for two days that Kosovo's police were about to take control of the border crossings.

Another opposition party, the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, SRS, called on President Boris Tadic to come to parliament and explain the government's stance on the Kosovo issue.

Tourism in Jale, Himara Region, risk of new ethnic conflict

Thousands of young people from Kosovo and Albania, supporters of "Self-Determination" and "Red and Black Alliance," have "invaded the tourist point of Jali"

Himara. August 26, 2011.

Thousands of
ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, ultra nationalist supporters of the Albanian political group "Self-Determination" but also from Albania, as supporters of new political movement "of the Black Red Alliance", have set up their tents in the center of tourist village Jali, of Himara Region, to demonstrate their nationalist views of the Union of Albanian territories.

According to the latest resources, groups of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, along with beauty that offers elite tourism hot zone of the Region of Himara, are focusing on the so called propaganda of "Greater Albania", by writing slogans in different areas majority of the ethnic Greek of Himara Region.

At night, many local residents groups, inform that the Albanian extremists who are staying in Jale, move armed into their cars and have done time after time, hit with gun fire, spreading fear among residents and numerous tourists who have come to rest in the touristic area.

But sources from Omonia, Greek organizations, which constitutes the main political force in the region, said that Albanian extremist groups, they need to eat tensions precisely on the anniversary of the assassination of martyr Aristotle Goumas, a year ago by Albanian extremists.

NATO says deal reached to end Kosovo border crisis

26 July 2011, Tuesday / AP, PRISTINA

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Kosovo's special police forces that moved into the country's disputed north overnight to extend the government's writ at borders with Serbia will withdraw as part of a deal between Kosovo and Serbia and mediated by NATO, a spokesman for the military alliance said Tuesday.

No Kosovo officials were immediately available to confirm if the deal was reached, but an AP reporter witnessed traffic resuming on a main road in the north after Kosovo police special units withdrew and Serbs removed trucks and lorries used to block the road.

The overnight operation by Kosovo's special police units was criticized by the European Union, which is currently mediating normalization talks between the former foes, and is likely to inflame tensions in the region that remains disputed over a decade after the end of Kosovo's war.

Lightly armed special police units in riot gear crossed into the Serb-dominated area late Monday and took control of one border post, before being blocked by local Serbs on the way to the other crossing point.

One police officer was wounded during the police operation launched late Monday, said police spokesman Brahim Sadriu.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has said it will not recognize the new state and Serbs living in Kosovo's north do not recognize Pristina's authority over them.

Kosovo government officials defended the overnight operation as an attempt to restore order in the north.

Serbia's Kosovo negotiator Borko Stefanovic told Serbia's official Tanjug news agency that Pristina's move was "damaging" for the fragile relations between the two foes but added most of the "elements" for solving the crisis have been agreed in talks with NATO.

About 6,000 NATO troops are still deployed in Kosovo following the end of the war in 1999, when the military alliance bombed Serb troops out of this former Serbian province, following their brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

NATO spokesman Cpt. Hans Wichter said regular police are expected to assume control of border crossings and more ethnic Albanian officers would be assigned to monitor the crossings alongside Serb members of the force.

The operation follows a decision by Kosovo's authorities to impose a ban on goods coming from Serbia in retaliation for a similar measure imposed by Serbia on Kosovo goods.

The top European Union representative in Kosovo condemned the police action as a unilateral move that increases tensions between Kosovo and Serbia shortly after the 27-member bloc hailed progress in talks between the two sides.

"The operation carried out last night by the Kosovo authorities was not helpful," Fernando Gentilini said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. "The EU does not approve it."

Top Kosovo officials have called for more aggressive action in the north. They have blamed an EU rule of law mission, which works alongside the local police force, of being reluctant to face minority Serbs boycotting Pristina's authority.

The crossings were previously manned by Serb members of the force and loosely supervised by EU police and customs, but mostly shunned orders from Pristina.

Both crossings were set on fire by rioting Serbs on the eve of Kosovo's secession and have since been loosely manned by the 3,000-strong EU mission and Serb member of the local police force. The attacks in 2008 strengthened the ethnic division in the north and gave minority Serbs control of the area that is closely supervised by Belgrade.

Kosovo Police Seize Northern Border Points

Kosovo special police took control of two border crossings in the Serb-dominated north of the country last night, raising tensions in the region.

Lawrence Marzouk
Kosovo special police | Photo by

Europe's top official in Pristina criticised Kosovo for seizing control of border points with Serbia in the Serb-held north of the country last night, saying Brussels did not see the action as helpful.

EU Special Representative Fernando Gentilini spoke hours after a special police unit took control of two border crossings with Serbia. They were sent in after the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX, failed to enforce last week’s ban on the import of Serbian goods.

The operation "was not helpful. It was not done in consultation with the international community and the EU does not approve it," the top EU official said. "It is essential now to calm the situation down and return to where we were. EULEX stands ready to assist the Kosovo authorities in doing this.

"Unilateral action by one side or the other cannot solve the problem," he added.

EULEX has controlled the disputed points since Kosovo declared independence in 2008, when local Serbs set fire to the border crossings near the towns of Leposavic and Zubin Potok.

Both the EU mission and KFOR, the NATO force in Kosovo, said they were not involved in the police operation, despite claims to the contrary by Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

As the operation got underway, Thaci announced that he had sacked the country’s top police officer, Reshat Maliqi.

The operation has raised tensions in the country’s troubled north, which is home to most of Kosovo’s Serbs and is largely controlled by Belgrade.

The road to the northern town of Leposavic was blocked by trucks placed there by local Serbs last night to stop the special unit from taking control of the nearby crossing. It is not clear whether the road remains blocked, although Kosovo officials claim they have now seized control of the crossing.

Serbia's Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, and head of the Serbian negotiating team, Borislav Stefanovic, arrived in northern Kosovo last night and are negotiating with KFOR and EULEX to resolve the stand-off.

According to Kosovo media, Bogdanovic said he would be the “first one on the barricade” if Kosovo police tried to cross.

Stefanovic on Tuesday morning said that he believed a deal would be struck soon.

Kosovo last week banned the import of all Serbian products. Belgrade placed an embargo on Kosovo goods following the 2008 declaration of independence, breaching the terms of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, CEFTA.

When talks between Belgrade and Pristina on resolving this issue failed last week, and the next round of EU-led negotiations was postponed, Kosovo introduced the ban.

But Kosovo's Interior Minister, Bajram Rexhepi, the man who ordered the police to seize the border points, said EULEX had failed to implement the decision, allowing Serbian trucks to enter Kosovo, resulting in the shock deployment.

Special point units took control of both points last night, which are now fully under Pristina’s control for the first time ever, Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci said this morning.

One police officer was injured in the operation, Rexhepi said.

KFOR called for “all the citizens of Kosovo not to react violently to the present situation in the north or at the crossing points at the administrative boundary line with Serbia”.

KFOR head General Erhard Bühler said: “KFOR does not accept any violence. In a democratic society different opinions or conflicting positions have to be solved peacefully by discussions and negotiations.”

He added that a “considerable amount of units” had been mobilised in order to intervene if necessary.

EULEX's chief spokesperson, Nicholas Hawton, said they had not been involved in “any way” in the Kosovo police operation.

“It is important that the current situation is resolved in a calm and peaceful manner. EULEX is co-ordinating closely with KFOR to do this and to maintain security,” he said.

“EULEX and the EU in Brussels have made it clear that the issue of customs stamps should be solved through the current dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. Unilateral actions by one side or the other are not helpful," he added.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Norway’s Bomber Should Leave the Balkans Alone

Breivik is only the latest extreme rightist to project his pet theories about the world onto a region about which he knows precious little.

Marcus Tanner
London It’s not surprising that Anders Behrin Breivik claimed NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999 was one the factors behind his decision to carry out last Friday’s atrocities in and near Oslo. For years, Serbia’s heroic resistance to Islam in Bosnia and Kosovo – their words – has been a cause célèbre with the extreme right in Europe, an oft-quoted example of Europe’s ignominious surrender to world Muslim domination. Far-right websites in Britain – some of whom the bomber was in contact with – regularly hum with professions of admiration for the actions of their “Serbian brothers” in the 1990s - those feelings of admiration coupled with fury about NATO’s action in allegedly advancing the cause of Al-Qaeda in the Balkans. The other great poster boy of the far right these days is Israel, which is deeply ironic given the right’s traditional anti-Semitism. The Norwegian bomber’s manifesto is full of the usual contradictions in that regard. He admires Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians at the same time as maintaining that the pre-Second World War Jews were a treacherous element in Germany. Square that, if you can. One thing that stands out in analysis of the Balkans by right-wing extremists like Breivik is the blurred focus and shaky grasp of facts. Accurate knowledge of the past and present conditions in the Balkan region is in short supply, when compared to the amount of words they expend on the subject. Looking back at the Bosnian war in his self-styled manifesto, the Oslo bomber says the Muslims started the whole thing off by rejecting a generous Serbian offer of a couple of “enclaves”. Well there you have it. The ungrateful Muslims. Of course, were anyone to look at a demographic map of Bosnia circa 1991 and examine the relative demographic strengths and distribution of the three main communities, one would not conclude that this offer was generous. Breivik’s words recall those of the former Bosnian Serb leader, Biljana Plavsic. In the middle of the Bosnian war, she told me and Tim Judah of the Times in an interview that the Serbs were doing the Muslims a favour by herding them into enclaves. “Why’s that?”, we asked. “Oh, they like living on top of each other,” she said in an airy fashion, as if that ought to have been obvious. As for Kosovo, whoever talked there of the war with Serbia as a great religious struggle or as a milestone in an international Islamic crusade? Certainly not the Islamic countries, most of whom did not side with Kosovo in 1999 and most of whom do not recognize its independence now. Certainly not the people who run things in Pristina now either. Deeply corrupt they may be - but Islamic zealots? It is true that many Serbs attributed a religious quality to the Kosovo war, claiming that the Albanians’ “real” motive was their hatred of Christianity. But what is important to note is that this motive was attributed to Albanians; it wasn’t claimed or accepted. This is one of the old curses of the Balkans; people insistently projecting grand overarching international ideologies, causes and theories onto conflicts that have little to do with them. The war in Croatia was not about Catholicism versus Orthodoxy, it was about Croatian independence. Nor was the war in Bosnia, as many British liberals claimed in the early 1990s, about democracy versus fascism – a rerun of the Spanish Civil War. It was a struggle, a very militarily lopsided one, between Muslims and Serbs over who ruled Bosnia. Too bad if that sounds boring. It may titillate the palates of armchair world theories to see the Balkan countries as pawns on a chessboard, all being moved around in purely passive fashion by vast unseen international forces. Reality is more humdrum. The sooner these grand strategists leave the Balkans out of their complex calculations, the better.