Saturday, September 10, 2011

Albanian Judge Killed in a “Mafia Style Attack”

A 33-year-old judge died in city of Vlora in southern Albania this morning in what has been described as a car bomb.
Besar Likmeta
The city of Vlora | Photo by: Besar Likmeta
Judge Skerdilaid Konomi was killed when a blast hit his car as he drove to work at the Vlora District Court, according to local media.
In a statement issued today, Albania’s President Bamir Topi condemned Konomi’s murder as an attack against the justice system as a whole.
“This brutal mafia style attack, which took the life of the judge, is an attack against the justice system, the rule of law and democracy in Albania,” Topi said in a statement. 
“An attack against a judge is a serious threat to Albania’s state institutions,” Topi added.
While expressing his condolences for the Konomi’s family, the president called on prosecutors and police to leave not stone unturned to shed light on the murder and bring the culprits to justice.

Albanian in US charged with supporting terrorism
WASHINGTON — A US resident from Albania faces terrorism charges for sending money to jihadists in Pakistan, then trying to join the group to kill US troops and embrace "martyrdom time," an indictment unsealed Friday said.
Agron Hasbajrami, a legal resident of Brooklyn, New York, was due in court there for arraignment later Friday, the Justice Department said, just two days before Americans mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The charges appear unrelated to US authorities' warning Thursday of a credible terrorism threat against either New York or Washington coinciding with the 9/11 anniversary.
According to the indictment, Hasbajrami, 27, sent $1,000 to an individual who represented a jihadist organization in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and in several communications with the contact expressed his plans to travel to Pakistan and join the group.
Hasbajrami told his contact that he wished to travel abroad to "marry with the girls in paradise," said the indictment, which also noted that a search of the suspect's home uncovered a note reading, "Do not wait for invasion, the time is martyrdom time."
"The vigilance of law enforcement has resulted in the capture of another alleged aspiring terrorist bent on traveling overseas for violent jihad," said Loretta Lynch, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Hasbajrami purchased plane tickets, and on September 6 traveled to New York's John F. Kennedy International airport, where he was arrested carrying a tent, boots and cold-weather gear.
If convicted he faces a maximum 15 years in prison.‐
Press Office - September 9, 2011



The World Council of Epirotes Abroad (WCEA) urges the United States and the European Union to take measures to insure that a census scheduled for next month in Albania, which will count ethnic and religious minorities for the first time in decades, is conducted without hindrance, manipulation, harassment or intimidation.

The intimidation has already begun. Earlier this year the Albanian parliament passed a law stating that a fine of $1,000, which is several months wages in Albania, will be levied on those who declare an ethnic identity in the census that was not registered on their family records. This law violates both the Albanian Constitution and international law, which states that individuals have a right to declare any ethnic identity to which they feel they belong, and it is unlikely to be enforced for those reasons.

But it was passed nevertheless solely to intimidate minority members who were afraid to declare an ethnic affiliation during the country’s long Stalinist rule and are afraid they will be punished if they do so now. Supporters of the law believe that many Albanians are unaware of their constitutional rights and will not declare their ethnic identity in the new census out of fear they will be fined if it does not coincide with old records.

The WCEA is calling Washington and Brussels to have their representatives in Albania to issue statements that the country’s citizens may declare their ethnic and religious affiliations without fear of reprisals, including payment of fines called for by the new legislation.
“Albanian authorities and many legislators have consistently tried to downplay the number of ethnic Greeks and other minorities in the country so they can deny them their basic human rights,” declared WCEA President Chris Dimou. “The new law aims at perpetuating that policy and Albanians must know that they need not fear it so they can declare their ethnic identities freely in the new census. Only the U.S. and he E.U. have the prestige in Albania to convince its citizens that they can declare their ethnic and religious identities without any fear of any reprisals afterward. And we urge them to give them those assurances as soon as possible.”

The WCEA also calls on all international organizations that will oversee the census to take every precaution to insure that Albanians have ample and unhindered opportunity to fill out and submit their census reports and to insure that their declarations are fully and accurately counted. “It is clear from the law recently passed to intimidate Albanians that powerful reactionary forces in the country are bent on subverting an honest count of the nation’s ethnic and religious minorities, and plan to use every means available to them to avoid it,” said honorary president Nicholas Gage. “They must no be allowed to succeed because the Albanian people have been waiting for 80 years for this chance.”

U.S.: The political situation in Albania is worrying

Ian Kelly
The Ambassador United States to the OSCE Ian Kelly said the U.S. government remains concerned about the consequences of the political impasse in Albania after the May local elections that are hampering the further reforms that Albania must perform to obtain candidate status EU.

According to VOA, the U.S. ambassador made ​​the remarks yesterday during the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna.

Ambassador Kelly said that United States welcome the decision of the Socialist Party to return to parliament. Washington, he said, calls on the Socialist Party to fulfill its commitment to a full and active participation in parliament, and makes the same appeal to the ruling coalition to create a more inclusive political climate.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Foreign Ministry Secretary General to visit Tirana (8 September 2011)

Wednesday, 07 September 2011

Foreign Ministry Secretary General Ambassador Yannis-Alexis Zepos will carry out a working visit to Tirana, Albania, on Thursday, 8 September 2011. Mr. Zepos will meet with his Albanian counterpart, Gazmend Turdiu, and will be received by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berish and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Edmond Haxhinasto.

Black Red Alliance: "The national issues in Albania do not haggle with Greece"

The Albanian nationalist organization Red Black / (Kuq e Zi) had a meeting with reporters today, coming from Albania and Kosovo, with topic "The Albanian question and EU standards."
The deputy chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council , sipahi Kresnik, said the country's national question can not be part of trade negotiations and compromises.

Referring to a telegram published by Wikileaks, the sipahi said photographs clearly Athens who blackmails Albania for membership in a time integration can be done formally by Brussels and by the 12-point conditions, Brussels to be fulfilled by Albania.

"Today, many Albanians have different political beliefs, there are groups with different religious beliefs, but in this case there is a common theme, a national issue, which is not available for opportunistic statements or Athens or Belgrade and not part of conciliation."The telegram of the American embassy clearly brings the guise of Athens, to persuade the Albanians to sign the Agreement of the waters.
We do not want to Athens, as a lawyer in Brussels and we do not need lawyers, but we can not compromise with Athens in this national issue, "said sipahi.

Kresnik sipahi - who tries to present a political expression, to be elected to the Albanian Parliament, according to Sali Berisha, at this conference highlighted the position of the Albanian census noting that nobody knows how many Albanians are in Albania, and how many is abroad.

"Today is a requirement but never made ​​clear what will be recorded and what will not be recorded. Greece in billion debt, continues to pay pensions to people who are non-existent for the state. There is a situation with Greece has signed loans from all over Europe and even those who live in Albania "

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Turkey Flexes its Muscle in East Mediterranean as Power Grows

Written by David Rosenberg
Published Sunday, September 06, 2011

With increased naval presence, Ankara wants to show flag, but not risk confrontation

Turkey has economic as much as political interests at stake as it vows to take a more assertive role in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, but Ankara risks entangling itself in military and legal confrontations with Israel along the way, analysts say.

Turkey’s new stance was unveiled by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday and subsequently elaborated by lower-level diplomats amid Turkey’s deteriorating relations with Israel over the Mavi Marmara incident 15 months ago. But Ankara’s new assertiveness was also directed at Cyprus, which is embarking on offshore gas and oil exploration plans next month.

Analysts said the new assertiveness marked the latest step in Turkey’s efforts to revive the regional power and prestige of the Ottoman era when it ruled over much of the Middle East and North Africa. Ankara doesn’t seek to reestablish its rule, which came to an end after the First World War, but to become a key player through a network of closer political and commercial ties.

“The days when Turkey was only Asia Minor are gone. They are doing it through economic ties. They have become a real economic power in the Muslim Middle East and beyond, to Uzbekistan and Kirghizstan,” Robbie Sabel, who teaches international law at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told The Media Line. “The flag follows trade.”

Under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has worked to build ties with its neighbors in all directions, including the Arab states to its south, the central Asian republics to its east and the Balkan countries to its north, by resolving long-simmering diplomatic tensions and offering trade and tourism deals. But Israel, once a close partner and even strategic ally of Turkey, has been given a cold shoulder.

“Turkey is trying to be the leading country of the region, not only militarily and diplomatically but also through its economy. The people leading Turkey understand the importance of the economy,” Salih Bicakci, associate professor of international relations at Istanbul’s Isik University

He pointed to the speed with which Turkey re-opened its embassy in Libya. Turkey signed billions of dollars in contracts with the regime of deposed strongman Muamar Al-Qaddafi and wants to ensure it takes a key role in the country’s post-civil war reconstruction. Even as relations with Israel have grown tense, trade has continued to grow.

Nevertheless, he said, Ankara wants a bigger role in the eastern Mediterranean.

“By saying it he [Davutoglu] wants to send the message that Turkey is a protector of the region and that we don’t want to give all security issues to the European Union, the United Nations or to NATO. Turkey has a role in this region,” Bicakci said.

Turkey’s new stance on the eastern Mediterranean came as part a series of steps against Israel, including a downgrade of diplomatic relations and a suspension of military cooperation, in response to the continued crisis over the Mavi Marmara incident 15 months ago.

“Turkey will take every precaution it deems necessary for the safety of maritime navigation in the eastern Mediterranean,” Davutoglu said at a news conference without elaborating on what he meant by taking “every precaution.”

Turkey has been demanding an official apology from Israel, as well as compensation for the nine people killed in an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, a ship which was trying to breach Israel’s blockade to the Gaza Strip. Last month Israel rejected the demands.

Last Thursday, however, The New York Times leaked a UN report on the Mavi Marmara incident, which concluded that the blockade was legal and that the ship’s passengers acted in an “organized and violent” way. The report blamed Israel for using excessive force that led to nine deaths, but the leak angered Ankara.

more see......

Monday, September 5, 2011

Albania - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto received a delegation from the Council of Europe

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto received today a delegation from the Council of Europe, members of the Advisory Committee of Framework Convention for the Protection of Minorities.

At this meeting Mr. Haxhinasto stressed that Albania is an excellent example of respect for minorities, religions, ethnicities in the region and beyond. Following Mr.Haxhinasto underlined that the respect for minorities is a fundamental issue of the Interior and Foreign policy of Albania.

On their turn, members of the Advisory Committee of Framework Convention on minorities expressed that they were impressed by the achievements of Albania in the treatment and respect for minorities.

In the context of the issue of population census to be conducted in early October, Mr. Haxhinasto said that the census is in full compliance with the European standards and offers a guarantee against any manipulation.

The delegation of the Advisory Committee, composed of Mrs.. Sanders Marajke Ten Holt (from Holland), Barbara Wilson (from Switzerland) and Christoph Zyma (by the CoE Secretariat). These experts are in Tirana to examine the latest national report for the minority prepared by the Albanian State, submitted to CoE in January 2011.

Greece and Israel agree on military cooperation

ATHENS -- The Defense Minister of Greece Panos Beglitis and his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak signed a memorandum on military cooperation in Jerusalem on Sunday.

This was announced by the Greek Ministry of Defense, RIA Novosti reported.

The contents of the memorandum is undisclosed. Panos Beglitis said that the two governments intend to cooperate closely.

"Our relations with Israel are not under the influence of the current condition," said Beglitis.

Greece has recently improved relations with Israel, exploiting the rift between Tel Aviv and Ankara over the Israeli attack on the pro-Palestinian Freedom Flotilla last year when nine Turks were killed, the Russian news agency reported.

Picture: AFP
Albanian opposition moves to end political stalemate
05 September 2011 FOCUS News Agency
Home / Southeast Europe and Balkans
Tirana. The Albanian opposition decided on Monday to end a months-long boycott of parliament which had pushed the country into political stalemate and blocked movement towards EU membership, AFP reported.
"The socialist opposition will be present in the Albanian parliament to take up its national responsibilities with regards to Albania's integration into the European Union," opposition Socialist leader Edi Rama told his party's deputies.
The move comes just over a month before the European Commission is due to give its assessment on Albania's demand for EU candidate status, on October 12
The opposition which has boycotted all votes that require an absolute majority in parliament has been under enormous pressure from Brussels to resume its participation in parliament.
With the assessment of the EU so close, observers say Rama does not want to be seen as the one blocking EU entry by continuing the political stalemate.
"We will be here to vote in laws that are necessary for the functioning of the real rule of law and to lead a strong fight against corruption that has not only taken the justice system hostage but also some sectors in the Albanian economy," said Rama.
The Balkan nation has been mired in political crisis since disputed June 2009 legislative elections.
The opposition has never recognised Prime Minister Sali Berisha's victory at the polls and demanded a recount amid allegations of fraud. It had been boycotting parliament on and off for two years.
Every Albanian election since the fall of communism in the early 1990s has been marred by accusations of fraud.
However the current political stalemate has threatened to hamper Albania's bid to get EU candidate statues by the end of the year. Tirana is due to vote on judicial reforms as well as a new media law that requires a three fifths majority in parliament, 84 votes in the 140-seat parliament.
Albania's request for EU candidate status was rejected last December. Instead, Brussels urged Tirana to step up its fight against corruption and also expressed concern about the political crisis.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Another scandal in Albania, Wikileaks ....

U.S.Cable : The Chief of Staff of the Albanian Army, is corrupted

A cablegram shocking that former U.S. Ambassador John Withers has sent to the State Department in November of 2008, connecting the current chief of staff, Colonel Jamal Gjunkshi with a proper scheme of corruption in the Albanian army.

The cablegram tells that the Colonel Gjunkshi, then commander of the Commando Regimen,t was accused by a group of Albanian army officers to take money to appoint military in peacekeeping missions overseas, primarily Iraq.

The American Embassy cablegram says that paying a bribe to the military to go to Iraq is 7 thousand dollars, nearly half the compensation they would receive for a period of 6 months stay there.

The group of officers, who accused Colonel Gjunkshi, through a confidential letter notified about this affair highest leaders of the government.

On paper, the current Chief of Staff accused of bribery not only in determining the commandos who go on missions overseas, but also involved in other corrupt schemes.

As officers of cablegram detects and have even threatened to send the letter also to the prestigious New York Times newspaper, which at that time had become rather less well known in Albania because of investigations into corruption in the event the depot.

The US embassy says that the practice of bribery in peacekeeping missions is not new for the Albanian army and its consequences are that commando missions abroad are also sent untrained people.

Unite States have been very concerned by this scheme of bribes in the army and extensive self Widhers ambassador wrote in documents that will launch Washington raised this concern to senior executives in government.

Former Commando Regiment commander, Colonel Jamal Gjunkshi few weeks ago was put in charge of General Chief Staff of the Albanian Army.

Filettino declares independence from Italy in protest at Silvio Berlusconi's cuts

The small Italian town of Filettino has declared itself independent in protest at planned spending cuts by Silvio Berlusconi's government.

As part of the austerity measures, Filettino was ordered to merge with neighbouring Trevi in a bid to cut administration costs.

Silvio Berlusconi's plans have angered Filettino's residents (PA) Silvio Berlusconi's plans have angered Filettino's residents (PA)

Mayor Luca Sellari was unimpressed by the idea and set about transforming the 550-resident town into an independent state.

Local people have reacted enthusiastically to his plan for Filettino to become a principality, with him as the monarch.

'If that's what it takes to keep the town autonomous and protect its natural resources,' he told the New York Times. 'It's everyone's dream to be a prince.'

Mr Sellari - or perhaps that should be Prince Luca - has begun printing his own currency, the Fiorito, complete with notes featuring an image of himself.

Shops in Filettino now accept them as legal tender and the tourists who have flocked to the town since the independence plan was announced have been buying them as souvenirs.

The move reflects the widespread unease among councils about Mr Berlusconi's plans to reorganise local government as part of his response to the eurozone crisis.

And Mr Sellari believes there is no reason why independence should not work for Filettino, as San Marino manages to survive.

Read more:

Himara`s Case

Is Himara paying extra taxes for Albania?

A citizen
of Himara, sends letter to Albanian Ombudsman: The Municipality of Himara applies taxes, as in Benelux countries.

The Himara Municipality has taken taxes from its citizens forcefully, four times more than needs, for Albanian State

NGO-s of Himara is seeing very critic the taxes situation of Himara Municipality, after property issue.

The Himara `s resident, Milton Polo, from Kiparo village, has asked the Albanian Ombudsman, to review the taxes that, the Himara Municipality under the Albanian State, has applied to their citizens. Milto Polo, a resident, complains that it is in economic assistance and is unable to pay four times the taxes that it is a municipality, as classified for Himara the third category Municipality, in Albania.

The complaint has come to the Himara Municipality and the Mayor George Goros, who has promised to call urgently the Municipality Council, for the tax reduction.

In fact, all campaigning for the Himara Municipality, has been characterized by a "hot war" between the candidates, in which, the winner should lower taxes for the local population, which is the only Region in Albania, that paying taxes regularly more 100%.

The new Himara `s Mayor, George Goros, has promised tax cuts to businesses and construction permits, which are four times higher in Albania, while has accused former Mayor Vasillios Bollano as "dictator to their citizens" separately, applying taxes, bigger than himself, to Benelux's countries.

During electoral campaign, former Mayor Bollanos declared that to the Albanian media, "We have applied four times taxes more than was planed by the Albanian parliament".

According to new law, the Albanian state takes about 80% of taxes by Municipalities and local administrative.

In addition the NGO-s of Himara Region, are seeing very concerning after the property issue, the taxes that the Municipality of Himara, applies for their citizens, considering the taxes to go extra for the Albanian budget, not for their residents.