Saturday, December 10, 2011

Exclusive report by Gjergj Thanasi: Albanian biometric passports & Links to International Terrorist Rings

Ioannis Michaletos
10 Dec 2011

In the following exclusive investigative report, the acclaimed journalist from Tirana-Albania, Gjergj Thanasi outlines the serious security issues relating to the Albanian biometric passport system and the links with international organized crime and terrorist rings and with the Iranian intelligence establishment especially. 
 The Problematic Albanian Biometric Passports and the Links to International Terrorist Rings
 By Gjergj Thanasi
The equipment of the Albanians with biometric identity cards and passports was a must in order to have Albanians travelling in European Union countries without visa restriction. The removal of travel restriction was a kind of an European  gift to Albanians on the eve of Christmas  2010.Such passports are highly reliable and a tough barrier to criminals and terrorists penetrating Europe under false names. The system is really false proof. The only way to evade the system is to collude with the Albanian authorities issuing the passports, thus stealing the identity of somebody else. 

Unfortunately this is precisely what happened in Albania. Almost from the very beginning Albanian emigration police as well as several European border police controls  detected individuals equipped with regular Albanian biometric passports having ‘borrowed” the identity of somebody else. Judging by the covering of the Albanian media such falsified biometric passports are almost a daily occurrence. 

The bearers of falsified Albanian passports range from ethnic Albanians citizens of the Republic of Kosova(they still need a visa to travel to Europe), to Albanians being under expulsion or travel bans in European countries. The new identity help them to travel and stay in Europe up to 90 days in succession without any difficulty. There are cases when even convicted criminals, or wanted individuals (Albanian citizens) are equipped with a biometric passport with a new identity, thus evading justice and facilitating their criminal activity in Europe as well as in Albania. Only  casual finger prints checks by one or another European law enforcing agency has resulted in pin pointing  individuals with a criminal record or even  wanted persons having a new identity. Albanian media like the newspaper Investigimi (an article by Durim Sula) and Durres Bulevard(an article by Dr. Idriz Tafa) have also made public of evidence that terrorists from Yemen and elements of Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the so called Quds Force are in possession of  Albanian biometric passports with typical Albanian names and surnames.

Mr. Armand Teliti the Director General of the Albanian General Register Office during a session of the security sub comity of the Albanian Parliament answering the questions of MP Gazmend Oketa  (wright wing) and MP Gamir Bizhga (left wing) admitted that Albanian authorities have detected over 500 cases of biometric passports issued to persons with a “borrowed”  identity. The Albanian media has directly accused Mr. Teliti of being part of the system issuing such problematic passports .Up to now  only the bearers of such passports have been detained by the emigration police. In a couple of cases the civil servants of remote villages register offices and employees of Aleat-Safran concessionary company have also been arrested. Such cases are under trial or have received short term prison sentences as well as fines according to Albania law.

No body but the gang issuing the false passports knows the exact number and identity of the bearers of such false biometric passports. According to the newspaper Investigimi American security specialists are actively collaborating with Albanian Secrete Service SHIK to identify Iranian citizens equipped with Albanian biometric passports. The newspaper quoting Albanian Secret Service sources links the murder and the burning of the body of Isa Copa a high ranking officer of Albanian Secret Service (late  October 2011 in the outskirts of Durres the main port of Albania)with the affair of the Iranian citizens equipped with Albanian biometric passports and bearing Albanian names and surnames.

This is not the first scandal concerning Albanian passports. In 2002 the deputy minister of the interiors Bujar Himci and col. Veli Myftari Director General of the Albania Police force were arrested for funds embezzlement amounting to four million USD concerning the issuing of the Albanian passports. They landed in prison after the official complaint of Euroget an American company which was unlawfully prevented from bidding for the production of the Albanian passports. The claim of this company was strongly supported by the Charles Levesque the then economic officer of the Us Embassy in Tirana.
It is obvious, in this case top civil servants ended in prison only for funds embezzlement, while now we have serious allegation of collusion with terrorists and yet only small fry is facing justice.

Berisha: Integration, a priority. We're making reforms

Berisha: Integration, a priority. We're making reforms
The Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, gave an interview for the French TV station “TV5 Monde”, where he expressed Albania’s interest to extend the relations with France.

“My main goal is to work with the French government. We are ready to intensify our economic relations with France”, Berisha declared.

After expressing the ambition for returning Albania into an energetic superpower, the Head of the Albanian Government declared that his main priority is the country’s integration in the European structures. Berisha has not mentioned dates, but he mentioned his determination and the support of the European partners, including France.

“This will be exactly one topic of discussion. France has always supported Albania’s ambition for the EU integration and NATO membership. We have had problems, but they have been resolved. Now we need support to progress even more towards the European Union”, Berisha declared.

The Prime Minister then accused the opposition of trying to hamper the process, but according to him, they failed by losing the last local elections.

“In these two years, the opposition has made everything for blocking Albania’s integration progress, by thinking that this was the best way to damage the government and for coming to power. But SP lost even the local elections”, Berisha underlined.

As regards his political figures, he insinuated that he has no intention to retire from the political scene.

“I will continue until the Albanians will stop voting me. Until then, I will respect their will. I walk towards the EU integration”, Berisha declared.

The Prime Minister then spoke about the current political situation, which, according to him, has turned to normality with the opposition in Parliament.

“The opposition returned in Parliament. I proposed them to plan the electoral law, and they accepted. The situation is normal and has returned to a constant dialogue”, he declared.

Another priority for the Albanian Prime Minister, is the tourism sector, which, according to him, has marked an unseen increase in the recent years.

“We offer a better climate for the tourists, hospitality and very good food. I invite you in Albania”, Berisha declared.

Berisha is staying in France for a summit of the European People’s Parties, where he blamed the opposition for failing to receive the candidate status.

Euro crisis: US General Martin Dempsey warns of unrest

10 December 11 02:30 GMT
Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen Martin Dempsey speaks at the Atlantic Council in Washington, 9 December
The top US military commander, Gen Martin Dempsey, says he is concerned about "the potential for civil unrest" as Europe's financial crisis unfolds.
Gen Dempsey said it was unclear the latest steps taken by EU leaders would be enough to hold the eurozone together, adding that a break-up could have consequences for the Pentagon.
Twenty-six of the 27 EU countries have agreed to forge a tighter fiscal union.
Only the UK refused to sign up to a new treaty, citing national interest.
Gen Dempsey, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an event hosted by the Atlantic Council, a Washington think-tank: "The eurozone is at great risk."
"I know that they've taken some measures here with the 17 members of the eurozone to try to better align... monetary and fiscal policy. But it's unclear, to me at least, that that will be the glue that actually holds it together."
Funding impact?
Gen Dempsey previously served as the Army's Chief of Staff and as a general in Iraq.
He suggested that part of his concern was that the US military could be exposed to any unravelling of the eurozone "because of the potential for civil unrest and the break-up of the union".
The US military has more than 80,000 troops and 20,000 civilian workers in Europe, many based in Germany.
Gen Dempsey also said he was concerned that an international project to develop the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft could be put in jeopardy if European national defence budgets were cut.
"It will clearly put [budgets] at risk if all the economic predictions about a potential collapse were to occur," Gen Dempsey said.
At an emergency EU summit that ended in Brussels on Friday, the UK effectively used its veto to block an attempt, led by the French and Germans, to get all 27 members states to support changes to the union's treaties.
Instead, eurozone members and others will adopt an accord with penalties for breaking deficit rules. It will be backed by a treaty between governments, not an EU treaty.
Austerity measures
The announcement on Friday produce little reaction from financial markets, which are still hoping for more intervention by the European Central Bank (ECB).
The BBC's Chris Morris says that without further action to lower the cost of borrowing, likely by the ECB, the eurozone still faces a threat.
The rising costs of borrowing in some eurozone countries have pushed governments to pass new austerity measures and to the International Monetary Fund as they struggle to pay their debts.
Europe's debt crisis has already unseated two political leaders and their governments: former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Jakup Krasniqi ZDF

Kosovo delegation in Germany, asked for the mafia in Kosovo

Krasniqi and his delegation which has led to a visit to the German Bundestag, felt bad at one point, when the press conference, a reporter asked his counterpart, President of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, a question that has exacerbated not only Kosovars, but also own host. Home Indeksonline issued ZDF's text, and answers questions in this conference.

"Do you have a problem to wait politicians, for whom the German Secret Service says they are war criminals. Why then these poitikanë invite you, "asked a reporter.

Norbert Lammert responded: We have in Kosovo a free Parliament, elected democratically. If such criticism uttered by anyone, then this is not a subject of relations between the two parliaments.

The next question of a journalist .... Why then invite you Kosovars?

Norbert Lammert: I have invited the president of a European country, which the state has recognized the Federal Republic of Germany, much earlier than that of other states have recognized. This is a place where free elections take place and people have the ability to freely determine who it is they want to be represented. And, since we are interested in realization of such relations is in our interest to continue such relationships and to work for them.

Reporter: Germany is involved with EULEX in Kosovo, but in recent times has been killing witnesses in proceedings for the Kosovo war criminals. Do you believe that Kosovo is a state road law, or rule there violence?

Norbert Lammert: Your interrogated It shows how important it is for us to conduct such visits and meetings. We certainly have talked today about the Progress Report of the European Commission and think it is very important that our negotiating partners can discuss critically and to give their ratings authentic feel for what these vërjetje report.

While the journalist was questioned for Krasniqi.

Reporter: Do you think that Kosovo today is a legal state?

Krasniqi: Kosovo justice issues and problems, especially in its northern part, but certainly not alone in its northern part. Kosovo is the fourth year of independence and if we consider the time when Kosovo became independent, we can say that Kosovo has made progress, more than any other country in the region, or more. We believe that Kosovo will soon become a legal state and the law will prevail in every part of it.

German television ZDF reported that the President of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, received a delegation from the Parliament of Kosovo, also composed of Xhavit Haliti. According to ZDF, in 2004, BND and KFOR have accused Haliti as involved in prostitution, smuggling guns and drugs, and murder. / Indeksonline /


Friday, December 9, 2011

 Athens is still experiencing "the Greek Minority, as bridge of friendship, between Athens and Tirana"

Albanian Constitutional Court, wipes Greeks from Albania, while Athens still talking about the "Bridge of Friendship" for the Greek minority

If that will not necessarily be called Greek, is sure to re called "epiriotean", for the Greeks of Albania, and always more, feel abandoned by the Greek state protection. It is inexcusable, the indifference of Athens, for the Hellen community in Albania.

See the reactions of the Spokesman of Greek Foreign Ministry, about the decision of the Albanian Constitutional Court

S. GANTONA: Following a relevant decision, we saw that Albania is abolishing ethnicity. As such, the members of the Greek National Minority will have no document proving they are Greek. What is your comment on that?

G. DELAVEKOURAS: We have been informed of the Albanian Constitutional Court’s decision, and we will be looking at it very closely in order to ascertain the extent to which it meets the international criteria and prerequisites that exist regarding the protection of minorities. It is very important that the Albanian government be able to gain the trust of the minorities – a trust that eroded during the recent census carried out there. And that is why the Albanian government needs to put emphasis on how it can cultivate relations of trust. Again, we will be looking at the Court’s decision very carefully.

L. KALARRYTIS: With regard to everything Albania has done to date concerning the Greek minority – whether it be omissions or specific actions, in the census, regarding property – what has Greece done, in practical terms, to get Albania to conform or at least explain its conduct?

G. DELAVEKOURAS: Greece is sending messages very clearly to the Albanian government, within the framework of our conviction that the minority must be seen as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. And that is why we talk so much about trust.

Greece wants to see Albania progress. This is a priority for us. It is in the interest of both Albania and Greece to have borders with a country that is moving forward.

That is why we tried to contribute to the efforts to resolve the political impasse that existed in Albania. That is why we are trying to make sure Albania respects all these criteria and prerequisites – the basic criteria and prerequisites underscored by the EU, thanks in part to Greece’s contribution – including respect for minority rights.

There is certainly a need for dialogue with the Albanian side. I think that Minister Dimas will be meeting with the Albanian Foreign Minister today on the margins of the NATO Ministerial, precisely to pass on these messages and call on Albania to maintain a policy that respects minorities, that respects European benchmarks and enables Albania to take steps towards Europe.
Italy, parents ask court to make teen daughter abort

Italian parents ask court to make teen daughter abort
A 16 year old from Trento, Italy, was sent to court by her parents, who requested the judge to give them the right to oblige her abort her child that she is expecting with her Albanian boyfriend.

Since the parents of the girl consider the 18 year old boy as violent and not appropriate for their daughter, they have decided that his child shouldn’t come to life. After the girl has refused to abort, the parents thought that the justice would make her to, but they were wrong.

The prosecutor of the minor’s court declared that law has nothing to do in this case. Abortion is an option, not an obligation that you can impose on someone. The parents who apparently think that they can decide everything about their daughter, presented another request to court: if the child will come to life, their daughter should never meet the father of the child, and the child will not keep the father’s name.

Deputy PM resigns in wake of EU decision

BRUSSELS -- Serbia's deputy prime minister in charge of EU integration, Božidar Đelić, announced on Friday that he had submitted his resignation.
Božidar Đelić (Tanjug, file)
Božidar Đelić (Tanjug, file)
He said he had informed Serbian president Boris Tadic about the move.
Đelić stated that his resignation was "not a reflection of the defeat of state's policy but a personal decision", as he had announced earlier he would make such a move if Serbia did not become a candidate for EU membership.

Đelić did not wish to answer the question about "who could have done more for the country's EU bid", stressing only that Serbia should think about its future steps as the EU was "still in the best interests of Serbian citizens".

"We must continue our EU integration and protect our citizens in Kosovo," Đelić said in Brussels on Friday, in the wake of the EU announcement that it was postponing its decision on making Serbia a candidate for membership.

Former FYROM’s PM admits FYROM’s Slavs rewrite Greek History

Macedonia News — FYROM’s former PM Ljubco Georgievski blasted his successor to the presidency of the currently rulling ”VMRO-DPMNE” party, Nikola Gruevski, in a recent interview to the Radio Free Europa.
The former FYROM’s PM attacked the “antiquization” policy of Gruevski and admitted publicly the fact that Gruevski attempts to rewrite Greek history.
“This history about ancient Macedonia which they want today to impose Us as a state policy, i call it a caricature of History, because its about unrelated events,” Georgievski stated.
“Our people is bombarded daily with Lies, Misinformation, documentaries where we see that Greek History has became Ours and is presented alike. For me its obvious that there is a clear distinction of the so-called ancient history of Macedonia and Slavic History. I still defend the thesis that we can rely on our Slavic Identity, our spiritual creators like St Cyrillos and Methodios, St Clemes and St Naum. This is our history where we can safely rely on. “, he added.
Regarding the ICJ’s judgement, FYROM’s former PM stated:
“The Judgement of the Hague will influence the negotiations between our country and Greece. For two months we are about to be full of happiness and will say how much powerful we are as the moral victors. But it wont be any will for the solution and this will risk in danger our country since it couldnt do anything into the next 2-3 years.”
When asked if Gruevski’s government is in position to compromise with Greece, so the country could enter NATO and EU, he replied:
«No, of course i don’t see any sign from our side. This is obvious by looking at the state’s journalists who preach the government’s policies. I don’t think there is anything else than what we see in the state’s Media with the government’s propaganda. For 4 years the government defends the name without having any other alternative.”
A couple of years ago, Ljubco Georgievski had publicly stated in FYROM’s TV that Alexander the Great is considered a Greek, while he built through his conquests and left behind a Greek world.
NATO Supreme Commander in Europe Admiral James Stavridis, Visits Tirana

At a routine meeting of the "Adriatic Charter in Albania, was going rapidly NATOSupreme Commander in Europe, James Stavridis.

The meeting, was held in the presence of senior officers of the region, and was greeted by the President of Albania Bamir Topi.

The agenda focused on stability and peace in the Balkans, and the reforms to NATO and EU, of the allied countries.


Albanian Constitutional Court decision, will send to Court of Strasbourg

Union Party for Human Rights said the decision of the Constitutional Court declares that nationality and it will bring this matter to the Court of  Strasbourg..
While the Constitutional Court decision on December 1, the latter abolished the ethnic term certificates of its citizens.
In the decision, panels argues why the notion of "nationality" is incompatible with the constitution when its state charter law does not provide a clear definition of its meaning.
In assessing the Court, "nationality" as defined concept without, unlike other components of civil law does not create a link that translates the mutual rights and duties of natural persons and state.

MP LAOS Ioannis Korantis: The Constitutional Court of Albania completely removes the term "nationality"


To: Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas Topic: The Constitutional Court of Albania completely removes the term "nationality"

As broadcasts from Tirana, the Albanian Constitutional Court, in a decision, completely abolished the term "nationality" or the term "according to the nationality of the parents' of the civil status acts. The Court held that these terms as defined in the relevant articles of the Civil Code, violate the principle of legal certainty and is contrary to the Constitution. Therefore the document "On civil status" that will issue the relevant Services will refer only to nationality, name and place of origin.

This development affects directly the Greek National Minority in Northern Epirus, depriving the Greeks the right to self-determination and therefore removing the Greek Minority, can prove or claim the credit.

Given that this decision adds to a long series of actions of the Albanian state and political institutions that aim to eliminate the Greek Minority, what steps it intends to take to reverse this negative trend? Will especially beyond the bilateral representations to Tirana to refer the matter, including the Commission on Human Rights, UN, EU and Council of Europe?

Joannis Korantis
European Parliament calls for the final time, to join politically, Albania

European parliamentary group, has reminded Tirana the membership, at a time that signals from Europe, say the opposite.

Meeting of the European Union, was not optimistic for the south western Balkan countries, for a membership in the European Union. However, the parliamentary group of the European Union to Albania, the last hope has given to Albania.

However, the Albanian politics, the message of Europe has difficulties to join. According to experts geopolitical future collision between the opposition Socialist Party and the Albanian government will be more critical battle for the future of Albania, which could also threaten the integrity of the state.

Dimas-Clinton meeting on sidelines of NATO summit

Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas had a meeting on Thursday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the Nato meeting in Brussels.
According to foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras, the meeting was requested by Clinton, who repeated Washington’s support for Greece’s efforts to tackle the economic and debt crisis, underlining the American side’s respect for the efforts of the Greek people.
Dimas proposed a reactivation of the Greek-American economy and Trade Committee and they discussed the need to attract American investments to Greece.
In this context, they examined ways of improving Greece’s image abroad and ways to activate the huge potential of the Greek-American community in the US.
Their talks also touched on developments in the Balkans, the Fyrom name dispute, the situation in the Middle East and the Cyprus issue. (AMNA)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

President: Without EU Serbia can sink into nationalism

FRANKFURT, BELGRADE -- Serbian President Boris Tadić has warned that a delay and new conditions in the EU integration process increase the danger of new instability.
Boris Tadić (Tanjug, file)
Boris Tadić (Tanjug, file)
He added that it also represented a threat that Serbia, and the Western Balkans alongside it, could once again sink into the darkness of nationalism and intolerance.
In a piece for Frankfurt-based daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Tadić pointed out that EU membership was Serbia's strategic goal, just as Serbia's European orientation should be of strategic importance to the EU.

The Serbian president reminded that the country had fulfilled all earlier conditions in the EU accession process, which involved making some unpopular and difficult decisions, taking on great political responsibility and, in some cases, even a great personal risk.

“The question arises why Serbia is being pushed to the sidelines of contemporary historical processes and why the enormous political efforts, undertaken in order to make a clean break with the policies which led to the wars in the former Yugoslavia, are in advance condemned to failure and defeat? Will this not be too big a trial for the Serbian society and the fledgling Serbian democracy," he wondered in the text entitled “Serbia at a European Crossroads”.

“If Serbia is kept outside the EU, this will long be seen as evidence that the special system of values used to define Europe as a community is just an illusion of the eternal politics of the big and the small,” Tadić warned.

“Today more than ever, it is obvious that Serbia's European integration process depends not only on the readiness and ability to complete the social and economic reforms under way in the country, but also on to what extent the EU is ready to complete, in the foreseeable future, its mission of establishing a zone of peace, prosperity and stability on the whole European continent,” the president explained.

“Regardless of when Serbia and Europe will be ready for one another, Serbia will keep up the pace of social, political and economic reforms,” he pointed out.

Tadić recalled that the European Commission also positively assessed Serbia's reform efforts and results.

Albanian former spy chief Ilir Nazmi Kumbaro on the run in Britain

Albania's former intelligence chief is in hiding in Britain as he tries to dodge extradition to his homeland where he faces torture and kidnapping charges.

Ilir Nazmi Kumbaro Former Albanian intelligence chief Ilir Nazmi Kumbaro is on the run (Picture: PA)
Ilir Nazmi Kumbaro was due to appear at Westminster magistrates’ court in London for an extradition hearing on Thursday but failed to attend.

The 58-year-old is accused of six offences of torture and abduction, including the kidnap of father of five Remzi Hoxha, who went missing in 1995.

He has left his home in Fulham, west London, and police believe he is being harboured by friends.

‘Although he does not pose a threat to members of the public, he is wanted in Albania,’ said Det Supt Pete Rance.

‘The seriousness of his alleged crimes is the reason we want to find him. This is a high-profile international investigation that has involved public expense in the UK.’

Kumbaro claimed asylum in Britain 15 years ago by posing as a Kosovan refugee. Using the name Shaqa Shatri, he was granted leave to remain and issued with a British passport.

He lived in a council house and his double life was only brought to an end in 2008 when he inadvertently used his real name to apply for welfare benefits.

Detectives, who had been looking for Kumbaro since June 2008 at the request of the Albanian government, were alerted and he was arrested three months later.

He has twice been granted bail since his capture despite objections from the Crown Prosecution Service which feared he may abscond.

Read more:

Two Leaders of Violent Albanian Drug Gang Found Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court
Defendants Convicted of Two Murders, Three Kidnappings, Racketeering, and Other Offenses

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 07, 2011
  • Southern District of New York (212) 637-2600
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that brothers BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI, leaders of a violent Albanian organized crime group, were convicted yesterday of numerous crimes, including racketeering, murder, conspiracy to murder, kidnapping, narcotics trafficking, arson, robbery, extortion, obstruction of justice, interstate transportation of stolen narcotics, and possession and use of firearms. The KRASNIQIs were found guilty after a five-week jury trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Holwell.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Bruno and Saimir Krasniqi led one of the most brutal and violent organized crime groups in recent memory. In one six-month period, they committed two murders, two kidnappings, two drug robberies, and an arson. Today, nearly six years after the brutal murders they orchestrated, the jury’s swift verdict has brought the Krasniqis’ reign of terror to an end and the perpetrators of these vicious crimes to justice.”
According to the trial evidence and other documents filed in the case:
BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI led a racketeering enterprise (the “Krasniqi Organization”) that engaged in murder, kidnapping, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, arson, obstruction of justice, and interstate transportation of stolen goods. The Krasniqi Organization operated in New York, Michigan, and Connecticut, among other locations.
Among other offenses, BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI were convicted of two separate homicides. On July 17, 2005, Erion Shehu, a member of a rival Albanian drug crew, was murdered outside a Queens café in a drive-by shooting carried out by the Krasniqi Organization. On the night of the murder, SAIMIR KRASNIQI parked in front of Shehu’s car, trapping him inside. BRUNO KRASNIQI and another member of the organization then shot Shehu approximately 11 times with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and a .22 caliber handgun equipped with a silencer. Shehu died of multiple gunshot wounds shortly thereafter.........

Austerity budget for the Greek Ministry of Defence

The budget of the Ministry of Defence for the year 2012 will amount to just 4.1 billion euros, down by 16.22% compared to 2011, said Minister of National Defence, Mr Avramopoulos, in the Parliament. Note that in 2011 the defense budget had an overall decrease of 19.40% compared to 2010, being 4.9 billion euros. In particular, for the following year (2012) there will be:
  • a 6.15% reduction in salaries, totaling 2.14 billion euros or 52% of the total budget.
  • a 5.46% reduction in the operational costs, touching for the first time after several years, an amount less than 1 billion euros, representing 23.7% of the total budget of the Ministry.
  • a 37.5% reduction in the projected payments of acquisition programs, amounting to 1 billion, representing 24.3% * of the budget of the Ministry. This amount relates primarily to payments for armament programs of previous years and ongoing maintenance and supply of spare parts.
The Minister of National Defence also stated that the new structure of the Armed Forces, as designed by the General Staff and currently evaluated by the political leadership will play a leading role in saving resources for the Ministry and the Armed Forces and their more efficient operating. The announcements regarding the new structure are expected in early 2012.
Despite the budget reduction he stressed that “I assure you that the economic crisis has not reduced the reliability, the morale and strength of the army. The Greek Armed Forces are fully aware of their mission. “, he said
Regarding the armaments, the Minister said that the armament needs of our country, unlike other European countries, are mainly defensive and have a deterrent orientation. “We have to deal with an unstable environment in our region, which becomes even more fluid with developments in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East. In this sense, ensuring security and peace in our region is a prerequisite for the reduction of armaments”, he said.
Addressing to Turkey regarding the recent tension in the region he stated that “in connection with the intensification of military activity in the air and sea in the Aegean, especially after the opening of gas exploration in the EEZ of Cyprus, Greece does not threaten anyone or gets threatened by anyone. Our national rights, which are in accordance with international law are not negotiable. Nothing can change this reality.” He also called for Turkey to remove the Casus belli of the Turkish National Assembly as countries do not negotiate under the threat of war.

Statement by the NATO Secretary General on ICJ ruling

I take note that the International Court of Justice has issued its ruling on a bilateral issue between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹.
The ruling does not affect the decision taken by NATO Allies at the Bucharest summit in 2008. We agreed that an invitation will be extended to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached. This decision was reiterated at subsequent summit and ministerial meetings.
Albania, Investigating high officials' assets

Investigating high officials' assets
On the verge of the international day against corruption, in a meeting with students from the Law Faculty in Tirana, the head of the OSCE, Eugen Wollfarth, considered corruption in Albania as a diabolic plague with destruction impact on the Albanian society.

But who is to blame for the fact that despite the anti-corruption efforts, Albania is still burdened by these wounds that follow the democratic process in Albania? Wollfarth’s answer is simple: zero tolerance, starting from high rank officials.

“The clear commitment of the authorities for fighting corruption has not been always followed by a consequent implementation of the existing laws. There is needed a more convincing and more stable register of the court decisions’ history, and follow a harsher punitive policy for corruption, especially for high rank officials. Besides this, is the transparent treatment of the cases related with corruption, regardless the social status of the defendants, is a key indicator of the judicial independence. I can add that the full immunity of the Albanian high officials, including the judges, remains a main obstacle for efficient and successful investigation”, Wollfarth declared.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

EU Conditions Albanian Membership On Reform

Written by:
December 7, 2011
By Besar Likmeta
“Albania has made limited progress in meeting the political criteria for membership and the 12 key priorities for the opening of accession negotiations,” the Council of Ministers said in Brussels.
“Further efforts are particularly required in key areas including the judiciary, the fight against organised crime and corruption and the protection of minorities as well as property rights,” it added.
Albania first applied for EU candidacy status in April 2009, but its bid was turned down for the second time in October.
The European Commission said not enough progress had been made in political dialogue, the fight against organized crime or against corruption.
Last year, the Commission issued 12 recommendations on policy areas that needed to be addressed with reforms in order for Tirana to obtain EU candidate status and open the door for a possible date for negotiations.
The Council of foreign ministers in Brussels, which is discussing the enlargement process in the Western Balkans among other issues, welcomed the recent start to dialogue in Tirana between the centre-right government and the centre-left opposition.
It underlined the need to overcome the stalemate that has dominated the Albanian domestic political scene.
“The Council encourages the government and the opposition to build on these recent positive developments, fully restoring and sustaining a constructive political dialogue, to support the proper functioning and the independence of key democratic institutions, notably the parliament and the judiciary,” the EU said.
The Himara NGO`s ready to protest for return all the properties

Himara NGOs of the region, warning to the Municipality of Himara, to interrupt the relationship, if the Project Plan for Development of the Region, will be approved without returned total properties to the successors residents of The Himara Region .

Meanwhile NGOs of Himara, calling on the Albanian government, to implement 12 points of the EU requirements, especially for the return of property.

Himara NGOs of the Region, "the Association Coast", "The Himara Community", "the Association of Tourism", and " The Association of Businessmen", placed on Monday, to consider the final decision-making of the Himara Municipality, as contrary the interest of the Himara Region, warning, for interruption of relationship with the local administration, and to define a new strategy, created in relations with the Albanian state, especially not to return under the Constitution, community property, including the properties of the Orthodox Church.

Himara NGOs of the Region, also call the American Embassy, as the funding of many projects to the Himara Municipality, follow with deep concern, recent decisions of The Municipality Council, particularly the approval of the Area Development Plan, without turning , in collaboration with the Albanian government, all properties, of auttokton community.

Thousands of American and European descent from the Region of Himara, expected to join a new decision, of the NGOs, to be sent a critical note, to the Albanian government, which has obligations determined by international agreements, especially with EU and USA , to return totally, the Himara community property.


Himara reforces NGO over Albanian Politics. Message of Washington to Tirana

Property prices rise in Albania as economic outlook improves

by Ray Clancy on December 6, 2011

Positive outlook for 2012 in Albanian property prices
Residential property prices in Albania have increased 10.3% year on year to the end of the third quarter as a number of economic pointers and figures indicate a positive outlook for next year.
The figures from Albania’s Central Bank also shows that the country’s Rental Price Index is also up with a 1.1% increase year on year.According to the budget bill passed by the Albanian parliament recently, Albania is predicted to see its budget deficit drop to 3% of GDP next year with economic growth reaching highs of around 4.3% despite the debt crisis currently affecting many countries. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting strong economic growth of 3.5% in Albania for 2012.
Travel guide Frommer’s has declared the Albanian Riviera as the Top Value Destination for 2012 according to its editors, authors, and experts from around the world. There was a 200% increase in tourists visiting the country between January and August this year compared to 2008.
The first 38 kilometre stretch of motorway linking Albania’s border directly to Kosovo’s capital Pristina was delivered ahead of schedule and within budget a few weeks ago. It was recently announced that a new €53 million loan from the EBRD has been agreed for the construction of two bypass roads in the south of the Albania.
‘With growth in the Balkan region predicted to be around four times higher than the 0.5% growth the European Union is expected to post next year, those wishing to invest in property will be making a sensible choice if they look in Albania’s direction,’ said Ravin Maharajah, partner of Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa, a five star luxury residential development located on Albania’s Adriatic coastline.‘Indeed, demand for property in Albania this year has been on the up and in light of 2012 predictions will no doubt continue as property hunters search for alternative options. For example, the international market is starting to wake up to Albania’s potential as a beach holiday destination which has generated excellent demand,’ he explained.
Maharajah believes that Albania has a good set of attributes to attract an increasing number of visitors and thus boost the rental potential of properties.
‘Albania’s coastline is its greatest asset with 295km of Adriatic coastline that runs from Montenegro down to Greece. It has gleaming white beaches, a rich history and is a land of legends and ancient civilizations. It is a nation where travellers will enjoy authentic traditions and cuisines, as well as a friendly welcome,’ he said.