Saturday, April 21, 2012


Related: Freezing in relations, Albania - Greece

Bulgaria lures Albanian Gorani

Bulgaria lures Albanian Gorani
Bulgaria is intensifying its efforts for expanding the minorities in Balkan, including Kosovoa nd Albania, by offering Bulgarian citizenship to the Goran community, according to SETimes.

The same offer goes to the Macedonia Gorans, concentrated in 18 villages in Gora and near the Prespa Lake, on the Macedonian side.

The President of the Macedonian Gorans Association, Avnija Rahti, declared that the Bulgarian state has officially offered the Bulgarian citizenship to this community and free education in Sofia and Plovdiv.

“All people belonging to the Goran community must sign the documents in which they declare their Bulgarian origin and that they feel part of this country”, Rahti declared.

Skopje reacted immediately, considering this initiative as illegal, while the Albanian authorities held no official stance.

The Agency for Bulgarians in the World organized the visit campaigns and the conversion of the Goran communities. The association expresses on its web page that their mission is to join and unify all Bulgarians throughout the world.

More than 16.000 Macedonian received Bulgarian citizenship one year ago, together with 2000 Ukrainian and 1000 Serbs and only 6 citizens from Kosovo.

“1500 citizens in Zhupa and Prespa have received the Bulgarian citizenship”, confrimed Gezim Kurti from the Albanian side, as Chairman of the Bulgarian Association in Albania, when asked by SETimes.

This movement was criticized by the Bulgarian expert for international relations and professor Antoinette Primatarova, who declared in the local media:

“This is a Bulgarian move for winning political advantages in poor Balkan countries, by exploiting the advantages offered by their passports”.

Report: Germany to send reinforcement to Kosovo

BERLIN -- Germany will send quick intervention troops to Kosovo at NATO’s request, German weekly Spiegel writes.
According to the weekly, NATO fears that there could be a new escalation of violence in northern Kosovo ahead of the Serbian elections on May 6 and Berlin has already decided to send reinforcements.
Germany will send 550 troops from the Operational Reserve Force (ORF) and Austria will send around 150 troops.

German ORF members were pulled out of Kosovo a few weeks ago. They were first deployed to Kosovo in August 2011.

According to the announcement, they will become a part of KFOR troops once again on May 1. The contingent consists of a nuclear biological and chemical protection unit and an artillery battalion.

The Postdam Operations Command has assessed that “there is a significant danger of conflicts in the entire Kosovo due to currently irreconcilable positions of Serbia and Kosovo regarding holding of the elections and due to already unstable situation in northern Kosovo”.

Around 5,800 international troops are currently stationed in Kosovo and 1,300 of them are from Germany.

Austria to send additional troops

Austrian Defense Ministry confirmed on Saturday that it would send additional 150 soldiers to Kosovo.

“The additional troops will be deployed due to upcoming Serbian elections that should also be held in Kosovo and at KFOR’s request,” Defense Ministry’s Spokesman Robert Rauter told APA news agency.

Austrian troops that were a part of the Operational Reserve Force (ORF) were pulled out of Kosovo in the beginning of April.

There are around 400 Austrian troops in KFOR.

ORF troops are only sent to the Balkans when necessary and they will be an additional reinforcement to the forces that are already in the field in case of tensions or crisis.

The reserve battalion should help preserve peace and create a safe environment, which includes combat against drug trafficking, illegal border crossing and arms trafficking.
Topi meets Albanian parties in Macedonia

Topi meets Albanian parties in Macedonia
On the third day of his visit in Macedonia, the Albanian President met the leaders of the main Albanian Parties.

Topi visited the opposition’s PDSH, where he was welcomed with a special red carpet ceremony and hundreds of honoring soldiers.

“Welcome at your home, as our President”, were the words of the PDSH leader, Menduh Thaci, in the reception reserved for President Topi.

For Topi, this was the most emotional moment of his visit in Macedonia.

“During my official visit in Macedonia, this was one of the best moments. Although history has divided us with administrative borders, our hearts beat with the same pace. thanks to our institutions and governments, our citizens can now travel only with identity cards, and become part of the same dream. Albania today is a NATO member, and together with Macedonia they will be in the NATO and EU”, Topi declared.

President Topi than met the BDI leader, Ali Ahmeti, with whom he also discussed about the murder of five Slavic Macedonians a few days ago. Topi declared that this horrible act should not damage the coexistence in Macedonia.

“We share your pain for the loss of five fellow Macedonians. We offer our solidarity to their families, and we consider it as a very horrible criminal act. We must build our lives together, and overcome the tragedies together, without prejudice”, Ali Ahmeti declared, as leader of the BDI.

After this meeting, Topi visited the bust of Mehmet Pashe Dellare, the Defense Minsiter of the first Albanian Government.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spiegel: Greeks Migrate to Germany to Find a Job and a Better Life

German newspaper Spiegel is making an effort to discourage Greek young people from migrating to Berlin, as they might be victims of a delusion that a major European capital city can provide them with an excellent quality of life.
“Faced with increasing unemployment in Greece, bright and educated young Greeks are now fleeing to Germany by the thousands in the hope of finding work and setting up a new life for themselves. However, once there, many struggle to find jobs, especially if they don’t speak the German language,” according to a recent Spiegel article.
Many young Greeks have made their way to Germany, despite the country’s poor image in their homeland, reports the German newspaper. About 25,000 new Greek immigrants registered with German authorities last year, twice as many as in 2010. These figures, says Hamburg immigration expert Vassilis Tsianos, don’t include those immigrants who have not yet registered with the German authorities, which is why he estimates there were 60,000 new Greek immigrants in Germany last year. Most are economic refugees with degrees – attorneys, engineers and architects. Equipped with equal amounts of courage and naiveté, they hope to find the same opportunities that awaited Greek guest workers who arrived with the immigration waves of the 1960s and 1970s.
“Many go to Berlin because they assume that the capital, like London or Paris, is an affluent place. But only after they’ve arrived do they realize that Berlin, the dream destination of young southern Europeans, is in fact a poor city with a tight labor market,” says the article.
Additionally, “the new arrivals cannot expect any help from the German government. Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), likes to invoke a sense of ‘European solidarity’ that makes it imperative for Germany to support the Greek economy. But she isn’t about to offer the same support for refugees from the Greek crisis.”
The example of the college-educated Greek economic migrants presented in the article shows how far Germany still is from being the modern country of immigration that many people would like it to be. Instead of accepting new immigrants and helping them to integrate into German society, as it tried to do in the past for Turkish immigrants, Germany is only erecting higher barriers. It is hardly taking advantage of the potential offered by well-educated foreign workers.
“German policy officially advocates a united Europe, open borders and a uniform market. But the country is somewhat reluctant to shoulder the burdens that result from such a policy,” explains Spiegel journalist Maximilian Popp.
(Source: spiegel)
“Boboshtica trial” judges, unwanted in Greece

“Boboshtica trial” judges, unwanted in Greece
The judges that sentenced the Omonia leader, Naum Disho, for the desacration of Boboshtica cemetery tombs, are now unwanted people in Greece.

Judge Aferdita Maho tried to cross the Kapshtica border, but she was returned by the Greek Customs. The same thing happened to President of the Court of Appeal, Entela Prifti.

The Judge declared through a phone conversation that she was returned twice from the border checkpoint, when she was together with her family. The motive of the return was unclear initially, but she learned the truth by other colleagues who were part of the Boboshtica trial and were rejected to enter Greece.

The motivation has not allowed the three judges Aferdita Maho, Entela Prifti and Brunilda Malo to enter Greece, is because they are unwanted and dangerous people for the security of Greece.

Different to these three judges, the only one member of the panel who asked for Disho to not be sentenced to prison, but with a fine, Stavri Kallco, had no problems for entering the neighboring country.
Bosnia opens trial of Muslims for war crimes

19 Apr 2012 16:23
Source: Reuters // Reuters

* Eight accused of crimes against Serb prisoners

* Twenty years since start of war; 100,000 killed

SARAJEVO, April 19 (Reuters) - Eight Bosnian Muslim wartime officials went on trial on Thursday accused of the torture and abuse of Serbs in detention camps near the Serb-besieged capital Sarajevo, 20 years after the start of the 1992-95 war.

Few cases have been opened against Muslim officials since the war, fueling Serb accusations against the Sarajevo authorities of practicing selective justice.

In the latest case, camp guards and local officials are accused of crimes committed in three detention camps in the Sarajevo suburb of Hadzici during the 43-month siege of the city by Bosnian Serb forces on the hilltops.

Prosecutor Marjan Pogacnik said four prisoners died in the camps.

"The detainees there were taken into hallways and beaten or forced to beat each other by guards and other individuals until they fainted," Pogacnik said. "They were denied medical assistance or access to international humanitarian agencies."

Some 11,500 people died in the siege of Sarajevo, while Bosnian Serb forces seized large parts of the country and cleansed them of non-Serbs after Muslims and Croats voted for independence from socialist Yugoslavia.

The vast majority of the 100,000 people killed in the war were Muslims, but war crimes were also committed by Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces.

Pogacnik said defendants Mustafa Djelilovic, the former head of the nearby Hadzici local assembly, and Fadil Covic, the former police chief in the neighbourhood, were aware of the inhumane conditions at the camps but failed to act or move the prisoners. The six other accused were guards at the camps.

The Bosnian court was opened in 2005 to prosecute low- and mid-ranking war crime cases and ease the burden on the Hague-based war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which focuses on top war crimes indictees such as Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic. (Reporting By Maja Zuvela)
After riots, Macedonia, Albania urge calm

Apr 19, 2012

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — The presidents of Macedonia and Albania have issued a joint plea for calm, in the wake of violence in the tiny Balkan country.

Five Macedonian fishermen were found shot dead last week, triggering weekend riots by youths who blamed members of the country's ethnic Albanian minority for the crime. Police have made no arrests in the murder case and not named any suspects.

Albania's President Bamir Topi met Macedonia's Gjorge Ivanov Thursday and condemned the "climate of prejudice" while calling for "people to live in peace."
Ethnic Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million. Tensions with the Macedonian majority have simmered since a 2001 uprising by ethnic Albanian rebels.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Minister for Kosovo calls for extremists to be disarmed

ZVEČAN -- Kosovo Minister Goran Bogdanović has urged international troops in Kosovo to disarm ethnic Albanian extremist groups in the north of the province.
KFOR troops are seen in northern Kosovska Mitrovica (Beta)
KFOR troops are seen in northern Kosovska Mitrovica (Beta)
Serbs are the majority north of the Ibar River, rejecting the authority of the Kosovo Albanian authorities in Priština, as well as their unilateral declaration of independence made in early 2008.
Speaking on Wednesday, Bogdanović was commenting on video footage that had been broadcast by television outlets both in Priština and the north, and was also posted on the internet.

It shows "armed Albanians in northern Kosovo", and was first aired on Top Channel Albania on April 13, according to reports.

Priština's "adventurism", warned the minister, "could lead to unforeseeable consequences".

"The emergence of armed groups in the north of the province is the result of the drive, above all of Priština, to violently and through unilateral actions put the north of Kosovo and Metohija under its control," Bogdanovoić continued.

"We have been warning international representatives about the announcements coming from top political leaders of Kosovo's Albanians that they will integrate the north using force, and that the expansion of Albanian extremism could lead to violence. The result of this policy of unilateral moves and violence is now seen in action," Beta news agency reported him as saying.

A Tanjug report said that Bogdanović "urged the international community representatives to investigate if there were any armed extremist groups in the Kosovo north and to disarm them if they found them".

“This is a serious moment and high time the international presence demonstrated the resolve to suppress Albanian extremism,” the minister said, and called on the EU mission, EULEX , to "immediately clear up the murder Selver Haradinaj" - an ethnic Albanian who died in his apartment in northern Kosovska Mitrovica when an explosive device was activated earlier this month.

"Priština and Albanian extremists are only using the opportunity to purport that the killing of the Albanian was ethnically motivated," Tanjug quoted Bogdanović as saying.

Threats of Albanian Army to Skopje government

18. April 2012. | 09:41  Source: B92

An organisation entitled 'The Army for Liberation of Occupied Albanian Countries' which has so far been unknown to the public threatened on Tuesday to attack the Macedonian army and the police unless they retreat from, as they said, 'occupied Albanian countries' within the next two weeks.  An organisation entitled 'The Army for Liberation of Occupied Albanian Countries' which has so far been unknown to the public threatened on Tuesday to attack the Macedonian army and the police unless they retreat from, as they said, 'occupied Albanian countries' within the next two weeks.

A release posted on the Albanian-language internet portal Potalb which was quoted by all Albanian media claims that the so-called 'army' in Mitrovica, Kosovo-Metohija, held a meeting of its general staff from which it sent such an ultimatum to the Macedonian government.  The text was released in a time of rising tensions in Macedonia after the murder of five Albanian citizens near Skopje. The investigation into the assassination is still underway and Skopje-based media do not exclude the possibility that the crime was ethnically motivated.

The release notes that Albanians' rights are daily violated in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  The pro-Serbian government headed by Nikola Gruevski is spreading anti-Albanian ideology and staging assaults on innocent Albanians, Albanian villages are blocked by Macedonian Slavs and nobody among corrupted politicians in the ethnic Albania is reacting because they are all traitors of their homelands, the text states.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Freezing in relations, Albania - Greece

Stavros Markos

An unusual calm, has captured for the year 2012, the Greek Albanian relations, for which, gives no explanation, either from Tirana and Athens.
© diplomatic sources from Athens, does not provide details for "ice" that is totally involved, relations which the two partners in NATO but Greece one hand, claims that he has exhausted all its diplomatic resources and moral, to help Albania , to join the European Union.

But on the other hand, Ethnic Greek Community has lost hope of Athens, to have the powers of a self determination system in the territory in Southern Albania, recognized by the major powers, known as the Autonomy of Northern Epirus. .
This is due not because Washington sees the doubt, Greece's stance on the independence of Kosovo, Macedonia veto in NATO, anti-American attitude of a large portion of the population, or attempt to create the possibility of Russian oil monopolies In the Balkans, etc., but always and beyond, emerging opinion that the attitude of Greek diplomacy, to Tirana, has served the Greek monopoly and not the national interests of Greece and its attitude and ignorance indifferent to violations of universal human rights in Southern Albania.
In this political campaign in Greece, political parties, are lying to the autonomy of Northern Epirus, as happened with New Democracy Party, which claims that when it comes to power, will rise in international public issue of Northern Epirus. But this party was in power and sold the interests of the Greek Community, to Tirana for the Sheffield Water Agreement.
On the other hand, Tirana, has included into the government of Sali Berisha, an extreme nationalist party, who have territorial claims to Greece. Issues, become more complicated, as the people in Himara Region, Hellenes absolute majority, declare that it will not recognize Albanian property laws, urging Greece to block the registration of property by EU and OSCE, as long as the reasons of protection of property, endangers an ethnic clash in Albania.
However, the common involvement of some politicians of Greek descent, in the Albanian government does not necessarily mean that Globalization has also included elements that represent The Greek Community in Albania, but political corruption, has served as agent for the divided interests of Hellenism in Albania.
Very important fact, that the Greek Community, asking Athens to remove its ambassador in Tirana, is not alone. In 2006, they asked
Athens, to remove its ambassador from Tirana. So is the second case that Athens, behind the irresponsible statements, but formally in Tirane.
As a result, the failure of the Census, the issue of property, and diplomatic inefficiency of Athens towards Tirana, can complicate the situation for which ethnic violence, can replace the universal role of Liberties and Human Rights, in all territories where the Greeks live in Albania.
Defense Ministry, agreement with OSCE for chemicals

Defense Ministry, agreement with OSCE for 
Albanian Minister of Defense, Arben Imami, signed a technical agreement with the OSCE Ambassador, Eugen Wolfarth, for eliminating dangerous chemicals in the Albanian stock depots.

The agreement aims to eliminate the 83 tons of chemicals according to the European standards. The elimination process of these chemicals will be realized by a company with a long experience in this area, which will be contracted by the OSCE mission.

The elimination cost will be granted by the OSCE, while the Ministry of Defense will be tasked to transport them to the Durres port, where they will be loaded to a military ship.

The signature of these agreements removes a considerable amount of substances that are considered as very dangerous for the environment and life of residents who live near the military compounds.

Stefanovic: Special status for north
Top Channel TV

Stefanovic: Special status for north
The head of the Serbian delegation in the discussion with Kosovo, Borislav Stefanovic, declared that Belgrade is ready to continue dialogue with Prishtina after the elections.

“It will be difficult, but we are working for opening the EU membership negotiations in December”, Stefanovic declared.

During an interview for an Austrian daily newspaper, the Serbian negotiator underlined the need of a special status for Kosovo, offering examples like the Southern Tiroli and Two Germanys.

Then he blamed Prishtina of hampering the implementation of the agreements reached by dialogue, through biased actions and violence against Serbs.

“They are trying to take license plates and identity cards from Kosovo Serbs”, Stefanovic declared.

He also added that the only policy that Belgrade can follow is “EU together with Kosovo”, otherwise there will be no future for Serbia.

“Both parties are part of our identity, and we must resolve both problems. Every part that follows only the European perspective and gives up from Kosovo, would lose credibility not only inside the country, but also in Brussels”, Stefanovic underlined.

Russia urges citizens to refrain from buying property in occupied Cyprus

The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Russian citizens about the dangers of buying land in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.
In a statement at the Interfax News Agency, Deputy Director of Press and Information Department Zacharova Maria, stated that the administration in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, is an illegal state and property purchases should be avoided.
She stresses that the so called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is an illegal entity which was declared in the Turkish occupied areas of the independent and internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus.
Zacharova underlines that UN Security has condemned this illegal action in its resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984).
”Buying a property in occupied Cyprus is illegal since several properties belonging to Greek Cypriots legally who fled their homes after the invasion of Turkish occupation troops in 1974. The property market is at great risk because under legal lawsuits filed by the owners, ”Zacharova warns.
She also explains that under the Criminal Code of Cyprus any property without the consent of legal owner, is fraud and punishable by imprisonment for seven years.
The Russian Foreign Ministry urges Russian citizens to be informed in detail about this issue.
UN resolution 541 (1983) adopted by the Security Council on 18 November 1983 considers the declaration by the Turkish Cypriot authorities issued on 15 November 1983 to create an independent state in northern Cyprus, as incompatible with the 1960 Treaty concerning the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus and the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.
The UNSC, in its resolution deplores the declaration of the Turkish Cypriot authorities of the purported secession of part of the Republic of Cyprus, considers the declaration referred to above as legally invalid and calls for its withdrawal.
It also calls upon all states to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus, calls upon all states not to recognise any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus and calls upon all states and the two communities in Cyprus to refrain from any action which might exacerbate the situation.
UNSC resolution 550 (1984) reaffirms its resolution 541(1983) and calls for its urgent and effective implementation. It also condemns all secessionist actions, including the purported exchange of Ambassadors between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot Leadership, declares them illegal and invalid and calls for their immediate withdrawal.
UNSC resolution 550 reaffirms the call upon all states not to recognise the purported state in occupied Cyprus set up by secessionist acts and calls upon them not to facilitate or in any way assist this secessionist entity.

Serb Nationalists Threaten Mitrovica Albanians

The Serb ultranationalist organization Obraz has left messages on the doors of Kosovo Albanians living in the Serb-run north of the town, reading “We are coming.”
Fatmir Aliu
Pristina / Mitrovica
“Dolazimo” (“We are coming”) is the ominous message that the ultra-nationalist Obraz group has left on the doors the few remaining Kosovo Albanians living in the northern, Serb-run of the divided town of Mitrovica.
Kosovo Police say they are investigating the leaflets posted on apartments owned by Albanian families in the mixed “Three Skyscrapers” neighbourhood of Mitrovica, which was the scene of violence in recent weeks.
Police spokesperson Besim Hoti told BIRN on Tuesday that the leaflets together with the Obraz logo were reported on Monday by several Kosovo Albanian families who found them stuck to their doors.
Obraz espouses a vision of a Great Serbia populated only by Orthodox Christians - and in the past it has not shrunk from advocating physical force to achieve its goals.
Obraz says it strives for the spiritual renewal of Serbdom through a combination of “Serbian patriotism and Orthodox love for God”. According to Obraz, “There is no healthy Serbian society without a healthy Christian spirituality.”
For all its self-proclaimed spiritual values, in many people’s eyes the movement is more obviously dedicated to stirring up religious, ethnic and racial hatred than love of God. They accuse it of persecuting its political opponents and ethnic minorities.
On April 8 an explosive device killed Selver Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian, and wounded his wife and four children in the Three Skyscrapers district. Authorities in Pristina condemned the attack as terrorism.
Kosovo Albanians living in the northern part of Mitrovica have since demanded an increased security presence in their neighbourhoods. In response, NATO’s peacekeeping mission to Kosovo has relocated some troops to mixed areas where both Serbs and Albanians live.
Kosovo police reported on Monday about another incident in the north when a parked vehicle owned by a Kosovo Serb was sprayed with bullets in the village of Cabra, in Zubin Potok municipality. No one was hurt.
According to the media, since the murder of Haradinaj, some 20 Kosovo Albanian families have temporarily left their apartments in the northern part of Mitrovica. These reports have not been confirmed by the Kosovo Police.
But police sources in Mitrovica told BIRN that the Obraz leaflets have fuelled “insecurity among the Kosovo Albanians, since it represents a direct threat to them”.
Police spokesperson Hoti said an investigation aimed to discover “whether the leaflets were posted by individuals or a group”.

"Albanian army" issues ultimatum to Macedonia

SKOPJE -- A previously unknown organization calling itself the Army for the Liberation of Occupied Albanian Lands on Tuesday threatened to launch attacks in Macedonia.
The group said it would attack what they referred to as "Slavo-Macedonian" army and police unless they retreat from "occupied Albanian lands" within the next two weeks.
A statement to this effect was posted on the Albanian-language website Potalb.

It further said that this "army" also has its "general staff", which met in Kosovska Mitrovica and decided to issue its ultimatum to the state of Macedonia.

The text was published at a time of rising tensions in Macedonia after the murder of five ethnic Macedonian men near Skopje. The investigation into the assassination is still underway and Skopje-based media do not exclude the possibility that the crime was ethnically motivated.

The group's statement also claims that rights of ethnic Albanians are "violated on a daily basis in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".

The country's prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, is described as being "pro-Serb", and accused of "spreading anti-Albanian ideology and instigating assaults on innocent Albanians", while "Albanian villages are blocked by Macedonian Slavs and nobody among corrupt politicians in Ethnic (Greater) Albania is reacting because they are all traitors to their homeland".

The group further threatened "to avenge our brothers", and said this would take the form of "fire against fire, eye for an eye, arm for an arm".

Black Red Alliance of the Turkish party?

In this week's number, Mapo magazine has published its lid a screamer: Project neo-Ottoman, Black Red Alliance, a Turkish party. The following article title, author Alfred Lela, opens with the intriguing questions:

     Why was associated with mystery visits to Washington Kreshnik Spahiu and who allowed it? Who is the mediator between Kreshnik Spahiu and Turkish interests in Albania? Are Americans concerned about a recovery of the former Ottoman Empire? A time has come after the business infrastructure, education and ideas Turkey, Ankara politically represented in Albania? Neo-otomanizmi, a doctrine or an invention?

Question, the answer to which more than facts, is filled with fantasies or paranoia of artikullshkruesit. According to Alfred Lelës, the fact that a Turk has mediated Spahiu invitation to America, a trip is paid by the Turks (not documented anyway) and an intense activity during the 2011 Turkish center "Prism" (a cultural foundation that contributes interfaith and intercultural dialogue), attended by many members of cultural and political elite of Tirana, are evidence that the Alliance party Red and Black is Turkish. Similarly, Lela, after "proving" that the Alliance is a Turkish party, "discovers" a triangular alliances, it: Spahiu - Tokçelik / Gulen - America.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Gorani in Kosovo, Albania offered Bulgarian citizenship

Bulgaria offers citizenship and material benefits to members of the Gorani community in what some call a throwback to 19th-century policy.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 16/04/12
photoBulgaria is offering citizenship to the Gorani communities. [Reuters]
Bulgaria is intensifying efforts to provide citizenship, scholarships and other benefits to the poverty-stricken Gorani community in Kosovo and Albania, but critics say the country is misusing its EU member state status to advance long-standing assimilatory policies of other ethnicities.
The Gorani, most of whom are Muslim and identify as Macedonians, live in 18 villages in the region of Gora as well as in the adjacent Zhupa and Prespa regions in the Albania-Macedonia-Kosovo border area.
"They [Bulgarian representatives] usually come every few months. They are expected to arrive in Gora next at the beginning of May," Avnija Rahte, president of the Macedonian-Gorani Association, said.
Rahte explained the Bulgarians, accompanied by a lawyer, try to persuade the Gorani of the benefits of Bulgarian citizenship, including potential employment in EU countries as well as free schooling in Sofia and Plovdiv.
All the Gorani need to do is sign documents declaring they have Bulgarian origins and are Bulgarian, he said.
The Bulgarian Constitution provides the option for individuals to acquire Bulgarian citizenship through a "facilitated procedure," established in the country's citizenship act.
The Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, which organises the visits, has featured a 2010 strategic document on its website explaining that the policy aims to unite all Bulgarians in the region and raise the nation's plummeting birth rate.
Over 16,000 Macedonians obtained Bulgarian citizenship last year, along with nearly 2,000 Ukrainians and 1,000 Serbs, but only six Kosovo citizens, according to Agency data.
"Nearly 1,500 inhabitants of Gora, Zhupa and Prespa have obtained Bulgarian citizenship," Gezim Kurti, head of the association Bulgarians in Albania, told SETimes.
Bulgarian scholar Antoinette Primatarova suggested in an article earlier this year that Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is eager to breathe new life into Bismarck's saying the Bulgarians are "Prussians of the Balkans."

Macedonia murders case: Serious progress, no suspects

SKOPJE -- Macedonian Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska says that "serious progress" has been made in the investigation into the killings of five Macedonian men.
A view of Skopje (Tanjug, file)
A view of Skopje (Tanjug, file)
However, the police still had not identified any suspects, she revealed.
More than 100 persons were interviewed "and the perpetrators' profile has been defined", she told reporters on Sunday.

"Still, we do not like to come out with any details because we need time to check material evidence from the field, and also because of the complexity of some chemical analyses that take a certain amount of time," Jankulovska was quoted as saying.

The minister also said that forensic examinations suggested that a car found some ten kilometers from the murder scene in the village of Smiljkovci was previously present at the scene.

"We can say that thanks to the tip offs from the citizens, we ruled out some scenarios. One of the most unlikely ones was that the young men were witnesses of another crime and that this is why they were killed," she told a news conference in Skopje.

The bodies the victims - four young men aged 18 to 20, and a local 45-year-old villager - were discovered late on Thursday last week near an artificial lake in Smiljkovci. The murders "renewed inter-ethnic tensions", said reports, referring to relations between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians.

The Macedonia police announced on Saturday that the victims were shot and killed point blank from three different weapons.

Army chief says Kosovo police represents "security risk"

BELGRADE -- Serbian Army Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Ljubiša Diković says that members of the Kosovo police (KPS) represent a security risk on the administrative line.
Gen. Diković is seen touring a base near the administrative line on Sunday (Tanjug)
Gen. Diković is seen touring a base near the administrative line on Sunday (Tanjug)
The line runs between Kosovo and central Serbia.
"I believe that only KFOR can guarantee security in Kosovo and Metohija, not the so-called organs of Kosovo," he told Belgrade-based daily Politika, commenting on the recent arrest of two KPS members who crossed the administrative line near Merdare.

Diković also noted that "it is obvious that the KPS, contrary to agreements, wishes to, step by step, impose itself as a factor in those areas".

"We keep KFOR informed about their presence, and they always react and inform us about what they had done about it," the general stated, and added that according to the Kumanovo Military-Technical Agreement that ended the war over Kosovo in 1999, the Serbian Army cooperates "exclusively with international security forces, that is, KFOR".

Asked about why his response to accusations of war crimes that came from Nataša Kandić "did not come sooner", Diković said he sued the director of the Humanitarian Law Center (FHP) as a private citizens, and that it took some time for the lawsuit to be prepared.

"I do not wish to add any significance to the untruths presented by the Humanitarian Law Center by commenting on them again publicly. The court will make its decision," he said.

The newspaper noted in the article that during the 1999 war Diković commanded troops in Drenica in Kosovo, that he today represents "the highest-ranked VS interlocutor in discussions with KFOR", and that his reputation is not disputed in those quarters.

Albanians Risk Fines on Homemade Hooch

Ministry of finance plans to force villagers to register rakia distillation cans with the authorities or face fines.
Besar Likmeta
Under a new draft law, Albanians brewing homemade brandy, or rakia, at home will have to register their distillation equipment with the authorities and whoever produces more than 100 liters will have to pay tax.

“If inspections find raw material or an unregistered distillation can, even if it is for personal use, the offender will be fined 20,000 Albanian Lek (€160),” the bill says.
Rakia is an alcoholic beverage almost considered a national drink in many countries in the Balkans. Its alcohol content is normally 40 per cent, but home-produced rakia can be much stronger, typically as high as 60 per cent. Double-distilled rakia has an alcohol content that may exceed 60 per cent.

In Albania rakia is usually made out of grapes grown in the coastal areas with a mild climate, or out of plum. Sometimes it is made from mulberries or walnuts in mountainous areas. Plum and grape rakia are sometimes mixed with other ingredients, such as herbs, honey, sour cherries and walnuts, after distillation.

Homemade production of rakia is widespread in Albania, where drinkers often shun products of large distilleries as industrial and lacking in quality.

Ex KLA Member Arrested on the Serbian Border

Serbian police arrested on Saturday a Kosovo Albanian war crimes suspect at the border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia.
Marija Ristic
Kasnjeti and other KLA members during conflicts in the 90s | Photo courtesy of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs
Marko Kasnjeti, a former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, has been arrested at Merdare border crossing, in south Serbia, said the Serbian Minister for Internal Affairs, Ivica Dacic.
The Deputy Prosecutor for War Crimes, Bruno Vekaric, said that the Serbian prosecution suspects that Kasnjeti committed war crimes against Serb civilians in the town of Prizren, in Kosovo in 1999.
“We formed a case against Kasnjeti on the basis of a photo given to us by the victims. That is how we determined his responsibility for the crimes,” said Vekaric to the Belgrade based news agency Tanjug.
The photo shows Kasnjeti and three other KLA members beating two people, who had their hands tied behind their backs, with the end of their rifles.
Kasnjeti has been brought before Belgrade's Special Court for an initial hearing and the investigation judge has determined a custody period of 48 hours, BIRN has learned from the prosecution.  The hearing will continue on Monday.
Previously, on March 21, the Serbian police had arrested in the town of Merdere another former member of the KLA, Buri Taljata.
Taljata is suspected of war crimes against Serb civilians committed in June 1999 in the town of Prizren in Kosovo and is currently held in custody in the Serbian town of Pozarevac.