Saturday, April 28, 2012

Serbia’s elections


The outcomes of Serbia’s many elections on May 6th are unpredictable

ON MAY 6th the French vote for a president and the Greeks and Armenians for parliaments. For Serbs it is the big bang: they will vote for a president, a parliament, in local elections and, in the province of Vojvodina, for a regional assembly. In Kosovo too, many Serbs may vote, but this is contentious and could lead to violence.
Kosovo aside, the Serbian elections are a cliffhanger. Polls give President Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party (DS) just under 36% and Tomislav Nikolic, leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), just over 36%. A run-off between the two a fortnight later is likely, and the result will be influenced by the parliamentary election.
Mr Tadic sells himself as pro-European and pro-reform. But he looks tired and the economy is in dire straits. One poll finds 80% of Serbs are dissatisfied and angry, 77% feel helpless and hopeless and 60% are just depressed. The latest score for the SNS and its allies is 33.5%, with the DS and its allies trailing on 28.3%. Yet it may be easier for the DS than for the SNS to find other coalition partners.
The kingmaker is likely to be Ivica Dacic, leader of the Socialist Party, which with its allies is polling at 11.8%. Mr Dacic is the artful dodger of Serbian politics. In the war years he was a spokesman for Slobodan Milosevic. When Mr Milosevic fell in 2000 and was put on trial for war crimes, Mr Dacic stepped in to save the party. Now he is interior minister and a master of populist bluster. When Serbs were arrested in Kosovo, some with election materials, he arrested some Kosovo Albanians, boasting that this was a reciprocal measure.
Mr Dacic is likely to stick with the DS, but he could choose to switch horses to the SNS if they make him a better offer (such as the premiership). The SNS was started in 2008 when Mr Nikolic and Aleksandar Vucic led their followers out of the extreme nationalist Radical Party, whose leader is also on trial for war crimes.
Any new government will have a hard time. Unemployment is 24% and as much as 40% of output is in the black economy. In February, because many workers went unpaid, more Serbs got pensions than salaries. Yet foreign companies are still investing in Serbia, not least Fiat, an Italian car maker that just opened a €1 billion ($1.3 billion) factory.
With little time left, it is still uncertain what will happen in Kosovo. The Serbian authorities have stepped back from trying to organise local elections for Serbs there, though two municipalities in the Serb-controlled north may still hold them. If Serbia chooses to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the north there is little the Kosovo government can do. But if it tries to hold them in the south, where most of Kosovo’s Serbs live, there could be bloodshed. One solution may be for both sides to accept a figleaf of cover for elections from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. But NATO is taking no chances, deploying 700 more peacekeepers to deter violence.
Until Serbia has a new government the European Union-sponsored dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia will remain in abeyance. Edita Tahiri, Kosovo’s chief negotiator, says she is not worried if there is a change in government in Belgrade. The talks will resume and Serbia will have to carry on making compromises, just as Kosovo does, because they have “no choice but to continue being pro-European.”

KFOR ready for every scenario, commanders say

PRIZREN -- KFOR has taken all measures in order to preserve peace and order and holding of the Serbian elections on May 6 should not destabilize the situation.
(FoNet, file)
(FoNet, file)
This is according to commanders of the German and U.S. military contingents serving in Kosovo.
“KFOR Commander Erhard Drews has taken all necessary measures to keep the situation from escalating. We need to consider the legitimate rights of the Serbs in the north, but at the same time we need to respect the law which bans the holding of local elections, due to the fact Kosovo is a sovereign country,” said German contingent Commander Bernd Holthusen, Priština-based Albanian language daily Koha Ditore has reported.

He is convinced the elections will be peaceful and without incidents because KFOR has a clear task and is ready to carry it out with maximum effort.

In U.S. contingent Commander Jeffrey Layton’s opinion, the situation in the province is peaceful but fragile.
15 Albanian robbers arrested in Greece

15 Albanian robbers arrested in Greece
At least 15 persons of Albanian citizenship were arrested in Thessaloniki, charged of armed robbery.

The Thessaloniki Police declared that they had created a criminal organization, armed with AK-47 and handguns which they used to rob different areas in Northern Greece.

One of the charges is that they have broken in a house in Neohorudha neighborhood, Thessaloniki, and have robbed 12.000 EUR from a 47-year-old man who lived with his daughter, and a considerable amount of jewelries. Then they have even threatened on the phone for more money.

After being arrested, the police found a considerable amount of hashish in their house. Police is looking for four other persons of Albanian nationality.

According to the statistics, the crime in Greece has increased with 300% in 2011, compared to 2010.

Interior minister accuses K. Albanian authorities

KRALJEVO -- Interior Minster Ivica Dačić says intelligence data shows that the authorities in Priština are preparing to stage provocations related to May 6 elections.
Ivica Dačić (Tanjug, file)
Ivica Dačić (Tanjug, file)
Speaking on Friday in the town of Kraljevo, central Serbia, he appraised that "these plans can be thwarted in cooperation with international organizations".
"Election material could be confiscated, and people people who are taking part in the election process could be arrested, which would endanger not only the elections but also the safety of those people," according to Dačić.

The minister stressed that it was "very important for Serbia to insist that international organizations in Kosovo and Metohija, such as UNMIK and OSCE, take part in organizing the elections".

"An agreement with international organizations would be an obstacle to such attacks," said he.

Dačić also noted that "holding elections according to Serbian laws is the essential goal of our state".

Earlier on Friday, Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac was quoted as saying that "certain structures" wished to destabilize Kosovo, and this context welcomed NATO's decision to reinforce its mission in the province, KFOR.
Berisha, meetings in Congress

Berisha, meetings in Congress
The Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, expressed his readiness to discuss a series of issues with the opposition, such as the election of the President, the justice system, the immunity of officials, etc.

Berisha expressed his stance in an interview for “VOA”, where he initially commented his meeting with the US State Secretary, Hillary Clinton, who made a very clear request.

“I informed the US State Secretary for the recent political developments in Albania. Secretary Clinton clearly asked for the immunity to be removed”, Berisha declared.

Then the head of the Albanian government answered to a series of questions related with the actual hot political matters in Albania.

The justice system:

“The US government helps Albania, but this is a responsibility of the Albanian government and the political forces to intensify the efforts for improving the rule of law and war against corruption, so that we can make some steps ahead. When we speak about justice reforms, we speak about the interest of the Albanian citizens and not the politicians’ interest”.

Corruption: “Based on the initiative taken by President Obama, we are among the few governments that give online concessions. I am not saying that there is no corruption, but there is also a strong will for fighting it. Albania has more punished officials than every other country. There were no high-rank officials, but for this we must remove the immunity first”.

The electoral system: “This electoral system ends a series of inappropriate geographic problems. The political parties have not asked the system to change, and the math experts are working on the calculations”.

The Presidential Election: “The presidential election is a process that must go through consults and we are ready to do this with the opposition. This problem will be in the next month, and I wish that there will be good will from both parties. Fatos Nano? When I have formed the government, I declared that I am open for consults, and I am decided to implement the Constitution. In 2008 we changed the Constitution with Mr. Rama for avoiding a political crisis during the Presidential elections.

Kosovo-Albania powerline: “The distinction between the project for the new Parliament and the construction of the power-line is very large. For this object there was no jury for the price. If you see the 12 projects that were presented in the Parliament, they vary from 48 to 100 million EUR. The jury had professors from Harward and the entire world chose the project of Mr. Priks.

When the Jury chooses the best project, they don’t take the price in consideration. As for the powerline, the German KFW Bank is a wonderful bank that has funded dozens of projects in Albania. We have very good relations with them. In this present case, we made the the Tirana-Prishtina tender and that for the Southern Ring.

For the first, a company that fulfills the technical conditions has offered 8.6 million EUR for the Albanian segment. If the Kosovo segment is concluded, it is 20 million EUR cheaper. While for the Southern Ring there was an offer that was 20 million EUR more expensive”.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Next visit of George Goro in USA with plenty of surprises
, Anesti Dhimojani, allegedly has been refused a visa by the USA

The Development Plan for the Himara Region, is "frozen"

According to very reliable sources, The Mayor of Himara George Goro, will visit Washington alone, it's because it is suspected that the Chairman of the Vlora District, Anesti Dhimojani is denied U.S. visas.

Not become officially recognized, the refusal of U.S. visa for Anesti Dhimojani, but recent developments in Himara Region, the land ownership problems, the Orthodox Church and its properties, the Civil Society of Himara opposition, for the law of property, have had positive effects in the USA.

Of course, the news coming from USA, Prime Minister of Albania Sali Berisha, has been under pressure from the State Department for democratic development in Himara Region, which have heard the views of Berisha, on historical values ​​of independence of the province and its cultural touristic prospective.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remarks With Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha Before Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 25, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is an honor to welcome the prime minister of Albania here to the State Department. The prime minister and his country have been strong partners with the United States in NATO as part of our mission in Afghanistan, and we have a broad and deep relationship that we highly value. I’m looking forward to discussing with Prime Minister Berisha a lot of the issues that we’re working on bilaterally, regionally, and globally. So Prime Minister, welcome.
PRIME MINISTER BERISHA: I’m very thankful and very happy to be here to meet Secretary Clinton. She’s a great friend of my country and my nation. And definitely I will confess you, one of the purpose of this meeting is to convince to have her in our 100th anniversary of our independency. United States has played a very crucial role in all our most difficult moments of our history, so every Albanian will be proud and happy.
As always, we will discuss many matters of great bilateral interest. Albania has the great privilege to be supported from this great country, from President Obama’s Administration, from Secretary Clinton, in all its efforts to build a market-based democracy.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, sir.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

US Pristina Mission: US battleship in Durres, no relation with Kosovo
"Top Channel"

US battleship in Durres, no relation with Kosovo
The dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall arrives in Durrës, Albania, Apr. 24, for a regularly scheduled port visit. This visit serves to continue U.S. 6th Fleet efforts to build global maritime partnerships with European nations and improve maritime safety and security.

685 troops of the military crew will stay until April 27th, based on the status of the agreement signed between the parties of the Northern Atlantic Tractat, ratified by the Parliament, and also based on other agreements between the member states “on the status of the US military forces in the Albanian Republic”.

While in port, the officers and crew will meet with local officials and participate in cultural activities.

Gunston Hall is conducting this port visit as part of a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

“US ship in Albania, no relation with Northern Kosovo”

The US Embassy in Prishtina denied the news published by some Kosovo media, that the USS Gunston Hall ship docked in Durres due to the Northern Kosovo turmoil.

The embassy explained that the US battleship is following a process for the US partnership reinforcement in a global scale.

“This visit has nothing to do with any of the events that have taken place recently in the region. This is a regular visit that offers a great opportunity for exchanging information, joint tactics and professionalism, with the goal to defend the region”, the declaration says.

Pan Epiriotean Federation calls Washington, for more rights and Autonomy for the Greeks of Albania.

Parade of the anniversary of the Greek independence day in Boston.  

The "Leon of Himara" Pyros Dhimas on the head  of PASOK list, for the next Greek Parliament.

NATO grants KFOR request for reinforcements

PRIŠTINA -- A KFOR spokesperson says a request was submitted to NATO to send more troops to Kosovo to help ease possible tensions at the time of local elections.
(FoNet, file)
(FoNet, file)
This request had been met, Uwe Nowitzki revealed on Tuesday in a statement for Tanjug news agency.
At the same time, a report that "American special forces" would be sent to Albania and deployed close to the province - originally published by the Tirana-based Lajm newspaper, and then picked up by some Serbian media outlets - was described as "not true" by Nowitzki.

"All I can say is that this (Lajm) report does not correspond with the truth," said he, and added that German and Austrian reinforcements should arrive in Kosovo by the end of the week.

They will be stationed at points in Kosovska Mitrovica and ethnic Albanian villages in the municipalities of Zvečan and Zubin Potok, where Serbian local elections are slated to be held.

A total of 550 German and 150 Austrian soldiers will be deployed at the lines dividing the two ethnic communities in northern Kosovo.

The U.S. embassy in Priština has meanwhile announced that a U.S. assault ship would dock at Albania's Port of Durres on April 24-27.

This has nothing to do with the events in the region, as it is only part of regular efforts by the U.S. Sixth Fleet in promoting naval partnership with European countries and improving safety and security at sea, said the diplomatic mission.

Written statement

In a written statement sent to Tanjug later on Tuesday, Nowitzki "confirmed that the second battalion of the Operational Reserve Force (ORF) has been activated and will deploy to Kosovo shortly", the news agency reported.

"This is part of our prudent planning and positioning to make sure that we have the forces necessary to do our task," Nowitzki stated.

KFOR's mission, he noted, was to "preserve a safe and secure environment for all people of Kosovo in an impartial way".

"That is what we have done for over a decade, and that is what we will continue to do," said this spokesman.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Albania, ready to fulfill NATO obligation

Top Channel TV

Albania, ready to fulfill NATO obligation
Albania spends 1.4% of the GDP for defense, while it should spend 2%, being a NATO member.

But in these times of financial crisis, where every Euro, Dollar or Pound has more value, few NATO members have respected the 2% of the GDP obligation. In this moment, the Smart Defense enters the play, a concept that increases intelligent investments in the regional cooperation between the Southeastern Countries. This was the topic of the international conference organized in Tirana by the Albanian Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

“In a time of global crisis, the defense projects have never been immune. In times like these we have even more need for each other. Altogether, we will continue investing in military, economy and politics. Smart Intelligence means that the financial investments must simply become smarter”, declared the Albanian Parliament Speaker, Jozefina Topalli.

This readiness to adopt the intelligent defense concept found the support of Prime Minister Berisha, who expressed once again the determination of his government for keeping the military troops in Afghanistan.

“Albania is determined to fulfill its obligations. We will be there for as long tha NATO and the US will be there, for giving our modest contribution”, Berisha declared.

A few time ago, Albania lost a soldier in Kandahar, Afghanistan. But the political forces and the public opinion in Albania have not put in discussion Albania’s military engagement in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Kosovo: Serb man seriously injured at barricade

ZUBIN POTOK -- A 25-year-old Serb man was seriously injured on Monday near a barricade in northern Kosovo when he was struck by a car driven by an ethnic Albanian.
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
The Albanian was later severely beaten by the citizens gathered at the barricade, located near the village of Zupče.
According to a Kosovo police, KPS, spokesman, the incident happened around noon today when the Albanian passed through the barricade, traveling toward Zupče, and then attempted to go back the same way, this time toward southern Kosovska Mitrovica.

"On that occasion, he hit another car with a pregnant woman inside, who was fortunately not harmed, as well as a young Serb man who was nearby. After that, the persons gathered at the barricade in Zupče beat the driver and damaged his car," Besim Hoti was quoted as saying by Tanjug news agency.

Hoti also specified that the ethnic Albanian had a passenger in his vehicle - a woman - but that the Serbs did not attack her.

The injured Serb man reported to the hospital with both wrists broken.

The ethnic Albanian was taken by the KPS to the health-care center in Zubin Potok where he received medical treatment, after which he was detained at the local police station.

Serbs are the majority population north of the Ibar River, and they reject both the ethnic Albanian unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo made in early 2008, and the authority of the government in Priština.

They have been putting up barricades on roads in this part of the province since last summer, in reaction to Priština's attempts to install its customs and police on two administrative line crossings located between northern Kosovo and central Serbia.

Currently, the barricade at Zupče is blocking one lane of the road, while vehicles arriving from both directions can pass through in turns using the other lane.

Sunday, April 22, 2012




Minister warns of possible repetition of March pogrom

ZVEČAN -- Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović says he is afraid that Priština will try to do “something similar or the same as on March 17, 2004”.

Goran Bogdanović (Tanjug, file)

“We have information that serious preparations are underway in Priština and that is why it is good that the presence of the international forces has been increased,” he told Zvečan-based Most TV.

On March 17, 2004 the biggest ethnically motivated conflicts since the arrival of the international forces broke out in Kosovo, in which 19 civilians lost their lives.

More than 900 persons were injured, around 800 houses were destroyed or damaged, 35 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries were damaged and several thousands of Serbs were forced out of their homes.

Bogdanović noted that the Serbian community’s goal was to live in peace with Kosovo Albanians but that “talks cannot be held and issues that are burdening us cannot be solved in a situation when there are tensions and when conflicts are hanging in the air”.

“We need to strive toward reconciliation and tolerance, so all ethnic communities in Kosovo and Metohija can freely express their will,” he stressed and added that “it would not be good if the elections that will be organized by the state of Serbia were a cause or a trigger of violence”.

The minister pointed out that the source of all problems were violent attempts to integrate northern Kosovo into the Priština institutions.

“We are not ready for conflicts and that is why we are asking the international forces to step up their patrols, primarily in northern Kosovo and Metohija, because it is obvious that Priština is trying with everything it has to violently integrate the north of the province in its institutions,” he explained.

Bogdanović said that it was necessary to continue the dialogue because “the status of Kosovo needs to be resolved as soon as possible”.

“Serbia has made a decision not to hold the local elections in the province but it will do everything in order to hold the parliamentary and presidential elections in the entire territory of Kosovo,” he said and added that Serbia was having intensive talks with the EU member states and that this was the reason to believe that the elections would be held.

He stated that Serbia had given up on holding the local elections in Kosovo so it would not violate the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, adding that one of the reasons was also safety of citizens.

Commenting on the Zvečan and Zubin Potok municipalities’ decisions to hold the local elections on May 6, the minister said that he had informed them about the government’s opinion that the elections should not be held.

“The local elections in these two municipalities will not be recognized by this or any other future government. They are not legitimate for us,” Bogdanović stressed and called on the two municipalities to change their decision.

He added that Serbia would in a few months request from UNMIK to hold the local elections in Kosovo.
Turkey lobbies for Bosnia-Herzegovina in NATO 

 SOURCE: b92


Turkey has started a lobbying campaign so Bosnia-Herzegovina would be included in the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has launched a strong diplomatic initiative in Brussels so Bosnia-Herzegovina would be included in the MAP at the next NATO summit in Chicago, Sarajevo-based daily Dnevni avaz writes. Davutoglu’s Spokesman Selcuk Unal has confirmed that the initiative has officially started in all countries whose representatives took part in the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels. One of the main topics of Davutoglu’s meeting with British Foreign Minister William Hague was Bosnia-Herzegovina’s future in NATO.

 The daily claims that Davutoglu and his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolay Mladenov prepared a joint letter, recommending that Bosnia be included in the MAP. Davutoglu stressed that Bosnia-Herzegovina had made a significant progress regarding conditions for NATO membership, adding that Turkey would “strongly promote” the initiative at the upcoming NATO summit on May 21 in Chicago. The Turkish FM lobbied for Bosnia’s membership in NATO three years ago in Brussels, claiming that the EU was neglecting Bosnia-Herzegovina by not granting its citizens the visa-free regime.

 “We want Bosnia-Herzegovina to feel that the international community is taking care of it. We must not forget that we watched massacres in that country for three years, so we cannot simply turn our backs to it now,” Davutoglu said at the time.