Saturday, June 23, 2012

Russia To Send Warships to Syria – Report

Russia is to send two warships to Syria to protect its naval base at Tartus, said Interfax news agency, citing an unnamed Russian navy source. The Nikolai Filchenkov and Caesar Kunikov landing ships will carry a large group of marines, said the report, which comes at a time of increased tension and violence in Syria.
The country was been expelled from the Arab League after the deaths of thousands of protesters against President Bashar al-Assad. In Cyprus, President Demetris Christofias’ former close relations with Syrian President Assad have become an embarassment and a dilemma to the government, torn between its close relations to Russia – the Syrian government’s ally – and its EU membership.
The EU is outraged at the deaths of civilians in the country and is in the process of tightening sanctions on Assad. With the EU Presidency coming up, Cyprus may have to choose sides once and for all. So far, it has not joined the voices in favour of replacing Assad, and has contented itself with simply condemning the recent massacre in El-Houleh. Many other nations, including the UK, US, Canada and France, have closed their embassies in Syria and expelled Syrian representatives completely.
Cyprus has paid dearly so far for the president’s policy of supporting Russia and Assad. Last summer, in a tragedy directly linked with Syria, high explosives confiscated en route to to the country from Iran detonated at a naval base, killing 13. The president has been blamed for failing to destroy the munitions, which he promised to return to Assad after apologising for confiscating them.
In a later incident, Cyprus was harshly criticised by MEPs for letting The Chariot ship slip through its fingers. The ship was loaded with munitions but was released by Cypriot authorities and delivered its cargo to Syria after leaving Cyprus waters.
The latest development of Russia sending ships to Tartus has not been confirmed by the Russian defence ministry.

Syria admits shooting down Turkish fighter plane

ANKARA, DAMASCUS -- The Syrian military has admitted it shot down a Turkish fighter plane over the Mediterranean Sea.
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
However, it claims the jet was over Syrian territorial waters.
Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency meeting with his cabinet and the military at his official residence, and formally accused Damascus of downing the plane.

His office said search and rescue operations were continuing for the missing pilots.

The Turkish F-4 jet went missing in the middle of the day on Friday after taking off from south-eastern Turkey. Ankara has said it will decide on its response once all the details become clear.

The incident is bound to raise tensions severely between the neighboring countries.

The violence in Syria has caused thousands to flee to the Turkish border. Many are in refugee camps and there have been skirmishes with the Syrian army.

Turkey has given its backing to the Syrian opposition but has been reluctant to get drawn into the conflict.

Friday, June 22, 2012

President urges speedy formation of cabinet

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić has said that a new government in Serbia "should be formed as soon as possible".
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among Nikolić's interlocutors in Rio (Tanjug)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among Nikolić's interlocutors in Rio (Tanjug)
A new cabinet would then "work along with him in order to make sure the citizens live better", he was quoted as saying.
Nikolić spoke to Serbian reporters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he is attending a UN conference, to say that "Serbia was determined in its intention to help its citizens live much better than before", and to be "a guarantor of peace and stability and cooperation, at least in the Balkans":

Serbia is also determined, according to its president, to become a EU member - and maintain its excellent relations with the East - "the Russian Federation in particular".

This message, he told Tanjug news agency, was also relayed during all his meetings held on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Summit.

"The president can do something, but in order to finally achieve what we wish to achieve in Serbia, there must be cooperation between the president and the government. For that reason I wish to see a government put together as soon as possible, so that we can start working together," he said.

Nikolić noted that among his interlocutors in Brazil this week were those who "perhaps had the wrong opinion about us", as well as those who "always had the right opinion".

"We spoke to those who have recognized Kosovo and Metohija, as well as to those who have not," said he, and added that be believed the gathering had been used "in the best possible way".

Nikolić noted that "Latin America looked at Serbia favorably", and singled out his meeting with Brazil's foreign minister, which he said was about the country's investments in Serbia.

"Brazil now has high hard currency reserves that it must invest," concluded the president.

“Northern Kosovo cannot be integrated by force”

ČAGLAVICA -- Kosovska Mitrovica District Head Radenko Nedeljković has stated that northern Kosovo cannot be "integrated" into the Kosovo institutions by force.
Radenko Nedeljković (Tanjug, file)
Radenko Nedeljković (Tanjug, file)
He added that only the Serbian institutions guaranteed the survival of Serbs in the northern part of the province.
Serbs are a majority there, and reject the authority of the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština.

“The Serbian community in the north does not want integration. We believe that integration means lower standard and loss of jobs and it was proven south of the Ibar River. The citizens cannot accept the loss of their identity,” Nedeljković stressed.

“We are asking for what belongs to us, to stay and survive here under sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia,” he explained.

He said that he did not expect Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and the future government to make significant changes in their policy toward Kosovo.

“I expect the Serbian representatives both north and south of the Ibar River to be involved in the solving of problems because they know what is best for us,” the Kosovska Mitrovica District head explained.

Nedeljković pointed out that direct talks between the Serbs and Priština, that the international community insisted on, were not possible.

“An address for the talks when it comes to the north and the entire Kosovo is Belgrade. I believe that representatives of northern Kosovo Serbs should be in the delegation,” he noted.

Nedeljković said that Kosovo Interior Ministry’s regulation banning the use of the Serbian license plates would not be implemented in Kosovo.

“We have assurance from the Belgrade team chief that it does not apply to the north. He told us this several times at the official meetings,” he said and stressed that northern Kosovo Serbs had valid documents issued by the competent Serbian authorities and that they did not want the Kosovo documents.

Nedeljković also criticized KFOR and EULEX for unilateral actions and called on representatives of the international community to refrain from unilateral moves.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Economist: Balkan Economies Mostly Miserable

Views on BG | June 21, 2012, Thursday| 496 views
The Economist: Balkan Economies Mostly Miserable: The Economist: Balkan Economies Mostly Miserable
According to the Economist, in Bulgaria unemployment remains at a relatively modest 11% but only because Bulgarians, unlike their non-EU Balkan neighbours, have the option to move to other EU countries to work. File photo
The Economist
IN the past decade or so Balkan pollsters have asked people in the region every single question imaginable. When they drew their conclusions they seem almost surprised by what they found, despite the fact that people consistently tell them exactly the same things. That is, that in general, and with the exception of Kosovars and Albanians who are generally younger and hence more optimistic, most people in the Balkans feel pretty miserable.They are concerned about jobs, health care, the education of their children and pensions. These material worries preoccupy them much more than ethnic grudges or the desire to reconquer territory they believe their nation has lost to a neighbour.
Most people have good reason to feel depressed about the economy. As Laza Kekic from the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Economist's sister organisation, told a recent conference in Sofia, Balkan economies have always been poorer than their western and northern counterparts. They have only prospered when these economies do well and they have suffered when they have suffered. The current crisis is no exception.
This week an analysis from the EIU notes that the Balkan transition economies, which means Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, "suffered the most from the global recession of 2008-09. Real GDP in the Balkans contracted by 5.2% in 2009 and the recession lasted into 2010, with average GDP falling by 0.4%". This was partly because Romania, the largest of the Balkan economies, dragged the average figure down.
Last year most of the countries of the former Yugoslavia and Albania actually grew modestly. Serbia's economy grew by 1.6%. Macedonia grew by 3%, Bosnia by 1.2% and Montenegro by 2.2%. This year however the rate of growth is forecast to fall. Croatia's economy did not grow at all in 2011 and is expected to contract by 0.6% in 2012.
While some countries would be delighted with even modest growth the main problem for the Balkans is a lack of jobs. In Serbia, the biggest country in the western Balkans, unemployment in November 2011 was 24%, an increase of 10% compared with four years earlier. In Bulgaria unemployment remains at a relatively modest 11% but only because Bulgarians, unlike their non-EU Balkan neighbours, have the option to move to other EU countries to work. About one million Bulgarians are believed to be working abroad, including 600,000 in Spain.
All the Balkan economies are intimately connected to the euro zone so the decline in demand from the euro zone has hit their economies hard. For example, in January, US Steel returned the privatised Smederevo steel plant in Serbia to the government for $1 because of a collapse in demand for its products. The Smederevo factory employs 5,400 people.
It is not all gloom though. Serbia has seen an increase in foreign direct investment and the early signs are that this could be a bumper tourist season on the Croatian coast. Still, alarms bells are ringing, especially in countries entwined with the ailing Greek economy and, to a lesser extent, the anemic Italian one. The EIU notes that Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania export between 10-12% of their goods to Greece.
"For remittances, Albania is the most exposed; around two-thirds of migrants in Greece are from Albania. Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria are the most vulnerable to reduced FDI flows. The Greek banking subsidiaries in the region are a significant channel of contagion; Greek banks' market share in south-eastern Europe is about 20%"
Wherever you go in the region people tell you how tough life is. Average salaries are €491 in Montenegro, €360 in Serbia and at similar levels elsewhere. By contrast prices are high and increasing, especially for utilities. With "plunging incomes, rising poverty and unemployment, the political consequences of this and the incidence of social unrest in the region have been remarkably limited thus far," notes the EIU. How can this be explained? The EIU sees three sets of factors at work.
"First, the region has some advantages of backwardness that cushion the region's populations from the impact of the economic downturn. This includes relatively large agricultural sectors and the important role of extended families. Second, the demise of the traditional left and of trade unions in most countries of the region means that there are few social and political forces that can provide a focus for and organise large non-spontaneous demonstrations. Finally, opinion surveys reveal that widespread apathy, not conducive to social activism, remains the dominant trend in the region. "
The big question is whether this is sustainable. "Are we merely witnessing the calm before the storm, to be unleashed by an intensification of the economic crisis in the European and the Balkan economies, and that at a time when one factor that was meant to stabilise the Balkans, the EU, is in the midst of its own crisis?" asks the EIU. The economic future of the Balkans depends largely on the fate of the euro zone.

Tags: Bulgaria, unemployment, Bulgarians, non-EU, Balkan, countries, EU, FDI, greece, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, recession, GDP, economies

U.S. Embassy-Tirana

  1. ACt Now!
    2012 në Tirana, Albania
    "ACT Now! stands for “Albanians Coming Together – Now.” It is absolutely imperative that you come together as one, now. That you challenge ingrained mentalities and ways of doing things. Think about a problem or issue that is important to you personally, to your family, to your friends, to your country. It can be big; it can be small, it doesn’t matter. Albania and Albanians need to break from the legacy of the past and assume their rightful place in history! Join us! ACT Now!" -- Alexander A. Arvizu
  2. Founded in 2012

Greece 'FYROM-izes' Macedonia's Car Plates

Greek border services have started covering the letters "MK" on Macedonian car number plates with a sticker of their own, marking a new low in Greek-Macedonian relations.
Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Greek border guards have begun covering the letters "MK" on Macedonian car plates with a sticker, in Greek and English, reading: “Recognized by Greece as FYROM” [Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia].

The Greek liaison office in Skopje confirmed the new practice, saying the country had a right to do this under the 1995 UN interim agreement that regulates relations between the two states.

They say this will affect only vehicles with the new plates containing the letters MK.

Macedonia introduced new number plates in February, saying they were needed to meet EU standards. Unlike the old ones, the new plates feature MK in small letters in the corner.

Macedonia's Interior Ministry said it was surprised by the move and was still considering its reaction.

Relations between Macedonia and Greece have been strained for two decades by the row over Macedonia's name. Greece insists that use of the term "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name.

Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has been blocking Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership. UN-brokered talks to overcome the dispute have so far failed to yield a solution.

The Greek move could potentially have a major impact on tourism, as Greece is a top summer destinations for many Macedonians - and many drivers may object to having their cars tampered with in this way.
In the summer of 2011 there were some 400,000 entries of Macedonian citizens to Greece, records show.
The UN recognised Macedonia under the provisonal term of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM, in 1993 - but most Macedonians strongly resent use of the term.

UN experts call for greater protection of journalists

NEW YORK -- 65 journalists were killed in the first five months of 2012 around the world and those responsible are rarely brought to justice, a UN rapporteur has said.
"Journalists who play a crucial role in ensuring a society that takes informed decisions, are killed at an alarming rate by state and non-state actors," UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns said in a report.
56 journalists were killed in the first five months of 2012 around the world, a 50 percent rise on 2011, according to Swiss news agency ATS.

Of those, Syria saw at least 15 victims, Mexico seven and Somalia six.

In his report Heyns, rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, called for a new specific declaration on the protection of journalists "that would emphasize the recognised obligations of states with regard to the protection of the right of life and safety of journalists," AFP has reported.

UNHRC Special Rapportuer on Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue said that “impunity is a problem all around in terms of humanized violations, but for journalists there is a more emphatic focus with a lack of interest from states and justice systems to investigate violence."

According to him, “journalists put themselves in danger by investigating governments, large companies, organized crime or money laundering”.

In their reports the experts also highlighted the associated problems of self-censorship owing to intimidation, AFP says.

“One of the most immediate challenges is implementing international laws regarding the protection of journalists and making sure that these "are reflected in domestic laws and practices," said La Rue.

"What we are asking for in the report is that (in) countries that are not in an armed conflict situation, but that are in a situation of extreme violence because they are combating organized crime that harasses journalism from different angles and that there should be a mechanism of protection," he concluded.

"PM position halting agreement on new government"

BELGRADE -- The Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) "is closer" to forming a coalition with the Democratic Party (DS), Belgrade daily Večernje Novosti has reported.
Ivica Dačić and Boris Tadić (Tanjug, file)
Ivica Dačić and Boris Tadić (Tanjug, file)
However, the Socialists are aware that they would in that case be in the shadow of DS leader Boris Tadić’s prime minister position, according to the daily.
SPS leader Ivica Dačić will soon set a dilemma that has been bothering Serbia for days before his party - whether to renew the cooperation with the Democrats or accept the prime minister’s position in the coalition with the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

The composition of the future cabinet will directly depend the SPS leader’s decision, Večernje novosti points out.

It is expected that United Regions of Serbia (URS) and its leader Mlađan Dinkić will be a part of Dačić’s bloc in both cases.

According to the daily, the SPS top officials should soon decide who they will form the government with.

Dačić is aware that the Socialists would in a way be in Tadić’s shadow if the SPS chose to form the future government with the DS, Večernje novosti writes.

If they chose Progressives and the position of prime minister, which has been unofficially offered to Dačić, the Socialists would take responsibility for the running of the state and they would quash the two-party system they openly shy away from.

While the SPS is trying to come up with a strategy, their talks with the Democrats, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the URS should continue.

The daily has learnt that Tadić and Dinkić met on Wednesday, even though the URS leader stepped up his public attacks on the DS. He openly accused Tadić of asking the URS to join the government without him.

He repeated that the URS did not want to join the government at all costs and that his key condition was that the new government must act differently than the previous one. Dinkić added that the parties could not be divided in pro-European and anti-European ones and that the only difference was between a successful and an unsuccessful government.

The Progressives are still waiting for a response from the SPS and their leader Aleksandar Vučić says that they would reach an agreement on the new government with their partners in just a few days.

“We have offered them a very fair agreement and a plan. We are in contact with all political factors in Serbia but the new ruling coalition cannot be formed without the SPS. We need partners but we have not heard from them yet,” he told the daily.

Vučić explained that he and Dačić had discussed goals and results of the future government but did not want to reveal whether he offered him the prime minister’s office.

“We do not have a party or personal vanity and we do not insist on taking over all important positions in Serbia. And I even expressed my wish to bring competent people who have nothing to do with our parties to some leading positions and who would make us proud,” he stressed and assessed that it was not realistic to expect that a large coalition with the DS would be formed.

Speculations that Russians would push for the forming of the government with the Progressives were fueled by Dačić’s planned visit to Moscow but after the visit was cancelled, some interpreted it as a strong influence from the West and that Dačić is coming closer to the DS.

Former Serbian Ambassador to Germany Ognjen Pribićević told the daily that the foreign influence was not crucial for the forming of the government and that it was significantly weaker than four or 12 years ago.

“There is a consensus in the country regarding the way Serbia will take so we have dropped on the list of priorities of the world centers of power. We are at the bottom of the interest of the Western countries and we are in the middle for Russia, the EU is preoccupied with solving of the financial crisis and the U.S. has other foreign political challenges,” he believes.

Pribićević says that the future government will for the most part be determined by personal relations between the party leaders, Dačić’s ambitions, harmonization of their programs and in a lower degree by the foreign influence and large capital.

NATO will not reduce number of troops in Kosovo

PRIŠTINA -- NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe Admiral James Stavridis has stated in Priština that the Alliance will not reduce the number of its troops in Kosovo.
(FoNet, file)
(FoNet, file)
During a meeting with Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga Stavridis said that NATO stayed committed to creating safe and peaceful environment for all the citizens of Kosovo, the Kosovo president's office released in a statement.
Jahjaga said that the north remained a major challenge for Kosovo institutions and voiced strong support for NATO's operations aimed at removing roadblocks and creating conditions for freedom of movement of people and goods on the entire territory of Kosovo.

She condemned the bomb attack on KFOR near the Brnjak administrative crossing that left one KFOR soldier injured.

Jahjaga called on KFOR to increase alertness in the period of opening the administrative office for northern Kosovska Mitrovica, and during the meeting the two officials also discussed the future of the Kosovo Security Force and achievement of its full operational capacity, the statement reads.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Egemen Bagis Talks Chalki Theological School and “Wrongdoings” Against Turkish Minority in Thrace

“Ankara will not treat Turkey’s citizens of Greek-origin in correlation to Athens’ treatment of Turks in Greece,” Turkish Minister for European Affairs Egemen Bagis has said while noting the lack of a mosque in the Greek capital.
While Muslims living in Greece still do not have a cemetery or a mosque in Athens, “It is important that the administrations of both countries take goodwill steps simultaneously,” Bagis said in response to the Patriarch Bartholomew’s recent lament that the Greek Theological School in Chalki on Heybeliada Island remains closed despite promises to reopen the facility.
“The (Turkish) government did not have an anti-constitutional special promise made to any international organization or country or to any community for that matter,” Bagıs said. “However, on the other hand, it is our government’s priority that we find a solution to our own citizens’ issues, naturally within the framework of international and national legal boundaries.”
“It is very significant that Greece approaches the problems of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace at the same time with the same sensitivity. Therefore, while keeping all dialogue doors wide open, we will do whatever we can for everybody to enjoy their rights without any problems,”  added Bagis, expressing his complaint that Turks in Greece are and continue to be discriminated against.
The Turkish minister continued by saying, “We [Turks] pay the price for Cyprus as well as, since by their own accounts, wrongdoings against the Muslims of Western Thrace in Greece [have been exacerbating].”   In response to the issue for the need of a Muslim house of worship in Athens brought up my the Turkish PM Erdogan,  Patriarch Bartholomew stated, “I have no objection to this, but it’s not under my jurisdiction.”

Kosovo PM Thaci: EU Integration Solution to 'Greater Albania' Problem

World | June 20, 2012, Wednesday| 601 views
Bulgaria: Kosovo PM Thaci: EU Integration Solution to 'Greater Albania' Problem
Kosovo PM Thaci is pictured here with EU High Representative for foreign policy Catherine Ashton. Photo by EPA/BGNES
The full-fledged EU and NATO integration of the Western Balkans is the solution to the problem with the ethnic Albanian communities living in different states, Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci stated in an exclusive interview for (Sofia News Agency) and
"It hasn't been the Albanians choice to live in several different states. On the one hand, this fate stems from history but on the other hand it is connected with the future," Thaci said when asked about the solution of the so called "Greater Albania" problem – with the Albanians as one nation living in many states.
"We wish to live in a region with open borders, in good neighborly relations; we wish to live in a region with European values and on the European model. That is why both Kosovo and Albania will become part of the big European family and of NATO," he added.
Thaci made it clear that he sees a future for Macedonia, which has a large ethnic Albanian community, along the same lines.
"I see the future of Macedonia, too, in NATO and the EU. I have met with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski as well as with the ethnic Albanian leaders in Macedonia, and I see a desire for cooperation – a desire to create a Macedonia where everybody has equal rights regardless of whether they are Albanians or Macedonians," he said.
"The only solution for Macedonia, and the right one, is the application of the Ohrid Accord. The states of Kosovo and Macedonia have excellent relations, and work to develop it further on all levels. We espouse the same values – the EU values," added the Kosovo PM.
Thaci also reiterated his conviction that Serbia is going to recognize the independence of the Republic of Kosovo which used to be its province.
"Serbia will recognize the independence of Kosovo, and that is not just the only way, but also the right way. By delaying its recognition of Kosovo's independence, Serbia is actually doing harm to itself, and is also harming the peace and security of the region," said Hashim Thaci, who was on a state in Bulgaria on June 18-19, 2012.
Red and Black Alliance expands representation to Cham Party

June 20, 2012 Tema Online

Albanian media has increased her curiosity to a meeting between the President of the Alliance, Kreshnik Spahiu, and honorary chairman of the party of the Chams, PDIU Tahir Muhedini. The meeting, which was held at Hotel Rogner, has been focused on cooperation between the Alliance and KuqeZi Cham community and the possibility of representing the Cham issue of Black Red Alliance.

Red and Black Alliance seems to be going towards a geographical representation of all Albanians in its leadership. After their assembly a week ago, 'Albanians are eyeing the possibility of representation at the top of the party with representatives from Kosovo, Macedonia, diaspora and Chameria. It has about 30 representatives of the Albanian lands on top of it.

It is unknown whether to continue the cooperation of the Alliance Party Red and Black with the Chams in Tirana, but a possible alliance could give more credibility issue, which appears to be degraded by the level of the banal in power Berisha.

Both parties are known for their nationalistic nuances, although PDIU has been in coalition with the Democratic Party and Black Red Alliance critical of the majority. But the meeting apparently served to break the ice and perhaps somewhat to lay bridges any political cooperation in the near future.

An agreement between the Black and Red Alliance PDIU, or directors of the latter can strengthen not least their coalition potential and can increase the opportunities for as many votes in certain areas in the upcoming election of 2013. Kreshnik Spahiu itself gave hints contacts and meetings will continue in the future, without giving other comments or explanations.

Greek parties agree to form coalition govt.

ATHENS -- The three parties that back Greece's commitments to bailout creditors have agreed in principle to form a coalition government.
The New Democracy, the Socialist PASOK and the smaller Democratic Left party are still negotiating the final details.
Democratic Left Spokesman Gerasimos Georgatos said his party was committed to joining a government headed by the New Democracy.

"We are offering a vote of confidence, not a vote of tolerance," he said. "We will be part of the government. That means that even if we disagree on a specific draft law, we will not withdraw our support or bring down the government."

The parties are still discussing the new government's policy platform and who will be given cabinet positions.

"We will have a government today," said a PASOK spokesman, who asked not to be named as the talks are still under way.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has until the end of the day to form the government and the mandate will be given to Syriza if he fails.

New Democracy took 129 of the 300 parliamentary seats, Syriza took 71, PASOK took 33 seats and Democratic Left won 17 seats in the parliamentary elections on June 17.

Greece "denying entry" to northern neighbors

SKOPJE -- Several Macedonian citizens reported on Wednesday that they were denied entry to Greece because their vehicles had new license plates.
The license plates contain the letters "MK".
The drivers told the media in Skopje that Greek border authorities demanded that they place stickers over the contentious part of the plates.

According to this, the stickers would read that Greece recognizes their country as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and that this content should be written in Greek and English.

Macedonia's border services said that they were yet to receive any complaints, and ventured to guess that the reason might be that "few cars with new license plates traveled across two border crossings toward Greece on Wednesday".

Previously, the Greek authorities objected to the "MKD" initials as well, insisting that they either be removed, or taped over with stickers reading "FYROM".

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the name under which Skopje was allowed to join the UN.

However, it's constitutional name - the Republic of Macedonia - has caused an almost two decade-long dispute with Greece, whose northern province is also called Macedonia.

Davutoğlu: Greece failed to protect Turkish minority rights

18 June 2012 / TODAY'S ZAMAN , ANKARA
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has stated that Greece has failed to fulfill its obligations under the Treaty of Lausanne, which defines minority rights.
In response to a written parliamentary question recently submitted by Republican People's Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Osman Korutürk on the government's approach to violations that the Turkish minority living in Greece face, Davutoğlu said, “The high number of cases in which Greece was found by the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR] -- a last resort after exhausting all domestic remedies -- to be in breach of the convention is a clear indication of Greece's unjust treatment of the Turkish minority.”
Davutoğlu underlined that the former Article 19 of the Greek Nationality Code, which was in effect between 1959 and 1998, read as follows: “A person of non-Greek ethnic origin leaving Greece without the intention of returning may be declared to have lost his or her Greek nationality,” which is a clear example of discrimination against ethnic minorities.
Recalling that thousands of people from the Turkish minority living in Western Thrace have been victimized by losing all of their rights as Greek citizens, Davutoğlu added that although the infamous Article 19 was abrogated long ago, since its repeal was not retroactive, thousands of stateless minority members are still unable to regain their Greek citizenship, unjustly taken away by the Greek authorities, and have been paid no compensation.
Davutoğlu highlighted that Turkey does not expect anything in return for its major steps taken to improve the rights of the Greek minority in Turkey since Turkey considers these improvements to be fundamental human rights and the freedom of religion. “We do not demand the implementation of the principle of reciprocity with respect to the expansion of minority rights. However, it does not mean that we neglect the protection of the Turkish minority's rights; we have brought up the issue in several meetings with our Greek counterparts,” he said.
Davutoğlu also stated that as a result of Turkey's efforts to improve the rights of the Greek minority, some Greek media have started to publish news reports that encourage the Greek authorities to extend rights to the Turkish minority in Western Thrace.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saturday, June 18, 2012

Entitled "Erdogan brandishing their weapons," an article of Slatzana Voukasinovits on "The Press", stated by ethnic Albanian news agency in Pristina Bota Sot, according to which the Turkish prime minister Taip Erdogan said that "the Albanians have the right to self-determination and recommendation a larger state "and that" Turkey, if necessary, will help military and siblings Albanians to attain these goals. "

Note that this statement has caused unrest in the Balkans, the Serbian Foreign Ministry to request official position of Turkey on this matter. According to this news agency, Erdogan said that 'the country is a sincere friend of the political leadership of Kosovo, and that will provide every assistance to meet Albanian goals, including the eternal goal of creating a larger state " .

Erdogan also said that "Kosovo Liberation Army» (UCK) was not a guerrilla-terrorist army, and reflected the intention of the Albanians to defend their country "and warned that" there is a possibility of dissolution of Macedonia, if not respected the rights of Albanians. "

Serbian political commentators argue that, if verified these statements by Erdogan, this may be a warning that "Turkey again brandishing their weapons in the Balkans and has not given up the imperialist ambitions of the countries of the region, including Serbia."

Note: Turkey, has grown in Tirana, relationship of the military, including control of the military airport in Kucovo, Naval Base of Orikum in Vlora Gulf, modernization of the Albanian army special forces, as well as a strengthening of Albania's economic control, including control of Telecom, mobile phone and media.

Albanian media analysts, shows that the creation of the "Read and Black Alliance" Party, is funded directly by Ankara, and Turkey itself has a political influence to the Albanian Leadership.
Supporting Syria in Tirana

Supporting Syria in Tirana
Aliaa Noha, a Syrian citizen that has been living in Albania for the last eight years, has been part of a protest held in Tirana in favor of the people of Syria through.

On Top Channel’s “Pasdite”, Noah declared that they wanted to give a humanitarian message in support of the Syrian people”, declared the mother of two girls that she decided to grow in our country.

“Syria is very far, but the human side of the case is the most important, and this is our appeal. It was difficult for me to take this decision, but I was surprised when I found such a great support, because the Albanian people know what dictatorship means, which they have suffered probably worse than us.

As regards the meeting in Tirana’s main square, Ilir Hoxholli, Noha’s close collaborator, declared that they appealed the Albanian people on Facebook for a march in Tirana’s boulevard, but since the Syrian community in Albania is very small, they realized a symbolical protest against the suffering of the Syrian people.

Noha added that the participation could have been even bigger, but most of the families were afraid that if they would go in protest in Tirana, someone could take revenge to their relatives in Syria, where the situation is very dramatic.

Daily says that EU has new conditions for Serbia

BELGRADE -- Belgrade-based daily Politika is writing that the EU has given Serbia three new conditions in order for the country to begin accession talks.
The newspaper is basing its report on "unofficial sources in Belgrade", and says those conditions were recently delivered by EU official Miroslav Lajčak.
They include the dismantling of Serbian institutions in northern Kosovo - "but not schools, heath centers and hospitals", notes Politika - the opening of representative offices in Belgrade and Priština, and "a meeting at the highest level" between Belgrade and Priština.

Furthermore, according to this, the European Union also demands that Serbia "shut down the court in Kosovska Mitrovica", and for a separate calling code for Kosovo to be introduced.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in early 2008 unilaterally declared independence, a proclamation which Serbia rejects as illegal. Furthermore, the northern part of Kosovo is inhabited by majority Serb population that rejects the authority of the government in Priština.

At the same time, five out of the EU's 27 member states do not recognize Kosovo as independent.

In March 2011 the two sides started first direct talks, sponsored by the EU, in what is known as the Kosovo dialogue.

The now outgoing Serbian government appointed Borislav Stefanović as its chief negotiator, who now says that the opening of a government office in Priština, and one of Kosovo in Belgrade, "was never mentioned during the dialogue".

"This has not been mentioned either formally or informally, and if it had been brought up, our answer would have been clear," Stefanović said on Monday.

Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović also reacted by telling Belgrade daily Večernje Novosti that he has "daily contacts with representatives of the international community, the EU and other institutions, and that this condition was never made".

Deputy PM and interior minister in the outgoing cabinet and leader of the SPS party Ivica Dačić recently noted that a new government will be expected to open its office in Priština. On Sunday, he said that he would not join a government that faces such a request, or accepts it, and that international political factors must "inform" all factors on Serbia's political scene of what type of conditions are being put before Serbia in order to join the EU.

Politika further writes that Miroslav Lajčak recently published an article in EU Observer to say that priority must be given to "normalization of relations with Priština" on Serbia's "road to EU", and that "many (Serbian) representatives attempted to establish a balance between the national interest in European interactions and that issue". But, concluded he, "that is no longer the way that leads forward".
Unauthorized Portrait of the Albanian government sekser

The newspaper Tema

Top stories in power of politicians and Mafia people, who control everything, including public and community finances. Investigative journalist and director of "Tema" Mero Baze, describes a Mafia organized from top of aizberg in Tirana, to the Ionian coast, where everything is spoken more than ever, in Himara Region.

Read the newspaper "Tema" on line ...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Two Serbian Army cadets killed in accident

ĆUPRIJA -- Two cadets of the Serbian Army (VS) died on Monday morning in the Pasuljanske Livade training ranges in central Serbia.
A file photo of the Pasuljanske Livade ranges
A file photo of the Pasuljanske Livade ranges
The Ministry of Defense said that they were killed by "a leftover 33mm grenade".
Two more cadets have been seriously injured, while five others suffered light wounds. 

They are being treated at the general hospital in the nearby town of Ćuprija, and are due to be transported by helicopter to Belgrade's military clinic VMA. 

The cadets of the Military Academy were at the ranges as part of their training, in preparation for the school year's final drill, dubbed Diplomac 2012

Live ammunition was not used in today's training, it has been announced. 

According to reports, one of the final year cadets "found the leftover grenade, which then exploded".

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Samaras Begins Bid for Greek Coalition That Sustains Rescue

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Greek election winner Antonis Samaras begins his second bid in six weeks to form a coalition as euro-area finance chiefs pressured him to form a government that would keep bailout aid flowing.

European officials indicated a willingness to ease the terms of rescue loans as long as Greece, with just weeks of cash in the bank, re-commits to their austerity demands. The prospect that Samaras would lose to anti-bailout leader Alexis Tsipras rattled markets concerned that Greece may quit the 17-nation currency union. The result sent the euro higher.

"The Greek people expressed their will to stay anchored with the euro, remain an integral part of the euro zone and honor the country's commitments," Samaras told supporters in Athens yesterday after the election result. "There is no time for petty politics."

The vote forced Greeks, in a fifth year of recession, to choose open-ended austerity to stay in the euro or reject the terms of a bailout and risk the turmoil of exiting the union. With the 17-nation currency's future on the line, finance ministers pledged to assist Greece in its struggle with the cycle of austerity and recession that has trapped the country since it became the first victim of the debt crisis in 2010.

Unity Idea

New Democracy won 30 percent of the vote, or 130 seats, enough to put together a coalition with Pasok, whose leader Evangelos Venizelos said he'd propose President Karolos Papoulias broker a unity government which would include Syriza and Democratic Left, the sixth-biggest party. Papoulias is expected to formally begin the process of asking Samaras to form a government today.

New Democracy and Pasok would have 163 seats if they agree to govern together in the 300-member parliament, according to the official projection by the Interior Ministry in Athens based on 85 percent of yesterday's vote. The addition of Democratic Left, which has demanded commitment to staying in the euro as well as "gradual disengagement" from the austerity measures, would give a government 179 seats.

Underscoring the urgency is that New Democracy and Pasok, rivals for four decades since the end of a military junta, will put aside their differences to prevent an economic collapse.

Μιχαλολιάκος: Θα δώσουμε αγώνα για τα εθνικά μας θέματα, για Μακεδονία και Βόρειο Ήπειρο...

Μιχαλολιάκος: Θα δώσουμε αγώνα για τα εθνικά μας θέματα, για Μακεδονία και Βόρειο Ήπειρο...

Michaloliakos: We will fight for our national issues, Macedonia and Northern Epirus ...

 We are the party of national opposition.

See the statements of Secretary General of the Golden Dawn after the release of Exit Polls.

"The Golden Dawn is the only party that did not back the offensive of alarmism for the Greek national issues. We are the party of national opposition. We will continue to fight inside and outside the parliament to abolish the ethnocide memorandum assigns sovereignty. Today after exit poll, we will be fourth party of the Greek parliament.

"I express my capture those who tried to leave us outside parliament. The struggle against misinformation continues. There is a nationalist party that will struggle to cope with the problem of illegal immigration and national issues, Macedonia, Northern Epirus and Turkey on the Aegean issues. "- said N. Michaloliakos

Greek exit polls: Top 2 parties neck and neck
Exit polls show top 2 parties neck and neck as Greece holds critical election

By Elena Becatoros, Associated Press | Associated Press – 4 minutes 55 seconds ago

View Photo
An EU and a Greek flag fly in front of ancient Parthenon temple, in Athens, Sunday, June 17, 2012 as Greeks vote in the most crucial elections in decades. Greece voted Sunday amid global fears that victory by parties that have vowed to cancel the country's international bailout agreements and accompanying austerity measures could undermine the European Union's joint currency and pitch the world's major economies into another sharp downturn. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- In an election crucial for Greece, Europe and the world, exit polls on Sunday showed the two top contenders in Greece to be neck-and-neck.
The outcome of Sunday's vote could determine whether Greece remains in the euro or is forced to leave the joint currency, a move that could drag down other European countries and have potentially catastrophic consequences for the global economy.
The exit polls showed that the conservative New Democracy party is projected to win between 27.5 and 30.5 percent of the vote while the anti-bailout radical left Syriza party may get 27 to 30 percent.
Syriza head Alexis Tsipras has vowed to cancel the terms of Greece's international bailout deal and repeal its austerity measures — a move many think will force Greece to leave the 17-nation eurozone. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras says his top priority is to stay in the euro but renegotiate some terms of the bailout.
Whichever party comes first in Sunday's vote gets a bonus of 50 seats in the 300-member Parliament.
As central banks stood ready to intervene in case of financial turmoil, Greece held its second national election in just six weeks to try to select a new government after an inconclusive ballot on May 6.
The two parties vying to win have starkly different views about what to do about the €240 billion ($300 billion) in bailout loans that Greece has been given by international lenders. One wants to tear up the deals and void the harsh austerity measures demanded by lenders that have caused Greek living standards to plummet. The other backs the bailout deal but wants to amend it.
The choice — the most critical in decades — could determine whether Greece abandons the joint euro currency and returns to its old currency, the drachma. But there are no rules governing a country's exit from the eurozone, and a Greek exit could spark a panic that other debt-strapped European nations — Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy— might also have to leave.
That domino scenario — known in economic terms as contagion — could engulf the euro, causing a global financial panic not unlike the one that gripped the world in 2008 after the investment firm Lehman Brothers failed in the U.S.
The vote Sunday was also coming after a difficult week for Spain and Italy, which saw their borrowing costs soar. Tens of thousands of Italian workers rallied Saturday in Rome to protest pension cuts, tax hikes and labor reforms.
The big question Sunday was how far deep Greek anger at the bailout terms would propel the radical left, anti-bailout Syriza party led by 37-year-old Alexis Tsipras. But no party is likely to win enough votes to form a government on its own, meaning a coalition will have to be formed to avoid yet another election.
"I'd like to see something change for the country in general, including regarding the bailout," said Vassilis Stergiou, a voter in Athens. "But at least for us to get organized and at the very least do something."
Inconclusive elections on May 6 resulted in no party winning enough votes to form a government, and coalition talks collapsed after 10 days. The vote, which also sent the formerly governing socialist PASOK party plunging to historic lows, sent a very clear message that Greeks have lost patience with the deep austerity imposed in return for the bailouts.
Tsipras, a former student activist, has vowed to rip up Greece's bailout agreements and repeal the austerity measures, which have included deep spending cuts on everything from health care to education and infrastructure, as well as tax hikes and reductions of salaries and pensions.
But his pledges, which include canceling planned privatizations, nationalizing banks and rolling back cuts to minimum wages and pensions, have horrified European leaders, as well as many Greeks. Tsipras' opponents argue that the inexperienced young politician is out of touch with reality, and that his policies will force the country out of the euro and lead to poverty for years to come.
Virtually unknown outside of Greece four months ago, Tsipras and his party shot to prominence in the May 6 vote, where he came a surprise second and quadrupled his support since the 2009 election.
Journalists and television news crews from across the world jostled for space to see Tsipras vote Sunday in Athens.
"We have beaten fear. Today we open a road to hope," Tspiras said, adding that he was confident of victory. "Today we open a road to a better tomorrow, with our people united, dignified and proud. In a Greece of social justice and prosperity, an equal member of a Europe that is changing."
The young left-wing leader has accused his rivals of attempting to terrorize the population by casting him as the man who will ruin the country. He insists he will keep Greece within the euro — something that opinion polls have shown about 80 percent of Greeks want — but European leaders have made it clear there is no room for Greece to reject the bailout and stay in the eurozone.
Greece has been dependent on the rescue loans since May 2010, after sky-high borrowing rates left it locked out of the international markets following years of profligate spending and falsifying financial data. The spending cuts made in return have left the country mired in a fifth year of recession, with unemployment spiraling to above 22 percent and tens of thousands of businesses shutting down.
Samaras, meanwhile, has cast Sunday's choice as one between the euro and returning to the drachma. He has vowed to renegotiate some of the bailout's harsher terms but insists the top priority is for the country to remain in Europe's joint currency.
"Today the Greek people speak. Tomorrow a new era for Greece begins," Samaras said after voting in southern Greece.
Separately, Greek police were investigating the discovery Sunday of two unexploded hand grenades outside private Skai television station on the outskirts of Athens. Greek government spokesman Demetris Tsiodras denounced the action as an attempt to spoil the smooth running of the elections.
Police also said they have notified Twitter about a forged message purportedly sent out by Greece's Communist Party urging voters to cast their ballots for Syriza.
Strong winds in the Greek archipelago also forced the cancellation of some ferry routes Sunday, raising doubts about whether some voters would be able to get to island polling stations.
Menelaos Hadjicostis and AP television in Athens contributed

Anti-drug police action in Lazarat

Anti-drug police action in Lazarat

The police continued its operation for stopping the cultivation of narcotic plants in Lazarat. Gjirokaster Police Forces, supported by two special teams and two delta groups that are blocking the working power and the organic materials that enter the Lazarat village, which serve for the cultivation of cannabis. 

53 citizens have been stopped today at the entrance of Lazarat. According to the police, they were trying to enter the village. They have also seized a truck that carried water and another one with fertilizers. The six working groups are inspecting the Lazarat communes, for not allowing the cultivation of cannabis. The police also collected the declarations of the workers.

Their testimonies will serve for the penal prosecution of the Lazarat residents that will try to cultivate it. The local police is being supported by a task force of the Traffic Police, led by Krenar Ahmeti.

During the recent hours, the police has removed black tinted windows from 85 Lazarat vehicles, has given 600.000 ALL of fines for the violations, and has seized 3 luxury vehicles that resulted as stolen. The action will continue even in the next days. 

06/15/2012: Press Release for the introduction of new residence permits for expatriates single type under a stand-alone document
Athens, the 1st on the 5th Unia 2012
Adoption of new residence permits homogeneous uniform in the form of stand-alone document
The Ministry of Citizen Protection moves to introduce new residence permits homogeneous formats.
The new identity will be homogeneous stand-alone document, you are in credit card and will include strict safeguards, including a digital photograph of the holder and two fingerprints.
The owner of the residence permits has legal right of residence and free re-entry to Greece, and free movement within the territory of the Schengen signatory countries.
The new identity replaces the given residence permits, which had a sticker, to expatriates and their families, under the provisions of Regulation (EC) 380/2008 and the issue has been undertaken by the Passport Division of the Headquarters Greek Police.