Saturday, January 12, 2013

Southern Serbia Albanians seek help of Tirana

PRESEVO - After a joint Saturday meeting, representatives of ethnic Albanians from the southern Serbian municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja called on Albania to help get international institutions involved in resolving Presevo Valley issues.

The councilors of the joint Albanian Presevo Valley assembly adopted a political declaration against a proposed removal of a monument honoring fallen members of the so-called Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (OVPMB), which was unveiled in the center of Presevo on November 16, 2012.

The declaration contains a total of 10 conclusions in which the councilors of the ethnic Albanian assembly call on governments of Albania and Kosovo to influence the authorities in Serbia and encourage a dialogue with the “legitimate political representatives of the Presevo Valley.”

The Albanian councilors are fully committed to finding political solutions to Presevo Valley problems and call on international institutions of the UN, NATO, OSCE, CoE, and the EU to encourage the Serbian government to continue the dialogue with the political representatives of the Presevo Valley.

In one of the conclusions, the Albanians stressed their right to the use of symbols expressing national identity and opposed every form of forcible removal of such symbols, including the controversial monument in Presevo.

The councilors consider an erection of a memorial to Serbian Gendarmerie members in southern Serbia a severe provocation and they condemned “threatening statements” made by Serbia's state officials regarding their own memorial.

The assembly meeting was attended neither by representatives of the Belgrade and Pristina governments nor by representatives of international organizations and foreign diplomats, despite announcements about their arrival.

Also, the meeting was attended by Chairman of the Serbian government's Coordination Body for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja Zoran Stankovic, since he had not even been invited, despite his demanding to be present at the session, Tanjug learned from the government's body on Saturday.

Presevo Mayor Ragmi Mustafa was resolute in reiterating his stance that he would resign as president of the municipality if the Serbian authorities forcibly removed the monument from the central square.

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said late on Friday that the Serbian government would remove the controversial monument in Presevo if no agreement was reached with local authorities, adding that the illegally set up memorial plaque was a grave provocation directed against all Serbs.

He had ealrier announced the removal of the monument “by hook or by crook.”

The memorial has inscribed on it the names of 27 Albanians killed during the period between the end of the NATO bombing campaign in June 1999 and May 31, 2001, the day which marked the end to the inter-ethnic conflict in southern Serbia.

The OVPMB was an offshoot of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in Kosovo.

The Albanian councilors' session was held in the municipal assembly building, located in the square where the disputed memorial to the fallen soldiers was set up.

Rishfaqet publikisht AKSH-ja

Albanian National Army "openly" with masks

Following the press release of the Albanian National Army "Kohavision" TV has also obtained video footage of a meeting of its members elsewhere in Kosovo.

The situation in the Presevo Valley and in the northern part are points which are discussed by people who call themselves officers of the ANA.

With a final decision ANA requires the mobilization of all members to be ready to protect Albanian lands. They claim to have modern weaponry recent and present more through photographs.

ANA requires mobilization of members who are willing to protect, while the video gives orders person who says he is the commander of the special unit Kobra. They say they have modern weaponry, but it show through pictures.

Macedonian opposition calls for early elections

SKOPJE -- Several thousands of Macedonians took part in a protest march in Skopje on Saturday, demanding early parliamentary elections.
The protest was organized by the Macedonian opposition.
Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) leader Branko Crvenkovski told the protesters that the only solution to the political crisis in Macedonia was to call early parliamentary elections.

“We are not tired, we have not lost our will, we are not scared and there are more of us. We are more determined and convinced every day that our fight is right,” Crvenkovski said.

He added that citizens had given the government mandate to run the country, “not to beat up MPs and journalists”.

“Let the people decide at fair and democratic elections what kind of Macedonia they want, like this or a free, prosperous and democratic state,” Crvenkovski stressed.

The protesters called on the government to resign and call early parliamentary elections.

Turkey questions Hollande contacts with dead Kurdish activist

Kurdish demonstrations in Paris on Saturday Members of the Kurdish community in Paris demonstrated against the killings of three Kurdish women

Related Stories

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on French President Francois Hollande to explain why he previously met one of the Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris on Thursday.
One of the three women killed was Sakine Cansiz - a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a group proscribed by the European Union.
Mr Hollande has said that he and other politicians had regularly met one of the women, without saying which one.
Turkey has fought the PKK for 25 years.
Some 40,000 people have died, but the Paris shootings came as Ankara sought peace talks with the group.
Thousands demonstrated in central Paris on Saturday to demand action over the deaths of the activists who were found shot dead at the Kurdish information centre in Paris on Thursday. According to French media they had been shot in the head or neck.
'Immediate' answers At a meeting in Istanbul, Mr Erdogan said Mr Hollande should "immediately disclose" why he met members of "this terrorist organisation, what was discussed, to what end he was in communication with these terrorists".
Sakine Cansiz (L) with Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader in 1995. Sakine Cansiz was a close aide to Abdullah Ocalan
"How can you routinely meet with members of an organisation labelled a terrorist group by the European Union and being sought by Interpol? What kind of politics is this?" he added.
Sakine Cansiz, who was detained and tortured in Turkey in the 1980s, is said to be close to the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
A second woman has been named as Fidan Dogan, 32, who worked in the information centre. She was also the Paris representative of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress.
The third, named as Leyla Soylemez, was a young activist.
The PKK took up arms in 1984, demanding greater autonomy for Turkey's Kurds, who are thought to comprise up to 20% of the population.
It is regarded by Turkey, the US and European Union as a terrorist organisation, because of its attacks on Turkish security forces and civilians.
In 2012 it stepped up its attacks, leading to the fiercest fighting in decades, but violence has subsided in recent months.
Mr Erdogan has suggested the killings had been designed to sabotage peace talks between Turkey and the PKK.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Turkish PM: Paris murders were result of internal feud

ANKARA, PARIS -- Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the deaths of three Kurdish activists in Paris "were probably due to an internal feud between Kurdish rebels".
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Beta/AP, file)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Beta/AP, file)
The three activists, including one who, it is believed, was a founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), were found dead on Thursday.
The murders came as peace talks are ongoing with the Kurdish rebel leader who is in prison in Turkey.

Kurds have blamed Turkey for the killings, while its officials indicated that the reason could be internal feuding - "or an attempt to sabotage the negotiations".

Erdogan said today that, given the fact that a code was needed in order to enter the building where the three women were murdered - "the killer was someone who knew the women or someone with the code".

Most of the buildings in Paris require a code to enter, and it is known residents and all those to whom they give it.

The French authorities announced on Friday that all three women were killed with several shots to the head. France's interior minister previously referred to the murders as "executions".

Turkey maintains peace negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which advocates for autonomy for the mostly Kurdish southeaster regions.

The clashes between the Kurds and the Turkish security forces have killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.
Albania: Kurum wins tender for 4 HPPs
TV Top Channel

Kurum wins tender for 4 HPPs
The government has officially declared “Kurum” as the winning company of the tender for the sale of four hydropower plants in Ulez, Shkopet and two in Bistrica.

The Council of Ministers approved the final evaluation report that declares the Turkish company as winner in the tender for the privatization of two companies, “Ulez-Shkozet” and “Bistrica 1-2”.

The government has added an article in the agreement that obliges the Ministry of Finances to pay all the obligations that the state has towards Kurum for reimbursing VAT.

This was imposed by the company during the negotiations at the Ministry of Economy. Sources from the ministry say for Top Channel that the administration owes Kurum 1.2 million EUR that will be settled during the hydropower plant purchase payment.

In the tender held last month, Kurum offered 109.5 million EUR for the purchase of four HPPs with a capacity of 80 MW that produce 400-450 million KWh annually. 
Protest for damaged murals

Protesft for damaged murals
The shocking event that resulted with the robbery of Onufri’s paintings at the Shen Premte Church, in Vlash, Elbasan, has gathered in protest members of the Forum for the Defence of Cultural Heritage and the civil society.

They accused this ministry of keeping in silence the ugly event and not taking the necessary measures to defend the cultural heritage objects.

The Socialist MP, also member of the Forum for Cultural Heritage, Auron Tare, appealed Minister Bumci and the Cultural Heritage director to resign. 

Note: the protesters are not member of the orthodox community, but only the member of the Albanian opposite. 

Lambdasat to Monitor Greek Ships

lambbdaA Greek satellite is due to be launched from Cape Canaveral in the summer of 2013, with the purpose of monitoring Greek merchant ships at risk from piracy, especially off the African coast.

The Lambdasat that got its name from the Greek letter lambda, which reminds something of  the sun and sea in Greece, is the brainchild of Greek astrophysicist and professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University Of San Jose California, Pericles Papadopoulos, who hails from the Greek city of Kalamata. Papadopoulos worked with a team of ten Greek researchers to develop the satellite.

Papadopoulos stated of the satellite project: “It’s humbling how this team works. I call it the Greek minds at work.” He has turned down financial offers from those wishing to advertise on the satellite, by simply saying: “We want to advertise only Greece and not a person.”

He then explains that the satellite will cost just $100,000 to construct, and NASA will undertake the cost of delivery. The satellite will be small and the purpose now is to have further talks with the University of the Aegean for providing expertise.

Chinese drive into Southeastern Europe

By Ioannis Michaletos/ 

The Chinese multinational companies are increasingly expanding their presence in Southeastern Europe in order to set up further export bases into the EU and at the same time exploit opportunities for investments in the local economies, which are in need of imported capital due to the economic and debt crisis.

The importation of Chinese capital comes through bilateral loans, investments and share placements through a long-term strategy of Beijing to gain a considerable foothold in one of the most strategic placements of the European Continent. Special attention is given to logistic, transport and industrial facilities.

In a recent Financial Times report, it was relayed that China, aims to establish a $10bn credit line for central and Eastern Europe. The state-owned Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China is already financing the upgrade of units at Kostolac power station in Serbia, whilst Chinese construction companies have agreed with Belgrade in 2010 a 200 million USD contract to build a bridge in Danube, a deal that was further strengthen under a 150 million USD, loan from China to Serbia with an incredibly low interest rate of 3% and repayment period of 15 years. That is one third of what Serbia currently pays as an interest when borrowing from European or American banks and for a
significant less period of time. In total since 2009, around 1.3 billion USD of deals have been signed between the two countries including a modernization of the local railway system. What is also of interest is that according to a Xinhua report, there is significant rise in the number of Serbian students wanting to learn Chinese as a second language, which is attributed in the increasing economic role of China over the past few years. Lastly, in 2011 a memorandum was reached that called for an n additional 2.5 billion USD long-term investments for the construction of new power plants in a joint venture with Serbia’s power utility Company EPS...................continues...............

more see:

Organised Albanian crime destabilizing Greece

By Katerina Nikolas

A new report links rising Albanian nationalism with organized Albanian crime in Greece. The report states that organized crime controlled by the Albanian mafia is a destabilizing force in Greece.
Defence Net reported that analysis conducted by Strategy, based on data from the Greek security services and the Greek police into Albanian organized crime in the Hellenic Republic, draws links between the organized crime and Albanian nationalism. The statistics make grim reading. According to the figures cited by Defence Net the Albanian mafia controls about 80 percent of the retail distribution of heroin in Greece; about 50 percent of armed robberies in houses, shops-businesses were committed by Albanians; controls 90 percent of the import of illegal light weapons in the country (Kalashnikov, Makarov, grenades); and controls 50 percent of human trafficking. Albanian organized crime accounts for several billions of euros in black funds, though notably the mafia heads do not operate in Greece, instead using trustees. The report states the mafia "have the ability to mobilize hundreds of rugged Albanians in Greece for any reason that will make a profit or if 'forced' because of international pressure." Most significantly the report draws links between rising Albanian nationalism that focuses on a "Greater Albania" and organized crime. RIEAS reports that a confidential police report reveals 42 Albanian criminal organizations operate in Greece. It states "3,000 Albanian criminals are active in the transportation and distribution of cannabis and heroin, while 2,500 Albanians are arrested each year in Greece for robberies, thefts and burglaries." Sources from the Citizen’s Protection Ministry "estimate that 3,000 Albanians who live in Greece (many legally) own AK-47 rifles and unknown quantities of ammunition." Serbianna published a report in Sept. 2012 stating that Greek security services are taking a special interest in Albanian extremist groups in Greece, Albania, Kosovo and FYROM, considering them to a threat to social stability. The report stated that incidents involving Albanian smugglers and narcotics showed the ulterior motive of the crimes was to raise capital for extremist nationalist purposes. UCC collaborators have been identified amongst Greece's Albanian immigrants. UCC is a known terrorist group, with an abundance of smuggled weapons, which has connections to the government in Kosovo, and harbors Albanian nationalistic plans for a Greater Albania. The combination of reports shows an increasing trend of funds acquired through organized Albanian crime in Greece financing extremist Albanian groups throughout the Balkans.

Makeshift Bomb Attacks Explode At Homes Of Greek Journalists

Coordinated attacks with makeshift bombs exploded outside the homes of five well-known mainstream journalists early on Friday morning in the areas of Aghia Paraskevi, Lycabettus, Penteli and Maroussi. Among those targeted were the editor of the semi-official Athens News Agency and a host of MEGA Channel's morning talk show.

Press report said that the incendiary devices, consisting of two gas canisters, were detonated between the hours of 03.40 and 04.45 am. Fire-fighters rushed to scene, but luckily there was no need to intervene because the fires were minor.

The attacks came several days after scattered protests against a police raid to clear several anarchist squats that were illegally being occupied by radical leftists and anti-establishment groups.

The Greek government quickly condemned the attacks. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that it was an attempt to openly terrorize the media, which is "a vital part of our democracy." He noted the attacks came a day after protesters barged into a radio station in solidarity with those arrested at the squat.

The attacks occurred as follows: At 03.40 there was an attack of MEGA host George Economou, at 04.10 the home of Anthony Liarou was attacked, and at 04.15 the home of Skyllakou Anthony was also attacked. At the same time, an explosion occurred in Maroussi or at the home of Mr. Konsta, while at  04.45 another bomb exploded at Peter Karsioti's house.

Later on in the morning, MEGA talk show -George Economou- said "the only thing that really terrifies me is that there are people who think that can change the world this way, or that they can play such games."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Greater Albanian space to unite TV waves

Berisha: The Project, beginning of the union with Kosovo
Hapsirë shqiptare unike valësh, Berisha: Projekti, fillimi i bashkimit me Kosovën-Prime Minister Sali Berisha received today, at the meeting, Deputy General Director of Radio and Television of Kosovo (RTK) Mentor Shala and Television Director Blessing Hasani, who are in Albania, after the proposal of the Prime Minister Berisha for the unification of space between Albania and TV waves of Kosovo.
Mr. Shala, giving thanks for the warm reception, the Prime Minister said that his proposal for a unique Albanian space waves is welcomed not only by the media community and has found wide support in Kosovo.
Premier Berisha praised the proven willingness to put in motion the unification of unique space waves, and stressed that this is a necessary step, part of a broader process, so that the nation feels.
Having discussed this project, the Prime Minister said that its implementation is entirely possible and would require ART possibility of Repetitor RTK Albanian public television transmission points in the entire country. And invited all other media in Kosovo, if they wish, to extend their broadcasting in Albania.
"To realize one thing, the most important first step is to believe that and I believe more than anything else to God, the process of uniting the Albanian nation, and I am determined and confident that every day Albanians work wherever they are. This is a more extensive process. We are a nation that has more than half outside the ethnic territories, one can say that this is just the beginning of a process which will lead to the unification of Albanians about their ideal European national, "he said.

Ambassador Rokanas Goes To Gjirokastra

62281_2The new Ambassador of Greece to Albania, Leonidas Rokanas, visited Gjirokastra, where part of the Greek minority in Albania lives and told them of Greece’s determination to improve relations between the countries, as well as Athens’ readiness so as to effectively contribute to Albania’s European integration.

The mayor and prefect of Gjirokastra stressed the need to strengthen cross-border cooperation in the framework of bilateral relations and in European Union programs’ level. They also highlighted the essential role that the Greek minority plays in the region’s overall stability and development.
Prefect Mimoza Como made a special mention of the efforts made by the Albanian side in order to meet the rights of the Greek minority, mainly in an educational level. Rokanas referred to the need for an educational agreement between the two countries and the activation of a Joint Committee to examine the contents of school texts.

Regarding to the Greek minority in Albania, Rokanas  said he was aware of their problems and promised he would work with the Greek Consulate to help improve their lives. He also visited the University of Ioannina in order to see if there is any potential for developing cooperation activities with Albanian universities to develop partnerships.
CEZ announces sale

CEZ announces sale
Despite the warnings from the Ministry of Economy, CEZ, the Czech Company that owns the energy distribution network in Albania has started the procedures for expanding the business in Albania.

Two days ago CEZ published on the prestigious financial times an invitation to express the interest of possible investors who want to by their shares. The announcement says that CEZ is considering to sell 76% of the shares and invites buyers to bid within January 15th.

According to the announcement, the investors must present detailed information about the consortium companies and other activities of the businesses they own, the financial guarantees for the possible purchase of CEZ and any concern or uncertainty that they might have regarding the process. After this initial phase will be over, CEZ announces that they will inform the interested companies for the further steps. After the long conflict with the Albanian government, CEZ warned that they will sell their activity first.

But right after this declaration, the Ministry of Economy declared that they will not allow the sale, since it is considered an illegal move for as long that the company has not notified the state and the license is under review by the ERE. But despite this warning, the Czech group seems determined to sell the shares by taking the first step of the process.

Defense council gives green light for purchase of F-16 parts

The Greek Government Council of Foreign Affairs and National Defense (KYSEA) on Wednesday approved the purchase of 69 spare parts collections for engines for the military’s F-16 Block 52 aircraft, at a cost of 183.7 million euros. The order will be placed in the context of a bilateral agreement with the U.S. and it will be covered by funds in an over five years time frame.

Greece takes steps to strengthen drill rights

Since 1999 Greece and Turkey have concluded 52-53 rounds of exploratory talks on the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean, pledging to avoid unilateral actions.
In April 2012, Ankara, pressed by the course of developments in Cyprus’ block 12 and the Eastern Mediterranean, defined Turkish blocks east of the Greek island of Kastellorizo. This area is considered by the Greek side and in accordance to the international law part of the Greek continental shelf. Turkey then issued an international public tender for seismic surveys in these blocks.
This is a unilateral action on the part of Turkey following Turkey’s FM position that Kastelorizo cannot be part of such a solution because it is in the Mediterranean, not the Aegean, a position rejected by Greece.
All 13 foreign companies addressed by Turkey to participate in this tender, apparently knowing that this Turkish action is contrary to international law and is therefore illegal, and perhaps, asking Washington’s opinion over the issue, refused to bid.
This led Ankara to rush to buy a research vessel, in order to make these surveys on its own and create a fait accompli.
The Turkish Petroleum Corporation (“TPAO”) completed negotiations for a long-term collaboration arrangement for the sale and reflagging of the 8-streamer 3D seismic vessel Polarcus Samur combined with the provision by Polarcus of seismic data acquisition, fast-track data processing, management and crewing services for the vessel over a 3 year period. The total value of the collaboration arrangement over the 3 year period, including the sale of the vessel, is approximately USD 213 million. TPAO will take delivery of Polarcus Samur in late January / early February.

Top Kurdish Militant Is Among Three Slain in Paris

Thomas Samson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Members of the Kurdish community in France protested on Thursday near the institute in Paris where three Kurdish women were found killed.
— Three Kurdish women, including a founding member of a leading militant group fighting for autonomy in Turkey, were shot to death at a Kurdish institute in central Paris, police officials said on Thursday, potentially jeopardizing efforts to negotiate a cease-fire in the decades-old conflict.

News reports identified the women as Sakine Cansiz, a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known by the initials P.K.K.; Fidan Dogan, the head of the institute and a representative of the Kurdistan National Congress, an umbrella group of Kurdish organizations in Europe; and Leyla Soylemez, a young Kurdish activist.
The women’s bodies were discovered shortly before 2 a.m. on Thursday, according to Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office, who added that the antiterror department of the prosecutor’s office would oversee the investigation. She confirmed that Ms. Dogan, born in 1984, and Ms. Soylemez, born in 1988, were victims in the killings, but declined to confirm the identity of the third woman.
Asked about the motive, she said, “No hypothesis can be excluded at this stage.”
Visiting the crime scene on Thursday, Interior Minister Manuel Valls called the shootings “intolerable” and said they were “without doubt an execution.” The violence at the Kurdish Institute of Paris, in the city’s 10th Arrondissement near the Gare du Nord railroad station, seemed to open a new chapter in the often murky annals of Kurdish exile life.
In recent years, Turkey has sought to clamp down on the activities of Kurdish activists outside Turkey. Sizable exile communities in France, Germany, Belgium and Denmark have established civic and media organizations that Kurdish officials say are a refuge from Turkish censorship.
Turkey has accused some of the institutions of being fronts for separatist activities or terrorism.
Analysts in Turkey said it seemed to be no coincidence that the killings had come just days after reports of peace negotiations involving Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the P.K.K., who was incarcerated in 1999 in a fortresslike prison on the western Turkish island of Imrali.
While Kurdish militants blamed Turkey for the shootings in Paris, Turkish officials said the women could have been killed because of feuding within the P.K.K.
Huseyin Celik, the deputy chairman of the ruling party in Turkey, said the episode seemed to be part of an internal dispute but offered no evidence to support the claim.
“Whenever in Turkey we reach the stage of saying, ‘Friend, give up this business, let the weapons be silent,’ whenever a determination emerges on this, such incidents happen,” Mr. Celik told reporters in Ankara. “Is there one P.K.K.? I’m not sure of that.”
French police officials said a murder investigation had been opened. The bodies and three shell casings were found in a room at the institute. The women were all said to have held Turkish passports.
The P.K.K. has been fighting a bitter guerrilla war against the Turkish authorities for almost three decades to reinforce demands for greater autonomy. The conflict, which has claimed 40,000 lives, is fueled by competing notions of national identity rooted in the founding of modern Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923 on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey, the United States and the European Union have labeled the P.K.K. a terrorist organization, but sympathy for the group and its goals remains widespread in many towns in Turkey’s rugged southeast.
Restive Kurdish minorities span a broad region embracing areas of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and parts of the former Soviet Union. Regional turmoil in recent years has emboldened Kurdish separatists inspired by the example of the Iraqi Kurds, who control an autonomous zone. Turkey also fears that the civil war in neighboring Syria could strengthen the separatist yearnings of Kurds there, feeding Kurdish activism in Turkey.
The killings, which apparently took place Wednesday, inspired hundreds of Kurdish exiles to gather outside the institute on Thursday, chanting, “We are all P.K.K.!” and accusing Turkey of assassinating the three women, abetted by the French president, François Hollande.
The bodies were discovered by Kurdish exiles who had become concerned about the whereabouts of the women.
The victims had been alone in the building on Wednesday and could not be reached by telephone in the late afternoon, according to Leon Edart, who manages the center. Mr. Edart, speaking to French reporters, suggested that the victims opened the door to their killer or killers.
An organization called the Federation of Kurdish Associations in France, representing many of the estimated 150,000 Kurdish exiles in the country, said in a statement that the women might have been killed on Wednesday afternoon with weapons equipped with silencers.
The Firat news agency, which is close to the P.K.K., said two of the women had been shot in the head and one in the stomach. Firat quoted Mehmet Ulker, the head of the Kurdish representative group in France, as saying: “A couple of colleagues saw bloodstains at the door. When they broke the door open and entered they saw the three women had been executed.”
Most of the Kurdish exiles in France are from Turkey. Their presence dates to the mid-1960s, when migrant workers from Turkey began arriving in France.
The killings came against a complex political backdrop after the Turkish government opened talks with the political wing of the P.K.K. in Oslo last year. The negotiations faltered after a recent surge of violence in southeastern Turkey that prompted complaints from nationalist Turks that the authorities should not talk to the guerrilla fighters.
In the absence of any clear-cut military outcome, democracy advocates in Turkey have been pressing for a political settlement that would give greater rights to the Kurds, who account for around 15 million of Turkey’s 74 million people. The Turkish government has introduced a series of measures to improve relations with Kurds, including starting a Kurdish public television channel and introducing private Kurdish-language courses. But Kurdish activists want the rights of minority Kurds to be enshrined in a new constitution.
In a speech on Wednesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said the negotiations were being conducted on the Turkish side by senior intelligence officials.
While Mr. Ocalan, the P.K.K. leader, has a powerful following among the rebels, he was denied a role in earlier political talks. But, analysts say, Turkish officials are hoping that his participation in the current negotiations, authorized by the state, has enhanced the prospects of a breakthrough.
Turkish news reports have said the government wants the rebels to lay down their arms without preconditions and send fighters with a record of violence into exile in Europe, leaving other Kurdish representatives to join Turkish political life. But analysts say any further negotiations could be sabotaged by opponents if it appeared that talks were making firm progress.
Sinan Ulgen, a Turkish expert and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, said the most likely explanation was that the killings were the product of factional infighting within the P.K.K. involving more militant and hawkish elements who want to destabilize the talks and derail any peace deal.
“To me these killings are no coincidence,” Mr. Ulgen said by telephone from Istanbul. “They are the first signs that factions are not happy with the peace process and are intent on trying to sabotage a deal.”
Other analysts said the killings could be the work of extreme Turkish nationalists, some of whom oppose negotiations that would lead to Turkey granting Kurds further rights and autonomy.

Dan Bilefsky reported from Paris, Alan Cowell from London and Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul. Scott Sayare contributed reporting from Paris.

86 thousand Macedonians have obtained Bulgarian citizenship

Bozidar Dimitrov to Bulgarian newspaper "Standard" has revealed that so far a total of 86 thousand Macedonians have obtained Bulgarian citizenship.

"Bulgarian citizenship has great interest so far in Macedonia. There are total of 86 thousand people who have obtained a Bulgarian passport which is about 10 per cent of the total population Slavs. This interest is continuing even now, which is the thesis that the Macedonians have obtained Bulgarian passport just to travel to the west. Two years ago, the EU lifted visa requirements for Macedonia, but interest continues Bulgarian passport, "said Dimitrov.

He notes that officials in Skopje are trying to stop this process, which could put them in ridiculous position, because he will try to lead a nation which has Slavic origin but has Bulgarian citizenship.

"Their government took repressive measures that do not know in what order based - intermediaries for obtaining Bulgarian passport is now 20 years. Can not prevent a Macedonian citizen to perform a citizen, if authorization for this, "said Dimitrov.

Bulgarian authorities reaction came after the arrest of several persons by Macedonian police who were accused of being mediate during device with Bulgarian citizenship.
 Tirana: Continues the way to the Greater Albania

Territories claimed on behalf of "Greater Albania".
Albanians in Albania and neighboring countries


Berisha: Albanians abroad will get the passport before the election

Sali Berisha has changed the attitude of the statements made in the government meeting held in Vlora on December 4 last year, which said that it would be approved the draft law on granting citizenship to all Albanians abroad after the election and said yesterday that citizenship will be granted to the Albanians of Montenegro, the Presevo Valley and Macedonia, but also those who live in the EU, the U.S. and Canada before the election.

Speaking of citizenship, the head of the government has given a different twist to his statement and now claims that the bill will come into force before the election, while the right to vote will not be implemented because they are compiled lists of voters.

But as it is written in the newspaper in English, this statement is legally nonsense because if given citizenship, every Albanian citizen has the right to vote and the right, if it is denied, you can win simply by a court.

Differences of the statements made on 4 December and yesterday are that a month ago he said he would draft a bill that requires 3/5 of the votes, while yesterday Berisha said he would deal with no need for government decision be approved by the Assembly.

Second, on December 4, Prime Minister said that the law will come into force after the elections, while the government meeting yesterday he claimed that citizenship will be taken, but the right to vote shall enter into force after the elections.

But if citizenship is taken, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote.


 Northern Epiriotes to Athens: : "We want Greek passport from Consulates in Albania"

Meanwhile, a step after this decision of Tirana, stands Athens, which has announced that it will accelerate the procedure for the award of Greek citizenship for Northern Epirus. But discontent grows by the Greeks in Northern Epirus, which demand from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, for issuing passports, from Greek consulates in Albania and not to travel with expenses and Greek bureaucracy, in Greece.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Albanian Minister Blamed for Precious Fresco's Destruction

An MP has said that the Culture Minister, Aldo Bumci, should resign after failing to protect the frescos of a 16th-century Albanian master that looters recently destroyed.
Besar Likmeta
The destroyed frescos in the church of Shen Premte | Photo courtesy of Auron Tare
The fresco, work of the celebrated master Onufri, was wrecked after thieves armed with axes and knives twice scalped through the painting in the church in the remote village of Valsh in late December and early January.
The looters tried to cut through the plaster of the 16th-century chapel to remove the aureoles of the saints, but managed only to destroy them.
“Onufri is for Albania what Michelangelo is for Italy; just imagine if someone attacked the Sistine Chapel with a scalpel - what would happen?” Socialist MP Auron Tare asked.
Widely considered Albania’s greatest icon painter, Onufri is renowned for his colours and style, which introduced greater realism and individuality into facial expressions, breaking with the strict conventions of Byzantine art.
MP Tare, who is also a heritage activist, says the authorities are failing to protect the country’s patrimony and accuses them of trying to sweep the incident under the rug.
“After the first attempted looting, the authorities, including the Ministry of Culture were notified but did nothing to protect the church,” he complained.
“The Ministry of Culture was well aware of this theft, but kept quiet so no one would speak about it,” he added.
In a statement on Wednesday the Ministry of Culture said that despite its efforts it could not ensure protection of heritage sites like the church in Valsh.
“Considering the large number of religious heritage monuments, it’s impossible to protect them 24-hours a day,” the ministry said. “It would require a large number of people and a special administrative structure,” it added.
Tare disagrees, arguing that after the ministry in 2007 dissolved the former system of custodians, which oversaw churches like the one in Valsh, things have got worse.
The custodians, who were paid some €30 per month, provided a level of protection, he claims, and cost the state only €40,000 every year.
“Even with the custodians in place there were thefts, but they provided a sort of buffer,” he said.
“Albanian churches are being totally destroyed, because after the icons and the iconostases were stolen, now they are coming back for the frescos,” Tare concluded. 

Ethnic Albanians against removal of monument

BUJANOVAC - The National Council of the Albanian national minority in Serbia condemned Wednesday the announced removal of a monument to members of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac located in Presevo, southern Serbia, and proposals for changes of the flag which they would use as a national minority.

The National Council of the Albanian national minority condemned the statements by Serbian officials announcing the removal of the monument in Presevo downtown, adding that such statements incite international conflicts, reads a statement from the body's extraordinary session in Bujanovac.

The Albanian National Council condemned in the statement the announced removal of the monument, changes of the Council's flag and any attempt of denial or change of the national identity of Albanians in Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, adding that all political parties of ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia are urged to unite and take joint actions in relation to Belgrade.

Diplomatic representatives of western countries proposed, as reported by Belgrade-based daily Danas, that the Albanian National Council should adopt a proposal for the look of the flag of the Albanian national community in south Serbia in order to avoid putting up Albania's flag at rallies in southern Serbia, and in line with the law on national minorities.

The sessions of the municipal assemblies in Presevo and Bujanovac are scheduled for Friday, while a joint session of all Albanian members of the Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medvedja assemblies is scheduled for Saturday.

The monument in Presevo was erected two months ago reading the names of fallen members of the armed uprising of ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia which broke out late in 2000 immediately after the democratic opposition won the elections, and former president Slobodan Milosevic stepped down from power.

Two year later, members of this organized were amnestied.

In line with the law, the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Self-Government is not competent of erecting monuments, but it is rather local self-government that does that in keeping with the Law on Planning and Construction.

Representatives of the Serb community in Presevo claim that there were no official decisions to put up the monument.

The monument was financed by citizens and NGOs, as said by representatives of the Albanian community.

Photo Tanjug, S. Radovanovic

Albania will send advisers in NATO

Albania will change the composition of its mission in NATO. The decision was taken today by the Council of Ministers and comes nearly three years after accession to the North Atlantic military organization.

In changing the law is about the addition of three defense policy advisors. These will be the staff advisor of the Ministry of Defence. It is not known whether this change has to do directly with Albania and security developments in the region.

After our country's membership in NATO, Albania mission there became Permanent Representation to NATO, while Albania's ambassador to NATO was enacted as Permanent Representative of Albania to the North Atlantic Council. Albania Ambassador Artur Kuko.

Mission of Albania to the Alliance in Brussels, opened in October 1997, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Brussels on the status of missions and representatives of third countries in NATO.

Samaras Meets Merkel in Berlin

sammerkelIn Berlin for the second time since he took office last June, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reported to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his country’s progress in administering reforms and imposing the austerity measures international lenders demanded in return for continued aid.
Samaras said he was determined to win back credibility in Europe, which has largely viewed Greece with disdain since former Premier George Papandreou asked for a first round of rescue loans in 2010, only to be driven out of office by relentless protests against pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions.
Merkel backs financial assistance for Greece, but only on condition of continued austerity, and she said as much when she came to Athens in October, 2012 to show support for Samaras during more demonstrations. Samaras used the opportunity to reiterate his belief that Greece has made great strides and earned an incoming barrage of 52.5 billion euros in more rescue loans from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
“I would like to make clear up front that our country is undertaking great efforts that are linked with great sacrifices to get things back on track,” Samaras said during a brief appearance alongside Merkel before they met at the chancellery. “We are trying to win back credibility, on the part of the people of Europe and on the part of the markets.”
Merkel said she would “of course be interested in what progress the implementation of the Greek reform program is making,” but didn’t offer any assessment. In remarks to reporters earlier on Jan. 8 before he attended a closed-doors conference organized by German newspaper Die Welt, Samaras said that he considers “the glass half full” and was in Berlin with a message of optimism. “We are delivering and Europe is helping,” he said.
Merkel said she also would discuss with Samaras the economic situation in Germany, where growth has slowed over the past year, “because we also must do everything to guarantee economic growth and, with that, job security.”

Top state officials reach agreement on Kosovo

BELGRADE -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and the government reached an agreement on two documents on Kosovo at a joint session on Wednesday.
Tomislav Nikolić, Ivica Dačić and Aleksandar Vučić (Beta)
Tomislav Nikolić, Ivica Dačić and Aleksandar Vučić (Beta)
It is expected that an extraordinary parliament session will be held at 10:00 CET on Saturday.
The president said after the meeting that the government had unanimously adopted two documents – a resolution that is a binding document on which MPs will vote in parliament and a platform that is also a binding document.Prime Minister Ivica Dačić has said that the platform would not be presented to the public.

“It is not customary to let those we are yet to negotiate with familiarize themselves with the platform and our tactics,” he said and added that it was not good that any version of the document had been released.

Nikolić said that some changes had been made to the platform but that its core had remaind completely the same.

“We have softened some edges, some parts could earlier be interpreted as suspension of the technical dialogue or EU negotiations and we have eliminated those doubts,” he pointed out.

The president said it was important that the agreement was reached unanimously.

“Serbia showed at the government meeting today that it can stand unanimously behind a document, with all the reservations and apprehension one has when talking about Kosovo. A lot of time has passed, what we are doing today is a minimum of what we could have gotten several years ago and a maximum of what we will be able to get in a few years," Nikolic told reporters.

He said that it would not be good for Serbia to do anything that was not in accordance with the resolution, adding that the “current opposition and the former authorities led to this level in relations with the provisional institutions in Priština”.

“I am partially at peace, I have been carrying a great weight for many years, the obligation I assumed the moment I was elected in agreement with representatives of the government. I fulfilled it today, it is now up to citizens to be aware of the challenges that await us, how torn we are between things we have to do and things we should do,” the president said.

Nikolić added that he hoped that the MPs would understand the responsibility they had.

“The government has proposed that the document is discussed at an extraordinary parliament session. I hope that MPs will understand the importance of the moment and their responsibility because this is not some bill we should fight over, point out what could have been done differently. The government deserves help. I will not pull out, I am not after political points,” the president stressed.

The joint session started around 10:15 CET on Wednesday in Belgrade.

The session was supposed to be held on Tuesday but it was postponed.

According to top officials of the ruling coalition, the session was not held on Tuesday because it was never officially called due to technical reasons and because the officials needed more time to discuss a final version of the document.

The resolution contains five items – that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence, that the dialogue with Priština will continue and that every progress in the dialogue needs to be accompanied by progress on Serbia’s EU pathway, solving of a status of the north of the province and special guarantees of individual and collective rights of Serbs south of the Ibar River.

Tanjug has learnt that the government on Monday received the draft resolution that had been prepared by the president’s cabinet. The government officials needed more time to harmonize their positions, including whether they would directly refer to the platform or if its official mentioning would be avoided.

Nikolić said earlier that Serbia could not get more than what the platform on Kosovo contained but that it must not accept anything less that.

The Albanian nationalism and the Islamic terrorism

Southeastern European organized crime & extremism review, By Ioannis Michaletos

As in the case of Bosnia, the Albanian Muslims (70% of the population) proved to be a magnet for the Islamists that sought to regain a foothold in Europe. The conditions by which Albania was freed by the Communist regime in the early 90’s, revealed the existence of a backward isolated country with no interaction with the rest of the world. The transition from a central command structure to that of a free market; ensured the development of multiple societal forces within the much repressed Albanian society[8].

In early 1994 the infamous Osama Bin Laden, paid a visit to Tirana, presumably to oversight the networking of his activities there. He came back in 1998 to oversight Al-Qaeda training camps in the Northern part of Albania, just across the borders with Kosovo[9]. The trainers –of Arabic origin mostly- were assigned to train the newly recruits of the Usthria Climirtare e Kosoves –U.C.K- units for the forthcoming guerilla warfare against the Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.

The then Albanian Director of the Albanian secret service-SHIK-named Fatos Klosi admitted the training that took place in these camps and the existence of “Jihad warriors” from Sudan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt that were responsible for the instruction of the UCK army. To this point it is important to add to the above, the existence of the Albanian Arab Islamic Bank, that was used for the financing of terrorist activities throughout the Balkans. Various sources indicate the existence of Bin Laden’s backing in the bank’s capital, with the sum of 11 million USD[10].

In 1997, the financial collapse of Albania by an economic scandal that shook the country; had as a result the social unrest throughout the territory and the collapse of the rule of law[11]. An uncounted number of armaments were stolen during the period of the riots from the Albanian’s Army caches, and the bulk of it ended in the hands of the UCK and its Islamist collaborators. Until early 1998 USA characterized UCK as a terrorist organization, due to its connection with well-known figures of the extremist elements of the Islamic world. Nevertheless, the American policy changed its direction since it deemed the existence of Milosevic more threatening at that period than the Islamic movement[12]. During the skirmishes and fights before the NATO bombings in March 1999, the Yugoslav Army managed to inflict great damages to the Mujahedin fighters that were combating along the UCK lines[13]. In Urocevac the bulk of them was eliminated by the Serbian Army and was obliged to retreat back in their safe havens in Northern Albania.

After the end of the 1999 war, the Mujahedin networks regrouped and started to infiltrate the Kosovo area in great numbers[14]. That included the mushrooming of Islamic charitable funds across the region, the construction of Mosques and the radicalization of the local Albanian population[15] and the wider Muslim populations of the ex-Yugoslavia.

It is interesting to note that the Albanian population in its majority cannot be conceived as a fundamentalist Islamic nation and the extremists are for the time being a forceful minority of that nation. The Islamic expansion in the Balkans is coupled with the existence of the criminal syndicates that are all prevalent in the Balkan Peninsula. Since the terrorist activities cannot be financed through the use of the legal free market economy, the use of narcotics and trafficking illegal trade has enabled the flourishing of the terrorist networks[16]. The “Hybrid” organizations as the merged terrorist and criminal are named[17], has created the necessary framework for the Balkans to enter in one of the worst periods of their modern history. The leading criminologist Loretta Napoleoni has researched articulately the issue and offers illuminating approaches as to the extent of the infiltration of crime & terrorism in world economy.

According to her recent interview for[18], some 1.5 trillion USD are the revenue of the organized crime worldwide. A fair portion of that is being achieved by controlling the “Balkan drugs route” a geographical area that encompasses Kosovo, Northern Albania and Tetovo. More or less the Islamic terrorism network has located some of its bases, along the way of some of the most lucrative criminal areas of Europe. Therefore it is able to increase its revenues and finance its monstrous acts.

In spring 2001, the Mujahedin forces, once again, were brought to day-light by joining the National Liberation Army in its fight in Western FYROM[19]. The NLA was a composition of various Albanian fractions that along with the Islamic extremists sought to prepare the basis for the disintegration of FYROM[20]. There is a large Albanian minority in the country, which also happens to be located right in the centre of the Balkans and where the “Balkan drug route” passes by. The Mujahedin formed the majority of the 113 brigade of NLA[21], and were accused of many atrocities against innocent civilians of Slavic descent.
On August 2001 the Ohrid accord was signed and the conflict ceased without any real gains by the Albanian side[22]. A month later, the attack on the twin towers revealed to the world the spread and the power the terrorist organizations have amassed, thus the “War on terror” begun and to a great extent dismantled the world wide Islamic terrorist web.

more see:


Security and Politics in Albania: A Limitation of Civil Liberties?

March 25, 2007
By Ioannis Michaletos and Stavros Markos*
The government in Tirana has, over the past few months, imposed new domestic security policies in order to curb an increase in criminal networks and their activities. At the same time, international bodies, namely the EU and NATO — entities which Albania wishes to join in the future — are worried about the country’s widespread corruption, and are pressuring Albania to reconstruct its judicial system so as to combat crime of all sorts.

Stavros Markos
(Journalist, Member of the World Security Network Foundation -Southeast Europe Office)
Ioannis Michaletos
(RIEAS Junior Analyst and Coordinator of the World Security Network Foundation – Southeast Europe Office)
Copyright: Stavros Markos on line (    
In January 1991, the Patriarchate of Constantinople appointed the then Bishop Anastasios to enter Albania as the “Patriarchal Exarches" with the mandate to unite the Albanian Orthodox people irrespectively of their ethnic origin and re- establish the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. The Orthodox Church in Albania had been decimated after forty years of the most severe persecution. Before the overthrow of the Communist yoke, the numbers of the Orthodox clergy had diminished from 440 in the 1940’s to just 22 in 1990. Once again, the opportunity to revive a Church that was tittering on the brink of collapse was confronted by the Bishop Anastasios.