Saturday, January 26, 2013

Things that matters in Albania’s Election 2013

Albanian voter search for his name in the voters list. Photo: LSA
Albanians will vote on 23 June 2013 to renew the 140 seats parliament.
Elections are deemed to be important for democracy, rule of law and EU integration process.
In the last few months, several events related to the next general elections took place. This is a recollection of these events that can serve as background information.
Electoral System: Albania changed its electoral system with an overnight agreement in 2008 between Sali Berisha, (Prime Minister and chairman of the ruling Democratic Party) and Edi Rama (then, mayor of Tirana and chairman of the Opposition Socialist Party). The new system of regional proportionality divides Albania in 12 electoral zones; each assigned a number of MPs according to their population. The number of population is drawn from the civic register. In face of massive international and internal emigration, the accuracy of the civic register is very low. There are ongoing accusations for civic register manipulations that would give an advantage to the ruling party. An arithmetical formula is used to calculate wining MP’s based on principle of proportionality between percentage of votes collected by parties and percentage of parliamentary seats obtained. Electoral threshold of 2 per cent for parties and 4 per cent for coalitions is deliberately put in place to discriminate parties that want to compete without a prior agreement with two major parties. Small parties can compete in joint list with major parties and in this case they need proportionally less votes to get an MP.
MP candidate nominations: The new system increases the power of the party leaders who practically are able to draw lists of their candidates as they wish. All parties are obliged by law to enlist candidates for all the number of MPs that will be elected in a certain region. This rule creates frustration for small parties that aim to get one MP but have to find candidates for 140 positions and simply could not find adequate figures to put as formal candidates. Such parties often have to pay taxi drivers or the likes to put their names in a senseless competition.
Election administration: Ministry of Interior (MoI)is responsible for voters’ list preparation and had provided to the Central Election Commission (CEC) statistics for number of votes available in each region. CEC should calculate the number of MP’s for each region based on statistics supplied by MoI. (Ongoing dispute)
Central Election Commission is a bipartisan commission in Albania with a majority from the ruling PD. Polling stations and vote counting centers are also politically nominated by the parties as representatives of their interests.
Fraud possibilities: In the past, major frauds happened mostly in the counting process. Albania concentrated vote counting procedures in few dozen centers that are separate from voting stations after 2001 elections. Previously, counting was carried in the voting stations and was reasonably suspected that were simply miscounted. This concentration, although made the process more easily monitored, didn’t resolve the problem. In 2005, when counting procedure was first organized in concentrated centers, was reasonably suspected that the two major parties PD and PS cut a deal to divide among themselves votes that were for two minor parties. Based on such speculation, a part of the votes of the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) were counted as PS votes and those of the Movement for National Development (LZHK) were counted as PD votes.
In 2009, major irregularities were registered in rural areas in the region of Tirana, where small parties managed to get unusually high percentages of votes in isolated villages. With such votes, small parties managed to get one MP.

French Warship for Russia 'Won't Work in Cold' - Minister

French Warship for Russia 'Won't Work in Cold' - Minister

MOSCOW, January 26 (RIA Novosti) - Two amphibious assault ships bought for the Russian Navy from France in a 1.2 billion euro deal will not be able to operate in temperatures below seven degrees centigrade, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin admitted on Saturday, in critical comments about the contract.
"It's very odd that ships for offloading a landing force, floating in our latitudes won't work in temperatures below seven degrees," said Rogozin, who has special responsibilities for the defense industry, in a meeting of the Academy of Military Science on Saturday. He did not elaborate on why the ships would not work in cool temperatures.
Russia signed the 1.2 billion euro deal in June 2011 for two of the Mistral ships, which will carry helicopters to support landings by marines. The first of the ships is due for delivery in 2014.
Rogozin was appointed to his current post only in December 2011.
The first Mistral is due to be deployed in Russia's Pacific Fleet, based in the port of Vladivostok, which is ice-free all year round but still experiences months of severe winter cold. The second is due to be deployed with the Northern Fleet, which also has ice-free bases, due to the Gulf Stream, but also experience very cold temperatures for several months a year.
It is the second time this week that the Mistral deal has come under fire from a senior defense official. On Thursday, Military-Industrial Commission Deputy Head Ivan Kharchenko described the deal to buy the ships as “absurd,” saying the deal had inflicted harm on the Russian shipbuilding industry.


Greek Opposition Leader Seeks Conference on Debt

The opposition leader, Alexis Tsipras, whose criticism of international bailouts propelled his party, Syriza, to win the second biggest bloc of parliamentary seats in the June 2012 elections, also said he did not believe Greece would be forced to withdraw from the group of 17 countries that use the euro currency. Greece’s heavy indebtedness has raised fears that the country could leave or be expelled from the euro zone, a possibility that many economists regard as a threat to the euro’s survival.
“They say I am the most dangerous man in Europe,” Mr. Tsipras said in an interview with the editorial board of The New York Times. “What I feel is dangerous is the policy of austerity in Europe. The Greek people have paid a heavy price.”
Mr. Tsipras was in New York as part of a trip to the United States that has included meetings in Washington with the International Monetary Fund and the Treasury Department. The trip is part of a campaign intended to bolster his credibility as a politician and to counter what his aides call the fictional portrayals of him as a financial bomb-thrower in Greece’s mainstream news media, controlled by the so-called oligarch families of privilege in the country who fear Syriza’s ascent to power.
Given the fragility of the conservative-led coalition that took over after the June elections, any no-confidence vote in Parliament could lead to new elections that give Mr. Tsipras the latitude to form a government. Recent polls put Syriza’s popularity at nearly 30 percent, about the same as the current coalition leader, the conservative New Democracy party.
This month Mr. Tsipras also visited Germany, Europe’s most powerful economy, which has been the driving force behind the insistence that Greece must endure sacrifices and impose fiscal discipline in exchange for help on its debt burden. Mr. Tsipras has argued that the strategy has not only been an expensive failure but has also increased Greece’s indebtedness relative to the size of its economy, where joblessness and cuts in wages and benefits have stoked widespread anger.
After six years of recession in Greece, he said, “we are witnessing a humanitarian crisis.”
The symptoms were on display this week in Athens, where striking subway workers, outraged over pay cuts, paralyzed a transit system that carries one million riders a day. The government on Friday used an emergency decree to halt the strike.
Mr. Tsipras said he would like to see a summit meeting that would result in an end to the austerity approach, which he said is needed to restart growth and avert a deeper economic malaise.
“We are suggesting an overall plan for a European solution,” he said. “A European conference on debt that would include all of the countries of the region facing a significant debt issue.”
He drew an analogy to the London Debt Agreement of 1953, in which postwar Germany’s debt was cut by 50 percent and the repayment spread over 30 years.
Mr. Tsipras said the German government, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, has held the possibility of expulsion from the euro zone over Greece as leverage for enforcing its austerity solution, but that in his view neither Germany nor its supporters want to see Greece exit the euro.
“The constant threats, that they will kick us out of the euro zone, is a strategy with no foundation,” he said. “It’s just a way to blackmail us.”

Australian Greeks Concerned Over Double Taxation

English: Village of Olymbiada, Chalkidiki, Gre...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a letter of appeal to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras recently the Greek community in Australia asked the Greek government to review its taxation rules that would charge them a second time on property and investments in Greece. In a letter signed by the president of the Melbourne and Victoria communities Mr. Vassilis Papastergiadis, Australian Greeks noted that tax requirements and processes were extremely bureaucratic and demanded documents from them that are not issued in other countries. The Australian Diaspora said that they were particularly disappointed by plans to abolish their exemption from transfer tax, especially for property bought in Greece with foreign currency that has already been taxed abroad.

Brussels proposes Nikolić, Jahjaga to meet on Feb. 6

PRIŠTINA -- EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has proposed that a meeting between Serbia and Kosovo’s presidents be held on February 6.
Atifete Jahjaga and Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)
Atifete Jahjaga and Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)
The meeting would be held in Brussels, Priština-based Albanian language daily Koha Ditore has learnt from diplomatic sources.
According to the daily, the proposal has been sent to Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and his Kosovo counterpart Atifete Jahjaga and they are expected to confirm their consent to organize the meeting.

The daily quoted western diplomats as saying that they hoped that the agreement on normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština will be reached this spring. According to them, the agreement should include all deals reached by Serbian and Kosovo Prime Ministers Ivica Dačić and Hashim Thaci and express willingness and determination to have peace.

The sources also believe that it would be an agreement and not a peace treaty.

Jahjaga’s office has released several times that the two presidents should at the meeting support Dačić and Thaci’s talks on the normalization of relations.

The Serbian Presidency told Tanjug earlier that Nikolić and Jahjaga should meet soon.

“Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić has several times publicly invited Jahjaga to a meeting and we expect the meeting to be organized as soon as possible,” the sources from the Presidency said.

They explained that a date had not been set yet and that they were waiting for an official confirmation of the interim institutions in Priština.

The meeting should be organized and held under the EU auspices.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Zoran Andjelkovic: U.S. is interested in fomenting separatism in the Balkans

Author: Konstantin Kachalin

At the time of our meeting in May 2005 Zoran Andjelkovic held the position of Vice President of the Parliament of Serbia and held the position of Secretary General of the Socialist Party of the Republic.

During our discussion, we talked about the union between Serbia and Montenegro and, of course, Kosovo.

- What are the prospects for the current union of Serbia and Montenegro, how could develop relations between the two capitals?

-The Socialist Party of Serbia ruled against the creation of the state of Serbia and Montenegro. The promoter of this project was Javier Solana in 1999, with UN General Secretary, authorized the war against Yugoslavia. The current Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, made a political career, fighting Milosevic and Belgrade, always wanted to be an independent politician, without submitting to the authority of anyone. Right now his position is somewhat weaker than in recent years, but still has the support of the EU and Solana they do everything within their power to ensure that Montenegro will become a sovereign state. I could safely say that our party, like our allies in Parliament, the Serbian Radical Party will not support output Montenegro federation. And do not get Djukanovic and Montenegro independence.

-The "hottest" of the Balkans in recent years is Kosovo, where there is almost no Serbs and the Albanians have terrorized the elderly who can not defend themselves or have nowhere to go. They force the Serbs to sell their land at throwaway prices. And all this is happening under the supervision of the UN. New York insists its mission of peacekeeping in Kosovo is one of the most fruitful. But in reality the world is witnessing the gradual creation of a "Greater Albania". And we should not be ruled out that the capital Pristina.

-Unfortunately, the U.S. is interested in Kosovo and Montenegro is encouraged separatism rather than integration projects. It's no secret that between 1998 and 1999 Washington backed Muslim organizations in Kosovo, injecting into the region illegally hundreds of millions of dollars that were earmarked for the creation of the "Kosovo Liberation Army". Not only is it engaged some U.S. congressmen, but a number of NGOs.

At present it is in a less evident but some politicians who were in power during the Clinton years, create foundations and through them send large sums Kosovo.

We are against this year that determined the status of Kosovo. To do so, would have to act within the framework of the UN and the Security Council. It would be highly important to know the position of the permanent members of the SC, namely Russia and China. One should not forget that in Resolution 1244 adopted in summer 1999 makes no mention of the sovereignty of Kosovo. Recall the examples of Hong Kong and Macao, it took almost fifty years to settle the matter. Why We propose cede once and for all Muslims land where Serbs lived for centuries, where are the sacred places for Christians? Just because I support the United States?

And I'll take another example: the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended in 1995. Now is also zone UN protectorate, but nobody says that Serbs and Croats should have there own states. Neither Muslims, despite being supported by the U.S..

PM: Kosovo in UN would mean recognition

VRŠAC -- The issue of Kosovo's UN membership "could be a topic within the dialogue on a comprehensive solution for the Kosovo issue".
Ivica Dačić is seen in Vršac on Friday (Tanjug)
Ivica Dačić is seen in Vršac on Friday (Tanjug)
Serbia's PM Ivica Dačić and German Ambassador Heinz Wilhelm "agreed" on this point, reports from Vršac said on Friday.
Dačić underscored that Serbia "is not ready to discuss the topic in passing, that it has not even been mentioned so far, and is not on the agenda for the time being".

“That issue has been exaggerated. If we discussed a comprehensive solution, then the topic would be on the agenda (of the Belgrade-Priština dialogue),” the prime minister said.

Kosovo's UN membership "would mean the recognition of its independence, which Serbia deems unacceptable", he added.

He recalled that he had mentioned the issue of Kosovo in response to the stand of the Priština authorities that they expected that Kosovo would join the UN, as they know that their statehood process could not be completed without that.

"At the moment, the UN seat is the only thing that Kosovo cannot secure without Serbia. Unfortunately, everything else it can," he added.

The German ambassador "agreed that the statement about Kosovo's UN membership had been exaggerated and misinterpreted", said Tanjug.

He "clarified that he did not say that a UN seat for Kosovo is a condition for Serbia's EU membership."

Wilhelm repeated that "Priština has the European Union as its trump card" - while for Serbia, this "trump card" is the UN, according to the diplomat.

He said that the issue of Kosovo's UN seat "would be put on the agenda of the dialogue in Brussels sooner or later, as that is important for Kosovo", recalling that the Serbian prime minister "also said that".

"I agree with the prime minister that would be a topic within a comprehensive solution for the Kosovo issue," the German ambassador underlined.

Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo five years ago unilaterally declared independence. Serbia rejects the proclamation and considers the territory its province under the Constitution.

"Romania has no conditions"

Ivica Dačić expressed the belief on Friday that in the continuation of European integration, Romania will not condition Serbia by issues connected to the position of the Romanian minority, and added that the Romanian prime minister extended such assurances.

Addressing reporters at the opening of the a new production line in the Fresenius company in Vršac, Dačić said that relations with Romania must not be aggravated because of the question as to what is implied by the term 'Romanian national minority' or because of the issue of the Vlach identity in Serbia.

Responding to questions of local reporters, Dačić said that this problem has been overly exaggerated in the public and that Serbia is willing to discuss this issue.

There is a saying in Romania that they have only the sea and Serbia as their friend, Dačić said and added that Serbia does not have a sea and that it only has friends.

Turkish Ship With Tonnes of Weapons Sails To Volos!

credit enkripto
Port and customs officials were put on alert on Thursday after finding out that a cargo ship that had requested to be refueled (transit oil) at the port of Heracles (in Asteria Agrias) was carrying heavy weaponry and ammunition. Officials immediately informed the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Merchant Marine and the headquarters of the Hellenic Coast Guard. Following this, officials secured the area around the port and special forces from the Coast Guard conducted a thorough investigation.

According to a report from the Thessaly Journal, the ship "Alexandretta" -which was flying the flag of Saint Vincent- was from Turkey, and although it is registered as a cement bulk cargo ship was in all reality suspiciously transporting a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition. It said that unconfirmed reports also spoke of portable antiaircraft guns and anti-tank missiles, ammunition and infantry weapons such as Kalashnikov guns, etc.

The newspaper noted that the ship was bound for Libya, but also said that it could have been headed towards Mali (which boarders Libya) to arm Islamic rebels fighting there.

The newspaper, quoting reliable sources, said that as soon as Greek authorities were notified, they surrounded the ship, and prevented any embarking and disembarking to be conducted. For security purposes the ship was then forced to dock at the port of Volos, where it was immediately quarantined and under the watchful eye of competent authorities.

According to legislation, ships transporting weaponry -bound for countries such as Libya, Iran, Syria- are forbidden to pass through Greece. The newspaper said that the ship's capacity is 4,000 tonnes, but it did not disclose the exact weight of the cargo.

It should be reminded that Yemen authorities had discovered a similar shipment from a Turkish ship last November on the outskirts of the Anten port. The report in the Thessaly Journal noted that at the time, authorities were shocked to discover the $120 million shipment, and even more so when they uncovered that the ship was transporting 3,000 Turkish made pistols with silencers that were well hidden in biscuit boxes!

Source: Journal of Thessaly
Featured on the Greek news site

PLA 'sinks' US carrier in DF-21D wargame

2013-01-24 (Beijing Time)  SINA English
Internet photo shows the satellite image that China has "sunk" the battleshipInternet photo shows the satellite image that China has "sunk" the battleship
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has successfully sunk a US aircraft carrier, according to a satellite photo provided by Google Earth--though the strike was merely a war game, the carrier a mock-up platformand the "sinking" occurred on dry land in a remote part of western China.
Satellite images revealed two large craters on a 200-meter-long white platform in the Gobi desert used to simulate the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. The photo was first posted on SAORBATS, an internet forum based in Argentina. Military analysts believed the craters would have been created by China's DF-21D anti-ship missile, dubbed the "carrier killer."
While claiming that the missile has the capability to hit aircraft carriers 2,000 kilometers away, the Global Times stated that the weapon was only designed for self-defense; the DF-21D will never pose a serious threat to US national security because it is not even able to reach Hawaii, the newspaper said, though fully aware of the US naval deployment in the Western Pacific.
Underlining this point, Global Times took a common line from China's national defense doctrine before the country acquired an aircraft carrier of its own — namely that carriers are an offensive weapon while anti-ship missiles are defensive. "It can be used like a stick to hit the dog intruding on our backyard, but it can never be used to attack the house where the dog comes from," the paper's commentary said.
J-16 to be deployed in S. China Sea, foreign media
According to Kanwa Defense Review report, China recently disclosed its J-16 fighter jets which would be equipped in air units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
The fighter is believed to be the most powerful one among the aircraft in commission. However, the specific deployment of the jets is still unknown.
But the article predicted that “after PLA Navy air units complete their deployment in the East China Sea, they will focus on the South China Sea and the J-16 fighter jets is likely to be dispatched to the region.”
J-16 fighter jet has a combat radius of 1,500 kilometers, which means PLA navy could strike any vessels in areas of 1,500 kilometers from the coast. With its excellent naval strike capacity, the fighters will deter foreign naval vessels.
The jet is manufactured by the aircraft factory Shenyang Aircraft Co and it is a copy of Russian Su-30MK2.
It’s reported that China has 16 such fighters by now and will produce 8 more.

New boss for the Royal Navy

NEW ROLE Sir George Zambellas NEW ROLE Sir George Zambellas
ADMIRAL Sir George Zambellas (he has Greek origin) will take over as the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord in April, the government has announced.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond today unveiled a number of new senior military appointments.
And among the shuffle, it was revealed Adml Zambellas will take over from the current First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.
Adml Zambellas began his 33-year navy career flying helicopters and captained HMS Chatham during the Sierra Leone intervention in 2000.
He played a leading role in the 1997-1998 Strategic Defence Review.
Last year he served as the Royal Navy’s Fleet Commander and commanded Nato maritime operations from its UK headquarters in Northwood.
Other changes to the armed forces announced today include a new head of the Royal Air Force.
A new overall head of the armed forces will be announced in March.

Visit of Admiral Zambellas to Albania

13 November 2012
The Admiral’s visit is aimed at strengthening defence relations with the UK’s newest NATO partner, particularly through joint training exercises.
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, Commander of the British Fleet and Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, visited Albania today, in a historic visit between the two countries. Admiral Zambellas is the most senior British military officer ever to visit Albania. The Admiral met President Nishani and the Minister of Defence, Mr Imami. He will also meet Prime Minister Berisha and the Chief of the Defence Staff later in his visit.

The Admiral’s visit is aimed at strengthening defence relations with the UK’s newest NATO partner, particularly through joint training exercises. This co-operation is of value to both countries, particularly as Albania provides some training opportunities not available to British troops in the United Kingdom. Admiral Zambellas will also explore further opportunities to widen and deepen defence relations between Albania and the United Kingdom in several areas.
As part of his visit, Admiral Zambellas will also visit a joint exercise currently being held in Albania. Exercise Albanian Lion is the largest military exercise ever held between the two countries. It involves four major British warships, and thousands of British and Albanian troops, and will include both naval and land-based activity. It is designed to exercise the UK’s Response Force Task Group, a rapid response force held in readiness to react flexibly to a range of crises and world events.

Former president shows up in court for questioning

BELGRADE -- Ex-Serbian President Boris Tadić came to the Palace of Justice this morning where he will be questioned in connection with charges filed by a retired general.
Boris Tadić is seen in front of the court (Tanjug)
Boris Tadić is seen in front of the court (Tanjug)
Retired Army of Serbia and Montenegro Security Administration Chief General Aco Tomić filed charges against Tadić in 2004 for abuse of office while he was a defense minister. Tadić made a decision to retire the general after he had been wrongfully arrested in the Saber police operation.
Tomić also filed charges against former Interior Minister Dušan Mihajlović, former Serbian government’s Information Bureau Vladimir Popović and former Army Chief of the General Staff Branko Krga. However, the statute of limitations has expired for charges against them so they will probably be called as witnesses.

Tomić claims that the former officials had connected him with the Zemun gang without any grounds, wrongfully arrested him and remanded him in custody for 100 days.

He received around RSD 6mn in damages for the time he wrongfully spent in custody.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tsipras Holds Talks With US State Department Officials On Greek EEZ

What kind of deals is the leader of Greece's main opposition party SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras making in Washington in regards to Greece's EEZ? No one knows, but the only thing one hopes is that these talks were aimed to benefit Greece, and not foreign interests (as some other progressive former leaders -mostly green socialists- have done in the past). Following his speech at the controversial (and Soros funded) Brookings Institute earlier this week, Alexis Tsipras also apparently held an extensive discussion on a series of issues concerning Greece and the wider region in a meeting at the State Department officials with officials such as the US Assistant Secretary of State, responsible for European affairs, Erik Rubin, the Deputy Finance Minister, responsible for Europe and Eurasia issues, Christopher Smart, as well as other American officials.

Athens reports quoting SYRIZA officials maintain that there were "points of agreement and disagreement", during the discussions and that a "substantive exchange" of views took place on matters relating to the Greek and European economy, Greek foreign policy and (Surprise Surprise) the Exclusive Economic Zone.

On his part, Tsipras outlined his positions on issues such as the spreading of violence in Greece, the ultra-right Golden Dawn party and anti-Semitism. Parallel to this he also presented his views on Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and Greece FYROM differences.

The only thing we don't know is what the "other side" outlined.

On Thursday Tsipras would meet with leading IMF officials in New York as well as leading officials in the Greek Omogeneia.

Kosovo to Pay for Demolished Serb Graves

Pristina said it would repair more than 60 Serbian memorials vandalised in apparent retaliation for Belgrade’s removal of an Albanian monument.
Edona Peci, Marija Ristic
Pristina, Belgrade
The Kosovo government said in a statement that it would pay to restore the desecrated Serb cemeteries but gave no details about how much it might cost.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci meanwhile reiterated his condemnation of the attacks.
“The desecration of graves and monuments in some places in Kosovo is embarrassing, despicable and unacceptable,” Thaci said on Wednesday, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Twenty-seven Serbian graves were demolished this week in the municipality of Klokot, 18 gravestones were attacked in the town of Prizren and 20 others moved, while several more were reportedly damaged in other parts of Kosovo.
Police have so far made no arrests over the cemetery attacks.
However three people have been detained and five police officers suspended over the demolition of a World War II memorial in the Kosovo town of Vitia/Vitina on Monday.
The vandalism was apparently sparked by Belgrade’s forcible removal of a monument to ethnic Albanian fighters in the south Serbia town of Presevo on Sunday.
Thaci accused his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic of raising tensions by taking down the monument in Presevo, saying that “his intention was to provoke reactions in Kosovo”.
The monument commemorated guerrillas who died in an attempt to unite parts of southern Serbia to Kosovo during a brief conflict with government forces in 2000 and was considered by Belgrade as an incitement to separatism.
Dacic said on Wednesday that there were no parallels between the grave desecrations in Kosovo and the Presevo situation because the monument in south Serbia was illegally erected and dedicated to “terrorists”.
“And in Kosovo they destroyed graves and churches, which didn’t happen in Presevo,” Dacic told journalists.
He also warned international organisations operating in Kosovo that “it is their job to secure peace and safety for all citizens, their property and cultural heritage”.
The European Parliament’s rapporteur for Serbia, Jelko Kacin, called on the Kosovo authorities to find the perpetrators as soon as possible.
“Respect to those who are dead and their graves is a fundamental right and standard of all civilised societies,” Kacin said.

Favorite in Czech elections calls Kosovo "terrorist"

PRAGUE -- The favorite to win the Czech presidential elections runoff, Miloš Zeman, has voiced strong criticism of Kosovo.
Speaking for the ČTK news agency he said that if elected, he would "not allow a Czech ambassador to be sent to Priština".
"I would withdraw even the charge d'affaires that is there now, let alone send an ambassador. I consider Kosovo a terrorist regime financed by narco-mafias," Belgrade-based daily Danas is quoting Zeman as saying.

According to opinion polls, Zeman is more likely to win in the second round of the elections, scheduled for late January. His opponent is Karel Schwarzenberg.

It was the opposition of the outgoing president, Vaclav Klaus, that prevented the appointment of an ambassador in Priština, although the Czech Republic is among the 22 of EU's 27 nations that have recognized Kosovo.

Ethnic Albanians there five years ago unilaterally declared independence - a proclamation that Serbia rejects and considers unconstitutional.

OSCE training in Budva, the election administrators in Albania

Albania, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the state, but in these 100 years,  never has held elections with democratic standards.

Central Election Commission, will be a "fake judges", who will take orders from Western powers, to declare the winner.

BUDVA - The seven members of the Central Election Commission participated in a course on electoral management, organized by the OSCE Presence in Albania, in cooperation with other international organizations. Training, which was attended by key members of the administration of the CEC was held in Budva, Montenegro, from 17 to 22 January 2013.

This project is part of ongoing work Presence to increase the capacity of national authorities in improving the preparation and administration of electoral processes, taking into account the general elections scheduled for June 23, 2013.

Albania, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the state, but in these 100 years, never has held elections with democratic standards. Central Election Commission, will be a fake judges, who will take orders from Western powers, to declare the winner.

According to sources, the current Prime Minister Sali Berisha, is favorite to win for the third time, by inserting in the electoral process, the national issue of The Greater Albania, while the opposition Socialist party, hoping that by the western powers, that monitor Albania, to donate to leader Edi Rama, "winner in the table. "

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Catalan parliament declares "sovereign entity"

BARCELONA -- The parliament of the Spanish province of Catalonia on Wednesday passed with a two-third majority a declaration on Catalonia as a sovereign entity.
Although this statement has a symbolic meaning, is considered to be an introduction to a referendum on the Spanish region's self-determination.
The declaration adopted today was proposed by the ruling center-right alliance.

The draft stipulated that the Catalan parliament "agrees to declare the democratic sovereignty of the people of Catalonia as a political and legal entity" and to begin a process that would give the citizens a right to decide on the establishment of an independent state.

Although symbolic, the declaration represents a challenge to the central government in Madrid, which said it would go to courts to block any step in the direction of a Catalan independence.

The region is home to 7.5 million people out of Spain's total population of 46 million. The province enjoys a much higher level of autonomy and more powers than the other 16 Spanish provinces.

The volume of the Catalan economy is larger than the Portuguese and accounts for 20 percent of Spain's economy. The Catalans, however, believe that it is unfair that Madrid collects more taxes than it returns to the province.

Public opinion polls show that Catalans are not united on the issue of independence, and that a majority opposes such an outcome if it meant the territory would leave the European Union.

President: Serbia can prevent UN recognition of Kosovo

BRATISLAVA -- President Tomislav Nikolić says Serbia can prevent the recognition of Kosovo in the UN Security Council.
Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)
Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)
He explained that he therefore expected the EU and Kosovo Albanians to “start negotiating seriously” soon.
“But we will solve it (the Kosovo issue) so that Serbia will not be able to rule in Priština but Priština will not be able to rule either in many towns in Kosovo and Metohija where Serbs are a majority population,” the president told Slovak TV.

Stressing that he wanted to conduct a “both East and West” policy, he explained that Serbia did not want to have only economic but also political relations with the EU, Russian Federation, Arab countries and entire Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“Serbia so far has not led such a policy, ‘both East and West’, that I was telling about in the campaign. It used to say ‘both Kosovo and the EU’, which is not a policy I am leading. Of course we will be in the EU. Of course we will never recognize the independence of Kosovo and Metohija,” Nikolić stressed.

He pointed out that it was “absolutely possible to protect Serbian national interests – to enable Albanians to exercise their rights you get by being a majority in a part of the state territory but those are not rights to a new state and nobody could give them that”.

“I will probably still have many problems regarding that,” the Serbian president noted.

He stressed that he as an EU partner would do everything to get Serbia in the EU.

“I am the EU’s partner. I want Serbia to be in the EU and I will do everything a president of Slovakia would do to have Slovakia in the EU, that a German chancellor would to have Germany in the EU. Anything other than that they will not ask from me because I will not fulfill anything other than that,” Nikolić explained.

He pointed out that he highly appreciated everything Slovakia did for Serbia, especially when it comes to Serbia’s EU pathway and recognition of Kosovo’s independence, adding that this “makes Serbia’s job easier”.

The Serbian president said he did not expect the EU to ask Serbia to recognize Kosovo as a condition for the EU accession.

“The EU has said that it is not interested in Kosovo’s independence, that it is not a condition. So, let’s see. I guess they are not going to pressure us on one side and say ‘we are not pressuring them and we do not need such a condition’ on the other,” Nikolić stressed.

When asked about Serbia’s reputation after wars in the 90s, he said that he did not accept a “stereotype about Serbs as bad people” and that the “EU could not use the stereotype when it decides on Serbia”.

“Anyone who wants to reject us will have to come up with a better way. Nobody in the world believes anymore that we were criminals, meaning they believe that if there were criminals on our side, there must have been criminals on the other side as well,” the president said and added that the wars were over and that they would not repeat.

Nikolić concluded that Serbia was preparing to be a peaceful leader in the Balkans and to be “one of the EU’s backbone-countries that does not need much but that wants to give a lot so security would be greater”.

Panariti calls ambassadors for Presevo: Albanians are not terrorists

Greek ambassador was not invited, is "undesirable"

TIRANA - Foreign Ministry bleach meeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edmond Panariti with the ambassadors of the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Head of EU Delegation in Tirana, Ettore Sequi about the tense situation in Preshevo Valley.

As indicated in a notice published in the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Panariti during separate meetings with ambassadors briefed them about the developments in the Presevo Valley, as well as appropriate responses argued Albanian authorities in relation to these developments.

He noted that the Albanian government has always solve real problems related to the rights of the Albanian population in southern Serbia through dialogue. "This is what we communicate - he said - both in terms of the Albanian local authorities, both in terms of the central government in Serbia".

The Minister Panariti assessed as unacceptable by higher authorities settings Serbian, Albanian population as terrorist elements, which directly undermine dialogue, understanding and full integration of the Albanian minority in the political, economic and social situation in Serbia.

At the same time, Panariti minister, said that the Albanian government continues to maintain its constructive attitude constant in the region, in this context, it remains committed to develop relations with the Republic of Serbia in the interest of the two peoples, as has the legitimate expectation that the spirit reciprokohet Serbian government.

Meanwhile, there was no call for Greek ambassador, Rokanas, which represents one of the European countries with influence in Albania, but recently, Albanian Greek relations have been introduced in collapse, veccanerisht after the announcement that prime minister Sali Berisha, for the Greater Albania.
Orthodox Korca in revolt, theatrical show canceled

 The show "Saint Mary of Berat", written by Namik Dokle politician, is threaded into the theater of Korca.

Due to this have been the reactions of Orthodox believers, who have called the show a blasphemy against the Orthodox faith. They said that it was based on lies typical of the communist era.

According to the information we learn that banner, which showed the award show, is removed from Orthodox believers in the hours of noon and the schedule that will be given drama made ​​by Namik Dokle, interested parties were turned back after learning that she was already canceled due to the negative reaction of believers who claim that violate their faith.

Korça Orthodox believers have expressed their indignation about this show that attacks against the Orthodox faith, as they say in their response site.

"This disturbing drama of their feelings Orthodox community and the institution of the Orthodox Church, was played with shamefulness most mediocre artistic levels, before the citizens of Korca. With a script based entirely on historical falsehood, communist dictatorship ".

Council of Europe Urges Kosovo to Improve Rule of Law

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution calling on Kosovo to fight corruption, push through judicial reforms and address war crimes issues.
Edona Peci
The resolution called on the authorities in Pristina “to ensure co-operation with the relevant [EU rule of law mission] bodies exercising executive law enforcement functions in Kosovo, including its war crimes and organised crime investigation units, as well as with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia”.
Albania MPs Miss Key Kosovo Date at CoE
All five Albanian members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe failed to attend the session where the resolution on Kosovo was adopted on Tuesday.
Both ruling coalition and opposition MPs didn't turn up for the CoE session which called on Kosovo to fight corruption, push through judicial reforms and address war crimes issues.
Reacting to the absence of the ruling coalition deputies in Strasbourg, Socialist Party MP Taulant Balla blamed the speaker of parliament Jozefina Topalli.
“Topalli is responsible for this shameful act by the Albanian parliament,” Balla wrote on his Facebook profile. “The absence of the MPs is her direct responsibility,” he added.
A spokesperson for Topalli could not be reached for comment on Wednesday; however, it remains unclear why opposition MPs also missed the CoE vote.
The incident came as both government and opposition parties intensified nationalistic rhetoric over Belgrade’s removal of a controversial memorial to Albanian guerrillas in the south Serbian town of Presevo.
Pristina should “tackle cross-border organised crime and corruption” and “pursue judicial reform to further strengthen the independence, impartiality and transparency of the judiciary”, the resolution said.
The resolution also encouraged the EU to ensure that its policy talks with Kosovo “focus particularly on strengthening the rule of law”.
Brussels has expressed concern in the past about Kosovo's ability to tackle corruption and organised crime.
The resolution stressed the need for more efforts so that the “stand-off” between the Serbs-run north of Kosovo and the Pristina authorities did not turn into a “ frozen conflict”.
Pristina and Belgrade were urged to engage in EU-mediated dialogue “with an open mind and without preconditions”.
Pristina declared independence in 2008 and the EU-mediated talks began in 2011, but Belgrade insists that it will never ever recognise Kosovo.
Thirty-four of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states have recognised Kosovo so far.
"CEZ could lose 200 million EUR in Albania"


CEZ could lose 200 million EUR in Albania
“CEZ could lose 200 million EUR by failed investment in Albania”, says a recent article regarding the energy sector in Albania, published by the prestigious “Bloomberg”.

The economic newspaper quotes the spokesperson for the Czech Company in Prague, saying that it might lose 102 million EUR for the purchase, plus 90 million of investments in the network.

“We are taking the necessary steps for international arbitration and on this phase we cannot say what or if we will profit anything by leaving Albania. One of the steps we will follow will be the 60 million EUR guarantee established by the World Bank on the moment when we decided to invest in Albania”, says the Spokesperson of CEZ, Barbora Pulpanova.

Bloomberg underlines that the Energy Regulation Entity revoked the company’s licence after several months of conflict regarding energy payments. Bloomberg says that many state institutions don’t pay their electricity bills and that the Czech Company was obliged to buy energy from the Albanian Power Corporation with a steep price, but they were stopped from increasing the price for consumers.

The situation in Albania has affected the shares of the Czech Company on the stock market, which fell with 5.8% only this year.

Christos Pappas, in an interview with Arthur Zhei, News 24 TV

It will be showed on January 28, 2013

Pappas: "Northern Epirus is a region that holds arbitrary from Albania, as recognized by the great powers, the Protocol of Corfu.

The Law of War against Albania, can not remove from Papoulias nor Greek parliament, but the Greek army is ready to liberate the Northern Epirus, again ""In Albania we are at war, when we become government will liberate Northern Epirus with our guns ..."

The MP of the Golden Dawn Christos Pappas became well known in Albania as three months ago focused their lenses on the Albanian media, for the incident in October 28 in Northern Epirus.

 "... We are at war ... it can not be canceled by a statement of Papoulias but must pass in parliament of both countries, something that did not happen, so we are at war with you ... signed the Protocol of Corfu Autonomy of Northern Epirus and is still in force since there was canceled by someone else, why not respected? If we become in government, our army will liberate Northern Epirus ... 

"This is the content of the spots that highlight the NEWS24, each advertising section by the journalist Artur Zhei..

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prime Minister Petr Nečas visited the Republic of Albania on 16 April 2012
Prime Minister Petr Nečas visited the Republic of Albania on 16 April 2012

Czech Prime Minister Critical of Albanian Decision To Revoke CEZ License

Published January 22, 2013

Dow Jones Newswires
The Czech prime minister Tuesday said Albania's decision to revoke the business license of CEZ AS (BAACEZ.PR) casts a poor light on the country's treatment of foreign investors and could dash its hopes of Czech support for an eventual bid to join the European Union.

"The Czech Republic cannot ignore the [Albanian] approach to a Czech investor in the context of Albania's aspirations to integrate [into the EU]," said Petr Necas.

On Monday, Albanian authorities revoked CEZ's electricity distribution license. Last month, Albania said the Czech company owes the country up to $1 billion in damages for failing to import sufficient electricity and not investing in the country's electricity network. CEZ denies the allegations.

"The Albanian authorities revocation of the license of CEZ, the largest Czech investor in the region, is a very negative signal," Mr. Necas said.

The move, which strips CEZ of most of its rights as majority owner of Albania's largest electricity distribution company, casts doubts on Albania's supposed commitment to the rule of law and its hopes of one day joining the European Union, Mr. Necas added.

CEZ, 70% owned by the Czech state, took over the Albanian company in 2009, but has locked horns with the local regulator over a wide-range of issues such as differences on regulated power prices, CEZ's policy of shutting off power for unpaid bills and widespread power theft.

Read more:
Serbia reacts strongly to Berisha's statement


Serbia has formally called on the government of Albania to withdraw her statement on recent events in Presevo.
In a statement the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that Berisha should prevent actions to destabilize the situation in neighboring countries and respect the rights of minorities in Albania.
Serbian state considers the language used under any level communication dignity and contrary to the commitment of the Albanian Prime.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia expresses its strong protest against the declaration of the Government of Albania for the removal of the monument in Presevo.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers the language used in the statement direct incentives for actions that help to destabilize the situation in southern Serbia and the whole region, in neighboring countries where ethnic minorities live in Albania.
Naming and accusations directed against the Serbian government under any decent communication level anyway and are inconsistent with the commitment given by the Prime Minister of Albania Sali Berisha, personally, during the recent visit of Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkiç in Tirana Albania is ready to open a new page in bilateral relations between the two countries.
Explanation inflammatory rhetoric is due to concerns over the status of the ethnic Albanian minority in southern Serbia is a cumbersome manipulation, as defense actually Albanians and every national minority in Serbia is in line with the highest international standards, higher than those applied to national minorities living in Albania.
Precisely because of the lack of treatment within the legal framework that will provide protection for Serbs and other national minorities in Albania, we believe that the Albanian authorities should urgently take serious steps to ensure that communities are protected according to internationally accepted standards.
Albania as a country that states that its priority is the adoption of European values ​​and EU membership really expect it to life the priorities stated and prevent its actions to destabilize the situation in neighboring countries.

Italy Ships Migrants Back to Greece

Italy to Greece

Italy’s policy of sending unaccompanied migrant children and adult asylum seekers back to Greece means they will face a dysfunctional asylum system and abusive detention conditions, Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Jan. 22.
Stowaways on ferries from Greece, including children as young as 13, are sent back by Italian authorities within hours without adequate consideration of their particular needs as children or their desire to apply for asylum, the group complained.
The 45-page report, Turned Away: Summary Returns of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Adult Asylum Seekers from Italy to Greece, documents what HRW said was the failure of Italian border police at the Adriatic ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi and Venice to screen adequately for people in need of protection, in violation of Italy’s legal obligations.
HRW interviewed 29 children and adults who were summarily returned to Greece from Italian ports, 20 of them in 2012. “Every year hundreds of people risk life and limb hiding in or under trucks and cars on ferries crossing the Adriatic Sea,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Too often Italy sends them straight back to Greece despite appalling conditions and treatment there.”
Placed in the custody of the captains of commercial ferries, adults and children alike are confined on board ships during the return journey to Greece in places such as makeshift holding cells or engine rooms and sometimes denied adequate food, according to the rights organization.

Committee chair: Nikolić-Jahjaga meeting soon

BELGRADE -- The chairman of the Parliament Committee on Kosovo and Metohija has said that a meeting between Tomislav Nikolić and Atifete Jahjaga would take place "soon".
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
"With the adoption of the resolution on Kosovo, the necessary framework has been created to elevate talks to the highest political level and for this meeting to take place," said Milovan Drecun, who is an MP from the ranks of the ruling SNS.
"This shows we are committed to the dialogue with Priština and we want to talk not only about technical and mid-level issues, but also about the most sensitive political topics," Drecun told reporters on Tuesday.

The meeting will afford Belgrade greater opportunity to influence processes in Kosovo, he added.

"We are headed in the right direction, regardless of Priština trying to destabilize southern Serbia and Kosovo in order to slow down the process. A meeting between Nikolić and Jahjaga would also be viewed very well in the international community, especially in Brussels, as Belgrade's strong contribution to stabilization of affairs between Belgrade and Priština," said Drecun.

Commenting on the statement of Riza Halimi, an ethnic Albanian MP from southern Serbia, that Belgrade makes decisions without consulting representatives of political parties in southern Serbia, Drecun said they had the option of presenting their positions in the parliament and through the local administrations in the municipalities where they are in power, through the Serbian government Coordination Body for Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa, and by communicating with the government.

"They do not want to make decisions together with Belgrade and often act as if Belgrade was not the capital of the state they live in and often go to Priština or Tirana. When they change this attitude, I think the situation will improve significantly," said Drecun, adding he "did not see the government's door was closed to dialogue and solving problems".

Russia Sells Record $15 Bln of Arms in 2012

Topic: Russian arms exports

MOSCOW, January 21 (RIA Novosti) – Russia sold a record $15.16 billion worth of weaponry in 2012 while expanding its foreign client list, the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service (FSMTC) reported on Monday.
“The volume of arms exports has reached $15.16 billion, according to preliminary calculations…which means that our plans have been fulfilled by 111.8 percent,” FSMTC chief Alexander Fomin told a government meeting on state defense contracts.
Russia reported arms sales of $13.2 billion in 2011, enough to maintain its position as the world’s second arms exporter after the United States.
"In the past ten years, we have seen a general increase in exports, which have tripled since 2003,” Fomin said.
“The portfolio of orders for defense-related products has also tripled. Its current value exceeds $46 billion,” he added.
India is the leading purchaser of Russian arms, with Myanmar,Vietnam, Venezuela and Middle East countries also among the Russian defense industry's main clients.
Fomin said Russia's expanded list of its clients in 2012 included Afghanistan, Ghana, Oman, and Tanzania.
The FSMTC also claimed the quality of exported Russian military products has improved, though problems still remain, especially with poor after-sales services.
“We have been issuing fewer licenses to replace or repair exported products, which is an encouraging trend,” Fomin said.
The controversy over the quality of Russia’s defense-related products has been widely-publicized.
Algeria refused delivery of a batch of MiG-29 fighters in 2007 claiming their “inferior quality.”
Russia’s traditionally strong position on the Indian arms market has been recently undermined by failures to fulfil or properly execute several contracts, including the long-delayed delivery of the overhauled aircraft carrier Vikramaditya to the Indian Navy.
Last year, India asked Russia to replace faulty parts on the leased Nerpa nuclear-powered submarine which had affected its operational readiness.
Fomin said his service was drafting new legislation that would allow Russian arms manufacturers to open their own service centers abroad and to import defense-related products to satisfy their own needs.

Monday, January 21, 2013

OSCE, EULEX condemn desecration of graveyards

PRISTINA - Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo Jean-Claude Schlumberger and EULEX officials condemned on Monday the desecration of Orthodox graveyards and religious monuments across Kosovo-Metohija and called for restraint from violence and faster police reaction.

"I strongly condemn these recent acts of desecration against Orthodox graveyards in Kosovo. The desecration of graveyards and religious monuments is unacceptable and does not only violate the rights of the religious and ethnic communities to which they belong, but those of society as a whole,“ Schlumberger noted.

"I am appalled by these repugnant acts of vandalism, and I welcome the Kosovo institutions' condemnation,“ he said, and the OSCE press office announced in a release.

EULEX also published a release, reading that "acts of vandalism or any form of violence are to be condemned.“
"Peaceful protest is normal in any modern, democratic society but the deliberate desecration of cemeteries and religious sites is to be absolutely condemned. EULEX calls on citizens to respect the law and refrain from any violent acts,“ EULEX underscores.

The release adds that EULEX police and prosecutors are closely monitoring the situation and coordinating with Kosovo Police and KFOR. In the last 24 hours, Orthodox tombstones were damaged at several locations in Kosovo-Metohija, mostly in the municipalities of Klokot, Obilic and Prizren. Moreover, a chapel at the Orthodox graveyard in Obilic was set on fire. A week ago, an Orthodox graveyard in Kosovo Polje was desecrated.

Turkish Lobby In US Beefs Up Activities To Push Forward Ankara's Positions

Flag of Turkey.
Flag of Turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contributed To HellasFrappe
By Alex Aliferis

WASHINGTON  - The Washington based newspaper "Roll Call" on Jan 15th said that the Turkish Coalition of America is one of the leading spenders for US congressional trips and records by LegisStorm note that the Turkish Coalition of America is one of the top spenders.

In fact, it spent a whopping US $159, 942 in 2012 to send bipartisan groups of staffers to Turkey
in February, March, May, and August of 2012. The August trip included a stop in Bosnia so the Turkish Coalition of America can show efforts by Turkey and the United States to end the Bosnian War.

These trips are designed to increase support for Turkey.

Roll Call notes how the Turkish Coalition has beefed up its travel expenditures in recent years. Apart from this, the Turkish Coalition of America has sent groups of FYROManian Lobbyists, Native Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans to visit Turkey.

Due to the recent economic crisis in Greece, it is important to note that the Turkish Lobby and its allies (Albanian, FYROManian and Bosnian) have beefed up their activities.

When checking out their site, we found out that the TCA provides year-around informational bulletins to members of Congress, and at the same time organizes and sponsors congressional delegations to Turkey, as well as events on Capitol Hill and provides a platform for Turkish American activism and advocacy on issues that concern Turkish Americans.

The Turkish lobby believes that through these efforts, and with a view to augment the voice of citizens in support of mutually beneficial and friendly ties between nations, it can strengthen a balanced dialogue in Washington, DC on issues relating to US-Turkey relations and US policies in the region.

Is the Greek lobby listening?

Albanians protest after Serbia takes down memorial

PRESEVO, Serbia | Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:23am EST
(Reuters) - Thousands of ethnic Albanians protested in Serbia on Monday against the removal of a memorial to fallen guerrilla fighters and dozens of Serb graves in neighboring Kosovo were damaged in apparent retaliation.
The monument in the town of Presevo was removed on Sunday by 200 masked Serbian police officers backed by armored personnel carriers. It bore the names of 27 ethnic Albanian guerrillas killed during a 2000 insurgency in the Presevo Valley, a spillover from the 1999 war in Kosovo, Serbia's former province.
Albania and Kosovo, which has an ethnic-Albanian majority, condemned the decision to remove the memorial, erected by the ethnic Albanian-dominated local council. Serbia, a candidate to join the European Union, said it would not be "humiliated".
In Presevo, one of Serbia's poorest regions bordering Kosovo and Macedonia, a Reuters cameraman saw about 2,000 protesters waving Albanian flags and banners reading: "Stop discrimination" and "Europe, open your eyes".
"The government says these men were terrorists, but people see them as heroes who defended their homes," said Riza Halimi, a ethnic-Albanian parliamentary deputy.
The Presevo Valley conflict followed a Serbian counter-insurgency war in Kosovo, which ended in 78 days of NATO air strikes in 1999 to wrest control of the province from Belgrade.
Albanians in the Presevo Valley fought to unite with Kosovo, but laid down their arms under a NATO-brokered peace deal. Serbia pledged greater rights and economic opportunity for the impoverished south, but progress has been patchy.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but is not recognized by Serbia.
Kosovo warned removal of the memorial could undermine EU-mediated talks between it and Serbia aimed at normalizing relations. The talks are key to Serbia's bid to join the EU.
On Monday, authorities in Kosovo said about 60 gravestones had been demolished at Serb cemeteries in the western town of Prizren and eastern village of Klokot.
Police said shots were fired at a memorial to Serbs killed during the 1998-99 war in the western enclave of Gorazdevac and that a monument to World War Two communist fighters had been destroyed in the eastern town of Vitina.
Police stepped up security around Serb Orthodox cemeteries.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had been mediating to find a compromise on the memorial, said the decision to remove it had "undercut" the negotiations and appealed for calm.
Albania issued a statement saying the memorial was erected to honor "heroes of the Albanian nation" who had fought against late Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic, ousted in October 2000.
"The racist, anti-Albanian legacy of Slobodan Milosevic is alive and dominates the official policy of Belgrade," it said.
Serbia's Prime Minister Ivica Dacic told reporters: "We are determined not to violate anybody's human, national and civic rights, but no one has the right to humiliate Serbia."
(Reporting by Reuters Television in Presevo, Aleksandar Vasovic and Matt Robinson in Belgrade, Fatos Bytyci in Pristina and Benet Koleka in Tirana; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Matt Robinson and Janet Lawrence)

Albanian PM accuses Serbia of "Albanophobia"

TIRANA -- Albanian PM Sali Berisha has accused Serbia of "Albanophobia" over the removal of a memorial for what he said were "the heroes from the Preševo valley".
The memorial in Preševo is being removed on Sunday (Beta)
The memorial in Preševo is being removed on Sunday (Beta)
On Sunday, the authorities removed the memorial that was placed in Preševo without a permit.
The monument was built in honor of the members of the so-called Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa, and Bujanovac (UCPMB) - a now disbanded terrorist group that in 2000 and 2001 organized attacks against security forces and civilians in southern Serbia.

According to Berisha, who posted his message on Facebook, the removal of the structure was also "proof that a unification of Albanian people was of crucial importance not only for its future, but also, in order to free its neighbors from the uncertainty of Albanophobia."

The Albanian prime minister sent his full support to the citizens and political leaders in Preševo, appealing on them "not to respond to provocations and to keep their cool faced with the police terror perpetrated by Belgrade".

He also told ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia that he would "do everything in international institutions in order to prevent the terror against Albanians".

Meanwhile on Monday, a protest in Preševo ended without incidents, while Serb cemeteries and holy places were desecrated throughout Kosovo.