Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Poll Places Golden Dawn In Second Place- Passes SYRIZA!

By Hellas Frappe on 24.5.13

HellasFrappe warned everyone concerned that this would happen, and thankfully some people are beginning to listen (example anti racism bill). By ignoring the over one million people who support the Golden Dawn party, by provoking national sentiment on issues that are very sensitive to Greek citizens (such as those noted in the anti racism bill), by not addressing the real problems of society (Turkish provocations in Aegean, Thrace, Cham issue, FYROM issue, etc.), the only thing that the members of Parliament and the Greek media has done is to escalate the Golden Dawn's popularity with the people.

In a new poll published by Makis Triantafylopoulos' new site, the Golden Dawn party moved into second place, passing the US-endorsed SYRIZA party. The conservative New Democracy apparently maintains a comfortable lead over all parties, or recorded 21,1%.

The Golden Dawn party received 14,5% while SYRIZA trailed in third place at 14%.

SYRIZA is suffering many losses to the newly established party of Alekos Alavanos, as well as to other smaller parties, (or has already lost about 8,4%).

The Independent Greek party scored 5.8%, followed by PASOK with a historical low of 4.2%, the Greek Communist party (KKE) with 4%, and DIMAR with 3.1%.

Source in Greek - news24

(Editor's Note - Golden Dawn is not popular because there are people in Greece that are racist or against foreigners, Golden Dawn is popular because it respects the Greek Constitution, the Greek Armed Forces, Greek history and especially our Greek national issues. The conservatives always traditionally supported these ideals... They lost their way at some point because the media and the Leftist parties in Greece have a profound influence on the political developments of the country, and especially the people and we believe that they were persuaded to follow a different path that did not reflect what the conservatives really stand for. We are nonetheless very pleased that they have realized that the new trend, which tilts to the right, will only benefit them. Time to get back to some of their grass roots on these issues. Who knows, it could be a new era for Greece!)
Albania: Visa Free Travel For Russian Tourists Until September

Albania tourism destinations
Albania introduced four-month visa-free travel for Russians today. The country’s government announced this decision for a term between the 25th of May and the 25th of September., VoR Reported.

 Opening its borders Tirana hopes to increase the number of Russian tourists. Almost 12,000 Russians visited Albania in 2012.

Tour operators working in Albania stress that the main obstacles for the growth of the number of Russian tourists are not visa issues but the absence of direct air communication, shortage of hotels and low-quality service at holiday resorts.
Turkey’s Balkan Policy under the AKP

 by Liountri Christianna

After AKP and Erdogan rose to power back in 2002, Turkey was on the verge of a severe financial crisis that led to a deal with the IMF and a haircut of 62% on its deposits. However, Turkey – facilitated by its political system which allows for more authoritarian policies to be implemented- is now ranked among the countries with the highest rates of development (8.5%) and claims for a more influential role in the regional arena. Its comeback provided it with the opportunity to pursue a more extrovert foreign policy, seeking to exploit current tensions and long standing divisions. Such a case are the Balkans where Turkey tries to gain access and promote its geopolitical interests by means of economy, diplomacy and religion, all under the concept of neo-Ottomanism.

            This proactive policy is not an innovation of Erdogan’s government nor of its Minister of Foreign Affairs Davutoglou. The founder is considered to be Turgut Ozal who introduced the concept of Turkoislamic synthesis as a means to extend Turkey’s sphere of influence. Later on, when Ismail Cem was minister of Foreign Affairs (1999-2002), he too opted for a multidimensional pro-active foreign policy yet with a firm Western orientation. In both these cases but also under Erdogan, Turkey seeked to take advantage of current instabilities in order to redefine its position in the new world order following the end of the Cold War. When referring to Turkish Foreign Policy under the AKP, one can not but refer to Ahmet Davutoglu -chief advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office during the period 2002-2009 and from 2009 on, Minister of Foreign Affairs-who seems to be the most decisive figure. The so -called “Davutoglu’s Doctrine” which is described in his famous book “The strategic depth” seems to find a literal application in AKP’s policies. With regard to the Balkans, the two most important short-term and medium-term goals of Turkish foreign policy in the region are the strengthening of Bosnia and Albania and the creation of an international legal framework that could set the minorities of Turkish origin under the protection of the Turkish state. Under this legal framework, Turkey should seek to ensure such provisions that would provide it with the pretext to intervene in issues related with the Muslim minorities in the Balkans.[1] In order to promote Turkish foreign policy’s interests, he proposes as a guideline the use of intra-and extra-regional balances in order to prevent the formation of a Balkan coalition.[2] Recognizing the existence of three historical fields of influence – the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the Orthodox-Slavic heritage and the Ottoman Empire, he suggests that the U.S. will choose to support the Islamic factor in the area to prevent the increase of influence of Germany or Russia.[3]

            Turkey gains foothold in the Balkans on the grounds of common history, the presence of approximately 1,000,000 people of Turkish origin in these countries, the geographical proximity, its growing economic presence and a foreign policy that aims to secure allies in Turkey’s integration to the EU through the establishment of friendly relations with Balkan countries. Given the volatile situation in the Balkans where national fermentations have not been completed, combined with the american slow withdrawal which is accompanied with reluctance or failure to foster institutions that will ensure the sustainability of the state to whose creation they contributed, a stabilizing actor is considered essential for the region. Such a role was agreeably taken over by Turkey. The main target of Turkey’s Balkan policy, as shaped by the AKP, is to prove to the Europeans that it has western features. To alleviate fears of  establishing a zone of influence in the area, it assures that it wishes the integration of these countries to NATO and the EU. In addition, Turkey does not have a strong political influence in any Balkan country and the fact that it can not project military power beyond the limits of NATO, it adds a negative impact on ensuring strong underpinnings.

            As Özden Zeynep Oktav aptly notes: “Seen in retrospect, it can be said that Turkish activism in the Balkans has always been nourished by the crisis situation in the region. Turkey started to become active in the region due to the crises in Bosnia – Herzegovina & Kosovo. However, the important issue is that during both crises Turkey has acted within the framework of NATO, the EU and the West in general. It should also be noted that the current activism has not been due to a new crisis yet is related to the ones that became protracted since the beginning of 1990’s”[4]

            The cornerstone of Turkey’s Balkan policy is to secure influence in Bosnia – Herzegovina, which seems to include three levels: at a local level by encouraging dialogue among peoples constitutionally recognized in the country, at a regional level, with pressure on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia to develop stronger links between them and thus overcome the conflict, at an international level by undertaking diplomatic initiatives promoting the territorial integrity of the country and its integration to the Euro-Atlantic institutions.[5]  President Abdulah Gul’ visit back  in October 2009 in Belgrade – the first Turkish officer’s visit after 29 years- marked the resumption of relations between Serbia and Turkey. On the 24th of April 2010, the presidents of Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia signed the Istanbul Declaration on Peace and Stability in the Balkans which guarantees the territorial integrity of Bosnia and commits the signatories to improve cooperation and to ensure mutual commitment to the  path towards European integration. (This initiative is part of the rationale for multilateral agreements in the Balkans in which Turkey will participate in order to ensure diplomatic footholds). Furthermore, in February 2008 Turkey recognized Kosovo’s independence and has committed itself to promote its interests internationally. Finally, Turkey strongly supports the efforts of “Macedonia” -which has been recognized under its constitutional name since 1991- for achieving full membership in NATO and the EU, before finding a solution to the name dispute with Athens. In December 2010, the Ministers of Defence of Turkey and “Macedonia” signed an agreement on economic and military cooperation. At the recent NATO summit in Chicago (20 – 21 May 2012), although the issue of enlargement of the Alliance was not officially in the agenda, Turkey did not miss the opportunity to move diplomatically to promote the nominations of FYROM, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Georgia.

             Another important issue that has risen after the collapse of the communist regimes and the consequent lifting of prohibitions related to religious practices, is the redefinition of the role of religion. Islam was used as a differentiating factor to ethnic groups, especially in Kosovo and Macedonia. The traditional elite and the rural populations were reluctant to be identified as Muslims, preferring to highlight their national origin. For instance, the Albanian Muslim community perceives itself as a cultural minority in Europe and gradually adopted its own national myth, based on the rejection of the religious divisions among ethnic Albanians.[6] The vacuum created by this regime change provided an opportunity for Islamic Non-Governmental Organizations, closely associated with the Arab Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, to promote the extreme version of Islam as proposed by Wahhabism – the religious fundamentalist movement within Islam that advocates the return to the teachings of the basic texts of Islam (Koran, Hadith, Igkma). Given Islam’s radicalization, the prevalence of extreme religious tendencies in the Islamic world, and the proven connection of Islamic NGO’s with Al-Qaeda, U.S.’s  leadership saw Turkey as a country that could act as a counterbalance.[7] It is important to remark that Turkey was presented as a moderate Islamic actor rather than a secular Islamic state. This verbal change bears more than a simple symbolism. Instead, it  emphasizes moderation as a means to secure network communication with the countries where Muslim populations inhabit and alleviate the pressure toward secularism and the imposition of a Western-style democracy. However, despite the initial fear of the radicalization of the Balkans, the upgrade of the role of religion did not put into question the relationship between religion and the state and the social structures of those countries. In terms of Turkish penetration in the Balkans with Islam as a starting point, AKP’s government uses the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) and the Secretariat for Religious Affairs ,   while government involvement is recorded in religious and parastatal organizations in the region. Tika was an organization founded during Turgut Ozal’s presidency as a means of an active foreign policy within the concept of Turkoislamic synthesis.TIKA as an international relief agency can act only in States which are officially classified as “developing”. Therefore, the actions have been limited to the Western Balkans and could not penetrate in Greece and Bulgaria. TIKA takes up symbolic actions such as rebuilding mosques or  programs lacking religious reference such as assisting in rural development  and providing health care. Rebuilding mosques is considered important in order to raise the morale of the Muslim communities, ince mosques had been targeted by Serbs during the wars of the 1990′s. Also, it takes a symbolic character of the restoration and rehabilitation of the Ottoman heritage and a reaffirmation of the role of Turkey as a protector of Muslims in the region.[8] The Secretariat for Religious Affairs is under the Prime Minister’s Office and is therefore independent of the Foreign Ministry and its action goes beyond the limits imposed by traditional diplomacy, thus allowing it to work with Islamic organizations. Since 1995, it organizes the “European Islamic Council”, in which participants are the heads of the Islamic directorates from 38 countries (Central Asia and the Balkans). Since 2007, the Presidency of the Council decided to hold an annual meeting of the Heads of the Balkan Muslim communities. The Secretariat was also established after an Ozal’s initiative to restore the faith to traditional Islam. Its responsibilities include the appointment of imams, the payment of their salaries, the organization of religious activities; it acts as the highest religious authority in matters of doctrine and faith. After the 1980 coup, it began to assume responsibilities that went beyond the traditional administrative borders within the national territory and began to operate in countries where there were Turkish immigrants.[9] Parastatal organizations acting in accordance with the Turkish government  also play an important role, acting through networks that are difficult to detect and control.The most outstanding example of all is Gulen’s Movement, which has founded a significant number of colleges and universities in the Balkans (indicatively, the university of Burc in Sarajevo and the Epoca University in Tirana). Also, the reconstitution re-recorded and re-Islamic brotherhoods adjacent to the tradition of Naksibendi.

            With regard to the economic promotion of Turkey in the region, we see investment in strategic sectors such as tele-communications, infrastructure and banking sectors. Regarding trade relations between Turkey and the Balkan countries, a 6.7% of the total export product of the country is directed to them. The further expansion of Turkish exports is stalled by the law quality of its products, the transparency of the trade process and the working conditions. Analysts foresee the possibility of a further penetration of  Turkish products if the economic crises continues  causing German and French companies, Austrian and Italian banks to withdraw from the area and Greek investments to decline.[10]

                Since Turkey’s integration process to the EU delays, it seems no longer willing to abandon a multifaceted field of action in order to join the lengthy and collaborative processes of EU. Nonetheless, the integration of friendly-allied  countries in EU can provide support to the Turkish integration’s efforts. For Turkey, to exert political influence in the grade that it will secure regional domination, a mix of continuous economic crisis and a long-term blockade of the Balkan countries from the EU are considered to be the only two factors that will allow such a development. Τhe relative decline in Brussels’ leverage has in turn opened opportunity for other players such as Turkey, Russia and China to fill in the gaps.[11]
Albania: Italian singer Al Bano awarded Scanderbeg medal

Artist receives honour in Rome for role in regime fall
24 MAY, 11:33

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(ANSAmed) - ROME, MAY 24 - Italian singer Al Bano Carrisi on Thursday was awarded in Rome with a gold medal from the Albanian order dedicated to the national hero who freed Albania from Turkish rule, Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg (1414-1507).

Receiving the prize, the internationally renowned crooner recalled why he was named Al Bano, in honour of a country where his father fought during World War II. 'If he is a boy, let's call him Al Bano, it will bring him luck', he reportedly said. 'I have a very special connection with Albania', said the artist, recalling how his father Carmelo Carrisi used to tell him he was called Al Bano 'because I was in Albania during the war but didn't kill anyone'. He also returned alive: 'He would sleep in the home of locals who would feed him corn'.

Albanian ambassador to Italy, Neritan Ceka, said it is the first time the honour granted by the president of the republic is awarded to an artist.

The ambassador said the singer from Cellino San Marco contributed in sparking a popular protest which in 1991 led to the fall of a 45-year-long regime. Al Bano, stressed Ceka, performed in 1989 in Tirana in front of 20,000 youths, singing songs of freedom. 'On September 18-19 1989, shortly before the fall of the Wall, I performed at the local congress palace and the stadium in Tirana', the artist told ANSAmed. It was the first time that a Western artist performed there, he said. 'I saw the new Albania being born', said Al Bano. 'I planted a seed of freedom and I am not saying this but former president Amir Topi'. The singer said he wants to go back to Tirana soon: 'I would like to go back and sing exactly there, in the same stadium'. (ANSAmed)

Friday, May 24, 2013

 Kosovo Govt Criticises Mayor’s War Crimes Arrest

The Kosovo government has criticised the arrest of the mayor of Skenderaj/Srbice, Sami Lushtaku, and four others for alleged war crimes against civilian prisoners during the 1999 conflict.
Edona Peci BIRN Pristina
The government issued a statement late Thursday expressing concern about the arrests of Lushtaku and the other suspects over alleged abuses at a Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA jail during wartime.

“The Kosovo government believes in the just war of the KLA and its fighters and commanders - a war which enabled Kosovo to achieve freedom, independence, a democratic state and a partnership with the international community,” the government statement said.

It added that the government “believes in justice and the innocence of KLA commanders and fighters”, although it also offered support for international rule-of-law missions.

Officers from the EU rule-of-law mission EULEX and Kosovo police arrested the five men on Thursday.

“The five individuals are being investigated for war crimes against the civilian population in the form of the violation of the bodily integrity and health of civilians held in a KLA detention centre located in Likovc/Likovac (Skenderaj/Srbica municipality),” said a statement from EULEX.

“One of the individuals is also being investigated for a war crime in the form of the killing of one civilian,” the statement said.

Lushtaku’s lawyer Arianit Koci confirmed that his client had been detained.

“Mr. Lushtaku is charged with war crimes against the civilian population in violation of the Geneva conventions,” Koci told BIRN on Thursday.

He said that more information about the case was expected on Friday when Lushtaku and the other four suspects are to appear before a pre-trial judge.
The lion of Himara

Pyrros Dimas Now On Executive Board of IWF
By Hellas Frappe on 23.5.13

The Olympic winner Pirros Dimas, as photograph...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was announced that four-time Olympic medalist in weightlifting, Pyrros Dimas was elected at the Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), during its electoral Congress held in Moscow between May 20-21.

The veteran olympic gold medalist, who today is forty-two years old, has had an outstanding career in international weightlifting. He won three gold Olympic medals (Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000) and a bronze in Athens in the 2004 Olympic Games, after which he signaled his retirement by leaving his shoes on the platform, while an appreciative crowd gave him a standing ovation.

His trophy chest also includes 3 gold medals in World Championships and 1 in European Championships. Dimas is currently the chairman of the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation and a member of the Hellenic Parliament with the PASOK party.

Macedonian hooligans attack House of Albanian Alphabet

Macedonian hooligans attack House of Albanian Alphabet
24/05/2013 Top Channel TV

Macedonian hooligans attacked the House of Albanian Alphabet in Manastir today.

Local media report that vandals broke the doors and damaged photographs and documenting materials of the Albanians who signed the Albanian Alphabet Congress.

The Director of the Alphabet House, Gazmend Hoxhaj, expressed his sadness about the attack and asked the police to bring the responsible to justice.

The attack was condemned by the Albanian History Association in Macedonia. “This is a low act of specific Macedonian circles, fed with extreme Albanophobia”, a declaration says.

The Macedonian Police has arrived on the scene and is investigating.

“Russia won’t change its position on Kosovo”

SOCHI -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that his country has not changed its stance on Kosovo and that it “supports Serbian friends” in talks with Priština.

 Vladimir Putin (Beta/AP)

Vladimir Putin (Beta/AP)
He told a press conference after a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić in Sochi on Friday that Russia continued to advocate a solution for Kosovo that would be in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and be acceptable to both sides.

The Serbian president said that Serbia and he personally were grateful to Russia for its stance on Kosovo “that everything that is good for Serbia is good for Russia”.

Putin announced that Russia would continue to “encourage” Russian companies to invest in Serbia.

He announced that another EUR 1.5bn would be invested in the Oil Industry of Serbia (NIS) and reiterated that Russia would invest USD 1.7bn in the construction of South Stream gas pipeline.

Putin stressed that Russia had approved several loans to Serbia, both to prop up the state budget and to reconstruct infrastructure in the country.

The Serbian president noted that the two countries’ cooperation in politics, economy, culture and science was very good and that it was constantly improving.

He added that Serbia highly appreciated Russia’s support in development and strengthening of friendly relations and that Putin would be presented with the Order of the Republic of Serbia in Belgrade as a sign of gratitude.

Putin said that Russia “symbolically” helped Belgrade renovate and rebuild Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo.

After the signing of the agreement, Nikolić and Putin read their statements and reporters were not allowed to ask questions.

Mosques attacked after killing of soldier

LONDON -- Over 100 members of Britain's ultra right-wing group EDL gathered last night near the spot where a British soldier was brutally murdered in London.

People heckle London Mayor Boris Johnson, not pictured, as he leave the scene of the attack (Beta/AP)

People heckle London Mayor Boris Johnson, not pictured, as he leave the scene of the attack (Beta/AP)
They clashed with the police, throwing bottles at officers, and "continued to run riot and sing nationalists songs in a local pub" after the police formed a cordon.

The police said they received reports of attacks against mosques throughout London later during the night, but that they could not make a direct connection with the murder of the soldier - reportedly committed by two Islamists.

However, eyewitnesses said that "it was clear from the attackers' behavior that it was about revenge."

A local Muslim said that a brick was used to smash a window on a nearby mosque, while two men were arrested elsewhere in the city for attacking other mosques.

Another man was detained for attacking a mosque in Kent, said the police.

According to reports, the soldier was "hacked to death" on Wednesday in London by two British men of African origin.

One of them later approached a CCTV camera holding a knife and meat cleaver in bloodied hands, and said, "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

According to a Reuters report, British Prime Minister David Cameron held an emergency meeting of his intelligence chiefs to assess the response to what he called a "terrorist" attack.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Albania - Greece, the first crash in the League of Nations on 1935: Minority Schools in Albania

De facto for the first time

General List No. 62

Advisory Opinion No. 26

6 April 1935


Thirty Fourth (Ordinary) Session

Minority Schools in Albania

Advisory Opinion

BEFORE: President: Sir Cecil Hurst
Vice-President: Guerrero
Judges: Baron Rolin-Jaequemyns, Count Rostworowski, Fromageot, Altamira, Anzilotti, Urrutia, Schücking, Negulesco, Jhr. Van Eysinga
Perm. Link:
Citation: Minority Schools in Albania, Advisory Opinion, 1935 P.C.I.J. (ser. A/B) No. 64 (Apr. 6)
Publication: Publications of the Permanent Court of International Justice Series A/B No. 64; Collection of Judgment, Orders and Advisory Opinions A.W. Sijthoff’s Publishing Company, Leyden, 1925
[p5] The Court, composed as above, gives the following opinion:

[1] On January 18th, 1935, the Council of the League of Nations adopted the following Resolution:

"The Council of the League of Nations,
In consideration of the Albanian Declaration made before the Council on October 2nd, 1921, Article 5 of which reads as follows:
'Albanian nationals who belong to racial, religious or linguistic minorities will enjoy the same treatment and security in law and in fact as other Albanian nationals. In particular they shall have an equal right to maintain, manage and control at their own expense or to establish in the future, charitable, religious and social institutions, schools and other educational establishments, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their religion freely therein.
Within six months from the date of the present Declaration, detailed information will be presented to the Council of the League of Nations with regard to the legal status of the religious communities, Churches, Convents, schools, voluntary establishments, and associations of racial, religious and linguistic minorities. The Albanian Government will take into consideration any advice it might receive from the League of Nations with regard to this question.'
In consideration of the provisions of Articles 206-207 of the Albanian Constitution of 1933, which read as follows:
'The instruction and education of Albanian subjects are reserved to the State and will be given in State schools. Primary education is compulsory for all Albanian nationals and will be given free of charge. Private schools of all categories at present in operation will be closed';
In consideration of the plea adduced before the Council by the representative of the Albanian Government that, as the - abolition of private schools in Albania constitutes a general measure applicable to the majority as well as to the minority, it is in conformity with Article 5, first paragraph, of the Albanian Declaration;
In consideration of the report submitted to the Council on January 14th, 1935, by the representative of Spain;
Requests the Permanent Court of International Justice to express an advisory opinion on the following question:
1° whether, regard being had to the above-mentioned Declaration of October 2nd, 1921, as a whole, the Albanian Government is justified in its plea that, as the abolition of the private schools in Albania constitutes a general measure applicable to the majority as well as to the minority, it is in conformity with the letter and the spirit of the stipulations laid down in Article 5, first paragraph, of that Declaration; [p6]
2° and if so, whether the Council of the League of Nations can, on the basis of the second paragraph of the said Article, formulate recommendations going beyond the provisions of the first paragraph.
The Secretary-General is authorized to submit this request to the Court, together with all the documents relating to the question, to afford the necessary assistance in the examination of the question, and to arrange to be represented before the Court if necessary."

[2] In accordance with this Resolution, the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, on January 21st, 1935, transmitted to the Court a request for an advisory opinion in the following terms:

"The Secretary-General of the League of Nations,
in pursuance of the Council Resolution of January 18th, 1935, and in virtue of the authorization given by the Council,
has the honour to submit to the Permanent Court of International Justice an Application requesting the Court, in accordance with Article 14 of the Covenant, to give an advisory opinion to the Council on the question which is referred to the Court by the Resolution of January 18th, 1935 (see attached text).
The Secretary-General will be prepared to furnish any assistance which the Court may. require in the examination of this matter, and will, if necessary, arrange to be represented before the Court."

[3] The request was registered on January 23rd, 1935, in the Registry of the Court. To the request were appended a number of documents [FN1] concerning the history of the Albanian Declaration of October 2nd, 1921, the application of Article 5 of this Declaration, and the origin of the request for an opinion.

More see all the Court Decision,,,

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Albania suggests changes in the Balkans, in cooperation between countries in the region, with cross-border agreements and not at war.

shefat e shtabit

Balkan army chiefs in Tirana.  

President Nishani: To find common solutions

The President of the Republic of Albania, Bujar Nishani, speaking at the 7th conference of chiefs of General Staffs of the Balkan armies, sought the cooperation of all countries to maintain peace and security in the region.

"I think a lot of Euro-Atlantic integration, as well as regional cooperation and integration are the most valuable instruments for achieving the objectives of all our countries. Security risks are not just local and less national borders closed. None of our countries can not afford the risks only. In this regard we must find common solutions, which should be as logical as it is affordable. We must take measures to protect the wiser. I would like to urge this forum to consider ways to expand capacities for cooperation in providing military support to the civilian population ", - said President Nishani.

Under President Nishani, there are all possibilities for improving collaborative work in the field of security and defense.

In the 7th Conference of Heads Initiative General Staff of the Balkan countries, which began today works in Tirana hosts participating heads of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Romania. At this conference, the status of guests attending and chief of the General Staff of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as senior representatives of NATO and the European Union.
Albania the mostly country in Europe for racism, holds a Conference for intolerance 

Berisha: Proud of religious tolerance in Albania

OSCE in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a conference on discrimination and intolerance. The meeting was also attended by the Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, who said that our country is an example of religious tolerance, whereas according to his problem is domestic violence.

"Intolerance and discrimination issues are a very old thing. They created our civilizations to the most barbarous ages. These issues are truly multi-dimensional. In this country, religious violence in Albania was never a serious problem, and I am proud to have. Religious tolerance has always existed, but we can not say the same for domestic violence or homophobia. In fact it is an unfavorable situation for him, "said Berisha.

Wake: Cases prosecuted hate

Dauglas Wake, director and member of the ODIHR said that manifestations of intolerance continue to be vulnerable every year in the OSCE region from extreme violence to murder people. "We are committed to fighting crime, but on the other hand do not have accurate data. We are committed to supporting minority subject to discrimination. The countries concerned should take necessary measures. Prosecute hate crime with stiff penalties. Civil society should be involved in these problems, "he said.

The Greek Navy sends the frigate'' Psara'' and gunboats in the Aegean! ... obsserver the Turk Exercises

According to Deffencenet, the Greek Military Navy, is scheduled to observed step by step on the Aegean Sea the, Turkish Naval exercise "Deniz Kurdiu 2013", a movement very seriously for the problematic relations between Greeks and Turks Navy in Aegean. 

With information that is not disputed, the Greek Frigate'' Psara' and other 13 navy gunboats have developed exercises from Lemnos until Karpathos!

The greek navy comand, is monitor the movement of the Turkish fleet at any time,  said a Senior Staff Officer for Defencenet!

On the Occasion of Exercise Turks is delayed the departure of M / Defence General Michael Kostarakos to Tirana ahead of the meeting of chiefs of staff of the Balkan Countries!

But by morning the Interdisciplinary Special Operations Command was alarm in part for the immediate departure unknown destination

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

EU Threat to Visa Regime Worries Macedonia

In a bid to head off moves to reassess the visa-free regime, Macedonia says the number of asylum seekers in the EU from the Balkans is falling.
Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Rejected asylum seekers at Skopje airport
Macedonia's Foreign Ministry says numbers of asylum seekers heading for the EU from the region are falling.
The ministry spoke out following reports of a fresh initiative to reassess the visa-free regime by Germany, Austria, Holland and Britain.

“We are in permanent contact with the countries affected by this problem… [but] joint efforts to reduce the number of asylum seekers have started to bear fruit,” the ministry told Balkan Insight.

In a joint letter on April 25 to the Irish EU presidency, the four EU countries asked Ireland to put the issue on the table at a forthcoming meeting of the EU’s Justice and Internal Affairs Committee in mid-June, Deutsche Welle reported on Monday.

Sources in the Macedonian foreign ministry said questioning the free-visa regime for the Balkans undermined “the principle of openness of Europe and the possibility of Balkan countries one day joining the EU”.

The European Union lifted visa requirements on Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro in December 2009, allowing their citizens to travel freely into the EU's Schengen zone.

But since then Serbia and Macedonia have received complaints about mass arrivals of asylum-seekers, mainly ethnic Albanians and Roma, filing applications in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, France and other countries.

The EU has warned Balkan countries that if they don’t cut the number of asylum seekers, visas may be re-introduced.

As a result, Macedonia and Serbia last year introduced stricter border controls and boosted education among most concerned groups, urging them not to go.

Last year’s data from the German Foreign Ministry, during the peak of the influx, show that 8,477 of the 64,539 people who requested asylum in Germany in 2012 came from Serbia, ranking the country first in the list of asylum seekers.

The 2012 figure represented an increase of almost 50 per cent compared to 2011, when 4,579 Serbian nationals sought asylum in Germany.

Macedonia came fifth in the table with 4,546 asylum requests, which represented an increase of more than 3,000 people compared to 2011.

Over 80 per cent of the people who applied from both countries listed their ethnic background as Roma.

However, the most recent German data show a significant drop in applications from both countries starting from the end of last year. This currently places Serbia in fifth place and Macedonia in tenth place in the list of asylum seekers in Germany.

Boutaris Says Frangoulis Frangos "Is Dangerous" - Ti Pineis Re Dimarxe & Den mas Dineis?

By on 21.5.13

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, who is not really one of our favorite people, has probably just created many, many enemies in the northern Greek city, and we here at HellasFrappe highly doubt that he will ever be elected as mayor again. At the weekend, and on the sidelines of his meeting with the leader of the "Agreement for A New Greece," Andreas Loverdos, Boutaris had the audacity to criticize the former Chief of the Hellenic Armed Forces Frangoulis Frangos, for basically being a patriot.

It should be reminded that Boutaris, who advocates for gay pride parades, and closer Turkish cooperation, was hand selected by George Papandreou to run as Mayor of Thessaloniki. This past winter, billionaire George Soros also took a liking to him and apparently made a handsome donation to the municipality with the excuse of heating some schools (Editor - uhmmm... clearing throat).

Boutaris expressed his dissatisfaction with what Frangoulis Frangos said at an event that was held on Sunday commemorating the Genocide of the Greek Pontus people.

In his speech in Thessaloniki Frangoulis Frangos talked about the "genocide of the Memorandum", urging the government and opposition to finally bring the people's agony to an end.
      "Today we are experiencing another genocide, which is occurring at the expense of the Greek people. Our young people, the youth and the future of Greece, due to unemployment which stands at 60%, find it difficult to marry and have children. Even those who do work with wages that do not conform to country- member of the European Union, (are affected)."
He added that the government and the opposition must resolve this problem right away so that the people can start believing that they will see a light at the end of the tunnel. He also said that excuses such Greece is in dire financial straits, will not be tolerated.

We agree, so what is Boutaris' problem?

Is it because Mr. Boutaris is noticing that the citizens of Thessaloniki are realizing that he is better skilled to operate his wine business and not the management of Greece's second city? Or is it because he is feeling a little bit of heat under the collar because Frangoulis Frangos continues to advocate for the rights of the Greek people, their history and especially this country's culture? Is it because Frangos could mass thousands of people together in a flick of the wrist, whereas Boutaris needs his campaign people to do so, or is it because the former General of the Greek Armed Forces has a wide acceptance with the public (right and left) and is someone that is extremely highly respected in Greece?

We here at HellasFrappe do not know what Boutaris' beef is, but we suspect that the same people that supported him politically, meaning the pseudo-leftist powers of Papandreou and his clan (both domestically and internationally) do not want citizens in Thessaloniki, or in other areas of Macedonia to remember atrocities such as the genoicide of hundreds of thousands of Greeks in Pontus and Asia Minor, and certainly Mr. Boutaris does not want people in Macedonia to be united. In fact George Papandreou, and the PASOK party has worked hard to separate the Greeks for the past three decades.

So why is Boutaris so bothered by Frangoulis Frangos?

Well the various Pontian associations and organizations which are scattered throughout Thessaloniki are not on very good terms with Boutaris.

Last year he and the Pontian associations were at odds end over the use of the city's main square. This year, Boutaris might of given the associations the right to use the square for their commemoration (because municipal elections are around the corner) but Pontian Greeks might forgive, but they sure as hell never forget. One of the basic reasons for this is because of Boutaris' ongoing pro-Turkish statements.

At the end of the commemoration on Sunday the criticism and good old fashioned heckling (and boos) against Boutaris were indeed very loud and very intense. When the organizers decided to thank the Thessaloniki Mayor for his support at the event, the only thing that was heard was a loud dissatisfaction of the people.

On Monday night, and on the last day of the two-day event, the same criticism was heard.

This time it was Boutaris' turn to speak, and certainly the people did not hold off on their emotions towards him. They literally verbally attacked Boutaris who dared to criticize Frangoulis Frangos, who was the keynote speaker at the event of Pontian Associations a day earlier.
    "Wow, what he (Frangoulis) said yesterday (Sunday night) is dangerous. He is only pouring oil on fire (meaning between Greeks and Turks)," said Boutaris.
This stunned all those who were present and Boutaris was suddenly booed and hissed by everyone present once again.

After these statements, various reporters asked the retired Chief of the Hellenic Armed Forces to comment on Boutaris' statements. So what did this patriot say, as opposed to the man who is so pro-Turkey?
     "Everyone has a right to have an opinion. My speech was a historical reference for the event. I have not provoked anyone. On the contrary, I honored him" noted Frangoulis Frangos, leaving everyone to draw their own conclusions.
This is how real men (with oumbala as we say in Greece) responds. And certainly this is how a Greek democrat who has decency, who is well cultured , educated and a patriot responds! Not someone who pretends to be Greek, and endorses the Ottoman culture every chance he gets!

In fact Boutaris' grand admiration and determination to endorse the Ottoman culture in Thessaloniki has indeed shocked and annoyed many citizens in the city, and at times he is so passionate about his beliefs that he forgets to follow protocol. 0ne such foul-up happened on Monday night after his verbal attack against Frangoulis, when he accidentally let it slip out that the FYROManian language is actually "Macedonian".

This obvious screw up occurred at a municipal council meeting and while he was referring to a Skopjan plaque to Rome, which, he said, was written in the "Macedonian" language. Boutaris obvious foul offended many who were present and Theophilus Pateli, who is a city councillor for the "Creative Team" party under conservative MP Costas Gkioulekas, decided to intervene.

"FYROManian Mr Mayor" said Patelli correcting Boutaris, but the Mayor of Thessaloniki insisted and then pointed out that he is a Vlach who was born in Nymphaeum, where, he added, in the past the "Macedonian" language was spoken by the Vlach people!

Ti Pineis Re Dimarxe & Den mas Dineis

First Unmanned Aircraft Launch from Carrier – A Moment in History

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (Photo: Northrop Grumman by Alan Radecki)
An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (Photo: Northrop Grumman by Alan Radecki)

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator (UCAS-D) completed its first ever carrier-based catapult launch from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia May 14, 2013.

“Today we saw a small, but significant pixel in the future picture of our Navy as we begin integration of unmanned systems into arguably the most complex warfighting environment that exists today: the flight deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,” said Vice Adm. David Buss, commander, Naval Air Forces, the Navy’s “Air Boss”.
The unmanned aircraft launched from the deck of George H.W. Bush at 11:18 a.m. It executed several planned low approaches to the carrier and safely transited across the Chesapeake Bay to land at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., after a 65-minute flight.
Buss called the launch a “watershed event” in naval aviation and said he expects that decades from now, a future “Air Boss” will have a picture of the X-47B launching from Bush behind his or her desk just as he has a picture of aviation pioneer Eugene Ely’s first-ever landing on the deck of a ship in 1911 behind his desk today.
“This ship and her crew continuously meet the challenges placed before them,” said the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Brian E. Luther. “The successful launch of the X-47B is yet another first on USS George H.W. Bush. We were excited to host the experimental aircraft, and are proud to know we have played a part in a significant milestone in naval aviation.”
Completing another important first for the UCAS-D program, the team demonstrated the ability to precisely navigate the X-47B within the controlled airspace around an aircraft carrier at sea and seamlessly pass control of the air vehicle from a “mission operator” aboard the carrier to one located in the Mission Test Control Center at NAS Patuxent River for landing.
“The flight today demonstrated that the X-47B is capable of operation from a carrier, hand-off from one mission control station to another, flight through the national airspace, and recovery at another location without degradation in safety or precision,” said Matt Funk, lead test engineer for the Navy UCAS program.
Prior to the catapult launch on Tuesday, the UCAS test team also conducted deck-handling and ship-integration testing to demonstrate the capability to safely operate the X-47B in the dynamic, unforgiving environment of an aircraft carrier flight deck.
“This event is a testament to the teamwork, professionalism and expertise of everyone involved with X-47B program,” said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, program executive officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. “Their work will positively impact future unmanned aviation development for years to come.”
Over the next few weeks, the X-47B aircraft will fly approaches to the ship multiple times and eventually land on the pitching flight deck, said Navy UCAS Program Manager Capt. Jaime Engdahl.
The UCAS team will conduct additional shore-based testing with the X-47B at NAS Patuxent River in the coming months before its final carrier-based arrested landing demonstration later this summer.

3 days later – Touch and Go

Three days after leaving the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush on the first catapult launch, the Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) returned to the carrier for a ‘touch and go’ landing trial, successfully testing the automatic landing system which integrates reference signals from the carrier deck and the drone’s avionics, conducting fully automatic approach and precision touchdown landing. On this landing test the drone touched down within the locations that would enable the tailhook to catch the arresting cables and slow the aircraft to a complete stop within the required parameters. After the test landing the aircraft returned to its shore-base at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. The aircraft is expected to conduct shore based arrested landings at Pax River in the coming months, before final carrier-based arrestments scheduled for later in 2013.
Capt. Jamie Engdahl, Program Manager for UAS program office at the U.S. Navy the X-47B will continue to demonstrate consistent, reliable and repeatable touch down on a moving carrier flight deck, “this precision relative navigation technology is key to ensuring future unmanned systems can operate off our aircraft carriers”.
US Navy / Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned  Combat Aerial Vehicle takes off from W.G Bush on its maiden launch from an aircraft carrier, May 14, 2013. Photo: Alan Radecki, Northrop Grumman
US Navy / Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle takes off from the Aircraft Carrier George H.W Bush (CVN 77) on its maiden launch from an aircraft carrier, May 14, 2013. Photo: Alan Radecki, Northrop Grumman

"Action plan for implementation expected"
BRUSSELS -- EU's Catherine Ashton expects Ivica Dačić and Hashim Thaci to on Tuesday agree on concrete steps for the implementation of the Brussels agreement.


Ashton and Dačić are seen during the Brussels talks (file)
Ahead of a new round of talks in Brussels, Maja Kocijačič, a spokesperson for the EU foreign policy chief, told reporters that Ashton will do everything in her power to achieve this.

A new meeting between Dačić and Thaci, their first after initialing an agreement on normalization of relations on April 19, is set for the afternoon, and as usual will begin with Ashton meeting separately with the delegations of Belgrade and Priština.

Afterwards, Ashton will sit down for a working dinner with the heads of governments in Belgrade and Priština, "which could last well into the night," said Kocijačič.

This round cannot continue the next day like some previous ones, since Ashton has to present a report on Syria to the European Council on Wednesday morning, Tanjug has learned from a source at the European Commission.

Dačić and Thaci will probably meet in Brussels one final time before the Council of the EU makes its decision regarding Serbia's accession talks on June 28, said the source.

BOOK - Greek Americans: Struggle and Success
By Hellas Frappe on 21.5.13

Peter C. Moskos, C...
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This is an engrossing account of Greek Americans—their history, strengths, conflicts, aspirations, and contributions. Blending sociological insight with historical detail, Peter C. and Charles C. Moskos trace the Greek-American experience from the wave of mass immigration in the early 1900s to today. This is the story of immigrants, most of whom worked hard to secure middle-class status. It is also the story of their children and grandchildren, many of whom maintain an attachment to Greek ethnic identity even as they have become one of America’s most successful ethnic groups.

As the authors rightly note, the true measure of Greek-Americans is the immigrants themselves who came to America without knowing the language and without education. They raised solid families in the new country and shouldered responsibilities for those in the old. They laid the basis for an enduring Greek-American community.

Included in this completely revised edition is an introduction by Michael Dukakis and chapters relating to the early struggles of Greeks in America, the Greek Orthodox Church, success in America, and the survival and expansion of Greek identity despite intermarriage. This work will be of value to scholars of ethnic studies, those interested in Greek culture and communities, and sociologists and historians.

Monday, May 20, 2013

How serious is the P800 Yakhont threat? Does it have a destabilizing effect on the Middle East?

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The launch vehicle unit carrying two Yakhont anti-ship missiles in container launchers. The missiles are carried in the recessed position and launched vertically from the erected canisters.
The expected arrival of the P800 Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missile in Syria is considered the first serious attempt by Syria to directly challenge the Israel Navy since the 1973 war, when the Israeli Navy sunk five Syrian vessels in the first missile-boat engagement known as the ‘Battle of Latakia’. Four decades later, the P800 Yakhont is far superior than the Styx missiles that failed to protect the Syrian Navy in 1973.  Much like the Russian-Indian Brahmos, the earlier Moskit and Supersonic Alpha, Yakhont has the capability to strike its target at supersonic speed, flying at very low level, leaving the defender much shorter time to react. Yet, ship defenses have come a long way since the Electronic Warfare (EW) systems that saved the day and won the battle for the Israelis.
AEGIS systems, used on U.S. Navy and many NATO vessels, the European PAAMS, used by the Royal Navy, French and Italian navies and Israel’s new Barak 8 ship air defense system are designed to match such treats. So does Israel’s ‘Magic Wand’ system, employing the Stunner missile interceptor, capable to counter these potent missiles effectively if employed in surface/surface or ship/surface role. However, the majority of smaller naval vessels, still equipped with ‘point defense’ anti-missile systems were not designed to counter such high speed attacks, particularly when it comes in salvos of two or four missile.
Such elements are at risk within ranges of 300 km, by missiles fired from the Mediterranean Syrian naval bases at Tartus and Latakia. Yakhont typically cruises to the target area at high altitude, and then descends for a sea skimming attack from under the horizon. The distance at which it begins its descent can be programmed before launch, by determining the achievable range, which is between 120 (low level flight) – 300 km (high mid-course, low-level beyond the horizon to the target.
The potential coverage of P800 Yakhont missiles fired from coastal sites (Tartus) or land sites in Southern Syria cover Israel's Mediterranean Naval Bases.
While some navies could avoid this area, for Israel, the long range of the P800 means its naval vessels could be at risk, even at their main base in Haifa, a site already compromised by rockets fired from Lebanon during the 2006 war. Israel’s second naval base in Ashdod could be targeted from land-based sites in Southern Syria. Furthermore, when targeting Israeli naval patrols in international waters off the Lebanese coast, P800 can be vertically launched from inland sites in Syria or Lebanon, fired behind the Lebanon mountain ridge, avoiding detection from the sea, thus minimizing the early warning for the targeted vessels. Therefore, accelerated fielding of Barak-8 and Magic Wand systems should be a top priority for Israel. Another risk for Navies operating in the Persian Gulf presents a technology leak – by such a missile falling into Iranian hands, which could accelerate the introduction of such potent weapons in Tehran’s growing anti-shipping arsenal.
The operational concept of the Bastion P coastal defense system employs multiple mobile launchers each carrying two Yakhont missiles, capable of attacking targets at a distance of 250 km from the coast. Targeting is provided by helicopters or other airborne platforms, coastal radars or ships at sea. Each launch unit is operating independently, or coordinate its activity with another launch vehicle located up to 15 km away, targeting, command and control are provided by the central command vehicle and regional command post that can be located more than 25 km apart.
The current contract, estimated to be worth $300 million includes the delivery of two Bastion coastal defense systems, each includes 36 missiles. It is yet unclear if the Syrian navy will also opt to equip its naval platforms will with these new weapons. The Yakhont can be fitted with relatively small vessels, from corvette size and larger. The Bastion system is operated from mobile launchers on land, each launcher carries two ready to launch missiles. Another configuration is designed for airborne platforms. But even with these potent weapons in hand, the Syrians may not yet be ready to employ them effectively. Syria currently does not have the means to effectively target the missile beyond the horizon, lacking maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles or attack aircraft capable of carrying such missiles. Even their largest Petya class Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) frigates do not have a flight deck for the Ka-28 (Helix) helicopters, operated by the Syrian Navy. The Syrians do not have the capability to detect, track and designate targets at those ranges since, being a small, defensive force, they did not have any weapon reaching out to these ranges. This is particularly true when the target is ‘silent’ and cannot be targeted by surface-based Electronic Support Measures (ESM).
Each mobile transporter-launcher carrying two Yakhont P800 missiles.
If the Syrians are seriously planning to extend their operational reach with the missile, one has to watch out for Syria to reach for UAVs, naval patrol aircraft (Be-200 or Il-38 from any CIS nation or other countries (decommissioning such aircraft could be an option). Such transfer of equipment could be unnoticed as it does not involves weapons transfer. They could also opt for upgrading the Su-24MK ‘Fencer D’ to take on maritime recce role. Even more serious is a combination of Su-27/Su-30 and P800s, which could provides the P800 with the stand-off targeting and attack capability against surface targets. The Russians are using their Onyx version of the weapon with their Su-33 carrier-based naval fighters. By knowing the P800 is within range, the Israeli Navy will definitely lose its dominant and unchallenged position in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly along the Lebanese coast, and therefore should take defensive measures – certainly be on guard, which it failed, during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when ISN Hanit was hit unexpectedly by a Hizbollan C-802 missile – having turned off its on-board defensive systems.
Of course, for deliberate ‘ambush’ attacks Syria could try deploying forward targeting using merchant or fishery vessels sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean  or submarines, provided by allies such as Iran (since Syria do not have any submarines now, after decommissioning their 3 Romeo subs about six years ago). But this is really a long, long shot that would cost Syria dearly.
Altogether, for the short term, the arrival of the P800 in the Mediterranean is a serious threat. Over time, as the Israel Navy gets its Barak-8 missiles and ‘Magic Wand’ deployed, the threat could be contained, given the Syrians will not deploy large numbers of these missiles on platforms and constellations that would maximize its capability to launch saturation attack against the IN leading vessels. Whatever the case may be, both sides, the Syrians and the Israelis need time to deploy and defend so the threat may be serious, at first sight, but viable solutions are already in sight.
P800 with Su-33
The Russians are using their Onyx version of the weapon with their Su-33 carrier-based naval fighters.

New Greek Party Calls for Return to Drachma and Bank Separation

By on 20.5.13

Launched on May 8, the new party, Greek Democratic 5 Star Movement or Drachma 5, calls on Greece to dump the euro, return to its former currency, the drachma, and implement banking reform based on the separation of commercial and investment banking as modeled on the Glass-Steagall Act.

Contributed to HellasFrappe
By E.I.R. Strategic Alert

The key initiator of the movement is Theodoros Katsanevas, a Professor of Labor Economics who was among the featured speakers of the Schiller Institute’s international conference, “The Last Chance for Humanity” held last April 13-14 in Germany. Prof. Katsanevas also signed the Resolution: “Either Glass-Steagall, or Chaos and Genocide” issued at the end of that conference (cf. SAS 17/13). He is not new to politics, having been a founding member of the Pan Hellenic Socialist Party for which he served several terms in parliament, as well as serving in government.

While similar to the name of the Italian “Five Star Movement” of populist Beppe Grillo, the five stars in the Greek party stand for the basic positions of the party:
  • 1) overthrow of the Memorandum of the IMF, European Commission and ECB;
  • 2) return to the drachma;
  • 3) facilitating robust growth;
  • 4) restoring national dignity
  • 5) ensuring social justice.
Its 25 member organizing committee includes no comedians, but they do represent a cross-section of the Greek population with teachers, businessmen, engineers, economists, university professors, etc. Their program clearly recognizes that the “Memorandum and the euro are an absolutely indisputable unity”, therefore a withdrawal from the Eurozone is needed as well as implementation of “a comprehensive plan,” including cancelling 70% of the Greek debt.

After denouncing “casino-capitalism” and the “‘holy alliance’ of globalized economy of gambling that erodes the real economy of human labor”, the party manifesto calls for bank separation:
     “Control of the banking system, capital flows and speculative financial transactions, separation between commercial and investment banks...”
Under the principle of “patriotic socialism with a human face with social solidarity,” the manifesto promotes development of the industrial and agricultural potential of the Greek economy through investment in technological innovations and expansion and development of its infrastructure, and the creation of “international university training centers and research institutes to utilize Greek scientists who excel internationally,” and are now emigrating by the thousands.

The manifesto calls for establishing an alliance among Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece to exit the euro and enter into a cooperative economic and political alliance.

The State Department, Religious Freedom Report: The Albanian Census, does not reflect the number of Greek Orthodox


The U.S. State Department has published its annual report on religious freedoms in the world.
In part to Albania, quotes census data in 2011.

"According to the census of 2011, the population consists of 2.8 million inhabitants. It is difficult to assess the extent of religious groups because nearly 20 percent of respondents refused to answer questions on the registration optional religious affiliation. A number of religious leaders challenged the census results. According to the census, Sunni Muslims make up about 57 percent of the population, 10 percent Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christians (Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania) about 7 percent, and Bektashi (a form of Shi'a Sufism) 2 percent. Other groups include Baha'is, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Seventh Day (Mormons). State Committee on Cults reports over 230 groups, organizations, foundations, and religious institutions to perform their activities in the country, " the report said.

Then note that particular part of the Greek minority boycotted the census, which will mean that the census data does not reflect reality.

"A number of religious leaders challenged the results of the census of 2011, claiming that the registration officials had not ever visited a number of their believers. Also, confusion of the consequences of self-identifying ethnic and religious could have done that many respondents do not identify their religious affiliation. For example, the Greek ethnic minority groups encouraged their members to boycott the census, which affect the measurement of the ethnic Greek minority and the Greek Orthodox Church, " the report continues.

The U.S. State Department says there were reports of abuses of religious freedom.

While concern remains the property of religious communities.
"The government continued to address claims by religious groups on the return or restitution of property confiscated during the communist era, however, many remained unresolved property claims. After reaching bilateral agreements in 2008 between the government and Muslim communities, Orthodox, and Bektashi, the government instructed the State Agency for Property Restitution and Compensation to give priority to properties owned by religious groups. However, administrative and legal challenges associated with property claims generally make difficult the return of property to individuals and organizations, including religious groups, and progress was slow. For example, administrative procedures stalled Bektashi community continued to hamper the recovery of Ksamili properties, properties that a court had back in 2009 " .
FOCUS News Agency 
Home / Southeast Europe and Balkans
Skopje. First they imposed a veto on us, now they are assimilating the minority, the Macedonian Vecer daily writes in an article titled Greek-Bulgarian Coalition against Macedonians in Albania.
Greeks and Bulgarians joined forces against Macedonians also in Albania. At a joint press conference the leader of the Greek Unity for Human Rights Party Vangjel Dule announced the cooperation of his party with Izeir Fetahu, chairman of the Party for Democratic Prosperity, as a coalition with the Bulgarians in Albania.
We will cooperate in these elections. The Party for Democratic Prosperity, which represents the interests of the Bulgarian community in Golo Brdo, will cooperate with us in these elections, Dule said at a press conference.

The Macedonian Alliance for European Integration denied the claims that Bulgarians live in Golo Brdo.
“This is absolute propaganda of the Bulgarian state against Macedonians in Albania and assimilation of Macedonians in Albania. Having imposed a veto on Macedonia for its EU accession negotiations, now Bulgaria and Greece are trying to destroy and assimilate the Macedonian minority,” said Vasil Steriovski, secretary general of the Macedonian Alliance for European Integration.
Steriovski considers this a great defeat also for the Macedonian diplomacy, which held a meeting with Izeir Fetahu and presented him as a leader of the second Macedonian party in Albania.

The unprincipled coalition will harm the Macedonians in the June elections in the region of Elbasan, where a lot of Macedonians from Golo Brdo live.
According to the Vecer daily, for two years Fetahu has been successfully cooperating with the Bulgarian radical Krasimir Karakachanov. They are reported to be working on the agenda – Bulgarian passports for the Macedonians in Albania.

Albania’s Catholic Bishops Warn Against Election Fraud

Albania’s bishops have called on believers not to sell their votes in the June 23 parliamentary elections, while urging politicians to clean up their confrontational rhetoric.
Besar Likmeta
BIRN Tirana
“It’s well known that in many areas of Albania, ballots are sold, bought or stolen under duress,” the Catholic bishops wrote in an open letter.
“Trading one’s vote is selling out freedom,” they added.
The bishops also underlined that pressure exerted on people who work for public bodies vote in a certain way in order to keep their jobs was inexcusable and a direct violation of human rights.
The appeal represented a rare intervention by the Catholic church into domestic politics, underlining the importance of the June 23 parliamentary elections, which are seen as a test for Albania’s democratic credentials.
Since the country emerged from the autocratic Stalinist regime of former dictator Enver Hoxha two decades ago, it has never held elections that met international standards.
Like many before it, the June 23 vote will be held under the EU’s watchful gaze, with Albania desperately seeking to get closer to future membership despite making little progress over the last three years.
The bishops also urged politicians to tone down their rhetoric.
“We urge political parties and candidates on the campaign trail to hold a positive campaign and not go down to the level of insults, swearing and humiliation of an opponent and their family,” the open letter said.
“The campaign should be based on programmatic proposals and not denigration of an opponent,” it added.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tony Blair to advise next government of Albania

Tony Blair has agreed to advise the next government of Albania, opening the way for a deal which could be worth millions of pounds.

Tony Blair to advise next government of Albania
Tony Blair: the former prime minister’s role was agreed at a meeting at his office in Grosvenor Square Photo: REX
Edi Rama, leader of the country’s opposition Socialist Party, announced last week that Mr Blair will act as a consultant, starting next month after elections which Mr Rama is expected to win.
The former prime minister’s role was agreed at a meeting at his office in Grosvenor Square, central London.
Albania hopes to join the European Union and it is likely that Mr Blair’s advice on how to do that as well as how to implement New Labour-style domestic reforms will be high on his agenda.
Mr Rama is popular in Albania and polls indicate that, currently predicted to gain in the region of 49 per cent of the national vote, he is on target to win the election.
Mr Blair’s appointment follows lucrative deals with governments in Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Brazil and Colombia.
He set up his Government Advisory Practice shortly after quitting Downing Street in 2007, enlisting Jonathan Powell, his former chief of staff, and Alastair Campbell, his former director of communications. The Sunday Telegraph understands that the deal with Albania was first negotiated in February when Mr Campbell flew to Tirana, the capital, to promote his bestselling diaries. He is offering the Socialist Party strategic advice in the run-up to the election on June 23.
The agreement to hire Mr Blair and his team was announced last week after a meeting between the former prime minister and Mr Rama, the former mayor of Tirana.
Mr Rama said on Tuesday on Twitter: “An excellent meeting with Tony Blair. We agreed that after June 23, he and his team will work with us for good governance. Fantastic!”
The Socialist Party subsequently issued photographs and video footage of the meeting. In the video, Mr Blair said: “I will be very happy to help you, I am very interested in your country.”
The footage gives a rare glimpse into Mr Blair’s inner sanctum, where he has struck business deals worth tens of millions of pounds since leaving office. The two men stand in front of an Impressionist-style painting while photographs on the mantelpiece show Mr Blair with the world’s elder statesmen, including Nelson Mandela.
In a press statement, a Socialist Party spokesman said: “With Tony Blair and his team we will have on our side a very important partner, with a unique experience and all the right advice to build a successful government and to make a reality of our programme for an Albanian Renaissance.”
A party spokesman refused to say how much Mr Blair’s Government Advisory Practice (GAP) will be paid, although the figure is likely to be several million pounds.
GAP’s contract in Kazakhstan, an oil rich autocratic state, is said to be worth as much as £16 million – a figure Mr Blair’s office disputes, although it refuses to specify what figure it considers correct.
GAP’s contract to advise the state government of Sao Paulo, the economic powerhouse of Brazil’s fast-growing economy, is worth almost £4 million a year.
Mr Blair set up a complex web of companies to channel money from his various business interests after leaving Downing Street.
It is understood that fees earned through GAP, which employs several consultants, are administered through a company called Windrush Ventures. Windrush’s latest accounts show an income of more than £16 million for the year ending March 31 2012 and profits of £3.6 million.
While Mr Blair’s popularity has plummeted in the UK in the wake of the second Iraq war, he is considered a hero in Albania and in neighbouring Kosovo for coming to the aid of ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo war against Yugoslavia and its then president, Slobodan Milosevic.
It is said that hundreds of ethnic Albanian children in Kosovo are named “Tonibler” in his honour.
According to local media reports, Mr Rama first met Mr Blair in London in June 2010. The next month the Blairs visited Kosovo with Cherie Blair making a detour to Albania as the guest of Rezart Taci, an oil tycoon. She flew on a private jet paid for by Mr Taci to Tirana, where she opened a television station, which the multi-millionaire owns.
Mr Campbell visited Albania in February to promote his political diaries. At the time, he tweeted: “It is very wet. Here for publication of Albanian translation of diaries.”
But local reports suggest Mr Campbell was also helping the Socialist Party prepare for next month’s election.
Endri Fuga, media adviser for the Socialist Party, said: “Campbell is a friend with whom we exchange advice. Campbell does this because he believes in the Left.”
In February Mr Campbell said in an Albanian television interview: “I know Edi Rama well now, and I can tell you that he has a real programme for change. He is a person who understands what we did, from the creation of New Labour, which was a great strategic move. It’s not a secret to tell you that I like Edi Rama very much.”
The admiration is clearly mutual: after last week’s meeting, the Socialist Party described Mr Blair as “the man that transformed the European Left”.
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, a legacy of nearly 50 years of rule by Enver Hoxha, a communist era hardliner who led the Workers’ Party.
It was the only legal party until the fall of communism, and in 1991 reformed itself as the centre-Left Socialist Party. Mr Rama was not a communist and another hard-Left party has laid claim to Hoxha’s legacy.
Another Briton to achieve cult status in Albania was Sir Norman Wisdom, the late comedian, His comedies were the only Western films allowed to be shown during Hoxha’s dictatorship as he saw them as classic illustrations of the struggle of a proletarian hero against the ruling classes.
A spokesman for Mr Blair said: “Mr Rama met Tony Blair in London last week. As was accurately reported on Albanian TV, Mr Rama said that if he became PM, he would like Mr Blair’s advice on how to modernise government and implement a reform agenda.
"Mr Blair said that he would be happy to help, as both Albania and the region meant a huge amount to him, the conflict in Kosovo having been an important period in his Premiership. That was the sum total of the discussion about any work that Mr Blair and his team might do there.
"It has also been accurately reported in the Albanian media that Alastair Campbell has been advising the Socialist Party on election strategy.”