Saturday, January 4, 2014

Erdogan denounces ‘plot’ against Turkey’s future

Erdogan reiterated his view that forces in Turkey and abroad are conspiring to oust him from power. (File photo: Reuters)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Islamist-leaning government is engulfed in a corruption scandal, on Saturday called the political crisis a “plot” against Turkey’s “future and stability” by rival forces.

At a luncheon in Istanbul with generally pro-government intellectuals, writers and journalists, Erdogan reiterated his view that forces in Turkey and abroad are conspiring to oust him from power.

“What they wanted to do was an attempted assassination of the national will,” he said in the televised address.

“They tried to carry out a judicial coup in Turkey.... But we are going to oppose this operation, this December 17 plot that targeted the future, the stability of our country,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan’s conspiracy charges are in reaction to a vast corruption investigation that led to the arrests on December 17 of key allies including high-profile businessmen and the sons of former ministers.

The prime minister was forced to reshuffle his cabinet and some lawmakers have resigned from his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The corruption scandal has also affected the economy with the Turkish lira currency at record lows against the dollar and shares tumbling on the Istanbul stock exchange this week.

Erdogan on Saturday expressed confidence that Turkey would overcome its current difficulties. He pointed to municipal elections set for March as a test for the regime in upcoming presidential elections in August.

“We will not allow a cloud to be cast over Turkey’s future,” he said.

Erdogan’s government, in power since 2002, has accused loyalists of US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who wield influence in the police and judiciary, of instigating the corruption probe.

Gulen, who left Turkey for the United States in 1999 after being accused of plotting to form an Islamic state, has denied involvement in the investigation.

PM insists early elections "not priority"

BATROVCI -- Serbian Prime Minister and Socialist Party (SPS) leader Ivica Dačić has reiterated that he does not see early elections as a priority.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
The last word on that subject should be had by the parties in power, and not the government, he commented on Friday, while touring the Batrovci border crossing.
"I'm not talking about this alone. I spoke with (Aleksandar) Vučić, and if he wants to go to the polls, let's go to the polls, but - do we want to work, or wait for elections? The Serbian government works and should be dedicated to work. Elections are not a topic, it is not a state priority," said Dačić, and added that the government has "big work to do as early as next week."

According to him, the government has made a historic result - January 21 will be the start of negotiations on EU membership, the dialogue in Brussels continues, "and it is taking place almost every month so it is necessary to be devoted to work."

"Also, different state priorities could be determined. There is no dilemma there, nor any need for a public debate. This should be decided by the parties in the ruling coalition, and I do not want to deal with the issue any longer. It is not the central issue, it is not a matter for the government, but for the parties that make up the government," the news agencies quoted Dačić as saying.

Asked to comment on a remark made by President Tomislav Nikolić, that Serbia could have a better government and that the prime minister should come from the largest party - the SNS - Dačić, who heads the SPS, said:

"That's not what he was saying when the government was formed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Maybe I have an opinion about others who perform other state functions. Maybe I think they can do better."

Asked whether the government indeed could perform better, he said that "in Serbia, anyone can do better, and even the government."

"If someone can do better, let them go ahead. We've made historic progress," the prime minister said.
Turkey Selects Local Shipyard for LPD Contract

[linked image]
Dec. 29, 2013


ANKARA Turkey selected a local shipyard to award the countrys first-ever contract for the acquisition of a Landing Platform Dock (LPD), a deal industry sources estimated at about $500 million.

Turkeys procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), announced on its web page late Dec. 27 that it picked up Sedef Gemi Insaati A.S., a privately-owned Istanbul shipyard, to open contract negotiations for the LPD program.

SSM said if contract negotiations with Sedef failed, talks would open with the second-comer, DESAN Deniz Insaat Sanayi A.S.

SSM opened the competition in 2010.

[linked image]
Turkey is bordered by sea on three sides; the Black Sea in the north, the Mediterranean in the south and the Aegean in the west. In the northwest, there is also an important internal sea, the Sea of Marmara, between the straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, important waterways that connect the Black Sea with the rest of the world. The Turkish coastline is 4,474 miles, excluding islands.

Turkey has long been aiming to bolster its amphibious vessel fleet. The LPD program is designed to deploy a battalion-sized force of up to 1,000 troops and personnel, eight utility helicopters, three UAVs, 13 tanks and 81 armored vehicles to crisis zones in the three seas near Turkey.

Seven private local shipyards received requests for proposal for the LPD competition, and they submitted their offers late in 2011. Foreign manufacturers interested in the program included Italys Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani; South Koreas Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction; Spains Navantia; the Netherlands Merwede Shipyard Nieuwbouw; Frances DCNS Group; the U.S.s Northrop Grumman Ship Systems; Britains DML Davenport Royal Dockyard; and Germanys ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Surface Vessel Division.

Turkish officials have said they prefer joint development and production proposals, bringing together Turkish and foreign companies. Sedef is expected to choose foreign partner or partners for certain capabilities in the program.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Rama: 2014, year of recovery

"The extremist forces are a concerning issue for the EU. It is not up to us to treat and resolve that issue. What we can do, is to make sure that that integration will not hampered by them. EU doesn't hide the fact that the Muslim affiliation of part of our population is concerning", Rama declared.

Rama: 2014, year of recovery
The Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, held the New Year's Eve press conference this Monday, in which he commented the first 100 days of his government and announced the priorities for the next year.

"Citizens voted the change and made 2013 the year of the big change. With their votes, doctors, teachers, police officers and 97% of the citizens chose to have fewer taxes. In these 100 days we established our orientation for the future", Rama declared.

"Reestablishing law and order, and protecting citizens and their property, will be the priority of 2014. Other priority is the justice reform. The Albanian people need justice", Rama declared, underlining that the foreign and integration policies will also be a priority.

"Next year we will have a foreign policy based on the promotion of an active Albania. The next year will be the year of work for the integration process and that Albania takes what it deserved", the head of government declared.

Rama added that radical reforms await our country in the next year, and he announced a series of actions that will take under control the national assets. He also declared that the property titles will all be given in 2014.

The Prime Minister also answered to journalist questions. When asked by Top Channel if there will be constitutional changes in the next year, he declared:

"We don't have a plan to make constitutional changes. We will make a justice reform and we are ready to cooperate with the opposition for this".

Rama underlined that there are no barriers with businesses in Kosovo, and that as for the Peja Beer, the Albanian government has simply followed the directives of the European Union.

As for the relations with Kosovo, Rama guaranteed that in the first meeting between the two governments they will mark the beginning of the strategic governing between the two states.

When asked about Albania's position in the Islamic Conference, Rama accepted that this is an issue for the Eu, but underlined that it will be resolved with maturity.

"The extremist forces are a concerning issue for the EU. It is not up to us to treat and resolve that issue. What we can do, is to make sure that that integration will not hampered by them. EU doesn't hide the fact that the Muslim affiliation of part of our population is concerning", Rama declared.

Greece's wind-powered electricity capacity rises 6.6 pct

Installed wind-powered electricity capacity in Greece rose to 1,864.6 megawatts at the end of 2013 from 1,749.4 MW a year earlier, the Hellenic Wind Energy Association said on Thursday.
Installed capacity rose by 71.15 MW in the second half of 2013 compared with an increase of 44.05 MW in the first half and 10.35 MW in the second half of 2012, showing investment recovery amid adverse economic conditions, the Athens-based association said in an e-mailed statement.
Electricite de France SA was the biggest producer of wind energy in Greece in 2013, accounting for 322.8 MW or 17 percent of total production, according to the association.
Terna Energy SA was the second-largest producer with 277.4 MW and Iberdrola Renovables SA’s Greek unit, Rokas Renewables, was third with 250.7 MW. Enel Green Power SpA and Ellaktor made up the rest of the top five producers.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S accounted for 49 percent of wind turbines installed in Greece in 2013 and Enercon GmbH for 24 percent.
Bakogiani calls, the Greek diaspora, for dual citizenship


The next local elections in May, the Greeks of Diaspora, will vote for the first time in history

About 700 thousand
Northern Epiriotes, will receive double citizenship after the bill is expected to pass in the Greek parliament

Dora Bakogianis , a Senior official, of the Nea Demokracy Party of the PM Antonis Samaras, during a visit in Melbourne, Australia, has said before the Greek diaspora, that the Greek government (ND, PASOK) has prepared a draft law for the device with dual nationality, all the Greek diaspora, Omogenia in 5 continents where they live.

In this case, the former Foreign Minister of Greece Dora Bakogiani, a good cognitive, for the national issues of Greece, has informed the Australian Greek lobby, for the efforts of the Greek government, to provide within these months, with dual citizenship and the right to vote, in the upcoming local elections to be held in May, in Greece.

Of course in the program of this draft law, the Northern Epiriotes, are a large contingent from Albania, in which a major category, including ethnic Greeks, mixed families, vllaho greeks, and Albanian with permanent residence permits in Greece.

According to sources for SManalysis, the Greek dual citizenship, may receive about 700 thousand Northern epiriotes, with the right to vote, both Greece and Albania where they live.

The procedure of distribution of dual citizenship documents, will be a process headed by foreign Ministry, directly by consulates in all the world where live the Greek diaspora (omogenes).

According to a result of the Census from the Greek Organization in Albania, " Omonia ", over 300 thousand ethnic Greeks, live in Albania, half of them immigrants living in Greece, who having parents, permanent civil status and property in Albania.

Anyway, both Athens and the Greek Organization "Omonia", doesn`t recognize the Albania Census of 2011, realized by the Albanian Government, which accounts about 1.7% of Greek community that live in Albania and 6.7% the orthodox community.
Kosovo and Albania, project unification
Both governments will gather next week

Both governments will gather next week
The most commented news by analysts for the end of this year was the joing meeting of the two Albanian governments, that of Albania and Kosovo, led by Edi Rama and Hashim Thaci.

The meeting was confirmed by the Albanian PM and Kosovo Deputy PM, saying that it will be held on the second week of January.

Besides a joint strategy for concrete cooperation between Albania and Kosovo in several areas, the first meeting between both governments, which will be held in Prizren, will establish a joint fund for the Presheva Valley in Serbia.

The projects that will be realized from these funds are the building of a maternity and school, promises made by the Albanian Prime Minister during his electoral campaign.

This fund would be the first one that the Albanian governments give for the Presheva Valley, and it has been welcomed by the Presheva local leaders, who considered it delayed but welcomed. Kosovo analysts consider the commitment of the Kosovo and Albanian governments as very positive, but have not hesitated to compare it to the help that the government of Serbia is giving to northern Kosovo.

Analysts in Prishtina says more than financial helps, the Albanians of Serbia need to improve the rights of the Albanian people there. However, this is the first tike that an Albanian government from Tirana helps the valley of Albanian majority in Serbia, who often report of denied rights as a minority.

Greece to overhaul defence buying after scandal

ATHENS Fri Jan 3, 2014 

(Reuters) - Greece will overhaul arms procurement to make it more transparent, Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Friday, after a wide-ranging corruption inquiry led to the arrest of a former defence official and two arms dealers.
Heavy arms spending was one of the reasons Athens piled up debt and had to be rescued with European Union and IMF bailouts totalling 240 billion euros ($328 billion) in 2010 and 2012.
These were accompanied by strict conditions that have increased poverty and unemployment, so the scandal has touched a raw nerve with many Greeks.
Avramopoulos said the ministry's proposals would be submitted to parliament "in the immediate future".
His statement followed court testimony by Antonis Kantas, deputy armaments chief at the ministry between 1997 and 2002, who openly admitted to taking $16 million in bribes relating to arms deals with foreign companies from countries including Germany, France, Russia, Brazil and Sweden.
Two arms dealers named by Kantas, who was arrested and charged with graft in December, appeared in court on Friday to respond to bribery charges.
One of the pair, 83-year-old Panagiotis Efstathiou, admitted before investigating judges to bribing Kantas and also making payments to at least seven high-ranking officers of the Greek armed forces, according to a transcript of his testimony obtained by Reuters.
Efstathiou, who was released on 500,000 euros' bail, said he paid the bribes on behalf of German defence company Atlas. The firm told Reuters in a statement on Monday it was carrying out an internal investigation into the matter and would then "decide on the steps to follow".
Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), another German company named by Kantas according to his testimony obtained by Reuters, said in a statement on Friday it was also carrying out investigations. "KMW has neither paid bribes nor made anyone pay bribes, and obliges its employees and business partners to strictly comply with the law," it said.
The second arms dealer interrogated on Friday, 78-year old Dimitris Papachristos, was detained in jail after his testimony in which he also admitted he paid Kantas, according to court sources.
According to Kantas's testimony and court sources, Papachristos represented Wegmann in Greece at the time alleged bribes were paid.
Greece had the highest defence expenditure in the European Union in relation to economic output over the past decade. Its military spending stood at about 4 percent of output in 2009, when its debt crisis started. Most contracts were awarded to foreign companies.
Athens has already convicted a former defence minister and Kantas's immediate superior at the ministry for money laundering. ($1 = 0.7322 euros)
(Additional reporting by Karolina Tagaris in Athens and Sabine Siebold in Berlin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo strive to improve road infrastructure

The three countries say developing highway and railway connectivity between them is a priority.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Ohrid -- 03/01/14
photoAlbania, Macedonia and Kosovo officials met in Ohrid to jumpstart transportation infrastructure projects. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]
Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo are working on transportation infrastructure projects to improve travel and develop local economies.
Transportation and infrastructure officials met in Ohrid last month and agreed to begin implementing highway projects beginning in the first quarter of this year to connect the three countries. They also agreed to finish construction of the railway along east-west European transportation corridor No. 8 as well as liberalise freight transportation.
"We are beginning to intensify the co-operation process aimed to fully implement all projects and available funds. The process is open to all regional countries because they are involved in European integration," said Albania Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Edmond Haxhinasto.
Haxhinasto said the meetings have a specific platform and are structured to solve current problems and to look to the future.
Albania announced capital road infrastructure projects to build highways to significantly ease transportation with Macedonia and Kosovo.
Macedonian officials said the country will begin to build two highways in its western part adjacent Albania and Kosovo, while concurrently working on completing the highway to Greece.
"I already announced the signing of the agreement to construct the Kicevo-Ohrid highway -- works will begin in the first trimester of 2014 -- and also the Macedonian government is making efforts to obtain a favourable financial package for the Gostivar-Kicevo highway. In addition, I announced our plans to rehabilitate the road toward Debar [on the Albanian border]," Mile Janakieski, Macedonia transportation and communications minister, said.
Kosovo has completed highway No. 6, which connects Kosovo with the north-south transportation corridor No. 10, Fehmi Mujota, Kosovo infrastructure minister, said.
"We are about to begin construction on the new highway to the Macedonian border and expect to complete it in three years," Mujota said.
Mujota said work will likely continue across the border in Macedonia to connect this highway with the Tetovo-Gostivar-Kicevo highway.
"Only this [completed] route will make corridor No. 8 functional," he added.
"We will continue to contribute to [develop] the east-west transportation corridor No. 8 [because] connecting Tirana and Skopje is very important," Haxhinasto added.
Completing the road infrastructure means an increase in trade between the three states, and Macedonian companies will begin more readily to use ports in Albania as an alternative to the port in Thessaloniki, said Menderes Kuci, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Northwest Macedonia in Tetovo.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Albania brands power pylon blast a "terrorist act"


TIRANA Thu Jan 2, 2014 
Jan 2 (Reuters) - Albania's interior ministry said on Thursday an explosion that damaged a power pylon was a "terrorist act" apparently prompted by anger over higher fuel prices and taxes.
The attack, which targeted a major electricity transmission line linking the capital Tirana with Albania's northern neighbour Montenegro, occurred on Dec. 31 and did not appear to disrupt power supplies in the small Balkan nation.

The interior ministry distributed pictures showing the damage to the pylon - which remained standing - and also two small signs taped to the structure that read "fuel" and "taxes" in Albanian.
"This is the first terrorist act in the Republic of Albania which has been accompanied by clear messages left at the crime scene by the perpetrators," the ministry said in a statement.

Albania's Socialist government has hiked a national fuel tax by 10 leks ($0.10) per litre and also raised taxes on big business and the wealthy since sweeping to power in September.

The explosion recalled a spate of similar attacks a decade ago which caused some disruption in electricity supplies. ($1 = 101.9750 Albanian leks) (Reporting By Benet Koleka, editing by Gareth Jones)

Montenegrin FM: NATO has no alternative

PODGORICA -- Montenegrin Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Igor Lukšić has said that membership in NATO has no alternative for his country.
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
"NATO today has no alternative. It is the guarantor of every kind of safety to a country and it is important that the citizens of Montenegro understand in the right way that this is the best way for our children and for future development," Lukšić said.
Montenegro is currently in the Membership Action Plan (MAP), while full membership in NATO is considered to be the next step.

"Given our desire and ambition to be given an invitation for membership in 2014, we will continue with further fulfillment of obligations, and we actively contribute to global stability as a dedicated and reliable partner of the alliance," he continued.

Lukšić also told the CDM website that the Montenegrin government will in the coming period "intensify the dialogue with citizens on the subject of integration in NATO and offer sufficient arguments so that they understand the benefits of membership in the alliance."

Lukšić said that Montenegro, with the opening of negotiating chapters 23 and 24, "showed that it was a serious partner of the European Union," but that it was also "capable of meeting the demanding obligations on the road of European integration."

He pointed out that the policy of good neighborly relations also continues to be one of the priorities of Montenegro.

Commenting on relations within the Montenegrin ruling coalition, he said that there had been "better moments," but that it was "quite normal that after a long joint performance of authority there should be friction and different views on certain issues."

Hellenic Armed Forces | 2013 | All Equipment | HD

US Navy submarine fires drone from underwater

Time-lapse photography shows the launch of a drone from the submerged submarine USS Providence. (Photo: NAVSEA-AUTEC)
Time-lapse photography shows the launch of a drone from the submerged submarine USS Providence. (Photo: NAVSEA-AUTEC)
The US Navy has successfully launched an unmanned aerial system from a fully submerged submarine, marking the successful completion of a nearly six year long program designed to further the Navy’s drone capabilities.
The fuel-cell powered, completely electric unmanned aerial system (UAS) was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) with funding assistance provided by the Department of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office and the SwampWorks innovation program.
Engineers used a launch system known as ‘Sea Robin’ (first developed to launch tomahawk missiles from submarines) to fire what is known as the eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System, or XFC UAS. The UAS surfaced before rocketing through the air for several hours, broadcasting the entire mission via live video to commanders watching from a nearby base.
This six-year effort represents the best in collaboration of a Navy laboratory and industry to produce a technology that meets the needs of the special operations community,” Dr. Warren Schultz, program developer and manager at NRL, said in a press release. “The creativity and resourcefulness brought to the project by a unique team of scientists and engineers represents an unprecedented shift in UAV propulsion and launch systems.”
The Navy’s announcement Thursday comes as the public is questioning the very future of drones. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced this week that he hopes the company will eventually deliver packages throughout the United States by using drones rather than traditional ground and air delivery services. The mere mention of such a plan was enough to cause a commotion, with columnists and lawmakers alike warning against such a plan.
Moreover, upcoming regulations by the FAA on the domestic use of drones are expected to include major restrictions and limit the use of UAV’s weighing up to 55 pounds.
It also comes after the Navy and Marines decided to bet big on the RQ-21A Blackjack. Officials at Navy Air Command awarded an $8.8 million contract to Insitu, a subsidiary of the Boeing Corporation last week in an exchange for an initial Blackjack order. The order includes the production of one aircraft, ground control stations, as well as launch equipment, according to Wired.
The Blackjack craft is 8 feet long with a wingspan of 16 feet, weighing in at 80 pounds. The drone can be launched from air or sea and is capable of flying 104 mph at nearly 20,000 feet for 13 hours.
It has a configurable payload that allows you to integrate new and unique payloads that are specific to the mission in addition to an [electro-optical/infrared] camera,” Marine Corps Major Wayne Phelps told the technology magazine. “You can have multi-mission ability. This allows you to do some type of unique cross-cueing types of missions.”

US the biggest threat to world peace in 2013 – poll

Published time: January 02, 2014 13:30
Edited time: January 02, 2014 18:14
US President Barack Obama. (AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)
US President Barack Obama. (AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)
The US has been voted as the most significant threat to world peace in a survey across 68 different countries. Anti-American sentiment was not only recorded in antagonistic countries, but also in many allied NATO partners like Turkey and Greece.

A global survey conducted by the Worldwide Independent Network and Gallup at the end of 2013 revealed strong animosity towards the US’s role as the world’s policeman. Citizens across over 60 nations were asked: “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?”
The US topped the list, with 24 percent of people believing America to be the biggest danger to peace. Pakistan came second, with 8 percent of the vote and was closely followed by China with 6 percent. Afghanistan, Iran, Israel and North Korea came in joint fourth place with 5 percent of the vote.

The threat from the US was rated most highly in the Middle East and North Africa, those areas most recently affected by American military intervention. Moreover, the survey showed that even Americans regard their country as a potential threat with 13 percent of them voting the US could disrupt global status quo.
Latin America expressed mixed feelings towards its northerly neighbor, with Peru, Brazil and Argentina all flagging the US as the most dangerous country.

After its numerous threats of a strike on Iran, many countries voted Israel was the biggest threat to prosperity. Morocco, Lebanon and Iraq all chose Israel as the number one danger to world peace.
In the survey participants were also asked: “If there were no barriers to living in any country of the world, which country would you like to live in?” Despite being the perceived largest threat to world peace, the US still topped the tables by a narrow margin of 9 percent.

In general 2013 saw a drop in approval ratings for the Obama Administration. A poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research revealed that 50 percent of those asked thought that the political system in the US needed a “complete overhaul.”
In addition, 70 percent of Americans believe the government lacks the ability to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”
The survey comes two months after the first government shutdown in 17 years in the US which cost the country an estimated $10 billion.

The American government’s credibility was dealt a blow earlier this year when President Obama made a call to strike Syria following a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government on civilians. The American public and the international community both opposed the action.
Two Albanians tend to grab the house of the head of the Municipality of Senigallia in Italy

Ancona ( Italy ) - New Year 's night, two Albanians have used differently way from most other people. Ardit Nuhu and Denis Lleshaj attempted to rob the house of Senigallia 's mayor, Maurizio Mangialardi, when the latter was celebrating in the streets .

21 - year-old and 18 - year-old (Nuhu and Lleshaj), both unmarried and persons without criminal precedents, forcibly entered to the house of Senigallia 's mayor, a city unit, 25 km from Ancona with a population of about 45 thousand inhabitants.

They were sure no one was in the house, since it was made ​​public that would emerge Mangialardi downtown to celebrate the changing of the years .

But they were neighbors who called the police, after two Albanians dictated by secretly entered the house of the mayor .

Within a few minutes near the mayor's house has received a police patrol surprised by two Albanians were collecting jewels and valuable personal items.
Edi Rama, Person of 2013

Edi Rama, Person of 2013
The Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, is the Person of Year 2013, as voted by the public on the annual poll organized by Top Channel's website.

Second on the list is Elhaida Dani, the singer from Shkoder, who triumphed in the Voic of Italy, and declared as the Best Voice of Italy in 2013.

Third on the list are the protesters, everyone who said "No!" to the import of waste materials and the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons in our country.

The Albanian Prime Minister leads the list, while the second and third place are divided by only four votes.

Voters have chosen fourth Pal Ndoka, the person who reported the justice scandal through Top Channel's investigative program "Fiks Fare".

Shpend Ahmeti and Mimoza Kusari Lila are in the Top Ten, two novelties of the Kosovo politics for this year.

Ninth on the list is the former MP, Sokol Olldashi, who leads among the right wing politicians.

Former Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, is ranked 12th, a few votes after the US Ambassador Alexander Arvizu, but still higher than the current Democratic Party leader, Lulzim Basha.

Greece is estimated to become the new "Norway" according to many big Oil companies
January 2 2014

Greece: A new European oil and gas zone

A lot of ink has been spilled about the possible hydrocarbon quantities in Greece. Many companies have shown a lot of interest for the seismic data of just the first regions that have been explored by PGS.

Greece can be prove to be the new European oil and gas zone, without even taking into consideration the promising shale oil and gas that is present in many Greek regions.

Underneath the Aegean and Ionian Sea crust, according to many scientists lies some of the biggest hydrocarbon reservoirs of Europe. Top executives of the Oil and Gas industry estimate that Greece can acquire its own hydrocarbon industry in the years to come, and turn out to be an energy center for the whole region.

Even though it is quite soon to say whether the hydrocarbon quantities will be enough to make Greece an exporter, or even if it is enough for its own needs, preliminary results are very promising. New technologies and techniques help in making deep sea reservoirs reachable and economically viable. This could upgrade the geopolitical status of Greece in many ways.

Cyprus is cooperating with Israel for their own gas reservoirs and both are seeking ways to export these huge gas quantities to Europe. Greece can be the solution to this problem with the international TAP pipeline, and even with the plans for the huge gas storing place in the Northern Aegean in Macedonia region.

Greece is estimated to become the new Norway according to many big Oil companies.

This could pose part of a solution for the economic crisis that Greece has in the recent few years. Huge amount of money as well as many new job positions could offer a breath of much needed fresh air to Greece.

New regions of Greece in the Ionian Sea and in the south of Crete of a total 225.000 square km are now being promoted for seismic research. Many sources in the government say that in these regions, reservoirs such as the Cypriot and Israeli are expected to be discovered.

A significant problem that exists is that Greece has not, yet, declared its exclusive economic zones as most of the countries worldwide have. The reasons for this are complex and tricky. It was to do with the geopolitical situations and power play in the region. An exclusive economic zone, also known as EEZ, gives to a state right over the mineral rights over that area. Greeces neighbor to the East, Turkey, has declared as Casus Belli, or act of war, if Greece exercises its lawful right to declare its EEZ. Up to this point this wrongful Turkish position had little economic consequences, but now, as there are hydrocarbons involved a solution is needed. USA is exercising pressure to make the two countries reach a solution and exploit the hydrocarbons together. Many parameters have to be taken into consideration for something like that to happen though.

 A plan B, for Balkans?

"Change of borders would contribute to lasting peace"

BELGRADE -- Former British Ambassador to Yugoslavia Sir Ivor Roberts believes that "a correction of borders in the Balkans would contribute to a lasting peace".
Ivor Roberts is seen at the Belgrade Book Fair (Tanjug)
Ivor Roberts is seen at the Belgrade Book Fair (Tanjug)
This "correction" would also include Kosovo, the now retired British diplomat told B92 in Belgrade on Wednesday.
Roberts, who currently serves as president of Oxford's Trinity College, is in Serbia to promote his book "Conversations with Milosevic", which was presented during the ongoing International Belgrade Book Fair.

He added that it was his personal opinion that insistence on unchangeable borders was "absurd":

"We always had these mantras about Yugoslavia. For instance, after the NATO bombing, the Security Council adopted a resolution containing the mantra about the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. After that Serbia and Montenegro separated, and later Kosovo. The idea that such positions are carved in stone is absurd, just as is insistence that a country with unsolved territorial issues cannot join the EU. In that case Great Britain would have to leave immediately because we have territorial disputes with three countries."

The former ambassador also noted that instead of debating whether a change of existing borders would be good or bad, more focus should be put on the interest of the citizens.

"What will stability bring? We have a saying that 'good fences make good neighbors'. If people are still unable to live in peace and tolerance - and incidents in Kosovo show that the situation is not good, and that's not my impression, those are facts on the ground - then perhaps it's best to redefine some of those borders," Roberts concluded.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Help for Greece from across the Atlantic

By Katerina Sokou
WASHINGTON DC – The degree to which the Greek-American lobby can actually influence policymaking in the United States is debatable, but some things cannot be denied: A first is the close-knit ties between a number of Greek-American millionaires and big political players in Washington; a second is the persistent efforts of various organizations, institutes and committees to promote the motherland's so-called “national issues;” and, thirdly, the growing challenges in pushing Greek interests in the US in the wake of the financial crisis – together with the new opportunities that social media have created in this area.
“Money is a problem,” said a Greek American who has in the past donated money to Democrat as well as Republican candidates. Asking to remain anonymous, he explained that the amount of money spent during US election campaigns has over the past few years gone through the roof.
Even the wealthiest members of the Greek-American community can only spend a certain amount of money, said Endy Zemenides, executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, a national Greek-American advocacy organization based in Chicago.
For Zemenides, donations are important but what really makes a difference is regular, personal contact with politicians. “It is important that we build ties with candidates before they even move to Washington, while they are still in their states,” he said, adding that that has been the case with some of Greece's closest friends, including Robert Menendez, the senior United States senator from New Jersey, and Vice President Joe Biden.
The Greek-American community may be generous, but it does have a serious handicap: It does a poor job of mobilizing its members. Zemenides believes that the reason for this is that the concept of civic society is still underdeveloped among Greeks for grassroots lobbying to flourish. He says that in order to strengthen this, they will have to engage more women. The reason is partly pure mathematics: Today it takes 100,000 signatures for the White House to respond to a letter. But it is also a matter of quality: On top of the diversity effect, statistics show women spend more money than men on the campaigns they are interested in.
The Hellenic American Leadership Council website invites visitors to sign petitions and send letters on Greece-related issues to representatives and local newspapers. One may, for example, find a template for a letter to the press asking for better coverage of Turkey issues. A similar process can be followed at the American Hellenic Institute, which sends out action alerts to its members so that they can sign petitions to the US Congress.
What organizations like Hellenic Leaders and the American Hellenic Institute share is the emphasis on “national issues” such as the Cyprus problem. In spite of the efforts of the Greek-American lobby, most of these issues remain deadlocked for years. At the same time, the crises in Greece and Cyprus are changing their governments' priorities as there is less money for lobbying and the situation calls for greater emphasis on financial, technical even psychological aid from the diaspora.
Art Dimopoulos, a former executive at international law firm K&L Gates, insists on the need to hire specialized advisers. The firm, he said, has in the past come into contact with Greek leaders who thought they knew how things in Washington ran – but they were deeply misled. “An expert knows better how to approach a member of Congress or the head of a department and how to put forward a demand so as to achieve the desired outcome,” he said. This can be particularly useful for professional sectors like tourism, wine making and olive oil production.
Dimopoulos pointed out one more crucial factor: the need to reach an agreement on a set of key interests. As he says, “I'm for a strong, holistic lobbying campaign; not here, but in Greece. This is where we need to train, inform and win over public opinion. So everyone will be on the same wavelength on issues that are important to all Greeks and on which we should all be united.”
Despite the lack of resources and outside help, the understaffed Greek Embassy in Washington is putting a great deal of energy into social media and digital diplomacy as a member of Washington's Digital Diplomacy Coalition and with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr. In fact, the @GreeceInUSA Twitter account was the eighth most influential diplomatic account in Washington. Greek Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos was one of the first diplomats to join the microblogging service.
The embassy does not always deal with high politics, but it is trying to mold a positive image for Greece. A recent social media campaign was aimed at promoting study programs in Greece for foreign students, while the next plan is the promotion of Greek entrepreneurship, innovation and research.
Meanwhile, Turkey is working with FleishmanHillard advertisers to strengthen its presence in social media. The same company is responsible for organizing jazz nights at the stunning residence of the Turkish ambassador, thus promoting not just the political but also the cultural dimension of the country. Turkey is spending millions of euros on the promotion of its objectives through a wide range of channels, including Turkish Airlines as well as the movement of Muhammed Fethullah Gulen.
According to ProPublica, Turkey spent 3.5 million dollars in 2008, the fourth-highest amount among foreign states, and approached members of Congress 2,268 times in its efforts to avert the recognition of the Armenian massacres as a genocide.

Albania working with Europol against organised crime

Signing a strategic agreement with Europol will greatly help Albania fight organised crime.
By Erl Murati for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 31/12/13
photoAlbania Minister of Interior Affairs Saimir Tahiri (centre) signs an agreement on co-operation with Europol. [Ministry of Internal Affairs of Albania]
Albania is steadily deepening relations with EU law enforcement agencies in an effort to stop organised crime and consolidate the rule of law on its path to EU membership.
The country signed a co-operation agreement with Europol, EU's main law enforcement agency, in The Hague earlier this month.
The purpose of the agreement is to enhance co-operation EU member states acting through Europol and Albania in preventing, investigating and suppressing serious forms of international crime, according to Saimir Tahiri, interior minister of Albania.
"The agreement is historical because it recognises the achievements of the state police, but above all, [provides a] boost for the on-going reforms and the results already achieved in the fight against organised crime and corruption," Tahiri told SETimes.
Albanian police will now be able to access Europol's database to co-ordinate activities with police in EU member states in cases against trafficking of narcotics, people, human organs and tissues, motor vehicles, works of art as well as historical artefacts.
Europol officials said Albania's greater inclusion in the work of EU's law enforcement is mutually beneficial.
"Through the signing of this agreement, we confirm our joint commitment and solidarity in the fight against serious organised crime and all forms of terrorist activity," Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, said.
Officials said they expect a better information exchange and police activity co-ordination to strengthen Albanian police's efforts directed against money-laundering, counterfeit money and computer crime.
"The signing of the co-operation agreement between the state police and Europol is a decisive step forward," said Ditmir Bushati, foreign affairs minister of Albania.
The arrangement with Europol brings Albania closer to the EU, said Sokol Bizhga, deputy director of police in charge of investigating organised crime.
"Specifically, if Europol asked for information from Albania in the past, we could not do the same. Being part of this organisation puts us in a position to exchange information in a reciprocal way. This is converted into efficiency in the fight against organised crime and corruption," Bizhga told SETimes.

Meanwhile, Albania has been also intensifying co-operation with neighboring countries' law enforcement. Last month, Greek police caught three out of seven escapees from a high-security prison in Albania. Both police forces acknowledged their joint engagement led to the prisoners being quickly captured.
Some Albanians said they expect the authorities' efforts to address organised crime will improve Albania's EU bid, but they also hope for the opportunities to do business with EU member states.
"Every day, Albanian police in the port of Durres and the Italian police arrest traffickers of stolen vehicles and marijuana. This has raised suspicion about Albanians every time they cross the border. I wish such a situation ends as soon as possible and trade flows more freely," said Halit Turtulli, 56, a clothing trader from Durres, told SETimes.
How will the agreement with Europol help Albania fight organised crime? Share your opinion in the comments space.
This content was commissioned for

Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey awards over $1 billion defense contracts in one week

Burak Bekdil

Within the past week, companies have ‘coincidentally’ signed on the dotted line in three long-awaited, prominent defense industry projects that are said to be worth over $1 billion and include agreements for new landing docks and aircraft

AA Photo
AA Photo
The last week of the year saw Turkey’s defense procurement authorities signing deals worth over $1 billion in what procurement officials called a “pure coincidence.”

“Those were programs that had been ongoing for a long time. It is a coincidence that the announcements came one after the other within a week,” one procurement official said.

Defense industry sources said the procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), probably wanted to wrap up some of the programs ready for a decision as the financial year closed. “The SSM may have wanted to complete some of its checklist before the new financial [year] opened,” one source said.

In the largest of the three deals, SSM selected a local shipyard to award the country’s first-ever contract for the acquisition of a Landing Platform Dock (LPD). Industry sources estimate the contract totals around $500 million.

SSM said it picked up Sedef Gemi İnşaati A.Ş., a privately owned Istanbul shipyard, to open contract negotiations for the LPD program. It said that if contract negotiations with Sedef failed, talks would open with the second-comer, DESAN Deniz İnşaat Sanayi A.Ş. SSM opened the competition in 2010.

Turkey has long been aiming to bolster its amphibious vessel fleet. The LPD program, one of its most ambitious efforts, is designed to deploy a battalion-sized force of up to 1,000 troops and personnel, eight utility helicopters, three UAVs, 13 tanks and 81 armored vehicles to crisis zones in the three international seas around Turkey.

Just a day before the announcement on the LPD program, the Turkish government signed a critical contract for the serial production of two different versions of the Hürkuş, an indigenous trainer aircraft developed by the Tusaş Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

Turkey’s top decision-maker overseeing defense procurement, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, ruled Sept. 26 to open contract negotiations with TAI for the serial production of the Hürkuş.

TAI said the Hürkuş-A, an analog cockpit base model, made its maiden flight on Aug. 23 and has flown a total of 800 hours in 15 sorties since then.

The contract involves the production of 15 Hürkuş-Bs, an advanced version with advanced avionics. Turkish military electronics specialist Aselsan will be tasked with producing modern military avionics for the aircraft.

TAI also said the contract involved conceptual design work for the Hürkuş-C, an armed aircraft with aerial support, reconnaissance and surveillance roles.

The two-seat Hürkuş will have a maximum lifespan of 10,500 flight hours, or about 35 years. The turboprop has a single 1,600-horsepower engine and can fly up to 10,577 meters (nearly 35,000 feet) at a maximum speed of 574 kilometers per hour.

The Hürkuş will be equipped for day and night flying, as well as for basic pilot training, instrument flying, navigation training, and weapons and formation training. It will have good visibility from both cockpits, with a 50-degree down-view angle from the rear cockpit, ejection seats, an on-board oxygen generation system, an environmental control system, an anti-G system, and shock-absorbing landing gear for training missions.

And on Dec. 23 Turkish military electronics specialist Aselsan signed a $167.4 million contract with the Turkish government to build an X-band satellite communications system.

Officials say the program aims to boost military data sharing and command of Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In an Oct. 23 interview with Defense News, SSM chief Murad Bayar said Turkey would add satcom capabilities to the Anka, the country’s first indigenously built UAV.

Bayar said the Anka’s design would evolve over time after consultations with the Air Force about what modifications or additions might be needed.

“The most critical modification from the original design will be the satcom capability, which we have decided to add to the aircraft,” he said.

Industry experts say satcom is considered to be an ideal solution for UAV operations. One expert said satcom would be a critical enabler of UAV operations. “It will enable extended-range data capture and transfer. A kind of multiplier, in a way,” the SSM official said.

Turkey recently signed a contract with TAI for an initial purchase of 10 Ankas.

The Anka is a medium-altitude, long-endurance drone. Such UAVs usually can operate for 24 hours at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Greece assumes EU presidency as anger towards Brussels grows

Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos hopes EU stewardship will show Greece is on the mend and boost its eurozone credentials
Syntagma Square protest
A Greek woman in Syntagma Square protests against plans for banks to repossess homes from those who have fallen behind on their mortgage. Photograph: Giorgos Panagakis/ Giorgos Panagakis/Demotix/Corbis
After years of allowing Athens's central plaza to bear the marks of riot and wrath, the Greek authorities have been tarting up Syntagma square as Greece prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the EU on New Year's Day.
Greece's assumption of the role – which comes with the ability to regulate policy in the 28-nation bloc – marks a major milestone for a state whose continued EU membership appeared far from assured a year ago.
Even now, four years after triggering the debt drama that would become Europe's worst crisis since the second world war, there is scepticism over whether Athens will last the course.
Monday's pre-dawn drive-by shooting attack at the home of Germany's ambassador to Greece underlined the volatile mood. The bullet casings found at the scene embodied the sentiments of a nation that blames Berlin for years of grinding austerity – the price of receiving more than €240bn (£200bn) in emergency loans from the EU and IMF. The fear of social unrest is never far away.
None of this is lost on Greece's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Evangelos Venizelos, who was quick to describe the shooting as an "attempt to tarnish Greece's image" before the EU presidency.
Greek antipathy towards Germany is one aspect of the crisis but so too is mounting hostility towards the EU.
"It's cost us a great deal," said Venizelos, rolling off a list of the sacrifices Greeks have made to stay in the bloc. "Greece stands alone in making a unique fiscal adjustment … in 3.5 years we have taken measures [worth] €70bn. That is the equivalent of 35% of GDP, " he added in an interview with the Guardian.
For Venizelos, the perceived irony of Greece "presiding over Germany" is further proof that member states remained far from equal. "The irony is to be found in the fact that the principle of institutional equality … is collapsing," he said. "Some countries decide and some countries execute [those decisions]."
But prime minister Antonis Samaras's conservative-led coalition also views the six-month post as an opportunity to ram home the message that Greece is both on the mend and taking its European credentials seriously.
"It's a chance for Europe, for the European Union, to show that a country that is in an adjustment programme is a normal country," said Venizelos. "And it's a chance for Greece to prove that it is a normal European country."
Athens will prioritise economic growth, immigration policy and youth unemployment, from which it suffers more than any other EU state. Privately, officials also hope that in allowing Greece to focus on European affairs, EU stewardship will give the government an unofficial grace period: a period of detente, free of the pressures to implement unpopular reforms that have not only polarised Greeks but steadily reduced the coalition's control of parliament to a majority of three.
With crucial elections for the European parliament in May – polls expected to bring anti-European sentiment to the fore – Venizelos said Greece is resolved to contribute to what is likely to be "a big debate" about Europe's future.
"Now that we are going to have the big debate … about Europe and the new narrative [of Europe], it is good that Greece, which has lived the experience of the crisis, is president. It is the laboratory of the crisis," he said.
Such goals may prove illusory. Despite achieving a primary budget surplus, Athens may miss new fiscal targets. On the street, passions are at boiling point following legislation that allows banks to repossess homes.
Amid speculation about a new bailout – vehemently denied by Samaras, who insisted on Monday that Greece will soon exit its rescue programme – fears abound that far from uniting Europe, the presidency will be overshadowed by Athens's often strained relations with the organisations that have kept it afloat. With EU members providing 80% of the rescue funds to date that will almost certainly reinforce the north-south divide.
"Our relations with the troika were always difficult," said Venizelos, referring to the recent inability of both sides to bridge their differences. "The troika is not behaving well in light of … our huge [financial] success," he added, insisting that Greece's rescue deals could have had a "more flexible and more clever approach".
In sharp contrast to other EU countries, Greece has kept pre-presidency refurbishments to a minimum. Apart from replacing the shattered marble in Syntagma square almost nothing has been done to adorn Athens. For many it is a sign of the times.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The top 10 most-read GlobalPost stories in 2013 prove you hate America, among other things


2. Europe’s marijuana capital isn’t Amsterdam

Lush strip of green: Nine-tenths of villagers are believed to take part in marijuana cultivation in Lazarat, Albania. (Besar Likmeta/GlobalPost)
Lazarat is known as Albania’s drug capital, notorious for its cannabis and lawlessness. The annual crop earns almost $6 billion, according to the Italian financial police. Although local police dispute that figure, they admit that marijuana production is booming.

See all the 10 list:

Greece: Former minister sentenced to 4-year suspended imprisonment

30/12 13:09 CET

Former Transport Minister Michalis Liapis was sentenced to four year suspended imprisonment, redeemable for 50 euros a day, after being arrested for driving an uninsured vehicle with fake number plates.
The former minister, who did not attend the trial , was imposed an additional fine of 3,000 euros because the vehicle was uninsured.

Earlier, the prosecutor had asked to declare him guilty without mitigating circumstances. Referring to the fake plates, the prosecutor said that the former minister acted fraudulently having premeditated the act.
The lawyers of the former minister claimed earlier that Liapis acted recklessly, adding that he feels bad and is remorseful. They also explained his absence from the court saying that there are 30 reporters and cameras outside that he wanted to avoid.
Source: Athens News Agency
Russia-Greece: significant room for further growth of trade relations

December 30 2013
[linked image]
"Voice of Russia"

Greece is probably Russia's oldest friend. The history of relations between the two nations is more than thousand years old. Economic and commercial ties between Greece and Russia do not reflect the excellent political relations at the moment, while trade relations have significant room for further growth.

Greek exports to Russia doubled in 2012 compared with 2004, and the positive trend is expected to continue. Around 150 mixed Greek-Russian businesses now operate in Russia, with a total turnover of 2.5 billion euro and 20,000 employees.

Speaking in Moscow, on the occasion of the Greek-Russian "Go International" forum in May this year, Greece's Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas said that a turn of the Greek economy towards exports was leading the economy out of the crisis.

"Russia has been upgraded at 10th from 12th place in terms of Greek exports and in 2016 I believe it will be in the top-five," Dimitris Kourkoulas said. "Exports, tourism and privatization will have a significant contribution to the rescue of our economy."

Russia looks upon the Greek market as a portal to a wider market of 65 million people. Tourism is the key sector for economic cooperation between the two countries right now. Greece, which will take over presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2014, is going to seek a looser EU visa regime for Russians in that period.

Greece needs Russian investments, mostly, in sectors like transport, agriculture, but most of all energy. Russia's Gazprom and Sintez, a private natural gas company, have recently raised more than 1.5 billion euro for a 65% share in Greece's DEPA state-owned natural gas group. Gazprom already uses DEPA capacities to supply some 90% of the Greek-bound gas.

A1 Report - Rama:Dosja Imami vetëm fillimi Statusi u bllokua nga radikalet

The battle ended of Albania in Europe, which are the reasons?

Edi Rama: Albania's status in the European Union, influenced by European radicals, who have nothing in common with the values ​​and ideals of the European Union.

Press Conference of the Albanian PM Edi Rana see video.
NYTIMES - The FILTH in Erdogan's Closet

December 30 2013

The Conquerors (Turkey) strongest words yet from an International paper...

ISTANBUL A wave of early morning police raids in Turkey on Dec. 17 gave the world a sudden glimpse into the murky inner workings of the countrys ruling elite, pulling back the curtain on astonishing scenes of bribery and graft.

The head of the state-controlled financial giant, Halkbank, had $4.5 million secreted in shoe boxes in his study. Istanbuls best-known real-estate developer was interrogated over bribes to evade zoning restrictions. The interior ministers sons home had so many strongboxes filled with cash, he needed a counting machine to keep the accounts straight. His father has now been forced to resign as part of major cabinet reshuffle. Another minister, Erdogan Bayraktar, who oversees the mega-construction projects that are transforming Istanbul, didnt leave quietly. He said hed done nothing without Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogans full blessing. To make people more comfortable, the prime minister should also resign, he told a private news channel.

These remarks from a lifelong political ally were particularly damaging. Billboards throughout Turkish cities feature Mr. Erdogan staring into the distance and proclaiming that he is on target to lead the Republic to its centenary in 2023. Suddenly, with four former ministers in his cabinet implicated in corruption and with newspapers suggesting that his own family may be next on the prosecutors list he looks like a man staring into the bottom of a well.

The allegations of high-level corruption threaten to undo Mr. Erdogans accomplishment of wresting Turkish politics from the military and overseeing a long period of economic growth. Like a Moses in the wilderness, he has led his people from one sort of bondage but appears unable to deliver them to a promised land of transparent government where people are ruled through consensus rather than bullying and threats.

Mr. Erdogan does not know how to play defense. Last weekend, he addressed rally after rally and cursed the international groups and dark alliances trying to undermine Turkeys prestige. Newspapers tied to his government named the culprits: Israel and the United States. One pro-Erdogan broadsheet demanded that the American ambassador, Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., be declared persona non grata for trying to punish Halkbank for its dealings with Iran.

While the government tries to shout down the opposition, it has done little to restore its own credibility. The compromised ministers werent the initial targets; rather, it was the officers involved in the investigation who lost their jobs first. A reported 400 officers have been removed from their posts or reassigned. To choke off the steady trickle of embarrassing leaks, the Interior Ministry has banned reporters from police stations. Procedures have been changed so that the police cannot assist the public prosecutor without first informing their superiors even if it is the superior who stands accused.
Absolute power corrupting absolutely tells only part of the Turkish story. Corruption and institutionalized greed can become a powerful engine pushing a government over the edge into absolutism. Its happening to a government that came to power 11 years ago promising to be the new broom that would sweep Turkish politics clean.

Some analysts believe that Mr. Erdogans Justice and Development Party (known as the A.K.P.) will lose a few percentage points in nationwide local elections this March, but that its standing is so strong that it will cling to power.

Yet this assumes that the A.K.P. has managed to plug the dam. The government is used to taking its gloves off against the radical secularists. It isnt used to dealing with waves of dissent from within its own camp. The brutal suppression of last summers protests in Istanbuls Taksim Square had already tarnished Mr. Erdogans image. Blaming America and the rest of the world for his troubles will only isolate Turkey further.

It is a country that needs to borrow liberally from abroad to finance its public debt. This week the Turkish lira fell to a record low against the dollar. The prospect of more political instability will make investors even more nervous.

Many commentators have framed the raids as evidence of an escalating row between Mr. Erdogan and the religious preacher Fethullah Gulen, who controls an influential network of adherents from a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Its true that the Gulenists were natural allies of the A.K.P. when it first came to power in 2002. Zekeriya Oz, the prosecutor who initiated last weeks investigation, is the same official who launched the Ergenekon trial a successful criminal action against the top brass for plotting a military coup (he is believed to have Gulen connections). The speculation is that many of those police officers who lost their jobs in the last 10 days had Gulen affiliations. A recent brimstone sermon webcast by Mr. Gulen fueled speculation that new revelations about A.K.P. wrongdoing are in the pipeline.

But blaming the Gulen movement is a bit like blaming Zionists. Its a sad commentary on contemporary Turkey that people have to reach for conspiracy theories to explain why public officials are doing their job to prosecute corruption. It doesnt seem to have crossed peoples minds that disunity within the A.K.P. coalition has given wiggle room to those who actually believe in the rule of law and want to enforce it.

Until recently, the great cliché about Turkey was that its primary political fault line lay between secularists and the religious right. But the tremors that have shaken Mr. Erdogans government are emanating from a fault line within the religious right itself.
The government is treating the crisis as nothing short of a coup by those jealous of its success. This is nonsense.

The opposition it faces has emerged because of the A.K.Ps own lack of respect for the rule of law and a cynical disregard for public accountability. It can no longer hide behind conspiracy theories and bluster.

Andrew Finkel is the author of Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know.