Saturday, January 18, 2014

Croatia PM travelling to Albania on Monday

Milanović, Orban
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic will officially visit Albania on Monday and Tuesday, meeting with senior officials.
On Monday, Milanovic will meet with PM Edi Rama, President Bujar Nishani, and opposition leader Lulzim Basha.
Albania and Croatia established diplomatic relations more than 20 years ago and joined NATO in 2009.
Albania hopes to win European Union candidate status in June and expects Croatia's support, Albanian diplomatic sources have told Hina, saying this relationship could be a model for bilateral relations and cooperation in the entire region.
Since diplomatic and political relations between the two countries are excellent, it has been announced that the talks during Milanovic's visit will address a joint approach to regional issues and initiatives, the strengthening of economic relations, and cooperation and improvement of joint actions in infrastructure and energy.
Last May, the two countries signed a memorandum of support and cooperation in the realisation of the Trans Adriatic Gas Pipeline and the Ionian Adriatic Gas Pipeline project.

Nigel Farage becomes popular in Greece after outburst against the PM

Ukip leader claims he received deluge of support after giving Antonis Samaras a dressing down in European parliament
Ukip leader Nigel Farage
Ukip leader Nigel Farage at last year's party conference. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
As unlikely as it might once have seemed, the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, is being hailed as a hero in Greece after an extraordinary outburst against the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, in the European parliament last week.
In a departure from the contempt usually reserved for foreigners criticising their country, Greeks from across the political spectrum have welcomed the Briton's savage dressing down of Samaras – just as he was savouring the glory of crisis-plagued Athens assuming the rotating EU presidency.
"You come here, Mr Samaras, and tell us that you represent the 'sovereign will of the Greek people'. Well, I am sorry but you are not in charge of Greece, and I suggest you rename and rebrand your party," railed Farage last week as Samaras, slumped in his seat, looked on haplessly. "It is called New Democracy; I suggest you call it No Democracy because Greece is now under foreign control. You can't make any decisions, you have been bailed out and you have surrendered democracy, the thing your country invented in the first place."
Clearly warming to his theme in an arena where, by his own admission, he likes to "tell it straight", Farage ran through the litany of woes hobbling the debt-stricken nation four years into its worst financial crisis in living memory.
Reminding Samaras of the heavy price Greece had paid to be rescued from insolvency by creditors at the EU and IMF, he said: "I must congratulate you for getting the Greek presidency off to such a cracking start. Your overnight successful negotiation … will have them dancing in the streets of Athens.
"No matter that your country, very poorly advised by Goldman Sachs, joined a currency that it was never suited to. No matter that 30% of its people are unemployed, that 60% of youth are unemployed, that a neo-Nazi party is on the march, that there was a terrorist attack on the German embassy." Shots were fired at the German ambassador's Athens home last month.
Denouncing the "dreamers" in the European parliament and what he described as the big business and big bureaucrats running Europe, Farage said that the European elections in May – which, awkwardly, coincide with the Greek presidency – will be a battleground "to bring back national democracy". Farage, who claims to have been inundated with thank-you emails, letters and tweets from Greece, says he has also been deluged with requests for interviews from the Greek media. "Some, of course, are questioning how I dare say such mean things to their prime minister," he wrote in the Express. "But the majority seem to be coming to me for an alternative voice to the political establishment in Greece which is either tied to the euro or dangerously extreme."
The journalist and prominent commentator Giorgos Alexakis said: "He dared to say, openly, what few foreigners ever say, that Greece has been 'saved' but at huge cost to its democratic framework."
Alexakis reeled off the myriad austerity measures that have been driven, often to widespread consternation from MPs, through the Greek parliament. "And because we haven't seen the end of this crisis, and things very possibly will get worse, Farage's intervention has been very well received."
In the face of mounting anger over spending cuts, Athens's two-party coalition is clinging to power with a majority of three. Hostility towards Europe – once a rarity – is also growing.
As in other austerity-whipped member states, Greece's anti-European parties, like Ukip, are expected to do well in the European elections. The neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, if allowed to contest the election – an inquiry into its alleged criminal activities is under way – is tipped to enter the 751-seat Strasbourg-based parliament. So, too, is the main opposition radical left Syriza party, which shares none of the nationalists' views.
On Saturday even Syriza had a kind word for Ukip. "Of course, we have nothing whatsoever in common with them," Panos Skourletis, Syriza's spokesman, said. "But sometimes your opponents do tell the truth, you know. More and more people are beginning to see that Greece was sacrificed to save the EU, and that what has happened was wrong."

Friday, January 17, 2014

New local territorial division

New local territorial division
The Albanian Parliament Speaker, Ilir Meta, listed the new administration division as a priority in the list of reforms.

“No one should be concerned about any hidden goal behind this. We don’t want to repeat the famous “salamandra” issue, when the electoral laws used to be done once, and there is no discrimination against anyone. On the contrary, we aim for full consensus. We want a full inclusion and this needs to be done as soon as possible, within this parliamentary session, so that all citizens and all political forces can project the future campaign for the local elections”, Meta declared.

The Socialist Movement for Integration leader declared that the justice reform, regardless of being complex, will be made as a citizen request for justice, but it is also a request by the European Union, in which we want to be integrated.

“No one should feel privileged or avoid the accountability sense”, Meta declared.

The Socialist Movement for Integration leader also greeted the good will shown to reestablish security on the roads and declared that the opposition, before criticizing fines, should apologize for the situation in which they left Albania.

Meta reiterated several times that Albania needs to leave behind the transition period, which, according to him, is the period before June 23rd.

“Not because we have no connection to the past, because we have been here even before June 23rd, but by showing the force of reflection and by not repeating even our mistakes before the June 23rd elections”, Meta declared.

Prime Minister Rama meets businessmen

Rama meets businessmen
The Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, declared during a conversation with the business representatives that the government will intervene to dismantle the monopoly of tax stamps.

“Soon we will advance with some concessions that have turned into a problem. The tax stamp concession is a huge problem, because it hasn’t guaranteed any substantial change in this service. This is an unacceptable situation. The Ministry of Economic Development is almost completing the study and the selected approach will soon be public, and we will give our proposition to the Parliament”, Rama declared.

The government leader declared that they will tolerate none of the businesses that will keep lying with fake balances.

“Those double balances, and even triple balances, are made by you. The huge problems that are faced today with the huge gap between the balances shown to the banks and the balances shown to the state are not created by any extremist in Europe. We should be all convinced that the messy times of finances is over. We represent the state that has the obligation to not allow the mess with balances and the other stories that you know well”, Rama declared.

When asked by businessmen for the way how debts will be paid, Rama explained that they will establish a commission for paying everyone for what they deserve.
Democratic Party MP, Liliana Elmazi goes after demolish in Drymades

"We are on the side of residents abandoned by local Administration"

Democratic Party Member of Albanian Parliamen by Vlorat, Liljana Elmazi which visited Drymades said today for the albanian press, that the Democratic Party was on the side of residents abandoned by local authorities.

Referring to INUK the action that follows since Sunday, Elmazi said that residents and their needs are not taken into account, even though some of them possess documentation standpoint.

After "Omonia", this is the second annulment by Albanian Opposition.

Greek and US marines troops in Elefsina, Pireas, military exercises under the name “Cascade Gambit”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dačić condemns murder, offers assistance

BELGRADE -- PM and Interior Minister Ivica Dačić said he fiercely condemned the murder of northern Kosovska Mitrovica councilor Dimitrije Janićijević.
He offered assistance to EULEX and the Kosovo police in identifying the perpetrator of the murder.
Addressing reporters after signing the an agreement between Serbia and Europol, Dačić said that he does not know the motives, reasons or causes for the crime but since Janićijević was a member of a political organization and one of those who took part in the recently held local elections, "there must be some political implications and consequences."

Dačić underscored that "any destabilization of the situation in Serbia, including violence and incidents such as Janićijević's murder, threaten to disrupt peace and security of citizens."

"We fiercely condemn the incident and we want investigation to identify the perpetrators, and we are offering our assistance to EULEX and the Kosovo Police Service so as to establish the identity of individuals who committed the crime," Dačić said.

Reports: NATO asks Austria to send more troops to Kosovo

VIENNA -- NATO wants Austria to increase its contingent in KFOR in Kosovo, Tanjug has reported, quoting the Vienna-based daily Kurier.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
This is "considering the fact that a withdrawal of French soldiers from northern Kosovo was planned," the report said.
NATO sent the request to Austria in December, Kurier wrote, citing unnamed military experts in Brussels.

The French army will withdraw its contingent of 320 soldiers from Kosovo in the following months, so NATO expects Austria to compensate for that “gap."

There are currently 380 Austrian soldiers deployed in Kosovo.
Two prisoners executed while on leave

Two prisoners executed while on leave
Two people have been executed today in Rrogozhine. The victims are both notorious criminals who were serving prison, and they were returning from a prison leave to visit their families. Two other people have been wounded during the attack, a passerby citizen and the brother in law of one of the victims, who happened to be on the same car.

Police suspects that the real target was one of the victims, Astrit Gjepali, who has been sentenced for killing five people, one of them a police officer, Nazmi Kopshti. Gjepali was sentenced to 25 years in Prison by the Durres Court for the crimes of 1997, and was returning to prison after a leave.

The killers ambushed them in Rrogozhina, and fired dozens of bullets to their cars. The wounded are both hospitalized, the one who was in the car being in very serious conditions.

The other victim is Halil Fici, known has part of the Ben Cami gang, accused of drug traffic in Italy. Police has established several roadblocks in the national road, but there is still no information about the killers. The motive is thought to be retaliation.

The relatives of the victims had considered as unfair the verdict of the Durres Court in 2003, which left Gjepali in prison for 25 years, while the Prosecution had requested life in prison. Three years later, the Court of Appeal left the Durres Court verdict in effect.

Several hours after the murder, the Lushnje Police found a burning vehicle at the Lushnje water pumps in Konjat. Experts found two automatic weapons and several bullets.

The car has been abandoned 10 kilometers from the crime scene. The Kavaja and Rrogozhina police rushed to help the Lushnje police, while the Interior Ministry sent a helicopter to inspect the terrain from above. The police has summoned several possible eye witnesses for interrogation, since the area where the vehicle was burned is populated.

Gjepali’s gang crimes in 1997

Gjepali was sentenced to 25 years in prison for five murders

On June 15th and 16th 1997, Gjepali and other members of his gang have committed several murders in Durres, by spreading panic and terror in the population.

Gjepali is also accused for the murder of Ylli Majaci on March 23rd, 1993, in Zurich, Switzerland. By mid June 1997, Gjepali and his friends started their series of murders with Luan Plaku, in Durres, and only a few hours later they killed Bilbil Neza in Tirana.

A few moments before this murder, they shot a SUV by seriously wounding two people inside.

But their history doesn’t end here. On June 15th they executed Kajmak Kullolli and Gezim Beqeiri at “4 Rruget e Shijakut”

One day later they killed Nazmi Kopshti, who was a Durres police officer, serving at a state owned gas station in Shkozet.

The murders committed by Gjepali’s gang took place within a short period of time, spreading panic and terror in Durres.

"SNS prepared to discuss Vojvodina Statute"

BELGRADE -- The Serb Progressive Party (SNS) is prepared to discuss the Statute of Vojvodina with the Democratic Party (DS), SNS official Nikola Selaković says.
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
The Constitutional Court decided on December 5, 2013, that some provisions of the Statute of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina were not in line with Serbia's Constitution and set a deadline of 6 months to correct that.
The SNS, as the strongest political party in Serbia, accepts the initiative by DS Vice President Miodrag Rakić to discuss the statute with the DS outside of the working group tasked with the issue, which was formed by the Vojvodina assembly, Selaković told Tanjug.

Rakić wrote an article for the daily Politika, in which he says the issue concerning Vojvodina is a fundamental issue of autonomy, which has to be settled through political agreement if there is desire for a stable and long-term solution.

The DS has to work every day on solving that and other issues, regardless of whether the SNS is currently willing to make decisions that are difficult for it, he pointed out.
Islamists Are Threat to Albania, Security Expert Says

16 January 2014

Albanian security expert says that although Albanian Muslim extremists may be few in number, they still pose a distinct threat to national security.

Even if only a tiny number of Albanians are being drawn into the ranks of the Islamist militants, they could still pose a very real danger to society, a security expert has told Balkan Insight.

Facebook pages seen by Balkan Insight show that Islamists are using the net to recruit fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

A Facebook page, Krenaria Islame (Islamic Pride), which has more 2,500 followers, is posting pictures and propaganda on behalf of Albanians reported to be fighting for the ISIS in Syria.

“If all the followers of this page were identified as terrorists, they would make a small army and pose a major problem,” Arjan Dyrmishi, a Tirana security expert, said.

“Such a large number of followers would a pose a concern, even if these people were to be identified only as supporters of political Islam,” he added.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, was founded in the early years of the Iraq war. It pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2004, becoming known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The group, made up of a number of insurgent groups, at first aimed to establish a Sunni caliphate in Iraq but has since expanded its goals to include Syria.

The Islamic Pride Facebook page features jihadist videos translated into Albanian, praise for mujahedeen of Albanian descent who have died fighting in Syria and videos attacking democracy as incompatible with Islam.

The same Facebook page invites Albanian Muslims to join the organization, while lavishing praise on the former Al Qaeda leader, and terrorist mastermind, Osama Bin Laden.

Dyrmishi noted that, under pressure from the US and Western powers, terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda are these days having to focus on softer targets, and on work with small groups.

However, even small group of radicalized men could present a major challenge to national security, he noted.

He recalled the shocking murder in the streets of London of a British soldier by "lone" Islamists, and the wounding of a French soldier on patrol in Paris last year.

“All veterans returning from the Syrian conflict are a threat because of their ideological views as promoters of political Islam, but also due to the fact that any moment one of them singlehandedly could carry out attacks similar to those seen in London and Paris,” Dyrmishi concluded.

by Besar Likmeta

16 January 2014

Balkan Insight

Shembja e objekteve në bregdet - Top Channel

Continues the demolition of the buildings from INUK in Himara Region, reaction of Vasil Bollano, President of Omonia

"An aggressive attack against the Greek Community of Himara Region"


100 Years Ago

Cool War Rising


With Washington and Moscow caught in a deteriorating relationship, is conflict inevitable?

BY James Stavridis
Soldiers in Balkan Wars

Since the end of the Cold War, the Balkan Peninsula has seen some of the fiercest armed conflictin Europe. The breakup of Yugoslavia and the separation of Kosovo from Serbia pitted NATO and European Union states in diplomatic struggles against the Russian Federation while the Balkan peoples fought on the ground. The backing Russia gave to the Serbian government constituted another chapter in a long history of engagement in the region. Given the ethnic, religious, and historical links between Serbia and Russia, Moscow has appeared to use Serbia as a proxy that helps Russia maintain influence in a region of strategic and economic interest. But in our time, Russia chose not to take up arms in the wars of southeastern Europe, and looking back one hundred years to the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 can aid in explaining why, as well as identify the regional dynamics that will likely continue to shape decision-making on all sides.

A century ago, much as recently, Russia sought to protect its proxy states in the region with its diplomatic might, but refused to commit to an armed intervention on their behalf when such intervention would likely draw Moscow into a larger war in which it saw little reason to hope for success, and worked assiduously to deter competition in the Turkish Straits. Ultimately, Russia would not sacrifice its own vital interests or jeopardize its security for the sake of its proxy states.

The Balkan Wars took place in the context of uncertainty created by the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the management of which dominated European international relations in the century before the First World War. Known as the Eastern Question, this uncertainty ultimately drew in all of the great powers of Europe – the United Kingdom, France, Austria, and Russia, as well as Prussia/Germany and Piedmont/Italy.


Russia and Austria-Hungary, as it had been reformed from 1867, felt most directly affected by the growing vacuum along their borderlands. Both states sought to expand their influence over peoples and new states on the Balkan Peninsula while limiting the success of the other.

Maintaining influence over events in the Balkans also served another Russian interest – protection of its position at the Turkish Straits. Since the 1820s, Russian rulers had accepted relatively weak Ottoman control over the Straits, backed by international agreements that assured Russian commerce through the Bosporus and Dardanelles while denying non-Ottoman warships passage in times of peace. Russia’s southern trade was comprised largely of exports, which were a crucial source of the foreign currency needed to sustain its modernization efforts. Russia’s mediocre warships on the Black Sea were more than a match for those of the Ottoman navy, but would have been outclassed by outside fleets. If the Sultan were no longer able to hold this waterway, Russia assumed that it would need to take control to ensure its national security and economic vitality. To achieve its goals, Russia not only worked to limit the influence of Austria-Hungary and other interlopers in the region, but also employed proxy states to achieve the same objectives.

One of those proxies was Serbia, the first of the Balkan Slavic states to throw off Ottoman control, although true sovereignty took generations for Serbia to achieve as it moved from autonomy within the Ottoman Empire to full independence. Serbia wobbled between Austrophile and Russophile loyalties until 1903, when a palace coup in Belgrade put a regime quite hostile to Vienna in power. Austro-Hungarian economic sanctions then pushed Belgrade even closer to St. Petersburg. Through 1908, Russia and Austria-Hungary agreed to maintain the status quo in the region as the great powers pushed the Ottoman Empire to reform its rule in its remaining territories on the Balkan Peninsula. But the Bosnian Crisis of 1908-09 saw Austria-Hungary annex Bosnia-Herzegovina without considering compensation for Russia or Serbia, with St. Petersburg forced to accept the move under the threat of a German ultimatum. After this humiliation, substantive Russian cooperation with Austria-Hungary ceased, and Serbia became more valuable in Russian eyes.

The second proxy state of note was Bulgaria. Russian victories in the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War brought wide autonomy to this Slavic, Orthodox nation. Russia had at first forced the Ottoman Empire to concede a large Bulgaria in the Treaty of San Stefano. The other great powers of Europe feared the influence such a state would give Russia in the region, so they reduced Bulgaria’s size after negotiations at the 1878 Congress of Berlin. Tsar Alexander III disliked the policies adopted by the new ruler of Bulgaria, Alexander of Battenberg, especially Bulgaria’s 1885 annexation of Eastern Rumelia, which reduced St. Petersburg’s influence over Sofia. Russia therefore heavy-handedly engineered the prince’s removal in 1886. His replacement, Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, however, was even less to Russia’s liking, but St. Petersburg was unable to remove him. Ferdinand aspired even more vehemently than Alexander to gain those lands that Bulgaria had been denied at Berlin, particularly after declaring Bulgaria’s full independence at the start of the Bosnian Crisis in October 1908. Complicating Balkan relations, both Bulgaria and Serbia sought to annex Macedonia, large sections of which had been promised to Bulgaria in the defunct Treaty of San Stefano. The area, which remained under Ottoman control after the Congress of Berlin, contained a mixed but largely Slavic population, which Belgrade and Sofia both claimed was made up primarily of their ethnic brethren.

Russia, in its efforts to contain Austria-Hungary after 1909, hoped to overcome these divisions and see Serbia, Bulgaria, and other Balkan states bound together in a league that would help the Russian government control the pace of events. Getting Belgrade and Sofia to agree took several years, but in March 1912, the Russian Foreign Ministry, with the agreement of the tsar and the encouragement of Pan-Slavs in Russian society, brokered an agreement between the two that was soon joined by Greece and Montenegro. The Russian leadership believed it had at last fashioned a bulwark against the further spread of Austro-Hungarian influence. St. Petersburg hoped that despite its long rivalry with Vienna, the prospect of facing a united Serbia and Bulgaria would deter Austria-Hungary from further advance. Furthermore, St. Petersburg believed it now held the key to developments on the peninsula. The foreign minister, Sergei D. Sazonov, was confident that the Balkan states would take no action without permission from Russia. Balkan armies would do the heavy lifting of containing Austria-Hungary while Russia’s influence and strategic position improved.

The Balkan states, however, had other plans for their new alliance. While the Ottoman Empire languished through the attritive 1911-12 war against Italy for control of Libya, the Balkan League saw an opportunity to push the Ottomans out of Europe and gain land for each member in the process. In two areas, the Balkan allies’ goals specifically challenged Russian interests, forcing St. Petersburg to adopt a course aimed at frustrating its proxies’ aspirations while protecting its own position in the region and in the European great-power system.

In the Serbian case, the clash of interests was over Belgrade’s drive to obtain an outlet to the Adriatic Sea through territory predominantly populated by Albanian people. Austria-Hungary strongly opposed such an expansion of Serbian territory and economic strength, which could only translate into more trouble for the Habsburg monarchy later. Italy too opposed the attempt, wary of another rival on the Adriatic or more obstacles to its own aspirations on the Dalmatian coast.

In the Conference of Great Power Ambassadors that met under the leadership of British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, the Austro-Hungarians made their opposition to the Serbian move clear, while the Russians tried hard to support their client state. Serious tension arose between the two great eastern monarchies, both of which significantly strengthened their armed forces as the dispute simmered. Try as it might, the Russian government could find no formula that would allow Serbian egress to the Adriatic, and it ultimately had to negotiate for the most advantageous inland border between Serbia and a newly independent Albania that it could manage. This result was an embarrassment relative to Serbia’s earlier demands, but Austria-Hungary had repeatedly mobilized its army to force Serbia to withdraw, and Russia refused to consider a European war over this question. Russia still needed peace more than any foreseeable advantage offered by Serbian expansion, so it supported only limited Serbian gains.

Bulgarian aspirations appeared even more tangibly threatening to Russian interests. During the First Balkan War, as Serbian forces pushed toward the Adriatic and swept through Macedonia, the Bulgarian army pressed toward the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, the capture of which would have quickly elevated both Bulgaria’s cultural and political stature. In October-November 1912 and then again during a renewed campaign in the spring of 1913, Bulgarian forces appeared close to storming the Chatalja lines, the last obstacle before Constantinople itself. Russia panicked for two reasons. First, for reasons of cultural dominance, the Russian regime feared the prospect of Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand riding into a conquered Constantinople and re-Christianizing the former Hagia Sofia Cathedral. This was not an idle concern – the Russians knew Ferdinand had a Byzantine-style outfit (obtained from a theater company) ready to wear if the opportunity arose. The Tsar of All the Russias, whose old capital, Moscow, was thought of as the Third Rome in nationalist ideology, could brook no competition for glory within the faith. Second, the Russian government feared even more the consequences of a Bulgarian presence on the shores of the Turkish Straits. As noted above, the Russian leadership considered this waterway to be absolutely vital to Russian security, and it would tolerate only weak Ottoman rule as an alternative to direct control. A resurgent Bulgaria interfering in Russian affairs could thus never be allowed.

While the Bulgarians seemed poised for a strike on Constantinople, Russia sought to prevent it. The Russians first tried persuasion, dangling territorial concessions and financial incentives before Sofia. These failed to dissuade, so Russia began to consider more forceful measures, including the dispatch of warships and troops to the area. Warships were prepared, several thousand soldiers were concentrated, and transports found to move them. Remarkable on its own, this mobilization of forces is even more important because it marks the first time since the humiliation of the Russo-Japanese war that Russia prepared to employ armed force to back up its diplomacy. Ultimately, the failure of the Bulgarian army to storm the Chatalja lines meant that Russia did not have to go to war to rein in its proxy. But the danger had not completely passed. With the failure of the winter armistice, in March-April 1913 the Bulgarians renewed their offensive and again pressed toward the Chatalja works. As the prospect of Bulgarian entry into Constantinople loomed once more, the Russians sought to repeat the tactics of the previous autumn. Hampered by a lack of transport ships this time, the Russian foreign ministry widened its diplomatic efforts to restrain Sofia, while also seeking the acquiescence of France and Great Britain to Russian action at Constantinople. The British agreed not to oppose Russia, but the French displayed great discomfort at the prospect of Russia installed in the Ottoman capital. Cholera in the Bulgarian army, however, ended the chances of an advance, obviating the need for direct measures.

The split between Russia and Bulgaria was revealed in full during the Second Balkan War, which began when Bulgaria attacked its former ally, Serbia, in the hopes of dislodging Serbian occupation forces from that part of Macedonian territory which Sofia felt it had been promised in pre-war talks. Bulgaria soon found itself under attack from not only its former allies, but also the Ottoman Empire and Romania, which entered the fray hoping to fulfill its own territorial ambitions. While Russia complained about the possibility of Christian territory in Thrace and Adrianople returning to Muslim control, it quietly relished the humbling of Bulgaria that ensued. Bulgaria’s defeat meant that Russia’s interests at the Straits and Constantinople would no longer be subject to the imminent threat posed during the Bulgarian campaigns in the First Balkan War.

What this review of the Balkan Wars at the start of the twentieth century shows is that Russia was willing to sacrifice the interests of its proxies, Serbia and Bulgaria, when those states exposed Russia to unwelcome risk, setting a pattern of behavior that extended into the late twentieth century. Whether this peril manifested itself in the threat of direct Austro-Hungarian involvement in the war to keep Serbia from gaining a port on the Adriatic, potentially widening the war to include the great powers, or in Bulgarian occupation of Constantinople, which would have undermined Russian strategic interests there and at the Turkish Straits, Russia had little patience for its proxies’ pursuit of their interests at the expense of its own. Russian encouragement and protection of its proxies lasted only so long as they did not compromise their patron’s broader goals.

Cool War Rising

With Washington and Moscow caught in a deteriorating relationship, is conflict inevitable?

Rising tensions in the relationship between the United States and Russia are beginning to cause a "Cool War" -- a sort of Cold War-lite -- that threatens both Washington and the entire global geopolitical system. Without a functioning relationship between Washington and Moscow, the chances of solving major challenges -- from Iran to Syria, the Arctic to Afghanistan -- decreases dramatically. Rather than accept the arc of a deteriorating relationship, the United States should actively seek every possible zone of cooperation we can find with Russia, despite the frustrations and setbacks.
The list of key disagreements is long: One of the more nettlesome challenges is Syria, where the United States believes in an international solution with intervention as an option and the removal of Russia's ally Bashar al-Assad. Syria represents Russia's strongest link to the region and access to the strategically important Eastern Mediterranean, as well as a market for arms and intelligence cooperation.
Likewise, the United States and Russia are at loggerheads about NATO missile defense systems being deployed to Eastern Europe, initially to Romania and Poland to defend against Iran's growing ballistic missile capability. Russia believes the system is actually directed against their strategic intercontinental ballistic missile systems, despite repeated U.S. assurances to the contrary.
Additionally, disagreement continues over Russia's continuing occupation of Georgia, following a short, sharp conflict between the two nations in 2008. At the same time, there is a tense dispute over continuing sanctuary afforded to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, as well as disagreements over Moscow's bullying of Ukraine, Serbia, and Moldova concerning their potential for integration in the Euro-Atlantic world of the EU and NATO. Finally, recent large military exercises on the part of both Russia and NATO in Eastern Europe have not been helpful in terms of US-Russian tensions.
All of this occurs against two important and challenging backdrops.
The first is the declining state of Russian society in terms of demographics (population declining swiftly over the past decade); tragically high rates of alcoholism and drug abuse (heroin as easy to get as "a snickers bar" according to Russian counternarcotics chief Victor Ivanov); and the ongoing rise of a radical Islamic insurgency within Russia's borders (especially in the war-torn province of Dagestan).
The second, of course, is President Vladimir Putin -- who clearly holds long-standing antipathy toward the United States and recently wrote in the New York Times about the arrogance of American exceptionalism. To say that he tends to bring the animus of his long career in the KGB into the U.S.-Russian dialog understates the case -- at times he seems to truly despise the United States.
Taken together, there is a sense of a Cool War mentality at work. On the positive side, however, it is a bit of a mixed picture, with some existing areas of cooperation.
First, and somewhat surprisingly, is Afghanistan. Despite their own failures in Afghanistan, Russia has been generally helpful to the United States and the NATO-led coalition there -- sharing intelligence, cooperating on counternarcotics, selling rugged Russian-built helicopters, and donating small arms and ammunition to the Afghan security forces.
Russia has also been a good partner in counterpiracy operations off the east coast of Africa. They have provided several warships to the international effort, shared information, and even linked up via a command-and-control network with the Western forces in place. And, as a general proposition, there has been cooperation on counterterrorism and counternarcotics.
Another area of cooperation, at least to date, has been in the Arctic, the so-called "High North." Russia has been an active and generally positive interlocutor with the United States through the mechanism of the Arctic Council. As the largest nation in terms of footprint in the Arctic, Russia wants to find ways to enhance cooperation in scientific research, search and rescue, environmental protection, and rationale exploitation of resources. While there is always potential for conflict up north, at this point it appears to be an area of cooperation opportunity.
There has also been progress on strategic arms control with the signing of the START II agreement, and some minimal discussion of possible follow-on strategic talks designed to further reduce the level of nuclear weapons -- assuming the knotty issue of missile defense in Europe can be solved.
The key is to find new zones where there can be further cooperative activity to reduce the possibility of drifting further toward a Cool War scenario. Here are several to consider:

Cultivating top-level leadership meetings: In addition to the regular contact between newly installed Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, other top-level contacts should be a priority.  With a new national security advisor, United Nations ambassador, supreme allied commander for operations at NATO, and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the United States has a relatively fresh cast of characters to engage with Russian counterparts.
Exploring track II engagement: Using non-governmental diplomatic forums to engage with Russia could be very promising. The work by Sen. Sam Nunn and the Nuclear Threat Initiative is a good example, but there are many academic and think-tank options that could be explored.  One additional idea would be to have partnered think tanks sponsor "smart power" conversations with former senior policy makers and military commanders to create tactical recommendations for joint peacekeeping and disaster-relief operations.
Establishing joint data exchange centers: This has the possibility to help unclench the locked-up discussions involving missile defense in Europe by building physical locations, manned jointly, where monitoring of sites and radar information could occur, which in turn would help build confidence.

Looking for economic cooperation: Russia is a large, hydrocarbon-based economy, among the top 10 in the world. Yet we have very little relative economic cooperation for a variety of reasons, many of them political. Exploring opportunities for joint investment, perhaps in the Arctic, might be a means of finding a new zone of cooperation. This would require easing sanctions in the United States and better rule-of-law attitudes in Russia.

Sharing intelligence and information more fully: With the Winter Olympics around the corner, there are many situations globally where it is in both U.S. and Russian interests to share what we know. Sochi could be a test bed for some of this, which already occurs in certain scenarios but not broadly.

Syria and Iran: While not fully in synch in either scenario, there is both challenge and potential opportunity in terms of supporting international norms. In Syria, the work by the international community to remove the chemical weapons is a starting point of agreement, which might be built upon in a Geneva II round. On Iran, we need Russia's support as we hammer out an agreement that at least freezes and hopefully eventually dismantles the Iranian nuclear weapons program. These will be difficult areas, to say the least, but are worth examining for opportunities as well.
All of this will be challenging, especially for some on both sides of the U.S.-Russian relationship who favor a hard line. It would be easy, frankly, to drift from the current "Cool War" back toward the dim twilight of the long Cold War. Ivan Turgenev, the iconic Russian writer, said, "Circumstances define us; they force us onto one road or another, and then they punish us for it." We are not forced to walk either the path of endless tension or total cooperation. The trick for both the United States and Russia is to overcome the circumstances of our disagreements to find the path to better overall relations through specific zones of cooperation -- recognizing there will always be areas where we will not see things in the same way.

Member of K. Mitrovica municipal assembly shot dead

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- A Kosovska Mitrovica municipal assembly member was shot and killed half an hour after midnight on Thursday, reports have said.
The victim, Dimitrije Janićijević, was gunned down by an unknown perpetrator in front of his house in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, after he stepped out of his car.
The motive for the murder is for now unknown, and the police, who blocked this part of the town, are expected to make a statement giving more details during the day.

The 35-year-old's body has been transferred to Priština for a post mortem.

Janićijević was a candidate in mayoral elections last year in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, on the Independent Liberal Party (SLS) ticket.

The Beta news agency is reporting that he was previously the target of attacks several times, including incidents when explosive devices were placed under his car.

Janićijević owned a store, and was the father of three children.

Tensions have been running high in Kosovska Mitrovica after elected Mayor Krstimir Pantić refused to take the oath of office last week.

Immediately before local elections last fall, there were several incidents there when councilors from various tickets came under attack, for which, reports said, Serbs blamed one another,as well as explosions of planted bombs.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

INUK në Vlorë, pronarët: Me dokumenta të rregullta dhe leje ndërtimi

Video of the Day in Drymades, Himara Region
US Ambasador meets Berisha

Arvizu meets Berisha
The United States Ambassador to Tirana, Alexander Arvizu, who is about to finish his mandate in  our country, met with the Albanian former Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, who appear to have returned to normal communication.

They had not been meeting each other for a long time, but the most visible estrangement appeared to come after the protests against chemical weapons, in which the United States ambassador hinted that the Democratic Party was still being led by Berisha, not Basha.

The dissension was even deeper when the Ambassador accompanied the United States State Department high rank official, Jonathan Moore, when he met with Lulzim Basha, but not with Sali Berisha.

The raising of hellinophobia in Albania

Himara` s case


A growing tension, as well as "kiss between friends closer", Albania and Greece are facing, seeing as straight as the crooked one another, between hypocrisy and opposite reality.

If the policy of Tirana, all together, including the Diaspora and Kosovo, albanophobia sees a growth, in the European countries, blocking the European integration of Albanians in the EU are obviously a depressing reality, is involved, increasingly in growth, an anti hellenism, hidden behind a desire for Albania, ethnically with pure religion.

The hellinophobia, is increasing recently, in Himara Region. The Municipality richest of Albania, Himara, full of natural and coastal resorts, a Benelux - type Monte Carlo, has become the target of the Albanian Mafia after their backs, stand the government and politicians, judges and prosecutors, police and very known personalities, media publishers and journalist, ripped with false documents, and build with government concessions.

And to do all these actions, on the opinion public needs, the worse informed, required an icon "to be attacked " ..... it is hellenophobia in Himara Region.

Seeing, historical roots of Himara, Albanians believe that the Region, noted as the center of the Greek nationalism, for rebellion of 1914, when the efforts of the North Epirotans, obligated five big powers, to sign the Corfu Protocol for the Authonomy of The Northern Epirus.

But in the Albanian public, fought the contrary Himara is Albania, and therefore, everything must be called Albania, including residents, their properties, coast and wellness tourism, promoting nationalist policies, control of the inter territory, lobbying funding businessmen, to invest for the Himara of Albania.

However, hellinophobia, punishes the people of Himara. Only those two days in action of the Albanian State Policy and the Inspectorates of INUK, have broken buildings, that cost about 2 million euros and as always, citizens of Himara, addressed to the Court of mostly corrupted in European Continent, of the Albanian state,,,,

Paradoxically in 2007, The World Bank and the Albanian Government, where including in a scandal, accused for demolition of Jala Village, just in the Himara Region.
EUROPEAN AFFAIRS Brussels bureau

Samaras defends Greece’s EU presidency

Greece’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has defended his country taking over the EU presidency as it continues to grapple its on going debt crisis.

The Greek premier told MEPs in Strasbourg that his government’s economic reforms were working.

“I know that many things have been said in this room- positive and negative- about this period. But we should keep one thing here: Greece kept its commitments and honored its signature. In other words: We delivered.”

One centre-right German MEP said Greece’s economic woes would not hamper its presidency.

“I do trust Greece. I had a meeting with Prime Minister Samaras and Vice Prime Minister Venizelos, I have the impression that they have clear ideas….priorities. And I think that Greece should have a chance as every presidency before.”

But for the leader of the far-left group, scant attention is being paid to the plight of ordinary people.

UKIP MEP Nigel Farage told parliamentarians that the country was not a real democracy whilst it had to answer to the troika.

“A country in the desperate state Greece is in, and much of it because of the idiotic decision to join the euro itself, the fact that Greece has taken over the presidency of the European Union, I mean frankly it is as much as I can do to stop myself laughing.

Samaras said that he planned to put structrual reforms to boost jobs and growth at the heart of his agenda over the next six months.


Grekët kthejnë në kufi operatorin e News24

The Greek Albanian border..Today Story
Omonia and Associations of Himariotes, warn for mass protests in Himara

Violation of human rights, looting of property, destruction of housing selectively against citizens of Greek origin from the Albanian police authorities, constitutes a violation of the Albanian and European Constitution

Analysts believe that the wave of destruction of buildings with planning permission on private property, in Himara Region may prompt state of emergency in the Ionian Coast, where it lives in majority, the Greek population

Albanian media, especially the Albanian Telegraphic Agency , have published the news that " the ruined buildings in Dhermi not have planning permission," and that INUK and state police have done without the intervention of resistance from residents, which is not true .

Case of Yale in 2007, can be repeated with extremely dangerous consequences between Albanian Greek relations.

Greek Ethnic community organizations in Albania , and Himariotas associations in the world, have warned of massive protests for demolition that are being made to the property and the residents Asset of Greek origin , in Himara Region .

The news made ​​known through the social network in Greece, where particularly, there is a high concentration of citizens with dual citizenship from Himara.

Currently, many citizens from Greece but also from USA, are back in Himara, to follow closely what is happening from the irresponsible actions of the Albanian police, against the destruction of their properties, camouflaged by the name of coastal development

Nigel Farage: Η Ελλάδα βρίσκεται υπό δικτατορικό καθεστώς

British Euro Parliament Member: Greece is going to Dictator System

First visit by Albanian PM since 1946 "in February"

BELGRADE -- Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama will visit Belgrade, most likely in February, as part of his regional tour, said Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić.
The exact date of Rama's visit has not been specified yet, considering that over the past weeks Belgrade was preoccupied with other important issues, such as the negotiations with Priština and the start of EU accession talks, Mrkić said for the Wednesday's edition of the Belgrade-based daily Politika.
The newspaper notes that this will be the first visit by an Albanian prime minister since Enver Hoxha in 1946.

"We are currently setting the date for his visit. We welcome his (Rama's) initiative to come to Serbia. We are prepared to meet with him and talk about improving relations in the region," said Mrkić.

The talks with the Albanian prime minister will focus on bilateral ties, as "the two countries are interested in cooperation in the areas of agriculture, tourism, transportation, education”, added the Serbian minister.

"We will also need to bring up the fact that the Serb minority living in Albania has not yet gained proper recognition. I have already raised this issue when I visited Tirana last year. We will need to specify the appropriate forms of treatment of the Serb minority, as the Albanian minority in Serbia enjoys all rights in accordance with the highest European standards," Mrkić emphasized.

When asked if certain delicate questions would also be raised, such as the recent joint sitting of the Albanian and Kosovo governments in Prizren, when the two sides signed an agreement on strategic partnership, Mrkić replied that Belgrade will not lecture anyone on what to do and how to do it, but stressed that the limits are well known.

He added that the Serbian side will caution the other party that anything that lies outside international conventions and oversteps the bounds of good neighborly behavior is not acceptable.

"However, my aim at the moment is not to focus on differences, as they are well known to everyone. The talks will certainly address all issues that concern both sides. We will not hesitate at any moment to say everything we think and how we see things, because this is the only way to build a friendship," concluded Mrkić.

Macedonian leader: Greece is avoiding talks over name dispute

By Oliver Joy, CNN
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 1651 GMT (0051 HKT)
Watch this video

Macedonia's EU ambitions

  • The dispute over Macedonia's state name with Greece began when the country gained independence in 1991
  • In 2011 the International Court of Justice ruled that Greece was wrong to block Macedonia's bid to NATO in 2008
  • Macedonia already "sufficiently" meets the political criteria to open negotiations, according to European Commission
(CNN) -- Macedonia is "frustrated" by Greece's efforts to block its European Union membership over a longstanding identity dispute, the country's leader has said.
In an interview with CNN, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that Greece is "very successful" in making the Balkan nation look "guilty" over the use of the word "Macedonia" in its state name.
"Greece is not ready to make a compromise ... so we cannot solve the issue," he said.
Gruevski said the Greek government is "rejecting" Macedonia's advances to open talks and revealed that he tried to contact Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, but his offers were rejected.
Gruevski added: "The international law is on our side and I believe that if Greece decides to respect international law, we can start the negotiations with the EU and we can join NATO immediately."
Macedonia's economic way forward
Macedonia's pride or folly?
Macedonian firm creates Hollywood magic
The name dispute between the two countries has rumbled on since Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 leading to a U.N. accord signed by both parties four years later.
The disagreement centers around the use of the name Macedonia as well as symbols and figures used by the FYROM: these are traditionally considered part of Greek culture from the period when the region was part of ancient Greece.
The most prominent of these figures is Alexander the Great, Greek king of Macedon, who went on to forge one of the largest empires of the ancient world. In 2011, the Macedonian government unveiled a 39 ft statue of the legendary leader in the central square of the nation's capital, Skopje.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in 2011 that Greece was wrong to block Macedonia's bid to join NATO in 2008.
In response to Gruevski's claims, Konstantinos Koutras, spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told CNN that a number of Samaras' predecessors had met with the Macedonian Prime Minister, but that they were simply "photo opportunities and a façade."
Koutras said: "A whole generation in FYROM is being poisoned with bitter feelings against Greece, which is branded as the culprit for all evils their country is being faced with."
He added: "If Skopje had shown equal degree of commitment, the name issue would have been settled."
When asked whether the government would consider removing "Macedonia" from its name, Gruevski said: "There are many parts of this problem... if there is a dialogue, I believe we can find a solution."
But Kurt Volker, former U.S. permanent representative to NATO, told CNN that while modifying the name is possible, taking "Macedonia" out of the name completely is not under discussion.
Volker said: "I think that the Macedonians have moved quite far and I think that they are prepared to make an agreement on a modified name for the country for the purposes of being recognized in international organizations."
However, he added: "That doesn't go as far as the Greeks have insisted. They wanted to change everything including for the Macedonians to change their constitution. That's just pie in the sky, that's never going to happen."
Macedonia submitted its application to join the EU in 2004 but is yet to open negotiations with legislators over EU status.
EU membership would give Macedonia -- a country of just 2.1 million people according to Eurostat -- access to the world's largest trading bloc and representation at the European institutions in Brussels.
Macedonia already has free trade agreements with a number of non-EU countries including Switzerland, Norway, Turkey and Ukraine in addition to states within Europe's economic and political union.
The international law is on our side and I believe that if Greece decides to respect international law, we can start the negotiations with the EU.
Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski
According to an assessment by the European Commission, Macedonia "sufficiently" meets the political criteria to open negotiations.
Peter Stano, spokesman for European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, told CNN that the Brussels-based legislature has recommended for five years in a row to open accession negotiations with Macedonia.
He added: "Together we are stronger, and especially in the Western Balkans, we contribute to the reconciliation among nations and to guaranteeing peace and reinforcing stability in a region marked by conflicts in a not so distant past."
Gruevski said that membership for all countries in the Balkans will provide "long term stability" to the region and ultimately attract more foreign investment.
"Personal income tax is 10%, profit tax is 10%. The other taxes are also very low, so as a package we are offering the best tax package to the companies that are coming."
With low inflation and growth forecast at 2.8% this year, Macedonia could represent a significant opportunity for investors looking to tap southeast Europe.
Asked whether Macedonia would have to raise taxes if they gained entry into the EU, Gruevski said: "We will try not to go up but when the time comes we will see."

Bulgaria President to visit Albania
15 January 2014 | 12:02 | FOCUS News Agency
Home / Bulgaria
Sofia. President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, is to pay an official visit to Albania at the invitation of his Albanian counterpart Bujar Nishani. The visit comes on the occasion of the 100th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the press centre of the President’s Office announced.
The visit will take place on January 16-17, 2014.
Some of the issues that will be tabled for discussion include the strengthening of the political dialogue and the trade between Bulgaria and Albania, the process of Albania’s European integration, as well as issues of bilateral importance within the cooperation in Southeast Europe.

The dream of "Greater Albania " begins from Kosovo

Another step towards the dream of "Greater Albania", seems to make the government of Tirana completing Prizern in the first meetings with the Kosovo Government key agenda issues of national interest as are practical issues that will further facilitate bilateral cooperation.

For "historical moment" spoke the Albanian government of Socialist leader Edi Rama, while the delegation of boarding a bus to Prizern Kosovo. For "new chapter not only in bilateral relations, but also for the entire region," spoke Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, after the completion of the talks.

In a joint press conference with his Albanian counterpart, Edi Rama, Thaci said that special committees will work together to identify areas where it can be deepened cooperation to exploit the enormous opportunities offered by improved infrastructure between Tirana and Pristina.

According to official announcements, the two prime ministers signed a series of agreements on trade facilitation , transport and infrastructure. Special attention garnered by the Albanian press agreement on financial assistance to residential , Albanian , Presevo and Bujanovac areas in southern Serbia. As a first step, the two governments decided to invest in the construction of a new maternity hospital in Presevo.

Source: Elefterotypia Newspaper,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Albanian Defense Minister, Mimi Kodheli visits Athens
Albania "Moderately free"
Albania Moderately free
Albania Moderately free The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation have published the Index of Economic Freedom report for 2014 and Albania is ranked 25th among 43 countries in the European region, while in the global classification Albania stands above the world average, at 54th spot.

According to the report, a weak point for the economic freedom is the fight against corruption and the property rights.

Albania has 66.9 points in the classification with 100 points of the Economic Freedom Index for 2014, ranked 54th in the world. Albania is ranked 25th among the 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is above the world average.

According to the report, Albania’s economic freedom score is 66.9, making its economy the 54th freest in the 2014 Index. Its overall score has increased by 1.7 points, with notable improvements in investment freedom and trade freedom.

With score increases in nine of the 10 economic freedoms, Albania has risen gradually into the “moderately free” category, but still having problems in the property rights category.

According to the report, notable structural reforms have included trade liberalization, privatization, implementation of competitive flat tax rates, and modernization of the regulatory environment.

However, the report says that as regards the law implementation, the judiciary remains subject to political interference, and deeper institutional reforms to eradicate lingering corruption and increase judicial independence are critical to ensuring greater economic freedom in Albania.

weak regulatory environment, opaque government procurement rules, a culture of impunity, and political interference make it difficult for the judiciary to deal with high-level and deeply rooted corruption in Albania.

The report says that protection of intellectual property rights is weak, and Albania still lacks a clear property rights system, particularly for land tenure. Along with the effective maintenance of low inflation, greater monetary stability has also been achieved.

The report goes on by saying that the rising fiscal deficits in recent years have increased public debt to above 60 percent of GDP, the legal limit set in 2008. Government expenditures stand at 28.5 percent of GDP. The slowing domestic economy has put internal pressures on public finances, pushing up public debt to 61 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

According to the report, Albania’s average tariff rate has improved significantly from 5.1 percent to a relatively low 1.3 percent. The country officially welcomes foreign investment, but red tape and insufficient protection of property rights discourage investment. The financial system remains relatively well-developed and stable despite the challenging external environment. The banking sector is well-provisioned, but the share of non-performing loans has been rising.

Albania classification has risen with 1.7 points compared to one year ago, with visible improvement in the commerce and investment freedom.

Greek Birthplaces on Albanian passports
Greek Birthplaces on Albanian passports

Greek Birthplaces on Albanian passports While Albanian emigrants are facing obstacles in renewing their documents due to the Greek birthplaces of their children written in the Albanian language on their passport, the Ombudsman recommended the Foreign Ministry to intervene through an agreement and consider these passports valid, until their deadline expires or have the Albanian state pay the cost of new passports, if they are needed.

“We have proposed the Albanian state to find a common language with the Greek republic, so that the passports can be valid until their deadline is over, otherwise the cost of the new passports should be paid by the Albanian state”, Totozani declared.

According to the Ombudsman, the Albanian passports also have other mistakes, because not every section is in English, and the “ë” and “ç” letters of the Albanian alphabet are missing.

As for the claims from the Greek government, Totozani explains that on June 2011 a verbal note has been sent to the Albanian Foreign Ministry by the Greek side, a proposition for the geographical denomination, but there has been no answer.

“There a structure in the UN that is called ‘the Group of International Experts for Toponyms”, where every state sends their national toponyms in the international language. This is a right that is foreseen by the international acts. They have sent a verbal note on June 2011, in which they have written all their propositions for the Greek geographical names of places, and the Foreign Ministry should have given their stance about this. I have been informed that those place names were in English”, Totozani declared.

The Albanian Foreign Ministry is discussing with the Greek side about finding a solution that will not punish the Albanian immigrants who live and work in Greece.
Kosovo – perhaps the Quint still doesn’t understand the North?

JANUARY 14, 2014

A way should be found to ensure Mayor-elect, Krstimir Pantic, can take his place without further delay, whilst the Quint should make clear to Pristina that it will not allow efforts to delay or derail implementation.  This new opportunity to move forward with peaceful change could yet be lost.

By Gerard M. Gallucci

Despite the progress made through the Brussels dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, it seems there is still much left to be done to “regularize” the situation of north Kosovo.  Elections have been held and enough northern Kosovo Serbs participated to mark them minimally successful.  But as ever, the devils are in the details and they have shown their faces in the weeks since.  The essential issue remains what it has always been, most Kosovo Serb not surrounded by Albanians still refuse to be absorbed into an “independent” Kosovo state.  That is a reality as much as is Kosovo independence.

In 2013, the Quint – the EU and US – seemed to have finally understood that force could not impose submission to Pristina on the north.  The EU-led negotiations appeared to offer the possibility of a status-neutral approach to reaffirming Kosovo’s territorial integrity – including the north – within an Ahtisaari Plus framework allowing the northern Serbs local autonomy with links both to Belgrade and Pristina.  This had become the state of affairs south of the Ibar since the Quint allowed Pristina’s use of force to bully the Serb-majority areas there into acceptance.  The Brussels negotiations offered a way to bring the north into a similar arrangement but without overt submission to Pristina.  The north would participate in Kosovo elections overseen by the OSCE – which is still bound by UNSCR 1244 – and the resulting local governments – recognized by all – would operate within a Kosovo context with internationals taking the place of direct Pristina involvement.  Serbia would disband its own “parallel” institutions and fold its police and judicial officials into a Kosovo system.  Key would be implementing these steps in a status-neutral manner, with no direct involvement by Pristina nor any imposition of Kosovo state symbols.

Belgrade could go as far as it did in the negotiations to accept the practical loss of Kosovo only if it was not also forced to accept anything that would imply its outright recognition of Kosovo independence.  The deal seemed to be that the EU would find this sufficient to begin Serbia’s move into eventual EU membership.  The German Ambassador to Serbia reportedly has even suggested that recognition of Kosovo is not a requirement as long as Pristina and Belgrade regularize their relationship in some mutually acceptable manner.

The Kosovo Albanians accepted negotiations reluctantly and only under US pressure.  They want the north whole and on their terms and have made clear that they consider Kosovo an Albanian enterprise, as reaffirmed in the recent joint government session with Albania.  They may have been surprised that Belgrade accepted the form of compromise offered by the Quint as it does formally accept the factual loss of governing authority over its “province.”  But faced with the actuality of finding the north locally autonomous, recognized by the internationals, still with links to Serbia and beyond direct control, Pristina has tried to raise every obstacle it can to obstruct implementation in a status-neutral manner.  It will also drag its feet on remaining issues, including the courts, customs fees and property issues.

No detail goes unused by Pristina in its effort to prevent smooth implementation.  It apparently insisted that officials elected in the north – already by a minority vote – sign papers with Kosovo state symbols on them.  Someone among the internationals understood that no northern Serb could sign such a thing.  So they covered the state symbols up with glue and paper.  One poor local Kosovo Serb official swore he could not see through the glued-on paper and couldn’t even peel it off!  But the mayor-elect of North Mitrovica refused to sign.  His refusal may lead Pristina to call another election.  The Quint should stop playing games with glue and paper and ensure genuinely status-neutral means to implement the Brussels agreements.  A way should be found to ensure Mayor-elect Pantic can take his place without further delay.  And the Quint should make clear to Pristina that it will not allow efforts to delay or derail implementation.  This new opportunity to move forward with peaceful change could yet be lost.

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008 and as Chief of Staff for the UN mission in East Timor from November 2008 until June 2010. He will serve as Diplomat-in-Residence at Drake University for the 2013-14 school year.