Saturday, June 28, 2014

Three Turks Arrested in Greece on Charges of Terrorism

Three Turks Arrested in Greece
by Theodora Matsaidoni - Jun 28, 2014

Greek authority representatives revealed that three Turkish citizens have been arrested and are currently held in custody, as it is believed that they are members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP-C) of Turkey.

DHKP-C is a Marxist-Leninist organization, originally formed in 1978 by Dursun Karatas. It was named Revolutionary Left and renamed DHKP-C in 1994, after factional infighting. DHKP-C has been held responsible for many attacks against the Turkish army. On February 2013, a suicide bomber, member of the organization, attacked the U.S. embassy in Ankara. The EU, Turkey and the U.S. have declared it a terrorist organization.

The three suspects, two women and one man, were arrested in three different spots in Athens on Friday, June 27.

One of the women, aged 24, was wanted by the Greek police for her involvement in a case of ammunition transfer. The case was revealed on July 2013, when a boat loaded with ammunition was found off the Greek island of Chios, which is located near Turkey. However, Greek police were not the only ones looking for her, since Interpol had also issued a warrant for her arrest.

The other two Turks arrested by the Greek police are a 48-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man who are also facing with terrorism charges.

A few months ago, on February 2014, Greek Counter-terrorism Services had arrested another four Turkish Kurdish DHKP-C suspects in Athens. Heavy weaponry had been found hidden in their apartment, in the area of Gyzi in Athens.
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Albania on the rocky road to EU membership

Albania is now an EU candidate country despite the fact that there are still many problems. Corruption, nepotism and organized crime are a burden on the democratization process.
Albanians are cheering the news. Albania is now officially an EU accession country. The wish to "belong to Europe" has been strong for a while now in Albania after decades of communist isolation and the ensuing chaotic years of democratization. Now the moment has arrived: The country of 3 million people received official candidate status from the EU heads of states on Friday (27.06.2014)
Judiciary needs reforms
Most people in Albania know that the hardest part still lies ahead, despite the euphoria in the country. "To be a candidate country means that we have to work even harder and that we can't lean back confidently," said Klajda Gjosha, EU integration minister, in an interview with DW. It doesn't mean that the accession negotiations will start soon. The EU stipulates that Albania first has to initiate several reforms. The main issues are tackling corruption in the justice system and civil services as well as the fight against organized crime.
Hellmut Hoffmann
(Foto: : Ani Ruci) 'The implementation of the rule of law is key,' said Hellmut Hoffmann
“The implementation of the rule of law is key. Therefore I would focus on judicial reform,” said Hellmut Hoffmann, Germany's ambassador in Albania, in an interview with DW. A corrupt justice system is hampering economic development. That was also Angela Merkel's message to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama during his Berlin visit in March.
It seems that the message has got through: it is probably no coincidence that a week ahead of the decision in Brussels the police in Albania brought a stronghold of for the growing of marihuana under control. In the village of Lazarat, which is known as Europe's biggest cannabis-growing area, the police has destroyed 12 tons of marihuana.
Culture of impunity has to be stopped
That might have positively influenced the EU in its decision but it won't be enough. The EU will demand, similar to its demands for Croatia, that corruption on the highest political level must be tackled. There is still a culture of impunity in the country. Political analyst Lutfi Dervishi is convinced that the reform of the justice system is the biggest challenge.
Cooperation with the European Assistance Mission to the Albanian Justice System is essential( EURALIUS), says the political analyst. "There are the first encouraging signs. Judges and prosecutors are in the dock for the first time. We can only say that everybody is equal under the law, when the big fish are also caught in the net of the justice," he said.
Klajda Gjosha
(Foto: Blerina Visha/Ministerium für Europäische Integration 'Albania needs the pressure from the EU,' said Klajda Gjosha
Albania is in 116th place, of 177, on Transparency International's corruption index. Now many Albanians are hoping that corruption and nepotism will decrease due to the pressure from the EU. The minister for European integration has emphasized that the candidate status involves stricter control over the government and all other institutions. "The citizens will benefit from it, because they will get a more responsible government," she said.
Rocky road to the EU membership
Albania had to wait five years for its candidate status. During that time the EU Commission rejected Tirana's request three times. The reason for the long waiting time was not only incomplete reforms but also the highly polarization of the two people's parties, the Democrats and the Socialists, which have ruled the country over the past 23 years.
Now the EU expects a change in the parliamentary system. "In the past, the country has suffered from political instability and from hateful language of its leading politicians. The personal interests have stood above the prosperity of the country," said Lutfi Dervishi. That has to change in the future, he adds.
The way to the EU membership is still far, a lot still has to happen, says Germany's Ambassador Hellmut Hoffmann. But he emphasized that the EU and Germany will stick to their promise that the western Balkans have a clear prospect for the EU.
"It is important that the western Balkan countries move towards EU integration. But each country will have to do it at its own speed," he said.

Angry Kosovo Serbs call Serbian president "traitor"

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic delivers a speech at the Gazimestan memorial, near Pristina, Kosovo, during a ceremony marking the historic "Battle of Kosovo", on June 28, 2014
View photo
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic delivers a speech at the Gazimestan memorial, near Pristina, Kosovo, during a ceremony marking the historic "Battle of Kosovo", on June 28, 2014 (AFP Photo/Armend Nimani )
Pristina (Undefined) (AFP) - Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic was booed during a visit to Kosovo on Saturday by ethnic Serbs who accused his government of betrayal for agreeing to normalise relations with the breakaway state.
Nikolic was addressing around 1,000 Kosovo Serbs at a ceremony marking the anniversary of an historic 14th century battle at Gazimestan, around five kilometres (three miles) southwest of the capital Pristina.
Midway through his speech, several hundred people in the crowd began chanting "traitor" and booing.
Many Kosovan Serbs are angry over a landmark agreement signed last year that normalised ties between Serbia and Kosovo, a majority ethnic Albanian region that declared independence in 2008.
"You betrayed Kosovo!" and "Treason, treason!" were among the shouts directed at Nikolic.
He was forced to cut short his speech at the historic site where the Serbian army was defeated by the Ottoman Empire in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo.
That defeat paved the way for the Ottoman Empire's 500-year rule in the Balkans, and is still remembered as a key moment in the clash between Christians and Muslims in the region.
A firecracker was thrown at Nikolic, forcing his bodyguards to gather around the president and escort him quickly from the scene in a bulletproof convoy.
"Today, our neighbour Albanians are building houses and are farming. I wish them luck but want them to know that they are building on Serb soil," Nikolic, a hardline nationalist-turned-pro-EU politician said before he was interrupted.
Serbia stopped short of recognising Kosovo's independence in last year's EU-brokered agreement but accepted the Pristina government's control over the territory. It was rewarded with the opening of EU accession talks.
Ethnic Serbs number around 120,000 in Kosovo's population of 1.8 million.
Kosovo's declaration of independence has been recognised by more than 100 countries, including the United States and most EU member states.

Friday, June 27, 2014

USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) arrived in Durres

On Thursday, June 26, the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) arrived in Durres, Albania for a port visit. This visit is just one of many examples of our exemplary U.S.-Albanian military to military cooperation, and continues the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet's efforts to strengthen maritime partnerships in order to enhance regional stability. While the ship is in port, the USS Donald Cook will be conducting a maritime interdiction operations exchange with their counterparts from the Albanian Navy, Border Police, and Customs Service. Senior officers and officials from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Embassy, and the Albanian government and military will take this opportunity to discuss regional cooperation by the two nations. Visits like this one help our two militaries build common knowledge of maritime tactics, professionalism, cultural understanding and trust and help strengthen the relationship between our nations.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Charges against Lazarati Mayor, Dasho Aliko

Case against Dasho Aliko
The General Chief of Police, Artan Didi, declared that the real proof that implicated Dashamir Aliko is Lazarat itself, where the authorities found a huge amount of drugs and weapons.

Didi declared that the police has evidence for proceeding, but it is up to the Prosecution and the Court to give the security measure for Dashamir Aliko.

“The evidence is that we are still finding cannabis and weapons in Lazarat. It is up to the Prosecution to give the security measure, but they need a judge to sign it. We have worked on terrain, while Prosecutors are making the procedural actions. The person in question must answer”, Didi declared.

The Chief of Police declared that they are still looking for the criminal group that fired weapons against the police. This declaration was released after a conference for the community and the police, in which he declared that this philosophy will be the basis of the structure he leads.

“It is not that we are walking on unknown paths. The presence of police in this community has always been our objective. Our focus is to establish a public-police partnership in which the communities cooperate actively. This cooperation is the basis of the police mission”, Didi declared.

Dashamir Aliko, Head of the Lazarat commune, was reported by the State Police at the Prosecution of Serious Crimes for a series of accusations, including attempted murder in qualifying circumstances.

Albanian Private Bank CEO Shot Dead Outside Office

The head and co-founder of one of Albania's biggest private banks was shot dead Thursday in the capital, police said.
Banka Credins CEO Artan Santo, 58, was gunned down when entering his downtown Tirana office, according to police spokeswoman Alma Katragjini.
Witnesses told The Associated Press that two helmeted men on a motorbike first chatted with Santo after he left his car in front of the entrance, before shooting six times. One shot hit Santo in the head.
Police on Thursday set up roadblocks across the capital to try to apprehend the fleeing assailants. The bank evacuated its offices in central Tirana. Authorities said it was too early to determine a possible motive.
Dozens of curious onlookers joined the evacuated bank staff near the spot where Santo was killed. Authorities cordoned off the area with police tape.
Santo, who was married with two children, has been CEO and director general of the 11-year-old Banka Credins. It is one of 16 banks in Albania.
The office, located near the house where late communist dictator Enver Hoxha once lived, sits in a formerly residential area that was off-limits to the public until 1990 when the communist regime fell. It's now a trendy area with coffee bars and offices.

Kosovo: 3 arrested on terrorism charges

PRIŠTINA -- Three terrorism suspects were arrested on Thursday in the town of Đeneral Janković in southeastern Kosovo.
The prosecutor ordered 48-hour detention for the suspects, I.B. (25) and J.K. (22) from Kačanik, and S.T. (30) from Đeneral Janković.
The Kosovo police said they were looking for another person.

The group is suspected of having ties with terrorist groups in several Islamic countries, according to the Albanian language website

"After several months of investigation, the Directorate Against Terrorism with the support of the Kosovo Special Prosecutor's Office arrested persons suspected of committing criminal acts of organizing and participating in a terrorist group, recruitment for terrorism and incitement of hatred or national, ethnic and religious intolerance," reported the media.

Two buildings were also searched in Kačanik and Đeneral Janković and "computers, SIM cards, a gas gun, propaganda material, a military uniform, passports, and binoculars" were seized, it has been announced.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Russian senate repeals law allowing deployment of military in Ukraine

Published time: June 25, 2014 08:53
Edited time: June 25, 2014 14:45
Members of the Federation Council at a meeting. (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko)
Members of the Federation Council at a meeting. (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko)
​Russia’s Federation Council has voted to repeal the legislation which allows the use of Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine if there is a threat to the local Russian population. The decision follows request of President Vladimir Putin.
153 MPs out of 154 voted in favor of the law’s cancelation, which comes in force the day it is approved.
Russia will continue monitoring the situation in Ukraine, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko told the journalists after the vote.
“It doesn’t mean that, repealing this legislation, we will be turning a blind eye if there are serious violations of people’s rights [in Ukraine] or threats to their safety,” she said.
Matvienko said she doesn’t’ believe that the Federation Council will vote again to adopt legislation allowing military action in Ukraine.
“I think that we shouldn’t prepare ourselves for such a scenario, we should all strive to continue dialogue, and a peaceful way out of the crisis,” she added.
The Russian president’s proposition is a manifestation of Russia’s goodwill and aims at supporting trilateral talks on Ukraine, said Viktor Ozerov, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Security and Defense.
“The Federation Council still has the right to monitor the situation in Ukraine, follow the fulfillment of ceasefire conditions by the parties [Kiev and Ukraine’s eastern regions]…and provide humanitarian help,” he said.
Vladimir Putin’s request is not ‘correction work’ but a positive signal to Western countries, says Ilyas Umakhanov, deputy speaker of the Federation Council.
“Moreover, I hope that our Western partners will receive these positive signals and stop inventing more scary stories [about Russia] and abandon the policy of whitening radical groups in Ukraine,” he added, “Russia has confirmed its status of a great power, which defines its political course independently.”

Members of the "Donbass" self-defence battalion attend a ceremony to swear the oath to be officially included into the reserve battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine near Kiev June 23, 2014. (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)
Members of the "Donbass" self-defence battalion attend a ceremony to swear the oath to be officially included into the reserve battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine near Kiev June 23, 2014. (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)
On Tuesday Putin asked the council to repeal the decision to allow military force in Ukraine.
“Because of the beginning of the three-party talks to settle down the situation in the eastern parts of Ukraine, the head of state has addressed to the Federation Council to repeal the resolution on the use of Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine,” said presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
The Federation Council’s resolution from March 1 declares that the president has the right to use military force on the territory of neighboring Ukraine “until the normalization of the social and political situation in that country.”
The resolution was adopted following a presidential address demanding security be maintained “for citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots and personnel of the Russian contingent deployed in accordance with international agreements on the territory of the [then-]Autonomous Crimean Republic of Ukraine.”
On June 20, Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, announced a seven-day ceasefire from June 20 until the morning of June 27, which was agreed to by the self-defense forces on Monday. On Sunday he issued a warning, stating that he had an alternative “detailed plan” of regaining control over south-eastern Ukraine, should his current proposal for a truce fail to bring results.

Residents queue up for water in front of a water truck in Kramatorsk, some 25 km south of Slavyansk on June 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)
Residents queue up for water in front of a water truck in Kramatorsk, some 25 km south of Slavyansk on June 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)
Putin: Weeklong cease-fire in Ukraine should be extended, accompanied by talks
However, despite the temporary truce, fighting continues in eastern Ukraine. Nine soldiers have been reportedly killed in Donetsk Region, after self-defense forces shot down a Ukrainian army helicopter being used to transport military cargo.
At least three railroad tracks were also blown up by unknown people in eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the last days. In Donetsk Region, 14 freight cars were derailed in what railroad staff believe was a planned explosion.
According to People’s Republic of Donetsk, self-defense forces shot down the helicopter as Kiev troops had violated the conditions of the ceasefire.
“In fact there wasn’t even a minute of truce. [Kiev troops] have been shelling us all the time,” said Andrey Purgin, one of the leaders of self-declared republic, adding that on Tuesday at least 150 Kiev forces attempted to seize the city of Donetsk.
Putin said he hopes that a cease-fire between Kiev and the protesting regions in southeastern Ukraine will be extended beyond the set date of June 27.
 ČEZ settles with Albania

 EU News   
    Published: 24 June 2014
    Written by Czech News Agency

Although Czech energy provider ČEZ has settled its problems with Albania, issues remain elsewhere in the region, as a decrease in local subsidies in Romania has the company considering selling part of its wind farm. Photo: ČEZ.
Although Czech energy provider ČEZ has settled its problems with Albania, issues remain elsewhere in the region, as a decrease in local subsidies in Romania has the company considering selling part of its wind farm.
Czech power utility reaches agreement with Balkan nation after row over license

Prague, June 24 (ČTK) — Czech state-run power utility ČEZ and Albania, which revoked ČEZ's distribution license last year, have reached a settlement agreement under which ČEZ will be paid back 100 million euros (about 2.75 billion Kč) in annual installments by 2018, spokeswoman Barbora Půlpánová told the Czech News Agency today.

The sum corresponds roughly to ČEZ's initial investment in the acquisition of Albanian distributor ČEZ Shperndarje.

The agreement also includes terms of ending the dispute between ČEZ and Albania before the international arbitration court, Půlpánová said.

Under the agreement, ČEZ will receive compensation of 95.5 million euros as payment of receivables and transfer of shares in ČEZ Shperndarje, in addition to the 4.5 million euros it has already received.

According to the agreement, several conditions have to be fulfilled on the part of Albania, namely a provision of a bank guarantee, an approval by the Albanian government and ratification by the Albanian parliament.

On the part of ČEZ, the agreement is subject to approval by the firm’s governing bodies.

ČEZ will not pay anything to Albania, Půlpánová said.

The agreement was signed under the supervision of the Secretariat of the Energy Community in Vienna.

"I consider the negotiated agreement a success, because we will receive funds significantly earlier, and we will not need to wait several years for results of the arbitration proceedings. The agreement is designed so that financial compensation will be guaranteed by a renowned European bank," said Daniel Beneš, ČEZ CEO and board chairman.

"ČEZ will lose about 2 billion Kč in the Albanian transaction, but the receipt of 100 million Kč [around 2.75 billion Kč] and a fast ending to the dispute is probably better than international arbitration proceedings, which is usually a long and relatively costly process with an unguaranteed result," Jiří Gavor, an energy expert of the ENA company, said.

"It is clearly positive news. An agreement is better than arbitration. It is not certain whether Albania would abide by the result of the arbitration if it lost the dispute," J&T analyst Bohumil Trampota said.

Cyrrus company analyst Marek Hatlapatka said he viewed the agreement slightly positively. "ČEZ will not have to undergo arbitration proceedings, which might drag for an unpredictably long time with an uncertain result. It is therefore a relatively positive ending to the disputable investment of the company in Albania," Hetlapatka said.

According to BH Securities analyst Petr Hlinomaz, it is a question whether Albania will be able to pay the installments entirely, "The European union may help here. In this context, it would be a success if ČEZ received the first installment this year already," Hlinomaz said.

ČEZ entered Albanian market in 2009, when it bought 76 percent in ČEZ Shperndarje for about 102 million euros (about 2.8 billion Kč).

In January last year, the Albanian regulator revoked ČEZ Shperndarje's license accusing the company of having failed to secure electricity imports and to invest in the distribution network. A state administrator was installed at the helm of the company, as a result of which ČEZ lost control over the distributor and virtually left Albania.

In May last year, ČEZ launched an international arbitration dispute with Albania on the basis of the Energy Charter Treaty, which both the Czech Republic and Albania ratified and which sets the rules of international investments protection in the energy industry.

In the arbitration proceedings, ČEZ demanded damages for Albania's failure to protect its investment in ČEZ Shperndarje.

According to information made public earlier, the Czech Republic was ready to block the granting of the EU candidate country's status to Albania over the dispute between ČEZ and the Albanian state.

Besides Albania, ČEZ also has problems in other countries in the Balkans in which it has invested. In Bulgaria, it faces a fine and a withdrawal of a license. ČEZ nevertheless said in mid-May the shortcomings for which it was criticized by the Bulgarian energy regulator DKEVR were exceptional cases that could be resolved.

In Romania, ČEZ is considering the sale of a part of its wind farm owing to a decrease in local subsidies for renewable sources. Beneš said at the beginning of June that ČEZ does not plan to develop further business in the Balkans.

ČEZ is the biggest Czech energy company. The state holds about 70 percent of its shares via the Finance Ministry.

The company's net profit last year fell 12.3 percent to 35.2 billion Kč.

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Montenegro could be next EU member - German ambassador

PODGORICA -- Outgoing German Ambassador in Podgorica Pius Fischer says Montenegro could be the next member of the European Union.
Podgorica (, stock)
Podgorica (, stock)
He explained that the country had made "significant progress in this direction."
The ambassador made the comments while on his farewell visit with Montenegrin Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Igor Lukšić.

Fischer noted achievements in the field of the rule of law and the fight against organized crime and corruption as Montenegro's successes in the process of EU integrations.

Therefore, according to his assessment, Montenegro could be the first country after the accession of Croatia to join the European Union.

NATO won't offer Montenegro membership this year

BRUSSELS -- Montenegro and Georgia will not be invited to join NATO this year, Secretary General of Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
"We will start intensive and focused talks with Montenegro, and will by the end of 2015 at the latest decide whether to invite it to join the alliance," Rasmussen told reporters at the start of the second day of a session of the Ministerial Council of NATO in Brussels.
Montenegro had hoped to be invited to join in September this year, during a NATO summit.

Speaking about Georgia, Rasmussen announced that instead of membership the country will be offered "a substantial package" that will help it get closer to NATO.

Diplomatic sources at NATO headquarters said that member-states failed to agree yesterday on allowing the two countries to join.

The main opponent to Georgia's membership was France, which took the view that the move would unnecessarily irritate Russia.

When it comes to Montenegro, the opinion is that further reforms, especially in the political arena and in the rule of law, are necessary.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Militia down chopper near Slavyansk, 9 feared dead – military spokesman

Published time: June 24, 2014 15:15
Edited time: June 24, 2014 18:17
RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy
RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy
Nine people are feared dead after self-defense forces in the Donetsk region shot down a Ukrainian army helicopter, which was used for transporting military cargo, a Kiev spokesman said.
The Mi-8 helicopter was downed “at about 5 pm local time at Karachun Mountain near Slavyansk by a rocket fired from a portable air defense system,” eastern Ukraine military operation spokesman, Vladislav Seleznyov, wrote on his Facebook page.

“There were nine people aboard the helicopter. According to preliminary information, all those aboard died in the crash,”
he said, adding that the helicopter was returning to a Ukrainian checkpoint after a cargo delivery mission.

The self-defense troops, who fired the missile, escaped to the nearby village of Bylbasovka, Seleznyov wrote.
The Ukraine’s National Guard fighters told the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper that the Mi-8 helicopter was downed during takeoff from Karachun Mountain (a strategic high point near Slavyansk where the Ukrainian army’s artillery is deployed).
The place where the shot came from has been established, with troops currently being deployed there, the source in the National Guard added.
The Ukrainian forces continued shelling the village of Semyonovka on the outskirts of Slavyansk on Tuesday night and during the day, the self-defense forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk told ITAR-TASS news agency earlier.

The heavy artillery fire has prevented the self-defense forces from recovering the bodies of two of its troops killed the previous day, they said.

“There’s no living thing left in the village. Everything is devastated, including factories and railway crossings,” the self-defense forces stressed. “The houses are abandoned. Nobody is harvesting crops from their gardens.”

Meanwhile, the town of Slavyansk remains without a water supply, with the majority of shops and pharmacies staying closed.

Also on Tuesday, a crew from Russia’s Channel One was caught in the shelling outside Slavyansk; the journalists luckily avoided injury.
Also, fighting is currently underway in the suburbs of the city of Donetsk, said Aleksandr Boroday, prime minister of the People's Republic of Donetsk.
“Artillery and armored vehicles are being used,” he told RIA-Novosti news agency, adding people have already been killed and injured in the fighting.
President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over the resumption of hostilities in Slavyansk and urged Kiev to strive to bring about an end to the bloodshed in southeastern Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, now I have relevant information that in one of the most troubled areas – near the city of Slavyansk – the fighting is currently underway; [Kiev's] paratroopers have landed there and there are already victims. It’s sad,” Putin said during a press-conference in Vienna, Austria.
Read more: Putin: Weeklong cease-fire in Ukraine should be extended, accompanied by talks
The fighting in the Donetsk region is continuing despite the seven-day ceasefire announced by Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, on June 20, which was agreed to by the self-defense forces on Monday.
Putin stressed that "the declarations should be backed by real actions, otherwise none of the problems will be solved.”
“Simply declaring a ceasefire isn’t enough,” the Russian president said, calling on the sides to begin “substantive negotiations” on the matter as soon as possible.
“Seven days of ceasefire is insufficient,” he added.
Albania join Candidate Status to EU

Council conclusions on Albania 
GE ERAL AFFAIRS Council meeting 
Luxembourg, 24 June 2014 
The Council adopted the following conclusions: 
"1. In line with its Conclusions of 17 December 2013, the Council welcomes the Commission's report of 4 June and, in light of its examination of Albania's continued progress, decides to grant Albania candidate status, subject to endorsement by the European Council. 
2. Following the granting of candidate status, the Council underlines that Albania s
hould act decisively on all of the recommendations in the Commission’s report and intensify its efforts to ensure a sustained, comprehensive and inclusive implementation of the key priorities, notably the reform of the public administration and the judiciary, the fight against organised crime and corruption, the protection of human rights and anti-discrimination policies including in the area of minorities and their equal treatment, and implementation of property
rights. The Council underlines the importance for Albania to intensify its anti-corruption efforts and to implement its anti-corruption strategy and action plan, strengthen cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and establish a solid track record of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in cases of corruption and organised crime, particularly organised immigration
crime, the use of fraudulent documents, money laundering, drug cultivation and human trafficking. The Council also underlines the importance for Albania to streng then the independence, transparency and accountability of the judiciary, including to provide greater legal certainty for economic operators and to increase investor confidence. 
3. The Council also expects Albania to intensify its support for the timely reduction of migratory pressures on the EU including by pursuing its efforts to ensure the fulfilment of all conditions of the visa roadmap and by taking further steps to address the issue of unfounded asylum applications lodged by Albanian nationals.
4. The Council welcomes the Roadmap on the key priorities Albania has adopted in order to structure the reform process ahead and build a track record of implementation. Based on this Roadmap it invites the Commission to intensify its support, monitoring and assessment of Albania’s reform process, including in the context of the high level dialogue on the key priorities and through close interaction with Member States. This should focus on securing concrete results on all the above issues, based on credible and measurable targets and
timeframes, with reliable data and statistics. In this respect the Council invites the
Commission to report, in addition to the Enlargement Package and on the basis of the output of the high level dialogue, in a comprehensive and detailed manner on Albania’s progress on the key priorities.
5. The Council welcomes Albania's continued constructive engagement in regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations as well as its alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. 
6. The Council reiterates that continued and sustainable dialogue between the
government and the opposition on EU-related reforms will remain an important factor for Albania to advance on its EU integration path."


Himara: Political parties and NGOs of Himara, declare civil disobedience, want referendum

Himara. The Greek Ethnic Minority Organizations, The Union Party for Human Rights and the Republican Party in Himara officially announce the decision on civil disobedience to the law No. 7501 "On the division of agricultural land use," stating that "the people of Himara only recognizes the inherent properties grandparents, based on Article 41 of the Constitution. "Through an "ultimatum" from three-point Albanian government warned on June 19, 2014 also holding a local referendum "where people of Himara, to express its will to decide his future" if not to consider the proposal for the merger in a separate administrative unit of the Municipality of Himara with Municipality Lukovo. 

The decision of the two Albanian parties, supported by Omonia and five local association meeting comes just after consulting the Minister of State for Local Government, Bled Çuçi held with residents of the area for the new administrative reform territorial. In this conversation Çuçi stressed that "local units of Himara, and Lukovo with Vranishti shall constitute a separate functional area that would provide more income residents." But by their Himara`s present at this conversation by joining only  Lukovo,  but rejected and contested joining with Vranishti. Minister Çuçi earlier, on behalf of the Albanian government has made it clear that the new territorial division of the country, Himara will not be a separate administrative unit, as according to him this status will enjoy only minority areas.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Rand Paul: US created ‘jihadist wonderland’ in Syria, Libya and Iraq

Published time: June 23, 2014 15:42
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) (Reuters / Larry Downing)
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) (Reuters / Larry Downing)
United States Senator Rand Pal (R-Kentucky) says jihadist wonderlands are sprouting up abroad, and American foreign policy is to blame.
The possible 2016 presidential contender was discussing the escalating crisis in Iraq on camera with CNN host Candy Crowley over the weekend when he condemned the notion that the American military should intervene further.
According to the junior senator, other recent uprisings in the region that prompted a militarized response from the US only made matters worse and further fueled terrorist activities.
“We went into Libya and we got rid of that terrible Gadhafi. Now it is a jihadist wonderland over there,” Sen. Paul said. “There's jihadists everywhere.”
“If we were to get rid of Assad, it would be a jihadist wonderland in Syria. It's now a jihadist wonderland in Iraq, precisely because we got over-involved, not because we had too little involvement, but too much involvement,” Paul added.
The senator’s comments mirror similar remarks made by his father — former congressman Ron Paul — only weeks earlier this month.
In a video statement posted to the Ron Paul Channel website earlier this month, the former US representative for Texas claimed that Al-Qaeda was only made stronger after the US increased its military operations in the Middle East following the 2004 invasion of Iraq.
“But the real irony here is that Iraq had no Al-Qaeda in it when we went into Iraq, because right after 9/11 a story was concocted and based on lies and misinformation that Al-Qaeda was in Iraq, that there was weapons of mass destruction — all those things that motivated the people and the propaganda to get the support, and Congress went along with it and started spending all that money,” Ron Paul said.
“Not only did they pick up a lot of weapons and guns and equipment, but they end up getting Black Hawk helicopters. And this is money that the taxpayers paid and we gave it to the Iraqis. They were supposed to be trained in taking care of and protecting their country, and here the Al-Qaeda is taking over the country,” he added.
Similarly, his son said over the weekend to CNN that this activity created “wonderlands” that are now posing immense threats to American.
"We are where we are because we armed the Syrian rebels. We have been fighting alongside Al-Qaeda," Sen. Paul said to CNN.
As matters escalate, he added, Americans need to assess the possibility of whether US troops should once again be sent overseas to fight in another nation’s war.
“Obviously, we have the military might and power. But the country as a whole has to decide, do we want to send 100,000 troops in? Are we willing to have 4,500 young Americans die to save a city like Mosul that the Shiites won’t even save, that they have fled?" He asked.
“You have to ask yourself, are you willing to send your son, am I willing to send my son, to retake back a city, Mosul, that they weren’t willing to defend themselves?” Paul said. “I’m not willing to send my son into that mess.”
During the last week, US Pres. Barack Obama has announced the deployment of 250 troops to Iraq to be followed by upwards of 300 military advisors. According to the results of a New York Times/CBS Poll released this week, 29 percent of Americans say the president should do more and 22 percent would rather he do less.
Greece Top Tourist Destination for Austrians

by Evdokia Fourkioti - Jun 23, 2014


Greece is the favorite tourist destination for Austrians, according to an article published in the Austrian newspaper “Der Standard.” Reports from Austrian travel agencies show a significant increase in bookings for Greece this summer.

According to data from the biggest Austrian travel agency “Verkehrsbüro,” Greece is first place on the list of the most popular holiday destinations for Austrians in 2014 with 15%, followed by Turkey (12.7%), Spain (12.1%), Italy (7.9%), USA (5.9%), and Croatia (3.4%).

Greece shows a 12.3% increase in bookings, while the bookings in Croatia and France increased by 2.4% and 2% respectively. Rating the lowest in Greece’s tourism spectrum is Egypt with a 14.2% decrease in bookings compared to Austria.

Greece also ranks first among the most popular last-minute destinations for this summer, indicates the Austrian Tourist Office after a recent calculation. In addition, Greek islands are more popular for last-minute bookings than the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Maldives, and Mauritius.

Austria, considering its eight million population, is in first place with regard to foreign tourist arrivals in Greece. Every year more than 400,000 Austrians come to Greece for their holidays, while a great percentage of them decide to visit the country again.
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Albanian foreign minister boasts of country's record in saving Jews during Holocaust

06/22/2014 10:26

Albania was the only European country whose Jewish population after the Holocaust was far larger than that before the Holocaust.

Ditmir Bushati
Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati Photo: Courtesy
Prior to paying his first visit to Yad Vashem on Sunday, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati told participants at a breakfast meeting hosted by the World Jewish Congress and the Israel Council on Foreign on Relations that he would be thinking not only about the victims of the Holocaust, but also with pride about the Albanians who risked their lives to save Jews.

Albania was the only European country whose Jewish population after the Holocaust was far larger than that before the Holocaust.

Although a predominantly Muslim country, Albania practices a tradition known as Besa, or faith, in which hospitality and taking care of the needs of others and ensuring their safety and security is paramount. To date, 69 Albanians have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.

The first Jews came to Albania in the second century CE and, according to Ditmir, there has never been any history of anti-Semitism in the country.

“Nations that have suffered themselves understand the pain and suffering of others,” said Bushati, adding that Albania demonstrates the goodwill of one nation to another and serves as a model of tolerance and compassion.

Albania’s accession to the European Union will be reviewed this week, and if all goes well, the country will not only be a beneficiary but will also be able to influence European policy against the spread of anti-Semitism, Bushati said in response to a question.

Bushati is primarily in Israel to boost bilateral economic and trade relations. Albania can learn a lot from Israel in terms of science, culture, and knowledge, he said, noting that Israel has proved that a country can flourish on knowledge when it does not have natural resources.

Albania, on the other hand, has a lot of natural resources, he said, and has much to offer Israeli investors by way of energy, infrastructure, mining, and tourism.

The potential for enhanced economic relations is largely untapped, he said, mentioning the trilateral transatlantic pipeline project among Italy, Albania, and Greece that will create an important gas corridor through Europe and will be an enormous source of energy to neighboring countries.

The pipeline may eventually include Israel.

Croatian defence minister visits Albania

During his two-day visit to Albania, Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic discussed with his hosts the upcoming NATO summit, the situation in Southeast Europe, and the importance of regional cooperation and regional initiatives in Euro-Atlantic integration processes, the Croatian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Kotromanovic, who was heading a ministry delegation on the visit that took place on Sunday and Monday, held talks with his Albanian counterpart Mimi Kodheli and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
The two countries' defence officials discussed the possibility of establishing new areas of cooperation such as the exchange of maritime radar images and the participation of Albanian representatives in a defence diplomacy course in Croatia. They also discussed defence reforms and the Albanian side was informed about Croatian defence industry products, the ministry statement said.
The two sides also discussed ways to enhance the two countries' cooperation in disaster response in the light of the Croatian army's assistance to civilian authorities and population during the recent floods and clean-up operations in the region.
The Albanian side expressed interest in what it considers to be very good legal regulations on public procurement and the system of promotion of active military personnel in Croatia, so the two sides agreed on the further transfer of Croatia's experience in those areas.
Kotromanovic expressed support for Albania's EU membership bid.
Minister Kodheli said Croatia served as the best example to Albania on the road to EU membership, expressing gratitude for Croatia's unreserved support in that regard.

"Putin to meet with OSCE chair and Serbian FM"

VIENNA -- Vladimir Putin will be in Vienna on Tuesday for a one-day visit where he will meet with the OSCE chair-in-office, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter.
Dačić (L) and Putin (R) during a previous meeting (Beta/AP, file)
Dačić (L) and Putin (R) during a previous meeting (Beta/AP, file)
According to reports in Austrian media, the Russian president will also meet with the next OSCE chair, Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić.
According to announcements from Vienna, Putin will confer with senior state officials of Austria and officials of the OSCE.

Dačić will be present at the Burkhalter-Putin meeting considering that Serbia will take over the OSCE Chairmanship from Switzerland next year, Austrian media reported.

However, Dačić could not confirm on Monday that his meeting with Putin would take place.

Albania criticized for stance during floods

BELGRADE -- Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić on Monday noted that "some countries" did not act properly toward Serbia when the country was hit by the floods in May.
According to a Beta news agency report, Dačić said that "an official reaction" would be sent to these countries.
"One of them is Albania," he noted while attending the Serbian Economic Summit organized in Belgrade by Greece's TGI Group.

According to him, Albania failed to send a telegram of condolences to Serbia, while none of its officials signed the book of condolences - "not to mention any assistance."

Dačić then confirmed that a donor conference for Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina would be held in mid-July, and mentioned July 16 as a possible date.

He also revealed that by June 20, Serbia's diplomatic missions abroad had collected nearly 2,000 tons of various goods as part of the flood relief effort, and specified that the value of these donations exceeded EUR 25 million.

23 Jun. 2014

NATO Foreign Ministerial to focus on Ukraine, Afghanistan, Wales Summit

NATO’s support to Ukraine and the implications of Russia’s actions, the future of Afghanistan and preparations for the NATO Summit in Wales top the agenda of a two-day meeting of the Alliance’s 28 foreign ministers which starts on Tuesday (24 June 2014).
The ministerial will start with a working dinner which will touch on the summit agenda, notably the Alliance’s Open Door Policy and the progress of the four countries which currently aspire to join NATO. A more detailed discussion on the summit will be held on Wednesday (25 June 2014) during the first working session of the North Atlantic Council. Foreign ministers will review measures the Alliance has taken in wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the work being done to develop a Readiness Action Plan to enhance the defence of Allies.
Ways to strengthen the transatlantic bond between North American and European Allies will also be discussed and ministers will look at how to strengthen NATO’s ties with its global partners. They will consider two partnership initiatives. One is to enhance NATO’s ability to provide defence capacity building assistance to partners and other countries which might request it. The other plan offers some of NATO’s most active partners an increased of practical cooperation and political dialogue.
In a separate session, NATO ministers will meet with the new Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin to discuss the crisis and how the Alliance can further support Ukraine, including the possible creation of trust funds to support defence capacity building.
The ministers will conclude their talks with a meeting on Afghanistan with ISAF partners and the Deputy Afghan Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi. The United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton have also been invited. The foreign ministers are expected to endorse the operations plan for the NATO-led post-2014 mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces during the meeting. That mission will only be launched if the appropriate legal arrangements are signed in due course.