Saturday, August 9, 2014

IMF "warned" the Bank of Albania 
IMF "warned" the Bank of Albania
IMF "warned" the Bank of Albania
One day ago, after the special meeting for the theft of the Albanian Treasury, the Supervisory Council of the Bank of Albania declared that the procedures, instructions and internal rules of the Bank are according to the law and guarantee its security.

In the official declaration after the meeting, the Council declared that the theft has been caused by the failure of the employees to implement these rules.

But Top Channel brings in attention an official document of the International Monetary Fund, published one month ago, noting that the regulatory basis and the auditing procedures used by the Bank of Albania are not based on the best international standards.

In the first part of the report, the IMF recognizes the improvements, noting that the Bank of Albania has reinforced its guarantees for some sectors, such as the external and internal audit, and the financial reporting functionalities.

But the document notes that the Bank structure lacks of the effective supervision of the internal audit, the financial reporting and the inspection issues.

IMF says that the policies and the policies and procedures for selecting the external audit are unclear. Facing these problems, the IMF recommends the Bank of Albania to establish a special Council that should survey the internal audit and that should be composed of people outside the executive circle of the bank.

In other words, they should not depend from the Bank's leaders. This recommendation aimed to detach this process from the influence and control of the highest bank leaders.

Top Channel has learned that this decision has been taken from the Bank on July 29th, four days after the Bank theft was made public. In parallel, the IMF asked the Bank to approve a formal policy for the selection of the external audit with a rotation procedure.

This was a clear rule defining how the external audit was selected and how long could the maximal deadline be for a company to serve as external audit. The IMF recommends the Bank in this document to undertake a special evaluation on the quality of functionality for the internal audit, which has failed for four consequent years to prevent the theft.

The Bank of Albania has been aware that the audit, the internal financial inspections and other procedures were not according to the financial standards.

This is proved by the same document in which the Bank says that they will reinforce the audit and internal inspection, in full accordance with the recommendations of the last IMF mission, for the protective and preventive measures.

The Bank promises to undertake others steps for harmonizing the internal auditing procedures with the international standards.

The  internal and external audit were the key links that failed preventing the theft of 7.1 million USD for more than four consequent years. These links seem to have been problematic for years, since in another document of 2007, before leaving Albania, the IMF expresses almost identical concerns about the quality of the external and internal audit of Bank of Albania.
Ingram Pinn illustration

Saudis have lost the right to take Sunni leadership
David Gardner

The kingdom spews out the corrosive poison that helps fuel religion-based fanaticism

When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the jihadi leader whose blackshirts over-ran swaths of northern and central Iraq in June, gave his Ramadan rant last month after proclaiming himself caliph, he had it translated into English, French, German, Turkish, Russian – and Albanian. Why did his Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis), which now styles itself narcissistically as the Islamic State, take the trouble?
Since the end of the cold war and after the wars of the Yugoslav succession, the western Balkans – in particular Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia and even bits of Bulgaria – have been carpeted with Saudi-financed Wahhabi mosques and madrassas. This is moving local Muslim culture away from Turkic-oriented, Sufi Islam towards the radical bigotry of Wahhabi absolutism, which groups such as Isis have taken to its logical conclusion. This is fertilised ground for jihadi ambition.

Saudi Arabia not only exports oil, but tanker-loads of quasi-totalitarian religious dogma and pipelines of jihadi volunteers, even as it struggles to insulate itself from the blowback; and King Abdullah, in his end of Ramadan address, warns against the “devilish” extremism of “these deviant forces”. Jihadi extremism does present a threat to the kingdom. But in doctrinal terms it is hard to see in what way it “deviates” from Wahhabi orthodoxy, with its literalist and exclusivist rendering of Sunni Islam. Its extreme interpretation of monotheism anathematises other beliefs, in particular the “idolatrous” practices of Christians and Shia Muslims, as infidel or apostate. That can be read as limitless sanction for jihad. The modern jihadi is a Wahhabi on steroids. His main grievance with the House of Saud is that it deviates: its profligate deeds do not match its Wahhabi words.

The late King Fahd, Abdullah’s predecessor, for example, acquired a reputation as a playboy and gambler in his youth. Yet during his reign he built 1,359 mosques abroad, together with 202 colleges, 210 Islamic centres and more than 2,000 schools, according to official Saudi data. There seem to be no figures for Wahhabi “outreach” under Abdullah, a more austere and ecumenical figure. Anecdotal evidence says Saudi mosque-building is powering ahead wherever believers are found, especially in south, central and southeast Asia, home to about 1bn of the world’s 1.6bn Muslims.

The House of Saud, facing a potentially wrenching succession to the ailing Abdullah at a time of upheaval across the Arab world, is in a delicate position. As custodian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, it is the closest modern equivalent to the old Islamic caliphate. It thus abominates the violent presumption of Isis as much as it abhors the rival brand of pan-Islamic fundamentalism of the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet the kingdom still spews out the corrosive poison that helps fuel religion-based fanaticism. The Isis rampage of destruction of shrines and mosques, for instance, continues the two centuries-old record of Wahhabi iconoclasm. Nor should it be forgotten that the House of Saud used Wahhabi zealots as its shock troops in the last century to unite by force most of the religiously diverse Arabian peninsula – won by the sword in 52 battles over 30 years. There are no churches in Saudi Arabia, and permits to build Shia mosques are rarer than desert rain.

Saudi Arabia is not solely responsible for the result; resurgent jihadism amid the virulent battle within Islam between the majority Sunni and minority Shia is playing out across the Levant, down into the Gulf and across to the Indian subcontinent. But it is a primary source of doctrinal bigotry, as Saudi schoolbooks enjoining believers to shun all but their own well attest.
The modern jihadi is a Wahhabi on steroids. His main grievance with the House of Saud is that it deviates
The worldwide surge in Wahhabi mosques began in response to Iran’s attempts to export the Shia radicalism of its 1979 revolution. The Anglo-American overthrow of Iraq’s minority Sunni regime in the 2003 invasion of Iraq – which installed a Shia majority and ignited sectarian carnage – and the west’s failure to support the rebellion of the Sunni majority in Syria, have fed Sunni grievances, sharpened by the Iran-backed Shia axis across the region. It is uncertain whether the Saudi state and its Gulf allies finance groups such as Isis, but their citizens do, encouraged by the Sunni supremacist discourse and tactical promiscuity of their rulers, fearful of being outflanked from the religious right.

Saudi Arabia’s position as the world’s leading oil exporter, a leading purchaser of western arms and a counterweight to Iran in the Gulf has shielded it from criticism. In the current turmoil in the Middle East – characterised by an absence of state and institutions, a loss of shared national narrative in mosaic countries such as Syria and Iraq, and the feebleness of previously influential big powers – there is a lack of mainstream Sunni leadership.

The petrodollar theocracy of Saudi Arabia, in its contest with the petrodollar theocracy of Iran, has smothered Sunni space – except for the vacuum in which Isis is building its (also oil-rich) cross-border caliphate, now striking east into Kurdistan and west into Lebanon.
Previous generations of mainstream Sunni Arabs gave their allegiance to pan-Arab nationalists such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, tarnished paladins of a dead-end ideology. The potential disaster now facing the Arabs demands a new generation of Sunni leaders, able to defeat extremism within their own camp. That is something Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi absolutism is part of the genetic code of groups such as Isis, cannot do.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Defence Minister Avramopoulos on board the “Salamis” frigate

Mr. Avramopoulos praised the professionalism and combat effectiveness of the Armed Forces staff who worked on the Libyan Mission
National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos went aboard the Salamis frigate yesterday in order to thank and congratulate on behalf of the Greek state the crew for the successful evacuation of Greek and foreign nationals from Tripoli, Libya.
In his address, Mr. Avramopoulos praised the high professionalism and combat effectiveness of the staff of the Armed Forces and thanked the families of the frigate crew for “boosting the moral” of the men.
Mr. Avramopoulos underlined that the national defense system “is always ready to respond to anything that contributes to the stability, peace and security in this region during this period of instability and uncertainty.”
The Defence Minister was accompanied by the Chief of Defence, General Mikhail Kostarakos and Chief of Hellenic Navy Vice Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.


The government reacts for Bank of Albania theft: A serious crime

The government reacts for Bank of Albania theft: A serious crime
Two weeks after the huge unprecedented theft at the Bank of Albania, the government reacted by calling it a serious crime and a big challenge for justice.

Through an announcement for the media, the Council of Ministers says that the Prosecution should make a quick and comprehensive investigation for punishing anyone involved in this shocking crime.

This act is also a huge challenge for the authority and safety of the Bank of Albania, the announcement says, which should review all rules and mechanisms so that these things will not happen again in the future.

The government’s declaration didn’t mention Governor Fullani, who has been in the center of the media attention for the past days, and not even the Supervisory Council. According to the government, this is a big challenge for other institutions, the Parliament and the Government, for analyzing and come up with constructive conclusions for their cooperation with international financial institution, for the legal measures that are needed for guaranteeing a solid and transparent inspection system for the activity of this key institution.

This paragraph leaves to be understood that the government is not happy with the transparency of the Bank of Albania, that’s why they ask the Parliament Speaker, Ilir Meta, for a legal intervention.

The government underlines that they are following the progress of the investigation very closely, and they are determined to play their role fully for any initiative that might be needed for a functional security system for the Bank of Albania.

“Banking activity is not damaged”
Banks Association guarantees: Our activity is not affected by the theft

The Albanian Banking Association declares that what happened at the Bank of Albania will not affect their activity.

Through an official press release, the association guarantees the public and bank clients that the activity continues normally.
Criminal Prosecution for the maritime border agreement
Top channel TV

Criminal Prosecution for the maritime border agreement
“The Prosecutor General has all the respective documentation and the Constitutional Court verdict on his hand, together with the international practice, which has been violated by the Court”, declared Ditmir Bushat one day ago.

“The Tirana Prosecution has strong suspicions that the interests of Albania have been violated through the maritime border agreement. For this reason, a criminal lawsuit has been filed, some days after the Prosecution filed a voluminous material for the most debated case of 2009. The Prosecutors verified this case for some time, until they were convinced that the material of the Foreign Ministry has enough data to make them suspect that the criminal code has been violated”.

11 experts involved in the maritime border agreement of 2009 are expected to testify at the Tirana Prosecution.

“We have verified the documentation, the most important of which is the verdict of the Constitutional Court, which cancelled in January 26th, 2010, the implementation of this agreement by considering it anti-constitutional and against the national interests”, the Prosecutors say.

Among the experts that will be called for questionings are specialists who served as negotiators. The main negotiator of the Albanian side, Ferit Hoxha; Rear Admiral, Kristaq Gerveni, then Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces; the former General Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Gazmend Turdiu; Director of legal and international cases, Ilir Tepelena; the Director of Tractates, Ledia Hysi, and photogrametry specialists like Ferdinand Bebreri and Anduel Cauli, from the Digital Map Sector.

The Prosecutors have not confirmed if the former Foreign Minister, Lulzim Basha, will be called for testifying as the man who signed the agreement with the Greek counterpart, Dora Bakojanis. According to the sources, it is still early to confirm this without the interrogation of the 11 experts.

The consumption of the criminal act foresees that the agreements made with foreign countries to hand over the territory are punished with five to ten years in prison.
Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson: My Big Fat Greek Vacation!

Tom Hanks_Rita Wilson1

by Nikoleta Kalmouki - Aug 5, 2014

Tom Hanks_Rita Wilson1

Rita Wilson, wife of famous Hollywood star Tom Hanks and an actress herself is proud of her Greek roots. So it was no surprise that Tom and Rita were seen enjoying the sun and the beautiful beaches during their vacation in Greece.

The couple, married for 26 years, was seen on Antiparos in the Cyclades, where they showed off their sporting skills with high-energy activities. Instead of letting the hours drift by sun bathing on the beach, the screen stars were seen enjoying some stand-up paddling.

Tom Hanks, who won an Oscar for the 1994 film “Forrest Gump,” displayed his athletic body in a pair of black surfing shorts, while Rita Wilson wearing a striped form-fitting top and white shorts was accompanying her husband.

The couple’s visit to Greece comes after Tom’s July trip to Egypt to shoot a part of his upcoming movie “A Hologram For The King.”

Rita was born Margarita Ibrahimoff to a Greek mother and Bulgarian father in Los Angeles. She was raised Greek Orthodox. Rita Wilson was responsible for getting Nia Vardalos‘ “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” to the big screen.

“Tom and Rita insisted on it to being Greek all the way,” Nia told of their input.

Rita and Tom also served as executive producers on “Mamma Mia,” the ABBA-based musical starring Meryl Streep, which was shot on the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos in Greece.
- See more at:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Over 400 Ukrainian troops cross into Russia for refuge

Published time: August 04, 2014 06:23
RIA Novosti/Yulia Nasulina
RIA Novosti/Yulia Nasulina

More than 400 Ukrainian troops have been allowed to cross into Russia after requesting sanctuary. It’s the largest, but not the first, case of desertion into Russia by Ukrainian soldiers involved in Kiev’s military crackdown in the east of the country.
According to the Rostov Region’s border guard spokesman Vasily Malaev, a total of 438 soldiers, including 164 Ukrainian border guards, have been allowed into Russia on Sunday night.
One of the Ukrainians was seriously injured on his arrival in Russia. He was taken to the hospital for surgery, the officials added.
The other Ukrainian soldiers have been housed in a tent camp deployed near the checkpoint via which they entered Russian territory. The Russian border guards are providing them with food and bedding.
Footage taken by the Russian media at the scene showed the Ukrainian soldiers being handed ration packs and resting in their temporary shelter. Those who agreed to speak on camera said they were relieved to be in safety for the first time in weeks.
“We were given an order to leave out positions and go to Russia trough a corridor. We were told it would be safe. Of course they, I would say, made us go fast from behind,” one of the soldiers, a BMP driver who would not reveal his name or even show his face on camera, said.
“It was so bad back there. Hot, and so many deaths and bad things,” another one, Dmitry, said. “Folks can rest here. They gave us a chance to wash, gave us new clothes. We are thankful.”
“We have been in those fields for more than six months and are very tired,” he added.
Another one, Yaroslav, said he wishes to go back to his family in Ukraine.
“I want to do something peaceful. My contract expired four months ago,” he explained.

RIA Novosti/Yulia Nasulina
RIA Novosti/Yulia Nasulina
The Ukrainian Security Council said it is keeping in touch with the soldiers “through diplomatic channels,” but it did not give an exact number of how many troops had crossed the border.
“A Foreign Ministry representative is working with them, and negotiations over their return are now ongoing,” Ukraine Security Council representative Andrey Lysenko said.
On Sunday, the Ukrainian anti-government militia reported that it was in negotiations with a large contingent of Ukrainian troops they encircled in Lugansk region on a possible surrender. The negotiations were being hampered by the troops’ intention to destroy some 70 armored vehicles in their possession before laying down arms, which the militia wanted to capture intact.
The Gukovo border checkpoint, through which the Ukrainian troops crossed into the Russian territory, is located on Russia’s border with the Lugansk Region of Ukraine, indicating that these are the same troops that were negotiating with the militia. If so, it was not immediately clear whether the vehicles they had were really destroyed.
OSCE monitors and journos come under shelling from Ukraine at Russian border
The flow of deserters from the ranks of Ukrainian Army and National Guard seems to be increasing amid the escalating violence in Donets and Lugansk Regions, where Kiev is fighting against armed anti-government militias.
In late July 41 Ukrainian troops fled to Russia to escape fighting in eastern Ukraine. They are now being prosecuted in Ukraine for deserting in the heat of battle.

RIA Novosti
RIA Novosti
Several Ukrainian units have been reported to recently to be cut off from supply lines after attempted offensive operations, which brought them behind the militia-controlled territories and close to the Russian border.
The Ukrainian troops, while far superior to the militia in terms of heavy weapons, suffer from poor logistics. Many soldiers complain about lacking even basic supplies like food and water on the frontline. The situation is aggravated by cases of apparent negligence from the command, with units being supplied with faulty equipment, coming under friendly fire and simply left behind while retreating from militia counter-attacks.

A YouTube video allegedly shows a Ukrainian soldier explaining how he has to catch and cook snakes because his unit receives no rations.
Kiev’s National Guard unit mutiny: ‘We’ve been discarded like trash’
This causes serious morale problems in the army, with more critical voices saying the Ukraine de facto has no infantry troops and has no other way to fight but by leveling militia-held cities to the ground with artillery and air strikes.
There is a growing resistance to the military campaign among Ukrainian population, with several cases of mass protests against the latest mobilization drive, as mothers and wives of conscripts took to the streets to demand that their loved once not be drafted into the army.
Protesters in Tirana Demand Dismissal of Bank of Albania Governor

Bulgaria: Protesters in Tirana Demand Dismissal of Bank of Albania Governor 
World | August 4, 2014

Bulgaria: Protesters in Tirana Demand Dismissal of Bank of Albania Governor Protesters show banners reading `Resignation` during a protest to ask for resignation of Ardian Fullani, Governor of Bank of Albania, in front of the national bank`s headquarters in Tirana, Albania, 04 August 2014. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Several hundred citizens, including journalists, organized a protest Monday in front of the headquarters of Albania's central bank in downtown Tirana.

Protesters demanded the instant dismissal of Ardian Fullani, governor of the bank, due to the theft of around EUR 5 M from a storage facility of the bank.

The participants in the protest called on the ruling coalition and the opposition to immediately remove Fullani, according to reports of the BGNES news agency.

They insisted that he should have resigned, while the prosecuting authority should have already pressed charges and convicted him, sending him in jail for playing games with the money of Albanians.

Several arrests have already been made in connection with the unprecedented theft.

- See more at:

More than 400 Ukrainian soldiers "flee to to Russia"

MOSCOW -- Ukrainian authorities' orders to troops to fight their own people are "impossible," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told Itar-Tass on Monday.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
His comments came as 438 Ukrainian military personnel reportedly fled across the border into Russia overnight.
“We have repeatedly helped Ukrainian law enforcers asking for help, asking us to receive their wounded friends. We have helped, offering medical assistance and given the possibility of return to all those who wanted it without impeding them, without keeping anyone forcibly,” Lavrov said, and added:

“To tell the truth, those who had wished to return to Ukraine were then accused of deserting and were court-martialed."

The news agency also quoted Lavrov as saying that he "expected the Ukrainian authorities to show humanity in the long run and will realise the absolute inadmissibility of the situation when Ukrainians are waging war against each other, when they are made to fight against their own people while those who refuse are seen as traitors to their own country."

Previously, head of the Rostov region customs service Vasily Malayev told reporters that more than 400 Ukrainian military personnel had crossed the border and sought asylum in Russia.

The border service decided to open "a humanitarian corridor" for asylum seekers, Malayev explained.

The 1914 in the wars of 2014

100 years on, the jigsaw pieces of old empires are being reassembled in new puzzles.
Ukrainian government artillery guns in a field near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, on July 31 (Beta/AP)
Ukrainian government artillery guns in a field near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, on July 31 (Beta/AP)
There is war in Europe. No, I'm not using the historic present tense to evoke August 1914. I'm talking about August 2014. What is happening in eastern Ukraine is war – 'ambiguous war' as a British parliamentary committee calls it, rather than outright, declared war between two sovereign states, but still war. And war rages around the edges of Europe, in Syria, Iraq and Gaza.

I do not say 'Europe is at war'. I leave the hyperbole to Bernard Henri-Levy. Most European countries are not directly engaged in armed conflict. Still, we should be under no illusions. For decades, we have lived with the comforting notion that 'Europe has been at peace since 1945'. This was always an overstatement. In parts of eastern Europe, low-level armed conflict continued into the early 1950s, followed by the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In the 1990s, former Yugoslavia was torn apart in a series of wars - as a recent report by the EU's Special Investigative Task Force, credibly charging Kosovo Liberation Army leaders with 'war crimes', has just reminded us.

Kosovo was where I first saw the corpses sticking out of makeshift body bags and the blood in the snow. While that blood was still fresh, I talked to one KLA commander, Ramush Haradinaj, who memorably observed: 'me, I couldn't be no Mother Teresa'. (He subsequently became prime minister of Kosovo, resigned when indicted for war crimes in The Hague, but was twice acquitted.) Then I would fly back to Western Europe, to find people arguing over which acronym had 'kept the peace' in Europe. Was it the EU, NATO, or perhaps the OECD (i.e. economic interdependence), the OSCE (i.e. pan-European security structures), or even the UN? The premiss was false then, and is even more so now. There is war in Europe, and around its ragged edge.

For all the differences, the dirty little wars of 2014 have an important connection to the horrendous 'great' one that began in 1914. Many of them involve struggles of definition and control over patchwork territories left behind by the multi-ethnic empires that clashed 100 years ago, and their successor states. Thus, for example, the battle for eastern Ukraine is about the boundaries of the Russian empire. Some of the Russians, from Russia itself, who are now leading the armed pro-Russian movement in eastern Ukraine, have characterised themselves as 'imperial nationalists'. (From their point of view, they are not 'separatists' but unionists.) In a fine piece of satire in the New York Review of Books, Vladimir Sorokin describes Putin's Russia as being pregnant with Ukraine. 'The infant's name,' he writes, 'will be beautiful: Farewell to Empire'.

During the Balkan wars of the 1990s, jigsaw pieces from the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were fought over, and then reassembled into new, smaller puzzles, such as Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Many of the frontiers on today's map of the Middle East go back to the post-First World War settlement, when Western colonial powers spliced together disparate parts of the former Ottoman Empire into new protectorates – Iraq, Syria, Palestine. The big exception is of course the state of Israel; but that, too, can trace a lineage back to the deadly after-life of European empires. For Nazi Germany, which attempted to exterminate the Jews, was the last hideous fling of German racial and territorial imperialism.

So what is Europe going to do now about its own long-term consequences? The first thing we must do is simply to wake up to the fact that we live in a dangerous neighbourhood. Being Greater Switzerland is neither a moral nor a practical option: not moral, because Europeans, of all people, should never be silent while war crimes are being committed; not practical, because we cannot insulate ourselves from the effects. Today's fighters in Syria will be tomorrow's terrorists in Europe. Today's dispossessed are tomorrow's illegal immigrants. Let these little wars burn, and you will be shot down out of the sky on your way from the Netherlands to Malaysia on flight MH 17. No one is safe.

Whereas in the past the irresistible wake-up call was the annexation of a territory, most West Europeans slept through Putin's Anschluss of Crimea. As Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev point out in Foreign Affairs, the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner on July 17 was a turning point, not least because commercial air corridors are the place where businesspeople live. Without that transformative event, it is unlikely that chancellor Angela Merkel could have persuaded German public opinion, and German business, of the need for tougher sanctions on Putin's Russia.

But what use is the EU's slow, soft economic power against the Kremlin's rapid, hard power? Or, indeed, against all the rapid hard powers of the Middle East? What use is butter against guns? The answer is: more than you might think. Europe alone cannot stop war in the Middle East. Only working with the United States, and with some more cooperation from – of all places – Russia, can it bring peace to Syria or Gaza. It does, however, have the power to punish Russia for having its artillery shell the regular Ukrainian army, from Russian soil, while that army tries to reconquer its own territory - and to persuade and enable the legitimate Ukrainian authorities to make the most generous internal settlement possible, as soon as control over its sovereign territory has been restored.

Even the minor sanctions that Europe has thus far implemented have been gnawing away at the edges of the Putin regime. The larger sanctions Europe agreed this week will, with time, have a larger impact. Liberal democracies are usually more slow to act than dictatorships, and a voluntary community of 28 such democracies is bound to be slower still. Economic measures take more time to bite than military ones, but they can be more effective in the end.

100 years ago we had 'the guns of August', in Barbara Tuchman's resonant phrase. Now we have the butter of August. Note the different role played by Germany, then and now. Slowly, step-by-step, the Berlin government is doing the right thing. Germany is bringing the unique weight of its economic relationship with Russia to bear, while quite reasonably insisting that the pain is shared with France, Britain and Italy. Some things do change. Some even get better.

Timothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies at Oxford University, where he currently leads the project, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book is Facts are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

An Albanian escape from Libya from Greek special forces

 Greek Frigate Returns After Libya Evacuation

A Greek navy frigate carrying embassy staff and nearly 200 people from Greece, China and other countries evacuated from the conflict in Libya returned early Saturday to a port near Athens.
Passengers on the frigate Salamis described a deteriorating security situation in the Libyan capital Tripoli, with frequent power and water cuts.
The Greek Defense Ministry the ship transported 77 people from Greece, 78 from China, 10 from Britain, seven from Belgium, one each from Russia and Albania.
The Greek evacuation followed similar action by a number of European countries, as fighting between rival militias in recent weeks.
Poland's Foreign Ministry said Friday that it has evacuated two dozen Poles and citizens of two other countries. All of Poland's diplomats have now left the country. Britain says it will suspend work at its consulate in Tripoli once it has completed assisting the departure of British nationals.
"We were hearing explosions all the time, but the fighting was on the outskirts of Tripoli," said Mustafa Avocat, a Greek-Libyan accountant, who was holding his crying infant son, moments after stepping off the Greek frigate.
"Things are getting worse. The power is cut 5-7 hours every day. There are water cuts too ... and the shops are closed."
Constantine Koutras, a spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry, said moving embassy staff to the port was the most difficult part of the operation.
"I was on the phone to our charge d'affaires at the embassy to get an update and I could hear the sound of gunfire in the background," he told state TV.
"So in places like this and in these kinds of situations there is a very small difference between things going well and going very, very badly," he added.
In Manila, about 20 Filipinos arrived Saturday after escaping from Libya through Tunisia.
"At the border in Tunisia, it was like we had one foot already in the grave," Abraham Brios, a cook for a Libyan family who returned with his wife, told reporters at the Manila international airport.
"There was shooting in front of us, so we just prayed. ... Now that we are here, we now feel reassured."
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said that more than 800 of about 13,000 Filipinos in Libya had returned to their homeland.