Friday, August 22, 2014

Defense Minister: Greece and US Have Strategic Defense Cooperation
Avramopoulos_HagelDefense cooperation between the United States and Greece has a strategic and essential character, Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said after a meeting with his American counterpart Chuck Hagel.

“We had the opportunity, along with my American counterpart, to confirm once again the really excellent level of the Greek-American defense cooperation. Today, we essentially proceeded to the finalization of critical issues referring to the road map of the American defense cooperation with our country and give solutions to outstanding issues,” Avramopoulos stressed after the meeting.

The Greek Defense Minister underlined that this was his third visit to the Pentagon and Washington during his two terms in the Ministry.

Avramopoulos said that they discussed “the burning geopolitical issues of our region, the geostrategic role of Greece as a country of stability and security in the wider region, as well as the role Greece can undertake in the name of international law.”

Both officials agreed that “today, more than ever, the defense cooperation between the United States and Greece has a strategic and substantial character. We will have the opportunity to discuss these issues again, on a multilateral level, within the framework of the NATO meeting in Wales, in early September.”

According to Avramopoulos, Greece is gradually exiting from the crisis and becomes, once again, a major pillar of stability in a region that has passed the threshold of the most crucial phase of its modern history. “The Greek government is giving a daily struggle to overcome the crisis so that a promising horizon will open for the Greek people and the country,” he concluded.

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Government suspends local government construction permits 

Government suspends local government construction permits
The government has suspended all construction permits until 2015, when the new territorial division enters in effect.

Prime Minister Edi Rama declared from the National Council of Territory that this decision aims to stop the destruction of the territory, as result of barbarian permits that are given by the local government.

“This brings the necessity to suspend all permits approved by the National Council of Territory, in order to protect the national and public interest bfore the private interests that have caused all kind of damages, without taking anything in consideration, for the darkest of reasons. We will suspend all new development permits from all local authorities until after the elections of 2015”, Rama declared.

Prime Minister Rama said that to not stop the country’s progress during this time, the local government may give permits only for constructions that increase tourism, agriculture and the production industry.

To stop any speculation, the approval will be made by the National Council of Territory. Every permit will be considered as invalid and will be prosecuted.

Rama said that the government is determined to end the environmental massacre by punishing any abuser.

“We will not have situations when the inspector comes, demolishes the illegal construction, and after he goes away the construction continues. For these cases, there is only one end: the prison cell”, Rama declared.
Magnitude 5.1 earthquake rocks holidaymakers in Halkidiki, Greece
Magnitude 5.1 earthquake rocks holidaymakers in Halkidiki, Greece
Magnitude 5.1 earthquake rocks holidaymakers in Halkidiki, Greece
A magnitude 5.1 earthquake rocked the area of Halkidiki, near Thessaloniki, Greece at 04:27:54.70 UTC and 7.27 a.m. local time on Friday. The epicenter was located in the undersea region west of the Athos peninsula, 110 km east-southeast of Thessaloniki.

Five minutes earlier, a magnitude 4.1 tremor was felt, whereas more post-seismic activity was felt at 7.33 a.m.

No damages or injuries have been reported with scientists stating that the quake was superficial with a focal depth of 24 km.

Nonetheless, seismologists warn the locals to expect aftershocks. These can be less violent but strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the quake. They warn people in the zone to look for and extinguish small fires that are a common hazard after an earthquake and warn of care when driving as well as to anticipate traffic light outages.
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President Nishani returns the territorial reform
Nishani returns the territorial reform As expected, the Albanian President, Bujar Nishani, did not approve the territorial reform. The President returned it for a review in Parliament and gave three arguments.

The first argument says that the Parliament did not consult the local unit leaders, saying that this has been verified by the letters received from them.

“I come to this conclusion after a widely discussed analyze with local government leaders, with whom we share the same opinion that this law was not transparent”, Nishani declared.

The second argument is decentralization. This was a condition set by the DP to become part of the reform, and the president mentions it in another way:

“The lower the number of local units, the bigger they become and the more are damaged the power decentralization principles, which are sanctioned by Article 13 fo the Albanian Constitution”, Nishani says.

In the third argument, the President says that the territorial reform was preceded by the amends of two other laws, such as the law for the organization and functionality of the local government. But the President sees as even more important reforming the electoral law, which has not been mentioned by the political factor.

The president says that the territorial reform should have been made together with the Electoral Code amends, which is is imperative, according to Nishani, before the local elections

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Presidents signals to not decree territorial reform
 Presidents signals to not decree territorial reform
Presidents signals to not decree territorial reform Same as many other important laws approved by the majority, the territorial reform has also been rejected by the President, or at least that is what has been signaled.

The President met with representatives of the Association of Communes, who opposed the new division.

The President’s announcement says that he supports the government’s initiative for the reform, but the chairman of the commission for this reform should respect the national interests, the interests of the Albanian people, and it should be based on the Constitution and laws of our country.

Saying that the reform charges with historic responsibility those who decided for it, the President declared that he has received dozens of letters and petitions from citizens who complain about the process.

The President guarantees all institutions he leads that he will serve as a powerful voice for transmitting what he called “public interests and problems of citizens”, adding that there is the need for creating a consolidated image of the Albanian state.

The announcement says that this guarantee of the President has been made clear to the representatives of the communes that are against this variant of the reform. They trust that the President will not be the only legal method to stop it, but they might even send it at the Constitutional Court.

“I hope for a just and righteous evaluation of this issue by the President, but I still think that the Parliament will take it seriously. If this will not happen, we will address the issue at the Association of Communes and other options. I believe that the Constitutional Court and the President’s decree are healthy for the construction process of a democratic state, and the intervention of the constitutional institutions for improving the situation is important and necessary”, says Agron Haxhimali, Director of the Association of Communes.

The consultative meeting with the President, according to the representative of the Commune Associations, has been summoned after a high number of complaints were sent by the Heads of Communes and Councils.
Rama: We will revote returned laws 
Rama: We will revote returned laws
Rama: We will revote returned laws For the first time, the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, spoke publicly in front of the media about the Bank of Albania scandal.

The Prime Minister explained his silence, saying that the Central Bank of Albania is an independent institution. He also answered why didn’t request the resignation of governor Adrian Fullani.

“As a Prime Minister, I cannot request the resignation of an independent institution, but this is a challenge for the Parliament and our government, which we will realize. We are following the developments daily, and on this case we can only hit the target fully by not entering a political war with the Bank. Similar experiences of other countries have shown that this is counterproductive for the society. Your concern and that of the civil society is right, created by a very serious event that needs maximal attention and determination”, Rama declared.

The Prime Minister has answered for more than two hours to the media and the public through the social network.

“It is wrong thinking that the government is the first one to talk. The government must be the last one to say something, because if we speak first we might cause even bigger troubles”, the Prime Minister declared.

When asked about the returned important laws by President Nishani, the PM said that his decision was a transmission of the stance held by the DP.

“The President has the right to return the laws, but it will be also returned, because Albania has no time to lose with the arguments of the DP that are said by the President”, Rama declared.

After the President want to return the Territorial Reform law, the Prime Minister declared that they will vote it again so that the local elections of the Spring 2015 have this new territorial division.

Pollo: Rama didn’t answer to the questions

The opposition reacted after this conference, saying that the Prime Minister didn’t answer to the real concerns raised by the opposition, from the inclusion of incriminated MPs in Parliament and to the request for inspecting the cell phones of the Albanian citizens.

“He didn’t explain why no legalizations were made for free, why medicine is even more expensive, and why the public order indicators have deteriorated. Thousands of jobs were lost due to the new taxes imposed by the government. He didn’t explain why he praises the employment offices when everyone gets employed through his own office. He didn’t answer why the public administration has people who have been involved in traffics and even in kidnapping children”, Pollo declared.
Berlin conference "meant to show Germany's dominance"
(Tanjug, file)

BANJA LUKA -- A conference dedicated to the Western Balkans, scheduled for August 28 in Berlin, is meant to show the dominance of Germany in this region, says Milorad Dodik.

"Those from Bosnia-Herzegovina who will go to the conference are not the people who make decisions, so any possible decisions and conclusions, whatever they agree on, will be short-lived," the president of Bosnia's Serb entity, the RS, told the public broadcaster RTRS.

Dodik added that the RS is ready to comply with European standards, but not to to sacrifice its own interests.

Cooperation with Germany is welcome, but, according to Dodik, "that does not mean we should be guinea pigs."

According to announcements, the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina will be the central theme of the conference.

Former High Representative in Bosnia Wolfgang Petritsch was recently quoted as saying that "German Chancellor Angela Merkel will send important messages during the gathering, that could be part of Berlin's new plan for stabilizing that part of the continent."

"I expect some very strong messages from Merkel, like those given to Croatia before it joined the European Union, when then Prime Minister (Ivo) Sanader had to go," Petritsch told the Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz daily.

According to him, Bosnia had become "a ground through which Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to weaken the influence of the EU."

"Putin also acts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and via the Serb Republic (RS), using the simple logic that if he cannot influence the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina, then he will at least make life miserable for the EU by manipulating the RS, with the support of provincial leader Dodik," the Austrian diplomat was quoted as saying.
Albania to help arm Iraq against Islamic State

21 August 2014

Under a decision taken on the August 15 and published in the official gazette on Tuesday, Tirana will transfer 22 million rounds of AK-47 7.62 millimeter bullets, 15,000 hand grenades and 32,000 artillery shells of different calibers to Iraq.

Tirana also announced that it is donating 10,000 model-56 Kalashnikov automatic rifles to Afghanistan.

The donations are part of an international drive to help the embattled Iraq government curb the Sunni militants of Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and committed numerous atrocities - the latest being the beheading of a captured US journalist, James Foley.

On Tuesday the militant organization published a video purportedly showing the beheading of Foley by a masked militant speaking with a British accent, sparking outrage across the world and a drive by US and UK inteligence to identify the killer.

In a statement, US President Barack Obama said the world was appalled by Foley’s brutal murder. Islamic State has “rampaged across cities and villages - killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence,” Obama said. “They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery,” he added.

Obama called on governments and peoples across the Middle East to "extract this cancer, so that it does not spread".

The involvement of a militant from Britain prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to terminate his summer holiday and return to London, partly to discuss the threat posed to Britain by jihadists returning to Europe from the war zone.

By Gjergj Erebara

21 August 2014

Balkan Insight

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pope: We’re in World War III
Pope: We’re in World War III
Pope: We’re in World War III Pope Francis condemned the wars that have included various countries of the world, which, according to him, have reached a frightening level of cruelty by not saving innocent civilians, women and children.

“Torture has turned into a common instrument. These are the fruits of war, because we are in war here. This is the World War III, just fragmentized”, the Pope declared.

When asked about the relations with Beijing in the moment when his airplane was going through China, the Pope declared: “If I want to go to China? Certainly. Even tomorrow”.

The Holy Father then focused on the situation in the Iranian Kurdistan, where he sent his delegate, Cardinal Filoni. “I am ready to go to Kurdistan. There is a chance for this”, the Pope declared.

On his last day of visit in South Korea, Pope Frances gave a message for peace in the Korean peninsula.

“People should reject the mentality of suspect and confrontation, and find new ways for restoring peace”. Today mass is a prayer for reconciliation in the big Korean family. Jesus tells us in the Gospel how our prayer becomes more powerful when more people join. How powerful can this prayer be when the entire people desires something strongly”, the Pope declared.
Kokedhima's representative arrested
Kokedhima's representative arrested
Kokedhima's representative arrested The Interior Ministry announced the arrest of Agron Cane in Saranda, after being accused of demanding sexual favors in exchange of a job.

“The Saranda Police has been notified by journalist Artur Cani about materials that show the involvement of Agron Cane in this activity. The Police structures have started moving right after taking the report from the citizen. The Interior Minister has spoken with journalist Artur Cani and asked the materials for documenting the act and bringing the author to justice”, declared Florion Serjani, Adviser at the Interior Ministry.

Serjani criticized the stances of the opposition: “Unfortunately, the opposition is once again abusing with the victim and tries to politicize through slander an event that has been presented by the Ministry of Interior through facts. To show the difference with them, we remind you that yesterday, a government official was caught with sexual abuses and was released by the court and even fined the TV station that made the report, and he returned as Director of another institution. Today it is different”, Seriani declared.

The materials have been published on the internet and shows the secretary of the Socialist MP speaking with a mother of four, and asking her sexual favors for her 14-year-old daughter.

The widowed mother had asked for a job and that’s when the secretary of the Socialist MP showed his sexual intentions about her daughter.

During the recording, the man also promises a long-term care for her daughter, saying that he may be elected Mayor of Saranda in the next elections.

Kokedhima’s office reacted by condemning the ugly action, and specified that Cane had never been a secretary for the employment office.

The Democratic Party commented this event through MP Arben Ristani:

“The entire government structure is trying to manipulate the circumstances of what happened. Kokedhima is involved himself in this story, because he has tried to personally meet the victim through his people. The woman and her daughter are constantly being threatened on the phone. We appeal the police to take the victims under protection”, Ristani declared.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cotric: Serbs in Albania face extinction 

Albania tourism destinations

BELGRADE – Serbs in Albania are one of Europe’s most endangered minority communities as they have no recognised status of a national minority or the right to receive institutional education and information in their native tongue, and face assimilation and complete extinction as a result, Serbian Renewal Movement MP Aleksandar Cotric warned on Sunday.

Cotric, who is also a member of the Serbian parliamentary committee on the diaspora and Serbs in the region, said that, despite being an autochthonous nation that has lived there for centuries, Albania’s 30,000 ethnic Serbs have no right to minority representation in parliament, or an educational institution or a media outlet in their native tongue. “Serbs, as well as other minorities (Greeks, Macedonians, Vlahs), cannot declare their ethnic and religious affiliation in censuses and, due to administrative complications and high costs of the procedure – which exceed EUR 1000 – they are practically unable to reclaim their original names, Albanised by force during Enver Hoxha’s rule,” Cotric noted.

In bilateral meetings with the Tirana authorities, as well as before international organisations – the United Nations, the OSCE and the European Union – the Serbian government must, as soon as possible, raise the issue of protecting the rights of Serbs in Albania, Cotric also said. Before international and European organisations, the government must point to a gross violation of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, ratified by the Albanian parliament a decade ago, the press office of the Serbian Renewal Movement quoted Cotric as saying.