Saturday, September 27, 2014

Italy plan Albania or Colombia game
Italy are reportedly planning a friendly on November 18 against either Albania or Colombia.
The Azzurri will be together for the Euro 2016 qualifier with Croatia on November 16, so this test would be a chance for Antonio Conte to see less-used players in action.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, negotiations are at an advanced stage to play against Albania on November 18.
They are fresh from a shock 1-0 victory away to Portugal and have an Italian Coach, Gianni De Biasi.
However, the Federation is also trying to organise an encounter with Colombia, which would bring more prestige and more fans to the stadium.
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British jets deployed on 1st Iraq anti-ISIS mission

Published time: September 27, 2014 
A British Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon. (Reuters/Giampiero Sposito)
A British Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon. (Reuters/Giampiero Sposito)
Armed British RAF jets have been deployed on their first mission in Iraq since UK lawmakers voted to authorize military strikes against so-called Islamic State (IS) targets in the country.
A Ministry of Defense Spokesman (MOD) confirmed on Saturday that "Royal Air Force Tornados continue to fly over Iraq and are now ready to be used in an attack role as and when appropriate targets are identified."
UK MPs vote overwhelmingly for ISIS airstrikes in Iraq
The spokesman added that no running commentary on the jets' movements would be forthcoming, but they "are pleased with the response time achieved."
On Friday, MPs in Britain's House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to take part in military action against Islamic State (also known ISIS, or ISIL).
The motion proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron's government was passed overwhelmingly by 524 votes to 43 – a majority of 481.
Britain’s three biggest parties, coalition government partners the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, plus the opposition Labour party, all officially backed the bombing campaign. The government insisted the intervention was legal under international law because it was requested by the Iraqi prime minister.
The measure did not propose any UK involvement in airstrikes in Syria, where a US-Arab coalition began bombing IS militants on Tuesday. A year ago, British MPs rejected airstrikes on Syria to oppose the government of President Bashar Assad.
Cameron told MPs early in Friday's debate the situation in Syria is “more complicated” than Iraq because of its "brutal dictator" President Assad, and the civil war that has been ongoing there for the past three years.
He noted, however, that there was a strong case for attacking IS in Syria, a proposition which both Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defense Secretary Michael Fallon have cited as a distinct possibility.
Cameron added that there was no “legal barrier” to expanding operations into Syria, though MPs were far from united on such a move.

Catalonia president orders independence referendum on Nov. 9

Published time: September 27, 2014 08:58
Edited time: September 27, 2014 12:22
Catalonian separatist supporters wave estelada flags in front of Catalonia's Parliament before the approval of a regional consultation law in Barcelona September 19, 2014. (Reuters/Albert Gea)
Catalonian separatist supporters wave estelada flags in front of Catalonia's Parliament before the approval of a regional consultation law in Barcelona September 19, 2014. (Reuters/Albert Gea)

The president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, has signed a decree calling an independence referendum for Nov. 9. The secessionist drive of the Spanish region has been rebuked by Madrid, which vowed to block the vote.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called a government meeting Monday that is expected to provide a legal response to Barcelona’s announcement. Madrid plans to challenge the vote in the constitutional court.

READ: Catalan parliament approves November independence vote
Last week the Catalan parliament voted to hold an independence referendum in November, with 106 MPs in favour and 28 against.

Support in Catalonia for seceding from Spain grew in the relatively prosperous northeast province over years of economic hardships and austerity measures. A recent opinion poll by the Omnibus Opinion Studies Center showed that almost 60 percent of Catalans would vote for independence.
Madrid insists that holding a referendum would be illegal and unconstitutional.
Following Mas’s statement, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the Madrid government will hold an emergency cabinet meeting within days and that the referendum will be challenged in the Constitutional Court.

"This referendum will not be held because it is unconstitutional,'' she said during a press conference on Saturday.


The West Gives Putin Too Much Credit

Barely a year has passed since Russia threw down the gauntlet to the West over Ukraine, when Moscow made plain its objections to the European integration sought by Kiev. With breakneck speed, the dispute turned into a full-out war imposed (though never declared) by the Kremlin against its smaller neighbor. Relations with the West, meanwhile, have returned to a confrontation reminiscent of the Cold War.
In this conflict, President Vladimir Putin has shown cunning, boldness and determination, while Western leaders have appeared disoriented, indecisive and ultimately weak. This, and Moscow's seemingly unstoppable march from one victory to the next, has fueled despair among those suffering from Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere, while drawing admiration among Kremlin supporters in Russia and beyond. However, and admittedly against all appearances at this stage of the conflict, Putin has clearly overplayed his cards.
When Putin retook office in 2012, the new-old president vowed to restore Russia's standing in the world. In his view, a new multipolar world order was emerging, one that was no longer led by the West and in which Russia could play a key role.
To do so, Russia was to re-integrate the post-Soviet space and lead its own regional bloc, to limit Euro-Atlantic integration on its Western borders and to build new alliances in the East and elsewhere in the world. Two years into his presidency, and accelerated by the Ukraine crisis, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Putin is failing on all of these accounts.
First, the Russian president has proven unable to stem the centrifugal forces that are driving the former Soviet Union ever further apart. His grand design for a Eurasian Union isn't attractive to Russia's former satellites, whose populations have grown fond of independence and whose local rulers defend their mostly autocratic rule.
Coercion in turn, as applied to Ukraine, has irrevocably alienated Russia's most important neighbor. Those still willing to risk doing business with Russia, meanwhile, can ask for highly favorable terms. In doggedly pursuing this integrationist agenda, Moscow will see the Eurasian Union becoming an expensive drain on its resources, rather than a way to increase its regional and global sway.
Second, Putin has dramatically underestimated the unity and strength of the West. His plans to drive political, ideological and economic wedges between Europe and the U.S. have largely been frustrated. Instead, after long months of hesitation and faced with ever-greater tragedy in Ukraine, the European Union and NATO have regained their sense of purpose.
In lockstep, the U.S. and the EU have rolled out wave after wave of political and economic sanctions. The EU sped up the association process with Ukraine, as well as with Georgia and Moldova, and it is pressed ever harder to provide these neighbors with a clear European perspective. NATO has effectively returned to its original mission and has started to reinforce the defense of its Eastern-most members. In short, rather than preventing Western influence, Putin's approach has brought Euro-Atlantic structures closer to Russian borders than ever.
Third, Putin has grossly overestimated the global support that he might elicit with his challenge to the West over Ukraine. None of the emerging powers in the BRICS group has openly sided with the Kremlin. If anything, China took advantage of Russia's international isolation to wrestle Moscow into a bargain on long-term gas supplies.
Nor have Putin's closest partners — Presidents Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan — expressly backed his actions in Ukraine, preferring instead to stick to cautious and pragmatic neutrality. Meanwhile, public opinion across Europe, which has traditionally viewed Russia favorably, has swung in the other direction, with majorities now opposed to Kremlin policies. In attempting to put Russia into the driver's seat against Western dominance, Putin has succeeded only in becoming an international pariah.
Fourth, Putin has misjudged the dynamics of nationalist sentiment inside Russia. After his contested re-election in 2012, it seemed that tapping into Russian patriotism would be an effective way to boost his legitimacy. With the annexation of Crimea, the Russian president rode these feelings to record heights.
But Putin will soon realize that nationalism is insatiable, and that his authority will be dangerously eroded if he sidesteps the nationalists' demands for "Novorossia." In short, Putin has made himself hostage to a sentiment that will push him from conflict to conflict with Russia's neighbors.
Finally, Putin demonstrates little grasp of his country's economy, its global exposure and vulnerability, and the heavy price it is now paying for his geo-political adventures. Already slowed by a falling oil price, the Ukraine crisis and Western sanctions have brought Russia's economy to the brink of recession.
Foreign direct investment has effectively stopped. Capital flight, already massive before the Ukraine crisis, has nearly doubled. Key companies and banks are cut off from global financial markets, and their refinancing needs are rapidly draining Moscow government coffers. Scores of companies have gone bust. The energy sector, Russia's life line, is forfeiting its future profits because it no longer has access to Western technologies.
Faced with this economic nightmare in the making, it is nothing short of delusional if Putin sees this situation as an opportunity for Russia to become self-sufficient.
These multiple failures expose Putin's fatal weakness, and his increasingly shrill threats against critics at home and abroad only testify to his growing anxiety. Indeed, his war against Ukraine may well be the first step toward his demise. Like many of his fellow autocrats the world over, he will cling to power at the expense of his own people and of others. The international community and Russians themselves must respond resolutely, and calling his bluff will go a long way in the right direction.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Omonoia: Disappointment for violation of human rights in Albania

The Greek Minority organization in Albania, declared that Tirana continues the violation of the human rights

Greek media wrote that the National Council of Omonia gathered a few days ago has handled very carefully the current political situation in Albania.

Greek minority organization has expressed its dissatisfaction to the Left Alliance which is in power.

Violation of minority rights related to administrative reform, ownership, unequal education and participation in public administration.  

Also, the General Council of Omonia said that the Party of Human Rights as soon undertake initiatives to remedy these issues open

Omar the Chechen heads jihadist most wanted list

US reveals jihadist most wanted list
Islamic State terrorist Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, known as Omar the Chechen.
INTRICATE details of the Islamic State’s sophisticated network have been revealed by the US, along with a wanted list of 14 key terrorist fighters and facilitators.
The dossier, compiled by the US Treasury and state departments, names people with crucial roles in moving foreign fighters into Syria, and training them, as well as financiers, arms brokers and the man in charge of hostage-taking operations.
It lays bare a network which is raising funds in Qatar, sourcing weapons in Libya and luring new recruits from Britain, Denmark and Albania.
By naming individuals as facilitators of terrorism, the US hopes to attack the efforts of IS, Nusra Front and al-Qa’ida “to raise, transport and access funds that facilitate foreign fighters”. The move to designate the individuals as foreign terrorist fighters means that they are now subject to sanctions, and Americans are legally barred from assisting them.
The dossier was published after President Obama led the Security Council in passing a resolution, co-sponsored by 104 nations, to take legal action against foreign fighters trying to join the extremists.
It identified Tarkhan Batirashvili, a Georgian national known as Omar the Chechen, as overseer of an Islamic State prison near Raqqa where foreign hostages were held. He is said to have led a force of 1,000 Islamic State fighters against the Assad regime forces.
Another of those named was Tariq al-Harzi, a Tunisian in his 30s who was one of the first terrorists to join the terror group. Now a leading fundraiser, he was in charge of receiving foreign fighters at the Turkish border and providing them with weapons training. He organised $2 million in donations from Qatar, and ordered an attack on UN staff in Lebanon.
Others included: Amru al-Absi, an IS leader in Aleppo “in charge of kidnappings”; Salim Benghalem, a Frenchman convicted of murder in 2007 who carried out “executions” in Syria; Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a Kosovan Albanian who posted online images of himself beheading a man; and Murad Margoshvili, a Chechen leader in Syria who built a terrorist training base near the Turkish border.

Fearing political crisis, Greece plots escape from bailout

ATHENS Fri Sep 26, 2014
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras addresses a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras addresses a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin September 23, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

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(Reuters) - Four years after a messy descent into emergency funding to stave off bankruptcy, Greece's government is trying to pull the plug on a deeply unpopular bailout program to secure its own survival.
Under growing pressure from anti-bailout leftists, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras desperately needs a new narrative to get the backing of lawmakers in a crucial presidential vote next year and rally Greeks fed up with four years of austerity.
It is a gamble with high stakes for the Greek economy and Athens' relations with its euro zone peers. Failure by Samaras to get his presidential nominee elected would trigger new polls that his anti-austerity rivals would almost certainly win.
In Berlin earlier this week, Samaras for the first time publicly acknowledged that Athens hoped to wean itself off a 240-billion-euro ($305-billion) EU/IMF aid package a year before its scheduled end in early 2016.
He offered no details, but Athens is calculating that declaring an end to the reviled bailout could be just the political game-changer it needs, with the end of bailout funding from the European Union in December offering a logical moment to seal the exit of the International Monetary Fund as well.
"It makes political sense, completely 100 percent," a source familiar with the discussions said. "The IMF is not pushing to leave, the government is pushing for it."
Pulling this off, however, will almost certainly require Athens to notch up rapid-fire successes on several fronts - a swift end to its current bailout review, securing debt relief and the backing of European partners for going it alone.
In addition, forgoing over 12 billion euros in IMF loans and finding its own financing, just two years after a sovereign debt restructuring, remains a risky bet.
"If Greece completes this review with the blessing of the troika, who say 'Great, you've done a lot', maybe gets debt relief and a monetary agreement with the EU, then the markets may say 'That's good' and it can raise 10 billion over the next year," the source said.
"It's a plausible financing scenario but there are risks for a country with emerging market access," the source added, referring to Greece's still low credit ratings.
Athens is largely gambling that the political risk of not attempting an exit outweighs the financial risk of failing.
Sentiment is finally turning in its favor: four years of austerity have produced a primary budget surplus, it has successfully tapped debt markets twice this year and its economy is set to grow in 2014 after a six-year recession.
European partners -- busy with a crisis in Ukraine, a widening Middle East conflict and a stagnant euro zone economy -- may well be willing to help Athens along to avoid upsetting the fragile pro-bailout political order in Greece.
In a sign of the change in mood, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday praised Greece's efforts and promised Berlin would "do everything it can" to support Athens.
She did not comment on Samaras's plan for an early bailout exit, which Greek officials say would avoid the anomaly of the IMF supervising a European nation alone.
Europe wants to ensure Athens does not slide back into the fiscal evasions that brought it to the brink of bankruptcy - a risk Athens plans to address by presenting a plan for further reforms to strengthen the economy and government finances.
But if the IMF were to leave at the end of the year after disbursing 3.5 billion euros due at the end of the current review, Athens would forego over 12 billion euros. The IMF has also estimated an additional funding shortfall of 12.6 billion euros starting in mid-2015, though Athens disputes that, saying it does not need additional money beyond the current bailout.
Part of the shortfall could be met from leftover funds worth over 11 billion euros held by Greece's bank bailout fund - assuming European bank stress tests do not reveal major capital needs for Greek banks and EU authorities approved such a move.
After ending a four-year exile from debt markets this year with two bond issues that showed keen appetite for its higher-yield bonds, Athens is increasingly confident.
Debt relief talks due to start later this year on a package of lower interest rates and longer maturities may also help the IMF to declare that Greece's debt - set to peak at 177 percent of GDP this year - is now sustainable.
Indeed in Berlin this week Samaras took pains to say an exit by the IMF would not be a "divorce" but rather, "a success".
For Samaras, all this will have to happen before February or March next year when he needs the support of 180 deputies in the 300-seat parliament to push through his nominee for president.
He has only the support of 154 deputies from his New Democracy party and Socialist PASOK coalition partner, but a bailout exit could help lure some of the 24 independent lawmakers and perhaps even a small anti-bailout party.
The radical leftist Syriza party, which has 71 seats in parliament and won the EU elections in May on an anti-austerity platform, has pledged to block the government's candidate.
Failure to elect a new president would require a general election, which Syriza would almost certainly win according to opinion polls that give it a 2 to 6 percentage point lead.
"The government is now playing all its cards in an effort to get the 180 deputies it needs ... to stay in power," said political analyst John Loulis. "But there is a sense of political instability and a government that is wearing out."
(Additional reporting by Renee Maltezou and Deepa Babington, writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

UK parliament set to support airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq

Published time: September 26, 2014 09:40
Edited time: September 26, 2014 10:48
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron.(Reuters / UK Parliament)
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron.(Reuters / UK Parliament)

MPs are set to back Britain joining US-led air strikes on Islamic State (formerly ISIS, or ISIL) in Iraq in a vote on Friday. A poll published ahead of the vote suggests a majority in the UK back military intervention against the jihadist group.

Britain’s three biggest parties, coalition government partners the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, plus the opposition Labour party, all support the bombing campaign. The government says the intervention is legal under international law because it was requested by the Iraqi prime minister.
The government is not proposing any involvement in air strikes in Syria, where a US-Arab coalition began bombing IS militants on Tuesday. MPs last year rejected airstrikes on Syria to oppose the government of President Bashar Assad.
Cameron told MPs early in Friday's debate the situation in Syria is “more complicated” than Iraq because of its "brutal dictator" President Assad and the civil war that has been ongoing for the past three years.
The cause of the problem is the “poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism” said Cameron, adding that Muslims must “reclaim their religion from these extremists”.
Cameron called for political efforts to support an “inclusive” and “democratic” governments in Iraq and Syria. But he added that the British military has an indispensable role to play. There is “no realistic prospect” of defeating IS without it, the PM said. The Iraqi government “need our military help and it is in our interest and theirs to give it.”
He told MPs they must weight up the consequences of action and inaction. “If we allow Isil to grow and thrive there's no doubt in my mind that the level of threat to the country would increase.”
Referring to the UK’s intervention in Iraq in 2003, Cameron said: “This is not 2003 but we must not use past mistakes as an excuse for indifference or inaction.”
Labour leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, supported the PM's statement, but called for diplomatic efforts to go hand in hand with airstrikes.
“Those who advocate military action today have to persuade members of this House and the country not only that ISIL is an evil organisation but that it is we, Britain, who should take military action in Iraq,” said Miliband.
Intervention always has risks but a dismembered Iraq would be more dangerous for Britain,he added.
Miliband told MPs there is "already evidence" that the US-led air strikes are having the effect of holding back IS. He also believes that the action being proposed is proportionate.
The CIA estimates IS could have as many as 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, where the group have seized large swathes of territory in recent months.
IS threatened to kill British hostage Alan Henning in a video showing the beheading of British aid worker David Haines earlier this month. Haines’s daughter backed proposed airstrikes on Wednesday and said that IS should be “eradicated”.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon says Britain’s armed forces will be involved in Iraq for the “long haul” of at least three or four years to defeat IS. Speaking to House Magazine, he said Britain has a “very direct interest” in battling IS to stop terrorist attacks on British soil.

Fighters of the Islamic State.(Reuters)
Fighters of the Islamic State.(Reuters)
Concerns have been raised over the UK's allies in action against IS. Conservative MP Zac Goldmsith has cautioned the UK needs to take a “much tougher line”toward its allies such as Saudi Arabia “who have been fuelling and funding terrorism for decades”.
Despite cross-party unity on intervention, some MPs have vowed to argue and vote against airstrikes.
Labour’s Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell all signed an open letter which said bombing Iraq would “only exacerbate the situation”.
“We urge the government to rule out any further military action in Iraq or Syria,” they said.
Anti-war activists staged an emergency protest outside Downing Street on Thursday evening against the possibility of military action in Iraq.
"Why are we going into yet another war, into a region full of natural resources that the West so covets, using arms that we've sold to every regime in the region, proposing more arms, more bombs, more war," Corbyn told the crowd.

Protester take part in a Stop the War demonstration opposite Downing Street in central London on September 25, 2014.(AFP Photo / Carl Court)
Protester take part in a Stop the War demonstration opposite Downing Street in central London on September 25, 2014.(AFP Photo / Carl Court)
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who is holding his party’s annual conference at Doncaster Racecourse, a stone’s throw from Labour leader Ed Miliband’s constituency, has also criticised the government’s plan for airstrikes.
“The trouble with bombing is you kill lots of civilians,” Farage told the BBC.
He argued that any successful operation would require “boots on the ground”, but said there was no appetite for that.
However, a poll conducted for The Sun newspaper, published on Friday, revealed that 57 percent of surveyed UK residents said they supported bombing ISIS in Iraq, compared to 24 percent who were against the move.
Support for a bombing campaign is up by one-fifth on a similar poll last month.
Asked whether they backed strikes on IS in Syria, 51 percent approved of spreading the intervention while 26 percent opposed it. Meanwhile, 43 percent backed sending ground troops to Iraq, or considering sending them there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Boxing between MP of the Albanian Parliament

The Prosecutor General declared that they have started investigations
against three Albanian MPs, Arben Ndoka and Pjerin Ndreu from the
Socialist Party, who are accused of attacking the Democratic MP, Gent
Strazimiri from the Democratic Party. The third MP under investigation
is Astrit Veliaj, from the DP.
Venizelos denies jihadis are being trained in Greece

Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos has denied that Athens has been tipped of by American authorities about jihadis being trained in Greece or leaving the country to fight abroad.

“No we have had no such specific notification,” said Venizelos after being questioned about reports that the CIA told Athens seven people of Greek origin were fighting abroad as jihadists. “We are in very close cooperation with the American administration and with all of our allied countries.”

“Greece is participating in the international mobilization against the so-called Islamic State,” said Venizelos after a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon in New York on Sunday. “So we are participating in the international cooperation on exchange of information in order to protect our countries, because this is now an issue of internal security. Greece does not have an immediate problem, but we are very interested in our neighbouring countries and the wider region.”

Venizelos said that the talks between the two men also focussed on reunification negotiations in Cyprus.

“We believe that the appointment of the Secretary General’s new Special Adviser, Mr [Espen Barthe] Eide, is a very good choice and can help things along, but we want a solution that is within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions; a solution that is viable, just; a solution that is in accordance with the European acquis; and, primarily, a solution that can be accepted by the Cypriot people, the two communities, via a referendum,” said Venizelos.

The two men also discussed the ongoing UN-mediated talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

“We are prepared to participate in the next meetings,” said Venizelos.” We support this process, but we have taken major steps, creative steps. Our stance is very clear. Our national stance is in favor of a compound name with a geographical qualifier, for use in relation to everyone, domestically and abroad, erga omnes.

“So we are waiting for the other side to take corresponding steps that are in good faith and productive.”
Three Albanian MPs under investigation

Three MPs under investigation
The Prosecutor General declared that they have started investigations against three Albanian MPs, Arben Ndoka and Pjerin Ndreu from the Socialist Party, who are accused of attacking the Democratic MP, Gent Strazimiri from the Democratic Party. The third MP under investigation is Astrit Veliaj, from the DP.

The Prosecution General started the investigations after the Democratic Party MP, Edi Paloka, filed a lawsuit against the two Socialist MPs. The Prosecution started the procedure by interviewing the witnesses and by seizing the security cameras at the Parliament. The Prosecution say that the footage show how Strazimiri was hit by Ndoka and then by Ndreu, due to the political declarations that he released on July 10th in Parliament.

The Prosecution has also taken under investigation the Democratic MP, Astrit Veliaj, accused of illegal construction and destruction of property, after a report made by a citizen in Fier. The Democratic Party MP is accused of illegal construction and of taking a building that belonged to the Ministry of Interior.

UFO Sh.P.K has destroyed these state buildings to build his own. For this reason, the Fier Police has made a report against MP Veliaj.

The Prosecution declared that their materials were sent to the Supreme Court, where all three MPs will be Prosecuted.

But before the Prosecution started the case, Prosecutor General Adriatik Llalla has met with the Minister of Interior, Saimir Tahiri.

Merkel and Samaras laud Greece's progress on reforms

Meeting in Berlin, Germany's Chancellor Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Samaras have said they see signs of progress resulting from structural reforms to Greece's economy. But sovereign debt is still growing.
Meeting in Berlin on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, both center-right politicians in their respective countries, painted a cautiously rosy picture of Greece's progress on the path of economic reform.
"I know what a difficult time the country is going through, but the first delicate green shoots of success are visible," Merkel said after the two leaders met. "Greece is now sending positive messages."
She urged Greece to stick with its structural reform program and continue with budgetary austerity.
Samaras said that Greece would achieve a primary surplus this year - i.e. he expects the government to take in more in tax revenues than it spends on program expenditures. A primary surplus is not an absolute surplus, because the former excludes interest payments on the country's enormous sovereign debt.
"Greece can now stand on its own two feet and … we believe we do not require a new support package," Samaras said. Greece has so far received 240 billion euros ($308.5 billion) in assistance from a 'troika' of bailout lenders - the IMF, EU and ECB - mostly in the form of cheap loans.
Samaras also said he expects the country to return to modest GDP growth in the third quarter of this year, after a record 24 consecutive quarters (six years) of GDP shrinkage.
Tourism in Greece Tourism revenues and employment have been picking up in Greece during the past two years
However, Greece's economy remains in dire condition. General unemployment stands at 27 percent, and youth unemployment double that, at 53 percent.
In a new report, the European Commission listed several reforms it said had had a positive effect. These included reforms to Greece's public administration and judicial system, and reforms aimed at removing barriers to competition in various economic sectors - building materials, food processing, retail trade, and tourism among others.

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Russia tests 100,000 troops in ‘Vostok 2014’, biggest-ever post-Soviet drills

Published time: September 23, 2014 

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Russia has staged its biggest post-Soviet military drills in the Far East, involving 100,000 servicemen and a vast array of materiel.
During five days of exercises, troops were trained in repulsing a massive airstrike, combating an aircraft carrier, repelling a seaborne landing and many other military activities on a vast scale.
The drills, dubbed “Vostok-2014,” are the largest since the Soviet era. About 100,000 servicemen, up to 1,500 tanks, 120 aircraft, 5,000 pieces of weaponry, military and special hardware, and up to 70 ships took part in the exercises.
Military observers from up to 30 countries were closely monitoring the exercises. Military attachés from Angola, China, Malaysia, North Korea, Peru, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and various other countries attended the ultimate stage of the drills at Skalisty Cape in Kamchatka, with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu joining them. The supply units were to move 10,000 tons of munitions, fuel, food supplies and other materials over long distances, sometimes as far as thousands of kilometers.

Virtually the whole Russian Pacific Fleet was out at sea performing various tasks: protection of the coastline from seaborne assault, anti-submarine and anti-sabotage training, mine-laying operations and a landing on Vrangel Island in the Arctic – the first of its kind in the area. Marines and paratroopers have passed survival tests in the Arctic Circle.

Detachments operating S-300 missile defense systems conducted successful tests, hitting targets from the most difficult tail-chase guidance position. The time needed to carry out all preparations to eliminate the target is only 15 seconds.

In the meantime, supersonic MiG-31 interceptors successfully practiced the elimination of an attack by low-altitude cruise missiles. President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, told the RIA Novosti news agency: “The US Air Force has not trained on such tasks, whereas other countries do not possess aircraft that could do anything similar.”
The Vostok-2014 maneuvers have proven that in an emergency situation, Russia is capable of putting together a force that would quickly suppress any aggression toward the country, Sivkov said.
However, the maneuvers were marred by the deaths of three soldiers who tried to rescue colleagues from a sinking vehicle.

A group of troops were conducting a landing on a wild shore, when a large wave swept an armored vehicle containing 10 servicemen off of a landing craft on Monday. Seven men inside managed to escape the sinking vehicle, but two servicemen reportedly tried to save the driver trapped inside and all three men died.
The incident is being investigated and the Defense Ministry has posthumously nominated the three soldiers for state awards.

Pentagon: F-22s used in combat for first time in Syria

Published time: September 23, 2014 
F-22 stealth fighter jets belonging to the U.S. Air Force move to take off at a U.S. air force base in Osan, south of Seoul April 3, 2013. (Reuters/Lee Jae-Won)
F-22 stealth fighter jets belonging to the U.S. Air Force move to take off at a U.S. air force base in Osan, south of Seoul April 3, 2013. (Reuters/Lee Jae-Won)

This week’s strike against Islamic State militants in Syria by the United States marked the first time that the Pentagon has deployed its F-22 Raptor jets into combat, the Defense Department acknowledged on Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the director of ops for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged during a Department of Defense briefing on Tuesday morning that the strikes launched by the US hours earlier were the first ever to involve F-22s — a fifth-generation aircraft that’s capable of dropping precisions bombs on targets from 15 miles away.
“What we were looking at were the effects we wanted to see on the target areas and what platforms in the region would be best suited to do that,” Mayville told reporters at the Pentagon. “We had a large menu of targets to strike from and we chose from there. Really it’s less the platform then the effects we seek.”

U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Mayville,September 18, 2014. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Mayville,September 18, 2014. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
The fighter jets have previously been deployed to Asia and the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal acknowledged on Tuesday, but have until now not been relegated with combat duties. The Pentagon had invested roughly $77.4 billion on the fleet of Raptors as of 2012 but, as RT has reported in the past, a series of complications has repeatedly plagued the F-22 program.
Roughly an hour before Mayville’s remarks, US President Barack Obama said during a brief address from the White House in Washington, DC that American forces began strikes in Syria against the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, or ISIL — with the aid of five Arab nations: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar. “The proponent of the force” used against IS, Mayville said, was delivered by America’s military, both by air and by sea.

“America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security,” Obama said early Thursday. “The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America's fight alone.”
Additionally, the president acknowledged, the US “also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorasan group.” Later, Mayville said the strike against this group was necessary to thwart an “imminent” attack.
"For some time now, we've been tracking plots to conduct attacks in the United States or Europe," Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, told Reuters. "We believe that attack plotting was imminent and that they had plans to conduct attacks external to Syria," Rhodes told reporters on Tuesday while traveling with the president to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

US air strikes in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State



By - 23 Sep 14

The United States, together with a number of regional allies, has now launched military strikes against Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria, with the immediate stated aim of counter-terrorism rather than regime change. After more than three years of civil war, radical Islamists have finally drawn the US into direct intervention.

But with US action unlikely to be decisive right away, especially given the absence of ground troops, the prospects for success remain very uncertain. Both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and non-IS rebels are actively trying to position themselves as the West’s natural partner in the fight against extremism.
However, they, as well as some of the regional players who now support air strikes, remain at cross-purposes with the US about the aims of the war as well as about the threat posed by IS.
Critically, Obama’s narrow counter-terrorism focus is by and large not shared by Syria’s non-IS affiliated warring parties, which view the group’s relevance through the prism of the ongoing civil war. Unlike Western powers, neither the regime nor non-IS rebels are primarily occupied with IS’s strength as a jihadi group – though of course it is a concern. Instead, both see IS as a means of leveraging international support to secure victory in the broader domestic conflict. This is an instinct partly shared by two of the key regional partners involved in air strikes, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As such, the fallout from the attacks threatens new uncertainties and potentially even deeper disarray.

Europe, for its part, has remained silent.
Europe, for its part, has remained silent. Neither the United Kingdom nor France has joined the initial wave of strikes, a hesitation that can in part be viewed as a symptom of the lack of a clear strategy. The uncertainties inherent in the strikes mean that the UK government is wary of parliamentary opposition to action, while France fears that limited intervention will serve to empower the regime in Damascus.
For Assad, the creation of an international coalition targeting IS represents the hoped-for successful culmination of three years of deliberate strategy partly aimed at forcing the West to recognise him as a necessary partner. While claims of direct collaboration between Assad and IS appear largely unfounded, the regime has long focused its military campaign on non-IS rebels as a means of consolidating extremist trends.
Now, however, the regime has finally initiated a campaign of air strikes against IS – even if it is still channelling most of its resources against weaker non-IS rebels – and is calling for a common international front against IS. The West continues to state that Assad can have no partnership role in the campaign, but Assad believes the US and Europe will eventually reverse position. Already there are some reports of intelligence sharing, and the US government alerted Damascus ahead of initiating air strikes.
Nonetheless, Assad is playing a risky game. IS may represent an opportunity, but it also poses significant threats, not least its growing military strength. IS’s expansion together with a number of recent victories against regime forces is also provoking increased dissent among regime loyalists, who are angered by Assad’s apparent unwillingness or inability to wholly confront the group. This internal dissent is not game changing but it is noteworthy, particularly if it is tied to unease on the part of the regime’s key external backers, Iran and Hezbollah, over Assad’s still hesitant position towards a group that threatens their broader regional interests.
Of most concern to the regime, however, is that this now plays out as envisaged by non-IS rebels: through significant international arming of the opposition. Even if Obama has initially committed to narrow US ambitions in Syria, including the limited training and arming of some rebel fighters – aimed at containing IS, rather than bringing down the regime – the insistence that there can be no co-ordination with Assad offers rebels an opportunity to position themselves as the West’s only viable partner on the ground. With air strikes only likely to go so far in weakening an increasingly embedded and emboldened IS, this could eventually result in heavier direct arming.
The overthrow of the regime remains the rebels' central preoccupation.
What is clear is that many of these rebels see the fight against IS as of secondary importance. The overthrow of the regime remains the rebels' central preoccupation, and weapons channelled their way will primarily be focused on this struggle.
The respective positioning of non-IS rebels and Assad highlights an inconvenient truth: as long as Syria’s civil war rages, international attempts to defeat IS militarily will be significantly hampered, particularly if regional allies are also pulling in different directions. While tactical lines may shift as a result of air strikes, they are unlikely to provoke significant strategic realignments. Given their likely inconclusive nature, they risk drawing the West into deeper intervention. While Obama has clearly stated that US intervention in Syria will remain limited, those calling for wider action may see the proposed initial strikes and arming of rebels as the thin edge of the wedge, with further escalation inevitable.
Significantly, narrow air strikes that inflict collateral damage and leave the regime unscathed also risk further empowering IS, consolidating its self-declared position as the only legitimate defender of Syria’s Sunni population. IS’s apparent goading of the US to intervene in Syria and Iraq through the public beheading of a number of hostages may appear misguided given the power that the American military can bring to bear. But blunt military intervention may help entrench local support behind the group.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Macedonian Foreign Ministry Raises Concerns over Ambassador Baily's Remarks

September 22, 2014, Monday

Macedonian Foreign Ministry Raises Concerns over Ambassador Baily's Remarks Macedonia's Forein Ministry. Photo: Radovan Vujovic

The Deputy US Ambassador to Macedonia was summoned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today in order to hear the authority's worries.

The Macedonian Foreign Ministry expressed concerns because of the inappropriate designation made to the members of the Macedonian majority by the newly appointed US ambassador to Macedonia, Jess. L. Baily, who in his speech in front of the Committee of Foreign Relations with the American Senate on September 17, 2014, was referring to the ethnic Macedonians as "Slavs".

The use of such term puts the Macedonian identity to question and hurts the feelings of the Macedonian people. At the same time, the inappropriate denominations of the Macedonian people could have negative implications both on exterior and internal political plan.

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NEW AMBASSADOR OF THE UNITED STATES: There are Slav Majority and Albanian minority Living in Macedonia
NEW AMBASSADOR OF THE UNITED STATES: There are Slav Majority and Albanian minority Living in Macedonia I would note that within the fabric of Macedonian society there are more than Slavs and Albanians, says Baily. Photo: Printscreen/
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I would note that within the fabric of Macedonian society there are more than Slavs and Albanians, says Baily.

There are Slav majority and Albanian minority living in Macedonia. With this negation of the existence of the Macedonian nation, the new American ambassador Jess Lippincott Baily comes to service in the Republic of Macedonia, MIA reports.

The successor of Paul Wohlers expressed this thesis three days ago during the nomination hearing in the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States before his arrival in Skopje.

The provocation was initiated by the Sen. Chris Murphy, Chairman of the Committee within the American Senate and member of the Democratic Party, with the question addressed to Bailey.

“You touched some recent concerns raised about ethnic tensions within Macedonia and, of course, ethnic reconciliation is a key element of lasting regional peace on the Balkans and so, you have a Slavic majority and Albanian minority, you’ve got reports of rising tensions and you got, as you mentioned, the Ohrid Agreement. What’s your understanding in where the Ohrid Agreement stands,” Sen. Murphy asked.

Bailey replied to this saying that the Framework Agreement has put an end to the civil conflict and prompted active participation of the Albanian minority in the government and the economy in the country.

However, the thing that should concern us seriously and to cause reaction of the Macedonian political leadership is his next paragraph:

“I would note that within the fabric of Macedonian society there are more than Slavs and Albanians. There are Turks and there are Roma and others so this is a micro cosmos in many ways of the richness of the Balkans and to get all those populations to see a common future, I think the US can play important role given our own history and our own set of values,” said Bailey, whose ambassador credentials should be received soon by the Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov.

Identical position that Slavic majority population and not Macedonians, lives in our country together with the largest minority community of ethnic Albanian, was presented more than a year ago in the European Parliament by the Ambassador of the European Union in Macedonia, Aivo Orav.

In this presentation before the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) of the European Parliament, Orav repeatedly used the term Slavs and Slavo-Macedonians instead of saying Macedonian people,that caused a backlash in the Macedonian society and sharp notes of protest from the Macedonian leadership.

The hearing of the Ambassador Bailey can be seen at the following link  and the specific question from Senator Murphy and Bailey's response can be seen at 48:30 and 51:08.
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Moscow warns ‘circles in Washington’ over hindering peace process in Ukraine

Published time: September 22, 2014 
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 18, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 18, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Moscow is bewildered by Washington’s warmongering rhetoric, which accompanied President Petro Poroshenko’s visit to the US. Russia has also noted all the Russia-unfriendly opinions voiced recently by hawkish American politicians.
“We’ll keep in mind all signals, including those unfriendly towards Russia, that were heard during the visit of the Ukrainian president to Washington,” commented Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. “We do regret that there are quite influential circles [within the American establishment] that are unambiguously working against the emerging stabilization [in Ukraine],” Ryabkov said.
In short, US senators urged to supply Ukraine with arms to fight against Russia and President Putin.
Senator Robert Mendez, a Democrat who runs the Foreign Relations Committee told CNN, "We should provide the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression.
"This is no longer the question of some rebel separatists. This is a direct invasion by Russia. We must recognize it as that,” he said.
In turn, Senator John McCain told CBS's Face the Nation that President Putin was “an old KGB colonel that wants to restore the Russian Empire.”
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Senator Mike Rogers, told Fox News, "If we don't provide 'small and effective' now, you're going to get ‘very big and very ugly’ later."
The Russian politician pointed out that peaceful initiatives agreed upon in Minsk by the Contact Group on Ukraine are at odds with statements made during President Poroshenko’s visit to the US.
“It strengthens us in the opinion that the so-called party of war is strong not only in Kiev,” Ryabkov said, adding that some high-ranking American officials and politicians are willfully ignoring any positive outlook for resolving the crisis in Ukraine.
“They are hypocritically advocating normalization of the situation, while actually impeding this process,” Ryabkov said.

‘We’ve got everything we need’ – Poroshenko

In interviews to national US TV channels, President Poroshenko said the American president had verbally confirmed that Ukraine now enjoys the “uppermost status” among US military partner states, which are not NATO members.
Poroshenko said that the non-lethal supplies promised by the US and other states are sufficient and would help to restore the Ukrainian army to battle-ready status.
“We will receive and have already received everything we need: surveillance, radar, and supervisory and other defensive equipment that will increase the effectiveness of our weapons and help modernize them,” Poroshenko said, adding that non-lethal equipment will come “not only from the US.”
Earlier this year Ukraine received, from various sources, body armor, helmets, army rations, radio sets, uniforms, barbed wire and other supplies.
President Poroshenko officially confirmed the Ukrainian army’s heavy losses in its military operations in the east of the country. He added that up to 65 percent of hardware in the field had been either lost or destroyed in battle, a situation the president said was changing.

Destroyed Ukrainian military equipment in the village of Novoyekaterinovka near Komsomolsk. (RIA Novosti/Gennady Dubovoy)
Destroyed Ukrainian military equipment in the village of Novoyekaterinovka near Komsomolsk. (RIA Novosti/Gennady Dubovoy)
The troops are receiving more military hardware on a daily basis, while non-lethal equipment is arriving from abroad; Ukraine has enough lethal weapons in stock.
“We haven’t received machine-guns (from abroad) because we have them, as well as tanks, multiple rocket launchers, missiles, artillery and that helps us to hold the frontline,” Ukraine’s president said.
President Barack Obama declined to supply Ukraine with “lethal aid” despite the passionate plea for more military equipment made by Poroshenko in the US Congress. Ukraine was also not granted special security and defense status, which is the highest level of US interaction with a non-NATO ally.
Although President Poroshenko elicited applause from the US Congress, the financial help proposed by Washington is on the slender side: Ukraine will get $1 billion in ‘Financial Guarantees’ from the US and a general military aid package worth $53 million, RIA reported.
Also, the US Senate introduced a bill authorizing the Obama administration to supply $350 million worth of sophisticated weapons technology to Kiev in the fiscal year of 2015.
The Ukrainian president was bullish when he returned home, maintaining to the nation that his visit overseas had been a complete success.
Poroshenko stated he had reached a deal with President Obama whereby Washington would more actively participate in the contact between Ukraine and Russia, particularly with President Vladimir Putin. Without this contact with the Russian authorities “there wouldn’t be the ceasefire we currently have,” he said.

June 6, 2014. President Vladimir Putin (left) and Ukrainian President-Elect Petro Poroshenko (RIA Novosti/Sergey Guneev)
June 6, 2014. President Vladimir Putin (left) and Ukrainian President-Elect Petro Poroshenko (RIA Novosti/Sergey Guneev)
At the same time, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov specifically stressed that although the Russian president did exchange opinions on measures to achieve peace in Ukraine, Putin could not negotiate any ceasefire agreement in the neighboring country.
“Russia physically cannot negotiate a ceasefire agreement because it is not a part of the conflict (in Ukraine),” Peskov said in early September.
The Ukrainian president rejected the idea that the rebellious Donetsk and Lugansk regions could get special status within the country, saying that “no territory in Ukraine would have an influence on the country’s international or domestic policies, or be able to pose a threat to country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
President Poroshenko firmly advocates a multilateral approach to settling the crisis in Ukraine and intends to engage more parties to negotiate the problem on an international level.
“This conflict should not appear to be solely a Ukrainian problem. We’re going to engage the whole world in this process,” he said.

New clashes erupt at Syrian-Turkish border as 130k refugees flee

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Published time: September 22, 2014 11:17
Edited time: September 22, 2014 15:35
Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian Kurds wait behind the border fence to cross into Turkey near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, September 19, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer)
Clashes have resumed at the Syria-Turkey border, where thousands of Syrian Kurds have been trying to escape from the advance of the Islamic State fighters on their towns.
The turmoil on Monday was filmed by RT’s Ruptly video agency, currently at the scene.

"Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds have fled through the border which the Turkish government opened on Friday - it's now closed again. There are a few Kurdish families waiting for the last couple of days to get in, in the blazing heat with no food and no water," Ruptly's Lizzie Phelan reported from the site.
"There are also Syrian Kurds and Turkish Kurds [on the Turkish side of the border] who want to go into Syria, because - as they say - they want to form a human shield against an IS advance on Kobani, as there is a lot of fear that if IS do take over Kobani, which is a city of 45,000 people, there will be a renewed exodus," Lizzie Phelan reported.
Turkish authorities briefly closed the border on Sunday, after clashes broke out between security forces and protesters, who had rallied in support of the refugees.

Turkish security troops clash with Kurds, as thousands flee ISIS (VIDEO)
The number of Syrian Kurds who have crossed the border into Turkey over the last several days, escaping from Islamic State fighters, has exceeded 130,000, according to the latest estimate by Turkish authorities.
The figure was given by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, who believes the number of refugees is likely to grow.
"If ISIL [Now the Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] attacks continue in the Kobane region, Turkey may face an intensive influx," Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara, according to AFP.
"The border is not being closed to refugees per se, it is being managed. This is to ensure the civilian nature of asylum," Ariane Rummery, Senior Communications Officer of the UN Refugee Agency, told RT. She added that the "management" is a three-stage process, including a security screening, a health screening "where people can get vaccinations," and a registration process.
"I think it's very important that the international community share the burden and give any support they can to the hosting communities. We have to remember that comparatively small numbers of refugees do move further afield to Europe and so on, so we need open borders all around in Europe and not just in the neighboring countries," Rummery told RT, adding that it's not just Turkey that needs help, but also Lebanon and Jordan.
The extremist group launched an offensive on Kurd-populated areas of northern Syria on Tuesday, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes. The Islamic State has captured at least 64 villages around the border city of Ayn al-Arab, or Kobani in Kurdish, which is home to one of the largest Kurdish communities in Syria.
On Sunday, protesters at the border accused Ankara of helping create the problem of the Islamic State in the first place, by backing Syrian rebels against President Assad.
Political analyst Caleb Maupin also believes Ankara should share responsibility for the current refugee crisis.

The fact that Turkey has allowed these extremists, which are seeking to destabilize Syria to set up bases in Turkey and go over the border to carry out their attacks in Syria... it’s going to come back to haunt them. If you support these kinds of elements they will eventually turn on you,” Maupin told RT.
The Turkish border with Syria has been reopened, but only at one point, near the town of Mursitpinar, according to Turkey's emergencies directorate, the AFAD.

Head of EULEX Bernd Borchardt leaves office

PRISTINA -- Head of EULEX Bernd Borchardt is set to leave his office, the daily Danas from Belgrade has reported.
Head of EULEX Bernd Borchardt is set to leave his office, the daily Danas from Belgrade has reported. Borchardt will leave in around 10 days, after serving for almost 2 years. He will return to the German Foreign Ministry, which was where he came from in December 2012 to assume the post of the head of EULEX, the mission told Danas in Pristina.
Before coming to Pristina, Borchardt worked at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin as a coordinator for German staff serving in international organisations and as Germany's ambassador to Albania from 2007 to 2010.

Besides numerous diplomatic posts in the German administration and the EU, he was also the head of the German office in Kosovo and the deputy head of the Kosovo Verification Mission.

Borchardt's predecessors at the head of EULEX were French lieutenant generals Xavier Bout de Marnhac, who served from 2010 to 2012, and Yves de Kermabon, 2008-2010.

EULEX started its work in Kosovo in 2008 and its chief task is to support the Kosovo authorities when it comes to the rule of law, especially in relation to the police, judiciary and customs.

The Council of the EU recently extended the EULEX's mandate until June 14, 2016.
Starts Occupation "de facto" of Himara Region


Albanian Government provides building permits, starts works on three tourist villages of Himara Region, Draleo
Approval was made by the National Council of Territorial Adjustment of Albania KKRRT, in contrast to the Regional Development Plan of Himara, without ownership titles

Athens gives the national priority for "Himara Issue" especially after, arbitrary territorial division, voted by the Albanian Parliament

Himara. The government of Prime Minister Edi Rama, in one of the meetings of the National Council of Territorial Adjustment of Albania, has decided to grant planning permission for three holiday villages, whose owners represent the most powerful oligarch media in Albania.

The decision came immediately after the approval by Parliament of Albania, of the Territorial Division, in which Himara Region joined involuntarily from the Albanian government decisions.

But adoption is made by the National Council of Territorial Adjustment of Albania KKRRT, in contrast to the Regional Development Plan of Himara, without ownership titles.

Sources from the Himara Municipality, said to SManalysis, that property titles in which will built these tourist villages in Draleo, Drymades of Himara Region, are falls documents, counterfeit and unregistered, while the true owners, some of them, are US citizens, with origin from Himara.

Arbitrary actions underway against community interests of the people of Himara and their properties from the Albanian government, are monitored by the State Department but also from the Greek government.

In a meeting held last month in NATO Summit, the two prime ministers, Greece and Albania, just the Himara Issue, was an unsolved problem from the Albanian side. PM Samaras headed the Albanian MP Edi Rama to return dignity that Himara region, in which the ethnic Greek community living, for thousands of years.

But meanwhile, while not expected formal progress of Tirana, on issues pending, as is the determination of Sheffield Water border between Greece and Albania, the Himara Issue, is set as a national priority of Greek politics, to oppose the expansion of the Albania nationalism, to wipe off the map, territories belonging to the Greek community of thousands of years of Himara Region.

Himara, is put in the center of the Albanian irredentism policy debates, especially the last few months, where in addition to territorial division, are openly displayed provocations of security institutions of Albania, as Albania's Secret Service Director, spoke during a report in Albanian Parliament, that "If Himara, in the new territorial division, will be left alone in the example of Crimea, then, it has capacity with the help of Greek politics and in USA, to be declared independent from Albania"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Greece intelligence on alert for traveling Islamist militants 

Islamic StateEuropean UnionGreeceEspionage and Intelligence
Greece intelligence on 'heightened state of vigilance' in search for suspected Islamist militants
Greek surveillance alert comes amid concern that Islamist State fighters might hit back for U.S. airstrikes
Greece’s National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that it was at “a heightened state of vigilance” for suspected militants, keeping close tabs on radical Muslims, and had detected at least six foreign fighters with the terrorist group Islamic State transiting through the country in recent months.
The surveillance operation comes amid concern that the militant group, formerly known as  Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, will retaliate for increased U.S airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.
“The threat level originating from Greece is very low because there are no verified indications of either dormant or active ISIS cells or splinter groups” within the country, a senior intelligence official said. “We are, however, at a heightened state of vigilance now, exchanging intelligence from the United States, Britain, France and others.”
The official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, did not elaborate. Nor did he say whether Greece had issued international arrest warrants for Islamist militants in a bid to block the spillover of extremist violence from the Middle East.
Experts say that Greece, wedged between the West and the realm of Islam, could become a conduit for radicals traveling elsewhere in Europe.
In recent months, Greek intelligence has detected six Islamic State recruits traveling through the country, including a 23-year-old French national carrying a memory stick with instructions for making bombs.
The instructions carried by the Algerian-born Frenchman bore the slogan “in the name of God,” according to Proto Thema, a leading Greek newspaper. His childhood friend, a Tunisian Frenchman who worked as a cook in upscale restaurants in Cannes before being recruited by Islamic State two years ago, was spotted by Greek authorities weeks later, reportedly returning from training in Syria.
“We couldn’t arrest them because there were no legal and legitimate grounds to do so,” the intelligence officer said. “We tipped off other agencies, instead, on their movements.”
In another case, Greek authorities arrested a 43-year-old Frenchman of Russian descent for trying to drive a truck carrying weapons bound for Syria through a border crossing into Turkey.
Neither the intelligence officer nor other officials contacted Tuesday disclosed details of that arrest. They did not discount the possibility, however, of extraditing the man.
“Appropriate procedures are being followed,” the intelligence officer said.
Alarm over Islamic State and its potential appeal to some Muslims emerged after a May attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels. Four people were killed in that attack; a Muslim Frenchman who had fought in Syria is being held.
Inundated by an influx of illegal migrants, cash-strapped Greece has been asking the European Union for more money and muscle to help push back tides of refugees -- and potentially Islamist militants -- sneaking in and out of the country.
Since the start of the year, Greece has deported more than 300 Syrians and Iraqis suspected of terrorism-related activities. What’s more, with Greece neighboring Albania, the biggest source of Islamic State recruits in the Balkans, investigators warn that the passage of militants through this country could increase.
About 300 Albanian fighters have joined Islamic State and the militant group Al Nusra Front, which is also fighting in Syria, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, a think tank based at London’s King College. Forty of them were arrested and tried last month in Kosovo, among the poorest states in the Balkans.
“More than half of them were released because they had no idea what they were getting into,” said Jeta Xharra, director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. “Many new recruits do not know either. They are just replying to Internet ads that are pouring in from Turkey, promising money in exchange for a year of adventure, like a gap year after college.”
With unemployment and poverty gripping much of the Balkans, Xharra warned that destitute Muslims from Albania to the Turkish speaking areas of northern Greece could fall prey to the incitement of Islamist militants.
“Much of this has nothing to do with ideology,” said Xharra. “ Rather, money. All authorities have to do to track ISIS’ foreign recruits is to follow the money trail.”