Saturday, October 25, 2014

Greece and Serbia improve military co-operation

Greece is an important partner to Serbia in developing its capacities for multi-national operations, EU integration and military education.
By Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade
photoSerbia's co-operation with Greece's military will help increase regional security and safety. [AFP]
The armies of Greece and Serbia are working together to improve defence co-operation and regional safety and stability.
According to Colonel Milan Konjikovac, acting chief of the Directorate for International Military Co-operation at the Serbia Ministry of Defence, co-operation in the defence sector with Greece has been seen in education, joint training and preparation for participation in multi-national operations.
"Military education co-operation between the two countries was established in 2003, and it is identified as a wide area of co-operation that will continue. More than 90 of our members have participated in various trainings at the Multinational Peace Support Operations Training Centre in Kilkis, in northern Greece, in the past 10 years," Konjikovac told SETimes.
"Greece is also committed to supporting Serbia's EU integration process," said Colonel Antonios Kostakis, Hellenic Republic's defence attaché to Serbia, at a recent meeting with Konjikovac.
"Greece will continue to support Serbia in the process of European integration, and it is ready to transfer experiences in the security and defence aspects of joining the European Union."
Konjikovac said Serbia could learn a lot from Greece's EU record.
"Greek experiences within the common security and defence politics of the EU, co-operation in projects of European Defence Agency and the concept of battle groups of the EU are valuable for us," he said.
Aleksandar Radic, a military analyst at the Euro-Atlantic Initiative in Belgrade, told SETimes that military co-operation with Greece is important because of geography, which could lead to other fields of improvement.
"When you go from military co-operation to military technical co-operation, which means joint work on development of military technologies and equipment, it indicates wider development and includes more interested parties, and there is a room for economic co-operation. Greece, as a NATO member, has access to the technologies, and there is a room for discussion on co-operation in some technological development," Radic told SETimes.

He added that a joint military exercise could be the best next step, which would strengthen relations between officials and soldiers.
According to Greece Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Athens is willing to play a constructive and positive role in the western Balkans by promoting good relations and co-operation to help create an "oasis of security" for all people living in southeast Europe.
Konjikovаc said that Serbia's military co-operation with regional states contributes to the development of good relations and improvement of security and stability.
What other sectors could benefit from Serbia's co-operation with Greece? Tell us your thoughts below.
This content was commissioned for

Serbian PM voices readiness for talks with Albania

BELGRADE - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that he is ready to talk with representatives of Albania, underscoring that all attackers on small shops owned by ethnic Albanians have been arrested in Serbia following the incident in the recent football match between Serbia and Albania.

In an interview to the weekend issue of the Belgrade-based daily Danas, Vucic said that he has not heard that any Albanian official actually condemned the incident that led to the Serbia-Albania match being abandoned because a drone carrying a map and other symbols of so-called Greater Albania appeared above the pitch.

"We take pride in the fact that we arrested the attackers and hooligans, and they take pride in their ghost flags as they are now calling them in the interviews in connection with the incident. They are telling us that this is the map of a Greater Albania, but that this has never been their national project. Then they are saying that they would like to join the EU united," Vucic said.

To a Danas journalist's remark that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that his policy is not the policy of a Greater Albania, Vucic said that he would like to believe in that.

As I would like to have seen the condemnation of such a serious provocation as the appearance of the drone with a Greater Albania map certainly is. And I have not heard that from any Albanian official. As you know, no Serbian official has approved of the pitch incursion by our fans, and all those who threw stones at ethnic Albanian shops have been arrested, the prime minister said.

When the journalist pointed to the fact that the stands reverberated with anti-Albanian chants, Vucic said that the shouts of hatred could be heard in matches between domestic clubs too, and asked : “Why didn't you take note that everyone was chanting against me in that stadium? …It is not the first time.”

He, however, said that “this is not nice”.
“The incident was directly caused by the drone and Albanian players who jumped on Serbian ones. Are we to blame for the pitch incursion and everything that happened after that? Yes, we are, and we will bear the consequences,” the prime minister said.

Speaking about the investigation into the incident, Vucic said that he would neither confirm nor deny that the brother of the Albanian prime minister was involved in it, but rather wait for the outcome of the investigation which “is being carried out very diligently”.

Asked about the smear attacks against Albanians in certain domestic media after the incident, Vucic said he himself demonstrated no hatred in any of his statements.

I certainly do not hate Albanians and am ready to talk with them any time. A part of them are citizens of our state and I will always have an honest dialogue with them, Vucic underscored.

I am afraid that sometimes there is room for concern that not only our media, but our behavior in general, are plagued by hatred, he noted.

Vucic said that he asked for the Albanian prime minister's visit to be postponed to November 10, from October 22 as was initially planned, “so as to create a possibility for rational talks”.
“I did not want to let someone trample on Serbia's pride the day after the incident. So, you cannot possibly try to cause instability in the state, and then say tomorrow: 'hahaha just a joke',” the prime minister said.

When the journalist indicated that there is no proof that the Albanian state leadership caused the incident, Vucic noted that he did not hear that Albanian officials condemned the incident.
“Someone did organize that. Let's wait and see the results of the investigation, have a little patience. Even if no one from the state was involved in that, it was no coincidence that I was informed in advance that something bad was in the works, about which I informed the European Commission, three hours before the match took place,” the prime minister said.

Photo Tanjug, J. Pap/ Archive
"Ethnos" Newspaper, Greece: The Grand Mother of Himara speaks..........

Looks like a dramatic story, a script for "Hollywood", a real event that occurred for 50 consecutive years, from the Second World War of 1940, to the collapse of the communist dictatorship in Albania in 1991.

6 Greek soldiers killed on the battlefield of the Italian - Greek, war, in the winter of 1940, in Skutara of Himara Region, and are
buried and held in top secret for 50 consecutive years in the yard of the home of a woman who at the time was 8 old years.

Ermiony Brigou is decorated with the highest title by the President of Greece, Karolos Papoulias, to honor the Greek soldiers, fallen in WWII.

"I am pleased to honor Mrs. Ermiony Brigou, from Himara of Northern Epirus" in name of the greek people, for the care shown to the fallen of the Greek soldiers to the front.

The Greek newspaper, Ethnos, has devoted a main page in its edition, about the history of this woman, which dedicates all women of Himara.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Putin lashes out at US, West for destabilizing world

Published time: October 24, 2014 
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Vitaly Belousov)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Vitaly Belousov)

Vladimir Putin lashed out at the United States and the West for destabilizing the world order of checks and balances for its own gains. He also accused the West of inflaming the situation in Ukraine and said Russia is not interested in building an empire.
The Russian President delivered a fierce broadside aimed at the United States in a speech for the Valdai Club in Sochi, which is an informal group of scholars. He hit out at Washington for behaving without regard to the rest of the world's interests
“The system of international relations needed some changes, but the USA, who believe they were the winners of the Cold War, have not seen the need for this.” He added that the US has been trying to create the world “for their own gains." The Russian President added that because of this, regional and global security had been weakened.
During his speech, Putin used the Russian version of the Latin phrase, “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi” (what is allowed for god, is not allowed for cattle,) alluding to the double standards used by Washington.

US sponsoring Islamic extremism

Putin also touched on the issue of the growth of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and also accused the West of, "turning a blind eye," to the encroachment of international terrorism into Russia and Central Asia. Putin believes the US has played a considerable role in sponsoring the growth of Islamic extremism, using the example of Washington's funding of the Mujahidin in the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980's, which eventually gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
“It never ceases to amaze me how our partners have been guilty of making the same mistakes time and again. They have in the past sponsored Islamic extremists who were battling against the Soviet Union, which took place in Afghanistan. It was because of this the Taliban and Al-Qaeda was created,” the president added.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is the latest terrorist organization, which is destabilizing the world and Putin was scathing of countries that have been helping to fund the Islamist militants by buying cut price oil they are selling.
“Terrorists have been selling oil at really low prices and those countries who have been buying it and then selling it on, are financing terrorism, which will eventually come back to bite them,” the Russian President said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and former Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schussel during the final plenary meeting of the 11th session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi October 24, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and former Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schussel during the final plenary meeting of the 11th session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi October 24, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

Putin all for Nuclear cuts

Relations between Russia and the US have been plummeting for months; however Vladimir Putin accused the US of using the EU to further its own gains against Russia. He hit out at the numerous sanctions that have been imposed on Moscow, saying, "This was a mistake, which has a knock-on effect on everyone."
“The USA, which has implemented sanctions against Russia, is sawing at the branches, upon which they are sitting,” President Putin added.
The reduction of nuclear arsenals was another issue, which was high on the agenda for the Russian President and once again, he was not afraid of having a dig at Washington for their reluctance to cut the number of nuclear missiles. He mentioned that unfortunately many countries see the only way to preserve their sovereignty is, "To make a nuclear bomb."
The reduction in nuclear arsenals was initially proposed by the Obama administration and Putin admitted it had potential, before talks about decreasing weapons stockpiles collapsed.
"Russia has been all for the continuation of talks about the reduction of nuclear arsenals," and according to President Putin, "Moscow is ready for serious talks, but without “double standards."

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the wrap-up session of the 11th Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on 24 October 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the wrap-up session of the 11th Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on 24 October 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

Genie out of the bottle

Perhaps Putin's harshest criticism was reserved for the West's creation of color revolutions and "controlled chaos," which he a likened to "letting the genie out of the bottle," with particular reference to Ukraine.
"We have been trying to discuss the Ukraine issue with the EU for a long time, but we were told this was none of our business. They then put two countries against each other, which has led to countless destruction of infrastructure. When I asked why did they do this, they just shrug their shoulders and don’t have an answer," Putin added.
President Putin made reference to the ‘Bear’ defending its territory to take a swipe at the US for its continued encroachment towards Russia’s territory. “He is considered the owner of the Taiga, but he, I know for a fact, does not want to go to a different climatic zone, as it is uncomfortable for him there. However, he will not give it to anyone else; I think that this should be clear,” he said.
The Russian President said that there is no truth whatsoever in claims from the West that Russia is interested in empire building and that Moscow is looking to destabilize the world order. With relations between Russia and the West at a very low ebb, Putin also hinted Russia will look to develop allies further afield.
"Russia has made its choice – we want to develop our economy and develop democratic values. We work with our counterparts in the Shanghai Cooperation, the BRICS union for example. We want our opinions to be respected likewise. We all need to be cautious to not make hasty and dangerous steps. Some of the players on the global front have forgotten about the need for this," he said in another barb directed at Washington.

Western Balkans for stronger ties and cooperation

BELGRADE -- Countries of the Western Balkans continue to work together towards a common goal - safe environment, political stability and economic prosperity of the region.
This is what participants of an informal regional conference held in Belgrade on Thursday stressed in a joint statement.
This would ensure a better life for all our citizens, and promote our European prospects, said the foreign and finance ministers of the Western Balkan countries gathered for an informal meeting in the Serbian capital on Thursday.

The ministers discussed programs that could boost the economic growth and attract foreign direct investments to the region, improve structural reforms, regional cooperation and infrastructure projects, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a release.

The conference on the topic of 'Economic management and ties' is a continuation of the talks that took place at an informal meeting in Kotor, Montenegro, in July, the consultations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month, and the conference on the Western Balkans held on August 28 in Berlin, the release states.

Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić said at the opening that, ever since it was launched, the initiative to hold meetings in this format has proved beneficial for empowered action, dialogue and cooperation in the region.

Dačić thanked the outgoing EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule for his engagement and dedication which contributed to the success of this format of meetings, and to the strengthening of ties between countries of the Western Balkans and the European Union.

Fuele said that the European Commission is ready to support better interconnection between the Western Balkan countries in terms of transport and energy, adding that EUR 1 billion will be allocated for that purpose through IPA funds and that favorable loans totaling EUR 10 billion will be provided by the international institutions by 2020.

Closer regional ties and comprehensive economic reforms will send a strong signal to potential investors, Fule pointed out.

A joint statement was adopted at the end of the meeting, whereby the countries in the region committed to coordinate their economic cooperation and forge stronger economic ties, in cooperation with the European Commission, and so create more space for economic growth and employment.

"Albanian PM trying to provoke Serbia"

BELGRADE -- Milovan Drecun said on Thursday Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama was making extreme statements in an effort to make his visit to Serbia meaningless.
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
According to this MP from the ranks of the ruling SNS party, who heads the Committee on Kosovo and Metohija, Rama is also attempting to "place the blame for it on Serbia's shoulders."
"When Tirana sends messages that Serbia should renounce a part of its territory (Kosovo), then those are not messages of prosperity, but destabilizing ones," he told reporters in Belgrade.

"Unilateral changes to internationally recognised borders does not lead the region into the EU," Drecun noted, adding that "the EU has completely different standards."

"It seems to me that Rama's very aggressive, even extreme, statements are an attempt to make his upcoming visit pointless, to provoke Belgrade and then declare Serbia responsible," he said.

"I have no doubt anymore that this is a well planned, orchestrated campaign by Tirana intended to destabilize the situation in the region by sending messages that support a Greater Albania," he stated.

"That is not the way forward for us," he remarked, underscoring that Serbia "would not fall for such attempts at provocation."

"Serbia wants to protect its territorial integrity, to continue the process of bringing the relations with Priština back to normal and develop good relations with Albania. The way things currently stand, Albania has not shown a sincere desire to embark on this path as well," Drecun concluded

Uefa awards Serbia 3-0 Euro 2016 win over Albania but deducts three points


• Serbia must play next two qualifiers behind closed doors
• Both countries fined €100,000 after abandoned match
• Albanian FA calls Uefa’s decision ‘a travesty’
• What was Ivan Bogdanov doing at Serbia v Albania?
• Albanian FA claims Serbian police attacked players,
The Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania was abandoned following a brawl between players from both sides after a flag stunt.
Serbia will have to play their next two European qualifying matches behind closed doors as punishment for the chaos that enveloped their match with Albania in Belgrade last week but both sides have been sanctioned by Uefa.
The Guardian has learned that Uefa’s disciplinary committee has decided to sanction both teams, with Serbia and Albania each being fined €100,000 (£78,000) and the home side being awarded a 3-0 victory. However, neither side will get any points, because Serbia have also been docked three points.
The decision has already been labelled a “travesty” by lawyers for the Albanian FA, which believes its players were placed in mortal danger by the Serbians’ inability to control the crowd in Belgrade.
It was the surreal appearance of a remote-control drone, hovering low over the pitch bearing a flag for “Greater Albania” that sparked scenes of violence.
The Albanian players fled from the pitch while being attacked by fans and stewards, later refusing to return and causing the match to be abandoned.
The brother of the Albanian prime minister was accused of flying the drone but he denied it. Uefa is no closer to finding out who was responsible.
It was the first match between the two sides in the Serbian capital since 1967 but, despite the tension between the nations following the Kosovo conflict and that disputed territory’s declaration of independence in 2008, Uefa did not keep the teams apart in the qualifying draw.
The ruling has already been labelled a “travesty” by sources close to the Albanian FA, which believes its players faced unprecedented provocation from the crowd, who pelted them with stones and lighters and chanted “Kill the Albanians”.
They argue that the players were justified in refusing to return to the field because they feared for their lives.
Chimi Shakohoxha, a partner at the law firm Clarke Wilmott, was at the match as part of the official Albanian delegation and said he saw banners featuring war criminals and constantly heard racist chanting.
The match, from which away fans were banned under an agreement between the two countries, was halted for the second time by the English referee Martin Atkinson in the 41st minute after flares were hurled on to the pitch.
The drone then hovered into view, clearly displaying the flag, which hung close to the pitch before being grabbed by the Serbia defender, Stefan Mitrovic. When several Albanian players attempted to take it from him, a mêlée ensued.
Television pictures showed Serbian fans and stewards attempting to attack the Albanian players, who refused to return to the pitch. Following a tense half-hour wait, Atkinson abandoned the match.
Serbia were formally charged with setting off fireworks, crowd disturbance, a pitch invasion, “insufficient organisation” and the use of a laser pen.
Albania were charged with refusing to play and the “display of an illicit banner”. Branislav Ivanovic, the Chelsea defender, said Serbia wanted to play on but their Albanian opponents were “unfit physically and mentally” to return to the field.
According to Serbia, they asked Uefa to finish the match, which was goalless, after emptying the stadium or to replay it this week but the Albanian FA refused. The incident was the latest in a string of controversies involving disorder by Serbian fans.
In a rambling 1,500-word statement the Serbian FA placed the blame for the incident firmly on the Albanian players and officials, claiming they were “accomplices” to a plan that was a “pre-planned terrorist action”.
“The incident itself and the behaviour of the Albanian players, coach and staff leaves no room for doubt that they were part of a synchronised plan to stop the match,” the FSS claimed.
The Albanian FA said their players were attacked not only by fans and stewards but also by police as they fled for the dressing room. Their captain, Lorik Cana, said it was a “miracle” that no one was seriously injured.
Shakohoxha said he expected the Albanian FA to appeal. “This is a travesty. It’s a cop-out. We are totally committed to banishing racism from football and this judgment appears to fly in the face of that aim. This is not about the points; it’s about fighting racism.”
Situation reports

Citizens of the Russian Federation have rapidly changed their attitude towards the Western nations under the influence of the state information propaganda. Great bulk of citizens considers them to be their enemies and is extremely prejudiced against the U.S. and the EU. This is proved by the results of “Russia’s foreign policy enemies and partners” poll conducted by Levada-Center, Russian non-governmental organization.

84% of those questioned were of the opinion that Russia had enemies. This is the highest number to this question starting from March 1999. In September, 2012, only 63% conceived that Russia had enemies. 79% of Russians think that the Western nations are Russia’s adversaries eager to tackle their issues at its cost and affecting its interests when occasion offers. The number of such people accounted for 44% four years ago, in July, 2010.

Russia-EU relations have been appraised a little more positively. 66% said they viewed these relations as tense or hostile. Their number was 10% even in January, 2014. Concurrently, 36% of Russians are not concerned about the fact that their country is increasingly isolating from the Western world, 79% of those questioned think that community of Western nations’ opinions regarding Russia’s policy towards Ukraine is unjust.

Such fundamental change in public opinion in Russia is first of all determined by active propaganda of Kremlin’s foreign policy course against the Western nations. Russia has taken unprecedented steps on creating an effective propaganda machine primarily focused on misinforming the population and forming Kremlin’s required public opinion within the last 10 months. The current processes are comparable to the propaganda of pre-perestroika times (before 1986) on level of mass influence. Propagandists use old information clichés of 70-80s of the ХХ century perceived by the older generation more familiar with them. Moreover, the active process of history’s rewriting and forming positive public opinion towards the Soviet period among the youth is going on. The emphasis is laid on positive emotional factors: strong nation, first space flight, social fairness.

Meanwhile, the information concerning the victims of the Soviet regime, lack of individual freedom, dissent suppression, etc. is hushed up.

Kremlin is actively reconstructing a simplified bipolar perception of geo-political relations in the world in the country’s information field, where there are Russia and its partner China on one side, and the hostile Western world on the other. Concurrently, the information concerning the hostility of the Western world against Russia, as well as right and fair steps of Russian authorities on the world stage is actively implanted. At the same time, Russians are increasingly “cut out” of the access to alternative informational sources.

Consequently, nowadays Kremlin has practically completed shaping Russians’ public opinion towards the Western nations in a Cold War spirit. From now on the decisions of Russian authorities regarding the country’s isolation or military/unfriendly actions towards the Western nations will be supported inside the country. This reinforces Putin’s regime and gives him opportunity for extremely radical political play on the world stage and inside Russia.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cyprus: Crews Locate Small Plane Wreckage, Bodies

The bodies of two people have been found near wreckage belonging to a small aircraft that vanished over the Mediterranean Sea while en route to Beirut from Cyprus, the defense minister said Thursday.
Christoforos Fokaides expressed condolences to the families of the "two members of the crew." He said the bodies will be taken to the island nation for positive identification. Family members of both victims have been notified, according to a Defense Ministry statement.
Cypriot authorities said the twin-engine Diamond DA42 plane with one Cypriot and one Lebanese national onboard disappeared Wednesday evening around 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the coastal town of Larnaca.
The plane had taken off from an airport near the town of Paphos, on Cyprus' western coast.
The Defense Ministry said that two warships attached to a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon have brought wreckage to Cyprus for investigators to begin their probe.
Israeli helicopters had also assisted Cypriot aircraft and boats in the search effort.

Albanian PM wants Serbia "to recognize Kosovo"

TIRANA -- "The sooner Serbia formally recognizes that Kosovo will never again be its part, the better for Serbia and the region," says Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
In an interview for the AP, he added that he "firmly felt and believed" that "they have already recognized it without saying so."
Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in early 2008 unilaterally declared independence, but Serbia rejected the proclamation as a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

According to Rama, "Serbia and Albania must try to end several decades of mutual hostility by focusing on important issues such as their shared desire to join the EU," rather than on last week's "differences over a football game."

He added that "international politics cannot be driven by football games."

Rama's visit to Serbia, planned for this week, was postponed in the wake of the Serbia vs. Albania UEFA qualifier in Belgrade, when a map of a "Greater Albania" was flown above the pitch, causing incidents.

This nationalist expansionist project would include parts of Serbia, Greece, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

In his interview for the American agency, Rama said:

"We cannot go anywhere alone. Together we can make the EU understand that the Balkans are important for the EU today, as much as the EU is important for the Balkans."

He then added that "a Greater Albania is a Serbian nightmare, not an Albanian project, neither in Albania nor in Kosovo."

"What should unite us is much bigger than what divides us. We want a greater Europe, not a greater Albania. That's what we are fighting for," said Rama.

"Visit to be planned in coordination with Belgrade"

BELGRADE -- Albania's Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said on Thursday that the program of Edi Rama's visit would be drawn up in coordination with the Serbian authorities.
This will be done "with mutual respect, trust and by taking advantage of the best practices out there," he said.
Bushati came to Belgrade to attend an informal regional meeting of ministers of foreign affairs and economy and told reporters he saw nothing wrong with Rama's intention to visit Presevo, which is a region where ethnic Albanians form the majority of the population.

Other Albanian officials have visited Presevo when coming to Serbia and so did Rama while his party was sitting in opposition, Bushati noted, adding that he had visited Preševo as well while being a member of the opposition.

He stated that he "did not know why Rama's visit to Preševo was such a problem," adding that "nothing would happen."

When asked if the idea of a Greater Albania was part of the official policy of the Albanian government, Bushati replied that he "did not have to explain that to the Serbian or any other government."

"Unfortunately, that idea has always been a nightmare to Serbia, but it has never been a part of the Albanian government's political project and political goal, which is to see the entire region in the EU," Bushati stated.

He called on the Serbian authorities to investigate everything that happened before, during and after the recent match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade, especially the provocations, incidents and violence.

"The Albanian government believes hooligans should not be in charge of sport and intends to work with all the countries of the region, Serbia included, on projects of mutual interest," he pointed out.

Commenting on the International Olympic Committee's provisional decision to allow Kosovo to take part in sporting events, Bushati responded that it was "more of a question for Kosovo's foreign minister than him," but that he felt it was "an encouraging decision sport-wise."

The match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade on October 14 was abandoned after a brawl that followed the appearance of a drone with a map depicting the so-called Greater Albania, a nationalist project that would include parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece.

The provocation was not condemned "in Priština and Tirana," Tanjug said in its report, adding that "on the contrary, Albanian footballers were welcomed as heroes and Albanians in the region celebrated the incident as a national victory."

This was followed by a series of provocations and attacks in Serbia and Albania, where ethnic Serbs, Albanians, and Greeks were targeted.

"The essential difference between them and us lies in the fact that Serbia has arrested all attackers and they (Albania) are still bragging about the drone and the flag of a Greater Albania," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić stated on Wednesday.

He over the weekend warned that "a Greater Albania is not only Serbia's nightmare, but also the nightmare of Europe and all humankind and must be prevented."

Russia represents "existential threat," says Soros

NEW YORK -- Russia's policy toward Ukraine represents a threat to the very existence of the EU, George Soros wrote in an article titled "Wake Up, Europe."
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
"Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it," the U.S. billionaire said in a text published on the website of the New York Review of Books, Russia's RIA Novosti reported.
Soros claims that Russian policy is allegedly based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law, the news agency said.

According to him, this may find a broad response among "anti-EU" parties which had gained many seats in the last European Parliament elections.

"In the absence of unified resistance it is unrealistic to expect that Putin will stop pushing beyond Ukraine when the division of Europe and its domination by Russia is in sight," Soros said.

He concluded that the United States and European nations "should act as countries at war" and offer Ukraine all necessary financial and military aid.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Albania PM Seeks to Ease Tensions With Serbia

Edi Rama
Albania's prime minister said Wednesday that his nation and Serbia must try to end decades of hostility toward one another by focusing on major issues such as their mutual desire to join the European Union, not last week's dispute over a soccer match.
Edi Rama had been expected to make a landmark visit to Serbia on Wednesday — the first by an Albanian leader in nearly 70 years — as part of an effort to ease tensions left over from wars fought following the breakup of Yugoslavia.
But the trip was postponed until Nov. 10, after the two nations competed in a soccer match last week that descended into an on-field brawl after a drone carrying an Albanian nationalist banner flew over the stadium in the Serbian capital.
In an interview with The Associate Press on Wednesday, Rama, an ardent soccer fan, said international politics "cannot be driven by football (soccer) games."
"The peace we have achieved is still very fragile (and) we have to build on it," he said.
Albania and Serbia remain at odds over Kosovo, the Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, and has a majority of ethnic Albanian inhabitants.
Rama, who became prime minister following a landslide election victory last year, again urged Belgrade to reconsider its position on Kosovo.
"The sooner Serbia recognizes formally what I strongly feel and believe they have already recognized without saying so, that Kosovo will never be part of their country again, the better for Serbia (and) the region," he said.
Rama, however, insisted it is time for his country and Serbia to end decades of hostility and that their shared desire for EU membership could be a means to that end.
"We cannot go anywhere alone," Rama said. "Together we can make the EU understand that the Balkans is important for the EU today as much as the EU is important for the Balkans."
He also said his agenda in Belgrade next month will not include "revisiting the memories of a football game."
UEFA, Europe's governing body for soccer, plans to consider penalties against Albania and Serbia on Thursday over last week's match, which was abandoned goalless and in chaos.
Players fought on the field after the drone hovered overhead carrying a banner showing a so-called map of "greater Albania" including Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Fans at the Belgrade stadium hurled broken seats and other objects as they ran toward the visiting team's dressing room.
The dispute quickly turned into a diplomatic spat, with Serbia accusing Albania of a deliberate provocation, while Tirana countered that its players had been insulted and attacked. Several ethnic Albanian businesses in Serbia were damaged after the game.
Rama acknowledged that the drone had set off an "explosion of something that was boiling up then and before then."
But he also said: "Greater Albania is a Serbian nightmare, not an Albanian project, neither in Albania nor in Kosovo. What should unite us is much bigger than what divides us. ... We want a greater Europe, not a greater Albania. That's what we are fighting for."
Rama, who will meet his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, said he aims to address Serbian concerns over the soccer match, then go on to more important issues.
 Greece, urgent measures for Northern Epirus

Constantine Cholevas *

The fanatical violence of Muslim Albanians against the Greeks in Northern Epirus, Dervitsani is neither the first nor the last incident of this kind.presence of Hellenism in the ancient homes of the Epirus land disturb the major parties in Tirana and the Principles encourage various actions oppression, intimidation and dehellenization.

Of course, to be down to earth, Greece must talk about the responsibilities of the treasury of the Northern Epirus Greek population. Many of them have settled permanently in Greece and have left the elderly in the villages of ethnic Greek community. however, the big problem is the growing nationalist and irredentist fever Albanians in the Balkans. To reach the final goal, which is "Natural Albania", the union of the current Albanian territories belonging to Greece, Serbia, FYROM and Montenegro, the first step would be ethnic cleansing with mild tones against the Northern Epirus. There is no the ethnic cleansing by planes and tanks, as did Attila in Cyprus. 

It is a fraudulent policy, which is beginning to yield results. Greeks in Northern Epirus and elsewhere in Albania oppressed as to education, property rights, their access to public office, the right to peace and security, and forcibly prevented Greeks to elect local officials, as happened in Himara. 

Greece has a duty to protect the Greeks of Albania, asking the following: -

To abolished the communist decree recognizes as minority areas only a few villages of Gjirokastra and yield the right of Greek-language primary schools in all the Greek communities across Albania.
 - Stopping the use of maps showing Greek territories as Albanian, and even in schools in Northern Epirus.
 -To conducted honest inventory of national and religious groups and international control. The earlier terminated by the Orthodox Church of Albania and Omonia, the organization of Greek National Minority, as spurious and inaccurate. 
-To stop any reference of Albanian parties and ministries on the issue of Muslim Chams, whose parents were convicted in Greece as war criminals and partners of Italian fascists for occupation. 
- To connect any economic benefit of Greece and the European Union to Albania fate and rights of ethnic Greek community.
 - To denounce the UN, NATO and the European Union The overflights banner to claim Greek territories, as we saw during the recent match Serbia - Albania. 

The flag of Great Albania included Corfu, Epirus and western Macedonia, and was welcomed by the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. Note that the banner has labeled in English the word INDIGENOUS, stating that the territories claimed by neighboring countries Albanians consider living autochthonous (indigenous) Albanian population! 

The political leader which presented the banner was Ismail Kemal Vlora who proclaimed the independence of Albania on 28/11/1912. The Vlora (the name means originating from Vlora) studied the Zosimaia School in Ioannina. Despite the Greek education, he worked as prime minister against the Greeks. Let us not deceive ourselves, then, that all Albanian children attending Greek schools will be removed from the Albanian nationalism. Probably, most of them will show friendly and law-abiding behavior. 

However, we should not exclude phenomena type Vlora Ismail. should not underestimate or overestimate the Albanian nationalism. And let's not forget that this year is the 100 anniversary of the independency of the Northern race. 

Constantine Cholevas * 
Analyst, Political Scientist

Albanian PM's visit "to be good and fruitful"

BELGRADE -- Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has said he expects the visit of Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama on November 10 to be "good and fruitful."
"I think I protected our national interests in the best way, clearly letting everyone know that we want peace and stability in the region," Vučić told reporters in Belgrade, speaking at the seat of his Serb Progressive Party (SNS).
According to him, "Serbia's interests are protected by the decision to postpone the visit of Rama."

"We also protect the interests when we said that you cannot come and say and do what you want after incidents were caused," he said, in reference to the abandoned October 14 UEFA qualifier between Serbia and Albania.

Vučić then added that any instability in the Western Balkans disturbed Serbia the most and that many would like "to topple Serbia" by causing instability.

He said that "a majority of people responded well and understood all messages" after the stadium incident, when a drone carried a map of the so-called Greater Albania over the pitch.

The prime minister added that individuals acted in the wrong way, but that all perpetrators of subsequent incidents and attacks on businesses owned by ethnic Albanians in Serbia have been arrested.

"I am proud that all of the attackers were arrested, and they (Albanians) continue to boast about drones and flags. This is the essential difference between us and them," Vučić said.

He declined to comment on speculation about the protocol that will be in place for his Albanian counterpart's visit in November, but said Rama "did not ask to participate in a political rally in Preševo."
Rama: Electricity price won't increase 
Prime minister Edi Rama has said that debtors have only 5 days to pay the electricity bills. In a press conference at noon, Rama said that time has come for thieves to face the law.

"The operation will have the full inclusion of all state police forces. Today we have completed an operational plan that will include the distribution company and the State Police. Any thief would face law", he said.

During his speech, the prime minister stressed that the action against power theft will begin from big businesses. "I'll start from those who are the main problem. Of those who have large factories and businesses and to pay as households.

We will not increase the price of electricity, but will change the limit of 300 KW. Thieves can not continue to steal power", he further said.

Turkey continues gas exploration despite Greek Cyprus threat to block EU talks

ANKARA, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Turkey is continuing its seismic surveys off the Cyprus Island, despite opposition from Greek Cypriots, who have threatened to block Ankara's ongoing European Union (EU) accession talks, demanding Turkey halt its gas exploration activities in the disputed region, local Hurriyet Daily News reported on Wednesday.
"The Turkish ship Barbaros will continue seismic studies off the Cyprus coast," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Tuesday after meeting Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
"Necessary measures are taken to protect the Barbaros ship. Nobody should try to create a crisis," Davutoglu said. "We have the right to conduct seismic studies derived from agreements signed between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We will always use this right."
"Turkish Cypriots have rights in entire continental shelf and in economic zone of the Cyprus Island, as much as Greek Cypriots have," Davutoglu said, adding that everyone should accept "reality of this international law."
Turkey's controversial move, sending an oil and gas exploration ship to the region, came after Greek Cypriots licensed exploratory drills in the same economic zone.
Ankara argues that Greek Cypriots should not take individual steps over the natural resources of the disputed island until the two sides agree on a comprehensive solution for reunification.
The Greek Cypriot administration's spokesperson, Nicos Christodoulides, said on Tuesday that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades could submit a complaint against Turkey to EU leaders during next week's Council of Europe meeting in a move to halt the country's EU membership process.
Turkey has been negotiating its EU accession but progress has been slow because of its dispute with Cyprus, which has already blocked eight of the 35 negotiating chapters.
Anastasiades suspended talks for reunification of the island in early October after Turkey announced it would explore gas off the Cyprus.
Cyprus has remained divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied the northern part of the island following a coup by Greek army junta officers. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared in November 1983, but it is recognized only by Turkey.

Mysterious ‘Russian sub’ off Sweden may be Dutch – Defense Ministry source

Published time: October 22, 2014
Submarine HNLMS Bruinvis (screenshot from youtube video)
Submarine HNLMS Bruinvis

Swedish authorities reportedly searching for a Russian submarine in its waters are probably looking in the wrong direction. The sub is probably Dutch, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told RT.
Earlier Swedish media reported that the nation’s navy is looking for a submarine in the Baltic Sea, possibly belonging to Russia.
Russia said there was no substance in reports of the Russian connection in the story.
“On Sunday the Russian Defense Ministry provided whatever aid it could to the Swedes in their futile search,” the source commented.
The source added that if the Swedish Navy wanted to spare taxpayers’ money and nerves, they should turn to The Netherlands.
The country’s Walrus-class diesel-electric submarine Bruinvis was in the Baltic Sea last week, not far from Stockholm.

Photos of the emergency surfacing procedure by this submarine were leaked to Swedish media and reported as an emergency surfacing by a Russian submarine, the source said.
“Bruinvis has been docked in the Estonian capital Tallinn since Friday last week and is about to sail back. Hopefully, this report will help the Swedish Navy locate it as it travels back to one of the Dutch naval bases,” the source said.
The Dutch Navy said on Monday the Bruinvis wasn’t near Stockholm at the time the mysterious submarine was spotted. The joint drills with Sweden, in which the submarine took part, ended on Tuesday, after which it set off for Tallinn, said a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Defense, Marnoes Visser.

Swedish media reported that the country’s navy deployed search parties on Friday after receiving reports of an identified submarine.
Reports said a communication in Russian was intercepted at a frequency reserved by the Russian Navy for emergencies, which prompted the conclusion that a Russian submarine was in trouble on a secret mission in Swedish waters.
But Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told reporters that the search was prompted by a photo sent to the Defense Ministry by a man, who witnessed it surface and dive again. He said the Navy didn’t single out Russia as the foreign nation behind the submarine activity.
"From the information we have, we cannot draw the same conclusion as the media that there is a damaged U-boat. We have no information about an emergency signal or the use of an emergency channel," he said.

An amateur photo made available and taken on October 19, 2014 by Swedish Defence shows a dark object in a white wake in the sea. (AFP Photo / Swedish Defence)
An amateur photo made available and taken on October 19, 2014 by Swedish Defence shows a dark object in a white wake in the sea. (AFP Photo / Swedish Defence)
The admiral confirmed that a Swedish naval exercise, involving a submarine from the Netherlands, had been under way off the Stockholm coast at the time of the first sighting.

NATO seeks more U.S. ships

Exercise Sea Breeze in September included ships from Ukraine and NATO allies. The destroyer Ross represented the U.S. in the Black Sea exercise. NATO's maritime boss wants to plan more large-scale exercises.
Exercise Sea Breeze in September included ships from Ukraine and NATO allies. The destroyer Ross represented the U.S. in the Black Sea exercise. NATO's maritime boss wants to plan more large-scale exercises. (MC2 John Herman / Navy)
NATO’s sea boss wants to see more of the U.S. Navy in Europe.
Royal Navy Vice Adm. Peter Hudson, who leads NATO Allied Maritime Command, said Oct. 7 that he was trying to lay the groundwork for more large-scale exercises to build cooperation between NATO powers, which would mean more time in 6th Fleet for sailors looking forward to sunny Mediterranean ports.
Hudson said tensions with Russia have prompted the renewed push, and that he’d like to “re-energize complex, joint, integrated training, so whether that’s frigates and destroyers in my warfare units or with carrier strike groups or amphibious ready groups, we’re well versed in it.”
NATO has four standing maritime groups — two groups of frigates and destroyers and two groups of minesweepers. Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is commanded by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Brad Williamson. The U.S. Navy’s boosted presence in eastern Europe was emphasized again Oct. 10, when the destroyer Cole entered the Black Sea.
The resurgent Russian threat recently prompted leaders of the NATO countries to pledge new commitments to the collective defense treaty and an awareness they need to restart large-scale exercises.
“It used to come naturally 25 years ago,” Hudson said in a Pentagon round-table with reporters. “We used to do big, complex NATO exercises in all environments, but the world has changed. We haven’t been doing as many of those in the last 10, 15 years. But I think Ukraine has told us we need to up our game and I think that’s the plan in the near future.”
The first big exercise in nearly a decade will be held next year. Called Trident Juncture, the huge endeavor will put 25,000 NATO troops into the field, Hudson said, though planning for the exercise predates Russia’s incursions into Ukraine. Hudson said he was also visiting Washington, D.C., to discuss with Navy leaders ways to fill the standing groups, which have operated at about half strength in recent years. He would not say if he was asking for greater U.S commitments to the groups, but said fully manning them is vital to combat the rising threat from Russia.
“Six or seven destroyers … isn’t going to defeat a complex enemy,” he said. “But it will sustain a theater, ... it will put all the connectivity into a region in place so that the follow-on forces can deliver.”

Albanian PM wants to be given key to Belgrade - report

BELGRADE -- Albanian PM Edi Rama has sent a plan of his visit to Serbia according to which he should be given the key to the city of Belgrade.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
This is what the daily Politika is reporting on Wednesday.
The official visit to Belgrade, the first by an Albanian prime minister in 70 years, was originally scheduled to take place on October 22, but was postponed for November 11 after the incident during the Serbia vs. Albania football game on October 14.

The newspaper writes today that Rama plans to hold a public meeting in the southern town of Preševo, and also wants Belgrade Mayor Siniša Mali to symbolically present him with the the key to the Serbian capital.

According to the report, none of the regional leaders visiting Serbia have sent a plan of their visit without previous consultations with the Serbian government. The Albanian ambassador in Priština was at the same time quoted as saying that "there is no detailed plan of Rama's visit, but he would like to visit Preševo after Belgrade."

It is also not customary for regional leaders to, during diplomatic visits, require to visit areas with inhabited by a majority belonging to their nation - in this case, ethnic Albanians in Preševo.

Another Belgrade daily, Večernje Novosti, on Tuesday reported that "the protocol during Rama's visit has not been determined," and that it was possible he would not be received by President Tomislav Nikolić.

Rama's visit was postponed after the football game unrest, sparked by a small remotely operated craft that carried a map of the so-called Greater Albania - an expansionist nationalist Albanian project - above the pitch. The Albanian prime minister's brother, Olsi Rama, was suspected of operating the craft.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

U.S. welcomes joint statement by Vučić and Rama

BELGRADE -- The U.S. embassy in Belgrade welcomed the willingness of Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić and his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama to solve problems through dialogue.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
“We welcome the joint statement of Prime Ministers Aleksandar Vučić and Edi Rama that re-committed the governments of Serbia and of Albania to preserving stability in the region," said Press Attache at the US Embassy Steven Stark.

"We fully support the decision of the two prime ministers to reschedule the visit and to continue to solve problems through dialogue," Stark said in a written statement to Tanjug.

The visit of Prime Minister Rama to Belgrade, originally scheduled for October 22, was postponed after an incident at a football match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade.

The European championship qualifier match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade on October 14 was abandoned after a brawl that followed the appearance of a drone bearing a flag depicting the so-called Greater Albania, a nationalist project that would include parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece.

Five days later, Vučić and Rama agreed in a telephone conversation that the official visit by the Albanian prime minister to Serbia should be postponed to take place on November 10.

The two prime ministers said in a joint statement that the incidents at the stadium during the football match between Serbia and Albania were very unfortunate.

"There are still obvious disagreements about how the incident occurred, but we must not and we will not miss the opportunity to meet and work on maintaining regional stability," the two officials underlined.

It is time we turned a new page in the political and economic relations between Serbia and Albania, the two prime ministers concluded.
Albanian PM: Move closer to EU as a team 

We cannot move towards Europe by attacking each other. This was Rama's message during a conference organized in the Day of Albania-Germany Cooperation.

Rama stressed the importance of regional cooperation in order to approach the Balkan countries with EU as soon as possible. "These days it is inevitable to speak about football especially when we know that Albanians, have long been fans and followers of the German football.

Germany's national team is another example to understand why Germany has always been successful. If you need to get closer to Europe you should function as a team. The road is difficult, but given the political support and the will and also the cooperation and support of Germany no doubt that things become easier "Rama said.

In his speech, Rama praised cooperation with Berlin noting that Albania sees Germany as an important strategic partner for economic development, but also as a source for stable performance leadership across the region.

According to the prime minister, "the regional engagement and cooperation that Germany wants with all countries places us before a dual responsibility. The responsibility of being on the same level as Germany and of being a partner Europe requires.