Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cotric: Albania has no law to regulate status of Serbs

BELGRADE – Albania does not have a law on national minorities and this is why Serbs and other minorities in the country are not recognised as a national minority, Aleksandar Cotric of the Serbian parliament Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region said on Friday.
This is the reason why all minorities in Albania are experiencing major problems with realisation of their rights, said Cotric who recently visited Albania as a member of the Serbian parliament delegation.
He noted that members of national minorities in Albania cannot attend schools and get information in their mother tongue, nor are they able to establish institutional cooperation with their mother country.
If the Tirana government adopted a law on national minorities, it would make it possible for Serbia to close an intergovernmental agreement on national minority protection with Albania, Cotric said.
He noted that Serbs in Albania are facing major problems, and noted that the Tirana government has even banned the course of the Serbian language which was organised in Fiera, central Albania, for the past five years, as the Albanian authorities decided that the course does not meet certain requirements envisaged in the law.
Cotric noted that during their stay in Tirana, the three-member delegation of the Serbian parliament Committee on the Diaspora had a chance to meet with the Albanian minister of education and sport and discuss the search for a solution to this problem.
We asked for the school in Fiera to be allowed to organise the course of the Serbian language after regular classes and for the students to be allowed to attend the lessons of Serbian in the school instead of having to meet in a private house as was the case so far, he said.
Cotric also pointed to the problem of changes in Serb names and surnames which were albanised during the mandate of communist dictator Enver Hoxha.
Until now, complicated and expensive procedures posed the main problem because changing a family name back to Serbian involved around EUR 1,000 of costs, Cotric said and added that this problem has now been resolved, but another issue appeared as only people below the age of 19 are allowed to change their names back to Serbian.
Cotric also said that the latest census of the population in Albania was undemocratic and discriminatory as it did not make room for freedom of national and religious expression and the citizens were demanded to list their nationality as Albanian, just as they were listed in the birth register.
These are major problems which Serbs in Albania are facing, he noted and added that according to some estimates, around 30,000 Serbs are currently living in Albania and they do not even have a permanent priest in the only Serbian church in Vraki near Skadar.
We hope this problem will be solved in cooperation between the Orthodox Churches of Serbia and Albania, he noted.
The delegation of the Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, comprising Cotric, committee chair Janko Veselinovic and committee member Milan Djurica, visited Albania from November 30 to December 4.
During the visit, the delegation had a chance to learn more about the position of the Serb minority in the country and the problems the community in facing. The Serbian parliament delegation also met with Albanian parliament Deputy Speaker Vangjel Dule, Minister of Education and Sport Lindita Nikolla and chair of the parliamentary group of friendship with Serbia, Ombudsman Igli Totozani.

Protests in Greece on Police Shooting Anniversary

Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Athens on Saturday to mark the sixth anniversary of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager in the Greek capital that led to widespread rioting, while clashes have broken out between demonstrators and police in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, had been out with friends in a central Athens neighborhood when he was shot on Dec. 6, 2008 following a verbal altercation with police. His death led to two weeks of the most violent rioting Greece had seen in decades.
This year's anniversary marches come at a time when nearly nightly violent protests are being held by supporters of one of Grigoropoulos' friends, jailed anarchist and convicted bank robber Nikos Romanos, 21. He was present when Grigoropoulos was killed, is on a hunger strike, demanding prison leave to attend lectures after he passed university entrance exams.
Romanos, currently hospitalised under police guard, has been on the hunger strike since last month and doctors have said his health is failing. He was jailed with another three young men following a February 2013 bank robbery in which they took a hostage as they tried to escape. Police released doctored mugshots of the four at the time to remove signs of severe facial bruising caused during the arrest, leading to an outcry at the time.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet with Romanos' parents on Monday morning, following a request made through their lawyer on Saturday, the government said.
Protesters during Saturday's demonstration chanted slogans in support of Romanos as well as in memory of Grigoropoulos. Several thousand people, many wearing motorcycle helmets and gas masks, marched through central Athens in a demonstration that ended peacefully. More protests were planned for later in the evening.
In Thessaloniki, groups of youths broke off from a march of about 6,000 people, throwing Molotov cocktails and scuffling with police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Basha: Oil price scandal
Basha: Oil price scandal
The opposition leader, Lulzim Basha, accused the government for not allowing a price drop of the oil price in Albania, when it has dropped with 40% in the international markets.

“The government has allowed their clients in this business, so that they can buy oil 40% cheaper and sell it with the same price as before, and the money doesn’t go at the state’s budget”, Basha declared.

“There is only one country in Europe and in our planet where the oil price has not dropped with 40%. This country is the Albania of Rama and Meta. Why didn’t Albania reflect the 40% price drop? One of the reasons is the high taxes imposed by this government, the highest in the region. The other one is smuggling, informality and tax evasion that is allowed, encouraged and coordinated by the mafia government and their clients who operate in the production, import and trade of fuels. The government has let these clients buy it 40% cheaper and sell it to the people 40% higher. This money is paid by the Albanian tax payers who are being stolen. This mega-corruption in Albania was established with the arrival of the Rama-Meta duo, who are the merciless burden on the pockets of the personal economy of every Albanian. Albania must protest. Protest is the only answer to oligarchs”, Basha declared.
Tony Blair in Tirana. Former British PM consulting government
Tony Blair in Tirana. Former British PM consulting government
The former British Prime Minister, tony Blair, has visited Tirana this Thursday for the second time since the left-centered coalition came to power.

Different from his first visit on March 2013, when he held a press release with Prime Minister Rama, this time he stayed away from the media attention.

It might have been Blair who didn’t want to make this second visit public, and the Prime Minister’s press office has not given any detail about it.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Niko Peleshi, published a photo with Blair on Facebook, describing it: “An interesting and fruitful cooperation of our cabinet with Tony Blair. Albania of the new generation through government reforms”.

This second visit of Tony Blair will not go unseen by the British media, especially the conservatory one, regarding his payment for his consulting services.

The British media have raised the question of who and how much pays Blair for his services, although Prime Minister Edi Rama declared that Blair is helping Albanian voluntarily.
Albanian weightlifting shocked as Romela Begaj resulted positive for doping
Albanian weightlifting shocked as Romela Begaj resulted positive for doping
The Albanian weightlifter resulted positive for anti-doping right after the World Weightlifting Championship in Kazakhstan was over, and when she was declared world champion.

The news was made official after some weeks by the World Agency of Antidoping VADA, which says that Romela has resulted positive.

The Albanian Weightlifting Federation confirmed for Top Channel that before the championship Romela has resulted negative in many tests.

However, players sign an agreement before every important activity and they are held responsible for any further result.

The Albanian Football Federation declared that Romela Begaj was ready to make test B, feeling certain that she hasn’t used any substance.

If test B will be positive, Begaj and her coach might be suspended forever from the weightlifting sport, official sources say for Top Channel.

The Federation will hold a declaration only after test B.

Turkish PM Davutoglu in Greece for 2-Day Visit

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday stressed the importance of improving ties with neighboring Greece and taking steps to turn the Aegean Sea between them into a "sea of peace," as he began a two-day visit to Athens.
Davutoglu was heading a large delegation of businessmen and nine ministers, including those of foreign affairs, economy, energy, interior and customs. The visit will include a joint Cabinet meeting ? a system begun several years ago as a means of improving the often testy ties between the two neighbors.
Speaking just before leaving Istanbul, Davutoglu said the two sides would discuss "steps that we can take in the eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East ? and as two neighboring countries we shall discuss steps that we can take to turn the Aegean into a sea of peace."
Greece and Turkey have historically had strained ties, and continue to be at odds over several disputes, including territorial issues in the Aegean Sea and the ethnically divided island of Cyprus.
"We will discuss, face to face, the importance that Turkish-Greek cooperation carries toward peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans as well as the opportunities," Davutoglu said.
"We shall take up steps that Turkey and Greece can take jointly in Cyprus and the Aegean."
Talks between Davutoglu and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, attended by the two foreign ministers, covered the entire range of bilateral issues, including Aegean disputes and Cyprus, Greece's foreign ministry spokesman said.
Tension increased recently over oil and gas exploration rights off the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, divided since 1974 into a Turkish-occupied north and a Greek Cypriot south.
Cyprus is looking to tap energy reserves to help recover from a financial crisis. It touts itself as a new energy source for a Europe trying to lessen its dependence on Russian imports.
But Turkey opposes the gas search, insisting the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government cannot unilaterally exploit the country's resources.
In the visit's first meeting, both Papoulias and Davutoglu stressed the importance of good relations.
"We are neighbors, Mr. Prime Minister, and we will remain neighbors. So we must be good neighbors," Papoulias said.
"You are absolutely right, Mr. President. You can change everything except geographical location," Davutoglu responded according to a transcript from the Greek presidency, adding that Greece and Turkey have shared cultural characteristics.
Although often at odds over national issues, the two NATO allies have enjoyed strengthening business ties.
Bilateral trade has nearly doubled, growing from 2.2 billion euros in 2010 to 4.3 billion in 2013, Development Minister Costas Skrekas said during a speech at the Greek-Turkish business forum the two premiers were to speak at.
Turkey has become the largest market for Greek products over the past two years, Skrekas said.
"Good neighborly relations go through the expansion of economic ties," Skrekas said.

Greece Considers Bringing Forward Presidential Elections in 2015

Vote Could Take Place in New Year if Unable to Overcome Deadlock With International Creditors

Students protest over cuts to education budgets at the Greek parliament in central Athens on Nov 6. Greece’s international creditors are now urging the government to implement more austerity measures. ENLARGE
Students protest over cuts to education budgets at the Greek parliament in central Athens on Nov 6. Greece’s international creditors are now urging the government to implement more austerity measures. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
ATHENS—Greece is considering bringing forward its presidential elections next year by more than a month in a bid to ease concerns among international creditors over political uncertainty facing the country, two party officials said Friday.
The officials, from the two parties forming the coalition government, said the vote could be held straight after the Christmas break if Greece is unable to overcome a deadlock with international creditors over reforms needed to secure future funding.
“We are considering carrying out the presidential elections after Christmas,” a senior official from the ruling New Democracy party said. “We are in a vicious circle. As long as there is political uncertainty, our lenders are going to demand even harsher measures; the harsher the measures are, the bigger the political uncertainty will be.”
By March, the Greek parliament needs to elect a new president by a majority of at least 180 votes, out of a total of 300.
The coalition, however, doesn’t have those votes and if it fails to garner the support of smaller parties and independent lawmakers, it will be forced into early elections.
The government said in October that it would begin the process of electing the new president just before the term of the current president Karolos Papoulias ends in early March, which means the vote would be held around late February.
But since then negotiations with the troika—made up of representatives from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund—have been stuttering, prompting Greece to consider a change in its game plan.
The latest round of talks between the two sides ended in Paris last week without an agreement being reached, meaning that the country’s final review may not be completed in time for Greece to switch to a new credit line and that it may need to extend its current €240 billion ($188.8 billion) program. Negotiations are continuing with the Greek government proposing additional tax hikes and spending cuts to complete the review although troika officials are calling for more austerity measures. According to several eurozone officials the country’s creditors are looking at extending the country’s bailout program by up to six months.
Government officials suspect the creditors may be deliberately making big demands to extend its program well past March and the uncertainty posed by the coming presidential election.
“Earlier presidential elections would help ease this process. It would provide markets and investors with more clarity,” said the second official from junior coalition party Pasok.
Write to Nektaria Stamouli at and Stelios Bouras at

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Turkish premier to visit Greece amid tensions over energy deposits

First entry: 4 December 2014 - 10:20 Athens, 08:20 GMT
Last update: 10:20 Athens, 08:20 GMTPolitics
Turkish premier to visit Greece amid tensions over energy deposits
Turkish premier to visit Greece amid tensions over energy deposits
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will visit Greece for two days beginning Friday amid tensions over energy deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.
The two-day talks between Turkey and Greece are part of confidence-building measures launched in 2010 to improve relations between the Aegean neighbours.
So far, the talks have resulted in the signing of around 50 accords on immigration, disaster response, tourism, health, transport, agriculture, immigration, culture and sport.
A Greek foreign ministry source said Wednesday that several of these accords will be "re-evaluated" during Davutoglu's visit.
The visit has been clouded by Turkey's intervention in the energy exploration race in the eastern Mediterranean.
Ankara is determined to search for oil and gas in the same area where the internationally recognised Cyprus government has licensed exploratory drilling in its exclusive economic zone.
Last month, Nicosia said a Turkish survey vessel had encroached on Cyprus's exclusive economic zone off its south coast.
The Greek foreign ministry source said Turkey's actions were a "brutal violation" of sovereign rights.
Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of Cyprus in 1974 following an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece. The peace talks are aimed at reunifying the island.
Ankara opposes the Cyprus government's exploitation of offshore energy reserves before agreement is reached on solving the decades-long division of the east Mediterranean island.
Davutoglu will be accompanied by at least seven ministers and a large business delegation.
The last round of Greek-Turkish talks had been held in Istanbul in March last year.
Greece and Turkey remain divided over territorial issues despite a rapprochement in 1999 that followed back-to-back earthquakes.
The soaring of undocumented migration via Turkey towards Greece over the past decade has further strained relations.
U.S. Calls FYROM ‘Macedonia’ in International Summit, Greek Govt VP Walks Out
Greek government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos walked out during a 60-country summit when the United States accepted the name “Macedonia” instead of FYROM on the list of countries that pledged to fight against the Islamic State.

After the summit, the Greek Foreign Ministry issued an official announcement, complaining to the U.S. side. The announcement explained that Venizelos left the summit in protest, since the name of Greece’s northern neighbor, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has not been established yet and the two countries are still in the process of negotiations. Furthermore, according to a decision by the United Nations Security Council, the name of FYROM has not been decided until the two countries agree.

Ministers from 60 countries met in Brussels yesterday after a U.S. initiative to form an official coalition against the Islamic State. According to Greece, the U.S. did not follow the formal procedure of the United Nations to call each country under its official name. FYROM went to the meeting under its present name, but in the joint 60-country statement, it signed as “Macedonia.” FYROM officials said that “Macedonia” is the country’s constitutional name.

After Venizelos left in protest, Greece was represented by NATO representative in Brussels Michalis Diamesis.

After the 60 countries signed the treaty, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged to continue the campaign against the Islamic State “as long as it takes.”
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Albanian PM: Himara is not a matter for discussion, is as everyone else, Tropoje, Kukes Poliçan etc...


Doules: We would resolve the Himara Issue according to the International Conventions for Human Rights

Rama: Census 2011, mistaken, we will find the opportunity to make again

Tirana: During a parliamentary debate today, requested by Vangelis Doules, Chairman of HRUP, the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, has asked that the "issue of Himara Regin, is closed once and forever and is one of the municipalities usually as they are in the north of Albania or between its ".

The response of the Prime Minister Rama, was stiff, and indisputable, but the President of HRUP, Doules, called the Albanian government, to refer that Albania has signed by the International Agreements and Conventions for Ethnic Minorities.

"We have no hope from Tirana, said Doules because Himara as issues of freedom and human rights, shall be settled by international conventions of the Council of Europe, and the European Union, but we remind you that in Himara Region lives concentrated and very ancient, a Greek community, not known by the Albanian Governments since the second World War. "

"For the Territorial Division and the Himara issue, the Albanian government has violated Article 16 of the Convention of the Council of Europe, and we will solve the issue, without the help of Tirana, but we do not know yet, also, your position about the Census of 2011, the by government Berisha "said Doules.

Prime Minister Rama,. replied by stating that "Census 2011 is not conducted in a democratic way and we will develop again."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Photo of the Day

Himarioton Lobby after the meeting in US Capitol Hill with Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Greek Navy, tests new submarines
[linked image]

Testing maximum dive depth in the area south of Hydra was the submarine PIPINOS type "214" like Papanikolis.

According to reliable sources of the Navy, the results were excellent while and so far test results submerged, performed by the renovated and modernized submarine OKEANOS is very encouraging.

Always according to these sources "generally the evolution of sea trials of the two submarines is such that it gives very optimistic signs for the successful completion of all testing schedule, which has been put".

Respectively, the program of the other two Type 214 submarines in HSY Scaramanga is progressing and is expected in January 2015 the launch of the submarine MATROZOS.


Italy seen as corrupt as Greece, Romania and Bulgaria

BRUSSELS - Italy, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria are seen as equally corrupt among EU countries, while Denmark is the least graft-prone country, according to the yearly corruption perception index published by Transparency International on Wednesday (3 December).
The index scores and ranks countries around the world based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.
Finland and Sweden also score well, coming in directly after Denmark, according to the index which relies on a combination of surveys and assessments.
Even as EU countries have higher scores than countries like Russia, Ukraine or Turkey, Transparency International notes that in 2014 there were numerous scandals in "old Europe".

In France, Spain and Italy they included a former president, a current regional president and members of the royal family, "not to mention dozens of politicians and influential business people".
EU citizens also protested against corruption in Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Corruption Perceptions Index scores in many EU countries remain unchanged or have improved slightly.
"In part, this is because the economic situation has stabilised, at least at present, and in some cases, governments are starting to tackle endemic corruption," TI explains.
It cites Greece as an example where recent reforms have moved the country up by three points - even as it still has the lowest score in the EU, together with Italy, Romania and Bulgaria.
"We also welcome the gradual progress made by the UK in the last few years, which saw its score increase by two points, indicating the effectiveness of the Bribery Act on the UK’s international reputation," TI writes.
Tax-dodging is also an issue for the EU as a whole.
“We know that any effort to stop corruption in one country is undermined as long as corrupt officials are allowed to hide their money in another. That is why the EU must act in the next few weeks to prevent money laundering and clamp down on the secret companies that mask corruption,” said Carl Dolan, head of the Transparency International EU office.
TI notes that two months ago, a money laundering investigation was launched involving 19 UK companies in an alleged conspiracy to launder €15.7 billion of dirty money.
The funds are suspected of coming from “major criminals and corrupt officials around the world”, channelled from Russia with the involvement of Latvian and Moldovan banks.
Other examples involving shell companies and opaque ownership structures in the EU include: stolen assets from the former regime in Ukraine, Europe’s horsemeat scandal, and Italian mafia groups such as Cosa Nostra and Camorra.
Greek Interior Ministry to Grant Political Asylum to Syrian Refugees of Syntagma Square


by Aggelos Skordas - Dec 3, 2014

The Greek government’s will to find a solution over the 200 Syrian refugees who have been in a sitting protest for the 13th consecutive day in Syntagma square, opposite the Parliament in downtown Athens, and have gone on a hunger strike – except the children – for a week, expressed yesterday the Secretary General of Population and Social Cohesion of the Interior Ministry, Angelos Syrigos, adding that their presence at the square cannot be continued.

Speaking at a press conference, Syrigos explained that granting them a political asylum is the only legal and possible solution. He said that this is a possibility that will provide them the right to travel to other European Union countries, but not permanently reside and work there. Talking to Greek newspaper “Kathimerini,” Syrigos revealed that the Greek government is also willing to ask for northern European countries to grant asylum to the 200 Syrian refugees, although he underlined that it does not expect to get a positive response in this request.

“There is no intention from the north countries to take these people. We will raise the issue but we should expect a stern response. It is almost certain our request will be turned down,” he said to the Greek newspaper. In a meeting with the refugees, Syrigos urged them to apply for asylum in Greece but they appeared reluctant, as this could block their way to other European countries, which were their destination in the first place. “Taking into account the situation they found themselves in, we have told them that they have to make a decision soon. We did not ask them to leave now but we made clear that this situation cannot continue for many more days,” Syrigos highlighted.

On their behalf, the Syrian refugees asked to be granted travel documents in order to travel to their destination countries and apply for political asylum there.

Finally, as Syrigos described, 28,500 Syrian refugees crossed Greece’s borders, just in 2014.
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Fears of Serbia return to iron rule of nationalism

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, Aslan Balaj speaks and gestures in his bakery in the... Read more
STARA PAZOVA, Serbia (AP) — As nationalist hysteria gripped the Balkans a quarter century ago, Aslan Ballaj, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, did something unthinkable: He moved to Serbia to open a bakery at a time when people like him were increasingly seen as the enemy.
Since then, Ballaj has remained alongside his Serb neighbors even as their nations went to war in the late 1990s, managing against the odds to escape violence in the darkest days of the bloodshed. Just as he thought the times of fear and revenge were over, extremists in October attacked his bakery shop, riddling it with bullets and throwing a hand grenade that shattered windows and destroyed walls, tables and chairs.
"I thought this was the 21st century," said the 50-year-old father of four. "I never dreamed this could happen, especially not now."
Nearly 20 minority-owned businesses were targeted along with Ballaj's in a spate of coordinated attacks — triggered by a soccer brawl — that have brought back memories of the era of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who incited ethnic hatred at home to wage wars against Balkan neighbors.
Hate speech is on the rise. Anti-Western propaganda fills the airwaves. Liberal journalists are pulled off air. Nationalists talk up redrawing Balkan borders. Mafia-style hits, a hallmark of the Milosevic years, are returning. And as Russia and the West collide over Ukraine, Serbia is falling firmly into the camp of traditional mentor Moscow, even as it tries to advance its case for EU membership.
"Somebody wants to remind us of the 1990s," said government ombudsman Anika Muskinja-Hajnrih. "That is worrisome."
Serbia, whose stability is crucial for peace in the still-volatile Balkans, has been simmering with ethnic and social tensions that exploded after fans brawled during a European Championship qualifying match between Serbia and Albania. The fight, which involved players and fans over an Albanian flag that was flown over the stadium, stirred the most strife in the multi-ethnic north of Serbia where Ballaj is from.
The increasingly strident rhetoric of Serb nationalists, tolerated if not encouraged by the government, has prompted many to ask if some of Milosevic's trademark policies are back, despite the proclaimed pro-EU stance advocated by the current right-leaning government led by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
Critics warn that surging pro-Russian and conservative sentiment has sidelined liberal critics, threatening the country's hard-earned democracy. Vucic — who won Western support for promising to enact pro-EU political and economic reforms — has been accused at home of tightening his grip on power by curbing dissent and clamping down on the media.
"It has never been like this, never," said Olja Beckovic, a prominent journalist. "Just look at the television stations, there is no criticism anywhere no more."
Beckovic's highly popular political talk show recently was removed from the program of B92, a private television station that once was the beacon of the liberal, pro-democratic movement that led to Milosevic's downfall in 2000. She said Vucic had personally intervened to influence her choice of guests and other aspects of her show. Other media also have faced either political or economic pressure, she said.
Vucic has denied the accusations, and says he had nothing to do with the show's removal. B92 said Beckovic's show no longer fits into the broadcaster's program lineup.
Vucic was a radical Serb nationalist during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia that killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions. In the late 1990s, he served as Milosevic's information minister at a time several opposition media outlets were persecuted and shut down. He has claimed to have shifted from being a hardline nationalist to a pro-EU reformer, rejecting accusations that he is trying to impose Milosevic-style grip on power. He and other former radicals have sought to overhaul their image by promising EU integration, Western-style reform and an aggressive fight against corruption.
Unlike Milosevic, whose policies made Serbia a pariah state in the 1990s, Vucic's government has worked to normalize ties between Serbia and its neighbors, including breakaway Kosovo — a former ethnic Albanian-dominated province that declared independence in 2008 and which Serbia has refused to recognize. The EU said the two nations must improve ties to qualify for membership.
But in Milosevic-style defiance toward the West, Vucic's government has also fostered strong ties with Moscow, refusing to back EU sanctions over its role in the Ukraine crisis. The Serbian government gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a hero's welcome in October, organizing a Soviet-style military parade, while the two armies held joint military exercises weeks later, prompting fears that warmongering policies in the Balkans are back.
The swing toward Putin and Russia also was strongly featured last month at an ultranationalist rally in Belgrade in which 10,000 people cheered suspected war criminal Vojislav Seselj — the onetime boss of Vucic's party, who is now on provisional release from the U.N. war crimes tribunal. Evoking hate speech that marked Milosevic's era, Seselj said Serbia should scrap EU integration and turn entirely toward Russia. He also said large chunks of neighboring Bosnia and Croatia should be part of Serbia.
"Our enemies are all in the European Union," said Seselj, who is accused of organizing notorious Serb paramilitary troops during the Balkan wars. "We must turn completely toward Russia."
Days later, Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric — whose EU-backed office has put dozens of Serb war criminals on trial — received death threats after Vucic's party official publicly questioned his energetic approach to seeking justice. Vekaric complained of an "atmosphere of lynching."
Adding to Serb tensions, a prominent tycoon was shot and wounded last month in the kind of mafia-style attack common during the Milosevic years, when criminal gangs and ex-paramilitaries fought for control over the underworld. "Fear of the '90s," read a column about the shooting in the popular Blic daily.
Vucic, highly popular for trying to restore Serb national pride after the lost Balkan wars, rejected claims that the mood of the 1990s is back in Serbia: "Everyone changes," he said. "So have I, and I'm proud of that."

UN urges Israel to renounce nuclear arms, join non-proliferation treaty

Published time: December 03, 2014 08:58
Reuters/Amir Cohen
Reuters/Amir Cohen
The UN General Assembly has passed an Arab-introduced resolution calling on Israel not to develop, produce or possess nuclear arms and criticizing the country for not being part to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The resolution calls on Israel to "accede to that treaty without further delay, not to develop, produce test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons," and put its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, AP reports.

The UN would like to see the whole of the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone, according to the text of the document, which specifies Israel is the only country in the region which has not signed the non-proliferation treaty.

Israel, which is believed to have nuclear arms but has never admitted to it, has long been under fire from Arab countries in the region for not putting its alleged stockpile under international supervision.

The resolution, initiated by Egypt, was approved by 161 nations with only five voting against it and 18 abstentions.

The United States and Canada were among the minority opposing the measure.

The UN General Assembly (AFP Photo)
The UN General Assembly (AFP Photo)
US representative Robert Wood, earlier condemned the resolution for failing “to meet the fundamental tests of fairness and balance.”

It confines itself to expressions of concern about the activities of a single country," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted in September on a resolution, expressing concern over Israel's assumed nuclear arsenal. That time the resolution was rejected by 58 votes to 45.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding call on Tel Aviv to join the NPT “without further delay."

Israel then rebuffed the call with the Foreign Ministry saying in a statement that the UN “lost all its credibility regarding Israel with these types of routine votes that are ensured passage by an automatic majority and which single out Israel."

Israel has repeatedly stressed it sees Iran as the real nuclear threat in the region, urging the international community to do whatever it takes to thwart Iranian nuclear problem. Tehran insists it’s not pursuing weapons and its nuclear effort is altogether peaceful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

PM: Abandoning of South Stream is bad news

BELGRADE -- Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has said that the announcement about the scrapping of the South Stream project was "not good news for Serbia."
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
Speaking in Israel, where he is on an official visit, Vucic said Serbia was "loyal to this project."
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced that his country was unable to continue with the project due to the opposition from the EU.

According to Vucic, who spoke for Serbia's public broadcaster RTS, Serbia "in no way contributed to that decision."

"We have been investing in South Stream for seven years and we in no way contributed to that decisions, it is obvious that we are suffering because of a clash between big (countries)," he said.

Vucic also announced that once he returns from New York, where he will attend a UN Security Council session, he will "talk with the Russian president and other Russian officials."

Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic told the media late on Monday that his ministry received no official information from Russia about "any changes to the project."

"We are following closely all President Putin's reactions and statements regarding South Stream. We interpret this latest statement as a signal above all for members of the EU who depend on the construction of the pipeline", Antic said.

Antic said that the future of the project did not depend on Serbia, and that for its realization it was necessary for Brussels and Moscow to harmonize their stands. The minister acknowledged that it was an extremely important project for Serbia's energy stability and for the activity of its construction sector, but added that Serbia had no influence on the future of the pipeline.

Athens 1944: Britain’s dirty secret

When 28 civilians were killed in Athens, it wasn’t the Nazis who were to blame, it was the British. Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith reveal how Churchill’s shameful decision to turn on the partisans who had fought on our side in the war sowed the seeds for the rise of the far right in Greece today
demonstrators in Athens with three bodies, shot dead, in the middle of the crowd
A day that changed history: the bodies of unarmed protestors shot by the police and the British army in Athens on 3 December 1944. Photograph: Dmitri Kessel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
“I can still see it very clearly, I have not forgotten,” says Títos Patríkios. “The Athens police firing on the crowd from the roof of the parliament in Syntagma Square. The young men and women lying in pools of blood, everyone rushing down the stairs in total shock, total panic.”
And then came the defining moment: the recklessness of youth, the passion of belief in a justice burning bright: “I jumped up on the fountain in the middle of the square, the one that is still there, and I began to shout: “Comrades, don’t disperse! Victory will be ours! Don’t leave. The time has come. We will win!”
“I was,” he says now, “profoundly sure, that we would win.” But there was no winning that day; just as there was no pretending that what had happened would not change the history of a country that, liberated from Adolf Hitler’s Reich barely six weeks earlier, was now surging headlong towards bloody civil war.
Even now, at 86, when Patríkios “laughs at and with myself that I have reached such an age”, the poet can remember, scene-for-scene, shot for shot, what happened in the central square of Greek political life on the morning of 3 December 1944.
This was the day, those 70 years ago this week, when the British army, still at war with Germany, opened fire upon – and gave locals who had collaborated with the Nazis the guns to fire upon – a civilian crowd demonstrating in support of the partisans with whom Britain had been allied for three years.
The crowd carried Greek, American, British and Soviet flags, and chanted: “Viva Churchill, Viva Roosevelt, Viva Stalin’” in endorsement of the wartime alliance...........................

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Greek government has sold air-cushioned landing craft Zubr-class to China

Zubr-class LCAC
Greek government has sold air-cushioned landing craft Zubr-class to China. The Zubr-class (Project 1232.2 class, NATO reporting name Pomornik) is a class of air-cushioned landing craft of Soviet design. This class of military hovercraft is, as of 2012, the world’s largest hovercraft. It is designed to sealift landing assault units (such as marines or tanks) from equipped/non-equipped vessels to non-equipped shore, as well as transport and plant mines.
There are currently nine ships in active service in the world. The Zubr is used by the Russian, Ukrainian, and Greek navies. The transfer of the Kefalonia (L- 180), the first of two Zubr hovercraft purchased by Greece, to the Hellenic Navy marked the first time that a Russian-made ship was purchased by the navy of a NATO member.
Hellenic Navy, which operates four ships. Three vessels were commissioned in 2001: the Kefalonia (L180) was purchased used from the Russian Navy and upgraded, the Ithaki (L181) which was completed in Ukraine, and the Zakynthos (L183) which was built in Russia. A fourth vessel, the Kerkyra (L182), was launched in June 2004 at St. Petersburg yard and was commissioned in January 2005.
HS Kefalonia (L180) – ex Russian Navy 717, commissioned 2001
HS Ithaki (L181) – hull launched in Ukraine 1992, commissioned 2001
HS Kerkyra (L182)
HS Zakynthos (L183)

Series vehicles ” bison ” are made only in Feodosia in the Bureau ” Almaz ” (St. Petersburg), they are designed for landing on unequipped coast and its fire support. The ship can carry 3 main tank weighing up to 150 tons or 10 armored personnel carriers and 140 troopers.
1st large amphibious Ship project ” bison ” bison ” in the Ukrainian classification) built in 2013 by order of China in Feodosia shipbuilding shipyard Sea in the Ukrainian part of order 4 is similar to the hovercraft. The ship was sent and delivered in the country of the customer in April-may last year for testing, the customer has paid for its construction with the ” Ukroboronprom “. Later in the PRC was sent a second Ship of the same series, and two more units were required to be built in China.” Debt PRC before you plant ” Sea ” for the second Ship is eleven, $ 2 million. The duty to ” Fiolent “plant supplying automation systems for the project, – 2, 6 million dollars, ” Skrynnik said. According to him, the calculations now go through the Federal service for military-technical cooperation of Russia.

Greece says it cannot help protesting Syrian refugees

Greece says it cannot help protesting Syrian refugees
A Syrian refugee prays under a plastic cover during rainfall in Athens. Photo: Reuters
Published: 2:23 AM, December 3, 2014
ATHENS - Greece's government said on Tuesday it could do little to help about 300 Syrian refugees camped outside parliament for weeks because none of them had applied for asylum or shelter.
The Syrian refugees, including women and children, have defied the rain and cold to sleep on the pavement opposite parliament since Nov. 19, demanding the right of passage to other European countries to be reunited with family members.
They symbolically taped their mouths shut more than a week ago as they launched a hunger strike and unfurled banners reading "The government must find a solution for Syrian refugees now" and "We escaped death".
The interior ministry has tried to convince them to apply for asylum to help them, but so far not a single protester has agreed to do so.
Syrian refugees usually avoid applying for asylum in Greece because the process is slow with very low acceptance rates and the country has few jobs because of its prolonged economic crisis. European rules prevent them from seeking asylum in another European country once they have applied here.
Most want to travel to northern Europe but cannot do so legally, leaving many to complain that they are trapped in a country without any prospects but with increased hostility toward immigrants.
"Most of them want Greece to give them documents to travel to other European countries. There is no such document in Greece or any other EU country," the interior ministry said.
About 46,500 Syrians have arrived in the crisis-hit nation since 2011, more than half of them this year, the ministry said. Last week, the navy rescued a cargo ship packed with 600 Syrians off the island of Crete.
Some refugees eventually slip across Greece's borders to make their way north, but Athens has no figures on this because they are not officially registered.
The crisis-hit country, a popular entry point into Europe for thousands of undocumented migrants from Asia and Africa, warned in September that it was slipping into a "danger zone" without adequate funds or resources to handle a fast-growing wave of refugees from war-torn nations like Syria.
Greece, which holds the EU's immigration portfolio, wants to reform the Dublin Treaty, which makes asylum seekers the responsibility of the first EU country they enter. REUTERS

 Himarrioton Society of America Board members, met with new Ambassador to Albania, Mr. Donald Lu, in U.S. Department of State


Continue the efforts of the Himarioton Lobby in USA with State Department, for the rights of Himara Region. Once in October, brought in Tirana, three US Congressmen,  

Today, the Himarioton Lobby, meet in the US State Department, for the second time, the new Ambassador in Tirana, Donald Lu.

Gazprom to build new 63 bcm Black Sea pipeline to Turkey instead of S. Stream

Published time: December 01, 2014 18:13
Edited time: December 02, 2014 05:05
RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev
RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev
Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller said the energy giant will build a massive gas pipeline that will travel from Russia, transit through Turkey, and stop at the Greek border – giving Russia access to the Southern European market.
The pipeline will have an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters. A total of 14 bcm will be delivered to Turkey, which is Gazprom’s second biggest customer in the region after Germany.
Russia’s energy minister Aleksandr Novak said that the new project will include a specially-constructed hub on the Turkish-Greek border for customers in southern Europe.
READ MORE: Putin: Russia forced to withdraw from S. Stream project due to EU stance
While the pipeline will be registered as a Russian company, Miller said that Gazprom will “consider offers from Turkish partners if they express an interest in buying into the project.”
For now, the supply of Russian gas to Turkey will be raised by 3 billion cubic meters via the already operating Blue Stream pipeline, Vladimir Putin said during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Last year, 13.7 bcm of gas was supplied to Turkeyvia Blue Stream, according to Reuters.
From a political point of view, Turkey and Russia are “poles apart,” but from an economic point of view the gas deal between two states have united Moscow and Ankara in a common interest.
“Turkey would in fact like the gas pipelines to go through Turkey, because they can collect rent from it,” Martin McCauley, an economics specialist from the University of London, told RT. “Turkey sees itself, if you like, as a partner – the in-between partner – who will take gas from Iran and Russia to Europe.”

December 1, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin at the concluding news conference in Ankara. (RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev)
December 1, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin at the concluding news conference in Ankara. (RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev)
Moscow will also reduce the gas price for Turkish customers by 6 percent from January 1, 2015, Putin said. Later, Novak said the discount could reach 15 percent, subject to negotiations.
Novak later confirmed that Vladimir Putin personally ordered for the South Stream project to be mothballed, and its existing facilities to be repurposed for the new Turkish pipeline.
The much-delayed South Stream was supposed to connect underwater Black Sea pipelines with a network in Eastern Europe, with Bulgaria as the entry point.
The project had run into difficulties, as it violated EU regulations on the same company owning the pipelines and the gas they transported. While several previous governments in Bulgaria, which is wholly dependent on Russian gas lobbied Brussels to make an exception, the current government said it would not give Gazprom a building permit. The cost of the underwater and Eastern European segments of the project was estimated at €23,5 billion, by a senior Gazprom official last month.
The new project will include a specially-constructed hub on the Turkish-Greek border. Russia’s energy minister Aleksandr Novak said it will supply customers in Eastern and Southern Europe.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Albania will open "SHAPE", the office Treaty with NATO, in Tirana

The Supplementary Agreement is a treaty that will permit the SHAPE and Albania to carry out NATO missions, related to the activities of International Military Headquarters in Albania. This agreement also establishes the legal framework for deployment of NATO led troops for exercises, and operations, including disaster relief. The agreement is the result of intense staff work over the last two years by the Commands and Albania.    On  26 May 2014, Mrs. Mimi Kodheli, the Albanian Minister of Defence, visited the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium for the signing of the Supplementary Agreement of the Paris Protocol. Supreme Allied Commander Europe, United States Air Force General Philip M. Breedlove, welcomed Mrs. Kodheli with a ceremony before they signed the Supplementary Agreement to the 1952 Paris Protocol."By signing the Supplementary Agreement to the Paris Protocol, Albania takes a further step towards full integration to NATO, a process that started in 1992 and involved political, military and juridical efforts.

NDCC war room. Computer simulation. Image by Defence Ministy
NDCC war room. Computer simulation. Image by Defence Ministy

Russia is launching a new national defense facility, which is meant to monitor threats to national security in peacetime, but would take control of the entire country in case of war.

The new top-security, fortified facility in Moscow includes several large war rooms, a brand new supercomputer in the heart of a state-of-the-art data processing center, underground facilities, secret transport routes for emergency evacuation and a helicopter pad, which was deployed for the first time on Nov. 24 on the Moscow River. The Defense Ministry won’t disclose the price tag for the site, but it is estimated at the equivalent of several billion dollars.

The new National Defense Control Center (NDCC) is a major upgrade on what was previously called the Central Command of the General Staff, a unit tasked with round-the-clock monitoring of military threats against Russia, particularly ballistic missile launches, and deployment of strategic nuclear weapons. It was roughly a counterpart to the US National Military Command Center, the Pentagon’s principal command and control site.

The NDCC inherits all those functions, but also has plenty of extra roles as well. In peacetime, an additional task is to monitor all of Russia’s important military assets, from hardware being produced by defense contractors to the state of oil refineries, to weather conditions and their effect on transportation routes.

And if Russia does get into a war, the center would act as a major communication hub and a form of wartime government, delivering reports to the country’s military command and giving orders to all ministries, state-owned companies and other organizations, according to the needs of the armed forces.

“The creation of NDCC was one of the biggest military projects of the past few years. The closest analogy in the past in terms of functions and tasks was the Commander-in-Chief HQ in 1941-45, which centralized all controls of both the military machine and the economy of the nation in the interests of the war,” Lt. General Mikhail Mizintsev, the NDCC chief, told in an interview.

The military says the upgrade has been long overdue. The national security situation may be very fluid in modern times, and instead of days the leadership may have only an hour to take crucial military decisions. The center’s job is to offer the Defense Minister and the President options in case of emergency, which would be based on facts, figures and accurate projections.

Potentially the biggest part of the upgrade was the creation of communication and data processing equipment that would give the military computer power and software needed to factor in hundreds of parameters in their mathematical models. The Defense Ministry had to use only domestically-produced hardware due to security considerations, which limited its options.

According to officials, the result is a very robust computer network with state-of-art data encryption and multiple backup sites spread throughout the country, which would keep the center functional even if its main facility in Moscow is damaged by an enemy attack or sabotage.

The center employs over 1,000 officers working on a rotating watch system. Mizintsev said the armed forces selected their best officer for the posts, many of which are new for the Russian military and require skills not previously taught to officers on a regular basis until recently. They have been operating in trial mode since April.

A thoroughly military facility, the NDCC has an unexpected civilian component to it. Its location in Moscow is close to two major hospitals, including the Pirogov trauma center. Both hospitals are quite old and their original designs didn’t provide for dedicated helicopter pads.

The Defense Ministry said the medics can share NDCC’s new pad on the Moscow River for emergency patient transportation. The pad can accommodate helicopters weighing up to 15 tons, enough to land a Mil Mi-8, world’s most-produced transport helicopter, or a Mil Mi-38, its designated replacement.