Saturday, April 18, 2015

Greece's Debt Should Be Written Off Like Germany's in 1953 – Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

© REUTERS/ Alkis Konstantinidis
The massive debt of Greece should be written off, political thinker Noam Chomsky told the Euronews television.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Chomsky said that the left-wing Syriza party in Greece came to power on the wave of opinions, according to which Greece should not subject itself to Brussels and German banks' policies anymore, because these policies were destroying the country. Answering a question on whether Greece's debt should be written off, he said Friday:
"Yes, just like Germany's was. In 1953, when Europe wrote off most of Germany's debt. Just like that, so that Germany would be able to reconstruct from wartime damage."
"The effect of these policies has been actually to increase Greece's debt relative to its wealth production; probably a half of young people are unemployed, probably 40% of the population is living under the poverty line, Greece is being destroyed," Chomsky was quoted as saying by Euronews.
He said that Greece's debt had been incurred by the fascist dictatorship, supported by the United States, and German and French banks.
Greece owes the troika of international creditors, that includes the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union and the European Central Bank (ECB), an estimated sum of some $270 billion. In February, Greek authorities and Eurozone finance ministers agreed to extend the country's bailout for four months. Under the agreement, Greece promised to implement a range of economic reforms to revive its economy.
Athens needs to work out a reform plan before the next meeting with the EU finance ministers on April 24 to receive the next financial aid package

Edi Rama again on unification of Albania and Kosovo

Published: BELGRADE- Albania and Kosovo will unite, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama repeated in an interview for Television Sky News Arabia.
Edi Rama - Photo: AP
Edi Rama – Photo: AP

On Friday, Rama stated that he had already said unification is something Albania considers as inevitable and unquestionable, adding that he believes it will happen on the path toward Europe.

However, Rama said that it is possible this may happen in another way in case Europe does not interfere with the strategic calculations of Balkan countries and a change of the appearance of the Balkans.

In the recent interview that Rama and Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Hasim Taci have given together to Pristina-based broadcaster Klan-Kosova, the Albanian prime minister said there are two alternatives for “the unification of Kosovo and Albania”, and that everything depends on the EU’s approach.

The first option is the unification within the EU. However, if the EU closes the door to Kosovo’s EU integration then, as Rama put it, “the two states will be forced to unite in a classic way”.

Policy of strict austerity for Greece must end, Krugman says

First entry: 18 April 2015
Policy of strict austerity for Greece must end, Krugman says
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said that “policy of strict austerity for Greece must end” during his meeting with the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, on Saturday.
“I do not envy your position,” Krugman said to Tsipras.
“In theory things are easier than they are in practice.” Tsipras answered.
Their meeting lasted for about half an hour.

Putin says ready to work with the United States

First entry: 18 April 2015
Putin says ready to work with the United States
Russia has key interests in common with the United States and needs to work with it on a common agenda, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday in a television interview.
In his comments to the state-run Rossiya channel, Putin appeared to soften his anti-American rhetoric after being highly critical. Relations between Moscow and Washington and other Western powers have soured over the conflict in Russia's neighbour Ukraine, sinking to an all-time low.
"We have disagreements on several issues on the international agenda. But at the same time there is something that unites us, that forces us to work together," Putin said.
"I mean general efforts directed at making the world economy more democratic, measured and balanced, so that the world order is more democratic. We have a common agenda," he added
Putin has in the past fiercely attacked the United States and the West in general, blaming them for the Ukraine crisis, which Russia says was the result of a Western-backed "coup" against Ukraine's former leader Viktor Yanukovich.
Russia has repeatedly denied accusations from Kiev and the West that it is supporting pro-Russian rebels with troops and weapons in eastern Ukraine, where more than 6,000 people have been killed since last April.
His latest remark comes two days after an annual TV phone-in show in which Putin accused the United States of trying to dominate world affairs, saying it wanted "not allies, but vassals". However, his criticisms of the West were more moderate than in some previous appearances.
However, both Russia and the West say they back a peace deal agreed in Minsk in February, as a result of which a ceasefire in the Donbass region is largely holding.

Greece to get soon 60 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior from USA

[linked image]

From reliable defense magazine "EA&T" January issue claimed that Greece's long time demand approved, so we get 60 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior from USA since this type of helicopter get total retired from the US army. Whats mean this must be reliable because Greece don't think USA have a reason to keep all the around 368 OH-58D Kiowa Warriors in storage. 

So looks 2015 will be interesting to see Greece get armament with important equipments, also expect the 60 Kiowa Warrior, Greece ensured extra 8-10 for spare parts so far. This helicopter don't bring so much difficulties in maintenance since based to type 206 JetRanger who are already present in our army

Albania Parties Prepare for Local Poll Showdown

Albanian political parties announced key candidates for major municipalities for the June 21 local polls – the first important test of their popularity since the Socialists came to power in 2013.
Gjergj Erebara
  Erion Veliaj (Left) and Halim Kosova.
The main parties have announced their candidates for the biggest electoral prize that is up for grabs in June’s polls – the mayoralty of the capital Tirana.
The left-wing ruling coalition which came to power at parliamentary elections in 2013 has named the current minister of welfare and former social activist Erion Veliaj as its candidate.
Veliaj, 36, holds a degree in political science from Grand Valley State University in US. He headed the Mjaft Movement, a civic activism NGO between 2003 and 2007 and founded an ill-fated party called G-99 in 2007.
After his party’s poor results in the 2009 elections, Veliaj joined the Socialist Party in opposition and was elected an MP in 2013.
He will face Halim Kosova, a doctor and current MP for the Democratic Party, which went into opposition after losing the 2013 elections. Kosova, 61, has a medical science doctorate from the University of Tirana.
Meanwhile, Gjergj Bojaxhi, a former deputy minister of energy with the Democratic Party, had announced that he will run as independent.
Apart from serving as a deputy minister in the former centre-right government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Bojaxhiu was CEO of Albania’s Power Corporation, KESH, the state electricity producer.
He is also known as professional climber who managed to climb Mount Everest few years ago.
About 4.3 million Albanians are eligible to vote in June for 61 new mayors and about 1500 councilors.
Albania last year reduced the number of municipalities from 373 to 61.
The government insists that it used scientific criteria for the changes but the opposition Democratic Party has accused it of making the changes unilaterally for electoral advantage.
The opposition claims that because of this, it can win no more than 10 out of 61 municipalities.
One of the most controversial issues was the creation of Kamza municipality in north Tirana as a separate unit from the capital.
Kamza has about 125,000 registered inhabitants and is known as stronghold of the Democratic Party. Because of that, the ruling coalition has gained a clear advantage in Tirana itself, with opposition supporters concentrated in Kamza.

CAS hears Serbia, Albania appeal after Euro 2016 drone match

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has heard appeals by the Serbian and Albanian football federations challenging UEFA sanctions after their European Championship qualifier was abandoned.
A chaotic match in Belgrade last October was stopped before halftime then called off when a drone carrying an Albanian nationalist banner flew into the stadium.
Players clashed on the pitch and the Albania team refused to play after being attacked by Serbian fans.
UEFA ordered Albania to forfeit the match, and awarded Serbia a 3-0 default win.
However, Serbia was deducted all three points for the win and ordered to host two Euro 2016 qualifiers in an empty stadium.
UEFA also fined both federations 100,000 euros ($108,000).
CAS said in a statement that the two federations' appeals were heard Thursday and Friday.
The court panel aims to give a verdict before Serbia plays at Denmark on June 13 in the next round of qualifying match.
The Balkan rivals' return match is scheduled in Albania on Oct. 8.
Tensions between the countries were fueled by Kosovo, a province dominated by ethnic Albanians, declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.
Serbia already served one match of its empty-stadium sanction. It lost to Denmark 3-1 in November and next hosts Armenia on Sept. 4.
At the midway point in the five-team group, Portugal and Denmark are in the two automatic qualifying places for Euro 2016 in France.
Albania is in third place, level on points with Denmark, which guarantees at least a spot in the playoffs. The Albanians have seven points, six ahead of fourth-place Serbia.

Read more here:



 Κωνσταντίνος Χολέβας
Πολιτικός Επιστήμων

Η απόσπαση του Κοσσυφοπεδίου από τη Σερβία ξεκίνησε με τους βομβαρδισμούς του ΝΑΤΟ το 1999, όταν βομβαρδίστηκαν άμαχοι, ακόμη και κατά τη Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα του ορθόδοξου εορτολογίου. Φέτος είδαμε άλλη μια σχετική εξέλιξη κατά τη διάρκεια της Μεγάλης Εβδομάδας των ορθοδόξων.

 Οι πρωθυπουργοί της Αλβανίας Εντι Ράμα και του Κοσόβου (Κοσσυφοπεδίου) Χακίμ Θάτσι ανακοίνωσαν σε κοινή συνέντευξή τους ότι θα προχωρήσουν στην ένωση Αλβανίας - Κοσόβου, αν η Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση δεν παραχωρήσει δικαίωμα ελευθέρας εισόδου στους πολίτες του Κοσόβου. Υπενθυμίζεται ότι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση δεν έχει ενιαία πολιτική για το ζήτημα του Κοσόβου, διότι η Ελλάς, η Κύπρος, η Ισπανία και η Ρουμανία δεν αναγνωρίζουν την περιοχή αυτή ως ανεξάρτητο κράτος, θέση στην οποία συμφωνεί και η Ρωσία. Αντιθέτως, οι ΗΠΑ και πολλές ευρωπαϊκές χώρες έχουν προβεί στην αναγνώριση, ενθαρρύνοντας με τον τρόπο αυτό τον αλβανικό αλυτρωτισμό.

Η Ελλάς ορθώς πράττει και δεν αναγνωρίζει αυτή την οντότητα, διότι αποκόπηκε από τη Σερβία με τη χρήση βίας (αντάρτες του UCK, βομβαρδισμοί κ.λπ.). Το Κοσσυφοπέδιο υπήρξε ιστορικά η κοιτίδα της Ιστορίας και της ορθόδοξης παράδοσης για τον σερβικό λαό. Το 1389 στο Κόσοβο Πόλιε, δηλαδή κοιλάδα των κοτσυφιών (= Κοσσυφοπέδιο) οι Οθωμανοί νίκησαν τους Σέρβους και κατέκτησαν την περιοχή. Οι Σέρβοι το ονομάζουν μάλιστα Κόσοβο και Μετόχια, τονίζοντας έτσι την παρουσία πολλών ιστορικών ορθόδοξων μονών (η λέξη «Μετόχιον» υποδηλώνει ναό ή ασκητήριο που υπάγεται σε μοναστήρι). Επί Β' Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου οι Ιταλοί του Μουσολίνι απέσπασαν το Κόσοβο από την τότε ενιαία Γιουγκοσλαβία και το απέδωσαν στο προτεκτοράτο τους, την Αλβανία.

Αν η Δύση ανεχθεί την ένωση Αλβανίας και Κοσόβου στην εποχή μας, θα νομιμοποιήσει ουσιαστικά τον σχεδιασμό του Μουσολίνι και θα δώσει αέρα στα πανιά του αλυτρωτισμού των Τιράνων. Τα επόμενα βήματα θα είναι η απόσχιση των δυτικών επαρχιών των Σκοπίων, όπου οι πολυάριθμοι Αλβανοί έχουν ανακηρύξει κράτος εν κράτει (την Ιλλυρίδα) και η διεκδίκηση εδαφών από το Μαυροβούνιο, τη Σερβία (Πρέσεβο) και την Ελλάδα (βλέπε προπαγάνδα περί Τσάμηδων και χάρτη της Μεγάλης Αλβανίας που περιλαμβάνει την Ηπειρο, τη Δυτική Μακεδονία και την Κέρκυρα).

Δεν ισχυρίζομαι ότι η σημερινή Αλβανία είναι ικανή να απειλήσει την εδαφική ακεραιότητά μας, όμως δεν πρέπει να επαναπαυόμαστε. Αν οι ΗΠΑ και ορισμένοι Ευρωπαίοι εταίροι μας ανεχθούν τα μεγαλοαλβανικά σχέδια, τα Βαλκάνια θα εισέλθουν σε μια νέα περίοδο αποσταθεροποιήσεως, ενώ η Ελλάς ακόμη ταλανίζεται από την οικονομική κρίση.

Για να διασφαλίσουμε τα ελληνικά αλλά και τα καλώς νοούμενα ευρωπαϊκά συμφέροντα στην περιοχή, οφείλουμε να ανακόψουμε την πορεία προς τη Μεγάλη Αλβανία ή τη Φυσική Αλβανία, όπως πιο διπλωματικά αποκαλείται από τον αλβανικό Τύπο.
Είναι απαραίτητο να διακηρύξουμε για μια ακόμη φορά ότι δεν πρόκειται να αναγνωρίσουμε το Κόσοβο ως ανεξάρτητο κράτος, διότι, αν το κάνουμε, θα ανοίξουμε τον δρόμο για τη νομιμοποίηση της τουρκικής εισβολής και του ψευδοκράτους στην Κύπρο.

Να διακηρύξουμε ότι η πορεία της Αλβανίας προς την Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση και η τυχόν χρηματοδότησή της από ευρωπαϊκά κονδύλια εξαρτάται από τον σεβασμό των δικαιωμάτων της Ελληνικής Εθνικής Μειονότητας (Βορειοηπειρωτών).

Να ζητήσουμε από την UNESCO την προστασία των ορθόδοξων ναών και μνημείων που υπάρχουν στο Κόσοβο και έχουν υποστεί καταστροφές, λεηλασίες και βομβιστικές επιθέσεις από φανατικούς μουσουλμάνους Αλβανούς.

Να καταγγείλουμε σε όλα τα διεθνή βήματα την προπαγάνδα των Τιράνων υπέρ των Τσάμηδων, απογόνων των εγκληματιών πολέμου.
Να υπενθυμίσουμε στην κυβέρνηση των Τιράνων ότι δεν λησμονούμε το Πρωτόκολλο της Κερκύρας του 1914, το οποίο προβλέπει Αυτόνομη Βόρειο Ηπειρο εντός Αλβανίας.

Ας μη μένουμε απαθείς θεατές!


Friday, April 17, 2015

The greater, broken Albania


  • Since August 2014, at least 100,000 Kosovars fled to Europe (Photo: Destination Europe)

It seems as though playing chicken with the European Union is becoming an ever more popular sport among Third World countries’ leaders.
The league of charming, if assertive gentlemen south of the Danube has gotten its most recent addition, in the person of Albanian PM Edi Rama.
In a joint interview with Kosovo’s foreign minister (and ex-PM), Hashim Thaci, Rama said that “the unification of the Albanians of Albania and Kosovo is inevitable and unquestionable”, the only question being how it will happen.
“Will it happen in the context of the EU as a natural process and understood by all, or will it happen as a reaction to EU blindness or laziness”, wondered Rama.
These meditations came in the context of Kosovo’s visa liberalisation issue. Should the EU continue to refuse extending a visa-free regime to Kosovars, Rama hinted, borders in the Balkans may once more be redrawn.
The sceptical European publikum might move to dismiss these threats as all hat, no cattle, but, mind you, there's a crew of would-be statesmen behind the bars of Scheveningen’s prison whose project of a Greater Serbia was once lowballed as self-deluded idle talk (see how that turned out).
This is not to suggest that undue paranoia is a particularly productive way of approaching all future border-setting ploys.
But the memory of the nationalist hysteria and aggressive ultimata which, time and again, managed to combust the region’s powder keg should invite careful consideration of how credible the Albanian PM’s threat really is.

A 'Great Albanian' state

That a problem exists is evident: a Gallup poll conducted among ethnic Albanians in 2010 revealed that 62 percent of them in Albania, 81 percent in Kosovo and 52 percent in Macedonia supported the formation of a "Great Albanian" state.
A cavalier assessment of what these numbers suggest is, at best, grossly irresponsible.
But, a proper understanding of Albanian expansionism must, I think, go beyond the matter-of-fact reporting of a security brief.
The stark contrast between the grandeur of the Greater Albanian idea - an ethnic state encompassing Albania, Kosovo, parts of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia - and the reality of life within these mythical Greater Albanian borders is important to grasp.
This contrast is nowhere more apparent than in downtown Tirana.
I remember visiting the place a couple years ago; the robust highway which took me from the country’s northern border to the capital was dotted with bunkers, concrete monuments to the totalitarian madness which erected them.
The few blocks of Tirana’s inner centre display the usual lot - shapely buildings with dimly lit facades, wide streets, a spacious square with the national hero’s equestrian statue and a Sheraton hotel.
However, venture a little further down the road and you will witness the chaotic traffic, the decaying architecture, and the squalor of run-down neighbourhoods.
This inner-city bubble, shielding the fiction of order and strength from a reality in which neither exists, is reminiscent of those colossal parade boulevards in Bucharest and former East Berlin - grand facades built to conceal poverty, misgovernance, and corruption.
It seems to me that, in a certain sense, the Greater Albania dream is another layer of this facade.


That the arousal of aggressive expansionism is an efficient antidote to domestic distress and discontent has been one of the sad facts of history.
We have seen it, not so long ago, in the region, when bellicose calls to an ethnically pure Greater Serbia were (successfully) made in the midst of a failing process of democratic transition and a massive economic crisis.
We are seeing a similar occurrence in Russia, whose regime’s (fairly recent) turn towards overt ethno-imperialism has been, at least in part, motivated by the grievances articulated by the 2011 wave of anti-Putin protests.
As Walter Benjamin would put it, “behind every fascism, there is a failed revolution”.
In Albania, the fall of totalitarian dictatorship in 1991 and the subsequent years of anarchy lead to a transitional process which yielded much similar results as elsewhere in south-eastern Europe - frail institutions, soaring crime, rampant corruption, illiberal governments, and false elections.
Meanwhile, the average Albanian citizen lives on less than €400 per month.
In Kosovo, the post-independence euphoria, though still strong, is encountering an increasingly formidable challenge - the reality of a deeply dysfunctional state, with a third of the country and over half of the youth unemployed, and three out of 10 Kosovars officially living in poverty.
It is within this predicament that the Greater Albanian opiate finds its way into the bloodstream of a disenchanted populace. As the discontent grows stronger, the political elites should be expected to resort to this sedative with increasing ardour.
Rama’s criticism of “EU blindness or laziness” is not, therefore, solely an attempt at blackmailing the European Union (“if you don’t grant Kosovo a visa-free regime, we will drag the region into another round of ethnic tensions”).
It is also a panicked reaction to a mounting challenge to the self-legitimising narratives of Albanian and Kosovar political leaders, manifested by the waves of mass emigration from Albania and Kosovo.


In the past 25 years, a quarter of Albania’s population has left the country.
Since August 2014, at least 100,000 Kosovars have fled to Europe - 7 percent of the country’s adult population, in less than a year.
People are packing their belongings in sports bags and covertly boarding midnight busses, fleeing from the fictitious realm of Greater Albania into less romanticized, but more prosperous countries.
One is reminded of Milton Friedman’s assertion that migration is voting with one’s feet - if so, the hypothetical party of Kosovars who recently decided to emigrate would be the third largest and, by far, the fastest growing political force in Kosovo.
If Rama and Thaci’s declared wish came true and EU borders were fully open, one can only imagine how much emptier the supposed Greater Albanian territory would become.
The ensuing exodus would, in a way, be an ipso facto vote of no-confidence to societies whose prospects inspire no optimism and political elites that offer no solutions.
Beating the war drums will do no good and may cause much harm - the sooner Rama and Thaci realised this, the better off everyone will be.
Fedja Pavlovic is a philosophy student at Leuven university in Belgium. Send him a tweet at @FedjaPavlovic.

Greece Might Allow Russia to Use Its Military Bases – Greek Defense Analyst

© Flickr/ Duncan Rawlinson
Military & Intelligence
In an interview for Russia's RIA Novosti, Greek defense analyst Ilias Iliopoulos noted that in the interests of closer military-technical cooperation with Russia, Greece could allow the country to use of its military bases, and that this possibility may well be discussed during the Greek Defense Minister's visit to Moscow later this week.
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos is set to arrive in Moscow for a two day visit starting Wednesday. The visit will include a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Russian experts believe that Kammenos's meeting with his Russian counterpart might include the provision of spare parts for Russian weapons systems, including the S-300 air defense system, Kornet anti-tank missiles, and Zubr-class hovercraft. Last December, the Greek Defense Ministry signed contracts with Russia on the purchase of spare parts for the Top-M1 and Osa-AKM mobile air defense systems. Iliopoulos, a lecturer at Hellenic National Defence College, welcomes Kammenos's visit, noting that in a time of growing tensions between Russia and the West, "contacts, visits, and communication between members of the European Union and NATO with Russia can help to reduce tensions."
The analyst recalls that the event, which "has great political and symbolic significance," comes on the heels of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' "historic" visit to Moscow last week.
"The Tsipras visit held a great political importance. As for defense matters and Kammenos's visit, I believe that Greece must do everything it can to move closer to Russia on issues of defense, defense policy, technology, cooperation and defense diplomacy. Greece, as you know, is the only NATO country to which several advanced Russian defense systems were exported several years ago. The country's air defense is very largely based on Russian systems."
Iliopoulos believes that Kammenos may attempt to reach an agreement with Russia on the technical maintenance and modernization of the Russian weapons systems Greece possesses. The analyst notes that "this must be done urgently. These systems presently have serious issues, and not because of [any error from] the Russian side, but because the previous government simply used them and, under Western pressure, underestimated the importance of maintenance and modernization."
The defense expert also believes that while Greece's options are presently limited by the economic crisis, the country should do everything it can to avoid "closing this window [on defense cooperation with Russia] for good. On the contrary, the Greek side must bear in mind that Russian defense systems are Greece's best and most reliable option. And not only technically, but politically as well." Regarding Russia's possible use of Greek military bases, Iliopoulos is optimistic.  "And why not? 25 years have passed since the fall of communism. We must discuss seriously, rationally, and realistically the issue of Greece providing Russia with an opportunity to use Greek ground, sea and air bases, on the Aegean Sea and in the Dodecanese Islands, as well as the Ionian Sea and Corfu, the seven islands liberated by Admiral Fyodor Ushakov [during the Second World War]."
The expert notes that such an agreement would not break any of Greece's agreements with NATO, or any other international treaties. "No international statute prohibits the cooperation of two countries."  In fact, Iliopoulos notes, Russian-Greek defense cooperation would assist in the maintenance of global stability, including the fight against terrorism and Islamic extremism in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. "I do not think that anyone in the West would have a problem with this," the expert notes. Ilias Iliopoulos is a lecturer at Hellenic National Defence College, the country's highest defense educational institution, and a former analyst at the Greek Ministry of Defense. He is also the former Chair of the Political and Strategic Studies Department at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, Estonia

Kiev Tries to Hammer Another Nail Into Coffin of Minsk Accord - Cohen

© REUTERS/ Grigory Dukor
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (L), Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L), Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R), Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and France's President Francois Hollande pose for a family photo during peace talks in Minsk, February 11, 2015.
After Minsk: Will Peace Come to Ukraine? (444)
The US-backed Ukrainian leadership is making every effort to sabotage the Minsk accord, Stephen F. Cohen emphasized, warning that the alternative to the Minsk 2 agreement is a larger war between Moscow and Washington.
The Ukrainian leadership is deliberately undermining the Minsk 2 agreement, brokered by Germany, France and Russia in February 2015, underscored Stephen Cohen, a prominent American historian and professor of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University, noting that Kiev can do nothing significant without Washington's backing.

The historian referred to a number of legislative bills signed by Ukraine's President Poroshenko, who evidently reversed the promises made by Kiev during the Minsk negotiations. Although Poroshenko himself approved the Minsk accord, since then Kiev has acted in contradiction to the deal.
Furthermore, several days ago the Ukrainian President announced that "any concept of federalization or home rule was a poisonous cancer that would destroy Ukraine," the professor noted.
Another nail in the coffin of the Minsk deal is the legislation banning Communist ideology and symbols and eventually equating communism to Nazism. The point is that the majority of those civilians who supported the Communist party of Ukraine are living in the East, the historian underscored.
On the other hand, the legislation is not a good sign for democracy in Kiev, since it imposes censorship. The Communist party of Ukraine has long been a very important party, enjoying public support in the country. Now it is banned and anyone who speaks in favor of this party is committing a criminal offense, according to the new law, the historian pointed out.
"Electorally, politically it is undemocratic," Stephen Cohen noted.
At the same time Kiev is supporting ultra-nationalists, adding fuel to the fire of the political crisis in the country.
Remarkably, Kiev's anti-Minsk stance is evidently supported by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Washington, the historian emphasized.

The professor noted that Washington continues to blame the Kremlin of the Ukrainian crisis and "military aggression" against Kiev. Still, the US and NATO leaderships failed to provide any evidence of Russia's alleged engagement in the Ukrainian turmoil. By aggravating further tensions with Moscow over Ukraine's crisis, Washington and its allies risk dealing a severe blow to the current geopolitical status quo in Europe. Russia is still an important element of global security and it cannot be isolated, the historian stressed, referring to the fact that since the West imposed sanctions on Moscow, the Kremlin has signed a huge number of international deals, much more that the US itself.
While Washington urges EU leaders to toughen their sanctions policy against Russia, it is obvious that the majority of NATO European allies are against direct confrontation with Moscow and a military resolution of the conflict. The US' irresponsible policy may lead to an undesirable transformation of geopolitics in the European region, the professor warned.

Turkish News Website: 156 Greek Islands Belong to Turkey

News from Greece


by Philip Chrysopoulos - Apr 17, 2015

agathonisiNot 16, but 156 Turkish islands and islets in the Aegean Sea are occupied by Greece, said a Turkish news website report.

The report comes after a discussion in Turkish parliament a few weeks ago regarding 16 islands of the Aegean that supposedly belong to Turkey but are under “Greek occupation.”

The Turkish side claims that under a treaty, Italy gave Greece some islands in the Aegean without specifying which, therefore several islands belong to the successor of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey.

In the past, Turkey has claimed that the island of Gavdos — off Crete — is not named in the treaty that pertains to Crete, therefore it belongs to Turkey. The Turkish claim was dismissed by NATO.

Now a new report from Turkey focuses on Agathonisi. According to, the particular island, along with the other 155, is occupied by Greece since 2004.

According to the report, Greece has achieved to occupy and establish sovereignty of the islands with the collaboration of Frontex, the European Union agency that manages cooperation between national border guards, and Latvia. said that Greek and Latvian coast guard ships operate around Agathonisi illegally, thereby violating Turkish territory.

As proof of the claim, the report uses a 1951 British map and a 1957 U.S. map in which Agathonisi belongs to the Turkish Republic.

On the Greek side, Konstantinos Koutras, a Foreign Ministry official, said that, “No doubt exists on the status of any island or islet in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Besides, international law is one of the foundations of European civilization and cannot be altered by unilateral declarations or actions.”
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Thaci wants to travel to Belgrade to "express goodwill"

PRISTINA -- Hashim Thaci has said that his intention to travel to Belgrade is an expression of goodwill for peace, cooperation, and reconciliation of "Kosovo and Serbia."
Thaci, formerly a leader of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who now serves as Kosovo's foreign minister, told the Gazeta Express website that "that is in the interest of the whole region."
Thaci has been accused of terrorism and convicted in absentia by a Serbian court, and there is also a valid Serbian arrest warrant for him for the murder of a policeman in Kosovo in the 1990s.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Thursday that if Thaci arrives in Belgrade at the invitation of an NGO, he will be "detained and brought to justice."

However, Thaci, who, in addition to his foreign affairs portfolio, also serves as a deputy prime minister in the government in Pristina, described "the time" during which he was found guilty in Serbia as "a dark period for Serbia and the region," and, as "the past."

"We have new leaders in Belgrade now and what I see during the meetings in Brussels represent hope and a will for European integrations. My will and message to the leaders of Serbia is to work together for a peaceful region of cooperation, good neighborly relations with a certain Euro-Atlantic future," said Thaci.

According to him, a new round of the Kosovo talks on April 21 will be dedicated to "the international calling code for Kosovo," which will be "according to European standards and a new reality in Kosovo."

"There will be other topics, but we will continue with implementing previous agreements, particularly the justice system that has started to be concretely implemented," said Thaci.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in Serbia's southern province of Kosovo in early 2008 unilaterally declared independence. Serbia rejected the proclamation as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The two sides have been involved in EU-sponsored negotiations since 2011.

Sabotage Feared İn Mosque Blaze İn Northern Greece

A fire broke out at a mosque just before Friday prayers in Komotini city in northeastern Greece that left the roof and interior damaged.

A fire broke out at a mosque just before Friday prayers in Komotini city in northeastern Greece that left the roof and interior damaged.

Komotini authorities told the Anadolu Agency that firefighters had to be called in to put out the blaze in the New Neighborhood. 

An elected mufti at the Komotini Ibrahim Sharif told the Anadolu Agency that it was not yet known what exactly caused the fire in the mosque, but there was suspicion that it was an act of sabotage.

He said that the fact that another masjid in the same area was attacked at the same time was deeply suspicious.

Unidentified people had damaged trees at a courtyard of another mosque in the same neighborhood. A number of freshly-planted saplings and trees in the rear of that mosque had been uprooted.

 "These two incidents cannot be a coincidence. Personally, I think that this was sabotage," the mufti added.

The Komotini prosecutor has launched an investigation to see if the incidents were acts of sabotage. - Ankara

Presidential advisors recount "mid-air drama"

BELGRADE -- "As far as the Presidency staff is concerned, we will in the future use only regular flights," presidential advisor Stanislava Pak has said.
(P. Obradovic/Tanjug, file)
(P. Obradovic/Tanjug, file)
Pak spoke on Friday, hours after President Tomislav Nikolic's plane - a government-owned Falcon - en route to Rome had to turn back and land in Belgrade when one of its engines failed.
"We will be celebrating this day as our second birthday," Pak, who was traveling with the president, told the Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti and added:

"It was only thanks to our pilot's great professionalism and exceptional skill that a tragedy has been avoided. Believe me, we were at one point literally dropping like a rock."

Three more presidential advisors - Ivan Mrkic, Oliver Antic, and Jasmina Mitrovic-Maric - were also on board the plane.

"We went through a real mid-air drama, and all I can say is that President Nikolic and his associates landed in Belgrade unharmed only thanks to the incredible composure and skill of the pilot and the copilot," Mrkic said.

"We departed from Belgrade at around eight o'clock (CET) and suddenly, at around nine, one of the engines failed. The aircraft became unstable, there was turbulence, we were literally thrown around the plane. I claim that we only survived thanks to the pilot," the former Serbian foreign minister told the newspaper.

Mrkic also stressed that the Falcon is a 34 years old craft, and that he personally already went through "various incident situations" while flying on that plane.

Tsipras: Greece and Cyprus are pylons of stability in the region

First entry: 17 April 2015
Tsipras: Greece and Cyprus are pylons of stability in the region
Greece and Cyprus are a field of stability in a wider region of conflicts and destabilisation," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said after his meeting with President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.
"We agreed on a trilateral meeting with Egypt that contributes towards the safeguarding of the peace and stability in the wider area of the Eastern Mediterranean," Tsipras said adding that the trilateral meeting is an invitation to other forces of the region to cooperate always within the framework of the international UN principles.
Our first target is the focus on the continuation until the final successful outcome of the bi-community discussions for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, underlined Tsipras.
The Turkish provocative actions and their repercussions over the solution of the Cyprus issue were discussed at the meeting. "We underlined that after Barbaros withdrawal, the conditions are better for the restart of the discussions," Tsipras added.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

President Obama Hosts Greek Independence Reception with Greek FinMin Varoufakis in Attendance

Greek Reporter USA
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by Anastasios Papapostolou - Apr 16, 2015

President_Obama_White_House_Greek_Independence_ReceptionWith Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and hundreds of Greek-Americans including John Stamos in attendance, President Barack Obama’s reception in honor of Greek Independence was literally a Full House.

Guests were welcomed at the White House’s East room at 5.15pm on Thursday April 16, 2015.  Vice President Joe Biden offered introductory remarks and welcomed President Obama to address the Greek-American audience.

Among the attendees were many prominent members of the Greek American community including Archbishop Demetrios of America. Greece’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis led the delegation of Greek officials to the White House.

There was a direct chat during the event between Yanis Varoufakis and Barack Obama, however the White House itinerary didn’t have programmed a private meeting among the two.President_Obama_Yanis_Varoufakis_white_House_Greek_Independence_reception

The informal chat with the President makes Varoufakis the first official of the newly elected Greek government to interact with the US President amid crucial negotiations between Greece and its international creditors.

Last month President Obama had also issued a Declaration on the occasion of Greek Independence Day.

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Greece in talks with Russia to buy S-300 missiles — Report

First entry: 16 April 2015
Greece in talks with Russia to buy S-300 missiles — Report
Greece is negotiating with Russia for the purchase of missiles for its S-300 anti-missile systems and for their maintenance, Russia's RIA news agency quoted Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos as saying on Wednesday.
The report followed a visit by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last week to Moscow, where he won pledges of Russian moral support and long-term cooperation but no fresh funds to help avert bankruptcy for his heavily indebted nation.
NATO member Greece has been in possession of the Russian-made S-300 air defense systems since the late 1990s.
"We are limiting ourselves to replacement of missiles [for the systems]," RIA quoted Kammenos, who is in Moscow for a security conference, as saying.
"There are negotiations between Russia and Greece on the maintenance of the systems … as well as for the purchase of new missiles for the S-300 systems," he said.
The Greek defense ministry in Athens later issued a statement quoting Kammenos as saying: "The existing defense cooperation programs will continue. There will be maintenance for the existing programs."
No other details were immediately available.
It was unclear where Greece, whose leftist government is struggling to secure the funds to meet its debt repayments, would find the money to buy more missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said after his talks with Tsipras in Moscow last week that Athens had not asked for money to ease its debt crisis.
However, Greece is keen to revive its traditionally good relations with Moscow, prompting unease among some of its European partners at a time of deep tension between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis.
On Monday, the Kremlin said Putin had signed a decree ending a self-imposed ban on delivering its S-300 anti-missile system to Tehran after world powers, including Russia, reached an interim deal with Iran on curbing its nuclear program.
The Moscow Times

Prosecutor: Thaci could be arrested in Belgrade

BELGRADE -- Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic has said that the warrant for the arrest of Hashim Thaci is valid in Serbia.
(B92, file)
(B92, file)
That means that if he arrived in Belgrade, Thaci, a former leader of the KLA who now serves as Kosovo's foreign minister and deputy prime minister, could be arrested, Vukcevic explained.
"The investigation about Thaci is interrupted, because he is not accessible to Serbian investigative organs. The central Interpol office did stop the validity of the warrant against Thaci in other countries with the explanation that this is about top-ranking Albanian officials. However, it is in force in Serbia, so if he comes here, we can arrest him," Vukcevic told the Blic newspaper.

The media in Pristina reported on Wednesday that Thaci was invited by an NGO to attend a conference in Belgrade in late April, and that he accepted the invitation.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic reacted by saying that there was "no need for Thaci to come to Belgrade," as the gathering would not be organized by the government, and he had no plans to attend it.

Iran urges India, China & Russia to counter NATO missile system

Published time: April 16, 2015
USS Higgins with Aegis interceptor systems (Reuters / Atef Safadi)
USS Higgins with Aegis interceptor systems (Reuters / Atef Safadi)
Iran has announced its readiness to cooperate with Russia, China and India on the issue of NATO’s missile shield and related threats from the military bloc, the head of its defense ministry said in Moscow.
“I'd like to support the idea of developing multifaceted defense cooperation between China, Iran, India and Russia to counter NATO eastwards expansion and installing a missile shield in Europe,” Hossein Dehghan said on Thursday, at an international security conference in Moscow.
Hours later Dehghan was cited by RIA Novosti as saying that Russia, China and Iran may hold tri-party defense talks.
"We discussed certain aspects of regional security. It was proposed to hold a trilateral meeting of Russia, Iran and China," Dehghan said after meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

Read more 
Tehran threat? Russia questions US, EU motives behind missile shield in Europe
Despite a deal on Tehran's nuclear program, the US is still going to site its missile defense installations in Europe. They are being deployed over a perceived threat from “nuclear Iran” – a pretext which Moscow called a “fairytale.”
“The threat to NATO countries posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles continues to increase… the framework [of the Iran nuclear program] agreement does not change that fact,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told Sputnik.
According to Russia, the controversial missile shield in Europe is staying because “the Missile Defense System was never about Iran.”
READ MORE: US commissions ‘crucial’ NATO missile shield facility in Romania
“This serves as yet more proof that references to the ‘Iranian [missile] threat’ served as a smokescreen, whereas the genuine objective is the creation of an anti-missile program with quite a different purpose,” the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote.

The US has for years insisted the missile defense system is needed for protection against potential missiles from rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran. Moscow strongly objected to new unilateral NATO military installations, citing national security threats. Russia proposed the creation of a joint system, but Washington rejected it.

Russia reacts to Albanian PM's "unification" comments

MOSCOW -- The "pan-Albanian" rhetoric will not contribute to preserving the climate of stability and good-neighborly relations in the Balkans, Moscow has said.
Russia's foreign ministry in this way reacted to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama's recent statement about the future unification of his country and Kosovo "through the EU, or the classic way."
"Moscow has paid attention Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama's April 4 statement about the possibility of Albanians unifying in the classic sense, that is, by changing the borders in the region, unless Albania's and Kosovo's Euro-integration has been accelerated," the ministry said, according to TASS.

"We assume that no matter what considerations or motives could stand behind Rama’s words, the recurrence of the pan-Albanian rhetoric is unlikely to contribute to preserving the climate of stability and good-neighborliness in the Balkan region, which is vital for Russia and other European countries," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.

Why Russia Will Send More Troops to Central Asia



Russia is making a concerted effort to increase its military and security presence throughout Central Asia, just not for the reasons it would have you think. Though the Kremlin is concerned with the threat of spillover violence from Islamist militancy in Afghanistan — its purported motive for deploying more troops — it is far more alarmed by what it sees as Chinese and Western encroachment into lands over which it has long held sway. It is this concern that will shape Moscow's behavior in Central Asia in the years to come.


Central Asia has played an important role in the projection of Russian military power since the Russian Empire's expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this period, Russia established military outposts as it competed with the British Empire for influence in the region. By the mid-19th century, Russia had brought modern-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into its empire. In the early 20th century, the countries were incorporated into the Soviet Union.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia retained a military presence in Central Asia and played a major role in regional conflicts, such as the 1992-1997 Tajik civil war. Today Russia still has military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Kazakhstan is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military bloc dominated by Moscow. And while Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are not members of the bloc, they do have important security and military ties with Russia through arms purchases.

Concerns of Militancy

Russia's long-standing influence in Central Asian military affairs frames several of the country's recent moves. On April 2, the base commander of Russia's 201st military base in Tajikistan said Russia would increase the number of troops stationed there from 5,900 to 9,000 over the next five years and add more military equipment through 2020. Then on April 3 an unnamed source in the General Staff of the Russian armed forces told Kommersant that Russia was prepared to grant Tajikistan $1.2 billion in military aid over the next few years. Russian military specialists were reportedly dispatched to Turkmenistan's border with Afghanistan on March 24 as well. Turkmen officials have yet to confirm this, but local media report that Ashgabat requested Russian assistance to protect the Afghan border.

Officially, these developments are tied to growing concern over violence spilling over from Afghanistan into Central Asia. It is a legitimate fear for many Central Asian governments as NATO and the United States draw down their forces in Afghanistan. Regional governments have voiced discomfort with the increased militant presence in northern Afghanistan, including the Taliban and the Islamic State.
Russia has echoed this fear. Russian President Vladimir Putin's special representative for Afghanistan alleged that Islamic State fighters in the north are training thousands of militants near the Tajikistan and Turkmenistan borders. Collective Security Treaty Organization summits have focused on the issue, and Tajikistan urged the bloc to do more to counter the threat at the April 1-2 Dushanbe summit.
Despite a definite uptick in militant attacks in northern Afghanistan, no concrete evidence has emerged of attacks over the border in Central Asian states. Central Asia's last major wave of regionwide militancy was 1999-2001, when the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan conducted attacks in the Fergana Valley in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The U.S. intervention in Afghanistan following 9/11, however, wiped out much of the group. Surviving elements then dispersed throughout the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.
Since then, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have seen some attacks by Islamist militants. But many were related to political dynamics, not the movement in Afghanistan. A spillover of Afghan militancy is possible, but so far the threat is minimal.

More Pertinent Factors

Because Islamist spillover from northern Afghanistan is still a relatively minor threat, Russia's push into Central Asia may have other motivations. Moscow is engaged in a tense standoff with the West over Ukraine, just one theater in the competition for influence along the former Soviet periphery. Central Asia is another key region in this contest. The region possesses sizable oil and natural gas resources that are attractive to the European Union as it seeks to diversify energy supplies and end its dependence on Russia. Europe has already pursued Turkmenistan to join the Trans-Caspian pipeline project.
The United States has also been active in Central Asia, particularly from a security standpoint. The United States no longer uses Central Asian military bases that had been logistical centers for operations in Afghanistan, such as the Kant Air Base in Kyrgyzstan or the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan. These bases, however, have left a regional legacy. Washington maintains some security operations that include counternarcotics training with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The United States has also expressed interest in increasing its commitment. The commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Lloyd Austin, said the United States was willing to provide military equipment and technology to support Turkmenistan's efforts to secure its border with Afghanistan. The United States also announced in January that it would grant over 200 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to Uzbekistan previously used in the U.S. Northern Distribution Network in Afghanistan. Such gestures point to a U.S. desire to develop more cooperative security relationships with Central Asian states.
Moscow's military and security expansion efforts stem partly from its concern about these gestures. But Russia has not limited itself to deploying military personnel. Moscow has expanded the scope and membership of its Eurasian Union to include broader cooperation on issues including border controls. Kazakhstan is already a member, and Kyrgyzstan will soon join. Russia increased the number of exercises held by Collective Security Treaty Organization members. It also called on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to cooperate more with the security bloc, though both have been hesitant.
However, Moscow's ability to solidify its position in Central Asia will be limited. Russia has a weak economy. Already, many Central Asian migrants who once worked in Russia have left, causing a decline in Russian remittances to the region. The West, and particularly the United States, will continue to have influence in the region. China, too, will continue to make economic and energy inroads.
Meanwhile, instability in the region will probably increase. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan both have potential succession crises in the offing. Moreover, demographic growth and competition over water resources are likely to threaten the region's security. Russia will see its position in Central Asia tested in the coming years. Islamist militancy is just one concern among many for Moscow and Central Asian governments.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

NATO in Tirana, for recent Euro-Atlantic Security Challenges

18th Annual International Conference of the Atlantic Council of Albania: NATO IN FACE OF THE RECENT EURO-ATLANTIC SECURITY CHALLENGES

On February 25-26, 2015, the Atlantic Council of Albania, supported by the NATO PDD organized its 18th Annual International Conference titled: ‘NATO in face of the recent Euro-Atlantic Security Challenges’. This conference successfully served as a long-established opportunity for civil society and political actors to make significant contributions to encourage cooperation for security and development in the Europe and Western Balkans and to discuss NATO approaches to the current security challenges. The conference had representatives from the region and beyond. The conference was held at Hotel Mondial in Tirana on 26th February 2015 and was attended by over 150 participants, including government representatives, political leaders, diplomats, security and defense experts, military officers, university professors, researchers, civil society representatives, media people, ACA members and students. The conference featured four sessions of high-level speakers and was followed by questions, debates, and good discussions.

Juncker's is running out of patience with Greece, EU official says

First entry: 15 April 2015 -
Juncker's is running out of patience with Greece, EU official says
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker seems to be upset with the lack of progress in discussions with Greece, according to an EU official , as Reuters reports.
In Brussels, Juncker, told a closed-door meeting of the EU executive that his patience with Greece was wearing very thin and there had been no progress in recent days, an EU official said.
But he said Juncker had insisted there should be no contingency planning for a possible Greek exit from the euro zone. "A 'Grexit' is a taboo topic for Juncker," the official noted.

Albania launches Investment Council with EBRD support

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 00:00 Written by  Viktorija Melohina

The FINANCIAL -- The EBRD’s Investment Climate and Governance Initiative (ICGI) is reaching a milestone on April 15 with the launch of Albania’s Investment Council, an institution with the goal of enhancing public private dialogue and spurring concrete action to strengthen the business climate in the country.
The launch at a high-profile event in the Albanian capital Tirana is gathering key decision-makers from the business community, as well as government officials and representatives of international financial institutions, to tackle impediments to investment and to foster both domestic and foreign investment in Albania, according to EBRD.

The first meeting of the Council will be followed by a press briefing and a special address by the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama. The event will be attended by the Chair of the Investment Council and Minister of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship, Arben Ahmetaj, the Head of the Secretariat of the Investment Council, Diana Leka, EBRD Managing Director for External Relations and Partnerships, Alan Rousso, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans, Holger Muent, the Head of the EBRD Tirana Office, Christoph Denk and EBRD Senior Counsellor for Investment Climate and Governance, Franklin Steves amongst others.

The Council is a platform set up by the Albanian authorities with support from the EBRD to intensify the dialogue between the government and the private sector, improve the business climate and promote good governance. The work of the Council is supported by a Secretariat, an independent body of professionals selected and contracted by the EBRD to directly engage with the business community. The initial funding for the Secretariat is provided by Italy.

Ahead of the launch, the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, called the event an important milestone for Albania. The Council will serve as a bridge between the business community and the government and will become a catalyst, helping to create the right business environment for investments. He also expressed confidence that with EBRD’s help Albania will make rapid progress towards economic prosperity.

“This is a landmark moment in our cooperation with the EBRD. Creating the right investment conditions is a critical task and we are confident that we will make further progress through the work of the Investment Council. We are convinced that strengthening the investment climate and enhancing governance will increase Albania’s attractiveness to investors,” added Albania’s Minister of Economic Development, Arben Ahmetaj.

“We are proud to support the launch of the Investment Council. This is an important step forward and we are happy to see the Albanian authorities tackle head-on the challenges that the country faces. Improving the business environment is one of the priorities of the EBRD’s work in Albania and it is an integral part of everything we do,” said Christoph Denk, Head of the EBRD Office in Tirana.

“This is an important moment for Albania. We are proud to be one of the pioneering countries in the Western Balkans to step up efforts to improve the business environment. Thanks to our cooperation with the EBRD Albania is taking another step towards unleashing its full economic potential,” said the Head of the Secretariat of the Investment Council of Albania, Diana Leka.

“This step shows the Albanian authorities’ strong commitment to the reform agenda. We are pleased to see our Investment Climate and Governance Initiative deliver results as economic growth can be re-energised only through the process of change and adoption of market-friendly reforms,” said EBRD Managing Director for External Relations and Partnerships, Alan Rousso.

The independent Investment Council plays an important role in the implementation of objectives set in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama in February 2014.

Albania was the first country to sign up to the ICGI. Since then,  Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine have joined the Initiative.

Since the start of its operations in Albania, the EBRD has invested almost €1 billion in some 70 projects in various sectors of the economy.

"No need for Thaci to come to Belgrade"

BELGRADE -- Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has said that he "doubts" that Hashim Thaci will come to Belgrade "without an agreement with the Serbian government."
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
Dacic was asked to comment on announcements from Pristina that Thaci, who serves as Kosovo's foreign minister and deputy prime minister, would this month attend a conference in Belgrade organized by an NGO.
"You don't think that he will really come here without an agreement with the Serbian government," Dacic asked reporters on Wednesday, and then noted that the gathering will be organized "by the civil sector, not the government."

"I have no plans to participate, so I don't think there's any need to go," he was quoted as saying, and adding:

"We have no information about that, we found out (about the conference) from the media."

Dacic then described Thaci's announced trip to Belgrade as "unilateral action," and remarked that "such serious issues should not be the subject of a frivolous approach."

Asked "whether Thaci's arrival could represent a problem," and, "whether some investigative procedure is being taken against him," Dacic replied: "I think there's no need for him to come here."

Dacic added that "the two sides have made many steps to normalize relations, in a manner that was mutually agreed on - but this has not been agreed on."

Thaci accepts NGO's invitation to attend Belgrade event

BELGRADE -- Kosovo Foreign Minister and Deputy PM Hashim Thaci has accepted an invitation "to come to Belgrade" on April 24, his deputy has confirmed.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
According to Petrit Selimi, Thaci has provided "a preliminary positive reply." He added that "it is now the task for the Serbian authorities to guarantee his safe stay."
Selimi also observed that "the Kosovo government and the police have been able to guarantee complete security to President Nikolic, Prime Minister Vucic and other top-ranked Serbian officials who visited Kosovo."

Thaci was invited by the Youth Education Committee non-governmental organization, and should attend a conference they will organize in Belgrade on April 24.

Selimi noted that the conference will be focused "on youth and reconciliation - and we believe these topics are of importance for both Kosovo and Serbia since we hope there is willingness to move forward in the process of European integrations."

"Deputy Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has never been to Belgrade before, and perhaps this visit could be a test of how far we have come with the normalization of circumstances between Kosovo and Serbia," Selimi told the Beta agency.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in 2008 unilaterally declared independence, which Serbia rejected as a violation of its territorial integrity. Belgrade and Pristina have been involved in EU-mediated dialogue since 2011.

According to Albanian language media in Pristina, Belgrade is now "in an uncomfortable situation" due to great pressure coming from the EU to allow Thaci's trip. The same media claim that "4,000 police officers" will be deployed to ensure his safety.

The Belgrade-based daily Danas writes on Wednesday that the EU is lobbying for the visit to happen, while the government is expected to make a decision this week.

Thaci was one of the leaders of the now disbanded so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) who has been accused by Serbia of committing war crimes - "but it is unclear if there are currently any ongoing process against him," reported Tanjug.