Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spanish FM: My country will never recognize Kosovo

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said on Wednesday in Belgrade that his country will "never" recognize Kosovo.
Source: Tanjug
Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo seen in Belgrade on Wednesday (Tanjug)
Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo seen in Belgrade on Wednesday (Tanjug)
Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, but Serbia rejected this proclamation as a violation of its territorial integrity and Constitution.
In his remarks for the press after a meeting with his counterpart in Serbia's caretaker government, Ivica Dacic, Garcia-Margallo noted that the two countries are this year marking 100 years since establishing diplomatic relations, where "one of the key pillars is Spain's support for Serbia's territorial integrity."

The Spanish minister added that Madrid also supports Serbia's road toward EU membership, and remarked that economic relations between the two countries, unlike the political, are "exceptionally modest, and should be improved."

Dacic agreed that economic cooperation was now at a very low level - worth some EUR 340 in 2015.

Spain has invested over EUR 125 million in Serbia since 2005, including around 40 million in donations - there is room to enhance that cooperation and we will be working on that, Dacic said.

Spain has always stood with Serbia, backing it in the fight against the illegally declared independence of Kosovo and as regards European integration, and we must never forget that, Dacic said.

"(Garcia) Margallo heads a ministry that is currently very engaged in supporting Serbian interests. Spain is a country that has always stood with us, that has not expressed its support only with words," the Serbian official stated.

Spain's support "when times were hard" - and "the 100 years of good relations" are the foundations forf future cooperation, Dacic stressed, and added that the talks today also addressed the fight against terrorism and the migrant crisis.

According to him, the joint conclusion has been "to continue the join fight."

Albanian Foreign Minister: NATO should be stronger against the Russian threat

"Russia's behavior in the international arena continues to be a concern," - added Foreign Albanian Minister.

Bushati said to the participants of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO being held in Tirana.

Minister Bushati asked that "NATO firmly be strong in defense policy".

He said that the Euro-Atlantic security challenges and needs to respond to threats in the east and south of Europe, will characterize the agenda of the NATO summit in Warsaw in July.

"Russian aggression in Ukraine has put in doubt the continent's stability and security in relations NATO with Russia," said Mr. Bushati.

Worrying Minister also stressed the challenges of terrorism, violent extremism and refugees.

According to Mr. Bushati, NATO remains the indispensable actor for security in the Western Balkans, Albania therefore supports full policy of "open doors".

Bushati spoke at the session of the Political Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO in Tirana.

Western Balkans, according to Mr. Bushtai still is not in the true sense of the word "safe", arguing the differences between the member countries of NATO, and Serbia those looking neutral.

Putin visits Orthodox monastic community at Greece's Mount Athos

Putin Greece mass orthodox Christians Russian President Vladimir Putin lights a candle as he arrives at the church of the Protaton, dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, in Karyes, the administrative center of the all-male Orthodox monastic community of Mount Athos, northern Greece, Saturday, May 28, 2016. (Alexandros Avramidis / Pool Photo via AP)

Costas Kantouris , The Associated Press
Published Saturday, May 28, 2016 
KARYES, Greece -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived at the northern Greek peninsula of Mount Athos, on a visit to the autonomous Orthodox Christian monastic community.
Putin flew from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki Saturday morning, went by road near Mt.Athos and then took a boat -- the only means to reach the community.
At Karyes, the administrative centre of Mt. Athos, Putin was greeted by the 20 abbots of the monasteries and 20 representatives of the monks, as well as a representative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, under whose jurisdiction Mt. Athos falls
The Russian leader attended a Mass in his honour, seated in the bishop's throne.
In a short reply to a greeting, Putin thanked the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece for their role in fostering relations between Greece and Russia.
"Here in Mt. Athos, there is great and important work done on moral values," Putin said, thanking the community for its hospitality in this, his second visit to Mt. Athos.
After the Mass, Putin was greeted by Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos, with whom he held talks at the community's main administrative building.
Putin was then to travel overland to the monastery of St. Panteleimon, inhabited by about 70 Russian, Ukrainian and other Russian Orthodox monks. There, Putin will take part in celebrating 1,000 years of Russian presence in Mt. Athos.
Security in Mt. Athos has been unprecedented. Besides Putin's large entourage, there was heavy Greek police and coast guard presence, with divers guarding and inspecting the landing site and snipers deployed throughout Putin's route. Pilgrims' trips to St. Panteleimon monastery were cancelled two weeks ago.
The head of the Russian Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, arrived in Mt. Athos Friday.

Demetris Nellas contributed from Athens, Greece.

NATO in parliamentary session in Albania on its challenges

TIRANA, Albania (AP) " NATO's Parliamentary Assembly has opened a meeting in Tirana, Albania, to discuss the alliance's response to a variety of challenges ahead of a summit in July.

Some 250 parliamentarians from 28 NATO-member countries and partners gathered Saturday downtown Tirana under high security measures from the local authorities, involving about 600 police and security forces.

Assembly President Michael R. Turner said Russia's aggressive attitude, terrorism and mass migration would be debated at length during the session.

The Assembly is expected to endorse a declaration urging alliance leaders to strengthen collective defense and deterrence, develop a comprehensive strategy for promoting stability in North Africa and the Middle East, ensure that all allies meet military spending targets and boost cooperation with the European Union, according to a draft seen by The Associated Press.

Albania Opposition Boycotts Parliament, Blocks Reform Bill

The Democrats on Saturday said they would boycott Parliament for 10 days after Parliament suspended Berisha for 10 days for accusing Prime Minister Edi Rama of direct links to criminals, a charge Rama has denied.

Last month Berisha was sued by the governing Socialist Party for calling on citizens to arm themselves.
Berisha and the Democrats have increased their aggressive language against the governing Socialists, which may delay a key judicial reform that the European Union and the United States have been pressing Tirana to pass. The reform is needed before Albania can launch full membership negotiations with the 28-nation bloc.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Donald Trump Has a Coherent, Realist Foreign Policy

Donald Trump Has a Coherent, Realist Foreign Policy
Oh, Donald, bless your heart! You keep on saying those wild and crazy things, the media keeps on snickering, and you just keep on blustering. A grateful nation thanks you. If you weren’t around, we’d probably have to talk about Ted Cruz instead, and that would be no fun at all.
But my editors here at Foreign Policy have asked me to get serious and write about what U.S. foreign policy would look like if the White House should ever sprout an enormous gold sign reading, “TRUMP.” This has not been a simple assignment, because there is a Trump for every possible policy position.
Where to start?
Well, if Donald Trump becomes president, we might have a nuclear war — or, then again, we might not. On the one hand, Trump tells us, “It’s a very scary nuclear world. Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation.” On the other hand, if Japan and South Korea decide to develop their own nuclear weapons, that’s probably fine, and we “may very well be better off.” On the third hand, “nuclear should be off the table,” when it comes to a potential U.S. first use of nuclear weapons. On the fourth hand, you never know: We might need to use nukes inside Europe, which would not be so sad because “Europe is a big place” and can easily afford to lose a few small nations to radioactive fallout.
Anyhoo. Let’s discuss NATO, which, admittedly, is not a very interesting subject. Trump “would support NATO,” but because he too feels that it is not interesting, he “would not care that much” whether or not Ukraine joins the alliance. “I don’t mind NATO per se,” he explains; it’s just “obsolete” and full of free-riders “ripping off the United State.” But que sera, sera! If getting rid of freeloaders “breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.” Still, perhaps the treaty organization can be “reconstituted” and “modernized.” He adds, “We need to either transition into terror, or we need something else, because we have to get countries together.” I don’t think Trump meant that NATO should transition into a terrorist organization — on the “fight fire with fire” principle — but who can say?
Moving right along: Under President Trump, the United States would show the terrorists who’s boss by bringing back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse.” He would also “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” and if that doesn’t do the trick, he would go after the wives and children of Islamic State fighters, because “with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.” Ordering the U.S. military to use torture or deliberately target civilians would, of course, be illegal, but the military would gladly obey any order coming from President Trump: “I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader.… If I say do it, they’re going to do it.” On the fifth or sixth hand, maybe not: Trump swears that he’ll be “bound by laws, just like all Americans.”
Regardless, under President Trump, the U.S. military would be very strong, but it would never be used, unless we do use it. Right now, Trump confides, the U.S. military is “a disaster,” decimated and weak. When the White House is rebranded as the smallest of the world’s many Trump Towers, this will no longer be true; after a few waves of the Trumpian magic wand, which can cut budgets and expand programs at the same time, the military will be “so big, so powerful, so strong” that no one will dare mess with it. But the military will have to be satisfied with being big, powerful, and strong right here in the United States, because unless host states such as Japan and South Korea cough up a lot more cash, President Trump will be withdrawing U.S. troops from their overseas bases.
Besides, who cares? According to Trump, more or less every U.S. military intervention from Vietnam on has been a flop. Vietnam? A “disaster,” says his campaign. Iraq War? “Big, fat mistake.” Libya? “Total mess.” As for the Islamic State, Trump says “the generals” tell him it might take “20,000 to 30,000 troops” to “knock the hell out of ISIS,” but they ain’t gonna be American troops: instead, “People from that part of the world” will have to “put up the troops.… I wouldn’t ever put up 20,000 or 30,000.
All right, enough. I could go on: Trump offers nearly endless fodder for media mockery. But I don’t want to keep poking fun at the Republican front-runner.
For one thing, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s like making fun of George W. Bush’s weird malapropisms: “They have miscalculated me as a leader.” It’s just too damn easy.
For another thing, there’s hardly a global shortage of anti-Trump tirades coming from the Fourth Estate. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell declares Trump is “completely uneducated about any part of the world.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson calls Trump’s “ignorance of government policy … breathtaking.” Tara Setmayer of CNN says Trump is “wholly unqualified” to be president, while the New York Times editorial board finds Trump “disturbing” and “shockingly ignorant.”
None of this does Trump any harm. On the contrary: Every time someone in the Media Elite pokes fun at Donald Trump, it inspires six bad-tempered middle Americans to vote for him. And every time someone in the Media Elite utters a pompous condemnation of Trump’s ignorance and folly, 17 more angry Trump voters are created. If Trump becomes president, guys, it’s gonna be your fault.
And finally: Though it pains me to say it, Donald Trump is crazy like a fox. Despite the braggadocio, the bullying, and the bluster — despite the contradictions, misstatements, and near-total absence of actual facts — Trump is, to a great extent, nonetheless articulating a coherent vision of international relations and America’s role in the world.
David Sanger and Maggie Haberman capture it well in a summary of their lengthy New York Times interview with Trump: “In Mr. Trump’s worldview, the United States has become a diluted power, and the main mechanism by which he would re-establish its central role in the world is economic bargaining. He approached almost every current international conflict through the prism of a negotiation, even when he was imprecise about the strategic goals he sought.” The United States, Trump believes, has been “disrespected, mocked, and ripped off for many, many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher. We were the big bully, but we were not smartly led. And we were … the big stupid bully, and we were systematically ripped off by everybody.”
Trump hasn’t the slightest objection to being perceived as a bully, but he doesn’t want to be ripped off. Thus, he says, he’d be willing to stop buying oil from the Saudis if they don’t get serious about fighting the Islamic State; limit China’s access to U.S. markets if Beijing continues its expansionist policies in the South China Sea; and discard America’s traditional alliance — from NATO to the Pacific — partners if they won’t pull their own weight.
To those who criticize his apparent contradictions, his vagueness about his ultimate strategic objectives, or his willingness to make public threats, he offers a simple and Machiavellian response: “We need unpredictability.” To Trump, an effective negotiator plays his cards close to his chest: He doesn’t let anyone know his true bottom line, and he always preserves his ability to make a credible bluff. (Here it is, from the transcript of his conversation with the New York Times: “You know, if I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’ve said I would or I wouldn’t [use force to resolve a particular dispute].… I wouldn’t want to say. I wouldn’t want them to know what my real thinking is.”)
Trump has little time for either neoconservatives or liberal interventionists; he thinks they allow their belief in American virtue to blind them to both America’s core interests and the limits of American power. He has even less time for multilateralist diplomats: They’re too willing to compromise, trading away American interests in exchange for platitudes about friendship and cooperation. And he has no time at all for those who consider long-standing U.S. alliances sacrosanct. To Trump, U.S. alliances, like potential business partners in a real-estate transaction, should always be asked: “What have you done for me lately?”
In his inimitable way, Trump is offering a powerful challenge to many of the core assumptions of Washington’s bipartisan foreign-policy elite. And if mainstream Democrats and Republicans want to counter Trump’s appeal, they need to get serious about explaining why his vision of the world isn’t appropriate — and they need to do so without merely falling back on tired clichés.
The clichés roll easily off the tongue: U.S. alliances and partnerships are vital. NATO is a critical component of U.S. security. Forward-deployed troops in Japan and South Korea are vital to assurance and deterrence. We need to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia. And so on. How do we know these things? Because in Washington, everyone who’s anyone knows these things.
But this is pure intellectual and ideological laziness. Without more specificity, these truisms of the Washington foreign-policy elite are just pablum. Why, exactly, does the United States need to keep troops in Japan, or Germany, or Kuwait? Would the sky really fall if the United States had fewer forward-deployed troops? What contingencies are we preparing for? Who and what are we deterring, and how do we know if it’s working? Who are we trying to reassure? What are the financial and opportunity costs? Do the defense treaties and overseas bases that emerged after World War II still serve U.S. interests? Which interests? How? Does a U.S. alliance with the Saudis truly offer more benefits than costs? What bad things would happen if we shifted course, taking a less compromising stance toward “allies” who don’t offer much in return?
Questions like these are legitimate and important, and it’s reasonable for ordinary Americans to be dissatisfied by politicians and pundits who make no real effort to offer answers.
Trump’s vision of the world — and his conception of statecraft — isn’t one I much like, but it reflects a fairly coherent theory of international relations. It’s realist, transactional, and Machiavellian — and it demands a serious, thoughtful, and nondefensive response.
If those of us in the foreign-policy community can’t be bothered to offer one, a “TRUMP” sign on the White House may, in the end, be no better than we deserve.

Trump Shifts to Clinton After Claiming GOP Delegate Majority

By Andy Dabilis -  May 27, 2016 0 27
The National Herald

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign rally, at the Rimrock Auto Arena, in Billings, Mont., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Presidential candidate Donald Trump, armed at last with a majority of the Republican Party’s delegates, is celebrating by shifting his attention toward the general election while his likely Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, remains locked in a divisive primary contest.

“Here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can’t close the deal,” Trump crowed May 26 during an appearance in North Dakota. “We’ve had tremendous support from almost everybody.”

Trump’s good news was tempered by ongoing internal problems, including the sudden departure of his political director and continuing resistance by many Republican leaders to declaring their support for his outsider candidacy.

At the same time, Clinton faced fresh questions about her use of a private email server while secretary of state, even as she fought to pivot toward Trump, who she warned would take the country “backward on every issue and value we care about.”

Campaigning before union workers in Las Vegas, she decried Trump’s anti-union comments and his proposal to deport millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. She said he is an “unqualified loose cannon” who should never be president.

Complicating her election challenge, Clinton’s Democratic rival Bernie Sanders embraced the possibility of a one-on-one debate with Trump.

The Republican said he’d “love to debate Bernie,” but would want the debate to raise at least $10 million for charity.

Just 75 delegates short of her own delegate majority, Clinton remains on a path to clinch the Democratic Presidential nomination, according to an Associated Press count. But Trump got there first.

The New York businessman sealed the majority by claiming a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told The Associated Press they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP Chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,239 and will easily pad his total in primary elections on June 7.

At a rally in Billings, Montana, Trump offered new specifics on his general election strategy.

“What I’m going to do is I want to focus on 15-or-so states,” he said, that could go “either way.” Among those he mentioned: the Democratic bastions of California and New York, which he insists he can put into play.

Trump said during a news conference that he would “absolutely” end his habit of attacking fellow Republicans now that the nomination is effectively his. But that truce appeared to be short-lived.

Speaking later at the Billings rally, Trump said 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who has refused to endorse him, had “failed so badly.”

His campaign also released a celebratory Instagram video that features a montage of former rivals, including Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, saying he would never be the party’s nominee.

Trump’s pivotal moment comes amid a new sign of internal problems.

Hours before clinching the nomination, he announced the departure of Political Director Rick Wiley, who was leading the campaign’s push to hire staff in key battleground states.

In a statement, Trump’s campaign said Wiley had been hired only until the candidate’s organization “was running full steam.”

President Putin visits Greece, first trip to Europe this year, investments, Mount Athos

By Associated Press -  May 27, 2016 0 24

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first trip to a European Union country this year Friday with a visit to Greece that will include a stop at a secluded Christian Orthodox monastic sanctuary.

Under heavy security, Putin arrived for a two-day visit expected to focus on energy cooperation and Russian investments during talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Athens is keen to maintain its traditionally close ties with post-Soviet Russia, despite its participation in European Union sanctions against Moscow, and a gas pipeline project designed to limit Russia’s regional energy dominance.

“These are difficult times for everyone — in terms of the economy and international security,” Putin said as he visited Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

“We must examine these problems and look for a solution. It is not a coincidence that an opportunity for this has arisen in Greece — a country with which we have deep and historic ties,” he said.

Putin traveled to Greece with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and top executives from state oil and gas companies. He was met at Athens Airport by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos as air force F-16s buzzed overhead as part of a welcoming ceremony.

Russia is one of Greece’s main trading partners, but business has been hit by the sanctions and drop in commodity prices.

Greece is also keen to reverse a slump in tourist arrivals from Russia last year.

“This will be the first time Putin has visited an EU country in the past six months and Russia-EU relations will be definitely on the agenda,” said Alexander Kokcharov of the U.S.-based IHS Country Risk group.

“Putin is likely to offer investment projects in Greece, most likely in energy and transport sectors. However, we do not expect that Greece would go against the EU consensus.”

Some 2,500 police will provide security for Putin’s visit in Athens, and much of the city center will be blocked to motorists and public transport.

On Saturday, Putin will visit the Monastery of St. Panteleimon, which is inhabited by Russian monks. It’s set in the 1,000-year-old Mount Athos autonomous monastic community, from which women are banned.

He will be accompanied by the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who arrived in northern Greece on Friday.

Putin stresses importance of common moral values of Russia, Greece

Russian Politics & Diplomacy  May 27, 18:46 UTC+3
Russia and Greece are developing very profound spiritual ties that are deeply rooted in history, says Putin

Putin hopes to strengthen Russia-Greece cooperation
ATHENS, May 27. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes in the importance of upholding common moral values by Russia and Greece. He said it on Friday at a meeting with the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Putin thank the Greek leadership, the Hellenic Orthodox Church and the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Universe, Bartholomew I for their support to his trip to the Holy Mount Athos where the millennium of Russian monastic presence will be celebrated.
"Quite probably. It’s not the dates that matter," he said. "What really matters is our common moral and ethical values."
"Russia and Greece are developing very profound spiritual ties that are deeply rooted in history," Putin said.
He recalled the Years of Russian culture in Greece and Greek culture in Russia that were held simultaneously this year.
"We can see the pace, at which these events are moving on," Putin said.

Preparing for War? Meet Turkey’s New Defense and Science Ministers

 Binali Yildirim greets party members during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, May 19, 2016
© REUTERS/ Umit Bektas
00:38 25.05.2016
Among twelve reshuffled and eight new ministers in new Turkey’s cabinet, two appointments are particularly revealing.

On Tuesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a new cabinet, proposed by new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who took the position vacated by Ahmet Davutoglu. Journalists note that many key figures retained their positions in the cabinet, though as many as twelve have new responsibilities.

The new defense minister is Fikri Islik, who served as the science, industry and technology minister in the Davutoglu cabinet. The Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology is, as the name suggests, the body that oversees what, how, and where production occurs, and, more importantly, the logistics of the procurement process.

"Isik did not have a directly defense-related portfolio except the satellite programs, but he was a de facto insider to procurement matters. Now he has officially become the man in charge," said an unnamed ministry representative, referring to Isik's being responsible for Turkey's Turksat-4B satellite, taken into orbit by Russian rocket in 2015.

According to Defense News, earlier this year Isik visited the US production unit of Sikorsky and discussed a Sikorsky-run Turkish program for the co-production of 109 utility helicopters for the Turkish military.

His seat is now taken by Faruk Ozlu, one of the eight first-time ministers with no previous government experience. According to Defense News, Ozlu was a director of several state-owned military-aviation defense companies, including Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries, HEAS and STM.

These two appointments may indicate that Turkey is on the verge of a large military project, which will likely include the Turkish Air Force. Is Turkey preparing for war? Or perhaps President Erdogan, secretly impressed by the performance of the Russian Air Force in Syria, will now take an even more direct approach to Turkey's internal Kurdish contrariety?

Explosion: 2 dead, 11 injured in bus in Albania

A terrorist act against christian orthodox community has happened in center of Kruja.

 According to natives of Kruja, a strong explosion inside the bus, has fired heavy the members of the Orthodox Churche of Vlora

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Police say that one woman has died and 11 others were injured when a fire broke in a bus in northern Albania.

Police said Friday that the fire broke out at 11:25 a.m. (0925 GMT) when the Mercedes bus was near the old bazaar in Kruja, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the capital, Tirana. It was taking 30 Christian Orthodox believers coming from the southwestern port city of Vlora to visit the castle of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, a 15th-century warrior.

Local media quoted one of the passengers saying the fire spread rapidly and that passengers could not reach the bus door, but got out after some passers-by smashed some windows.
A burned bus is seen on the street in Kruja, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the capital, Tirana, Friday, May 27, 2016. Police say that one woman has died ...
A burned bus is seen on the street in Kruja, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the capital, Tirana, Friday, May 27, 2016. Police say that one woman has died and 12 others were injured after a bus caught fire in northern Albania. The bus was taking 30 Christian Orthodox believers coming from the southwestern port city of Vlora to visit the castle of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, a 15th-century warrior. (AP Photo)

Doctors said eight of the injured — all elderly women — were gravely ill with burns over more than half of their bodies. First reports had said 12 people were injured.
Church officials said that the group was on a pilgrimage around Albania and neighboring Montenegro.
Police say the cause of the fire is being investigated.
This corrects earlier copy which said 12 were injured.
A burned bus is seen on the street in Kruja, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the capital, Tirana, Friday, May 27, 2016. Police say that one woman has died ...
A burned bus is seen on the street in Kruja, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the capital, Tirana, Friday, May 27, 2016. Police say that one woman has died ...
A burned bus is seen on the street in Kruja, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of the capital, Tirana, Friday, May 27, 2016. Police say that one woman has died ...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Αρθρο Πούτιν στην «Κ» - Ρωσία και Ελλάδα: συνεργασία για ειρήνη και ευημερία

Η Ρωσία θα μπορούσε να συμβάλει στην αναβάθμιση των ελληνικών υποδομών στο πεδίο των μεταφορών.

Την παραμονή της επίσκεψής μου στην Αθήνα, θα ήθελα να μοιραστώ με τους αναγνώστες της «Καθημερινής», μιας από τις πιο δημοφιλείς και έγκυρες ελληνικές εφημερίδες, μερικές σκέψεις μου για την περαιτέρω ανάπτυξη των εταιρικών σχέσεων μεταξύ της Ρωσίας και της Ελλάδας, καθώς και για την κατάσταση που επικρατεί στην ευρωπαϊκή ήπειρο γενικότερα.

Εκτιμούμε τις μακραίωνες παραδόσεις φιλίας που έχουν διαμορφωθεί μεταξύ των λαών μας. Οι κοινές πολιτισμικές αξίες, ο ορθόδοξος πολιτισμός και η ειλικρινής αμοιβαία συμπάθεια αποτελούν στέρεα θεμέλια της συνεργασίας μας. Ενα λαμπρό παράδειγμα για το πόσο στενά συνδέονται οι τύχες των λαών μας είναι ο βίος του Ιωάννη Καποδίστρια, ο οποίος κατά τον 19ο αιώνα διετέλεσε υπουργός Εξωτερικών της Ρωσίας και στη συνέχεια κυβερνήτης του ελληνικού κράτους.

Κατά το τρέχον έτος, ιδιαίτερη σημασία θα έχουν οι εορτασμοί της χιλιετούς παρουσίας Ρώσων μοναχών στο Αγιον Ορος. Σε πολύ διαφορετικές ιστορικές εποχές, οι πνευματικές δυνάμεις, η πίστη, ο πατριωτισμός βοηθούσαν τους λαούς μας να ξεπεράσουν τις δύσκολες δοκιμασίες και να διατηρήσουν την ταυτότητά τους.

Κάθε χρόνο τη χώρα σας επισκέπτονται εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες Ρώσοι τουρίστες. Απολαμβάνουν τις όμορφες ελληνικές παραλίες, γνωρίζουν από κοντά την πλούσια κληρονομιά της αρχαίας Ελλάδας και τα θρυλικά αρχιτεκτονικά μνημεία της. Ο τουρισμός συμβάλλει σημαντικά στην οικονομική ανάπτυξη της Ελλάδας, καθώς και στη διεύρυνση των άμεσων ανθρώπινων επαφών, στην ενίσχυση της εμπιστοσύνης και της φιλίας μεταξύ των πολιτών μας.

Ξέρω ότι οι Ελληνες διατηρούν καλά στη μνήμη τους τον ρόλο-κλειδί της Ρωσίας στην ανεξαρτητοποίηση της χώρας σας. Η ρωσική υποστήριξη του εθνικού απελευθερωτικού αγώνα των Ελλήνων καθόρισε σε μεγάλο βαθμό την πυξίδα της περαιτέρω ανάπτυξης των διμερών σχέσεων.

Σήμερα η Ελλάδα είναι ένας σημαντικός εταίρος της Ρωσίας στην Ευρώπη. Διεξάγουμε έναν
δυναμικό πολιτικό διάλογο σε πολλά επίπεδα, συμπεριλαμβανομένου και του ανώτατου. Κατά τη διάρκεια της συνάντησης με τον Πρόεδρο κ. Προκόπη Παυλόπουλο τον Ιανουάριο του τρέχοντος έτους ανακοινώσαμε την έναρξη του «Αφιερωματικού» Ετους Ρωσίας – Ελλάδας. Το πρόγραμμά του προβλέπει μια σειρά από εκδηλώσεις στον επιστημονικό, εκπαιδευτικό, ανθρωπιστικό και τουριστικό τομέα. Είμαι πεπεισμένος ότι αυτό θα βοηθήσει τους λαούς μας να γνωρίσουν ακόμη πιο κοντά ο ένας την ιστορία, τις παραδόσεις και τα έθιμα του άλλου.

Πέρυσι, ο πρωθυπουργός Αλέξης Τσίπρας επισκέφθηκε δύο φορές τη Ρωσία. Είχαμε πολύ χρήσιμες και ουσιαστικές συνομιλίες. Ενισχύονται οι επαφές μεταξύ υπουργείων και κρατικών οργανισμών, κοινοβουλίων και κοινωνικών οργανώσεων.

Δυστυχώς, την περαιτέρω εμβάθυνση της συνεργασίας μας εμποδίζει η κάμψη στις σχέσεις μεταξύ της Ρωσίας και της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενωσης και αυτό επηρεάζει αρνητικά τη δυναμική των διμερών εμπορικών συναλλαγών, οι οποίες σε σχέση με πέρυσι μειώθηκαν κατά ένα τρίτο – στα 2,75 δισ. δολ. ΗΠΑ. Η ζημία ήταν ιδιαίτερα βαριά για τους Ελληνες παραγωγούς αγροτικών προϊόντων.

Η Ρωσία ξεκινά από την ανάγκη οικοδόμησης ενός ισότιμου και γνήσιου εταιρικού διαλόγου με την Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση σε ένα ευρύτατο φάσμα θεμάτων – από την απλοποίηση του καθεστώτος θεωρήσεων διαβατηρίων μέχρι τον σχηματισμό μιας ενεργειακής συμμαχίας. Ωστόσο, δεν παρατηρούμε μέχρι τώρα ότι οι Ευρωπαίοι ομόλογοί μας έχουν την αντίστοιχη προθυμία να ακολουθήσουμε μαζί μια τέτοια αμοιβαία επωφελή και πολλά υποσχόμενη πορεία.

Παρ’ όλα αυτά, πιστεύουμε ότι στις σχέσεις μας με την Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση δεν υπάρχουν προβλήματα που δεν μπορούν να επιλυθούν. Για να επιστρέψουμε σε τροχιά ανάπτυξης της πολυδιάστατης εταιρικής σχέσης, πρέπει μόνο να απορριφθεί η εσφαλμένη λογική ότι μία πλευρά μπορεί να μονοπωλήσει το παιχνίδι. Κάθε μια από τις δύο πλευρές οφείλει να παίρνει σοβαρά υπ’ όψιν τις απόψεις και τα συμφέροντα της άλλης.

Η Ρωσία και η Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση έχουν φτάσει πλέον σ’ ένα σταυροδρόμι, όπου πρέπει να δοθεί η απάντηση στο ερώτημα: πώς βλέπουμε το μέλλον των σχέσεών μας και ποιο δρόμο θα ακολουθήσουμε; Είμαι πεπεισμένος ότι από τα γεγονότα στην Ουκρανία πρέπει να βγάλουμε τα δέοντα συμπεράσματα και να ξεκινήσουμε την οικοδόμηση, στην αχανή περιοχή από τον Ατλαντικό έως τον Ειρηνικό ωκεανό, μιας ζώνης οικονομικής και ανθρωπιστικής συνεργασίας με βάση την αρχιτεκτονική της ισότιμης και αδιαίρετης ασφάλειας. Ενα σημαντικό βήμα προς αυτήν την κατεύθυνση θα ήταν η εναρμόνιση των διαδικασιών της Ευρωπαϊκής και της Ευρασιατικής ολοκλήρωσης.

Το έργο αυτό γίνεται όλο και πιο απαραίτητο λόγω του γεγονότος ότι η Ευρώπη σήμερα αντιμετωπίζει αυξανόμενο ανταγωνισμό από άλλα κέντρα επιρροής του σύγχρονου κόσμου. Παραδείγματος χάριν, τις προάλλες, στην επετειακή σύνοδο κορυφής Ρωσίας-ASEAN στο Σότσι είχαμε εποικοδομητική συζήτηση με τους εταίρους μας για επίκαιρα διεθνή θέματα και για τις προοπτικές ακόμα στενότερης ολοκλήρωσης και συνεργασίας στην περιοχή της Ασίας και του Ειρηνικού. Είναι ολοφάνερο ότι για να εξασφαλίσει η «Γηραιά ήπειρος» τη θέση που δικαιούται στη νέα διεθνή πραγματικότητα πρέπει να συνενωθεί το δυναμικό όλων των ευρωπαϊκών χωρών, συμπεριλαμβανομένης και της Ρωσίας.

Ενα σπουδαίο στοιχείο σε αυτό το σύστημα αποτελούν οι πολυδιάστατες ρωσοελληνικές σχέσεις. Θα ήθελα να τονίσω ιδιαίτερα τη σημασία του ενεργειακού τομέα. Είμαστε σταθερά προσηλωμένοι στη διαφοροποίηση των διαδρόμων μεταφοράς ενέργειας, η οποία θα αυξήσει τη σταθερότητα των προμηθειών και, συνεπώς, την ενεργειακή ασφάλεια της Ευρώπης συνολικά.

Εδώ και δύο δεκαετίες η Ρωσία παραμένει σταθερός και ασφαλής προμηθευτής του φυσικού αερίου για την Ελλάδα. Η ισχύουσα συμφωνία με την Ελλάδα έχει ανανεωθεί έως το 2026 με ευνοϊκούς για τη χώρα σας όρους. Εχοντας υπ’ όψιν την επιθυμία των ελληνικών αρχών να αναδειχθεί η χώρα σε σημαντικό ενεργειακό κόμβο των Βαλκανίων, υπολογίζαμε πάντα την Ελλάδα στους σχεδιασμούς μας για την αύξηση των εφοδιασμών των υδρογονανθράκων στην Κεντρική και Δυτική Ευρώπη.

Από το 2006 η Gazprom προωθούσε δυναμικά το σχέδιο «Νότιος Αγωγός». Αλλά σε κάποιο στάδιο η υλοποίησή του έγινε αδύνατη λόγω της μη εποικοδομητικής στάσης της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής. Αν και αναγκαστήκαμε να σταματήσουμε το σχέδιο, το θέμα των νοτίων διαδρόμων διέλευσης των ενεργειακών πόρων μας στις χώρες της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενωσης παραμένει στην ατζέντα. Τον Φεβρουάριο στη Ρώμη οι επικεφαλής της Gazprom, της ιταλικής εταιρείας Edison και της ελληνικής ΔΕΠΑ υπέγραψαν το Μνημόνιο Κατανόησης για τη μεταφορά του ρωσικού φυσικού αερίου μέσω του βυθού της Μαύρης Θάλασσας και τρίτων χωρών προς την Ελλάδα και Ιταλία.

Η Ρωσία θα μπορούσε να συμβάλει επίσης στην αναβάθμιση των ελληνικών υποδομών στο πεδίο των μεταφορών. Πρόκειται για την συμμετοχή ρωσικών επιχειρηματικών ομίλων στους επικείμενους διαγωνισμούς για την απόκτηση περιουσιακών στοιχείων των σιδηροδρομικών εταιρειών και του λιμένα της Θεσσαλονίκης. Υπάρχει και μια σειρά άλλων σχεδίων που μπορούν να ενισχύσουν σημαντικά τη διμερή συνεργασία.

Είμαι βέβαιος ότι οι φιλικές ρωσοελληνικές σχέσεις συνιστούν κοινή μας κληρονομιά και σταθερή βάση για μια πολλά υποσχόμενη εταιρική σχέση, με το βλέμμα στραμμένο στο μέλλον. Ευελπιστώ ότι θα εντατικοποιήσουμε περαιτέρω τον πολυδιάστατο διάλογο και θα υλοποιήσουμε μαζί τα κοινά μας σχέδια.

Donald Trump becomes 'official Republican presidential nominee'

The billionaire has been unopposed since his final two rivals dropped out of the contest in early May
Donald Trump has officially done it, quietly moving past the magic number of delegates needed to ensure he is crowned Republican nominee for the White House in 2016.
According to the delegate count kept by the Associated Press, Mr Trump, the brash New York billionaire who has been unopposed since his last two rivals dropped out of the contest in early May, made it to the vaunted 1,237 threshold – and just beyond – on Thursday.
The passing of the milestone should finally dispose of any lingering sense of disbelief about the political potency of the world’s most boastful property baron and reality television entrepreneur.
It was a moment as profoundly significant – for him, for his party and possibly for the world – as it was oddly anticlimactic. For all the intense drama that had come before it, the announcement that he had finally made it was essentially little more than an electoral accounting update.
There wasn’t even some thundering primary win to push him over the top. The most recent was in Washington state on Tuesday which gave him 40 new delegates, taking him to within a whisper of the required tally. What did it, AP said, was a few so-called unbound delegates reporting their decisions to swing behind him.
The storming of the Republican bastion by Mr Trump was predicted by few. When he declared in the gold and marble confines of Trump Tower last June and uttered his now famous smears about Mexican migrants, he was widely dismissed as a noisy, impossibly offensive, freak show.
Then as he began gradually to barge his rivals from the road one by one – Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie were among his earliest victims – and it was down essentially to him and Senator Ted Cruz (with straggler John Kasich declining to give up) the conversation changed.

Who could stop him now and how?

That was then, when everything rested on Mr Trump winning the two big states at the very end of the primary marathon, California and New Jersey, both set to vote on 7 June. The anti-Trump movement had one last hope: that he would arrive at the party convention in Cleveland in July just shy of the number of delegates he needed to clinch the crown.
Barring some dramatic rebellion or boycott by delegates still unnerved by the notion of a former reality star taking their party’s helm – and some are still agitating for exactly that – there will be no contested convention. Mr Trump will run the show.  And a show it promises to be.
If anything, it is the Democrat convention in Philadelphia that now has the potential to erupt into chaos with supporters of Bernie Sanders of Hillary Clinton potentially clashing.
Speaking in North Dakota, Mr Trump derided Ms Clinton, his most likely general election rival, for her failure to conclusively sew up the Democratic nomination. “A lot of people said [the Republican nomination race] wouldn’t be solved at the convention, and here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can’t close the deal,” Mr Trump said.
The property mogul also predicted that his GOP critics would soon fall in line behind his candidacy, including Susana Martinez, the Latina Republican governor of New Mexico, whom he criticised at a rally earlier this week, and who has so far declined to endorse him. “I imagine she’ll come over to my side,” he said.

Kotsias in Tirana? The "law of War", in reciprocity ... Bushati includes Greek cemetery

Top Channel TV

Foreign Minister of Greece, Nikos Kotzias will come back to Albania on 6-7 June at the 8th meeting in two years with his Albanian counterpart, Bushati. But while the meeting is not a matter of the fact that the two countries already have a bridge of mutual and reciprocal communication.

"There are no conditions of Albania and Greece, there is a real dialogue, proposals and research for the best way on how to address these kinds of problems. But of course, if we can talk about a red line, the red line is the concept that we have invested in this process. which means dialogue between the two neighbors equitable, accountable, NATO members, watching out for the common European future. Two neighbors who respect each other, respect the constitutional traditions and, of course, observe the patterns that have the inspiration to international law, "said Minister Bushati.

But regardless, the division of outstanding issues is only one issue that keeps it suspended a number of other issues.

"Although we are divided in 3 chapters, are issues that have to do with each other. If talk about repeal of the law of war by Greece, related to the revision of history textbooks, there is the issue of property of Albanian and Albanian state in Greece. There are also links with reverence for the fallen Greek Albanian territory, because we need to end the war, in order to start all other processes. Repeal has direct political values ​​and legal, or addressing the Cham issue as a matter of fundamental freedoms and human rights, in accordance with international standards, will serve many climate of trust between our two countries, "said the Minister Bushati further.

Albanian criminal group arrested in Athens


Τις φωτογραφίες και τα στοιχεία 17 ατόμων τα οποία ήταν μέλη της αλβανικής εγκληματικές οργάνωσης που διέπραττε ένοπλες ληστείες και κλοπές σε σπίτια στην Αττική ενώ έχει διαπιστωθεί ΄τι ευθύνονται και για το φόνο μιας τουλάχισοτν άτυχης ηλικιωμένης Ελληνίδας.

Πρόκειται για 16 αλβανούς και έναν Έλληνα σε βάρος των οποίων έχει ήδη ασκηθεί ποινική δίωξη για τα αδικήματα της σύστασης και συμμετοχής σε εγκληματική οργάνωση, της ληστείας και της θανατηφόρας ληστείας, των διακεκριμένων περιπτώσεων κλοπής και της αντίστασης καθώς και για παράβαση των νόμων περί όπλων και περί ναρκωτικών.

Οι αρχές δημοσιοποίησαν τα στοιχεία τους έπειτα από σχετική Διάταξης της Εισαγγελίας Πρωτοδικών Αθηνών και καλεί τους πολίτες να επικοινωνήσουν με τους τηλεφωνικούς αριθμούς 210-6411111 της Διεύθυνσης Ασφάλειας Αττικής και 210-6476201 του Τμήματος Εγκλημάτων κατά Ιδιοκτησίας, για την παροχή οποιασδήποτε σχετικής πληροφορίας.

Διευκρινίζεται πως μετά το νόμο για την αποσυμφόρηση των φυλακών και την συμφόρηση της κοινωνίας όλοι τους, θα αφεθούν ελεύθεροι ύστερα από κάποιο μικρό διάστημα και ουδείς από τους κατωτέρω αλβανούς δεν πρόκειται να απελαθεί.

Varoufakis Composes Song for Albania's Biennale

The former Greek finance minister has written the lyrics for one of the songs about migration that will form Albania's unusual contribution to the Venice Biennale.


A traditional male group performing iso - poliphonic songs.  Photo: Wikipedia

Albania will be represented on Thursday at the opening of the Architecture Biennale of Venice in an innovative way.

Instead of presenting visual art, Albania will showcase "iso-polyphony" music sung by four folk groups using lyrics written by Albanians and other international personalities.

The organizers months ago asked 10 personalities - poets, writers, architects and artists - all of whom have experience of migration - to write lyrics about migration - the central topic of the Albanian pavilion during the six months of the biennale.

Their texts have been translated into Albanian and will be sung by folk music groups from Tirana, Himara, Fier and Vlora, thus creating new folk songs.

One of those who wrote lyrics transformed into a folk song for Albania is the well-known anti-austerity economist and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis.

One of the curators of the Albanian pavilion, the American architect, Simon Battisti, told BIRN that Varoufakis' text was very personal.

"In the text he tells his own story of being away from home and separated from his daughter, living far away from her," he noted.

"In other cases, we have more general texts about migration, like the case of poet Etel Adnan, who retells the emotional side of being far from your loved-one," he said.

The project that Albania is presenting is called "I Have Left You the Mountain", and it seeks to evoke places and loss through song, displaying the theme of displacement and migration, both of which have been prevalent throughout Albanian history.

"In the Architectural Biennale, you walk down the hallways and what you see are buildings and pictures of cities, but we just wanted for once to explore the emotional side of the physical phenomenon of displacement, which is very present in Albania," Battisti said.

On the other hand, Battisti says the Albanian project wanted also to make a contribution to the wider topic of migration, which is a major issue all over Europe right now.

The songs during the biennale will be played by a record player that is going to play simultaneously on eight channels, to fully give listeners a taste of Albanian traditional iso-polyphony, included in UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list.

The Albania representation in the biennale is sponsored by the Albanian Ministry of Culture and the project was selected from an open call for proposals at the end of last year.

The Albanian pavilion opens on Thursday and will remain open for the next six months.
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Demolished Houses in Himara Region by the Albanian Government, with EU Funds


Funds for Albania –€ 28.7 million to the Government for the development of poor rural communities and the modernization of municipal infrastructures with respect for historical heritage and the environment.

The implementation of a "development plan" for the region of Himara has begun by the Albanian Government, but no one officially knows exactly what is included in this project and what is the source of abundant funding. The plan is presented to the world fragmented into small individual interventions and investments, including the construction of a square or a coastal road, the reconstruction of a church, etc. So far, however, they have not been organized by the competent meetings bodies with the local community nor have posted relevant communications although the implementation of the project has begun.

What is ultimately the "development plan" and who is funding?

Although shown as autonomous interventions and investments all the projects of "development plan" have something in common: the oversight body and funding management is the Albanian Development Fund (Fondi Shqiptar i Zhvillimit F.SH.ZH.). On the website of the Albanian Development Fund find information for a large development project called "Development of the Albanian Alps and the coastal region" ( "Community Works IV: Development of the Albanian Alps and Coastal Area" Project). This project, according to F.SH.ZH., funded with 28.7 million euros from the European Development Bank and 6,000,000 euro (relating to taxation) from the Albanian government (see. Link relative).

In the Development Bank website of the European Council we find a communication dated November 6, 2014 to notify the approval of this finance to the Albanian Government in the amount of EUR 28.7 million for the purpose stated in the notice of the Albanian Development Fund (see . related link).

Why hide the Albanian Government the actual name of the project and the real source of funding?

First: The Albanian Government is trying to benefit politically and economically from the implementation of the project and presents it as its own investment. For this reason, the plan appears as an initiative of the Prime Minister Rama himself appears on every occasion on construction sites as initiator and benefactor.

Second: The Albanian Government is trying in this way to avoid the application of European procedures and principles, such as transparency and legitimacy in the implementation of the project. So in the design deliberately avoided mentioning the financing by the European Union.

Third: After the fiasco of the previous development plan was to be financed by the World Bank, it has resulted in cancellation of funding in the last stage because of the practices of the Albanian side, the Albanian Government is now trying to conceal the source of funding of the project in the hope that will manage the money at will, avoiding the local community reactions and European control.

In this way the Albanian government announced interventions in 11 churches of the Orthodox Church, of which seven are located in the region of Himara, but never consulted with the local community of Himara. And worse, they never consulted with  the Autocephalous Church of Albania, which is the administrator of temples and legitimate and recognized by the state representative of the Orthodox Christian community in Albania.

The demolition of houses and businesses in the villages of Himara are not officially informed the owners affected, although the relevant law obliges the Planning Service to inform the owner in writing at least 10 days before the demolition.

The above are not the only arbitrariness of the Albanian State in Himara, which violates its own law, but what is surprising is that all this happens in the implementation of a development project funded substantially by the European Union.

At present the implementation of the plan has sparked the ire of residents of Himara. We expect the European Union's response and hope this does not come too late for the Greek population of Himara.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton Will Be a Foreign-Policy Nightmare

Imagine it is the morning of January 21st, 2017: President Hillary Clinton enters the Oval Office for her first daily briefing from the CIA. Without having to do much guessing we know that this briefing will be replete with terrible news about all the many fires burning around the world. The first priority, of course, will be the Islamic State (ISIS).

Unlike her predecessor, who appeared to have mixed feelings about the use of military force throughout his presidency, Clinton appears to have no such misgivings. Hillary Clinton was a dogged champion for military intervention as Secretary of State. As a candidate, she has been among the most hawkish Democrats in living memory, outdoing most of this year’s Republicans. She has repeatedly called for “an intensification and acceleration” of President Obama’s ISIS strategy.

As president, Clinton will face few obstacles in her desire to exert decisive leadership on the global stage. In the worst-case scenario, President Clinton, in pursuit of a muscular approach to confronting ISIS, will make three related decisions that doom American foreign policy to another decade of turmoil, casualties, and terrorism.

The first decision will be to send thousands of American ground troops to eradicate the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. U.S. military leaders have made clear publicly that they believe that as many as 50,000 troops will be necessary to dig ISIS out of its strongholds in Syria and Iraq. A determined President Clinton who sends enough troops, planes, and tanks can certainly win the military campaign against ISIS. Even so, ISIS has had years to dig in. Given this and the dangers of urban warfare, the cost in American casualties will likely be significant. Further, ISIS could disperse its fighters among the general population, returning to either guerrilla or terrorist strategy. The United States was not able to prevent terrorist attacks in Iraq or the rise of ISIS after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. There is little reason to imagine it could do so under President Clinton in 2017 when conditions in Iraq are even worse.

Moreover, this time the fight is not limited to Iraq. ISIS presents an even greater challenge in many ways in Syria, where an expanded U.S. campaign will clash with Russian interests, which include supporting Assad against American-support rebel groups.
And let’s not forget the nascent ISIS foothold in Libya, the scene of Hillary Clinton’s greatest triumph as Secretary of State (and President Obama’s greatest self acknowledged foreign policy mistake). Libya suffers from a political situation heavily reminiscent of both Syria and Iraq, with multiple competing factions all battling for position to take power, operating under extreme duress thanks in part to the presence of the Islamic State. Any American intervention in Libya inevitably means favoring some factions over others, not to mention killing lots of Libyans, including civilians, all of which will add to the long list of people with grievances against the United States. Nonetheless, the signs suggest that the Obama administration is already preparing for another round of intervention. There is little reason to think that Clinton is not ready to approve it.

Clinton’s second ill-fated decision will be to attempt to restore and stabilize Iraq. Regardless of how well the military phase of the campaign goes Iraq, which is already a huge mess, will be in much worse shape afterwards. President Clinton, with the support of many Republicans in Congress, will argue that the only way to prevent ISIS from rising again is to help Iraq’s devastated society and economy to recover, which in turn will require a large and permanent military presence. The notion of stationing 50,000 troops in Iraq forever as the United States has done in South Korea is a horrendously costly prospect, and one that will likely have serious destabilizing effects on the rest of the Middle East. But Iraq is not South Korea; the U.S. cannot expect to spend fifty or sixty peaceful years watching over Iraq.

The military victory will have done absolutely nothing to resolve the fundamental sectarian and political conflicts that have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Nor will the victory have made the U.S. any more capable of fostering stability and democracy. Beyond this we cannot forget that ISIS itself grew out of the chaos that followed the 2003 invasion. It seems safe to assume that another intervention would raise, not lower, the risks of future terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies.

The third decision President Clinton will make is to reverse President Obama’s plan to draw down the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, where the Taliban now controls more territory than at any point since 2001. The rationale for more aggressive action in Afghanistan will echo the rationale for taking on ISIS in Syria and Iraq. As Clinton said on the campaign trail, “We have invested a lot of blood and a lot of treasure in trying to help that country and we can’t afford for it to become an outpost of the Taliban and [Islamic State] one more time, threatening us, threatening the larger world.”
And yet, as with Iraq, all the evidence indicates that a more aggressive military campaign will fail for all the same reasons the policy has failed thus far. Despite 2,300 American casualties and roughly a trillion dollars spent in Afghanistan to date, fifteen years of intense effort has resulted in a country still unable to survive without life support. The simple fact is that Afghanistan’s fractured society and almost non-existent economy are incapable of providing the necessary counterweight to the Taliban. The result is that the costs of such an operation would far outweigh the benefits.

How likely is this nightmare scenario? All three decisions are entirely plausible given the decisions made by the previous two presidents. Hillary Clinton’s own behavior as Secretary of State and her comments on the campaign trail only make them more so. That said, predicting the future is a tricky business. As concerned as Americans are about ISIS, they are also tired of war in the Middle East and sending troops to the desert carries enormous political risks for any president. It may turn out, then, that foreign policy under a new Clinton administration would be far more restrained than the worst-case scenario I have outlined here. But what if it isn’t? The costs for America in lives and treasure could be momentous.

Trevor Thrall is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and an associate professor at George Mason University in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs.

Αυτοί είναι οι VIP αγοραστές του πλαστογραφημένου κτήματος στην Χιμάρα

Πριν λίγες ημέρες ο εισαγγελέας Αυλώνας ανακοίνωσε την κατάσχεση κτήματος με έκταση 20.000 τετραγωνικά μέτρα στην περιοχή του κόλπου του Πανόρμου στην Χιμάρα. Αν και πρόκειται για χοντρή και πασιφανή πλαστογράφηση, το κτήμα είχε εγγραφεί στο κτηματολόγιο Αυλώνας παρά τους ελέγχους και τις δυσκολίες που αντιμετωπίζουν άλλοι κάτοικοι της Χιμάρας στην ίδια κρατική υπηρεσία.
Το κτήμα το οποίο αρχικά ανήκε στον κάτοικο Χιμάρας Βασίλη Ράπο, είχε στην συνέχεια "πουληθεί" και παραχωρηθεί δωρεάν σε άλλους, οι οποίοι όπως προκύπτει είναι γνωστά πρόσωπα όχι μόνο στην Χιμάρα αλλά και σε ολόκληρη την Αλβανία με θέσεις και διασυνδέσεις στο αλβανικό κράτος.
Ποιοι είναι οι VIP "αγοραστές" του πλαστογραφημένου κτήματος;
Με βάση δημοσίευμα γνωστής αλβανική ιστοσελίδας ειδήσεων προκύπτει πως το κτήμα έχει πουληθεί και παραχωρηθεί δωρεάν σε δύο συγγενείς ενός γενικού υποδιευθυντή της αστυνομίας της Αλβανίας με καταγωγή από το χωριό Πήλιουρη της Χιμάρας, σε έναν γνωστό στην τοπική κοινότητα δικηγόρο, σε έναν πρώην αρχηγό της αστυνομίας και σε έναν μεγάλο επιχειρηματία στα Τίρανα.
Με βάση το δημοσίευμα του Syri,net πρόκειται για τον γνωστό δημοσιογράφο με καταγωγή από το χωριό Πήλιουρη Aleksander και τον αδερφό του Andon Cipa, τον πολύ γνωστό και δραστήριο στην Χιμάρα δικηγόρο Agron Gurabardhi με την σύζυγο του, τον πρώην αρχηγό της αστυνομίας Gjelosh Prendi, και τον γνωστό επιχειρηματία στα Τίρανα N. Janina.
Σύμφωνα με δημοσίευμα στο blog SManalysis προκύπτει πως και το υπόλοιπο κτήμα όπου έχουν κατασκευαστεί θερινές κατοικίες έχει πουληθεί σε δήμαρχο από την νότια Αλβανία και στον αδερφό του που είναι υψηλόβαθμο στέλεχος της Αλβανικής αστυνoμίας και άλλους. Ο αρχικός τίτλος ιδιοκτησίας για αυτή την επιφάνεια είχε εκδοθεί στον Βασίλη Ράπο με βάση το νόμο 7501 Περί αγροτικής γης, αν και στην συγκεκριμένη περιοχή δεν υπάρχει αγροτική γη αλλά βοσκοτόπια.
Τα στοιχεία αυτά έλυσαν τις απορίες μας για το πως κατάφερε να γραφτεί αυτό το πλαστογραφημένο κτήμα στο κτηματολόγια Αυλώνας τόσο εύκολα.


A Less Strident Battle Brews Over Greece

Geopolitical Diary

May 19, 2016


The interests of International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde (l) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the issue of Greek debt relief diverge, a difference that could lead to another Grexit crisis this summer. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

It may not have the same fireworks as the 2015 version, but the summer of 2016 could yet bring its very own Grexit crisis. This one will feature many of the same players as its predecessor, though in some cases, they will have changed roles.

In the 2015 iteration, Germany, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund joined forces to stare down a recalcitrant (and highly indebted) Greece. At stake were the terms under which Athens would receive money to pay off the loans it took to bail out its faltering economy. The crisis unfolded while France, Italy and the European Commission counseled leniency from the sidelines. A year later, Greece is no longer rebelling. In fact, the very same government that resisted austerity measures is willingly taking its medicine in the shape of stringent reforms. But as so often happens after a victory, former allies are now fighting among themselves.

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The IMF, which, along with Germany, once advocated for Greek structural economic reform, is now clashing with its Teutonic partner as it tries to lighten Greece's debt load. The two former allies have differing priorities. With federal elections coming up in 2017, Germany's leaders are feeling the pressure of all the money Greece owes its taxpayers. The IMF, meanwhile, is driven less by politics than by its mandate to lend to distressed countries on terms that will not cripple them financially. Having done the calculations, it believes the current payback agreement is unmanageable for a country in Greece's position.

Now the former allies are at loggerheads over the country that once united them. Greece is running low on funds and has a sizable debt repayment due in July — just as it did in 2015 — requiring its creditors to structure a bailout package if they want to avoid a Greek exit from the euro. The easiest way to do this, considering the IMF's awkward position on debt relief, would be for the European countries to proceed with repayment negotiations without the organization's involvement. But this is something that Germany is unwilling to do.

Though the IMF promotes leniency on debt repayments, it also favors structural reform. Greece is now following that path, one that both the Germans and the IMF believe will lead the Greek economy toward self-sufficiency. A deal without the IMF would leave Germany alone among its eurozone peers, many of which do not share its zest for reform. Even last summer, much of Southern Europe and the European Commission — whose priority is for everyone to get along — called for a softer line to be taken on Greece.

As if on cue, Germany's Mediterranean adversaries have chosen this moment to publicly air their unity. A meeting of Europe's socialist leaders will convene May 20, including the leaders of France, Portugal and Italy, which is hosting the summit; Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will also be attending as an observer. At a similar meeting in December, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi urged his socialist brethren to unite against German dominance in Europe. Debt relief and the conditions of a Greek bailout would seem a choice arena in which to demonstrate their collective resistance.

Consequently, Germany wants the IMF to back down and agree to the bailout without requiring debt relief among its conditions. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's latest statements indicate that debt relief may be considered, but only in 2018 — safely after Germany's national elections — and that the IMF should sign off on the timeline now with the longer term in mind.

But so far, the IMF is sticking to its convictions, and, for various reasons, it will be less amenable to European persuasion than it was in the past. Some of these reasons trace back to the first Greek bailout back in 2010, when the IMF broke its own rules, agreeing to contribute to Greece's assistance package even though the suggested terms did not meet its normal lending standards. This strengthened the widespread feeling that the United States and the European Union held outsized sway over the IMF, which is supposed to be a global institution. In December 2015, the United States finally ratified a 2010 reform of the IMF, designed in part to redress this imbalance. As a result, the IMF of 2016 answers to a more globally diversified set of voters than the IMF of a year ago did. Furthermore, German and EU influence within the institution have been greatly reduced.

And so the summer will bring with it the possibility of a new standoff over Greece. Without the colorful characters from last year (former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis springs to mind), the spectacle will likely be less dramatic. Since neither side is threatening its own suicide — as Greece was — the rhetoric will probably be less emotional. Indeed, there will probably be fewer tense moments than there were last year, since this time, neither side is willing to let disaster strike on its watch. Nevertheless, the same high-stakes game of brinkmanship will be played out. But this time, Greece will be playing the role not of the pugilist but of the wide-eyed victim in the middle.