EC President: “No unanimity among member states on opening negotiations”

EC President: “No unanimity among member states on opening negotiations”

TIRANA, Jan. 24 – European Council President Charles Michel in a joint press statement with Prime Minister Edi Rama said there is still no unanimity among EU member states countries on whether Albania should open accession negotiations with the union.

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President addresses Venice Commission on Constitutional Court clash with gov’t

President addresses Venice Commission on Constitutional Court clash with gov’t

TIRANA, Jan. 24 – President Ilir Meta has addressed the Venice Commission with a lengthy request, in response to a move made by the majority to seek from this body of international experts an interpretation of the situation created last

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SPAK begins investigations on alleged Bulqiza mayor’s cocaine snorting video

SPAK begins investigations on alleged Bulqiza mayor’s cocaine snorting video

TIRANA, Jan. 24 – The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office launched on Friday an investigation into Bulqiza’s Mayor Lefter Alla, after ABC News Television posted a video in which, according to the journalist Artan Hoxha he appeared to be snorting cocaine.

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Transparency International: “WB fight against corruption did not improve during 2019”

Transparency International: “WB fight against corruption did not improve during 2019”

TIRANA, Jan. 23 – International organization Transparency International estimated at its latest Corruption Perception Index for 2019 that despite aspirations to join the European Union, the results of the fight against corruption in the six Western Balkan countries and in

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Ministry of Education closes Iran-backed capital school

Ministry of Education closes Iran-backed capital school

TIRANA, Jan. 23 – The Ministry of Education has closed the Saadi School, which was reportedly funded by Iran and has been operating in Tirana for several years.  This ruling was issued by Education Minister Besa Shahini.  The decision does

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Think tanks from the region debate current EU integration process amidst expected developments

Think tanks from the region debate current EU integration process amidst expected developments

TIRANA, Jan. 22 – The Albanian Institute for International Studies, in cooperation with the European Policy Institute Skopje and the European Movement Serbia held on Wednesday a conference on the region’s European integration assessing whether the perspective is still realistic

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EC monitoring committee sends ‘anti-libel’ package for Venice Commission to review

EC monitoring committee sends ‘anti-libel’ package for Venice Commission to review

TIRANA, Jan. 22 – The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has approached the Venice Commission to seek an opinion on the so-called “anti-libel package” proposed by the Albanian government which has been widely criticized,

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Albania drops three places in Economist Intelligence’s democracy report

Albania drops three places in Economist Intelligence’s democracy report

TIRANA, Jan. 22 – Albania continues to be a hybrid democracy, says The Economist Intelligence Unit in the most recent report on democracy in the world, which analyzes 167 countries.  Among them, Albania ranked 79th for 2019, three positions lower

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Video surfaces of alleged Socialist mayor snorting cocaine in public

Video surfaces of alleged Socialist mayor snorting cocaine in public

TIRANA, Jan. 22 – Journalist Artan Hoxha published on Wednesday a video allegedly showing June 30 local elections’ Bulqiza Mayor Lefter Alla snorting cocaine publicly.  The reporter said the footage was captured by security cameras and the moment was fixed

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Former Attorney General becomes new High Justice Inspector

Former Attorney General becomes new High Justice Inspector

TIRANA, Jan. 20 – The Albanian parliament elected on Monday evening the High Justice Inspector, thus paving the way for the formation of another crucial new institution in the numbers of new institutions of the system envisioned by the Justice

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24 - European Council President Charles Michel in a joint press statement with Prime Minister Edi Rama said there is still no unanimity among EU member states countries on whether Albania should open accession negotiations with the union.

Michel also stated in Tirana that he hoped the Donor Conference on February 17 would be a real support for the Albanian people after the severe November 26 earthquake.

He said the first pillar is the need for the governments of the EU member states to think about the enlargement process and the reforms required, in order for this process to be credible and with political leadership.

“Before the summer, the European Commission made proposals to the European Council regarding the opening of negotiations for Albania andNorthern Macedonia. We will have this debate at the European Council on the basis of a proposal to be made again by the European Commission on this subject. We are here,” Michel said. 

He added the European Commission should be clear on its orientation and then engage into constructive dialogue with the member states regarding the decision.

“The European Commission must be clear about the orientation it will make and then we will need to consult the member states and it will be a strong dialogue, an intensive dialogue and a responsible dialogue and I as President of the European Council will encourage the approach of the views and will encourage the European Commission to decide,” said Michel.

Michel said the Council of Europe needs to make a decision with which all member states will adhere to and that all work pillars should advance parallelly. 

“Work has begun. Very soon we will have the opportunity to have a discussion. It will be part of my work on how steps can be taken. As president of the CoE I can say that today we do not have unanimity,” said Michel.

The third point, according to him, is the mobilization that needs to be done around the European Union's table to achieve an investment and growth pact for the Western Balkans, a growth pact that will mobilize all possible spheres in order to encourage economic development - a key condition for advancing social and economic progress and also for advancing all regional cooperation.

Meanwhile, Rama reiterated his belief that the EU will support Albania both in overcoming the damages of the November earthquake and in the progress of the integration process.

"We have also spoken with the President of the European Council about the reform process and the integration process. We have shared views on what has been achieved so far, what needs to be achieved at the same time, and on the internal discussion in the EU of what is now known as the new Enlargement Methodology, and overall I am very pleased that the President has expressed the will to be especially committed to the region,” Rama said. 

Asked if he will lobby for opening negotiations, Rama said that under these conditions, even if France asked to join the EU, it would not be accepted by France. 

“It is a decision within the EU and we must respect it. What is happening in view of a new methodology should be seen as a new opportunity for our relationship with the EU,” he said. 

“We would continue to do the same thing if we had opened the negotiations. There is a clarity to the fact that our reforms are moving forward, that the expected results are coming and will continue to come.”

Albania is awaiting widespread support on February 17th when a donor conference will be held to overcome the severe damage of the earthquake, as well as in March if the opening of negotiations for full EU membership is approved.

The November 26 earthquake claimed the lives of 51 people, wounded about 1,000 and nearly 15,000 people lost their homes, and now hopes that EU member states and other donors will assist with the reconstruction. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24 - President Ilir Meta has addressed the Venice Commission with a lengthy request, in response to a move made by the majority to seek from this body of international experts an interpretation of the situation created last November with appointments to the Constitutional Court.   

The request begins with a letter to Commission President Gianni Buquicchio, with mostly political evaluations. 

“In the absence of a Constitutional Court for more than two years , in the absence of the High Court, in a crisis of representation sui generis where the Government, Parliament, all municipalities and municipal councils are in the hands of a single political force as well as the vast majority of the two independent bodies appointed by this political force, bringing about a complete imbalance of checks and balances, the country is at risk of total state capture. This context, coupled with the unilateral, unconstitutional implementation and in flagrant violation of the Venice Commission's recommendations on justice reform, is increasingly plunging the country into illegality, unconstitutionality, and towards autocracy,” the letter reads. 

He goes on to write that “it is unfortunate that the main institution for the mal-implementation of justice reform is the Assembly, which is already made up from one party. This unilateral and uncooperative approach of the Assembly was followed by the initiation of the reestablishment process of the Constitutional Court, attempting to abdicate the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic and consequently to seize the highest institution of justice.”

The clash between the parties began after Meta decided not to appoint one of the candidates for the vacancy to be filled by the Head of State, arguing that he had already filled a vacancy and it was up to Parliament to proceed with electing a candidate from the lists. 

According to the majority, Meta failed to abide by the 30-day deadline set by the law, and as a result, the top-ranked candidate Arta Vorpsi was automatically named. 

The parliament followed with the election of two candidates, while Meta subsequently decreed from his list Marsida Xhaferllari who was invited to take the oath, along with the two candidates elected by parliament.

Meta spoke about an attempt by the majority to take over his powers and launched a fierce battle against the Chairman of the Justice Appointments Council, Ardian Dvorani, whom he described as the cause of the created situation and a man who had worked on behalf of the ruling majority.

All of this, as well as the further decision of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, set up to dismiss Meta as president, to expand the scope of his work, not only on the occasion of the decree canceling the June 30 elections, but also on the appointments to the Constitutional Court constitute the first part of the more than 40-page petition Meta filed with the Venice Commission.

Meta has addressed the commission with a variety of questions on many aspects, since the Expansion of the Inquiry Committee by Parliament; Procedures for the appointment of members of the Constitutional Court by parliament; The role of the president in the case of appointments; The role of parliament and its actions in nominating candidates and more recently the activity of the Justice Appointments Council. There are at least 38 questions in total for which Meta has requested an explanation from the Venice Commission, whose experts are expected to arrive in Tirana in the middle of next month, precisely for this debate between the parties.

When last November, representatives of the international community, and especially the United States, suggested the involvement of the Venice Commission in resolving this new clash, Meta said they were looking to protect Dvorani.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24 - The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office launched on Friday an investigation into Bulqiza's Mayor Lefter Alla, after ABC News Television posted a video in which, according to the journalist Artan Hoxha he appeared to be snorting cocaine.

Well-known reporter Hoxha said "the footage was taken by a security camera in a public setting some time ago and SPAK has launched an investigation into the video being published.”

Alla, denying everything, stated on social media that the video was edited and that he was being blackmailed and would go to court.

But journalist Hoxha said he cannot expose the location where the event was filmed from a private police camera system, nor the persons who blackmailed or lured him into confidential meetings to protect the video, but he "is sure enough that the person in the video is exactly the Bulqiza mayor and that there is no montage, because the stopwatch moves freely.”

Alla wrote on his Facebook page that "Bulqiza is no longer run by the Democratic Party, they have been robbed of their ability to steal its properties, but are all turned into video editors."

But journalist Hoxha said she could not tell the public the sources of the video and the way it came to his hands, not to endanger the lives of those who helped him do his job as a journalist.

He added that the video in fact came to him by accident, but then made several verifications and accurate identifications.

While the SPAK launched an investigation, Alla announced he was headed to Tirana to sue one former opposition MP. 

The DP demanded his dismissal and his prosecution for not reporting the crime.

The DP declared that it is Prime Minister Edi Rama who should be removed from power because he promoted co-governance with crime and remains in power with the support of crime.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 23 - International organization Transparency International estimated at its latest Corruption Perception Index for 2019 that despite aspirations to join the European Union, the results of the fight against corruption in the six Western Balkan countries and in Turkey have not improved.

In a report released on Thursday, the organization notes that a lack of political will and a decline in the implementation of laws and regulations are real challenges in the region.

The 2019 report ranked Kosovo 101, eight places lower than the year before, when it was ranked 93rd.

The report points out that the corruption situation in Kosovo has deteriorated, though it points out that the change of power in Kosovo may also bring about change in this area.

“Kosovo is going through a period of change of power in parliament which can provide an opportunity for change. After years of criticizing the government and the international community in Kosovo for their failures in tackling corruption, the Vetevendosje party, which recently won the parliamentary elections, has the opportunity to prove its commitment to the fight against corruption,” the report said, also highlighting problems with political appointments and financing of political parties in Kosovo.

"However, it remains to be seen whether a new government will function with a higher standard of political integrity. This can be achieved by circumventing the usual practice of political appointments in public institutions as well as by imposing a strong legal obligation on political parties to publicize their funding.

Albania is ranked 106th with 35 points, unlike a year ago when it was ranked 99th.

Last year, however, Albania also scored lower than a year before, putting into question the progress it should have made in the context of its EU integration. 

“Being a candidate country for EU membership, Albania has improved over the last five years by five points. But compared to a year ago it has dropped by two points, from 38 to 36 compared to last year. This could be due to a political stalemate that blocked some anti-corruption reforms from moving forward,” said last year’s report. 

Bosnia is in the same position as Kosovo, while Macedonia is in 106th place. 

Meanwhile, Serbia ranks ten places higher than Kosovo.

Denmark and New Zealand are 87th in the list, with South Sudan 12th and Somalia 9th.

According to the report, more than two-thirds of countries are at the polling place or are taking steps back in the fight against corruption.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 23 - The Ministry of Education has closed the Saadi School, which was reportedly funded by Iran and has been operating in Tirana for several years. 

This ruling was issued by Education Minister Besa Shahini. 

The decision does not explain the reasons for the school's closure, but it is recalled that this step was taken shortly after our country declared 'non grata' to two Iranian diplomats in Tirana a few days ago.

Diplomats declared personae non-gratae were Mohammad Ali Arz Peimanemati and Seyed Ahmad Hosseini Alast, both of whom were also heads of the Saadi Shirazi Foundation, which finances the school in question.

Albanian government sources told the Voice of America that the two diplomats are being expelled for activities against the Iranian opposition MEK group, being hosted in Albania. According to them, cultural attaché Seyed Ahmed Hosseini Alast had held senior positions in the Revolutionary Guard of the Islamic Republic and Mohamed Peimanemati was a member of Iran’s Mois Operational Intelligence Unit and was responsible for several terrorist acts carried out in EU countries.

According to sources, they had been collaborators with Qassem Soleiman, Iran’s most powerful general whom the US assassinated on the first days of 2020.

This is the second time Albania has declared Iranian diplomats working and living in the country personae non gratae. 

In December 2018, Iran’s Ambassador to Albania and another embassy diplomat were expelled from the country after being suspected of being involved in “activities that threaten security in the country”. 

At that time, the Albanian Foreign Ministry specified that the decision had been taken in consultation with the Allied countries, due to their activity in Albania contrary to their diplomatic status.

Extremism expert Adrian Shtuni sees the move by the Albanian government as a defiant act against Iran’s recent statements concerning “a very small but devilish European state, where Americans cooperate with Iranian traitors against the Islamic Republic.” 

Shtuni says the fact that Albania houses 3,000 members of the Iranian opposition group MEK, after a deal first made with the US in 2013, puts the country at risk not because of the group’s current activities, but simply because of their status as active members of the Iranian regime’s opposition. 

The growing tension between the US and Iran after the assasination of Soleiman has also ignited friction between Iran and Albania, whose relations have not been the best ever since the country began hosting the opposition group. 

 
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TIRANA, Jan. 22 - The Albanian Institute for International Studies, in cooperation with the European Policy Institute Skopje and the European Movement Serbia held on Wednesday a conference on the region’s European integration assessing whether the perspective is still realistic juxtaposed to a perception of a shifting target. The event finalized a yearlong project supported by the Western Balkans Fund in the framework of its strategic goal of fostering cooperation between think tanks in the region.

 

The researchers from the three countries aspiring to join the EU discussed with an audience of diplomats, officials and students the current dynamics regarding the enlargement policy and the EU institutions' commitments to bring the Western Balkans closer, in the context of the EU member states’ latest decision to postpone opening accession negotiations again with Albania and North Macedonia last October. 

 

“In the case of Albania, an important development was the decision made in the German parliament. We should not forget that Northern Macedonia and Albania were treated in different ways in terms of moving forward. Albania has a precise list of deadlines and tasks and is still under these conditions. Those tasks are on the table to perform. I believe that enlargement is a good story for the EU itself, because it will show its vital energy and its own power to change, not just the Balkan countries. The progress of this phase remains to be seen, as well as a response to the credibility of the process at this point. If the process is based on clear rules, then integration and enlargement will be a success story for both the EU and the Western Balkans,” said Alba Cela, Executive Director of AlIS. 

 

Vladimir Medjak, Deputy President of the European Movement of Serbia put emphasis on the growing nationalization of enlargement policy that is happening within the EU. 

“We didn’t expect the things that happened in November, but nationalization is becoming a thing…and it’s not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to internal processes, but it’s a very bad thing when it concerns the EU foreign policy, and especially its enlargement process. October proved me right and the member states’ decision was the culmination of the nationalization within the enlargement process,” Medjak said.

  

Ardita Abazi, program Manager at EPI Skopje said that Macedonian society was overall disappointed by the decision to postpone opening of accession negotiations, though so many sacrifices were made and many tasks were fulfilled, such as the historic Prespa Agreement. 

“Too many people in Northern Macedonia feel that the EU left them alone; while for Albania the member states had some other concerns, as far as Macedonians are concerned the decision was disappointing,” Abazi said, adding that “we need to determine when it’s enough for this stage, for this process. When we can open accession negotiations and stop raising the bar for our countries…set the limit for opening accession negotiations. I hope that now we can be involved in our discussion, as well as our governments.”

 

Dijana Spalevic, Program Manager of the Western Balkans Fund, said the WBF is here to support the region and all the integration process. “The region is joint about the common goal and that is EU integration process and that is what we as WB strongly promote and support through our projects. We anticipate the results and see the progress in respect to what is to be done,” Spalevic said.

 

French ambassador to Albania Christine Vasak gave her comment at the conference’s conclusion, saying that candidate countries should be embark on a reflection process over whether they genuinely met the Copenhagen criteria, and stressed that the achievements so far are important, but more are needed.

 

“You have said that France is against enlargement but take a step back and notice that every stage of enlargement would not have happened without my country and any other member state,” Vasak said. “Why are so many people leaving Albania, when they have a wonderful country, and going to Britain, Germany and France. Keep in mind that rule of law has been at the center of everything since the European Union was created and up to all its latest documents,” Vasak added. 

 

Researchers from Albania, Northern Macedonia and Serbia affirmed that there is still a strong desire in the region to integrate into the EU, and now it is expected to see how the process will unfold with new developments expected prior to the EU WB Summit in May 2020 that will take place in Zagreb.

[post_title] => Think tanks from the region debate current EU integration process amidst expected developments [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => think-tanks-from-the-region-debate-current-eu-integration-process-amidst-expected-developments [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 14:30:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 13:30:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=144005 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143998 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-23 10:58:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-23 09:58:23 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 22 - The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has approached the Venice Commission to seek an opinion on the so-called "anti-libel package" proposed by the Albanian government which has been widely criticized, not only by the community of Albanian journalists, but also by international journalist organizations as well as international institutions.  Albania is among the member states still under surveillance and the last mission of two rapporteurs for Albania last October spoke of the necessity for amendments regarding the two laws "On audiovisual media" and "On electronic communications", one of the topics highlights of the meetings they had in Tirana. The decision to seek the Venice Commission's opinion came at a time when  the parliament began reviewing the decrees of President Ilir Meta, who rejected the latest package adopted at the end of December as threatening media freedom, while the majority is insisting on passing the package as it is and amending it in the future.  "The decrees of the President of the Republic protect a status quo, where defamation against the person has triumphed widely and where public disinformation has become a standard of living for many online actors, while our cooperation with the OSCE and the Council of Europe has aimed and will aim to protect the freedom of expression but also human integrity from defamation and the public itself from disinformation,” the leader of the Socialist parliamentary group Taulant Balla wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, stating that “we will overthrow the President's decrees.” Balla further wrote that "we will continue to cooperate with any organization at home and abroad for any possible improvement of anti-defamation legislation in the future. We are in touch and thank the colleagues of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for passing the text to the Venice Commission, as we look forward to further improving the law with the Venice Commission's valuable suggestions.”  The majority's rush to pass this package remains unclear, at a time when international institutions have been stressing that President Meta's return of legal changes should be used as an opportunity to make improvements. [post_title] => EC monitoring committee sends ‘anti-libel’ package for Venice Commission to review [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ec-monitoring-committee-sends-anti-libel-package-for-venice-commission-to-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 10:59:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 09:59:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143998 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143992 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-23 10:48:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-23 09:48:38 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 22 - Albania continues to be a hybrid democracy, says The Economist Intelligence Unit in the most recent report on democracy in the world, which analyzes 167 countries.  Among them, Albania ranked 79th for 2019, three positions lower than a year ago, when it was ranked 76th.  In points, the country again lost points from the year before.  Compared to other countries in Europe and the region, Albania seems to be doing better only compared to Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, Moldova and Turkey, while Ukraine occupies a place above Albania.  Among the sub-indicators, it seems that it is the political participation that gives the worst blow to Albanian democracy. This indicator is the weakest in the score, but also the one that has suffered the most drastic decline compared to the previous year.  According to the Economist, participation is the backbone of a democratic system and without it that system is under serious threat.  The best-performing sub-indicator, meanwhile, turns out to be that of civil liberties, followed by electoral processes. The sub-indicator of government functionality is the only one registering growth compared to last year. Another negative indicator that puts our country at a disadvantageous position, especially compared to European countries, is that of political culture.  Globally, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are the most democratic countries in the world, with the United States coming 25th on a global scale.    [post_title] => Albania drops three places in Economist Intelligence’s democracy report [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albania-drops-three-places-in-economist-intelligences-democracy-report [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 10:50:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 09:50:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143992 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143980 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-23 10:36:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-23 09:36:08 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 22 - Journalist Artan Hoxha published on Wednesday a video allegedly showing June 30 local elections’ Bulqiza Mayor Lefter Alla snorting cocaine publicly.  The reporter said the footage was captured by security cameras and the moment was fixed some time ago. “We are dealing with a very serious case. This confirms the DP allegations that sought to introduce a drug test for senior officials by law. It is a problematic case. We are dealing with people who are elected by the vote of citizens and make decisions for the benefit of citizens. For good management of the area. The other problem is how it is possible for these people to escape the selection filter from those who appoint them. This is a public environment and it is a discretiting moment,” said Artan Hoxha. After Hoxha published the video, Alla denied having done what is being alleged, arguing that the video was edited. "I'm not the person in the video, the video is edited," stated Alla in a statement for "News 24" while also claiming this is a political attack done to him.  His reaction comes shortly after the opposition’s Democratic Party, in a statement to the media, said that the person filmed doing cocaine locally was the Socialist mayor. "Public opinion has been shocked today by footage of how Bulqiza's illegitimate mayor appointed by Rama, according to media outlets, is consuming cocaine in public. Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, theft, extortion are the main qualities of this gang that runs the country today. It is the qualities of Albania's prime minister, which he has cloned into his political appointments in local government and public administration,” former MP Ervin Salianji said in a statement from the DP headquarters.  "It is about an incumbent mayor elected in the June 30 elections. He has been consuming cocaine in a bar while being recorded by the bar's security cameras,” the description accompanying the footage read.  Meanwhile, the DP Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi wrote in a Facebook statement that Rama should dismiss Alla, who also said he will be suing the video’s publishers.  According to Bardhi, Rama's silence will prove that Alla has been elected as a cocaine user, and hiding this and other cases is proof that the PM is a crime cooperator.  Bardhi did not fail to mention that Alla is the sixth mayor coming out of the disputable June 30 local elections who is being accused of illegal or discriminatory actions.  Socialist MP, at the same time chairman of the Law Commission Ulsi Manja, also reacted to Alla’s footage, saying the SP will not become a shield to anyone public, whether elected to local or central government, if he or she is in conflict with the law. Invited to the "Opinion" section of News24, Manja said that the SPAK should unravel the truth about Alla as soon as possible, while stressing that he should be suspended from office until justice issues its findings. However, he also said that as far as it concerns the government’s institutions, they cannot undergo a public trial until the law-abiding institutions give their verdict.   [post_title] => Video surfaces of alleged Socialist mayor snorting cocaine in public [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => video-surfaces-of-alleged-socialist-mayor-snorting-cocaine-in-public [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 10:37:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 09:37:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143980 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143995 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-21 10:51:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-21 09:51:57 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 20 - The Albanian parliament elected on Monday evening the High Justice Inspector, thus paving the way for the formation of another crucial new institution in the numbers of new institutions of the system envisioned by the Justice Reform. With 98 votes in favor and eight against, the parliament voted for Artur Metani, who has a long career in the field of law.  He has served as a legal advisor to three Presidents of the Republic, has worked for several years as the Director General of the Regulatory and Compliance Department, or the Legislation Department of the Council of Ministers, as legal expert at several international missions in Albania and more recently as the state’s Attorney General.  Metani was ranked first on the list of five candidates evaluated by the Justice Appointments Council, a narrow margin from the second-ranked candidate, prosecutor Sokol Stojani. Metani’s election as High Justice Inspector was rejected by the opposition Democratic Party.  "Today, a subordinate of Edi Rama, the brother of the former minister and his deputy, was appointed as the High Inspector of Justice. Artur Metani, who must guarantee the independence of justice from politics, was appointed today in violation of the Constitution and its laws. Today is a bad day for democracy and justice in Albania,” stated the DP, according to which “the appointment of Artur Methani as the head of the High Justice Inspectorate, contrary to the Constitution and laws, is a party nomination in one of the key positions of the justice system, which verifies and initiates investigations of all judges, prosecutors, and members of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council.” By law, the High Justice Inspector is the "state authority responsible for verifying complaints, investigating disciplinary violations, and initiating disciplinary proceedings against judges and prosecutors of all levels, members of the High Judicial Council, members of the High Prosecutorial Council and General Prosecutor's Office, as well as for the institutional inspection of courts and prosecution offices.”   [post_title] => Former Attorney General becomes new High Justice Inspector [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => former-attorney-general-becomes-new-high-justice-inspector [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 10:57:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 09:57:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143995 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 144063 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-25 09:40:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-25 08:40:11 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24 - European Council President Charles Michel in a joint press statement with Prime Minister Edi Rama said there is still no unanimity among EU member states countries on whether Albania should open accession negotiations with the union. Michel also stated in Tirana that he hoped the Donor Conference on February 17 would be a real support for the Albanian people after the severe November 26 earthquake. He said the first pillar is the need for the governments of the EU member states to think about the enlargement process and the reforms required, in order for this process to be credible and with political leadership. “Before the summer, the European Commission made proposals to the European Council regarding the opening of negotiations for Albania andNorthern Macedonia. We will have this debate at the European Council on the basis of a proposal to be made again by the European Commission on this subject. We are here,” Michel said.  He added the European Commission should be clear on its orientation and then engage into constructive dialogue with the member states regarding the decision. “The European Commission must be clear about the orientation it will make and then we will need to consult the member states and it will be a strong dialogue, an intensive dialogue and a responsible dialogue and I as President of the European Council will encourage the approach of the views and will encourage the European Commission to decide,” said Michel. Michel said the Council of Europe needs to make a decision with which all member states will adhere to and that all work pillars should advance parallelly.  “Work has begun. Very soon we will have the opportunity to have a discussion. It will be part of my work on how steps can be taken. As president of the CoE I can say that today we do not have unanimity,” said Michel. The third point, according to him, is the mobilization that needs to be done around the European Union's table to achieve an investment and growth pact for the Western Balkans, a growth pact that will mobilize all possible spheres in order to encourage economic development - a key condition for advancing social and economic progress and also for advancing all regional cooperation. Meanwhile, Rama reiterated his belief that the EU will support Albania both in overcoming the damages of the November earthquake and in the progress of the integration process. "We have also spoken with the President of the European Council about the reform process and the integration process. We have shared views on what has been achieved so far, what needs to be achieved at the same time, and on the internal discussion in the EU of what is now known as the new Enlargement Methodology, and overall I am very pleased that the President has expressed the will to be especially committed to the region,” Rama said.  Asked if he will lobby for opening negotiations, Rama said that under these conditions, even if France asked to join the EU, it would not be accepted by France.  “It is a decision within the EU and we must respect it. What is happening in view of a new methodology should be seen as a new opportunity for our relationship with the EU,” he said.  “We would continue to do the same thing if we had opened the negotiations. There is a clarity to the fact that our reforms are moving forward, that the expected results are coming and will continue to come.” Albania is awaiting widespread support on February 17th when a donor conference will be held to overcome the severe damage of the earthquake, as well as in March if the opening of negotiations for full EU membership is approved. The November 26 earthquake claimed the lives of 51 people, wounded about 1,000 and nearly 15,000 people lost their homes, and now hopes that EU member states and other donors will assist with the reconstruction.   [post_title] => EC President: “No unanimity among member states on opening negotiations” [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ec-president-no-unanimity-among-member-states-on-opening-negotiations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-25 09:40:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-25 08:40:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=144063 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object] => stdClass Object ( [term_id] => 28 [name] => News [slug] => news [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 28 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 10549 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 28 [category_count] => 10549 [category_description] => [cat_name] => News [category_nicename] => news [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 28 [post__not_in] => Array ( ) )

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