Albania blocks meat imports from Brazil until tests show it’s safe

Albania blocks meat imports from Brazil until tests show it’s safe

TIRANA, March 27 – Albanian food authorities say they have blocked Brazilian meat imports to the country and have taken samples to test products over their safety after some of the world’s biggest importers of Brazilian meat imposed bans. The

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New form for declaration of funds aims to provide transparency in electoral campaign

New form for declaration of funds aims to provide transparency in electoral campaign

TIRANA, March 22 – The international community has stepped up efforts to assist Albanian officials in providing transparency in party funding during electoral campaign, representatives of three bodies said this week. Experts from the European Union, OSCE and Council of

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Junior coalition party criticizes education reform

Junior coalition party criticizes education reform

TIRANA, March 22 – Albania’s ruling coalition partners have added education reform to the list of their growing disagreements.   The junior coalition party, the Socialist Movement for Integration of Ilir Meta, criticized this week the effects of Albania’s education

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Be wary of Russian influence on elections, former U.S. senator says

Be wary of Russian influence on elections, former U.S. senator says

TIRANA, March 22 – Former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli has called on Albania to be cautious and vigilant over Russia’s attempts to meddle with the country’s upcoming general elections. In a television interview Wednesday, Torricelli said that there is solid

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Prosecutors investigating Vlora judge over alleged ties with drug baron

Prosecutors investigating Vlora judge over alleged ties with drug baron

TIRANA, March 22 – The ongoing investigation on the wealth and assets of a former local government officials and alleged drug baron, Klement Balili, have revealed that a judge of the Court of Appeals in Vlora was paid $47,000 to

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Novruz holiday marked in Tirana, the world headquarters of Bektashism

Novruz holiday marked in Tirana, the world headquarters of Bektashism

TIRANA, March 22 – Dozens of hundreds of believers gathered on Tuesday in Tirana, the host of the world headquarters of the Bektashi religion, to mark their most important day, the Novruz, a public holiday commemorating the Persian New Year

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CEC to audit decriminalization declarations of 21 MPs and 8 mayors

CEC to audit decriminalization declarations of 21 MPs and 8 mayors

TIRANA, March 21 – Albania’s Central Election Commission will double-check questionnaires submitted by several MPs and mayors in the framework of the decriminalization bill, indicating that it suspects the self-declarations were not entirely truthful. The CEC will review the documentation

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Albania signs new Social Welfare Pact

TIRANA, March 20 – A new Social Welfare Pact was signed this week in Tirana, aiming to improve social care services at a national and local level. The project is supported by the Swiss-funded UNDP and involves the engagement of

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PM willing to hold elections without the opposition as protest continues

PM willing to hold elections without the opposition as protest continues

Ruling coalition shows cracks over prospects of elections without opposition’s participation TIRANA, March 22 – The upcoming general elections will not be postponed even if the opposition decides not to participate, Prime Minister Edi Rama said this week. The opposition

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UNDP: Albania climbs 10 steps in human development

UNDP: Albania climbs 10 steps in human development

TIRANA, March 21 – Albania gained 10 spots in the 2016 human development index published by the UNDP, ranking 75th out of 188 countries and outperforming some of its regional peers. The Human Development Index (HDI), a composite index measuring

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 27 - Albanian food authorities say they have blocked Brazilian meat imports to the country and have taken samples to test products over their safety after some of the world's biggest importers of Brazilian meat imposed bans.

The temporary ban comes amid concerns that consumers might be at risk as Albania imports about a quarter of its meat products, mainly chicken and poultry, from Brazil, the world's largest meat producer.

In a statement following media reports of “rotten Brazilian beef” entering the country, the National Food Authority says the country has imported no beef from Brazil during the past five months and that it has recently blocked poultry and pork from entering Albania until tests show meat is safe to consumers. The watchdog says the temporary ban has been imposed despite no notice by the European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.

Food authorities say Albania imports meat from Basil based on a 2006 deal between the two governments and only from plants certified to export to the EU.

China, Chile and Egypt lifted the ban on Brazil meat last weekend while the European Union, the second largest importer after China, announced it would reject produce from the plants under investigation in Brazil.

The Brazilian meat scandal was triggered by a huge police operation that found evidence of meat packers selling rotten and substandard produce for several years, in an operation severely affecting the exports Latin America's largest economy for the past couple of weeks.

Brazil's President Michel Temer says the government has decided to speed up the audit process in the 21 establishments cited in the Federal Police investigation.

"The facts are that among 11,000 employees, only 33 are being investigated into. Out of 4,837 establishments subject to federal inspection, only 21 are allegedly involved in irregularities. The objective of the investigation is not the agriculture and livestock defense system in place, whose rigor is widely recognized, but a few conduct deviations," the Brazilian president is quoted as saying in a statement sent by Brazil's embassy in Tirana.

Albania's imports meat, coffee and sugar from Brazil with imports slightly increasing to 5.7 billion lek (€41 million) in 2016, about 1.2 percent of the country's total. Meanwhile, Albania's exports to Brazil are almost non-existent, according to state statistical institute, INSTAT.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_131749" align="alignright" width="300"]lista Voter looks at registration lists. (Photo: OSCE/Archives)[/caption]

TIRANA, March 22 - The international community has stepped up efforts to assist Albanian officials in providing transparency in party funding during electoral campaign, representatives of three bodies said this week.

Experts from the European Union, OSCE and Council of Europe have drafted a new declaration form for political parties to explain how they obtain electoral campaign funds. 

The announcement was made at a roundtable on political party funds held in Tirana.

Experts said that the declaration form can be used without the need of amending the Electoral Code.

In his address, the chairman of the Central Election Commission, Denar Biba, welcomed the initiative and said that corruption in the electoral process hampers election standards.

“We must identify the origins of funds used in the campaign and elections. Albania is a poor country whose electoral campaign expenses are extraordinary,” Biba said.

The co-chairman of the Ad-Hoc Commission for the Electoral Reform, Socialist Party MP Taulant Balla, said that the ruling majority supports the introduction of the form in an attempt to toughen criteria for self-declaration of party funds.

“We need to institutionalize changes to the Criminal Code and introduce tougher penalties against electoral crimes such as taking pictures of the ballot paper and other offences,” Balla said.

The declaration form recommended by experts of the OSCE, European Union and Council of Europe sanctions that private funding of political parties must be done through bank transactions which will also include additional information on the party donor.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 22 - Albania’s ruling coalition partners have added education reform to the list of their growing disagreements.  

The junior coalition party, the Socialist Movement for Integration of Ilir Meta, criticized this week the effects of Albania’s education reform, which has been praised by Prime Minister Rama of the Socialist Party as one of the administration’s biggest accomplishment in the last four years.

The chairwoman of the Youth Movement for Integration, Florida Kerpaci, met with high school graduates in the city of Korca and said that the high school graduation exams known as State Matura must be more transparent and a merit-based process.

“Students must go to the university of their dreams and not to schools assigned by a state-designed scheme. We will fight for the cause and make sure that the State Matura is transparent and offers equal opportunities for all,” Kerpaci said.

The Socialist Movement for Integration has been highly critical to the education reform. Nevertheless, the party joined forces with the senior ally and voted the reform in parliament. 

Critics believe that the SMI statements on the reform are more based on electoral prospects as the party tries to distance itself from some of the government’s unpopular reforms.

The higher education law was approved in June 2015 and faced protests by public university staff and students, who said the law favors private universities over public institutions and hurts the ability of poor students to attend university due to higher fees.

Last year, many students with excellent grades were prevented from attending the schools and majors of their choice as a new formula set by the reform caused confusion.

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_131741" align="alignright" width="300"]Former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli (Photo: PDP) Former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli (Photo: PDP)[/caption]

TIRANA, March 22 - Former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli has called on Albania to be cautious and vigilant over Russia’s attempts to meddle with the country’s upcoming general elections.

In a television interview Wednesday, Torricelli said that there is solid information to back up claims that Russians can meddle with elections in democratic countries.

“It is clear that there are attempts from the Russians to intervene in the elections. There is evidence for Russian intervention in the United States, in France and other Western Europe countries,” said the former Democratic Party senator from New Jersey.

He added, “I urge people in Albania to be cautious. I urge the media to check their sources. Many falsities will be promoted. Electoral bodies must be careful with their contacts. It is certain that there is a Russian agenda to influence the elections,” he added.

The U.S. politician urged political forces to set aside their disagreements and ambitions and think about what’s better for the citizens and the country.

“Political parties come and go, but the country remains. Its future must be a priority,” he said during the interview with a local television station.

The former U.S. senator was visiting Tirana to express support for the cause of the exiled Iranian opposition resettled in Albania at the request of the United States and the United Nations. He attended the celebrations of the Persian new year (Nowruz), along with former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 22 – The ongoing investigation on the wealth and assets of a former local government officials and alleged drug baron, Klement Balili, have revealed that a judge of the Court of Appeals in Vlora was paid $47,000 to act as a legal consultant for the companies owned by the Balili family.

In his 2015 declaration of assets, Judge Petrit Aliaj admitted that he worked as a legal consultant for Balili brothers and received a hefty sum by Albanian standards for his services, according to a report by VoA and BIRN.

Aliaj’s declaration and the probe on the origins of the money used to pay the judge are now part of the investigation on the wealth of the family of the man dubbed as “Escobar of Balkans”. 

Balili has managed to escape an international warrant issued on May 2016. He faces drug trafficking charges.

On June 8, 2015 the High Inspectorate of Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflict of Interests filed charges against Judge Petrit Aliaj over the failure to fully disclose the origins of his wealth and assets and false declarations. 

The case was investigated by prosecutors in Elbasan, who are now obliged to submit the findings to prosecutors in Vlora investigating Balili’s wealth. Prosecutors in Elbasan dismissed the original charges blaming lack of evidence.

Documents obtained by Voice of America and BIRN show that in 2006, Aliaj declared to have been paid $47,000 from for three months of legal consultancy services in 2015.

In 2009, Aliaj admitted that he had worked as legal consultant to the companies Balili & Co and Balili Brothers located in Delvina.

In addition, Aliaj submitted two job certificates issued in January and February 2008 issued by the two companies owned by the family of Klement Balili.

The certificates show that Aliaj was paid in cash an annual fee of $24,000  from each of the companies. 

Judge Aliaj has repeatedly been named for his dubious affairs such as hiding the origins of financial means used to build a villa in the coastal city of Saranda, tuition fees paid for his daughter in a U.S school and deposits at the Central Bank.

The judge is suspected to have made several suspicious bank transactions worth thousands of U.S. dollars as a guarantee to get U.S. visas for himself and his family members.

The 46-year-old Klement Balili is the former director of a transport department at the coastal town of Saranda. He owned a luxury hotel and several other businesses. He is wanted in Greece on drug trafficking charges. 

The opposition Democratic Party has repeatedly accused Albania’s Socialist-led government of protecting the suspected drug baron due to his ties with high-ranking politicians. 

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_131713" align="alignright" width="300"]brahimaj Father Edmond Brahimaj, the head of the Bektashi community in Albania and around the world[/caption]

TIRANA, March 22 – Dozens of hundreds of believers gathered on Tuesday in Tirana, the host of the world headquarters of the Bektashi religion, to mark their most important day, the Novruz, a public holiday commemorating the Persian New Year and the birthday of Prophet Ali.

One of the four traditional religions in Albania that is respected with a national holiday, the Bektashi, an ultra-liberal mystical Muslim sect with roots in Sufism and Shia Islam, make up between 2 to 3 percent of Albania’s population, mainly concentrated in southern Albania. The Novruz Day has been a public holiday in Albania since 1996. The holiday is celebrated with a traditional dessert called Ashure, also known as Noah's Pudding, consisting of grains, dried fruit and nuts.

Addressing participants, Father Edmond Brahimaj, the head of the Bektashi community in Albania and around the world, wished prosperity to all Albanians.

"May god give you prosperity and make your wishes come true on this holy day,” said Father Brahimaj at a festive ceremony at the Bektashi Odeon with performances by the national ensemble of folklore dances and songs and Albanian tenor Kastriot Tusha.

The new Odeon of the Bektashi world headquarters in Tirana was inaugurated in September 2015, serving as a central place of worship, a multipurpose center, and the seat of the global Bektashi community.

Two renowned Albanian businessmen of Bektashi roots, late Muhamet Malo who passed away earlier this month and insurance entrepreneur Kadri Morina were awarded golden knight statues for their contribution to Bektashism in the country.

In his speech at the Bektashi headquarters, Parliament Speaker Ilir Meta, a Bektashi believer, paid tribute to the Bektashi fathers and their contribution to the country’s independence in the early 20th century.

"Gratitude to the contribution and the extraordinary work of the fathers of Bektashism from the national renaissance period with the great Frasheri brothers to present day, from the time national hope was born and the foundations of what Albania has been and what will become of it were laid again," said Meta.

“Albania - What it was, what it is and what will become of it,” a late 19th century political manifesto written by Sami Frasheri had a key contribution to bringing Albanians together in their Renaissance road to independence from the Ottoman empire, a process concluded in November 1912 with the country’s independence.

Meanwhile, President Bujar Nishani was in Permet, southern Albania, marking the holiday with a visit to the place of worship known as the tekke of Ali Postivani.

[caption id="attachment_131714" align="alignright" width="300"]nishani President Nishani at the Permet tekke[/caption]

"Today we celebrate the most important day of Bektashi religion, the day of resurrection and hope and we all pray for a better future for ourselves, our families, and all Albanians," said Nishani, who decorated the local tekke leader, father Hekuran Nikollari with the "Naim Frasheri" high order for his contribution to reviving, preserving and spreading the Bektashi religion.

Bektashi believers and pilgrims of all religions take to Mount Tomorr every August, commemorating Abbas ibn Ali, who died at the battle of Karbala in the 7th century, in a pilgrimage believed to  bring healing and luck.

The Bektashi trace their entry into Albania to the famous 14th century legendary figure Sari Salltek associated with the town of Kruja, some 50 km off modern Tirana.

The Bektashi leaders were expelled from Turkey in the 1800s and early 1900s as heretics and found shelter in Albania as refugees because the country already had a strong Bektashi community and was tolerant on matters of religion. Some of Albania’s key figures from the national Renaissance era, like the Frasheri Brothers, were Bektashi.

Likewise the other religious communities in Albania, the Bektashi community was persecuted by the communist authorities until dissolving in 1967 when Albania banned religion, becoming the world's first official atheist country.

During the religion ban under communism, the Albanian Bektashi tradition was kept alive by a tekke in Gjakova, Kosovo and another one Detroit, the U.S.

The Tirana tekke and its world headquarters reopened in January 1991 as the communist regime collapsed.

Albania’s religious harmony is praised internationally as an example to be followed.

Back in January 2015, four Albanian religious leaders, representing all of the country’s traditional faiths, traveled to Paris to march in the solidarity rally paying tribute to the terrorist killings at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Their hand-to-hand march as evidence of the religious harmony in Albania was applauded by French citizens for several minutes.

Surveys show residents of Albania to be among Europe’s least religious people in terms of practicing any of the country’s four faiths, but according to the latest 2011 census, Sunni Muslims constitute nearly 57 percent of the population, Roman Catholics 10 percent, Orthodox Christians nearly 7 percent, and Bektashi (a form of Shia Sufism) 2 percent.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 21 – Albania’s Central Election Commission will double-check questionnaires submitted by several MPs and mayors in the framework of the decriminalization bill, indicating that it suspects the self-declarations were not entirely truthful.

The CEC will review the documentation of a total of thirteen lawmakers and eight mayors. The list includes the names of MPs Eduard Halimi, Florian Mima, Myqerem Tafaj, Spartak Braho, Vangjel Dule and mayors Artur Bardhi, Edmond Themelko, Ndrec Dedaj, Rajmonda Balilaj, Adel Zala, Zef Hilaj, Termet Peci and Adriatik Zotkaj. 

The electoral watchdog announced that the verification process would start with the questionnaire submitted by the secretary general of the Democratic Party, Arben Ristani, and the former Democratic Party chairman, Sali Berisha. The two had been vocal in asking CEC to review the ruling Socialist Party MPs for criminal pasts.

During the CEC meeting, representatives of the center-right opposition Democratic Party demanded that the review process must be extended to only the two mayors Peci and Zotkaj -- where there is information of wrongdoing already -- but the CEC chairman Denar Biba said that the applications of the 21 officials will be double checked for accuracy purposes.

Last week, General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla called on the Central Election Commission to strip Mayor of Poliçan Artur Zotkaj and the Mayor of Tepelena Tërmet Peçi of their mandates due to criminal records that were not disclosed in the decriminalization process. 

Llalla said that the two local government officials lied about their past and concealed criminal records that would prohibit them from exercising public duty. 

In addition, the General Prosecutor’s office has launched penal proceedings against Zotkaj and Peçi over forgery of documents.

According to prosecutors, Mayor of Tepelena was convicted in 2004 for forgery of documents. While Peçi said he did not remember the conviction, a court verdict reveals that the official pleaded guilty and even showed remorse for his actions.

Furthermore, prosecutors are investigating on allegations that Mayor of Poliçan Adriatik Zotkaj is part of a drug trafficking group.

His declaration form submitted to the Central Election Commission includes three convictions such as a three-year sentence for violation of traffic regulations, 10 month jail sentence for resisting arrest and a one-year jail sentence for an undisclosed criminal act.

The CEC decision is expected to fuel heated political debates as the country prepares for parliamentary elections scheduled for June 18.
                    [post_title] => CEC to audit decriminalization declarations of 21 MPs and 8 mayors
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                    [post_date] => 2017-03-22 13:32:59
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-22 12:32:59
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 20 - A new Social Welfare Pact was signed this week in Tirana, aiming to improve social care services at a national and local level.

The project is supported by the Swiss-funded UNDP and involves the engagement of central government, 34 municipalities and international partners, joining forces to address the real needs of vulnerable groups in Albania.

The signing ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Edi Rama, Minister Blendi Klosi, Swiss Ambassador Christoph Graf, UN representative Brian Williams, and mayors from 34 municipalities.

“The collaboration between central government and local units, is good news and practice for a Swiss and Albanian mindset,” Swiss Ambassador Christoph Graf said at the event.

According to Ambassador Graf, central and local government will be better equipped to address the needs of vulnerable people.

“They can respond faster and in a more targeted way, deliver services at lower costs, and eventually build stronger communities, foster social cohesion and societal trust,” he added.

In December 2015, Albania launched a five year strategy for social protection. The strategy aims to reduce poverty among households in need; improve the life quality of people with disabilities, and foster social care services. In addition, social care services have become more decentralized and under the administration of local municipalities with the involvement of specialized non-government organizations.

Switzerland is a key donor in Albania’s efforts to guarantee social inclusion and protection. UNDP has provided assistance to Albanian authorities for drafting new policies and setting up innovative practices to offer an all inclusive social care system with particular focus on most marginalized groups.

Next year, Switzerland will fund a new program in support of the social care reform.

 
                    [post_title] => Albania signs new Social Welfare Pact
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                    [post_date] => 2017-03-22 13:27:43
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                    [post_content] => Ruling coalition shows cracks over prospects of elections without opposition’s participation

TIRANA, March 22 - The upcoming general elections will not be postponed even if the opposition decides not to participate, Prime Minister Edi Rama said this week.

The opposition says it won’t take part in elections unless Rama resigns and allows a caretaker government staffed by technocrats to manage the elections so there are guarantees that they are fair and free from influence from what the opposition says is an alliance between the ruling Socialists and the criminal world.

The Socialists say the Democrats are just trying to make excuses because the opposition knows it will lose the elections. 

“The absence of the opposition would be a severe anomaly, but we will not be part of such a lack of respect toward the people. We will abide by the election date and commit to the electoral campaign like never before. These are the times we want to create a better future for the Albania of the next generation,” Rama said.

Prime Minister Rama accused the center-right parties of aiming to create an artificial political crisis through an election boycott. 

The statement sparked outrage among supporters of the Democratic Party that have been calling for a caretaker government for weeks. The opposition leader, Lulzim Basha, said elections can not be held without the participation of the opposition and that Democratic Party would not participate without guarantees of a free and fair process outside the influence of criminal world. 

Basha said criminal organizations are expected to invest billions in marijuana profits to help the Socialist Party stay in power.

“There will be no elections with Edi Rama as Prime Minister. The situation is simple: we are with the people, they are tied to crime,” Basha said before heading to United States, aiming to seek support for the anti-government protest.

Rama's junior coalition partner, the Socialist Movement for Integration of Ilir Meta, has said the elections must have the main opposition Democratic Party's participation in order to protect the country's stability.

The two main coalition parties seem to be divided on the possibility of going to elections without the opposition. 

SMI Secretary General Luan Rama said that elections without the participation of the opposition would be a “political farce.”

“Elections without the opposition are formal in the institutional framework, but from a democracy viewpoint they are a farce,” Luan Rama said in a televised interview.

However, the party chairman and Assembly Speaker, Ilir Meta, called on local media to not misinterpret Luan Rama’s statement since SMI’s main objective is to push elections forward and not undermine them.

“We should all work together towards the objective of holding excellent elections and refrain from an approach that would bring catastrophic consequences for Albania and its future,” Meta said.

“Let them all know, that pluralism in Albania came on December 12, 1990.”

The coalition unity is expected to be put to test at the regular parliament session on Thursday, as lawmakers will vote on the presidential decree appointing four new cabinet members. 

The confirmation of the new cabinet members requires a majority of 71 votes.

Last week, opposition parties decided not to register at the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the June 18 elections, threatening to boycott the process until a caretaker government is formed.

However, the CEC announced that it would soon launch procedures to replace commissioners of Democratic Party and Republican Party at the Commissions of Electoral Areas, KZAZ in full harmony with the Electoral Code recommendations.

 

 
                    [post_title] => PM willing to hold elections without the opposition as protest continues
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                    [post_date] => 2017-03-22 11:05:41
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                    [post_content] => humanTIRANA, March 21 - Albania gained 10 spots in the 2016 human development index published by the UNDP, ranking 75th out of 188 countries and outperforming some of its regional peers.

The Human Development Index (HDI), a composite index measuring average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development including a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living, shows Albania continues remaining among high human development countries and overtook Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina among its regional EU aspirant competitors.

“Albania’s 2015 HDI of 0.764 is above the average of 0.746 for countries in the high human development group and above the average of 0.756 for countries in Europe and Central Asia. However, when the value is discounted for inequality, the HDI falls to 0.661, a loss of 13.5 percent due to inequality in the distribution of the HDI dimension indices of inequalities in human coefficient, life expectancy at birth, education and income,” says the report.

The report shows Albania has a life expectancy of 78 years, 14.2 years of expected schooling and a gross national income of $10,252.

Data shows Albania's Human Development Index value increased by 20 percent to 0.764 during the past 25 years of the country's transition to a market economy and democracy. Life expectancy since 1990 when the country's communist regime collapsed has also increased by an average of 6.2 years, the mean years of schooling has risen by 2.2 years and the GNI per capita by 143 percent.

The report finds that although average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, one in three people worldwide continue to live in low levels of human development, as measured by the Human Development Index.

“A quarter-century of impressive human development progress continues to leave many people behind, with systemic, often unmeasured, barriers to catching up. A stronger focus on those excluded and on actions to dismantle these barriers is urgently needed to ensure sustainable human development for all,” says the United National Development Programme.
                    [post_title] => UNDP: Albania climbs 10 steps in human development
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            [post_date] => 2017-03-27 16:41:32
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, March 27 - Albanian food authorities say they have blocked Brazilian meat imports to the country and have taken samples to test products over their safety after some of the world's biggest importers of Brazilian meat imposed bans.

The temporary ban comes amid concerns that consumers might be at risk as Albania imports about a quarter of its meat products, mainly chicken and poultry, from Brazil, the world's largest meat producer.

In a statement following media reports of “rotten Brazilian beef” entering the country, the National Food Authority says the country has imported no beef from Brazil during the past five months and that it has recently blocked poultry and pork from entering Albania until tests show meat is safe to consumers. The watchdog says the temporary ban has been imposed despite no notice by the European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.

Food authorities say Albania imports meat from Basil based on a 2006 deal between the two governments and only from plants certified to export to the EU.

China, Chile and Egypt lifted the ban on Brazil meat last weekend while the European Union, the second largest importer after China, announced it would reject produce from the plants under investigation in Brazil.

The Brazilian meat scandal was triggered by a huge police operation that found evidence of meat packers selling rotten and substandard produce for several years, in an operation severely affecting the exports Latin America's largest economy for the past couple of weeks.

Brazil's President Michel Temer says the government has decided to speed up the audit process in the 21 establishments cited in the Federal Police investigation.

"The facts are that among 11,000 employees, only 33 are being investigated into. Out of 4,837 establishments subject to federal inspection, only 21 are allegedly involved in irregularities. The objective of the investigation is not the agriculture and livestock defense system in place, whose rigor is widely recognized, but a few conduct deviations," the Brazilian president is quoted as saying in a statement sent by Brazil's embassy in Tirana.

Albania's imports meat, coffee and sugar from Brazil with imports slightly increasing to 5.7 billion lek (€41 million) in 2016, about 1.2 percent of the country's total. Meanwhile, Albania's exports to Brazil are almost non-existent, according to state statistical institute, INSTAT.
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