Palestinian Embassy calls on Albanian government not to join US embassy opening in Jerusalem

Palestinian Embassy calls on Albanian government not to join US embassy opening in Jerusalem

TIRANA, May 14 – The Palestinian Embassy to Tirana called on the Albanian government not to join the opening ceremony of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, so far headed by at least 37 dead Palestinians and more than 1,300 wounded

Read Full Article
Opposition: Interior minister helped shield brother convicted of drug trafficking in Italy

Opposition: Interior minister helped shield brother convicted of drug trafficking in Italy

TIRANA, May 10 – Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party said Thursday Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj has helped his brother, Agron Xhafaj, skip a prison sentence in Italy, where he has been convicted of participating in a drug trafficking criminal organization.

Read Full Article
Parliament Speaker says Albanians found criminality and drugs among Europeans

Parliament Speaker says Albanians found criminality and drugs among Europeans

TIRANA, May 9 – The Speaker of the Albanian Parliament Gramoz Ruçi said on Wednesday concerning the country’s “cannabization” and rise in criminality and drug trafficking that it wasn’t Albanians who caused them, but rather found them among Europeans. “Someone

Read Full Article
Third Constitutional Court judge officially ousted under Albania’s judicial reform

Third Constitutional Court judge officially ousted under Albania’s judicial reform

TIRANA, May 11 – Albania’s Independent Qualification Committee ousted Constitutional Court judge Fatmir Hoxha today for being unable to justify his accumulated wealth under the country’s judiciary reform. Hoxha is the third Constitutional Court judge to be ousted under the

Read Full Article
Temporary GP demotes Tahiri-Habilaj case investigator

Temporary GP demotes Tahiri-Habilaj case investigator

TIRANA, May 9 – Temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku demoted the head of the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office Besim Hajdarmataj on Wednesday, replacing him with Durres chief prosecutor Donika Prela. Hajdarmataj was in charge of investigating the Tahiri-Habilaj case, while

Read Full Article
Albania should extradite Turks wanted on 2016 failed coup charges, ambassador says

Albania should extradite Turks wanted on 2016 failed coup charges, ambassador says

TIRANA, May 9 – Turkish Ambassador to Tirana Murat Ahmet Yörük said in a recent interview that Turkey is waiting for the official extradition of  FETO fugitives, who he said are part of a terror organization, from Albania to Turkey.

Read Full Article
Dutch MPs remain skeptic on Albania’s EU bid after two-day fact-gathering visit

Dutch MPs remain skeptic on Albania’s EU bid after two-day fact-gathering visit

TIRANA, May 9 – The Dutch government sent seven of its main parties’ lawmakers to Tirana this week in a fact-gathering mission, as Albania awaits EU member states to give their verdict concerning the opening of accession negotiations in June.

Read Full Article
Former Albanian PM’s convicted bodyguard extradited from Turkey, seeks to reopen case

Former Albanian PM’s convicted bodyguard extradited from Turkey, seeks to reopen case

TIRANA, May 9 – Izet Haxhia, a bodyguard of Albania’s former President Sali Berisha during the 1990s and one of the people convicted for the 1998 assassination of Democratic Party founder Azem Hajdari, was extradited from Turkey on Tuesday night.

Read Full Article
Pictures show roe deer, tortoise held in captivity in downtown Tirana

Pictures show roe deer, tortoise held in captivity in downtown Tirana

TIRANA, May 8 – Two Roe deer being held in captivity in a small bar on the banks of Tirana’s artificial lake and a tortoise on sale for as cheap as 1,000 lek (€8) in a downtown open-air market in

Read Full Article
EU-Western Balkans Summit faces possible boycott over Kosovo’s statehood

EU-Western Balkans Summit faces possible boycott over Kosovo’s statehood

TIRANA, May 8 – The European Union is trying to diplomatically save next week’s EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, as member states that have not recognized Kosovo’s independence point to possible boycott. Four out of five EU member states

Read Full Article
WP_Query Object
(
    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 28
            [paged] => 2
            [error] => 
            [m] => 
            [p] => 0
            [post_parent] => 
            [subpost] => 
            [subpost_id] => 
            [attachment] => 
            [attachment_id] => 0
            [name] => 
            [static] => 
            [pagename] => 
            [page_id] => 0
            [second] => 
            [minute] => 
            [hour] => 
            [day] => 0
            [monthnum] => 0
            [year] => 0
            [w] => 0
            [category_name] => news
            [tag] => 
            [tag_id] => 
            [author] => 
            [author_name] => 
            [feed] => 
            [tb] => 
            [comments_popup] => 
            [meta_key] => 
            [meta_value] => 
            [preview] => 
            [s] => 
            [sentence] => 
            [fields] => 
            [menu_order] => 
            [category__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [ignore_sticky_posts] => 
            [suppress_filters] => 
            [cache_results] => 1
            [update_post_term_cache] => 1
            [update_post_meta_cache] => 1
            [post_type] => 
            [posts_per_page] => 10
            [nopaging] => 
            [comments_per_page] => 50
            [no_found_rows] => 
            [order] => DESC
        )

    [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => category
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => 28
                                )

                            [include_children] => 1
                            [field] => term_id
                            [operator] => IN
                        )

                )

            [relation] => AND
        )

    [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                )

            [relation] => 
        )

    [date_query] => 
    [post_count] => 10
    [current_post] => -1
    [in_the_loop] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [current_comment] => -1
    [found_posts] => 9779
    [max_num_pages] => 978
    [max_num_comment_pages] => 0
    [is_single] => 
    [is_preview] => 
    [is_page] => 
    [is_archive] => 1
    [is_date] => 
    [is_year] => 
    [is_month] => 
    [is_day] => 
    [is_time] => 
    [is_author] => 
    [is_category] => 1
    [is_tag] => 
    [is_tax] => 
    [is_search] => 
    [is_feed] => 
    [is_comment_feed] => 
    [is_trackback] => 
    [is_home] => 
    [is_404] => 
    [is_comments_popup] => 
    [is_paged] => 1
    [is_admin] => 
    [is_attachment] => 
    [is_singular] => 
    [is_robots] => 
    [is_posts_page] => 
    [is_post_type_archive] => 
    [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 9683a65fa4a1aafc6b9370035b44e4c1
    [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 
    [thumbnails_cached] => 1
    [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => 
    [query] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 28
            [paged] => 2
        )

    [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS  wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts  INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1  AND ( wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (28) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 10, 10
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 137104
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-05-14 16:53:36
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:53:36
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 14 - The Palestinian Embassy to Tirana called on the Albanian government not to join the opening ceremony of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, so far headed by at least 37 dead Palestinians and more than 1,300 wounded by Israeli troops in clashes on the Gaza border according to international media.

The Palestinian Embassy has blamed “Israeli violation and arrogance officially backed by the United States” for the events unfolding in Gaza.  

According to the official statement issued by the Palestinian Embassy, the Israeli right-wing government is using every chance to continue what it called the “hebrewization” process of occupied Jerusalem.

“At the same time,” the statement said, “we consider President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem, as well as his decision to transfer the US Embassy to occupied Jerusalem, as an unstoppable aggression towards our people and rights.”

The violence comes as a direct result of the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem, which has angered Palestinians in large, as they see this as the US backing Israel’s rule over the whole city. 

In Albania, Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and following opening of the US Embassy there caused debate as Albania joined 128 other UN member states at the UN General Assembly in approving a resolution rejecting the U.S. decision. 

Although the vote was a departure from Albania’s previous UN votes, which have always been aligned with the US, experts at the at the Albanian Institute for International Studies said the vote marked one of the best moments of Albanian diplomacy in the past four or five years, showing a positive and independent thinking in international affairs.

Top US officials, including President Donald Trump’s daughter and husband, are attending the opening, scheduled to take place Monday.

Meanwhile, local media reported Gaza’s Islamist rules, Hamas, have led mass protests that frequently turned violent over the past weeks. 

The embassy’s statement also noted the ceremony is taking place at a time the Palestinian people commemorates the 1948 Nakba, or Catastrophe, when more than 700.000 Palestinians fled their homes following the foundation of the Israeli state.

According to the BBC, President Trump is expected to address those attending Monday's event via video link. In a tweet, he said it was "a great day for Israel".

 
                    [post_title] => Palestinian Embassy calls on Albanian government not to join US embassy opening in Jerusalem 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => palestinian-embassy-calls-on-albanian-government-not-to-join-us-embassy-opening-in-jerusalem
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:58:39
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:58:39
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137104
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [1] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 137024
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-05-10 19:19:47
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-10 17:19:47
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 10 - Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party said Thursday Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj has helped his brother, Agron Xhafaj, skip a prison sentence in Italy, where he has been convicted of participating in a drug trafficking criminal organization.

At a press conference, DP officials Enkelejd Alibeaj and Gazmend Bardhi published documents that they said prove that Xhafaj’s brother was convicted in Italy for international drug trafficking and has not served his sentence, living from 2013 onwards in Albania.

DP says Xhafaj has not only political and moral responsibility but also legal responsibility in the case, as Albanian legislation gives police serving under the interior minister the power to identify people convicted in absentia in a foreign court.

“It is the duty of the Interior Minister and his subordinates in the State Police to identify Agron Xhafaj and arrest him so he can serve the sentence," said Bardhi, a former DP justice minister. 

According to the documents published Thursday, Agron Xhafaj was convicted as a member of a narcotics trafficking organization operating in Albania, Italy, Poland and the United States. His appeals to higher courts had also failed, and the conviction stands, according to the documents published by the Democratic Party. 

Minister Xhafaj said in parliament that the events for which his brother stands accused happened many years ago, with him being “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and “being young in the wrong crowd.” 

Xhafaj also said his brother’s action cannot affect his political career as each person has his own life.

However, DP officials say the minister’s inaction and ability to influence the wording of the penal code as a former head of parliament’s laws commission put him in conflict of interest. 

Opposition lawmakers accused Xhafaj directly in parliament Thursday, briefly blocking normal proceedings before abandoning the session. 

Albania’s former Prime Minister Sali Berisha said current Prime Minister Edi Rama tried to protect, back in 2016, Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj’s brother.

Rama’s post from 2016 noted: “Sali has undertaken his dirty campaign to stain Agron Xhafaj this time! In his old and disgustingly Bolshevik style, he has made an accusation based on a made up story, for Fatmir’s brother. A story about Venezuelan drugs for the father of two children who is honorable in his job and only has one fault: he is the brother of the man who is leading the most difficult and important reform of the past 25 years.”

After details that Agron Xhafaj had been surveilled by Italian police for drug trafficking came out on Wednesday, the DP presented in parliament what it claims is proof that Xhafaj personally interfered so that his brother wouldn’t be serving his sentence as a convicted drug trafficker.

 
                    [post_title] => Opposition: Interior minister helped shield brother convicted of drug trafficking in Italy
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => dp-interior-minister-helped-brother-convicted-of-drug-trafficking-in-italy
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:33:30
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:33:30
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137024
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [2] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 136996
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-05-10 19:02:47
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-10 17:02:47
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 9 - The Speaker of the Albanian Parliament Gramoz Ruçi said on Wednesday concerning the country’s “cannabization” and rise in criminality and drug trafficking that it wasn’t Albanians who caused them, but rather found them among Europeans. 

“Someone might call me nostalgic, but that system didn’t have drugs, criminality, corruption or any of this phenomena. We made a choice to topple dictatorship and open Albania up, instead of staying as we were. And this phenomena wasn’t brought by Albanians, it was found among Europeans,” Ruçi said referring to Albania’s communist regime, under which he served as a young political official.

In a media conference during Europe Day, Ruçi spoke responding to the issues raised by eight Dutch MPs that visited Albania on a fact-gathering mission in the context of the country’s EU integration, but who remain skeptic concerning the surge of criminality, corruption and cannabis trafficking. 

“I’d tell my Dutch colleagues that if cannabis is a black stain in Albania, the technology and the market come from the Netherlands. I am not accusing the Netherlands, but we have the right not to be identified with this, but rather with what we have achieved,” Ruçi continued.

According to him, Albanians who have grown up and live in the EU have been contributing, and even renowned, members of society. Among them, Ruçi mentioned the two other Albanian-origin singers representing Italy and Cyprus in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, as well as numerous Albanian football players signed in international teams.

Ruçi didn’t fail to mention former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri’s recent parliamentary resignation, calling giving up his lawmaker immunity a “moral act” that should be acknowledged.

“During my 27 years in parliament there have been many accusations for lawmakers right and left, from 1991 to this day, starting from me. No one gave up their mandate. It is the first case that should be welcomed and appreciated,” Ruci said.

 
                    [post_title] => Parliament Speaker says Albanians found criminality and drugs among Europeans
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => parliament-chairman-says-albanians-found-criminality-and-drugs-among-europeans
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:33:50
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:33:50
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=136996
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [3] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 137060
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-05-09 22:34:57
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-09 20:34:57
                    [post_content] => 

TIRANA, May 11 - Albania’s Independent Qualification Committee ousted Constitutional Court judge Fatmir Hoxha today for being unable to justify his accumulated wealth under the country’s judiciary reform.

Hoxha is the third Constitutional Court judge to be ousted under the reform, after Altina Xhoxhaj and Fatos Lulo. Another judge, Besnik Ymeri, resigned prior to undergoing the vetting.

So far, only judge Vitore Tushe has been approved by the IQC to continue practicing her profession as a judge, but she is currently unable as her mandate as a judge is expired.

According to the IQC, Hoxha couldn’t ultimately justify the money used to buy his only immobile property - an apartment in Tirana worth €140.000.

Hoxha said he’d taken a soft bank loan and two additional loans from his brother-in-law and friend to afford the apartment, however the IQC found two amounts of ALL 1.7 million and ALL 275.000 whose sources are unjustifiable.

Hoxha’s lawyer said the first sum was gathered by selling Hoxha’s Shkodra apartment furniture, prior to his appointment as a judge in the Constitutional Court, while the second sum was said to have resulted from Hoxha’s wedding gifts in cash.

The Constitutional Court, now left with three judges, has been out of order over the last weeks, as six are needed to start a meeting and five to pass a decision.

[post_title] => Third Constitutional Court judge officially ousted under Albania’s judicial reform [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => third-constitutional-court-judge-officially-ousted-under-albanias-judicial-reform [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:34:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:34:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137060 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 137005 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-05-09 20:24:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-09 18:24:05 [post_content] => TIRANA, May 9 - Temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku demoted the head of the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office Besim Hajdarmataj on Wednesday, replacing him with Durres chief prosecutor Donika Prela. Hajdarmataj was in charge of investigating the Tahiri-Habilaj case, while local media has reported the demotion comes one day after he interrogated Gentian Ceka, Saimir Tahiri’s driver from his time as Minister of Interior. As per the general prosecutor’s office explanation, Hajdarmataj will remain as a serious crimes prosecutor, but will no longer be heading the investigations himself. In a statement for a regional media network, Hajdarmataj said he is not clear on what motivated this demotion. “I don’t know what it has to do with, but I can say the only case I am directly involved with is that of former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri. Now I am just a normal prosecutor and I will continue my job with the cases I’ve been assigned until the moment a second order comes concerning my transfer to another institution,” he said. According to the the general prosecutor’s office, Marku has “faith this change in leadership will result in faster and more effective penal proceeding on high-priority cases. Investigation of crime and corruption remains the highest priority for GP Marku.” Further information concerning the demotion have yet to come out, however deputy chief of the Democratic Party Edi Paloka told the media that everything the DP previously warned about, is happening. “Rama caught the prosecution to save Tahiri and himself. The vetting is not being used to clean the justice system, but as a pressure tool towards prosecutors and judges,” Paloka said. Head of the Socialist Movement for Integration Monika Kryemadhi also said in a Facebook post the demotion is illegal and that it represents a clear attempt of trying to close the Tahiri-Habilaj case.     [post_title] => Temporary GP demotes Tahiri-Habilaj case investigator [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => temporary-gp-demotes-head-of-serious-crimes-prosecution-main-tahiri-habilaj-case-investigator [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:37:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:37:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137005 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 136991 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-05-09 13:29:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-09 11:29:38 [post_content] => TIRANA, May 9 - Turkish Ambassador to Tirana Murat Ahmet Yörük said in a recent interview that Turkey is waiting for the official extradition of  FETO fugitives, who he said are part of a terror organization, from Albania to Turkey. According to Yörük’s interview for Albanian Daily News, the countries’ “strategic partnership and genuine friendship” makes it of paramount importance to Turkey that FETO activities on Albanian ground be eliminated as soon as possible. Yörük also mentioned Prime Minister Edi Rama’s recent statement in a TV talk-show that “FETO is a serious threat to Albanian national security” to argue the FETO fugitives that fled to Albania after Turkey’s failed coup attempt should be extradited. “Following the failed coup attempt, many FETO fugitives also fled to Albania. We are still waiting for the official extradition of these FETO fugitives from Albania to Turkey. Because, as our strategic partner and genuine friend, Albanian authorities should not allow their territories to be used as a sheltering ground for a terror organization. As Prime Minister Rama underlined in the recent TV talk show “Tonight Ilva Tare” a few weeks ago that ‘FETO is also a serious threat to Albanian national security,’ I couldn't agree more,” said Yörük. Rama was asked by journalist Ilva Tare on FETO fugitives in Albania based on an early statement made by him that he was “keeping them under surveillance,” raising concerns, according to Tare, about a situation of extradition similar to that of Kosovo last month, which raised a lot of interstate debate. In this context, Tare straightforwardly asked Rama if he has been asked to extradite FETO fugitives in Albania to Turkey. “What I can say is that the network which organized the violent coup attempt of an elected Turkish government is a dangerous network. When it comes to Albania, we will surely monitor people belonging to that group, because this concerns our national security,” Rama answered. However, Rama did not directly reply to Tare’s questions whether he’d extradite FETO fugitives if asked, saying he does not want to answer “if questions”, but rather pay attention to possible threats to Albania’s national security. Concerning Kosovo’s extradition case of six FETO fugitives who were working as school teachers in Kosovo, which President Hashim Thaci said was not aware of after it had happened, Ambassador Yörük said stories depicting the extradited people as victims are false. “This operation has been realized with the assistance of legal and intelligence authorities of Kosovo. Turkey attaches utmost importance to the rule of law, and act in line with the international obligations. We reject and condemn these news reports claiming that six Turkish men were innocent,” Yörük said.   [post_title] => Albania should extradite Turks wanted on 2016 failed coup charges, ambassador says [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albania-should-extradite-feto-fugitives-to-turkey-ambassador-yoruk-says [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:36:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:36:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=136991 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 136987 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-05-09 12:01:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-09 10:01:53 [post_content] => TIRANA, May 9 - The Dutch government sent seven of its main parties’ lawmakers to Tirana this week in a fact-gathering mission, as Albania awaits EU member states to give their verdict concerning the opening of accession negotiations in June. The Netherlands, along with France and Germany, is one of the most sceptic EU member states but, unlike France, which is hesitating due to internal EU problems, and Germany, whose lawmakers seem to be divided, the Netherlands has directly addressed corruption and the rule of law as Albania’s main EU integration drawbacks. “Our government is extremely hesitant to open accession negotiations with Albania at this moment. This is why our parliament decided to organize this fact-gathering mission with members from seven different Dutch political parties, so all main parties are here. Following we will have a debate on how the implementation of the five priorities is going. Our government will have the last world, but it first needs parliamentary approval,” a representative of the Dutch delegation told local media. According to the Dutch delegation, more work needs to be done in the rule of law area, while the independent judicial system should investigate corrupt top officials in addition to the ‘small fish.’ Meanwhile, Albanian lawmakers from opposite sides of the political spectrum had differing opinions on what came out of the talks with the Dutch delegation. “The opposition asked the Dutch parliament to support opening negotiations. They are worried about criminality and drugs. Our stand was that opening negotiations will allow a closer monitoring of the government. The Netherlands is hesitant due to Albanian criminality in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but also its increase within Albania,” Democrat lawmaker Jorida Tabaku told local media. Socialist Head of the Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Commission Mimi Kodheli, on the other hand, said the delegation had been informed on the top five key priorities by both the government and opposition and that the meeting was fruitful, leaving government members optimistic. During their two-day stay, the delegation met Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati, Prime Minister Edi Rama, head of the Democratic Party opposition Lulzim Basha, President Ilir Meta and the Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruci. At the end of their visit, the lawmakers are expected to compile a report to be submitted to the Dutch parliament.   [post_title] => Dutch MPs remain skeptic on Albania’s EU bid after two-day fact-gathering visit [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => dutch-mps-remain-skeptic-on-albanias-eu-integration-after-two-day-fact-gathering-visit [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-10 23:53:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-10 21:53:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=136987 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 137038 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-05-09 09:00:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-09 07:00:25 [post_content] => TIRANA, May 9 - Izet Haxhia, a bodyguard of Albania’s former President Sali Berisha during the 1990s and one of the people convicted for the 1998 assassination of Democratic Party founder Azem Hajdari, was extradited from Turkey on Tuesday night. In 2002, Haxhia was given 25 years in prison by the Albanian Court for premeditated murder committed in cooperation and attempted premeditated murder, despite him never pleading guilty to the court. Turkish authorities arrested Haxhia in 2006 and, rejecting several requests to extradite him to Albania, obliged him to stay within Turkey’s borders until this year’s February, when the court decided to extradite him. In a Facebook post from some days ago, Haxhia wrote he gave himself in to Turkish authorities, while in a number of interviews and public announcements from past years he’s said he will ask for his case to be re-opened. “The court session and decision took place without his presence. Haxhia hasn’t had a chance to express himself and give his stand. We will ask for the case to re-open,” his lawyer Fran Dashi said. Haxhia has often been interviewed in Albanian media. Over his years in exile, Haxhia has blamed Berisha for Hajdari’s murder -- at the time, Berisha was the head of the Democratic Party. Berisha, on the other hand, said concerning Haxhia’s return to Albania in a recent TV talk-show that he is no more than an additional criminal on Prime Minister Edi Rama’s side. “He is a criminal facing 25 years of prison in Albania and life imprisonment in Greece, according to media, and now he comes to stand beside Edi Rama,” Berisha said.   [post_title] => Former Albanian PM’s convicted bodyguard extradited from Turkey, seeks to reopen case [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => former-albanian-pms-convicted-bodyguard-extradited-from-turkey-seeks-to-reopen-case [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-11 11:06:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-11 09:06:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137038 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 136982 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2018-05-08 17:33:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-08 15:33:11 [post_content] =>

[caption id="attachment_136984" align="alignright" width="300"]A tortoise on sale in a downtown Tirana market for a reported  A tortoise on sale in a downtown Tirana market for a reported 1,000 lek (€8); Photos: PPNEA[/caption]

TIRANA, May 8 – Two Roe deer being held in captivity in a small bar on the banks of Tirana’s artificial lake and a tortoise on sale for as cheap as 1,000 lek (€8) in a downtown open-air market in the capital are the latest two cases of animal cruelty that a local environmental watchdog has unveiled.

“Environmental crime does not only occur in rural areas and far away from the public's attention, but also close to the center of Tirana, seen by thousands of people and relevant institutions,” says PPNEA, the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania.

The animal cruelty cases have been unveiled in pictures reportedly taken in the first days of May 2018 and posted on a dedicated portal serving as a hotline to report cases of environmental or animal abuse.

The Hermann’s tortoise put up for sale at the Pazari i Ri, serving as a vegetable and fish market in central Tirana, is part of the Red List of Albanian Flora and Fauna while the International Union for Conservation of Nature rates them as ‘least concern’ species that do not qualify as threatened.

In the second case, two protected Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) held in captivity were pictured in a small bar on the banks of Tirana’s artificial lake. The Roe deer is part of the Red List of Albanian Flora and Fauna with an endangered status.

Last year, a three-month-old bear cub that had been trapped in mountain village outside Tirana was rescued from captivity after being illegally advertised for sale at a popular portal for €1,100.

Brown hares and bears being killed and advertised as trophies on social networks or endangered species such as the Balkan Lynx kept embalmed at restaurant bars in addition to caged bear cubs held in captivity are some of the cases watchdogs have identified in the past couple of years.

Environmentalists have also identified golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), the symbol of Albania’s national red and black flag, kept in captivity, the killing of three red foxes and a restaurant which had turned into a museum of embalmed species in a northern Albania beach areas.

In late 2017, animal rights activists submitted more than 37,000 signatures in a petition addressed to MPs seeking to make animal cruelty punishable by fines and even imprisonment by amending the country’s Criminal Code, but the legal initiative that needs a qualified majority of 84 votes, three-fifths of the current 140-seat Parliament, has not been examined yet.

Albania has banned hunting for the past couple of years and imposed a new five-year moratorium until 2021 to put an end to uncontrolled and illegal hunting, which has decimated wildlife populations in the country over the last two and a half decades after the collapse of the communist regime in the early 1990s.

[post_title] => Pictures show roe deer, tortoise held in captivity in downtown Tirana [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => pictures-show-roe-deer-tortoise-held-in-captivity-in-downtown-tirana [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:34:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:34:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=136982 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 136977 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-05-08 15:19:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-08 13:19:54 [post_content] => TIRANA, May 8 - The European Union is trying to diplomatically save next week’s EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, as member states that have not recognized Kosovo’s independence point to possible boycott. Four out of five EU member states that haven’t recognized one of the world’s newest countries - Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus - have reportedly argued that talks during the summit should not be interpreted as if Kosovo and its independence are uncontested. Meanwhile, official Spain will not be attending the summit due to the same issue and it remains to be seen whether any of the other four will join Spain in its decision. In this context, the EU is taking diplomatic measures to ensure the summit will take place as planned on May 17, in Bulgaria’s capital. To begin with, the EU will place attention to the terminology used during the summit, as WB countries will not be referred to as states, but as WB partners, according to local media. In addition, member state representatives and heads of states will be introduced through personal name tags, instead of though the countries they represent. Summit organizers hope to avoid any mention of boycott through these adjustments, despite Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s absence from the summit, as announced by Brussel’s diplomats. Spanish media lately reported that in the context of Catalonia’s separatist tendencies, Rajoy’s has said he doesn’t wish to be photographed with Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci. Sofia’s Western Balkan Summit is expected to touch on the WB states’ European perspective, although the EU is not expected to provide an exact membership deadline. Critics and EU state representatives argued against the EU Commission’s 2025 membership deadline even for Serbia and Montenegro, saying that WB countries have a long way to go to fulfill the EU membership criteria.   [post_title] => EU-Western Balkans Summit faces possible boycott over Kosovo’s statehood [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => eu-western-balkans-summit-faces-possible-boycott-over-kosovos-statehood [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-08 15:19:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-08 13:19:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=136977 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 137104 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-05-14 16:53:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:53:36 [post_content] => TIRANA, May 14 - The Palestinian Embassy to Tirana called on the Albanian government not to join the opening ceremony of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, so far headed by at least 37 dead Palestinians and more than 1,300 wounded by Israeli troops in clashes on the Gaza border according to international media. The Palestinian Embassy has blamed “Israeli violation and arrogance officially backed by the United States” for the events unfolding in Gaza.   According to the official statement issued by the Palestinian Embassy, the Israeli right-wing government is using every chance to continue what it called the “hebrewization” process of occupied Jerusalem. “At the same time,” the statement said, “we consider President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem, as well as his decision to transfer the US Embassy to occupied Jerusalem, as an unstoppable aggression towards our people and rights.” The violence comes as a direct result of the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem, which has angered Palestinians in large, as they see this as the US backing Israel’s rule over the whole city. In Albania, Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and following opening of the US Embassy there caused debate as Albania joined 128 other UN member states at the UN General Assembly in approving a resolution rejecting the U.S. decision. Although the vote was a departure from Albania’s previous UN votes, which have always been aligned with the US, experts at the at the Albanian Institute for International Studies said the vote marked one of the best moments of Albanian diplomacy in the past four or five years, showing a positive and independent thinking in international affairs. Top US officials, including President Donald Trump’s daughter and husband, are attending the opening, scheduled to take place Monday. Meanwhile, local media reported Gaza’s Islamist rules, Hamas, have led mass protests that frequently turned violent over the past weeks. The embassy’s statement also noted the ceremony is taking place at a time the Palestinian people commemorates the 1948 Nakba, or Catastrophe, when more than 700.000 Palestinians fled their homes following the foundation of the Israeli state. According to the BBC, President Trump is expected to address those attending Monday's event via video link. In a tweet, he said it was "a great day for Israel".   [post_title] => Palestinian Embassy calls on Albanian government not to join US embassy opening in Jerusalem [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => palestinian-embassy-calls-on-albanian-government-not-to-join-us-embassy-opening-in-jerusalem [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-14 16:58:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-14 14:58:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137104 [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] => 9779 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 28 [category_count] => 9779 [category_description] => [cat_name] => News [category_nicename] => news [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 28 [post__not_in] => Array ( ) )

Latest News

Read More