Part of trend, MP seat filled by wealthy man as two women give up eligibility

Part of trend, MP seat filled by wealthy man as two women give up eligibility

TIRANA, Feb. 14 – Two women Democratic Party candidates in Berat — Juvina Jani and Monika Qosja — have rejected their legal right to take an MP seat vacated by a resignation so one of Albania’s wealthiest men can take

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Business owner shot dead in Blloku

Business owner shot dead in Blloku

TIRANA, Feb. 14 – A business owner was shot in head with a silencer weapon in Tirana’s prestigious Blloku neighborhood at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, police said. Memli (Afrim) Begalla, 64, was going to his Range Rover parked below his

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Albanian man arrested on U.S. cybercrime charges

Albanian man arrested on U.S. cybercrime charges

TIRANA, Feb. 13 – Albanian authorities arrested Aldo Ymeraj this week — a 25 year old man from Fier who was known online as “the Cuban” and who allegedly belonged to an international cyber crime organization accused by U.S. authorities

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Former general prosecutor exits justice system

Former general prosecutor exits justice system

TIRANA, Feb. 13 – Albania’s former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla sent an official letter to President Ilir Meta this week giving up his right to be appointed as an appeals judge, thus avoiding the vetting process all those part of

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World Urban Forum praises Tirana for rapid progress

World Urban Forum praises Tirana for rapid progress

TIRANA, Feb. 12 – Tirana was selected this week by the World Urban Forum along with Australia’s Newcastle and Panama’s Panama City, as one of the three cities that underwent the most change during the last year, Tirana’s mayor, Erion

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National theatre actors angry over new law, building project

National theatre actors angry over new law, building project

TIRANA, Feb. 12 – There have been public protests by National Theatre actors who are unhappy with a new draft law introduced by the Ministry of Culture to regulate the state-owned theatre company. The draft law aims to temporarily relocate

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Gov’t refuses to give details on Greece talks

Gov’t refuses to give details on Greece talks

TIRANA, Feb. 5 – Albania’s foreign minister has refused to provide details over the country’s talks with Greece on a series of pressing issues, urging critics instead to wait for the full details to come out once a deal is

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Albania slapped with ‘hybrid regime’ ranking in global index

Albania slapped with ‘hybrid regime’ ranking in global index

TIRANA, Feb. 8 – The Economist Intelligence Unit, in an annual report published last week, listed Albania’s political system as a hybrid regime between democracy and totalitarianism, showing the country has made little to no progress in more than a

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Direct flights between Tirana and Tel Aviv to kickstart on April

Direct flights between Tirana and Tel Aviv to kickstart on April

TIRANA, Feb. 8 – Albanian Minister of Tourism Blendi Klosi announced this week direct flights from Tirana to Tel Aviv will launch twice a week starting from April 13 after a meeting with Israeli counterpart Yariv Levin in Tel Aviv.

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AIIS ranks higher in 2017 global think tank index among world’s best

AIIS ranks higher in 2017 global think tank index among world’s best

TIRANA, Feb. 8 – The Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) climbed up the 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report ranking from 23rd to 22nd place among top think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe. The report, launched

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TIRANA, Feb. 14 - Two women Democratic Party candidates in Berat -- Juvina Jani and Monika Qosja -- have rejected their legal right to take an MP seat vacated by a resignation so one of Albania's wealthiest men can take the seat instead to return to parliament.

The latest move is part of wider trend on both sides of the political spectrum through which women candidates are fielded to meet quotas and then sidelined so men candidates can take the seats if they become eligible.

The MP mandate was offered to the two women based on legal gender quotas after Berat MP Eduard Halimi resigned. The two women were at the bottom of the Berat list, and their resignation opened the way for businessman Astrit Veliaj to become a Democratic Party MP for a second time.

Though Jani and Qosja have refused to give media statements after officially rejecting the mandate, local media reports their decision was, in fact, imposed to them.

Veliaj denies he pressured anyone to give up eligibility.

Jani and Qosja’s rejection letters immediately followed Halimi’s resignation letter, given to the Central Election Committee on Friday, Feb. 9.

However, after Halimi made his resignation public, local media reached out to Jani and Qosja. While Jani reportedly told local media she wouldn’t be accepting the mandate due to a relative’s health problems, Qosja said she would gladly accept the mandate if she was next on the list of candidates.

Both women were indeed at the end of the candidate list, but gender quotas made them the next candidates to be appointed as MPs in Berat.

On Feb. 10, however, Qosja was contacted again by local media. This time, she said she didn’t receive an official notice for the position and made no further comments.

The rejection letters that will allow Veliaj to get a second term as MP are reported to be identical, not only submitted on the same date, but also using the same verbal expressions and even having similar mistakes.

Berat’s case draws strong parallels with a 2014 situation in Lezha, when two Socialist Party female members withdrew so that Arben Ndoka could become MP in the district, saying it was their personal decision.

In the past, Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha expressed disbelief the Socialist women withdrew on their own accord.

“Four women had to resign their MP mandate, under the threat of the most foul violence that came with Edi Rama’s blessing,” Basha said back in Jan. 2014.

Asked about the similarity between the two cases, opposition leader Lulzim Basha said the DP’s situation is not the same.

“Arben Ndoka is a man sentenced for prostitution, while in this case there is no criminality charges for any of the candidates, whoever the next MP will be,” Basha told media.

Veliaj first ran for MP through the Republican Party in 2009, but was not appointed. In 2013 and 2017 he ran with the Democratic Party and won in Berat.

He is the owner of Albanian University and a large educational network starting from elementary schools and extending to universities.

Veliaj has no background in politics and has been previously investigated by the prosecution for allegedly building his university buildings without formerly acquiring a permit.

Halimi, whom he is substituting, on the other hand, is a former minister of justice and one of the most prominent lawyers of the Democratic Party’s parliamentary group.

Also currently vice president of the Laws Commission, his resignation to pursue a long-term international law project for the Balkans caused surprise.

 

[post_title] => Part of trend, MP seat filled by wealthy man as two women give up eligibility [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => part-of-trend-mp-seat-filled-by-wealthy-man-as-two-women-give-up-eligibility [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 09:37:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-16 08:37:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135834 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135832 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-02-14 08:11:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-14 07:11:31 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 14 - A business owner was shot in head with a silencer weapon in Tirana’s prestigious Blloku neighborhood at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, police said. Memli (Afrim) Begalla, 64, was going to his Range Rover parked below his apartment building on Nikolla Tupe St. when he was shot dead, according to several local media reports. Police said a black BMW was seen leaving the scene but no arrests have been made. The victim was in his 60s and police are looking at possible business-related motives for the shooting, such as unpaid debts, local media reported. He owned two tire businesses and had registered a company for work in tourism, energy, construction and import exports, an extract from the business registration agency noted. A journalist with Panorama newspaper who lives in the same building as Begalla told the newspaper this is the second shooting of its kind in what is supposed to be one of the most prestigious areas of Tirana, the Wilson Square – Blloku area neighborhood, citing frustration with an increase of such targeted violence in Tirana.   [post_title] => Business owner shot dead in Blloku [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => business-owner-shot-dead-in-blloku [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 08:13:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-16 07:13:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135832 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135786 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-02-13 17:22:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-13 16:22:45 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 13 - Albanian authorities arrested Aldo Ymeraj this week -- a 25 year old man from Fier who was known online as “the Cuban” and who allegedly belonged to an international cyber crime organization accused by U.S. authorities of costing victims more than half a billion dollars. Ymeraj was arrested in Tirana on an international warrant issued by the US. Local media reported Ymeraj first caught Albanian authorities’ attention as part of the Albania Hackers Group (AHG), which attacked the servers of several state institutions and private businesses. However, Ymeraj’s illegal online activity continued after the AHG was disassembled, and he later became part of the cyber group “in fraud we trust”. An Ukranian man still on the loose is suspected to have founded the group, which has been allegedly operating since 2010. Though local media reports Ymeraj has given no information while waiting for his extradition to the US, the group’s strategy was selling stolen credit cards’ information and bank accounts online. Ymeraj currently belonging among 36 people being sought by authorities, the US Department of Justice suspects that “in fraud we trust” has a membership of approximately 10,900 people worldwide.   [post_title] => Albanian man arrested on U.S. cybercrime charges [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albanian-man-arrested-on-u-s-cybercrime-charges [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-13 17:22:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-13 16:22:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135786 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135783 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-02-13 17:19:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-13 16:19:21 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 13 – Albania's former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla sent an official letter to President Ilir Meta this week giving up his right to be appointed as an appeals judge, thus avoiding the vetting process all those part of the justice system are required to undergo under Albania's justice reform laws. Albanian law allows former general prosecutors to be appointed as appeals judges. In the current situation, successful appointment would only be possible if officials passed the vetting process. Llalla, however, did not wait for the possibility of such a reappointment, instead joining other prosecutors in exiting the justice system and informing the vetting bodies that he would not be subject to the judiciary’s vetting. U.S. Ambassador to Tirana Donald Lu, who has in the past clashed with Llalla concerning corrupt officials and the judiciary reform, indicated in response that resignation from Albania’s judiciary system does not mean impunity if Llalla and other prosecutors are found to have been involved in corruption. “The decision to resign is an individual decision, yet the resignation of any corrupt or inefficient judge or prosecutor is a victory in the battle for a better judicial system,” Lu said. Lu spoke in general terms, referring to all judges and prosecutors who resigned before passing through the vetting process. “The decision to resign does not excuse those former officials from possible penal responsibilities of corruption or duty exploitation. Those who are scared of the vetting should also be scared of unavoidable penal investigations,” Lu concluded. Indeed, the legal right to withdraw and, in turn, skip the vetting process could become ground for argument in the country, as it is still unclear whether the right is constitutional or whether Llalla and other prosecutors will still be legally investigated. It is not unusual for former general prosecutors to enter private practice, becoming defense attorneys after finishing their term. Llalla has not made his plans public.       [post_title] => Former general prosecutor exits justice system [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => former-gp-resigns-from-albanias-judiciary-system-possibly-skipping-vetting-process [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 08:05:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-16 07:05:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135783 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135780 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-02-12 17:13:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-12 16:13:41 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 12 - Tirana was selected this week by the World Urban Forum along with Australia’s Newcastle and Panama’s Panama City, as one of the three cities that underwent the most change during the last year, Tirana’s mayor, Erion Veliaj, went on a two-day visit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a guest to the World Urban Forum and a key speaker introducing the capital’s major changes over the last years. Among local leaders, investors, non-governmental organizations, and experts in the field of urban development, Veliaj summed up the projects that transformed Tirana in the past and introduced future plans for the city. “I am aware there is still a lot of work to be done, but today presents a chance to show the city of our dreams is reachable through will, desire and cooperation from the entire community, starting from children to the elderly,” Veliaj said. He added that a big part of the achieved results are the result of good cooperation between the local and main government. “A big part of the things my colleagues, mayors of other cities, heard about Tirana, would not have been realized for many years to come in normal conditions or routine pace. The World Urban Forum serves as an opportunity for local leaders from around the world to share experience and knowledge on successful projects. In this context, Veliaj highlighted the involvement of additional actors, such as private businesses and entrepreneurs, in Tirana’s success stories of the new Skandërbeg Square,its New Market and Boulevard, as well as smaller projects, such as the rebuilding of public kindergartens and schools, or the car-free days events.   This year, Veliaj promised 4000 new bicycles will be provided, while also saying one of the municipality’s biggest goals is solving the problem of teaching high-schools in two shifts during the first half of 2019 - an issue that comes from Tirana’s major high-schools being overcrowded. “With the new schools we expect to finish building this year, but also with the project of additional new schools, we will have solved Tirana’s two-shift education problem before the 2019 elections,” he said. Veliaj concluded the municipality will continue to pay attention to the rehabilitation of Tirana’s neighborhoods, saying this year 50 new blocks will be reconstructed and improve citizens’ lives.   The new urban agenda was approved in the UN Oct. 2016 conference on Sustainable Urban Development, held in Ecuador. This agenda aims to fulfill goals for sustainable development and creation of urban centers able to aid prosperity and social well-being, while also protecting the environment.   [post_title] => World Urban Forum praises Tirana for rapid progress [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => world-urban-forum-praises-tirana-for-rapid-progress [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-13 17:16:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-13 16:16:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135780 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135775 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-02-12 17:08:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-12 16:08:30 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 12 - There have been public protests by National Theatre actors who are unhappy with a new draft law introduced by the Ministry of Culture to regulate the state-owned theatre company. The draft law aims to temporarily relocate the theatre to a new building in the city’s outskirts while the historic downtown building is either reconstructed or torn down to be rebuilt as part of a new high-rise commercial complex. A petition started by 74 actors reached 4,000 signatures this week. The artists’ main concern is that the National Theatre Building will be destroyed to be redeveloped into a commercial center -- a project pending since Prime Minister Edi Rama was the city’s mayor. The actors say what they have put their lives into is not valued and the government’s draft law lacks transparency. The Independent Syndicate of Albanian Artists joined the protest this week. They said the project was not in fact consulted with the artists, like the government claims, and added that moving the artistic troop of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre to practice in the National Theatre until the Palace of Culture is reconstructed should be objected categorically, due to the building’s old and failing structure. “No one knows what the theatre’s fund is. There is zero transparency. The appointment of leadership in national cultural institutions should change. Politics has no say over universities, but it has over theatre, and that is absurd. We will request the parliament to make amends, as leadership should not be appointed but selected by the community,” actor Stefan Capaliku said. During the protests, Robert Ndrenika, one of the country’s most prominent names in theatre, highlighted many additional issues actors in Albania face. Some of them were the minimal wages, the lack of a proper theatre building that can serve as one of the city’s landmarks, gradual privatization of the artists’ property, which they fear will result in the theatre reconstruction simply serving as an excuse to build yet another high-rise building downtown.   He added that a proper national theatre should be demanded by the government from the artists. Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro replied to Ndrenika’s public speech in an open letter where she agreed with the artists’ concerns, but also reminded of all artistic projects which the previous Democratic Party (DP) government never finalized, bringing according to her the degradation of the National Theatre. “I think the community of actors should have reacted in 2008-2009, when the government decided to investment around $6 million to build a theatre inside the Pyramid, and after spending half of his amount they abandoned the project in order to utterly destroy the Pyramid in benefit of another parliamentary project, leaving us with a damaged building that needs at least $20 million to be reconstructed,” Kumbaro wrote in her letter. She added the National Theatre will remain where it is currently located and will continue to be used until the day construction of a new theatre will begin under a governmental project, as well as invited the artists to dialogue over their concerns. Despite Kumbaro’s statement, concerns over the draft law remain. In another public speech, actor Bujar Asqeriu gave the debate a strong political aspect, saying the main reason the theatre and actors in Albania has reached such a low standard is due to the political class’ corrupt methods, which create unequal wealth distribution and no place for the arts to develop. Asqeriu’s cry of anger seemed to come out of ancient Greek drama as he urged God to curse all politicians and their children for what their corruption has done to Albania.   [post_title] => National theatre actors angry over new law, building project [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => national-theatre-actors-angry-over-new-law-building-project [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-13 17:13:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-13 16:13:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135775 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135742 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2018-02-09 10:07:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-09 09:07:13 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 5 – Albania’s foreign minister has refused to provide details over the country’s talks with Greece on a series of pressing issues, urging critics instead to wait for the full details to come out once a deal is complete. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati said at an event this week the new maritime border agreement under negotiation with Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias will be more favorable for the country than the previous 2009 agreement. Opposition and civil society representatives last week raised the alarm about lack of transparency in the talks, as well as the possible concessions Albania was making Representatives of Albania’s government have been vague and refused to directly answer repeated questions on the talks, which dead with a maritime agreement with Greece, a Greek war law hampering relations since WWII, the Cham issue and other issues of concern. Bushati blamed the local media of “defamation” after it quoted a Greek interview of Bushati’s counterpart, who noted Albania had agreed to give away 12 miles of sea. “Every media discussion that mentions 12 square miles expansion, or giving away the sea, is a defamation and time will prove that. We are hoping to have a new agreement in the short-term future,” Bushati said. The law of war, which is also closely related to property rights, is another issue expected to be resolved in the short-term future. “The Rama government won’t declare a lifted law of war until it legally happens on paper. We hope for that to happen in the first six months of 2018,” Bushati said. According to Bushati, the law of war can be officially lifted only through a decree equivalent to the one that passed it, which was a royal decree. In an earlier interview for Greek media, Kotzias said the equivalent to a royal decree currently translates to a presidential decree. Bushati said that except for the psychological relief lifting the law of war will have, it will also allow Albania, its citizens and the Greek minorities to “benefit their right to property.” Concerning the Cham issue, Bushati said the Rama government is the first to officially include it in its diplomatic schedule. In a recent interview for the talk show Real TV, Prime Minister Edi Rama said the Cham issue is not recognized by the Greek government, as for Greece it is related to territorial claims, so the Albanian side placed it under negotiation in the context of human rights. “I am glad to declare that concerning this issue we are in a much more favorable position than several years ago, because the exchange of data has begun, or exchange of information on cases when Albanian citizens who are part of the Cham community are refused entry into Greek territory,” Bushati said. ­Asked whether the reopened dialogue came as a result of the pressure for accession negotiations with the EU to begin and a need for Greece to support Albania’s European path, again, Bushati refused to give a direct answer, saying instead that Greece should be Albania’s strategic partner for several reasons, including the countries’ geography, historic ties, the big number of Albanian citizens in Greece and the region’s overall stability. The dialogue with Greece aims to serve the geographical and human resources ties the two countries share. Based on 2011 census data, there were 480,851 Albanian migrants living in neighboring Greece, the country’s second top trading partner and a main source of remittances. That’s on top of many indigenous Albanian-speakers of Greek nationality, the Arvanites of southern Greece. There is also a small Greek minority in southern Albania, in a couple of municipalities where Greek is the official language alongside Albanian.   [post_title] => Gov’t refuses to give details on Greece talks [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => govt-refuses-to-give-details-on-greece-talks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-09 10:07:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-09 09:07:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135742 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135739 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2018-02-08 10:03:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-08 09:03:21 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 8 - The Economist Intelligence Unit, in an annual report published last week, listed Albania’s political system as a hybrid regime between democracy and totalitarianism, showing the country has made little to no progress in more than a decade. Albania’s score slightly improved from last year, when it scored last in the Balkans along Bosnia at number 81 out of 167 countries polled around the world. This year, the country scored 5.98 from last year’s 5.91, leaving Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina behind in rank, but remaining a hybrid regime. Although almost half of the world’s countries can be considered democracies, the number of full democracies is relatively low, with only 30 making the grade, while 50 states are rated as flawed democracies. Of the remaining 87 states, 51 are authoritarian and 36 are considered to be hybrid regimes. The study looks at five key factors to calculate the rankings in the index; electoral process and pluralism, political participation, political culture and civil rights. Though last year’s commentary on the countries’ score was that the spread of democracy seems to have come to a halt, this year The Economist warns that “democracy continues its disturbing retreat”, as 89 out of 167 countries saw their scores drop from the year before. [post_title] => Albania slapped with ‘hybrid regime’ ranking in global index [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albania-slapped-with-hybrid-regime-ranking-in-global-index [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-09 11:33:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-09 10:33:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135739 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135736 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2018-02-08 09:59:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-08 08:59:58 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 8 - Albanian Minister of Tourism Blendi Klosi announced this week direct flights from Tirana to Tel Aviv will launch twice a week starting from April 13 after a meeting with Israeli counterpart Yariv Levin in Tel Aviv. Klosi said the number of Israeli tourists in Albania is expected to double up, mounting to 50,000 people per year. In the context of the good relations between the countries, Klosi said tourists will be informed on the historic Jewish journey to Albania and the fact Albania is one of the few countries counting more Jews at the end of WWII than the beginning. In turn, Levin greeted the concrete efforts made by both countries to increase cooperation by launching direct flights - a mechanism that will further stimulate touristic exchange. “It is a friendship that emerged in the difficult times of Second World War, when Albanians became the door to the hospitality of thousands of Jewish families,” said Minister Levin. He added this is a factor that will further strengthen relations even in the economic spectrum. Klosi also introduced Levin to the recent initiatives of the Albanian government to promote touristic investment and invited the Israeli counterpart for an official visit to Albania.   [post_title] => Direct flights between Tirana and Tel Aviv to kickstart on April [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => direct-flights-between-tirana-and-tel-aviv-to-kickstart-on-april [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-09 11:40:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-09 10:40:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135736 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135720 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2018-02-08 09:41:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-08 08:41:38 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 8 - The Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) climbed up the 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report ranking from 23rd to 22nd place among top think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe. The report, launched by the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania, places AIIS among the best think tanks in the world and the only Albanian think tank to consistently make the list. “AIIS consistently performs well in this very important global index thanks to our consolidated reputation in the region and beyond as well as our excellence in research and projects in the field of  security, foreign policy and international relations studies and activities in Albania,” Dr. Albert Rakipi, the AIIS executive director, has previously told Tirana Times. In the global ranking of Think Tanks in 2017, AIIS also climbed up 79th in the ranking for Defense and Security Research area globally and 83rd in the ranking for Foreign Policy and International Relations — globally. More than 3,500 experts from academia, civil society and decision making institutions participated in the process of nominating and then ranking institutions worldwide in this one of a kind exercise that has become a reference point for those who seek to understand the standing of think tanks whether by geographical or thematic classification. Recognizing the quality of research and advocacy of the AIIS and collecting the positive feedback from peers, the Index acknowledges for the fourth year in a row the professionalism and impact of AIIS work. The ranking is organized on a yearly basis by Think Tanks and Civil Society Programs at the University of Pennsylvania, which conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world. AIIS is committed to continue keeping high standards in its work, the think tank has previously told Tirana Times, with which it has a long-standing partnership. AIIS is currently implementing long term strategic projects that relate to the European future of Albania: AIIS has established the Joint Centre for Albania-Serbia relations to assist normalization of bilateral relations; completed influential research on the phenomenon of radicalism and foreign fighters in Albania and continued with its communication initiatives for Albania’s integration process. Their work in 2018 will yield positive next steps in all the relevant fields.   [post_title] => AIIS ranks higher in 2017 global think tank index among world’s best [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => aiis-ranks-higher-in-2017-global-think-tank-index-among-worlds-best [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-09 11:41:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-09 10:41:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=135720 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 135834 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-02-14 08:14:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-14 07:14:37 [post_content] =>

TIRANA, Feb. 14 - Two women Democratic Party candidates in Berat -- Juvina Jani and Monika Qosja -- have rejected their legal right to take an MP seat vacated by a resignation so one of Albania's wealthiest men can take the seat instead to return to parliament.

The latest move is part of wider trend on both sides of the political spectrum through which women candidates are fielded to meet quotas and then sidelined so men candidates can take the seats if they become eligible.

The MP mandate was offered to the two women based on legal gender quotas after Berat MP Eduard Halimi resigned. The two women were at the bottom of the Berat list, and their resignation opened the way for businessman Astrit Veliaj to become a Democratic Party MP for a second time.

Though Jani and Qosja have refused to give media statements after officially rejecting the mandate, local media reports their decision was, in fact, imposed to them.

Veliaj denies he pressured anyone to give up eligibility.

Jani and Qosja’s rejection letters immediately followed Halimi’s resignation letter, given to the Central Election Committee on Friday, Feb. 9.

However, after Halimi made his resignation public, local media reached out to Jani and Qosja. While Jani reportedly told local media she wouldn’t be accepting the mandate due to a relative’s health problems, Qosja said she would gladly accept the mandate if she was next on the list of candidates.

Both women were indeed at the end of the candidate list, but gender quotas made them the next candidates to be appointed as MPs in Berat.

On Feb. 10, however, Qosja was contacted again by local media. This time, she said she didn’t receive an official notice for the position and made no further comments.

The rejection letters that will allow Veliaj to get a second term as MP are reported to be identical, not only submitted on the same date, but also using the same verbal expressions and even having similar mistakes.

Berat’s case draws strong parallels with a 2014 situation in Lezha, when two Socialist Party female members withdrew so that Arben Ndoka could become MP in the district, saying it was their personal decision.

In the past, Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha expressed disbelief the Socialist women withdrew on their own accord.

“Four women had to resign their MP mandate, under the threat of the most foul violence that came with Edi Rama’s blessing,” Basha said back in Jan. 2014.

Asked about the similarity between the two cases, opposition leader Lulzim Basha said the DP’s situation is not the same.

“Arben Ndoka is a man sentenced for prostitution, while in this case there is no criminality charges for any of the candidates, whoever the next MP will be,” Basha told media.

Veliaj first ran for MP through the Republican Party in 2009, but was not appointed. In 2013 and 2017 he ran with the Democratic Party and won in Berat.

He is the owner of Albanian University and a large educational network starting from elementary schools and extending to universities.

Veliaj has no background in politics and has been previously investigated by the prosecution for allegedly building his university buildings without formerly acquiring a permit.

Halimi, whom he is substituting, on the other hand, is a former minister of justice and one of the most prominent lawyers of the Democratic Party’s parliamentary group.

Also currently vice president of the Laws Commission, his resignation to pursue a long-term international law project for the Balkans caused surprise.

 

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