Scores dead as Greece hit by massive wildfires

Scores dead as Greece hit by massive wildfires

TIRANA, July 25 – The deadliest wildfires Greece has seen for over a decade swept over the Attica region on Monday, causing 80 confirmed victims and 187 injured people — numbers that keep growing, along with the scores of those

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Starting over in Albania, AIIS study finds how migrant returnees are making it at home

Starting over in Albania, AIIS study finds how migrant returnees are making it at home

TIRANA, July 24 – Albania’s post-communism transition has been quite unique with massive migration that has had mixed effects for the country’s developing economy, but more than a quarter of a century on, experts say ongoing migration could pose a

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Artists’ petition asks President to veto National Theatre bill

Artists’ petition asks President to veto National Theatre bill

TIRANA, July 24 – Leaders of the protest in defense of the current National Theatre building submitted on Monday a petition with over 5,000 signatures to Albania’s President Ilir Meta, asking him to veto the government’s bill looking to demolish

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Head of High Court re-appointed after wealth investigation

Head of High Court re-appointed after wealth investigation

TIRANA, July 24 – The justice reform’s Independent Qualification Commission reconfirmed to duty the Head of the High Court Xhezair Zaganjori on Tuesday, after conducting a close investigation on the wealth declared by him under the reevaluation process. Although the

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Washington DC: Women’s organizations come together to discuss trafficking challenges

Washington DC: Women’s organizations come together to discuss trafficking challenges

TIRANA, July 24 – Amy Sebes, founder of the Association of Albanian Girls and Women, held a meeting in Washington DC to present the Albanian diaspora with the challenges trafficked women and girls face once traumatized from this phenomenon still

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Former GP’s assets seized under wealth concealment investigation

Former GP’s assets seized under wealth concealment investigation

TIRANA, July 23 – The Serious Crimes Prosecution has taken the measure preventive sequestration for some of former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla’s assets suspected to be products of criminal activity. The ruling comes as a result of preliminary investigations carried

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School of Magistrates deadlocked as parliament fails to approve legislation

School of Magistrates deadlocked as parliament fails to approve legislation

TIRANA, July 23 – Legislation changes that would allow the enrollment of new students in the Magistrates School and the appointment of the graduates, were suspended on Monday after Albania’s opposition rejected the government’s Socialist-led proposals. While the opposition’s Socialist

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Joint state border patrols to guard the new, Balkan migrant route

Joint state border patrols to guard the new, Balkan migrant route

TIRANA, July 20 – Border police of at least eight Balkan countries and beyond are cooperating with Albanian border police on a mission aiming to limit the number of refugees coming in at the Albanian-Greek border of the Gjirokastra district.

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Croatian president holds official two-day visit to Albania

Croatian president holds official two-day visit to Albania

TIRANA, July 19 – Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic came to Tirana on Wednesday for a two-day visit hosted by Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta, to discuss a possible future strategic cooperation between the countries. On Wednesday, Meta welcomed Kitarovic with a

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National Theatre bill faces prolonged battle if president vetoes

National Theatre bill faces prolonged battle if president vetoes

TIRANA, July 19 – Albania’s opposition Democratic Party requested during Thursday’s parliamentary session for the National Theatre law to go back to vote, and left the parliament when its request was denied. The DP made the request through MP Edmond

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 25 - The deadliest wildfires Greece has seen for over a decade swept over the Attica region on Monday, causing 80 confirmed victims and 187 injured people -- numbers that keep growing, along with the scores of those missing, as the search continues. 

The death toll significantly rose on Tuesday, when a group of 26 bodies were found in the harbor town of Rafina, according to Greek Red Cross workers’ reports.

The victims were found in a group, in a final attempt to protect themselves from the advancing flames. Among them were mothers and children. 

“They had tried to find an escape route but unfortunately these people and their kids didn't make it in time. Instinctively, seeing the end nearing, they embraced,” Nikos Economopoulos, head of Greece's Red Cross, said.

Mayor of Rafina Evangelos Bournous told international media the dead could exceed 100, as some of the missing might have died.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared three days of national mourning for the wildfires that also damaged structures, disrupted major transport links and sent people fleeing their homes.

Caused by high temperatures and high winds of up to 100 km/h, Greece’s fire brigade notified the intensity and spread of the wildfire in the coastal village of Mati slowed down on Tuesday, as the winds died down.

However, the situation is still not completely under control and the fire department has urged residents to report missing friends and relatives, while authorities are still looking for dozens of people. There is still no formal count of the missing. 

Areas unreachable on Monday due to the wildfire’s intensity became accessible to firefights on Tuesday, uncovering lines of burned-down cars and charred fields with small fires still running.

Fire brigade spokeswoman Stavroula Maliri said that “residents and visitors could not escape in time although they were a few meters from the sea or in their homes.”

A six-month-old baby was reported from officials to be one of the youngest victims from the main wildfire, while another smaller fire broke out also on Monday in a forest near the coastal area of Kineta.

People are seen as a wildfire burns in Mati

 

SOS Alert

A state of emergency was declared in the metropolitan area of Athens, while Tsipras cut short a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina to return to Greece.

Tsipras said what Greece is dealing with at the moment is “completely asymmetric.”

The government said it needed air and land assets from European Union partners, a call to which Cyprus and Spain were among the first to address.

Authorities also said on Tuesday they’d be making use of a US drone to monitor and track suspicious activity.

The Greek government also announced a full list of measures to ease the damages suffered by those affected by the fire, including monetary subsidies and a number of other strategies. 

Although Tsipras and other officials have denied that several major fires broke out at the same time, citizens have still blamed the government for lacking a proper emergency plan and cutting down on operational costs. 

The fires in Mati were by far Greece's worst since flames devastated the southern Peloponnese peninsula in August 2007, killing scores.  

Albanians among Greek wildfire tragedy victims

A number of local media sources have reported from correspondents at least one Albanian victim and two missing persons during the ongoing search at the wake of the wildfire.

The Albanian Embassy to Greece has only confirmed three injured Albanian nationals, while correspondents in Athens have reported two missing Albanian women, employed at a tavern, three injured, among whom children and one victim - Nica Leka, from Saranda. 

Two Polish and three Danish victims have also been confirmed by international media, drowned in their efforts to escape the fire by getting into the sea, while on Thursday an Irishmen who was spending his honeymoon in Greece was also confirmed among the victims.

The Albanian government, in line with a number of EU states, offered Greece a monetary assistance of 100,000 euros, taken from the state’s reserve budget for the rehabilitation of damages caused by the wildfire. 

Along Prime Minister Edi Rama’s signature, the donation was authorized by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finances. 

“Albania feels especially close to neighboring Greece at this tragic time for all those who lost their relatives and are facing the devastating results of a crazed fire. The Albanian government just approved a donation in solidarity to our brothers and sisters,” Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote in a Facebook statement. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, July 24 – Albania’s post-communism transition has been quite unique with massive migration that has had mixed effects for the country’s developing economy, but more than a quarter of a century on, experts say ongoing migration could pose a real threat to Albania’s demographics and the economy and migrants can make priceless contribution home by bringing much needed know-how and investment.

The comments came at a round table held this week by the Albanian Institute for International Studies, one of the country’s top think tanks, as part of a German-supported study tracing the successful reintegration of Albanian migrants returning from Germany, Italy and Greece during the past few years at a time when the country has been facing a new migration wave, this time in ungrounded asylum-seeking to rich EU members, mainly Germany and France.

Albania has about 1.2 million migrants, about 40 percent of its current resident population, making it one of the countries with the highest per capita migration rates around the world. Around 1 million Albanian migrants live in Italy and Greece, the two neighboring countries where Albanians massively moved to in the early 1990s following the collapse of the country’s communist hardline regime and almost five decades of isolation.

Germany has also seen a sharp hike in Albanian migrants in the past few years with thousands seeking ungrounded asylum in a trend that has sharply slowed down in the past couple of years as Albanians have turned to legal migration, taking advantage of easier procedures for Western Balkan countries to move to Germany legally through employment contracts.

Doctors and nurses are also among those who have left the country, leaving many hospitals with a shortage of experts.

 

Success stories

While the focus is mostly on Albanians leaving the country, little is known about success stories of hundreds of Albanians who decide to permanently move back home each year and make it in Albania.

An AIIS study supported by the German development cooperation agency in Albania, GIZ, has managed to identify about 80 migrant returnees from Germany, Italy and Greece who have successfully reintegrated into the Albanian society in the past few years after moving back home.

Nowadays, Agim Prebibaj successfully runs a camping venture and is working on building an additional guesthouse in his hometown of Tropoja, northeastern Albania, in an effort to set up a year-round business after returning from Germany.

Fation D. who studied and lived in Germany for 12 years, is now a branch manager at a Durres-based Albanian-German company. Other returnees from Germany also successfully run funeral agencies and video rental shops, the study shows.

“These experiences prove that migration experience in Germany has helped Albanians not only to survive economically or to improve their lives, but even to invest in Albania their financial, human and social capital. They have set up their own businesses in the country and enjoy their passion and entrepreneurial talent. Migration to Germany was simultaneously a working, learning and skills-shaping experience,” says a preliminary version of the AIIS study.

Earlier studies have shown Albanians massively migrated to Germany in the past five years due to high unemployment, small income which in some cases was lower than the social benefits as asylum seekers in Germany, lack of trust in state institutions perceived as corrupt and inefficient, real or perceived lack of job perspectives and unrealistic expectations compared to income in Western European countries, primarily Germany, Europe’s largest economy, where only 18,000 Albanians reside legally.

Dritan Gremi, a migrant who returned from Italy to set up a successful Tirana-based medical tourism facility mainly working with Italian customers says it’s high time migrants were seen differently and that only by changing the current mentality the country can accelerate its EU integration.

“Migrants often feel strangers in their home countries because of losing their connections and also strangers in their host countries,” he told the AIIS round table, optimistic that the country offers plenty of unexplored opportunities for migrants.

 

Unique migration

Albert Rakipi, the head of the Albanian Institute for International Studies, AIIS, says Albania is a unique case in migration experience around the world with about 40 percent of its current resident population living abroad during the past quarter of a century of post-communism transition as part of a conflicting transition which has not come to an end yet.

According to him, massive migration flows have served as a buffer to social pressure on governments through remittances but what’s concerning is that surveys still show that one out of two Albanians would consider leaving the country if they were given the opportunity.

Kosta Barjaba, a social affairs expert who led the AIIS research, says migration has been a contradictory phenomenon with its positive and negative contributions to the Albania’s development. “Migrants have not only been a source of financing and investment but also a generator of the entrepreneurship spirit,” he said.

Citing a migrant who has returned from Greece after moving to the neighboring country in the early 1990s soon after the collapse of the communist regime, Barjaba said migrants can now reintegrate much easier as things have changed a lot in the past quarter of a century.

“When we moved to Greece we had to accelerate in order to catch up, now that we have come back home we have to slow down to adjust,” Barjaba quoted a migrant as saying.

However, the AIIS study finds that the different mentality migrants find back home with poor rule of law and often arrogant behavior in state institutions compared to experience in their previous host countries often forces them to consider re-emigration although cases materialized have been sporadic.

A rapidly ageing population due to massive migration and a significant cut in birth rates is one of the most pressing challenges for Albania whose resident population is projected to undergo new declines in the next few decades with a series of negative effects for the country’s economy and human capital.

The latest 2011 census showed Albania’s resident population dropped by 8 percent to 2.8 million people.

A NATO member and EU candidate, Albania is hoping to launch accession talks with the European Union in mid-2019 after a decision on the long-awaited accession talks was delayed in late June 2018 when EU leaders asked the country to show more progress in its judiciary reform and tackling corruption and organized crime.

 

 

SUCCESSFUL RE-INTEGRATION PATHS OF ALBANIAN RETURNEES

  The following is the executive summary of an AIIS project supported by GIZ Albania, tracing the reintegration of Albanian migrant returnees from Germany, Italy and Greece  
  1. Albania is among the European and world’s countries with the highest migration rates per capita: nearly 39 percent of the population and with intense, economically driven, irregular, and rapidly evolving migration flows. The Albanians’ migration flows can be characterized as intense, economically driven, irregular, and rapidly evolving.
  2. The Albanian Diaspora, defined as the population of Albanians residing abroad, is largely made up of five main groups: i) labor migrants; ii) family members of migrants; iii) students; iv) asylum-seekers and refugees; and unaccompanied minors. The first three groups are numerically more relevant.
  3. The most popular destination countries for Albanian migrants are Italy and Greece, with respectively 449,000 and 430,000 Albanian emigrants in 2017.
  4. Germany is the most attractive European country for Albanians. During 2008-2013 the annual number of Albanian migrants in Germany was at the level of 10,000 persons. In 2015, the number of Albanians residing illegally in Germany was around eight times higher and in 2016 around five times higher than in 2014. Most of them were people who entered Germany in the context of asylum-seekers flows. In 2016, Albanians had the lowest level of refugee rate, 0.06% compared to 57.6% of Syrians, and the highest level of rejection, 99.4% compared to 0.1% of Syrians.
  5. In 2017 France replaced Germany as the country with the highest number of illegal stay cases. In this year there were 18,000 Albanian migrants residing legally in Germany.
  6. There is also a trend of irregular migration from Albania to other EU member states. During 2014-2017, Albania was ranked the third country for the number of illegal stays in the EU member states, after Ukraine and Morocco. The number of Albanians staying illegally in the EU member states increased during 2014-2015 and decreased during 2016-2017. During 2014-2017, Albania remained on top of the countries for the number of people illegally crossing the borders, followed by Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, the number of people illegally crossing the borders decreased significantly from 2014 to 2017. During 2014-2017, Albania was also ranked third among top ten nationalities for the refusals of entry at the external borders, after Ukraine and Russia. However, in 2017, the flows of asylum-seekers from Albania decreased.
  7. Recently, there is an increasing interest of the government of Albania to deal with migration issues. A cabinet member, the State Minister for Diaspora, was created in September 2017 and the objective of the Ministry is to continuously develop and implement policies related to the development of the Albania-Diaspora partnership. The Parliament of Albania established the parliamentary sub-commission on Diaspora and the National Agency for Diaspora is in the process of establishment.
  8. The return migration flows to Albania have increased during the past few years. There were 99,000 Albanian returnees for the period 2012-2016. The return flows from Greece and Italy increased rapidly after the global economic crisis and its effects on Greek and Italian economy. The crisis effects produced also both successful and failed returnees. Both typologies of return have been present during the recent return migration flows from Germany, Italy and Greece. The high return migration flows of Albanians continue until recently.
  9. The return migration to Albania during the last years has shown the following characteristics: i) The biggest number of returnees came back from Greece and Italy and less from Germany and other receiving countries; ii) Most returnees are males who seem more likely to move for employment reasons as they are traditionally considered the family bread-winners; iii) The Albanian migrant women usually move for family reasons as they are traditionally considered to carry out social and supportive family roles; iv) Returnees belong to the relatively young and working age population; v) Returnees have returned mainly to the three big regions: Tirana, Durres and Vlore; vi) The recent Albanian return migration can be considered a sort of circular migration, as many of returnees are thinking to re-emigrate to other countries.
  10. The return from Germany increased after the 2014-2015 asylum-seekers flows to this country.
  11. The main typologies of return migrants from Germany are the following: i) voluntary return; ii) non-voluntary return. Voluntary return is happening in the following sub-typologies: a) voluntary return of successful emigrants; b) voluntary return of unsuccessful emigrants; c) voluntary return of migrants because of family reasons or other reasons not linked with their performance and income in Germany; iv) voluntary return of students who graduated at German universities. Meanwhile, the non-voluntary return is happening in the following sub-typologies: i) return of people who left Albania as economic asylum-seekers and are repatriated; ii) return of people who had entered Germany and were staying in the country illegally; iii) return of unaccompanied minors.
  12. The German government has shown an increasing interest in assisting the reintegration of Albanian returnees from Germany. In March 2017, it launched the returnee program “Returning to New Opportunities”, which is assisting the reintegration of people who wish to return to Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, etc.
  13. Among reasons and motivations of return migration from Germany, the returnees underlined their plans to start their own business in Albania after gaining the necessary resources and entrepreneurial skills in Germany, better employment opportunities in Albania after graduation at the German universities, and the influence of family needs.
  14. Among reasons and motivations of return migration from Italy, the returnees underlined the expectations to find a job in Albania after graduating in Italy, the impact of family relations, and in other cases they mentioned that the decision to return was taken simultaneously with the decision to re-emigrate.
  15. The mindset of failure looks like to cause the return from Greece much more than the return from Germany or Italy. Most of the respondents admitted that the main reason for returning to Albania is the economic crisis and lack of jobs in Greece and the difficulties to integrate into the Greek society.
  16. Returnees accepted that their real situation in Albania did not meet their expectations before return. They have followed different reintegration paths after their return to the homeland: opening their own businesses or self-employed, finding a job in the private sector, finding a job in the public sector. Some of the returnees also stated that they have been unable to find a job and continued to be unemployed.
  17. For those who managed to open a business, the main problem is the bureaucracy of the public administration. Others mentioned the lack of small business incentives which hamper their efforts to invest in Albania. Other interviewees confirmed that the fiscal burden in Albania is higher than in their countries of migration.
  18. Returnees do not find significant difficulties in reintegration in Albania. The main problem is schooling and social integration of their children. For adults, the main difficulty is the different mentality that still exists in Albania, compared to the new one they faced in the migration country. In general, returnees are faced with the same problems that other Albanians are facing: lack of job opportunities, low salaries, corruption, dealing with the recognition of academic diplomas upon their return to Albania and problems of managing their own businesses. Returnees in small towns or in the periphery of the country, find it more difficult to reintegrate compared to returnees in Tirana and other big cities.
  19. Most of returnees are considering their re-emigration in the previous destination country or in another one. The intention and projects to re-emigrate shows that their reintegration is not sustainable and far from meeting returnees’ expectations.
  20. Reintegration of returnees can be improved in the following areas: i) guidance on employment at the pre-departure stage through transnational cooperation and mediation between the structures of Albania, Germany and other receiving countries; ii) guidance to self-employment and entrepreneurial activities at the pre-departure and arrival stage; iii) integration of children within the school system; and iv) the implementation of programs to recognize and make available pension contributions.
  21. Reintegration of returnees should be a shared responsibility between the central and local administrations in order to promote their contribution to local communities and local development.
  22. A system of data collection and monitoring of inflows of returnees and of their presence in every sector and region is needed, as an indispensable tool for policies, interventions and incentives to returnees.
  [post_title] => Starting over in Albania, AIIS study finds how migrant returnees are making it at home [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => starting-over-in-albania-aiis-study-finds-how-migrant-returnees-are-making-it-at-home [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-27 10:27:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-27 08:27:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138042 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138038 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-24 15:51:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-24 13:51:30 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 24 - Leaders of the protest in defense of the current National Theatre building submitted on Monday a petition with over 5,000 signatures to Albania’s President Ilir Meta, asking him to veto the government’s bill looking to demolish the earliest cultural building in the capital. Artists and citizens’ protest representatives stressed they’ve been rallying in defense of the historic National Theatre building over the last six months, trying to protect it from an unconstitutional law and a number of other illegal amendments. “The law is constructed a social contract, with a set winner and a trade off of several thousand square meters. This law steps on checks and balances, as it allows the parliament to stamp construction permissions ordered by the government, violating its own concessions law, public-private partnership law, procurement law, among others,” Scene and Screen Artists’ Syndicate representative Alert Celoaliaj said. In a letter accompanying the petition, artists reminded Meta that both buildings the government has deemed invaluable - the National Theatre and the National Experimental Theatre - have founded the country’s most elitist institutions, such as the Academy of Sciences, the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the High Institute of Arts, etc. “Two series of questions and requests for information to the government have come from Brussels, which means the issue has already taken European proportions. We can confirm this fact from the meeting we have had with the European Delegation Office in Albania and we expect your institution to show the same level of interest concerning this key issue for Albania's future,” Celoaliaj read from the artists’ statement addressed to Meta. Artists and citizens have been protesting since the beginning of February concerning the National Theatre bill and have been recently holding daily protests in front of the National Theatre building in a bid to save it as the deadline for the approval of the bill is draws closer. Meanwhile, another group of renowned Albanian actors also addressed Meta with an open letter and signed petition on Thursday, expressing their agreement with the government’s plan to build a new and improved NT building, but without touching the land surrounding the property. Part of the artists who signed this second petition are Luftar Paja, Alfred Trebicka and Gazmend Paja, among others. So far, the Socialist majority has approved the law to negotiate with Fusha Shpk, the preselected construction firm that is to build a new National Theatre building in Tirana as part of a complex of high-rise buildings. Nonetheless, the government has enough parliament seats to re-vote the bill in case Meta vetoes it, while the opposition abandoned the parliament hall last Thursday, accusing the Socialists they rigged the vote and asking for it to go back to parliament.   [post_title] => Artists’ petition asks President to veto National Theatre bill [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => artists-submit-petition-to-president-asking-him-to-veto-nt-bill [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-27 09:35:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-27 07:35:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138038 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138020 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-24 13:43:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-24 11:43:51 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 24 - The justice reform’s Independent Qualification Commission reconfirmed to duty the Head of the High Court Xhezair Zaganjori on Tuesday, after conducting a close investigation on the wealth declared by him under the reevaluation process. Although the wealth declaration inspectorate did not find any irregularities on Zaganjori’s wealth statements, the IQC spoke of a number of violations found after closer investigation. According to the report read during the initial hearing, Zaganjori had made inaccurate, insufficient and fictitious statements, while also lacking the financial sources statements for an apartment owned by him in the centre of Tirana, an office, a basement and a shop. All these properties were included in one single building which, according to Zaganjori, was not purchased but built on land inherited by his wife’s family. However, the IQC also raised allegations that he had not paid his state obligations from collected rents and that there were discrepancies in the cost he’d declared for his children’s education, which the IQC says was higher. Zaganjori, who, in addition to monthly salaries and rent, had also declared high financial earnings from working at an institute in Germany, said he’d offered the IQC 40 pages worth of explanations for all questions raised during the process, and asked to be re-confirmed to duty. Ultimately, the IQC announced Zaganjori’s cleanliness of figure in all three pillars of the justice reform and confirmed him as one of the few ‘correct’ judges so far. For many, Zaganjori, with over 40 years of experience in the justice field, is known as a supporter of the justice reform and an expert in the field. In two separate hearings, the IQC ousted on Tuesday Tirana prosecutor Arben Nela and Tirana Appeals Court judge Ervin Metalla. Both were ousted due to problems in the declarations of their wealth. Nela spoke about double standards in the way the IQC judges and decides whether justice figures will be ousted or reconfirmed to duty and said he might appeal the IQC’s decision. Meanwhile, the parliament also approved on Monday an Euralius proposal not to allow judges and prosecutors ousted under the justice reform’s vetting process be lawyers for some time. The measure was included as an amendment to the Law on Advocacy.     [post_title] => Head of High Court re-appointed after wealth investigation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => head-of-high-courts-wealth-under-justice-reforms-zooming-lens [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-27 09:46:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-27 07:46:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138020 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138079 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-24 09:49:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-24 07:49:03 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 24 - Amy Sebes, founder of the Association of Albanian Girls and Women, held a meeting in Washington DC to present the Albanian diaspora with the challenges trafficked women and girls face once traumatized from this phenomenon still present in Albanian society. The AAGW, which she established 15 years ago, has provided social and emotional support to hundreds of trafficked Albanian women, empowering them and helping them to reintegrate in society. Although the number of girls and women being trafficked abroad has marked a significant drop, Sebes spoke of another emerging problem - human trafficking within Albania. “Trafficking within Albania has grown, especially from small towns to big cities and especially to Durres during the summer months. This is quite disturbing,” Sebes said. The voices of trafficked girls who found shelter and support by the AAGW made the challenges experienced by them more accessible for the participants who gathered at the premises of the non-profit Open Gov Hub. “I am very touched by the work she has done to help the victims of trafficking. As a member of Vatra we want to raise awareness about this problem to help women in Albania and everywhere else,” member of the Pan Albanian Vatra Federation Teuta Bucaj said. Sara Çapaliku, on the other hand, has worked in Albania with non-governmental organizations that assist trafficked women and told the Voice of America there is still much to be done in raising awareness in society concerning this negative phenomenon. “There is not enough awareness, people think this is not an ongoing and repetitive issue, but only that its methods have been refined. I do not think awareness has grown in Albania and I do not think the state has done any great work to invest in the reintegration or the salvation of these victims,” she said. Albanian Ambassador to the US, Floreta Faber, however, said that beyond the challenges, Albania has increased the representation of women at managerial levels and recognizes their potential as a motor for a more advanced society. “Today we have more than 50 percent of the administration run by women, senior managerial levels run by women, we have 30 percent of women parliamentarians and I would say a large number of ambassadors in different countries are women.This has increased internal confidence for a large number of other women that they too can be part of this great effort to develop society,” Faber said. Participants sent inspirational messages to trafficking victims by putting in words of encouragement for all those women and girls who still face the consequences of a long, but still tangible, battle in Albania.   [post_title] => Washington DC: Women’s organizations come together to discuss trafficking challenges [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => washington-dc-womens-organizations-come-together-to-discuss-trafficking-challenges [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-27 09:53:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-27 07:53:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138079 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138026 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-23 20:59:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-23 18:59:07 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 23 - The Serious Crimes Prosecution has taken the measure preventive sequestration for some of former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla’s assets suspected to be products of criminal activity. The ruling comes as a result of preliminary investigations carried out against him for concealing his wealth, in cooperation with the Central Investigation Directorate. Llalla’s sequestered assets include a 67 square meter apartment in Durres and four agricultural lands mounting to a surface of 22,050 square meters, worth more than 800,000 euros in the market. According to the Serious Crimes Prosecution, the sequestration of these assets serves as guarantee of the investigation started against Llalla under the accusation of wealth concealment. Investigations towards the former General Prosecutor were initiated by the Durres Prosecution Office after raising doubts he had not declared all immobile assets, and were later transferred to the Serious Crimes Prosecution, which Llalla headed until last November, when his term ended. Llalla has been under the spotlight due to an ongoing public debate with soon-to-be-former US Ambassador to Tirana Donald Lu, whom Llalla has in the past accused of unconstitutionally pressuring him to take actions in violation to Albanian laws. Llalla blamed this conflict for the US Secretary of State’s decision to designate Llalla and his family as people who cannot enter the US on February. Upon Llalla’s mandate end, Lu advised political parties to find a temporary substitute that would bring an end to the era of GPs protecting corrupt politicians, while repeatedly referring to Llalla as an important representative of the ‘big fish’ the justice reform is supposed to be punishing. In this context, Lu publicly requested in the past for Llalla to undergo the justice reform’s vetting process although his mandate ended last November and, giving up his right to be re-elected as an appeals judge, he is no longer part of the justice system. Meanwhile, former Democratic Party Prime Minister Sali Berisha accused Lu of overstepping his mission in Albania by indirectly “asking to propose the name of the next General Prosecutor” although he had a “conflict of interest” in the case. According to Berisha, Lu never addressed Llalla’s corruption accusations against him, but rather insisted that Llalla leaves under any circumstance. When Llalla and his family were announced personae non gratae by the General Secretary of State under corruption charges, Llalla denied those accusations, saying he hasn’t been investigated by Albanian authorities in the past, and that it was Lu’s spread of disinformation that led to this decision.   [post_title] => Former GP’s assets seized under wealth concealment investigation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => former-gps-assets-sequestered-under-wealth-concealment-investigation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-24 15:54:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-24 13:54:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138026 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138030 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-23 16:21:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-23 14:21:19 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 23 - Legislation changes that would allow the enrollment of new students in the Magistrates School and the appointment of the graduates, were suspended on Monday after Albania’s opposition rejected the government’s Socialist-led proposals. While the opposition’s Socialist Movement for Integration called for the initiation of a political dialogue that will solve the gaps created by the justice reform, the Democratic Party instead offered a seven-point package during Monday’s parliamentary session, among which requiring the dissolution of all laws approved without its consensus. The Socialist government needs a qualified majority of at least 84 parliamentary votes to approve the legislation changes, and it was clear from the empty Democratic Party MPs’ empty seats they would not be granted the changes. Although SMI MPs were present at the parliament, they also came with suggestions towards the government, such as a dialogue round table among all parliamentary parties. “The SMI group is ready to work non-stop, postpone parliament holidays, until it works out the functionality issues of the Constitutional Court, High Court and all other problems stemming from the justice reform, until it becomes functioning again. Head of the DP Lulzim Basha on the other hand, made his seven-points request public after holding a DP parliamentary meeting, during which he said deep interventions will save the justice reform. “If there is a way to save the justice reform is by going back to the consensus of 22 June and taking measures that will end the illegality of the prosecution, in order to have a functioning Constitutional Court, a politically uninfluenced vetting process and a Magistrates School that will be reliable for the public,” Basha said, among others. For it to be reliable, Basha added, “those who deliberately seized the system should be held accountable as this is proven to create trust, while the second step is for the SP to provide guarantee that whatever process we choose to handle these 7 points will not be returned and sabotaged again.” At the end of Monday’s session, head of the Socialist group Taulant Balla did not comment on the points proposed by the DP, while saying for the Magistrates School situation that “we regret that for this issue, which is simply due to a change of schedule and has nothing to do with the important justice reform, the opposition did not come to provide its agreement.” The Magistrate School competition should normally open in August, so that new students could be selected in October, but, so far, the next academic year looks as if it will turn invalid.   [post_title] => School of Magistrates deadlocked as parliament fails to approve legislation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => magistrates-school-remains-blocked-as-parliament-fails-to-approve-legislation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-27 09:32:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-27 07:32:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138030 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138015 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-20 11:28:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-20 09:28:25 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 20 - Border police of at least eight Balkan countries and beyond are cooperating with Albanian border police on a mission aiming to limit the number of refugees coming in at the Albanian-Greek border of the Gjirokastra district. The 'Balkan Refugee Route' includes the way refugees take from the Turkish to the Greek border, and then their crossing to Montenegro by transiting in Albania in order to reach Bosnia and Herzegovina and, eventually, European countries such as Italy, Austria and Germany. According to Albanian border sources, the mission is supported by the Austrian government and is expected to last for a week. Border officers from neighboring countries such as Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Austria and Germany are becoming part of the patrol service of the Greek-Albanian border area, closely inspecting the compliance of standards and identifying refugee groups trying to enter Albanian territory. According to official Albanian Border Police data, about 26 refugees have been stranded during the last three days on the Albanian-Greek border. Part of these refugees have willingly returned to the Greek territory, while the rest were sent to Albania’s Asylum Seekers Centre. Albanian authorities have added to the measures of the Greek border regime over the past two months, as there has been an increase of refugee numbers. In addition to border police controls, DELTA and Quick Intervention forces are also patrolling the green area between the countries. More than 1,600 refugees, the majority of whom from Syria, requested asylum in Albania during the first five months of 2018. During an early-June meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz spoke of a “new road for refugees being formed in the Balkans.” “Human traffickers are trying to smuggle people in Central Europe from Greece through Albania. We will not be mere spectators in the face of this transformation, but fighters,” Kurz said. Meanwhile, Greece also announced two new border-strengthening programs, co-funded by the European Union. According to Greek official sources referring to the Greek Ministry of Defense, the first program foresses the acquisition of up to six electro-optical sensor systems for eight helicopters, with a total cost of 34 million dollars, of which 85% will be funded from the EU. [post_title] => Joint state border patrols to guard the new, Balkan migrant route [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => joint-state-border-patrols-to-guard-the-new-balkan-refugee-road [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-27 09:26:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-27 07:26:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138015 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 137984 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-19 16:35:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-19 14:35:10 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 19 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic came to Tirana on Wednesday for a two-day visit hosted by Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta, to discuss a possible future strategic cooperation between the countries. On Wednesday, Meta welcomed Kitarovic with a state ceremony that was followed by a joint press conference. “We have excellent, centuries-long relations with Croatia, share historic ties. Croatia continues to be a strong supporter of the start of Albania’s EU accession talks. Croatia’s EU example and experience is precious to us Albanians.” Meta also said they’d work on raising the cooperation between them to a strategic level, as there is great opportunities for the entire region to cooperate in the fields of tourism, energy and infrastructure. On her side, Kitarovic reconfirmed Croatia’s support towards Albania’s EU membership road, but also raised concerns for the quality of the countries’ shared Adriatic Sea, and the disadvantages it would bring to both if it kept being polluted. Kitarovic also met with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Head of Parliament Gramoz Ruci, head of opposition Democratic Party Lulzim Basha and Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj. On Thursday, Kitarovic spoke at the Albanian parliament, where she said that Albania was Croatia’s friend, when its friends were few. “A lot of Albanians sacrificed themselves for Croatia, and we don’t forget that,” Kitarovic said. “The opening of the Croatian Embassy to Tirana in 1994 was an important event for the countries’ relations. Now, Croatia and Albania engage in joint Afghanistan operations. Croatia strongly supports Albania’s European perspective, its path towards EU integration and welcomes the progress achieved so far.” Last but not least, Kitarovic is to visit Durres, as the city where the croatian environmental protection project for the cities of Berat and Kruja will be launched.   [post_title] => Croatian president holds official two-day visit to Albania [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => croatian-president-holds-official-two-day-visit-to-albania [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-20 00:38:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-19 22:38:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137984 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 137981 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-19 15:32:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-19 13:32:20 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 19 - Albania’s opposition Democratic Party requested during Thursday’s parliamentary session for the National Theatre law to go back to vote, and left the parliament when its request was denied. The DP made the request through MP Edmond Spaho, and was denied by Vasilika Hysi. “There was violations during the last voting session, one MP voted two times. Why steal votes when there is absolutely no need. If the law doesn’t go back to the vote, we will leave the hall,” Spaho said. The opposition left the parliament after Hysi wished them a nice day. Over the last week, the DP and a number of protesting actors have been calling on President Ilir Meta to veto the National Theatre draft-law, which was approved by the Socialist-led parliament last week after a number of accelerated procedures. According to the opposition, the bill that foresees the construction of a new National Theatre as part of a high-rise commercial complex is not only unconstitutional, but also a way for the government to launder money coming from crime and corruption. Asked about his decision by local media, Meta said that he is going over the draft-law and that he will be affected by no external factors, other than those allowed by the law and the constitution. “I want to ensure you that in every decision I will not be affected by any external factors other than the President’s responsibilities in doing his duty,” Meta said. Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj, on the other hand, told media that he believes the good will to build a new, better National Theatre will be found and that Meta will decree the draft-law. “I believe in the President as a person and as an institution. Ilir Meta is a very constructive person, who has always aimed for social peace, instead of fighting and chaos. [post_title] => National Theatre bill faces prolonged battle if president vetoes [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => national-theatre-bill-faces-prolonged-battle-if-president-vetoes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-20 00:34:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-19 22:34:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=137981 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 138073 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2018-07-25 09:35:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-25 07:35:39 [post_content] => TIRANA, July 25 - The deadliest wildfires Greece has seen for over a decade swept over the Attica region on Monday, causing 80 confirmed victims and 187 injured people -- numbers that keep growing, along with the scores of those missing, as the search continues. The death toll significantly rose on Tuesday, when a group of 26 bodies were found in the harbor town of Rafina, according to Greek Red Cross workers’ reports. The victims were found in a group, in a final attempt to protect themselves from the advancing flames. Among them were mothers and children. “They had tried to find an escape route but unfortunately these people and their kids didn't make it in time. Instinctively, seeing the end nearing, they embraced,” Nikos Economopoulos, head of Greece's Red Cross, said. Mayor of Rafina Evangelos Bournous told international media the dead could exceed 100, as some of the missing might have died. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared three days of national mourning for the wildfires that also damaged structures, disrupted major transport links and sent people fleeing their homes. Caused by high temperatures and high winds of up to 100 km/h, Greece’s fire brigade notified the intensity and spread of the wildfire in the coastal village of Mati slowed down on Tuesday, as the winds died down. However, the situation is still not completely under control and the fire department has urged residents to report missing friends and relatives, while authorities are still looking for dozens of people. There is still no formal count of the missing. Areas unreachable on Monday due to the wildfire’s intensity became accessible to firefights on Tuesday, uncovering lines of burned-down cars and charred fields with small fires still running. Fire brigade spokeswoman Stavroula Maliri said that “residents and visitors could not escape in time although they were a few meters from the sea or in their homes.” A six-month-old baby was reported from officials to be one of the youngest victims from the main wildfire, while another smaller fire broke out also on Monday in a forest near the coastal area of Kineta. People are seen as a wildfire burns in Mati   SOS Alert A state of emergency was declared in the metropolitan area of Athens, while Tsipras cut short a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina to return to Greece. Tsipras said what Greece is dealing with at the moment is “completely asymmetric.” The government said it needed air and land assets from European Union partners, a call to which Cyprus and Spain were among the first to address. Authorities also said on Tuesday they’d be making use of a US drone to monitor and track suspicious activity. The Greek government also announced a full list of measures to ease the damages suffered by those affected by the fire, including monetary subsidies and a number of other strategies. Although Tsipras and other officials have denied that several major fires broke out at the same time, citizens have still blamed the government for lacking a proper emergency plan and cutting down on operational costs. The fires in Mati were by far Greece's worst since flames devastated the southern Peloponnese peninsula in August 2007, killing scores.   Albanians among Greek wildfire tragedy victims A number of local media sources have reported from correspondents at least one Albanian victim and two missing persons during the ongoing search at the wake of the wildfire. The Albanian Embassy to Greece has only confirmed three injured Albanian nationals, while correspondents in Athens have reported two missing Albanian women, employed at a tavern, three injured, among whom children and one victim - Nica Leka, from Saranda. Two Polish and three Danish victims have also been confirmed by international media, drowned in their efforts to escape the fire by getting into the sea, while on Thursday an Irishmen who was spending his honeymoon in Greece was also confirmed among the victims. The Albanian government, in line with a number of EU states, offered Greece a monetary assistance of 100,000 euros, taken from the state’s reserve budget for the rehabilitation of damages caused by the wildfire. Along Prime Minister Edi Rama’s signature, the donation was authorized by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finances. “Albania feels especially close to neighboring Greece at this tragic time for all those who lost their relatives and are facing the devastating results of a crazed fire. The Albanian government just approved a donation in solidarity to our brothers and sisters,” Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote in a Facebook statement.   [post_title] => Scores dead as Greece hit by massive wildfires [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => scores-dead-as-greece-hit-by-massive-wildfires [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-27 09:43:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-27 07:43:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=138073 [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] => 9906 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 28 [category_count] => 9906 [category_description] => [cat_name] => News [category_nicename] => news [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 28 [post__not_in] => Array ( ) )

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