Unjust work dismissals in Albania cost state budge three administrations

Unjust work dismissals in Albania cost state budge three administrations

TIRANA, Feb. 2 – As data collected by the non-governmental portal “Open.Spending.Albania” revealed in mid January, Albanian taxpayers need to pay abundantly for the dismissal of state workers in unjust ways. Illegal work dismissals continue to drag down the state

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Interceptions reveal criminal networks’ influence in vote-buying

Interceptions reveal criminal networks’ influence in vote-buying

TIRANA, Jan. 31 – As Albania is nearing a new local elections cycle, in-depth research and information, made available by once-threatened journalist Klodiana Lala and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) for the Voice of America, unveil the degree of

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AIIS, EMinS and HCSS discuss Albania Serbia relations at the Hague

AIIS, EMinS and HCSS discuss Albania Serbia relations at the Hague

An experts forum “Albania-Serbia relations: the way forward for regional stability and integration” was held on Tuesday at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies in the context of the project Centre for Albania-Serbia Relations 2019 Activities, funded by the Kingdom

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Albania to apply “tough imprisonment” measures after Italian model

Albania to apply “tough imprisonment” measures after Italian model

TIRANA, Jan. 30 – Approximately 270 convicts in Albania, suspected or convicted as members of criminal networks, are expected to soon undergo a special regime which will keep them isolated and unable to communicate with the outside world. The special

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Socialists reject president’s security adviser as head of State Supreme Audit

Socialists reject president’s security adviser as head of State Supreme Audit

TIRANA, Jan. 30 – A majority of the Economy Commission’s Socialist Party members rejected on Tuesday Bahri Shaqiri as the head of the State Supreme Audit due to lack of experience in the financial sector, locking again thorns with President

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HPC prosecutor denies proof of ties with former communist State Security bodies

HPC prosecutor denies proof of ties with former communist State Security bodies

TIRANA, Jan. 29 – Albanian prosecutor Bujar Sheshi, also member of the newly established High Prosecutorial Council, denied on Monday that he was a recruit of communist former State Security structures before the 90s. “I declare with full responsibility before

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Drug trafficking to regional neighbors persists

Drug trafficking to regional neighbors persists

TIRANA, Jan. 29 – Gjirokastra Border Police arrested seven people at Drite village, next to the Albanian-Greek border, when it found and sequestered around 700 kilos of marijuana inside a building on Tuesday. Details on the operation have still not

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Transparency International: Albania leads perceptions for the region’s most corrupt

Transparency International: Albania leads perceptions for the region’s most corrupt

TIRANA, Jan. 29 – Albania led Balkan countries in Transparency International’s latest report on perceived levels of public-sector corruption, which described the perception for the region as “highly corrupt” with below-average scores. Albania’s worst score, which has dropped eight places

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Professors join student protests over lack of university autonomy

Professors join student protests over lack of university autonomy

TIRANA, Jan. 27 – Albania’s university students’ protest was also recently joined by faculty professors, who asked the government to suspend the law on higher education within a week and guarantee academic autonomy with a new law. Public university students

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New Chinese ambassador takes office

New Chinese ambassador takes office

TIRANA, Jan. 26 – The new Chinese Ambassador to Albania Zhou Ding presented his credentials to President Ilir Meta on Thursday, Jan. 24. Ambassador Zhou will be replacing former Ambassador Yiang Yu, who took over the embassy in 2015. Meta

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 2 - As data collected by the non-governmental portal “Open.Spending.Albania” revealed in mid January, Albanian taxpayers need to pay abundantly for the dismissal of state workers in unjust ways.

Illegal work dismissals continue to drag down the state budget, which has paid over 100 million euros in this category in the past five years. 

While ongoing court processes are expected to make the situation worse, economy experts have suggests law amendments which would hold the employer accountable for signing employees’ dismissals.

Expert from the Center for Economic Research Zef Preci considers this an abuse, considering all the investments in schools and hospitals this amount of money could lead to if it wasn’t for its mismanagement.

“It is a violation of the constitutional rights of the individual, it is a violation of the families, at the same time it is a completely unnecessary cost on Albanian taxpayers. There is an absurd situation in which there are three parallel administrations, two effective and another waiting,” Preci told local media in an interview.

The big number of files under processing in the administrative court has created the need for the state’s budget to handle almost three administrations.

“Create a compensation obligation for the employer, be him a minister even, when undergoing illegal actions. Meanwhile, it would be wise to abandon the practice of unifying payments regardless of experience, rank or position occupied in the public administration.

Among the ministries, the one with the highest number of transactions is the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, with approximately 466 transactions, followed by the Ministry of Agriculture with 79, Ministry of Energy and Transport with 66 transactions, the Ministry of Defense with 61 and the Ministry of Healthcare with 56. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 31 - As Albania is nearing a new local elections cycle, in-depth research and information, made available by once-threatened journalist Klodiana Lala and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) for the Voice of America, unveil the degree of influence organized criminal networks have in buying votes for politicians during elections. 

Dozens of surveillances and documents ensured by BIRN through investigations initiated by the Serious Crimes Prosecution after denouncements made by the opposition’s Democratic Party reveal the influence of organized crime networks in buying votes in the districts of Lezha, Durres, Diber, and Kavaja. 

Files 339 and 339/1 are filled with documents and numerous surveillance CDs dating back in 2016 still to be fully investigated by the authorities, while the evidence is thought to have mounted from all the tapes collected throughout 2017 and 2018, when the country’s prosecution announced it was also surveilling Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako.

Investigative file 339 opened in 2016 by intercepting members of a Shijak-based organized crime network whose activity expanded from Albania’s north to its south, involved in heroin and cocaine trafficking.

The “Avdyli” network phone interceptions extended the investigation circle to a number of officials and two former Socialist Party MPs who are currently accused of corruption and falsification of property land.

The most noteworthy - although not isolated - case of corruption and involvement of governing Socialist Party officials according to BIRN investigations is that of Dako, who is alleged of having been elected with the help of the Avdyli network in exchange of easing their criminal demands.

A second investigation by the Serious Crimes Prosecution, initiated after the DP denounced the Diber Country electoral process of September 11, 2016 was manipulated, also exposed people with a precedent at the local state apparatus in vote orientation or manipulation. 

Recruiting people involved with organized crime to fill the voting void is considered one of the main reasons behind Albanians’ lack of trust in free and fair elections.

The opposition has blamed Prime Minister Edi Rama of turning cooperation with criminal networks as the only way to remain in power, although Rama’s SP has time and time again denied these allegations, saying they are just an alibi for the lost elections and lack of voters that support the country’s opposition.

Meanwhile, elections experts are ringing alarms over how the role of criminal groups in certain suburban areas is bigger than that of politicians.

According to VOA, the prosecution has confirmed the continuation of investigations into the alleged involvement of the Avdyli brothers in elections or the corruption of various sectors of the administration, however the case’s prosecutors Vladimir Mara and Dritan Prenci refused to comment on the investigation’s progress. 

Dako, who said interaction with all kinds of voters is essential in his line of work back when the prosecution announced it was surveilling him, has now refused to comment on the kind of relations he has fostered with the Avdyli brothers over an extended period of time and whether he promised to help their criminal activities in exchange of votes.

“I have never been interrogated by the prosecution,” he told the media.

 

Experts: “Criminals dominate politicians’ campaigns in certain districts”

As revealed in the VoA piece, Astrit Avdyli, the 45-year-old Shijak habitant accused by the prosecution of running the drug trafficking criminal group, was sentenced with sixteen years of imprisonment due to a murder that took place back in 1997.

He managed to gain a shortened sentence of 13 years by ensuring a doctor’s report that diagnosed him with “endogenous depression with suicidal tentatives” and left prison on March 2, 2016. 

Shortly after leaving prison, the country’s prosecution put him under surveillance over involvement in heavy drugs trafficking.

For two and a half years, the Serious Crimes Prosecution conducted hundreds of hours of wiretapping and changed three prosecutors' groups, until, finally, in October 2018, it filed charges for 44 people accused of international drug trafficking, corruption, illicit influence or massive property fraud.

The Durres Municipality is only one of the Avdyli areas of influence; information suggests they have also been involved with Kavaja officials, while interceptions from Lezha show how the brother of former SP lawmaker Arben Ndoka also discusses vote-buying.

Actually, since the 2013 parliamentary elections, accusations concerning political leaders and the involvement of criminal groups in helping elect them have occupied a dominant part of the accusations the opposition has been throwing to the government.

Allegations on vote-buying were even included in the latest OSCE/ODIHR report. 

“Both parties [the Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration] showed some concrete cases but, in the absence of sufficient conclusive evidence, did not file any legal appeal against the results,” report said.

Meanwhile, experts of Albania’s electoral system are concerned about the spread of the phenomenon after the 2013 elections and the sophistication organized crime uses to control the elections. 

According to them, the role of criminal groups is more decisive than of politicians’ themselves in some towns, among which they’ve listed Diber, Elbasan, Shkoder and Durres as the most problematic.

We initially had sponsorship from the crime world towards local politicians who want to get into politics, and then came the nomination of the criminal elements themselves in the elections. In the third phase, we can see both phenomena, sponsorship and candidacy,” head of the Institute for Political Studies Afrim Krasniqi told media.

 
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                    [post_content] => An experts forum “Albania-Serbia relations: the way forward for regional stability and integration” was held on Tuesday at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies in the context of the project Centre for Albania-Serbia Relations 2019 Activities, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The event was opened by the HCSS Founder Rob De Wijk, who focused on geopolitical developments and the future of the region. 

He mentioned that enlargement had been a success story of the past and to revive the positive discussion nowadays we need to go back to the fundamentals of the peace project.  

Alba Cela and Jelica Minic from the project-implementing organizations mentioned the achievements of the Center in bringing together young people, economy experts and media and therefore changing long-held misconceptions and prejudices.

Cela emphasized that bringing the positive message of the bilateral cooperation to EU member state audiences, an initiative integrated in the project by the Dutch Embassy in Tirana, was a positive step forward for the project.

Participating experts from Albania included Ilda Zhulali, advisor to the President, who urged both countries to go forward with simple concrete agreements that benefit citizens such as those in the field of education.

Igor Novakovic from civil society in Serbia also talked about the history of the relations at the official level and also the issues regarding minorities and their rights.

European integration was the keyword of the discussion as the main drive behind  both domestic reforms and the improvement of bilateral relations. 

All discussants agreed that the EU should have  a clearer perspective for the region. Also the influence of other actors in the region was mentioned such as that of Russia and China as a further argument not to leave geopolitical vacuums.

Dutch discussants argued that the Netherlands' perspective as strict but fair would help the countries in the long run despite being challenging in the short term.

Experts from Albania and Serbia but also dicussants from Macedonia advocated together for positive developments related to the EU future such as visa liberalisation for Kosovo and the opening of negotiations from Albania and Macedonia , a decision expected in June of 2019.

The event was moderated by Michel Roelen, Strategic Analyst, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.

It was attended by experts, active diplomats ( Ambassador of Albania to the Netherlands and Deputy Ambassador of Serbia) , officials and students with an interest in the region and in EU integration as well.

the Joint Centre for Albania-Serbia Relations was launched in 2016 by the Forum for International Relations of the European Movement in Serbia (EMinS) and the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) with support of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The activities of the Centre in 2016 and 2017 were supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Tirana, and the activities of the Centre in 2018, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tirana.

The cooperation between Serbia and Albania has a strategic importance for the European integration of the Western Balkans.

The bilateral initiatives, which are of great importance for regional cooperation, have so far been in the shadow. Main obstacles to the establishment of normal and fruitful relations between Albania and Serbia include the lack of knowledge about each other and the lack of opportunity for contact and mutual cooperation.

Bearing all this in mind, the Albanian Institute for International Studies initiated the establishment of a joint centre that would encourage interaction between experts, journalists, researchers, artists and decision-makers of the two countries.

This project has offered a new approach for the improvement of Serbian-Albanian relations inspired by the civil society, and has provided new opportunities for mutual contact and cooperation, as well as for the improvement of the knowledge of citizens from these two countries about each other.

It has further helped young people to fight against mutual prejudice, open the space for cooperation between the media and engage decision makers at different levels to contribute to better cooperation between Serbia and Albania through active policies.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 30 - Approximately 270 convicts in Albania, suspected or convicted as members of criminal networks, are expected to soon undergo a special regime which will keep them isolated and unable to communicate with the outside world.

The special measures, which formally enter into force on Wednesday, are part of the discussions at a special conference organized by the Justice Ministry with Italy's Antimafia Prosecution, which will provide assistance for their implementation.

The regime, which has also been included in the Criminal Code amendments, is based precisely on the Italian model and provides for prisoners to be kept in isolation and under special supervision for a certain period of time.

Head of the Italian anti-mafia Federico Cafiero de Raho said that such a measure will lead to the weakening of criminal networks while also serving as a signal of change of citizens, who might begin to trust their institutions more.

“Stopping the contact of the heads of criminal organizations with their people outside of prison and following the traces of money are the most efficient formulas in fighting criminality. Both of these measures are essential for Albania,” de Raho said.

He explained that Albanian groups specialize in drug trafficking, ensuring large amounts of money which, according to many studies, are reinvested primarily in the countries of origin.

“Without an efficient action to prevent illegal assets, the risk that the country's economy will be touched is enormous. Therefore, undertaking preventive measures is essential,” the Head of the EU Delegation to Tirana Luigi Soreca said. 

Soreca stressed that concrete results in the fight against organized crime and corruption are a key priority for the June decision regarding the opening of EU membership talks.

He praised the recent confiscation of illegal properties, or police operations that “have led to significant arrests,” underlining that “it is time for these achievements to be consolidated with decisions and sentences that will constitute clear and sustainable steps forward in the fight against crime and corruption.” 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-30 09:51:21
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 30 - A majority of the Economy Commission’s Socialist Party members rejected on Tuesday Bahri Shaqiri as the head of the State Supreme Audit due to lack of experience in the financial sector, locking again thorns with President Ilir Meta, who proposed Shaqiri in the first place. 

This is the second candidacy coming from Meta that the socialists reject, the first being Constitutional Court judge Vitore Tusha.

“He meets all legal conditions and criteria to be appointed to this position, as well as being a candidate with institutional and directive abilities,” Meta wrote in Shaqiri’s proposal appointment.

Shaqiri was also the head of the State Informative Service for a seven year period, until 2012, while currently being Meta’s adviser on security issues.

Head of the Economy Commission Arben Ahmetaj, however, said the candidate’s career seems to lack professional experience, particularly in the field of audit.

“All previous experience is far from the specificity of financial issues in general and audit in particular, as well as from some of the most important SSA activities such as financial audit, performance audit, compliance auditing, and IT auditing,” said Ahmetaj, motivating the decision to reject President Meta's proposal. 

Relations between the country’s presidency and the prime minister’s office have been cold for a while, with Meta not decreeing some of the most important bills the socialists have drafted, including the bill for the country’s new National Theatre building. 

They however reached a boiling point in January, after Meta refused to decree 26-year-old, Kosovo citizen Gent Cakaj as the country’s new foreign minister as per Rama’s proposal when he reshuffled the Socialist cabinet back in December, ousting almost ten of his ministers.

In face of Meta’s refusal to dismiss then Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, Rama also took over the post of foreign minister and then passed on the institution’s leadership to deputy minister Cakaj.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 29 - Albanian prosecutor Bujar Sheshi, also member of the newly established High Prosecutorial Council, denied on Monday that he was a recruit of communist former State Security structures before the 90s. 

“I declare with full responsibility before you and before the law that I’ve never been a secret collaborator of the former Albanian State Security,” said Shehini at the HPC meeting.

With this complete denial he has today filed a lawsuit against the Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents (AIFSSD) on the Prosecution.

According to a decision by the the AIFSSD, it appears that a information was uncovered on a person named Bujar Rasim Shesha, who was a former State Security collaborator under the pseudonym Venus.

Although Sheshi’s generalities show his father name is Ramiz instead of Rasim, authorities seem convinced that despite the change, the file belongs to prosecutor Sheshi.

“The aim is not to simply target who I am as retaliation for the issues I have investigated or represented as a prosecutor, or for the thoughts I have shown as a HPC member on the criteria that candidates must meet for the Prosecutor General, but to hit and pressure the entire HPC as a body now that we have arrived at the decisive moment of fully establishing SPAK and appointing a Prosecutor General,” Sheshi said during the meeting.

Verification of HPC members’ past is part of the criteria they must meet.

On Sunday, the country’s opposition Democratic Party denounced nine additional names under allegations of ties with the country’s former communist regime, saying they are now appointed to work at the country’s State Information Service.

As for Sheshi, DP lawmakers said he should be ousted, and temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku should go with him over accusations the vetting bodies are just part of a mafia scheme to blackmail the new justice bodies being created under the country’s justice reform. 

The DP accused the the truth on Sheshi only came out after he voted against Marku to return two ousted prosecutors back to duty.

“Bujar Sheshi should be ousted! He does not meet the criteria to be a HPC member. Arta Marku should also be immediately dismissed because she has violated the law and, knowingly, has manipulated the process of setting up the HPC,” DP lawmaker Gent Strazimiri told local media. 

Explaining its position, the General Prosecutor's Office, which is tasked with examining the fulfillment of candidates’ criteria, explained that Sheshi under his legal responsibility had completed a form denying he had been a former Security associate, and that the referral to the Authority on former State Security Documents was made immediately after he passed the justice reform’s vetting process back in October, while the authority’s response only arrived a few days earlier.

The General Prosecutor's Office explained that waiting for a response by the authority was not a deterrent to summoning the prosecutors’ assembly which elected the HPC members. 

 

AIFSSD: Sheshi’s communist past has been proven

Head of the AIFSSD Genta Mara Sula told the Voice of America on Tuesday that Sheshi’s ties with the former State Security services has been proven beyond any doubt and that the legal acts taken against him were based on documented evidence, rather than politically motivated reasons.

“This concerns a person who can not be part of democratic justice institutions because of his cooperation with State Security during dictatorship, but is his right to file a complaint to the prosecutor,” said Sula. 

She dismissed his allegations of political backlog in the institution's activity, which has so far verified over 1,500 people - only five of them have complained and only one decision has been withdrawn. 

The law prevents those persons who before July 2, 1991 were members of the State Security, associates or favored the State Security from becoming members of the High Prosecutorial Council today. 

 
                    [post_title] => HPC prosecutor denies proof of ties with former communist State Security bodies
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                    [ID] => 140324
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-01-29 10:15:45
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-29 09:15:45
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 29 - Gjirokastra Border Police arrested seven people at Drite village, next to the Albanian-Greek border, when it found and sequestered around 700 kilos of marijuana inside a building on Tuesday. 

Details on the operation have still not been made public, but it was reported those arrested are linked to narcotics’ transportation networks next to the border, which later distribute them to the rest of Greece. 

Greek police has reported several cases of narcotic drugs originating from Albania this month, mainly in areas close to the border between the two countries. 

Greece is the second country after Italy where the narcotic drugs being cultivated in Albania are transported. During the summer of 2018, Albanian police said they had significantly curbed the cultivation of marijuana, but the trafficking activity remained high, also due to previous years’ leftover quantities.

According to law enforcement officials, criminal drug networks mostly exploit the transport of narcotic drugs to couriers in border areas. 

Then, from the collection bases, criminal groups displace narcotics using a similar scheme on the Greek side. Other networks operate to transport drugs to Greek cities, especially to tourist areas, where the use of marijuana is bigger. 

Only two days ago, Greek police in the city of Kavala cracked down on an Albanian-Greek criminal network, arresting six – three Greek and three Albanian citizens – and sequestering an amount of marijuana.

Police crackdown on Greek-Albanian criminal network 

Greek police in the city of Kavala cracked down on an Albanian-Greek criminal network, arresting six - three Greek and three Albanian citizens - and sequestering an amount of marijuana. 

According to Greek authorities, two of the arrested were responsible of illegally passing the cannabis through the border, while four others were handling its distribution to other parts of Greece.

Greek police was able to find out the location of where the narcotics were stored, in a building in Thessaloniki, seizing about 100 kilos of marijuana and arresting a person. 

Greek police said concerning the criminal network that it also suspended during the crackdown materials used for drug packaging, an amount of cash and a car used for distribution.

Large quantities of marijuana continue to be transported from Albania to Greece through drug trafficking networks operating on both sides of the border. Only during the month of January, Greek police discovered six cases in the Epirus area, neighboring with Albania, arresting several people and blocking several hundred kilograms of marijuana.

 
                    [post_title] => Drug trafficking to regional neighbors persists 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-29 10:10:10
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-29 09:10:10
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 29 - Albania led Balkan countries in Transparency International’s latest report on perceived levels of public-sector corruption, which described the perception for the region as “highly corrupt” with below-average scores. 

Albania’s worst score, which has dropped eight places from last year’s report, was followed by Kosovo and Macedonia. 

This score now makes Albania the 99th most corrupt country in the world.

“It is particularly worrying that across the region we see governments’ interventions that are weakening the system of checks and balances, essential for successful anti-corruption efforts and functional democracy," Transparency International spokesperson for the Balkans, Lidija Prokic, told regional media.

"Instead, civic and political rights are being limited and holding governments to the account is becoming increasingly difficult."

Although some countries, such as Argentina, Estonia and Senegal, have been the exceptions to this rule with increased scores, the general scores have revealed a downward trend for most countries to lower corruption, thus directly threatening democracy around the globe. 

The countries’ score, ranging from 0, perceived as highly corrupt to 100, perceived to be the least corrupt, use experts’ assessments and opinion surveys - Albania’s score of 36 was only closely worse than both Kosovo’s and Macedonia’s score of 37.

Concerning Albania’s drop, Prokic said its score raises concern about the country's further progress, but added that with the ongoing vetting of judges in the country and anti-corruption institutional framework almost complete, it remains to be seen if its institutions will deliver on expectations in the coming year.

For Kosovo, which has also dropped two points since 2017, the main issues were threats to journalists investigating corruption, a need for transparency in party financing and lack of accountability of public officials.

Nonetheless, none of these scores are a big surprise for the region which, in its long quest for European integration and long-lasting peace and stability, has been continuously criticized over a lack of a proper mechanism to counter corruption in almost all areas of everyday life, from high scale to corruption to low scale corruption.

Only recently, Albania was named a “hybrid regime” between autocracy and democracy from the latest Freedom House report, while the current Socialist government has faced mounting allegations over the last months concerning corrupt government tenders that allocate big amounts of money to offshore companies run by Albanian business oligarchs.

Additionally, a number of international media freedom watchdogs have recently called on Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama to withdraw a bill that proposes to monitor online news portals as a direct threat to the freedom of media and a fast pathway to partial autocracy. 

The non-EU Balkan state with the lowest perceived level of corruption is Montenegro, with a score of 45. Although it still dropped one point since last year.

Among the EU members in the Balkans, the worst-ranked country is Bulgaria, with a score of 42, followed by Romania, at 47 and Croatia, at 48. 

Globally, the states with the least perceived corruption are Denmark, with 88 points, and New Zealand, with 87.
                    [post_title] => Transparency International: Albania leads perceptions for the region’s most corrupt
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-28 14:37:43
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-28 13:37:43
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 27 - Albania’s university students' protest was also recently joined by faculty professors, who asked the government to suspend the law on higher education within a week and guarantee academic autonomy with a new law.

Public university students started massive protests since the early days of December, which in January turned into a boycott which took over university environments.

During the meeting of the assemblies and academic staff of the faculties of History and Philology, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Justice, Economics and Foreign languages, professors decided to support the students’ eight demands an an opportunity to bring the universities out of crisis. 

The professors asserted that recent government decisions and the law of higher education damages autonomy and the development of scientific research at universities. The University of Tirana opposed the bill on Higher Education since four years ago, because it seriously affected university autonomy and overlapped competences.

The professors claimed that five government agencies have removed the autonomy of the university in research, recruitment, selection of curricula and programs.

The professors added that two parallel structures of the rector and administrator created an overlapping of powers and brought crisis to the university by also eradicating financial autonomy. 

Meanwhile, they also argued that the government decisions taken in the end of December as a response to the students demands were hurried without consulting any interest groups, while contradicting the law on higher education and the Constitution in undermining autonomy.

Professors have now adopted a list of five requirements for the progress of academic life, which has also been sent to the government, and are awaiting a reaction until February 1.

Student protests, class boycotts and isolation within university environments partly continues in some faculties, while authorities are holding meetings to explain the latest government decisions.

 
                    [post_title] => Professors join student protests over lack of university autonomy 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-26 15:39:02
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 26 - The new Chinese Ambassador to Albania Zhou Ding presented his credentials to President Ilir Meta on Thursday, Jan. 24.

Ambassador Zhou will be replacing former Ambassador Yiang Yu, who took over the embassy in 2015. 

Meta praised the very good relations between the two countries and underlined the need for their intensification in areas of mutual interest

He also praised the importance of the future cooperation and alignment of economic, trade and cultural relations between the two countries. 

Ambassador Zhou conveyed to President Meta the sincere greetings and best wishes from China's President Xi Jinping. He said the friendship between China and Albania has a long history and has been revived, overcoming the differences in the concrete situation and the socio-political system of the two countries. 

“The Chinese side considers Albania as friendly and reliable partner in Central and Eastern Europe. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, China is ready to strive together with the Albanian side from a new starting point and to expand cooperation and exchanges in various fields, utilizing the historical cases brought about by the initiative 'One Belt, One Road” and the '16 + 1 Initiative”, to further consolidate the traditional Chinese-Albanian friendship,” said the Chinese ambassador.

 
                    [post_title] => New Chinese ambassador takes office 
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            [post_author] => 281
            [post_date] => 2019-02-02 08:47:27
            [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-02 07:47:27
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 2 - As data collected by the non-governmental portal “Open.Spending.Albania” revealed in mid January, Albanian taxpayers need to pay abundantly for the dismissal of state workers in unjust ways.

Illegal work dismissals continue to drag down the state budget, which has paid over 100 million euros in this category in the past five years. 

While ongoing court processes are expected to make the situation worse, economy experts have suggests law amendments which would hold the employer accountable for signing employees’ dismissals.

Expert from the Center for Economic Research Zef Preci considers this an abuse, considering all the investments in schools and hospitals this amount of money could lead to if it wasn’t for its mismanagement.

“It is a violation of the constitutional rights of the individual, it is a violation of the families, at the same time it is a completely unnecessary cost on Albanian taxpayers. There is an absurd situation in which there are three parallel administrations, two effective and another waiting,” Preci told local media in an interview.

The big number of files under processing in the administrative court has created the need for the state’s budget to handle almost three administrations.

“Create a compensation obligation for the employer, be him a minister even, when undergoing illegal actions. Meanwhile, it would be wise to abandon the practice of unifying payments regardless of experience, rank or position occupied in the public administration.

Among the ministries, the one with the highest number of transactions is the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, with approximately 466 transactions, followed by the Ministry of Agriculture with 79, Ministry of Energy and Transport with 66 transactions, the Ministry of Defense with 61 and the Ministry of Healthcare with 56. 

 
            [post_title] => Unjust work dismissals in Albania cost state budge three administrations 
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