Court upholds ruling against Lazarat residents who shot an officer dead in 2015

Court upholds ruling against Lazarat residents who shot an officer dead in 2015

TIRANA, Nov. 21 – The Tirana Serious Crimes Court of Appeals left nine out of 11 sentences issued for the so-called ‘Lazarat Group’ in power on Tuesday, the members of which were found guilty of killing Special Forces Officer Ibrahim

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Government involves Venice Commission in reviewing opposition’s political vetting proposal

Government involves Venice Commission in reviewing opposition’s political vetting proposal

TIRANA, Nov. 20 – A special mission from the Venice Commission kicked off meetings in Tirana on Monday after the opposition’s proposal for changes in the Constitution to include verification of politicians’ assets and their ties to the world of

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Police confirms wanted Macedonian ex-PM used Albania to flee to Hungary

Police confirms wanted Macedonian ex-PM used Albania to flee to Hungary

TIRANA, Nov. 19 – On Thursday, Albanian police confirmed that former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski used a Hungarian embassy car to flee through Albania and Montenegro to Hungary, where he has been officially granted political asylum. The police confirmed

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After two-week-long battle, Albanian President decrees new MoI

After two-week-long battle, Albanian President decrees new MoI

TIRANA, Nov. 17 –  President Ilir Meta announced on Friday evening he is decreeing Sander Lleshi as the country’s new interior minister after signing his release as a military general earlier in the day. Meta, who rejected Prime Minister Edi

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Great patriot Mid’hat Frasheri’s remains return home

Great patriot Mid’hat Frasheri’s remains return home

TIRANA, Nov. 14- The remains of intellectual, writer and statesman Mid’hat Frasheri returned on Wednesday Nov. 14 morning in Tirana from the USA, where he unexpectedly passed away. Frasheri, who is also known as Lumo Skendo, his pen name, will

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Real estate registration officers sued for power abuse in Saranda

Real estate registration officers sued for power abuse in Saranda

TIRANA, Nov. 13 – Tirana’s Supreme State Audit (SSA) reported to the prosecution office eight Saranda Real Estate Registration Office workers who it suspects have abused their power. The SSA submitted to the prosecution the documents proving for the eight

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MoI’s active military status becomes new dividing point between President and PM

MoI’s active military status becomes new dividing point between President and PM

TIRANA, Nov. 13 – On Monday, President Ilir Meta published the information he’d inquired from the ministry of defense concerning the active military status of the current deputy interior minister Sander Lleshi, which constitutionally disqualifies him from being appointed as

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Tirana residents protest Great Ring project, as opposition warns of corrupt affair

Tirana residents protest Great Ring project, as opposition warns of corrupt affair

TIRANA, Nov. 12 – Over the last two weeks, residents living in the Astir area – soon to be part of a construction project that foresees demolishing a number of houses and buildings – have been protesting and calling on

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President Meta attends hundredth anniversary of WWI armistice in Paris

President Meta attends hundredth anniversary of WWI armistice in Paris

TIRANA, Nov. 12 – Albanian President Ilir Meta was invited by French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to attend the commemoration ceremony of the hundredth anniversary of the World War I armistice, which took place at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris.

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President-PM debate on Albania’s new MoI persists, as Meta inquires answers

President-PM debate on Albania’s new MoI persists, as Meta inquires answers

TIRANA, Nov. 11 – Albanian President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama publicly exchanged commentary again on Saturday, when Rama re-sent his proposal to make General Sander Lleshi the country’s new interior minister to Meta to decree, although Meta

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 21 - The Tirana Serious Crimes Court of Appeals left nine out of 11 sentences issued for the so-called ‘Lazarat Group’ in power on Tuesday, the members of which were found guilty of killing Special Forces Officer Ibrahim Basha on June 2015, during a crackdown of Albania’s “cannabis village.” 

The decision was followed by a violent reaction of the convicts' family members, who harshly verbally offended the panel of judges and aimed at them with strong items inside the courtroom. The same climate ensued in the premises outside the courtroom against the journalists who were there to report on the court session.

Based on the decision, the only ones who benefitted a shorter sentence were Alban Aliko, who was given 18 years as opposed to the 20 issued before by the First Instance Court and Elson Kazma, who was sentenced to 17.6 years instead of 18. 

The Court of Appeals upheld the sentences issued for the other convicts: life sentence for Albion Aliko and Bajram Boci, 35 years of prison for Elvis Boci and sentences ranging from nine to 20 years of imprisonment for the rest.

All persons were investigated while under imprisonment and found responsible for the June 24 event from three years ago, when a police vehicle was shot at while entering the Lazarat village and as a result the officer of the Special "Renea" Forces Basha was killed, while two others were injured.

The defendant's’ lawyers objected to the court’s ruling, stating that their conviction was unfair since the court, as they expressed, failed to prove which of the convicted persons shot Basha to death.

In 2015,  the government intervened to stop the massive cultivation of marijuana in the area, which had gone on unchecked for years, but no incident matched the one which left Basha dead in terms of severity. 

Over 2015,  police had a strong presence in the village and the raid destroyed 102 tons of marijuana and 530,000 marijuana plants with an estimated market value at the time of some 6 billion euros, which is more than half of the country’s annual gross domestic product.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 20 - A special mission from the Venice Commission kicked off meetings in Tirana on Monday after the opposition’s proposal for changes in the Constitution to include verification of politicians’ assets and their ties to the world of crime.

The Venice Commission was involved in the issue following a formal request from the Albanian Parliament under the initiative of the left-wing majority, which considers such a move

unnecessary for as long as the legal framework is complete after the interventions that have been made with the Decriminalization Law and justice reform.

Nonetheless, five Venice Commission members have traveled to Tirana to gather the positions of the country’s political parties, but also that of the main institutions regarding the constitutional changes proposed by the opposition on verifying politicians’ assets and their links to crime.

They already met with representatives from the three main parliamentary groups: democrats, socialists and socialist movement for integration, while they are expected to also have talks with representatives of the international community and leaders of the Constitutional Court, the High Court and the Inspectorate of Property Verification.

The opposition opposed the government’s request for an opinion from the Venice Commission, accusing the Socialists of seeking to drag the case, for which the democrats have already made a proposal. 

During an opposition meeting in Berat on Tuesday, Basha said Venice Commission representatives bothered coming all the way for nothing, adding the DP is not looking for anything other than the standard they themselves approved for judges and prosecutors.

Basha indicated the commission’s opinion will not really matter to the opposition, which has made the vetting of politicians a red line and hasn’t participated in parliament since its start in September.

Head of the DP parliamentary group Edmond Spaho also didn’t offer a lot of clarifications to the media after meeting with the VC, simply underlining there shouldn’t be double standards. 

“In this sense, we factually explained  that no reform in Albania will succeed unless the ties of politics with organized crime are cut off,” Spaho said. 

The Socialist representatives, on the other hand, appeared more satisfied by the meetings conducted with the VC representatives.

Head of the Laws Commission Ulsi Manja said they welcome the opinions of VC experts.

“Moreover, all the constitutional changes Albania has undertaken after the 90s, and here I refer to the new 1998 Constitution and the later constitutional changes in the context of the justice reform and the decriminalization law, have constantly been consulted and taken a friendly opinion from the Venice Commission,” Manja said.

The possibility of making the verification of politicians’ assets and their ties to the world of crime a reality is expected to be reviewed by the Venice Commission next month.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-19 12:27:26
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 19 - On Thursday, Albanian police confirmed that former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski used a Hungarian embassy car to flee through Albania and Montenegro to Hungary, where he has been officially granted political asylum.

The police confirmed Gruevski entered the Hani I Hotit/Bozaj border crossing on Nov. 11, early in the morning, inside a car belonging to the Hungarian Embassy to Tirana.

"Citizen Nikola Gruevski exited Albania territory on 11 November, 2018, at 19:11, from Hani i Hotit on the Montenegro border as a passenger in a car with the number plate CD1013A, owned by Embassy of Hungary in Albania," police said in a press release. 

The press release added that at the time Gruevski passed the border, Interpol had not yet issued an arrest warrant, so he was technically not yet a wanted person.

“Interpol Skopje notified Interpol Tirana on 13 November that this citizen was under an international arrest warrant,” the press release added. 

On Tuesday, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic also gave details about Gruevski’s escape to Hungary, saying he entered Serbia after passing Albania and Montenegro to further go to Hungary on Nov. 12, with an ID and permit issued in Albania. 

“What did you expect? That we’d arrest someone who is not wanted? There was no international arrest warrant yet,” Vucic was reported to have told Serbian media. 

Gruevski, who served as Macedonia’s PM from 2006 to 2016, went on the run last week when he didn’t show up to begin serving his two-year-sentence in jail under corruption charges for illicitly buying a luxury limousine.

Last Tuesday, it was made known Gruevski is in Hungary, while on Nov. 20 Gruevski himself declared he was granted asylum by the Hungarian government under the argument the new Macedonian government is politically persecuting him. 

Meanwhile, Macedonia, which has seen protests during the last few days against Gruevski’s escape, filed a formal extradition request last Thursday for the runaway ex-PM. 

The Macedonian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday the Hungarian government had been urged “to act in the spirit of good bilateral relations and European values” and not harbour its fugitive ex PM. 

“We will provide arguments why Gruevski should be extradited to Macedonia. It is an extensive document of some 400 pages, but no matter, the request will be formally sent during these coming days,” Macedonian government spokesperson Mile Bosnjakovski said. 

Before fleeing to Hungary, Gruevski insisted that all court cases against him were part of a political set-up fixed by the new Macedonian government and that he would not flee the country. 

 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-17 14:28:33
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 17 -  President Ilir Meta announced on Friday evening he is decreeing Sander Lleshi as the country’s new interior minister after signing his release as a military general earlier in the day. 

Meta, who rejected Prime Minister Edi Rama’s proposal of Lleshi as the new MoI due to his active military status last week, had to decree Lleshi once the latter requested he’d be officially released from the military to take over running the country’s interior ministry.

During the two weeks Meta refused to decree Lleshi as the country’s interior minister, Rama appointed him deputy minister of interior, but also assigned him all the powers of the minister himself and gave Lleshi the right to start running the ministry without receiving the president’s green light.

Analysts spoke of a “constitutional crack” and a “show of strength” between Meta and Rama during the last couple of weeks, while international representatives working in the country stressed how important the complete functionality of the interior ministry is in the fight against crime and corruption, underlining the country needs a proper MoI.

Rama insisted, throughout his disagreement with Meta, that his rejection of Lleshi under the justification he was “still not convinced of his credibility” was a constitutional violation, but when Meta clarified his rejection of Lleshi was based on his active military status, Rama said he felt sorry Meta had not raised the issue before, so that the “first crack” could be avoided. 

After Meta decreed Lleshi on Friday, Rama said this was a perfect example demonstrating that even when cracks seem to be irreparable, there is always a solution where there is good will. 

Lleshi was released from the post of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army in 2013 by decree of then-President Bujar Nishani. He appealed to the courts, and the Administrative Appeal granted him the right in 2017, also approving his return to office and the Ministry of Defense’s duty to pay his salary until appointment day. Meanwhile, the case passed to the High Court, where it hasn’t yet received an official solution.

Lleshi underlined that upon accepting the proposal to become interior minister he decided to give up his military career, although the court’s decision has given the opportunity to both, and that with the request addressed to Meta he renounced the rights deriving from the appeal’s decision.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-16 11:15:33
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 14- The remains of intellectual, writer and statesman Mid’hat Frasheri returned on Wednesday Nov. 14 morning in Tirana from the USA, where he unexpectedly passed away. Frasheri, who is also known as Lumo Skendo, his pen name, will be buried near the intellectual brothers Frasheri at the artificial lake park of Tirana. 

A honorary commemoration ceremony was held for his figure at the Academy of Sciences, where notable political and intellectual figures participated. A number of public also participated in the ceremony to honor the beloved figure of Albanian independence history and language. 

Mid’hat Frasheri is the son of Abdyl Frasheri, the eldest brother of the renowned Frasheris brothers, intellectuals, writers, statesmen. 

He was born in 1880 in Ioannina, and died suddenly in 1949 at New York. The purpose of his visit at the US was to organize the Free Albania Committee in America. He was buried at the Ferncliff, Westchester, and then finally relocated in Albania, making his testament come true after almost seven decades. His mortar crate covered with our national flag was inearthed next to his father’s tomb. 

Mid’hat Frasheri, or Lumo Skendo, has a long history of activism in Albania. After finishing his studies in Istanbul, he worked for the Turkish administration until 1905 before moving to Thessaloniki where he was working in political related duties. 

He has been writing since 1987, and when in Thessaloniki he established the ‘’Kalendari Kombiar’’ (National Calendar) newspaper which had a circulating publication until 1928. In 1901 he published the first full biography of his uncle Naim Frasheri. In 1908 he also established the newspaper ‘’Liria’’ (Freedom) in Thessaloniki. In his newspapers he was discussing Albania-related issues, regarding its independence, language and national identity.

In Nov. 1908, he was appointed director of the Manastir Congress, where the Albanian alphabet was discussed and composed, along with Albanian linguistic issues. He was later appointed deputy director of the Alphabet Commision, and was the first to suggest a Latin alphabet adaptation to our own. 

Shortly after the Congress finished, Skendo established ‘’Diturija’’ (Knowledge), a magazine for the Albanian literature and language, which holds high linguistic, cultural and literary values for our history. The National History Museum is also to publish a compressed two-volume publication of the magazine for the public, in celebration of our unique language and history. 

Later in Sept. 1909, he participated at the National Congress of Elbasan where the delegates discussed about culture and education, and decided to start introducing the Albanian alphabet chosen by the Manastir Congress in all schools in the Albanian territory. 

Frasheri was also appointed delegate of Permet, Elbasan and Peja in 1912 at the National Vlora Assembly of Ismail Qemali and signed the Declaration of Independence, along with the many other intellectuals and statesmen of our nation. 

In Qemali’s provisional government he was appointed Minister of World Affairs. He has also held the post of Minister of Public Affairs, Albanian consul general in Belgrade and postmaster general. In 1920 he was was appointed Albanian delegate at the Paris Peace Conference where he remained until 1922. After returning from that post, he was appointed Albanian ambassador to Greece and United States until 1926.

When Zog became the first King of Albania, Skendo decided to choose the path of the quiet life by opening the Lumo Skendo bookstore in Tirana from 1926-1939. Considering the multitude of his knowledge, he also worked as a pharmacist as well.

During World War II he established Balli Kombetar (National Front), a political organization that fought on behalf of ethnic Albania against the fascist occupation in our country. Balli Kombetar collaborated with the German militants in our nation to fight the fascist and anti-nazi guerrillas groups. When the communist regime of Enver Hoxha was established in Albania, he was considered an enemy and became a politically persecuted individual, as many other intellectuals during that era. 

He fled to Italy, and then moved to London where he established the Free Albania Committee, and engaged in anti-communist groups. In 1949 he went to the US to establish the Committee there, after he was chosen director in London, but died of a heart attack at the Lexington Hotel in New York, and buried there.

Mid’hat Frasheri never married, but dedicated his life to Albania’s liberation instead. He worked to establish an alphabet, Albanian-speaking schools and education. He fought in building a national identity for our citizens, better our history and develop our culture and linguistics. A great statesman, and the father of Albanian Nationalism at its best, purest form. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 13 - Tirana’s Supreme State Audit (SSA) reported to the prosecution office eight Saranda Real Estate Registration Office workers who it suspects have abused their power.

The SSA submitted to the prosecution the documents proving for the eight local officials the established violations of property records on the southern coast, mainly in the Ksamil area, without proper legal documentation.

It also informed it has filed its denouncement towards a registrant and a former registrant, the former Deputy Registrant and five local specialists working at the Real Estate Registration Office in Saranda.

According to the SSA, officials have committed violations in dozens of cases of property registration, revenue collection, the issuance of property certificates for formerly limited assets, and so on.

The coastal area between Vlora and Saranda has seen a rapid growth of intense construction in the last decade, especially those related to tourism.

In recent years, apart from property conflicts in the courts, dozens of land, pasture and construction land files that have ended up in Vlora’s and Saranda’s prosecution offices of Vlora and Saranda because of abuse include local officials.

Only last month, Albanian police arrested former Socialist Party MP Arben Ndoka on corruption charges related to coastal property abuse and adverse possession.

Surveillance of the Ndoka brothers over their discussions with Real Estate Registration Office employees proved they had illegally taken huge amounts of property under their ownership.

Last March, the Lezha police investigated a criminal group suspected of abusing properties in Lezha’s Shengjin area and in this context detained 12 persons, among whom the Lezha Mayor, and declared another 11 as wanted.

All of them are being accused of adverse possession of 234,548 square meters of coastal land in Lezha’s Shengjin, proving that what is happening in Saranda currently has been happening all over Albania.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-13 15:21:23
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-13 14:21:23
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 13 - On Monday, President Ilir Meta published the information he’d inquired from the ministry of defense concerning the active military status of the current deputy interior minister Sander Lleshi, which constitutionally disqualifies him from being appointed as minister of interior according to Meta. 

In his request for information directed to the defense ministry, Meta has raised a number of questions concerning Lleshi’s military status, the clash between the MoI’s civil function and Lleshi’s long military career, the constitutional issue of appointing him as MoI and his conviction that an active military man cannot run or be appointed as lawmaker or minister without first resigning from duty. 

In a letter sent to Meta, Lleshi clarified he no longer holds an active military status, but that he’d nevertheless give up his military career once and for all. 

He said he cannot be considered an actively military member, as only those serving at the Armed Forces and wear uniform carry an active status.

Lleshi underlined that upon accepting the proposal to become interior minister he decided to give up military career, although the court's decision has given the opportunity to both, and that with the request addressed to Meta he renounces the rights deriving from the appeal's decision.

Lleshi was released from the post of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army in 2013 by decree of then-President Bujar Nishani. He appealed to the courts, and the Administrative Appeal granted him the right in 2017, also approving his return to office and the Ministry of Defense’s duty to pay his salary until appointment day. Meanwhile, the case passed to the High Court, where it hasn’t yet received an official solution.

Meta's questions focus precisely on this case and the positions held after the court decision by both the defense ministry and Lleshi himself.

Meta also said Prime Minister Edi Rama was aware of this constitutional issue, also when he proposed Lleshi as MoI for the second time on Saturday, and did not provide any explanations or information on the issue and every issue that may derive from it. 

 
                    [post_title] => MoI’s active military status becomes new dividing point between President and PM 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-12 15:46:39
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 12 - Over the last two weeks, residents living in the Astir area - soon to be part of a construction project that foresees demolishing a number of houses and buildings - have been protesting and calling on the government to guarantee them compensation for their properties.

On Monday, after protesting for about two hours in front of Tirana’s Municipality building and asking for a meeting with Mayor Erion Veliaj or any municipality representative authorized to give information, the protesters said Tuesday, Nov. 13, is the deadline to have a meeting or else they warned to block Unaza e Madhe (Great Ring road) for good. 

“We will not free the road until we are given a solution to our problem,” protesters said, as they blocked one of the main roads in Tirana’s centre, creating heavy traffic.

One of the protesters who gave a declaration for local media during the protest, said his son’s wife had ended up in prison for protesting the road expansion project foreseeing the demolition of their houses.

“They took my son’s wife to give birth in prison. There are men in that house, not just women. They cannot step over all these people,” the Astir resident told local media.

In front of the municipality, protesters also started chanting anti-government statements, such as warnings that their houses will be demolished over their dead bodies. 

The protests, which began right after the Head of Road Authority Afrim Qendro and other officials announced on Nov. 5 that “317 objects will be touched by the Great Ring road expansion project,” have been ongoing over the last two weeks at the Astir area and have even turned violent at times.

Residents have time and time again blocked the traffic in both axes at the Astir road, continuously calling for a complete compensation of all the people living in the buildings to be demolished, as opposed to those who already have property ownership titles, as the government plans on doing.

Another reason behind the aggravated protests is the residents’ claims the government did not warn them enough time in advance of the plan to demolish the houses and only give compensation to those who have already received their property ownership titles.

The protests have turned violent as drivers passing at Astir have physically confronted and tried to remove residents, while on Saturday the cameraman of a private media who was doing field reporting was punched by an angry driver.

 

The government’s plan

Last Monday, Nov. 5, Head of Road Authority Afrim Qendro, Head Inspector of the National Inspectorate of Territory Defense Dallendyshe Bici and Tirana Deputy Mayor Arbri Mazniku, among others, gave a press conference regarding the Great Ring road project.

Qendro said that during the project’s tracking phase around 317 projects will be demolished, 163 out of which are under legalization and will be disqualified and 123 hold property ownership titles and will receive compensation.

He added there is no other kind of information for the remaining objects in the area.

“We are in the first phase of object tracking. As soon as we have the approving status from the Real Estate Registration Office, we will begin demolishing the objects. But we will wait for the institutions. The project has a 100-year-old importance and will be accompanied by all urban elements. We conducted our field work and made all preliminary assessments,” Qendro said.

Further on, Qendro clarified the owners of the objects to be disqualified will be included in the homeless people’s list and be given a lease bonus.

“All households that are under legalization will need to be disqualified. The Tirana Municipality will arrange them available housing support programs. They will be treated with a special lease payment procedure in order to move to a quick procedure and be approved as soon as possible at the municipal council and have the opportunity to benefit the lease bonus for a period of at least one year, but which is also renewable until they have the opportunity to be restructured and managed in the new houses,” Qendro said.

The Big Tirana project, from the capital’s Maternity Hospital to the roundabout known as ‘the Eagle’ - due to the double-headed eagle statue at its middle - at the Tirana-Durres highway entrance, has cost 26.5 billion ALL for a length of 27 km. 

Soon, the segment from the Eagle to Shkoza is also expected to be launched. 

 

The political dimension 

On Monday, the opposition’s Democratic Party made public, through its spokeswoman Ina Zhupa, documents allegedly proving the benefactors of the Great Ring project were predetermined.

“The corrupt scheme is clear. The winners have been predetermined because in three different tender procedures, there was only one valid offer, while the second participator was been included to legitimize the tender but has not actually made any offers,” Zhupa said. 

Only a day earlier, DP leader Lulzim Basha spoke of an “offshore company” related to the Great Ring project and promised to reveal the “government’s corrupt affairs” the rest of the week,

On Monday, Zhupa made the names of alleged offshore companies clear.

“DH Albania was established this year’s July, one month and a half before the tender opening, under the name of the parent company Dunvel Haberman ltd. Its parent company is an offshore company, with unknown owners, registered in the United States of America, which is known as a fiscal paradise. The other company, Biba X, has no road construction experience and only added this activity shortly before the winner of the 18 million euro tender was announced. The company Biba X  was seized even during the period when it participated in the project’s tender,” Zhupa said. 

DP  representatives and lawmakers have attended the protest on different days throughout the week, expressing solidarity with the protesters’ cause.

DP lawmaker Flamur Noka, in a media statement, denounced the municipality’s silence on the Greater Ring road residents’ “legitimate protest.”

“On this seventh day of protest, everything has gone to dead ears. The government and the municipality act as if these residents don’t exist, only because they notified they will demolish all their houses. No one has come to talk to them,” Noka said. 

He added the municipality’s behavior with over 2,000 residents is “barbarous” and “non-humane,” as it has taken their money and votes to legalize their houses, which has now decided to demolish without granting compensation.

He promised the residents’ the DP’s support in their legitimate right to be compensated. 

 
                    [post_title] => Tirana residents protest Great Ring project, as opposition warns of corrupt affair 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-12 11:30:52
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 12 - Albanian President Ilir Meta was invited by French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to attend the commemoration ceremony of the hundredth anniversary of the World War I armistice, which took place at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris. 

At the start of the officially activity, which was also attended by US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other world leaders, Meta was welcomed in a state ceremony at the Élysée Palace by Macron and his wife,.

During his meeting with Macron, Meta expressed the high estimates for the traditional and excellent relations between the two countries and stressed the importance of their dynamic. 

Meta also praised Macron’s role in building a stronger and much more united Europe.

During his stay in Paris, Meta also met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with whom, according to the president’s office announcement, he praised the unique relations between our people in respect and gratitude toward Israel's history and expressed his will to build an even closer relationship in the future between the countries.

Despite the excellent relations between France and Albania mentioned by Meta, France’s Macron was one of the key players, along with Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Stef Blok, who blocked Albania’s chances to open accession negotiations in order to eventually become EU member back in July.

According to Macron, the EU should not expand before fixing its own internal policies and making sure all its member states are aligned with the same democratic core values and perspectives, also signaling distrust towards Albania’s so-far-achieved EU-based reforms.

France is one of Albanian asylum-seekers’ favorite destinations, while French authorities have warned, time and time again, the country must do something to curb its migration waves, especially since it’s considered a ‘country of safe origin,’ meaning Albanian citizens are, most of the time, not applicable to receive asylum by EU states.

 
                    [post_title] => President Meta attends hundredth anniversary of WWI armistice in Paris
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-11 10:10:57
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 11 - Albanian President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama publicly exchanged commentary again on Saturday, when Rama re-sent his proposal to make General Sander Lleshi the country’s new interior minister to Meta to decree, although Meta rejected it last week.

Meta’s spokesperson Ted Blushi said Meta has begun the process of cooperating with all the relevant institutions to become clear on all the questions he had since the start but which he did not manage to, despite all the efforts.

“Concerning the new process, he has decided to also inform the head of parliament on all his questions, as the procedure of naming a new minister is a mandatory cooperative process between three institutions - prime minister, president, parliament,” Blushi said.

Rama responded to Meta’s statement through his Head of Communication Endri Fuga.

Fuga said Rama appreciates Meta efforts to receive clear and full answers, but added Meta had not asked any clarifications from Rama after sending him a letter where he, without offering any reason or justification, rejected Lleshi and asked to meet Rama.

Further on, Fuga stated Meta will receive the answers to all the questions he had sent in the form of a written letter on Monday morning.

“Also in function of exhaustively addressing the issue, which President Met has not raised as an issue during his meeting with the prime minister, but only express it in written form, as a questionnaire to the minister of defense, only yesterday, the President will receive along with his answers an exhaustive solution, which doesn’t leave place for any interpretations. From any side,” Rama’s statement highlighted.

Last week, after former Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj unexpectedly resigned his post, Meta refused to sign the decree on Lleshi's appointment.

The official motives of this decision have not yet become official and there is not even an official act coming from the president for his decision, apart from the letter sent to Rama saying that "he was not able to create full conviction to trust Lleshi.”

Meta’s stand on the issue has been accompanied with public debate.

During his parliamentary speech last Monday, Rama insisted the president cannot reject the appointment of a government member and went on to make Lleshi deputy minister of interior, but will all competences of a minister himself.

Asked again on Friday, Meta stood by his decision to reject Lleshi, while also speaking of the legal motivations behind his rejection. 

“For what it concerns the legal part, without wanting to give lectures on the Constitution to amateurs, dilettants or those who are biased, I would invite them to read the Constitution and the president’s competences again and see only his oath is formal or ceremonial,” Meta said.

Meanwhile, both the US Embassy to Tirana and the EU delegation have reacted to the news of Lleshi’s appointment as deputy MoI by stressing it is vital the interior ministry if fully functional.

Analysts and independent political observers also claimed Albania has fallen into a sudden constitutional crisis throughout last week, while also raising concerns about Lleshi’s appointment as deputy minister as unprofessional.

 
                    [post_title] => President-PM debate on Albania’s new MoI persists, as Meta inquires answers 
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            [post_date] => 2018-11-21 17:59:04
            [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-21 16:59:04
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 21 - The Tirana Serious Crimes Court of Appeals left nine out of 11 sentences issued for the so-called ‘Lazarat Group’ in power on Tuesday, the members of which were found guilty of killing Special Forces Officer Ibrahim Basha on June 2015, during a crackdown of Albania’s “cannabis village.” 

The decision was followed by a violent reaction of the convicts' family members, who harshly verbally offended the panel of judges and aimed at them with strong items inside the courtroom. The same climate ensued in the premises outside the courtroom against the journalists who were there to report on the court session.

Based on the decision, the only ones who benefitted a shorter sentence were Alban Aliko, who was given 18 years as opposed to the 20 issued before by the First Instance Court and Elson Kazma, who was sentenced to 17.6 years instead of 18. 

The Court of Appeals upheld the sentences issued for the other convicts: life sentence for Albion Aliko and Bajram Boci, 35 years of prison for Elvis Boci and sentences ranging from nine to 20 years of imprisonment for the rest.

All persons were investigated while under imprisonment and found responsible for the June 24 event from three years ago, when a police vehicle was shot at while entering the Lazarat village and as a result the officer of the Special "Renea" Forces Basha was killed, while two others were injured.

The defendant's’ lawyers objected to the court’s ruling, stating that their conviction was unfair since the court, as they expressed, failed to prove which of the convicted persons shot Basha to death.

In 2015,  the government intervened to stop the massive cultivation of marijuana in the area, which had gone on unchecked for years, but no incident matched the one which left Basha dead in terms of severity. 

Over 2015,  police had a strong presence in the village and the raid destroyed 102 tons of marijuana and 530,000 marijuana plants with an estimated market value at the time of some 6 billion euros, which is more than half of the country’s annual gross domestic product.

 
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