Naum Veqilharxhi’s bust stolen, authors arrested

KORCA, Aug. 16 – Police arrested two brothers in the southeastern city of Korca as suspects in the theft and damage to the bust of the Albanian Renaissance personality Naum Veqilharxhi earlier this month. The bust was at a garden

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Albania sets diplomatic ties with Afghanistan

TIRANA, Aug. 16 – The Albanian government decided Wednesday to establish diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, the press office said. A government meeting charged the Foreign Ministry to continue with concrete steps like appointing an ambassador, though it was not clear

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Albania one Euro and… more

TIRANA, Aug. 16 – Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha launched Wednesday a project offering everything to foreign direct investment (FDI) for just 1 euro. Speaking at a government meeting Berisha said foreign investors would spend only 1 euro to have

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Albania hails new Kosova administrator, U.N. resolution on Lebanon war

TIRANA, Aug. 16 – The Albanian government said Wednesday that the nomination of Joachim Ruecker at the head of the U.N. Mission in Kosova was a “full guarantee” for Kosova’s further progress toward its status and independence. In a letter

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Alleged killer arrested for murder of businessman

SHKODRA, Aug. 15 – Zamir Bilali, 35, a businessman trading bricks in the northern city of Shkodra, was killed Sunday evening and found dead , police reported. Two days later police managed to arrest the suspect, Altin Kodra, 31, and

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News in Brief

New vice foreign minister introduced TIRANA, Aug. 14 – Anton Gurakuqi will be the new vice foreign minister. Gurakuqi belongs to the Christian Democratic Party of Nard Ndoka. He replaces Florent Celiku who moved to another post, according to Foreign

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Human trafficking reduced after new border control system installed

TIRANA, Aug. 6 – A better management of the border crossing points and the installation of the TIMS control system have significantly reduced human traffikcing at the country’s borders, according to police reports. This has tranferred such trafficking to green

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Police arrests around the country

TIRANA, Aug. 8 – Police have arrested a considerable number of Albanians in the past week. Also, in Elbasan police started penal procedure against Hyqmet Arapi, 58, who had seriously injured a person in a car accident. Arapi was at

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Berisha hails Italy for reducing time of permanent stay for immigrants

TIRANA, Aug. 5 – Albanian government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha welcomed and hailed a decision of the Italian government to reduce the time of permanent stay in that country for immigrants who want to get official documentation and citizenship.

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Helicopter wreckage found deep in the sea

TIRANA, Aug. 8 – Government authorities confirmed that some scanned images belong to the wreckage of the Bell 222 helicopter that sank 1,024 meters into the Adriatic Sea killing Gramoz Pashko, his son and four others persons in mid-July. Following

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                    [post_content] => KORCA, Aug. 16 - Police arrested two brothers in the southeastern city of Korca as suspects in the theft and damage to the bust of the Albanian Renaissance personality Naum Veqilharxhi earlier this month. The bust was at a garden in the city's suburbs. They had allegedly stolen it to use as scrap and sell it. Police have arrested two others also accused of the same crime. The bust, made by the well known Albanian sculptor Odhise Paskali, was taken from the place and cut up into 14 pieces.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Aug. 16 - The Albanian government decided Wednesday to establish diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, the press office said. A government meeting charged the Foreign Ministry to continue with concrete steps like appointing an ambassador, though it was not clear whether the country would open an embassy in Kabul, or it would be covered by another embassy in another country in the region. Albania has diplomatic ties with 155 countries worldwide. Also Wednesday Albania's 9th rotating 22-member army peacekeeping unit left for Afghanistan, where it serves under a Turkish army unit command. "Your mission is a noble one. Allow me to express the gratitude to your contribution and commitment, and the message that you pass to the international partners," said Vice Defense Minister Petrit Karabina at the ceremony held at an army unit in Poshnje, Berat. Together with Macedonia and Croatia, Albania is also part of a joint small medical unit to assist NATO's military personnel and residents of Kabul. Albania, a small, predominantly Muslim country on the Adriatic Sea which is hoping to be invited in 2008 to join NATO, has also deployed small army units to Iraq and Bosnia.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Aug. 16 - Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha launched Wednesday a project offering everything to foreign direct investment (FDI) for just 1 euro. Speaking at a government meeting Berisha said foreign investors would spend only 1 euro to have land, technological water, business registration, entrance to the country and other services trying to turn the country into the most attractive one for FDI. Now Albania is the last country in the region and among the last in the world on FDI.  "The country should profit from the Albanians' genius of the free initiative," said Berisha considering this project the only way for the poor tiny Balkan country to reach European Union standards. "Albania will become attractive if it is the cheapest and the best. We should not be illusive," said Berisha. "This is the way to make possible to Albania and Albanians get distanced from their wildest enemy in modern Albania, poverty."
But the idea of "Albania 1 euro" seems to be illusive in this tiny Balkan country, one of the poorest in Europe, which is far from the idea of getting practicable integration into the European Union it dreams of simply because its administration needs a lot of work to reach the EU standards, not to mention here corruption and backward technology and infrastructure.
If investors will pay 1 euro for their registration, how much their expenditure will be taking into consideration our infrastructure _ roads, energy and water supply, judiciary? An investor will come here if he has a good road to bring his products and services, if he has continuous power supply and not cut unexpectedly, if there is good water continuously, and if he trusts the local judiciary when he wants to resolve a dispute. They were considerably higher compared to our standards when such an idea was carried out in eastern Germany after its unification. East Germany was considered as the most developed in former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Speaking about such a stolen idea when applied to China or India, one for sure thinks they were more advanced, industrialized and welcoming. Otherwise why should someone come and throw the money in a country where profit may come after many years. Such money is hard to land in Albania if the government does not offer all the proper terms to a foreign investor.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Economy Eno Bozdo said that was an initiative that would urge foreign investors come to the country to produce and consequently employ people. But Bozdo also said they had still to work upon the idea on what would be offered with 1 euro. Bozdo also mentioned the figure of 100,000 hectares of free land that is either never used or not accepted by the old landowners for restitution. There comes another problem: how can the government offer land for just 1 euro to foreigners at a time when it promised to old landowners either to pay them back with land or with money. It is well known that this poor country cannot find billions of dollars to pay them back, so land restitution could be a good way out. It has been said there is no free land to compensate them all. Now it comes out there are 100,000 hectares. The Then-opposition Democrats had publicly said that no free land would be privatized or differently used unless old landowners would get restituted. They seem to have earned the landowners' votes last year and came to power, but the newly launched project may deeply displease them and turn them against the now in-power Democrats.
Berisha's project also sparked an interesting debate in the media. "Berisha 'sells' Albania for 1 euro," wrote Korrieri newspaper. "Berisha' Albania costs 1 euro," "One euro for Albania," wrote Gazeta Shqiptare. "Government's initiative: 'Albania, one euro,'" wrote Shqip newspaper. Besides presenting Berisha's proposal to attract more FDI in the country critical and politically oriented comments were also present. "More than a fiscal incentive to absorb foreign investment, such an initiative is more a media 'show' that if taken may take to serious deformation of competition and markets from investors of the same sphere, causing problems for the country's economy," said economist analyst Zef Preci at the Gazeta Shqiptare newspaper.
As expected the opposition immediately came out to criticize such an idea. "With this idea Berisha reconfirmed he has not changed and that he is 15 years back," said Socialist leader Edi Rama at a news conference.
It seems that the launched project will be a serious challenge for the new government to apply. "To claim and try to turn Albania into the most attractive country for investors is a very difficult initiative but also possible," said Berisha. Wait and see, old and wise people would say at this first moment!
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Aug. 16 - The Albanian government said Wednesday that the nomination of Joachim Ruecker at the head of the U.N. Mission in Kosova was a "full guarantee" for Kosova's further progress toward its status and independence. 
In a letter of congratulations sent from Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj he said the nomination came at a very important moment for Kosova. "Preserving stability and securing sustained economic development, anticipating the application of the standards required by the international community, and progress in the Prishtina-Belgrade negotiations to resolve Kosova status within 2006 are serious challenges to your mission," the letter said. Mustafaj also reassured Ruecker of Albania's continuous support and that Tirana will remain an "active and constructive factor" in his mission, to Kosova's people and to institutions in fulfilling their legitimate aspiration.
In another statement the Albanian government hailed the U.N. Security Council resolution to stop the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, adding that it hopes that Israel and Lebanon will be seriously committed to comply with the resolution.

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                    [post_content] => SHKODRA, Aug. 15 - Zamir Bilali, 35, a businessman trading bricks in the northern city of Shkodra, was killed Sunday evening and found dead , police reported. Two days later police managed to arrest the suspect, Altin Kodra, 31, and also two other persons who had allegedly helped him commit the crime. Kodra has denied killing Bilali. No reason is yet known for the murder. Bilali, father of two children, was known as a calm person who was involved in producing bricks at a small factory he had started since 1993 together with an Italian counterpart. Meanwhile Kodra was discovered to have committed another murder in 1997, killing a doctor who had not taken good care of his brother when he was ill. Kodra had served seven years imprisonment for that.
Bilali was found at a coffee bar near a mini-soccer pitch where he had participated in a match with Kodra. It was learnt they had started to quarrel then Kodra pulled out his pistol and shot his neighbor many times. Kodra left the place after the murder. Police arrested him at the entrance of Shkodra 17 hours later. Police had monitored all Kodra's close friends. Kodra allegedly was trying to leave the city.
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                    [post_content] => New vice foreign minister introduced
TIRANA, Aug. 14 - Anton Gurakuqi will be the new vice foreign minister. Gurakuqi belongs to the Christian Democratic Party of Nard Ndoka. He replaces Florent Celiku who moved to another post, according to Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj. Gurakuqi is a doctor by profession and was head of the political party's branch in the northern city of Shkodra. Previously Mr. Gurakuqi has been member of municipality council in Shkodra.

Moisiu visits quake affected areas
VLORA, Aug. 13 - On Sunday Albanian President Alfred Moisiu visited the villages in southwestern Albania that have been damaged by the recent quakes. Moisiu went to Himara and villages nearby to meet with local authorities and residents. A series of quakes Aug. 6 and 8 damaged some 100 houses with a cost of around 15 million leks according to preliminary reports.

Poll shows Rama and Meta winners
A poll conducted by the opposition Socialist Party said that their leader Edi Rama and leader of the Socialist Movement for Integration Ilir Meta would beat any opponent if they would run for the post of the Tirana Mayor next elections. The poll had allegedly asked 1,650 persons.

Higher salaries for police, National Guard employees
TIRANA, Aug. 16 - A government decision Wednesday increased the salaries of 12,000 police officers and also of the National Guard by 14.75 percent. Policemen involved in the fight against organized crime, terrorist acts and those of scientific police ranks had the biggest raise with 62.4 percent. The average police salary increased from 33,700 lek to 38,300 lek.

9th Albanian contingent heads to Afghanistan
TIRANA, Albania נThe 9th Albanian contingent left Wednesday for Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The 22-strong Albanian unit serves under Turkish command. It rotates every six months. Albania has also three medical staff members at a joint medical team together with Croatia and Macedonia. The tiny Balkan country has sent small peacekeeping army units to Iraq and Bosnia as well along its effort to join NATO by 2008. 
                    [post_title] =>  News in Brief 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Aug. 6 - A better management of the border crossing points and the installation of the TIMS control system have significantly reduced human traffikcing at the country's borders, according to police reports. This has tranferred such trafficking to green areas like forests or moutanouns areas which serve to hide the illegals-to-be. Police said that some 85 percent of the people involved in such illegal activity are residents from border areas. Border points are now mainly used as transit points to neighboring copuntries and the EU member countries. During the first six months this year Korca city was the main problem for this issue with 65 penal cases of human trafficking. It is followed by Gjirokastra, Vlora and Durres. In total there have been 196 cases of efforts of human trafficking stopped by police, or eight more than a year ago. It is also noted that some of the cases of human trafficking have involved police and other officials. Human trafficking has been one of the topics which Albania will try to keep under control along its integration road toward the European Union and NATO.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Aug. 8 - Police have arrested a considerable number of Albanians in the past week. Also, in Elbasan police started penal procedure against Hyqmet Arapi, 58, who had seriously injured a person in a car accident. Arapi was at large.
In Tirana police arrested Ndricim Luka, 34, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment for deceit.
Also in the capital police arrested Ermal Dedei, 19, Orlando Meshau, 29, and Artan Aliaj, 35, for false documents, illegal posession of weapons and crime involvement after finding with them a pistol, a false British passport and a car that is suspected of being trafficked with false documents.
Also in Tirana police arrested Arian Katana, 24, from Shkodra and Elton Shametin, 29, from Vlora,for allegedly producing false documents and visas. They were arrested at Rinas or Mother Teresa international airport with false visas.
Police in the capital have also arrested Serdar Dayas, 25, a Turkish citizen accused of material damage, Albert Buci, 28, fromDibra, for theft, and Dajlan Maliqi, 58, from Tirana for abandoning a military post.
In Gjirokastra police arrested at the Kakavie border crossing point Ilir Elezi, 48, a suspect of drug trafficking crimes.
Police in Tepelena arrested Llambi Prifti, 41, who had allegedly killed in a car accident Kadri Mema, 79, along the Memaliaj-Tepelena road.
In Vlora police arrested Elton Curri, 25, who had allegedly killed Enrik Jaho, 27, two days ago.
Tirana Interpol extradited two Albanians from Greece, Festim Baha, 35, from Elbasan (accused of a murder in 2002 and sentenced with 15 years imprisonment) and Dorian Muharremi, 27, from Korca sentenced in 2003 for theft.
Lushnja police Monday arrested three persons for allegedly kidnapping a person. Brothers Gjergj and Ndue Kola, and Fetah Matmuja, residents in Durres, had collaborated with each other to kidnap Riza Dunisha living in Vlora. The incident occurred in Gradishte village in Lushnja where Dunisha had gone to meet his parents-in-law. They had asked him to give them two million leks.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Aug. 5 - Albanian government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha welcomed and hailed a decision of the Italian government to reduce the time of permanent stay in that country for immigrants who want to get official documentation and citizenship. "That is  very good news for thousands of Albanian immigrants and their families who have chosen Italy as their second homeland," the government statement said. It is believed that some 300,000 Albanian immigrants live in Italy going there by boats and ships and legally after 1990. "That decision is proof of the respect and gratitude of the Italian government and people for the honest and devoted contribution of the immigrants who have gone to Italy with the hope and belief in a better life and future," said the statement. "The prime minister believes that Albanian immigrants in Italy will continue to be strong bridges of cooperation and friendship between our two people and countries."
Italy is Albania's main economic partner for post-communist Albania. It has been an important supporter in the country's efforts toward integration into the European Union and NATO.
                    [post_title] =>  Berisha hails Italy for reducing time of permanent stay for immigrants 
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                    [post_date] => 2006-08-11 02:00:00
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Aug. 8 - Government authorities confirmed that some scanned images belong to the wreckage of the Bell 222 helicopter that sank 1,024 meters into the Adriatic Sea killing Gramoz Pashko, his son and four others persons in mid-July. Following research work from Italian ships Urania and Galatea a 5-meter metal object belonging to the helicopter was found. Pashko, already in a coma and being transported for treatment in Italy was killed, along with his 24-year old son, two pilots and a technician, and the doctor. French specialized ship Janus II will make efforts to bring the wreckage out. A robot has managed to film the wreckage in the sea, and will be a help to investigators. The French ship has managed to bring out a few pieces of the helicopter but heavy metal objects are presenting a serious challenge to that task. There have been different alternatives on the cause of the crash though experts say the total truth will remain unknown, or buried together with the dead persons. There has been an increasing rumor of either air turbulence or human error.
No bodies have been recovered or are believed to have been recovered even after the operation. Albanian authorities are prepared to hold the funeral ceremony on a ship in the sea, some 40 miles from Durres. The Pashko family have declared Saturday as their funeral day and the family of the dead doctor will hold his funeral on Thursday.
                    [post_title] =>  Helicopter wreckage found deep in the sea 
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            [post_date] => 2006-08-18 02:00:00
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            [post_content] => KORCA, Aug. 16 - Police arrested two brothers in the southeastern city of Korca as suspects in the theft and damage to the bust of the Albanian Renaissance personality Naum Veqilharxhi earlier this month. The bust was at a garden in the city's suburbs. They had allegedly stolen it to use as scrap and sell it. Police have arrested two others also accused of the same crime. The bust, made by the well known Albanian sculptor Odhise Paskali, was taken from the place and cut up into 14 pieces.
            [post_title] =>  Naum Veqilharxhi's bust stolen, authors arrested 
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