Illegal immigrant from Albania dies in crash

McALLEN, Texas – A 21-year-old illegal immigrant from Albania died when the sport utility vehicle he was riding in rolled over following a 10-mile police chase. Eleven others were injured in the crash, including four Hondurans, four Albanians and three

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Mustafaj meets with Kosova students

TIRANA, Nov. 23 – Albanian Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj met Thursday with a group of Kosovar students of the Philosophy Faculty, Pristina University discussing the political processes and the status talks. Mustafaj stressed to them the importance of youth in

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Parliament rushes to complete electoral reform

TIRANA, Nov. 22 – Parliamentarians of the majority and the opposition rushed Wednesday to pass the required amendments for the electoral reform at the parliamentary commission. The legal commission voted in favor of some constitutional amendments presented by the opposition

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Police to step up control on driving

TIRANA, Nov. 17 – Police held Friday a seminar on road safety focusing on the great number of accidents in the Albanian roads. President Alfred Moisiu also took part at the meeting appealing to police to set harsher legal rules

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Hungarian premier visits Albania

TIRANA, Nov. 23 – Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany visited Albania Thursday along his trip in the region. The Hungarian premier is to take part Friday at the summit of the Central European Initiative summit held in the Albanian capital.

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Socialists say no elections by the end of January

TIRANA, Nov. 22 – Head of the opposition Socialist Party parliamentary group Pandeli Majko was very harsh Wednesday against holding the local elections by Jan. 21 at the same time with Serbia’s general elections saying that should not coincide with

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Supreme Court to decide in December on Agim Shehu’s case

TIRANA, Nov. 22 – The Supreme Court listened Wednesday to the testimony of the prosecutor office and the lawyer on Agim Shehu, former vice interior minister and police chief, accused of deserting. Shehu has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment

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Berisha meets with Czech Foreign Minister

TIRANA, Nov. 23 – Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha met Thursday with the visiting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kubis. Albania appealed to the Czech minister to urge his businessmen invest in the country, offering that the country had the best

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Albanians in an overwhelming support for European integration

TIRANA, Nov. 21 – Support for Albania’s EU membership continues at high levels and Albanians see no other future than that of being part of the big European family. This is the conclusion that the annual study of Albanians’ perceptions

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Police sets phone numbers to help immigrants from Greece

TIRANA, Nov. 21 – Albanian police announced it set phone numbers to serve immigrants from Greece while they would be back to their country for Christmas holidays. Police said the numbers would serve to get from immigrants their cooperation against

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                    [post_content] => McALLEN, Texas - A 21-year-old illegal immigrant from Albania died when the sport utility vehicle he was riding in rolled over following a 10-mile police chase. Eleven others were injured in the crash, including four Hondurans, four Albanians and three Salvadorans, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Robert Vasquez. The dead immigrant wasn't identified. The chase began when police tried to pull over the SUV for speeding. The driver escaped on foot after the crash, police said. The injured passengers were taken to area hospitals, Vasquez said, but all were in stable condition or better. They were expected to be deported.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 23 - Albanian Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj met Thursday with a group of Kosovar students of the Philosophy Faculty, Pristina University discussing the political processes and the status talks. Mustafaj stressed to them the importance of youth in Kosova. The Foreign Minister said that at this moment of the status process for Kosova the diplomatic work was of very high importance. Kosova has no foreign ministry or diplomatic missions in other countries and Albania has been playing a great role for that. "The whole battle to successfully crown that (final status) is only at the diplomatic level. Unity is needed with the relations with the international community in order to achieve a solution that corresponds with the aspirations of the majority of the Kosova people, independence," said Mustafaj. The minister said that the Kosova Albanian negotiators had created the trust at the international factor that they are capable of building an independent multiethnic Kosova and a functioning country. "Multi-ethnicity is part of democracy. That ha been understood from the people in Kosova, from the youth which I readier than the other generations to accept that. Kosova should be for all, not only for Albanians but also for the other communities living there," said the minister. The foreign ministry was preparing the proper infrastructure so that Kosovar students and experts would be capable to follow diplomatic training "to be at the service of the future country of independent Kosova." 
                    [post_title] =>  Mustafaj meets with Kosova students 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 22 - Parliamentarians of the majority and the opposition rushed Wednesday to pass the required amendments for the electoral reform at the parliamentary commission. The legal commission voted in favor of some constitutional amendments presented by the opposition on the timing of holding general and local elections. General elections are supposed to be held in spring while local ones in autumn every four years, that is one year more for the local authorities mandate. That is one of the 12 issues agreed from the two political groupings at their Aug. 20 compromise based on the recommendations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Four members of the commission were, however, against amending the constitution saying that in case of early elections such a scheme would break down. Other parliamentarians from the opposition said experts should have been consulted for such topics. 
In another commission, that of public information and education, parliamentarians discussed on increasing the number of the radio and television council but they could not reach an agreement. 
The opposition presented Monday a list of some 40 amendments needed for the electoral reform ahead of the local elections. The commission created since earlier this year, whose work was postponed two or three times, failed to produce any result at all despite the fact it was also supported with a compromise agreement in late August The two main political parties _ governing Democratic Party of Prime Minister Sali Berisha and main opposition Socialist Party f Tirana Mayor Edi Rama _ have many disagreements mainly for the voters' list and the timing of holding local elections. The ruling Democrats say they want the existing voters' list which they say it is improved while the opposition Socialists want a different one. They also complain about more than one million birth certificates distributed from the Interior Ministry to be used this summer, which they say is a source of manipulation for the government. The date of voting is another contested issue. The Democrats say they want the Constitution be respected, which says that elections should be held sometime between Dec. 20 and Jan. 20. socialists say that harsh winter in many areas in the country would prohibit voters to go to the polls and the timings would be a good moment of manipulation from the government authorities.
That made that after the expired date of Nov. 15 for the commission the opposition went and presented these 40 requests. The first reaction was negative from the Democrats. But after calming down and listening to the Socialists (they also lowered the tone) that it was not supposed that all 40 amendments would pass, there came this urgent meeting of the parliamentary commissions rushing to pass many issues that will very likely be voted by the parliament next Monday. The amendments cover the increase of the number of radio and television council members from seven to 11, setting the timing of the local and general elections, voters' list, increase of members of the Central Election Commission from seven to nine, competencies of the CEC vice chairman, change of local voting commissions to include all parliamentary parties, use of proper documents from voters and some other technical details. 
                    [post_title] =>  Parliament rushes to complete electoral reform 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 17 - Police held Friday a seminar on road safety focusing on the great number of accidents in the Albanian roads. President Alfred Moisiu also took part at the meeting appealing to police to set harsher legal rules and punishment. Under his care police held a week, Nov. 13-19, of campaign on road safety. The president said that the great number of victims from road accidents asks for a great public awareness, more commitment and other efforts to prevent them. Police chief Bajram Ibraj said that more than 1,000 persons are injured every year, with 300 of them dead and about 500 remaining handicapped thereafter. Road safety is one of the standards of the level of economic and social development in the modern times, said Ibraj. Police have compiled a 10-year strategy how to prevent traffic accidents. Besides their own efforts police will strengthen cooperation with local authorities, will try to improve road signals, will strictly apply the road code, especially prohibiting drivers using alcohol, try to lower speed use, increase steps in issuing driving licenses, set and check the use of more driving rules, and so on. Ibraj appealed to all institutions and the public opinion to cooperate for a safer road.
                    [post_title] =>  Police to step up control on driving 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 23 - Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany visited Albania Thursday along his trip in the region. The Hungarian premier is to take part Friday at the summit of the Central European Initiative summit held in the Albanian capital. Gyurcsany met with Albanian counterpart Sali Berisha discussing bilateral relations. Berisha said that the two countries have had excellent relations in the last 15 years and urged both countries to intensify their commercial ties. They agreed to urge their executives to deepen relations in the economy education, culture, rule of la, army, and so on. Berisha introduced to his counterpart his government's work in the fight against corruption and organized crime. He mentioned the efforts on improving the business climate along the effort to get integrated into the European Union and NATO. The two premiers also discussed on the situation of the region, and the solution of the Kosova final status. Berisha also reminded his counterpart that the late Albanian queen was a Hungarian. The visitor reaffirmed that integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures was the best way for peace and stability in the region. He expressed his government's support to Albania's efforts, reminding that the fight against organized crime and corruption and a better business climate were top priorities for any government. "Albania is an important factor of peace," said Gyurcsany.
                    [post_title] =>  Hungarian premier visits Albania 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 22 - Head of the opposition Socialist Party parliamentary group Pandeli Majko was very harsh Wednesday against holding the local elections by Jan. 21 at the same time with Serbia's general elections saying that should not coincide with a moment very important for Kosova. United Nations Secretary-General envoy for Kosova talks former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari will present its suggestions on Kosova's final status after the Serbian elections. "Election date may be postponed because of the current conditions (winter) and also because of the moment of defining the Kosova status," said Majko on Wednesday. Majko said there was still time to discuss and negotiate on that issue. "For us it would be very difficult to go to elections when the electoral reform has not been made, at a moment when winter has knocked into Albania," he said. "But I would add also another topic mentioned for the first time, that is that at a moment when we are thinking that around Albania is being discussed the most important issue after 1912 (Albania's independence year) which is Kosova's status." "Before being politicians and think of pragmatic interests we should also judge these important moments and we should start from the election standards up to the historic moment the region is experiencing," he said. Majko said that he could not imagine that the moment when the decision on Kosova's final status would be taken Albania would be found in a very complicated political situation, without an electoral reform, with elections contested from the first moment, and at this moment that concern would not be only for Albania but wider. "At this moment not only the official Tirana but also the political one should come a spirit of stability and not of division and polarism, i am not superstitious when I say that on Jan. 21 we expect to discuss the most important issue for Albanians after 1912."
It seemed that his warning fell in deaf ears. When President Alfred Moisiu was asked about this coincidence a day earlier during a visit to Italy he answered smiling that we should not become superstitious saying that Albania was an independent state. Moisiu mentioned during his visit to Italy that January's third week would be the timing for local elections in Albania Elections are normally held on Sunday in this country and that means it will be Jan. 21. but on the other side the constitution says local elections should be held between Dec. 20 and Jan. 20. moisiu mentioned this timing again from Rome after the first mention from Warsaw a week ago. After returning from the visit to Italy Moisiu met urgently with the CEC head Clirim Gjata and his deputy Flamur Cato to discuss technical details for the elections. Gjata has repeatedly said they are too late to start election preparation. He has continuously lamed politics for delaying not only the voters' list but also the preparation of zone commissions with members from different political parties.
Deputy Interior Minister Ferdinand Pone again called aloud to the political parties to decide on the voters' list and give them the green light to proceed. Another senior official said they needed two-three weeks to prepare the regular list, then make it public and leave it for one week or ten days for the public to check themselves and everything would be okay.
Socialist leader Edi Rama made it clear during his trips to meet supporters around the country that the party did not intend to boycott local elections but that they would not "tolerate elections without standards." Socialists had threatened earlier this summer of even boycotting the polls unless their conditions for electoral reform were fulfilled. That means there is a change in them. The problem remains what is it to be done in the short time that has remained before holding local polls. Will they, both majority and the opposition, be able to complete the electoral reforms, the recommendations made from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights?
                    [post_title] =>  Socialists say no elections by the end of January 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 22 - The Supreme Court listened Wednesday to the testimony of the prosecutor office and the lawyer on Agim Shehu, former vice interior minister and police chief, accused of deserting. Shehu has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment for that charge, also accused of abuse of weapons. But the prosecutor supported only the first charge. Shehu has fled the country after the 1997 anarchic days. His lawyer, Avni Shehu, tried to defend his client saying that Shehu could not be accused of deserting because he had left the country June 30, 1997 when he was fired from his previous posts. Shehu is believed to be in Germany. The court will give the verdict Dec. 4.
                    [post_title] =>  Supreme Court to decide in December on Agim Shehu's case 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 23 - Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha met Thursday with the visiting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kubis. Albania appealed to the Czech minister to urge his businessmen invest in the country, offering that the country had the best facilities with the 'Albania, one euro' project idea. Kubis also reminded Berisha that fighting organized crime and corruption remained Albania's most important element in its road of integration into the European Union and NATO. Kubis said that the two countries had to intensify their commercial relations and economic cooperation, discussing different ways of promoting them.
                    [post_title] =>  Berisha meets with Czech Foreign Minister 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 21 - Support for Albania's EU membership continues at high levels and Albanians see no other future than that of being part of the big European family. This is the conclusion that the annual study of Albanians' perceptions of the EU has showed for the year 2006. The study pointed out that the increase in support can be explained by the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Union (EU) and Albania on June 12, 2006 which restored some confidence and faith on the integration process.  After three years during which the public perception was that the integration process was stalled, the relatively optimistic annual progress report of the European Commission at the end of 2005 created an upbeat atmosphere which culminated with the signing of the SAA. The study showed that the importance of EU-Albania relations is valued highly by all respondents. 
The aim of this study, which is traditionally organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies, is to monitor and examine Albanians' knowledge of the European Union (EU) and its institutions as well as their perceptions on the country's progress towards EU membership.  AIIS posed a questionnaire to five target groups: public administration, local government administration in ten major Albanian municipalities,1 media, NGOs, and businesses. The survey was done during the period July-August 2006, an interesting timing given the signing of the SAA, thus the results are conditioned by a certain "vulnerability" of the public opinion to such an event. AIIS implemented the first Perceptions and Realities survey in October 2002 and since then it has been carried out every year, making it possible for its use in a comparative and analytical perspective. This project was supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy and the Network of Open Society in Albania.
The AIIS organized on Tuesday a conference to promote the successful completion of their study "Albania and European Union: Perceptions and Realities 2006." In the conference, Sabina Ymeri, deputy executive director of the Institute summarized and discussed the main findings of the study, illustrating them with graphs and tables through a multimedia presentation. The following speaker was the Minister of Integration, Arenca Trashani who expressed high enthusiasm at the corresponding priorities between the study and the Ministry's goals for public information related to integration. Trashani then gave a summary of the governmental projects and initiatives related to providing information to all actors of Albanian society about each consecutive step in the long route towards Europe. Trashani also commented on some new features of local actors involved in the integration steps. She said that in the local administration she has found worthy partners in the larger effort of integration. She finalized her speech by repeating her favorite conclusion remark from the study: Integration starts from Tirana, nor from Brussels. 
Head of the Parliamentary Commission for Integration, Ilir Meta, praised the study and invited the working team to present the main findings to the Commission in order to institutionalize and strengthen the relationship between the parliament and civil society actors and benefit from the additional information provided in the presentation. Meta commented on of the findings of the study that showed the percentage of Albanians that know how to rightly interpret the SAA to be 14.3percent. To the people that this seems a low percentage, Meta said that he is actually impressed by it and that even if you survey the deputies of the Albanian Parliament you might not find a higher value. One of his main concerns was the improper attention and coverage of the media to the process and the specifics of integration. There is complex matrix of requirements that could be as well investigated by the media and presented to the public in order to assist information. Nevertheless, according to Meta, the media is bewitched by the political controversies and cannot see beyond the electoral battles. 
AIIS chairman Albert Rakipi discussed one of the primary goals of this study, to prepare a worthy class of integration skeptics in order to offset the alarmingly high rate of approval that were showing a blind faith in a European miracle.  Albanians are so pro-European that the debate lacks the vigor displayed in other Eastern European countries.    By having taken for granted Albania's European destiny, we have ceased to struggle for a European Albania for its own sake.
The last part of the conference was taken by a question and answer session. First the issue of the dichotomy between security issues, such as corruption and organized crime and political events was analyzed, in order to see that Brussels and Tirana might have different preconceptions about priorities. Former Foreign Minister, Alfred Serreqi presented some objections and questions to the study itself. Other participants presented their questions to Trashani or Meta. The discussion included a view on recent Albanian political developments and the potential effect they can have on the process of integration. On December 1, Albania will be bound to start implementing the Interim Agreement which will impose different customs fees to imports and exports. Some of the participants expressed a concern that this will hurt local producers. This question was addressed by Arben Kashahu, who commented that the different rates would be applied selectively and would boost local products instead of harming them.

ؠThe 2006 survey shows that support for Albania's EU membership has increased significantly since 2005 from a low point of 83.9 percent in 2005 and 84.9 percent in 2004 to 92.5 percent in 2006.
ؠWhile the SAA restored support for the country's EU membership, it did not radically alter perceptions on the challenges and timeframes of the integration process.  
ؠThe majority of those polled support EU membership primarily for economic reasons.  Yet, free movement remains a burning issue with 37 percent justifying their "pro-membership vote" because they expect to move freely in the EU. 
ؠ Respondents continue to see the EU as the most important strategic partner for Albania.  Its first place compared to other states or international organizations remains undisputed as in all previous Perceptions and Realities surveys. 
ؠDespite a higher level of knowledge and understanding of the integration process, serious misconceptions continue. 72percent of the respondents have a wrong perception on the SAA's impact for Albania. 
ؠOverall, respondents are becoming more unified over time in their estimation of the length of the process. Expectations on the length of the process of integration have become more realistic.
ؠAs in 2004 and 2005, the business community is the leading social group in its ambivalent attitude towards EU integration with only 80 percent of business people surveyed supporting EU membership.
ؠAlbanians perceive political conditions as much more important than economic ones for EU integration. Albanian politics, free and fair elections and corruption top the list of factors which are deemed important.  
                    [post_title] =>  Albanians in an overwhelming support for European integration 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 21 - Albanian police announced it set phone numbers to serve immigrants from Greece while they would be back to their country for Christmas holidays. Police said the numbers would serve to get from immigrants their cooperation against organized crime, alleged criminals, to percent criminality at the two countries and arrest wanted persons. The numbers are - tel: 00355 4 254921 and free number  0800 11 00. - fax: 00355 4 253022  - E-mail: policiaeshtetit@moi.gov.al
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            [post_content] => McALLEN, Texas - A 21-year-old illegal immigrant from Albania died when the sport utility vehicle he was riding in rolled over following a 10-mile police chase. Eleven others were injured in the crash, including four Hondurans, four Albanians and three Salvadorans, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Robert Vasquez. The dead immigrant wasn't identified. The chase began when police tried to pull over the SUV for speeding. The driver escaped on foot after the crash, police said. The injured passengers were taken to area hospitals, Vasquez said, but all were in stable condition or better. They were expected to be deported.
            [post_title] =>  Illegal immigrant from Albania dies in crash 
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