U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Inaugurates Renovated Valbona School

TROPOJA, Sept. 19 – The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Stephen Cristina and the Head of the Embassy’s Office for Defense Cooperation (ODC) Major Larry Harrison, together with the local authorities inaugurated Tuesday the only school in the village of

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Opposition calls for Berisha to resign

TIRANA, Sept. 21 ͠Albanian opposition Socialists asked Prime Minister Sali Berisha of the Democratic Party to resign because of his personal interference in the case of the suspension of the flight company Albatros. Berisha went to the parliament to respond

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Interior ministry holds seminar on local governance

TIRANA, Sept. 19 – The Interior Ministry and the Institute for Democracy and Mediation held Tuesday a national seminar on the role of the mediator in the local governance in an effort toward reforms in the local authorities. According to

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Integration minister meets with new EC ambassador

TIRANA, Sept. 19 – Albanian Minister of Integration Arenca Trashani met Tuesday with the new Ambassador o the European Delegation in Tirana Helmut Lohan. Trashani made an introduction to the ambassador on the government’s efforts toward the integration process, reforms

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Mafia style murder in Shkodra

SHKODRA, Sept. 19 – Police reported Tuesday that Clirim Cafi, 33, was killed while he was driving a BMW X5 vehicle in Shkodra. He was killed at 10 a.m. at Qemal Stafa quarter in Shkodra shot some times with a

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Kosova aid for Himara’s earthquake affected families

HIMARA, Sept. 18 – Fifteen trucks with construction materials from Kosova reached Himara to help the local authorities repair the damaged houses from the August quake tremors. The materials were distributed to all the affected areas. The Kosova aid was

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Albania: Amicable relationship among religious groups

TIRANA, Sept. 15 – The U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released recently a report submitted to the Congress by the Department of State on the religious freedom around the world, including Albania. Following is what the report

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Family falls into a fall

ELBASAN, Sept. 19 – One person died and six others of the same family were injured in a car accident Tuesday in the central city of Elbasan in Qafe Thana mountainous road. A Mercedes car fell in to a cliff

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Premier and minister wish good new school year to students

TIRANA, Sept. 18 -Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Minister of Education Genc Pollo celebrated the start of the new school year at Sami Frasheri high school. “Children schooling is the major duty for the government which aims at increasing the

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Council of Europe helps Roma community in Albania

TIRANA, Sept. 18 – The Council of Europe started Monday a project in Albania on raising public awareness and human rights of the Roma community. That is part of a project held in several southeastern European countries. In Albania the

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                    [post_content] => TROPOJA, Sept. 19 - The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Stephen Cristina and the Head of the Embassy's Office for Defense Cooperation (ODC) Major Larry Harrison, together with the local authorities inaugurated Tuesday the only school in the village of Valbona, Tropoja, which was renovated through ODC Humanitarian Assistance funds. The renovation of the 700 sq. meter two-story school building included installation of the new roof, electrical wiring, heating units, plumbing, tiles, windows and doors. The restoration of restrooms and repair of the septic tank, gutters and drainage system were also completed. The building features several classrooms, a kindergarten, a nursery, a library, restrooms, and a kitchen. The total project cost amounted to over $140,000. The improved educational facilities will make it possible for the school age children of this very isolated area, which includes Valbona and neighboring villages, to have better opportunities to learn.The Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) manages the US Department of Defense's Humanitarian Assistance program, providing direct humanitarian assistance to the Albanian people. This program has been active in Albania since 1996, providing supplies, rebuilding schools and medical facilities, developing water projects, and other non-military projects.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 21 ͠Albanian opposition Socialists asked Prime Minister Sali Berisha of the Democratic Party to resign because of his personal interference in the case of the suspension of the flight company Albatros.
Berisha went to the parliament to respond to the requests of the opposition MPs needing his explanation on the Albatros case. Socialists had accused Berisha that he was exploiting his executive powers to suspend the flight company in a form of pressure against the country's President Alfred Moisiu (uncle of the two Albatros owners) to sign the decree on firing Prosecutor General Theodhori Sollaku as the ruling Democratic Party majority had asked since July.
Berisha strongly denied to have exerted pressure saying that he did not interfere in the powers, competencies of the president. At the same speech he also reminded Socialists that they were supporting Sollaku, who he said would remain for a little time in power still, only to keep closed their files involving them with the organized crime. He said they should leave the prosecutor office to deal with the case. Berisha considered the Albatros case a purely legal one that should be left in the hands of the judiciary to deal with. The premier also denied that any member of his close family was either shareholder or employee at the rival flight company Belleair as he was accused for that.
Petro Koci of the Socialists harshly accused Berisha, Transport Minister Lulzim Basha and aviation department head Gazmend Dibra of making a dirty game for political purposes and for taking (Berisha) all the powers under his personal control. Naturally not satisfied with Berisha's responses, Koci came out and asked for his resignation and for taking Basha and Dibra to the judiciary hands. Koci said that Dibra kept four posts at the ministry because of being a good shill in Berisha's service.
A Christian Democratic MP, Nikolle Lesi, also supported his idea that Dibra should be moved from the post.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 19 - The Interior Ministry and the Institute for Democracy and Mediation held Tuesday a national seminar on the role of the mediator in the local governance in an effort toward reforms in the local authorities. According to Sotiraq Hroni of the institute, it aimed at urging the population to take part in the daily life and decision taking.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 19 - Albanian Minister of Integration Arenca Trashani met Tuesday with the new Ambassador o the European Delegation in Tirana Helmut Lohan. Trashani made an introduction to the ambassador on the government's efforts toward the integration process, reforms in the social, economic spheres and also the fight against corruption and the organized crime. The minister also asked the new ambassador to help the country to raise administration capacities needed along the integration road.
Lohan said the Stabilization and Association Agrement, which was signed in June and ratified by the European Parliament earlier this month, wouild help and promote free competition in every sector and also it will bring lower prices.The ambassador did nto forget to remind the minister that the participation of th eopposition in the process was obligatory.
                    [post_title] =>  Integration minister meets with new EC ambassador 
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                    [post_content] => SHKODRA, Sept. 19 - Police reported Tuesday that Clirim Cafi, 33, was killed while he was driving a BMW X5 vehicle in Shkodra. He was killed at 10 a.m. at Qemal Stafa quarter in Shkodra shot some times with a pistol. Police found four bullets shots against him. 
The killer was driving a Vespa motorbike with a helmet leaving toward the Perash quarter after the crime, according to witnesses. Many police forces were sent around the district to check roads and cars. Cafi was known in the northern town as a dangerous person feared of many crimes before. He was accused before in 2002, together with two other persons, for an attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons. But the Shkodra district court declared him innocent. The same year the court declared him guilty of attempted kidnapping a person and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment. Cafi appealed and the sentence was lowered to one-year imprisonment. Cafi was also suspected for human trafficking and other murders.
                    [post_title] =>  Mafia style murder in Shkodra 
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                    [post_content] => HIMARA, Sept. 18 - Fifteen trucks with construction materials from Kosova reached Himara to help the local authorities repair the damaged houses from the August quake tremors. The materials were distributed to all the affected areas. The Kosova aid was accompanied by Jahja Lluka, adviser of the Kosova Prime Minister Agim Ceku. 
                    [post_title] =>  Kosova aid for Himara's earthquake affected families 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 15 - The U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released recently a report submitted to the Congress by the Department of State on the religious freedom around the world, including Albania. Following is what the report wrote on Albania.
The report said that Albania's constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice.There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The generally amicable relationship among religious groups in society contributed to religious freedom.
The majority of citizens were secular in orientation after decades of rigidly enforced atheism under the communist regime, which ended in 1990. No reliable data were available on active participation in formal religious services, but estimates ranged from 25 to 40 percent. Despite such secularism, most citizens associated themselves with a traditional religious group. Citizens of Muslim background made up the largest traditional religious group (estimated at 65 to 70 percent of the population) and were divided into two major communities: those associated with a moderate form of Sunni Islam and those associated with the Bektashi school (a particularly liberal form of Shi'a Sufism). Bektashis were estimated to represent approximately one-quarter of the country's Muslim population. In 1925, after the revolution of Ataturk and the Bektashis' expulsion from Turkey, the country became the world center of Bektashism, although it has not been recognized as such by the Government. In 2005, the Muslim community, historically known as the Albanian Muslim Community, resumed using the name "Albanian Islamic Community."
The Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania (referred to as Orthodox) and the Roman Catholic Church were the other large denominations. An estimated 20 to 25 percent of the population belonged to communities that are traditionally Albanian Orthodox and approximately 10 percent to the Roman Catholic communities. The Orthodox Church became independent from Constantinople's authority in 1929 but was not recognized as autocephalous (independent) until 1937.
Muslims were found throughout the country but were concentrated mostly in the middle of the country and to a lesser extent in the south. The Orthodox lived mainly in the south and Roman Catholics in the north of the country; this division was not strict, however, particularly in the case of many urban centers, which had mixed populations. The Greek minority, concentrated in the south, belonged almost exclusively to the Orthodox Church. In addition to the four traditional religious groups, the country had substantial numbers of Protestants, Baha'is, members of Jehovah's Witnesses, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and other smaller religions. All reported that they freely carried out their religious activities.
According to the State Committee on Cults, during the period covered by this report, there were a total of 245 religious groups, organizations, and foundations other than the 4 traditional faiths active in the country. This number included 34 different Islamic organizations and 189 Protestant (Christian) organizations. The largest foreign missionary groups were American, Western European, and Middle Eastern.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Government at all levels sought to protect this right in full and did not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. According to the 1998 Constitution, there is no official religion and all religions are equal; however, the predominant religious communities (Sunni Muslim, Bektashi, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic) enjoy a greater degree of official recognition (e.g., national holidays) and social status based on their historical presence in the country. All registered religious groups have the right to hold bank accounts and to own property and buildings. Official holidays include religious holy days from all four predominant faiths. Religious movements may acquire the official status of a juridical person by registering with the Tirana District Court under the Law on Nonprofit Organizations, which recognizes the status of a nonprofit association regardless of whether the organization has a cultural, recreational, religious, or humanitarian character. The Government does not require registration or licensing of religious groups; however, the State Committee on Cults maintains records and statistics on foreign religious organizations that contact it for assistance. No groups reported difficulties registering during the period covered by this report. All religious communities have criticized the Government for its unwillingness to grant them tax-exempt status. Since 2003, foreign religious missionaries have been exempted from the residence permit tax.
The State Committee on Cults is charged with regulating the relations between the Government and all religious communities, large and small. Following parliamentary elections in July 2005, a new government came to power in September 2005. In the previous government the chairman of the Cults Committee had the status of a deputy minister and reported directly to the prime minister. In the current government, the Cults Committee has been moved within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports. The Cults Committee recognizes the equality of religious communities and respects their independence. The Cults Committee is charged with working to protect freedom of religion and to promote inter-religious cooperation and understanding. The Cults Committee claims that its records on religious organizations facilitate the granting of residence permits by police to foreign employees of various religious organizations. No organization claimed any difficulty in obtaining residency permits during the period covered by this report. However, as a general rule, foreign religious missionaries were issued only one-year residency permits and not five-year permits, as allowed under law for residents who have been in the country more than two years. The new government promised to issue longer period permits but had not yet begun to do so. No single religious organization has been singled out; all have been treated equally. In 2004, the State Committee on Cults assisted 1,084 foreign missionaries in obtaining residency permits.
There is no law or regulation forcing religious organizations to notify the Cults Committee of their activities; however, Article 10 of the constitution calls for separate bilateral agreements to regulate relations between the Government and religious communities. At the end of the period covered by this report, only the Roman Catholic Church has finalized such an agreement with the Government; this agreement entered into force in March 2005. 
In July 2004, Parliament approved a law on the restitution and compensation of properties confiscated during the communist regime. According to this law, religious communities have the same rights as private individuals in matters of property restitution or compensation. However, the religious communities question the law's limitation on property restitution to 150 acres. The Cults Committee recently announced that the new government intended to establish a fund for monetary compensation. Moreover, the Government announced plans to remove bureaucratic and legalistic hurdles that have hindered the return of confiscated properties. Specifically, the Government will no longer require that religious organizations produce titles and deeds proving original ownership before making restitution.
                    [post_title] =>  Albania: Amicable relationship among religious groups 
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                    [post_content] => ELBASAN, Sept. 19 - One person died and six others of the same family were injured in a car accident Tuesday in the central city of Elbasan in Qafe Thana mountainous road. A Mercedes car fell in to a cliff at 6 p.m. police could not say which was the reason of the fall. All the injured were not in life-threatening conditions.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 18 -Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Minister of Education Genc Pollo celebrated the start of the new school year at Sami Frasheri high school. "Children schooling is the major duty for the government which aims at increasing the contemporary level through deepening reforms," said Berisha, who also highly considered the reforms undertaken this year, the informatization of the schools and other steps undertaken from authorities. He said that creating better and appropriate conditions at schools was an ambitious project for the government," he said, adding that the budget was already there to turns these dreams into a reality. Berisha also promised the link of all schools with the internet in a near future.
Minister Pollo said that the reforms are being reflected with the transparency of the process, development of the curricula, reform of the text books and other steps. Pollo said there was a big budget to rehabilitate schools and that central authorities would negotiate with the local governance institutions to make investment more efficient. Hundreds of thousands of pupils and students started Monday the new school year in 1,800 elementary nine-year schools and 370 high
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 18 - The Council of Europe started Monday a project in Albania on raising public awareness and human rights of the Roma community. That is part of a project held in several southeastern European countries. In Albania the Council will train authorities "to improve monitoring and evaluation to raise awareness of Roma culture and combat prejudices" in a two-year project, according to a statement. The project plans to open Internet sites, hold regional workshops on Roma culture and media, arts festivals and produce advertising spots. The Roma, estimated as 80,000 to 100,000 out of Albania's 3.2 million population, are officially recognized as a linguistic minority. They are part of a group of about 10 million people found in almost all Council of Europe member states. The project, "Equal Rights and Treatment for Roma," from the Council of Europe and European Commission, applies to Roma communities in Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Although the Roma communities have been in Europe since the 14th century, very often they are not recognized by the majority society as a fully fledged European people, suffering from rejection and persecution, the Council said.
                    [post_title] =>  Council of Europe helps Roma community in Albania 
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            [post_content] => TROPOJA, Sept. 19 - The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Stephen Cristina and the Head of the Embassy's Office for Defense Cooperation (ODC) Major Larry Harrison, together with the local authorities inaugurated Tuesday the only school in the village of Valbona, Tropoja, which was renovated through ODC Humanitarian Assistance funds. The renovation of the 700 sq. meter two-story school building included installation of the new roof, electrical wiring, heating units, plumbing, tiles, windows and doors. The restoration of restrooms and repair of the septic tank, gutters and drainage system were also completed. The building features several classrooms, a kindergarten, a nursery, a library, restrooms, and a kitchen. The total project cost amounted to over $140,000. The improved educational facilities will make it possible for the school age children of this very isolated area, which includes Valbona and neighboring villages, to have better opportunities to learn.The Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) manages the US Department of Defense's Humanitarian Assistance program, providing direct humanitarian assistance to the Albanian people. This program has been active in Albania since 1996, providing supplies, rebuilding schools and medical facilities, developing water projects, and other non-military projects.
            [post_title] =>  U.S. Deputy Chief of  Mission Inaugurates Renovated Valbona School 
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