Kosova After Final Status

By Janusz Bugajski As the moment of truth approaches for Kosova, it is time to look at the impact that international decisions will have for the future of the Balkans. In sum, the U.S. and the EU will need to

Read Full Article

The importance of family reputation in Albanian political life

By Nicola Nixon During the 1990s, all the European post-communist countries made a great display of rejecting ‘communism’. This took different forms in different countries but there are certain similarities across the board. For example, in most former communist countries,

Read Full Article

A clear EU perspective for the Balkans

By Olli Rehn I am glad to discuss the Western Balkans in this highly qualified company and here in Rome. Italy is a strong supporter of the EU’s enlargement policy and a great advocate of the European perspective for the

Read Full Article

Keeping alive the EU perspective

By Albert Rakipi There are at least two reasons which require a serious reassessment of the EU perspective as it is understood from the Western Balkans and from Brussels. First, with the final status of Kosova process coming to an

Read Full Article

Do things have to get worse for them to get any better ?

By Fatos Lubonja The most disgusting thing, but at the same time absurd, unacceptable, repulsive and intolerable, which has characterised politics and the politicians in our country (traditionally), is the exercising of that irresponsible and arrogant “pragmatism,” according to which

Read Full Article

2007: A Year of Promise and Peril

By Janusz Bugajski A year of major international decisions is fast approaching. U.S. policies during 2007 will determine the long-term security of several crisis regions. The status of Kosova is the most important unresolved item on the Balkan agenda. Most

Read Full Article

The Appropriation of the Albanian Model

By Adrian Klosi Perhaps very few people have heard of the small rural settlement in the North of The Netherlands known as Makkinga, but there is every chance we will be hearing more and more of this location in the

Read Full Article

The Future of U.S Foreign Policy

By Janusz Bugajski Foreign policy has become a vital issue in American politics as candidates begin to line up for the 2008 presidential elections. With the death toll mounting among U.S. troops in Iraq, public support for military engagement is

Read Full Article

The Albanian blackout syndrome

By Alba Cela Here we are once again, trapped in the dark cold and boring nights of the Albanian winter. It’s the sixteenth season in a row with eyes glued to the clear sky wishing for rain. Sixteen years are

Read Full Article

Serbia against Serbia

By Jerina Zaloshnja Serbia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Dra۫ovi桴ook advantage of the two day summit of the OSCE in Vienna at the beginning of the week, to publicly reiterate Serbia’s stand towards the Kosova issue. According to Dra۫ovi桡ny kind of

Read Full Article
WP_Query Object
(
    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 30
            [paged] => 70
            [error] => 
            [m] => 
            [p] => 0
            [post_parent] => 
            [subpost] => 
            [subpost_id] => 
            [attachment] => 
            [attachment_id] => 0
            [name] => 
            [static] => 
            [pagename] => 
            [page_id] => 0
            [second] => 
            [minute] => 
            [hour] => 
            [day] => 0
            [monthnum] => 0
            [year] => 0
            [w] => 0
            [category_name] => op-ed
            [tag] => 
            [tag_id] => 
            [author] => 
            [author_name] => 
            [feed] => 
            [tb] => 
            [comments_popup] => 
            [meta_key] => 
            [meta_value] => 
            [preview] => 
            [s] => 
            [sentence] => 
            [fields] => 
            [menu_order] => 
            [category__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [ignore_sticky_posts] => 
            [suppress_filters] => 
            [cache_results] => 1
            [update_post_term_cache] => 1
            [update_post_meta_cache] => 1
            [post_type] => 
            [posts_per_page] => 10
            [nopaging] => 
            [comments_per_page] => 50
            [no_found_rows] => 
            [order] => DESC
        )

    [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => category
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => 30
                                )

                            [include_children] => 1
                            [field] => term_id
                            [operator] => IN
                        )

                )

            [relation] => AND
        )

    [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                )

            [relation] => 
        )

    [date_query] => 
    [post_count] => 10
    [current_post] => -1
    [in_the_loop] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [current_comment] => -1
    [found_posts] => 721
    [max_num_pages] => 73
    [max_num_comment_pages] => 0
    [is_single] => 
    [is_preview] => 
    [is_page] => 
    [is_archive] => 1
    [is_date] => 
    [is_year] => 
    [is_month] => 
    [is_day] => 
    [is_time] => 
    [is_author] => 
    [is_category] => 1
    [is_tag] => 
    [is_tax] => 
    [is_search] => 
    [is_feed] => 
    [is_comment_feed] => 
    [is_trackback] => 
    [is_home] => 
    [is_404] => 
    [is_comments_popup] => 
    [is_paged] => 1
    [is_admin] => 
    [is_attachment] => 
    [is_singular] => 
    [is_robots] => 
    [is_posts_page] => 
    [is_post_type_archive] => 
    [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 4f88b1683be4cc3ee33a46cc08f5c722
    [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 
    [thumbnails_cached] => 
    [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => 
    [query] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 30
            [paged] => 70
        )

    [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS  wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts  INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1  AND ( wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (30) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 690, 10
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101269
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
As the moment of truth approaches for Kosova, it is time to look at the impact that international decisions will have for the future of the Balkans. In sum, the U.S. and the EU will need to balance the potential instabilities arising from Kosova's final status.
UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari is presenting his report on Kosova to the Contact Group. His likely solution will be "supervised independence," whereby NATO and the EU will control Kosova's security and international relations while Prishtina will assume most other governmental functions.
Ahtisaari's proposal is likely to separate independence from sovereignty, in that Kosova may not be afforded full statehood and will not automatically gain a UN seat. The calculation is that Russia will approve if sovereignty is not made explicit. The UN Security Council will not pass a resolution to recognize Kosova as a sovereign state but will leave such decisions to individual countries.
Supervised independence with precise roles for NATO and the EU, will be acceptable to most Kosovars. However, international recognition as a sovereign state remains the key variable. Without the prospect of statehood, the possibility of instability in Kosova may escalate.
The U.S. will probably act with like-minded allies to formally recognize Kosova as a sovereign state. Other powers would then follow suit, including most EU members and the Muslim world. Russia would be unable to extract significant advantages by further postponing Kosova's statehood.
The biggest question for the Balkans is which scenario will prove more destabilizing: Kosova's independence and sovereignty or its maintenance as a non-sovereign entity. In sum, which is the more dangerous prospect: a Greater Serbia or a pan-Albania?
Following international acceptance of Kosova's statehood, Belgrade will vehemently complain but its case will be weakened by several factors. Serbia lost Kosova seven years ago when NATO intervened to prevent the genocide of the Albanian majority by the Milosevic regime. A state that planned to murder and expel its own citizens and lost a war in the process is not entitled to keep former victims and their territory within its borders. 
The international recognition of Kosova will simply ensure de jure what has existed de facto since 1999 under a UN and NATO umbrella. Moreover, the Kosovar population is entitled to have their status defined and secured so democratic construction and economic development can proceed with the prospect of eventual EU and NATO entry.
Serbia can no longer launch military attacks or use nationalist militias against its neighbors. Cutting off relations with major European states will be counter-productive for Belgrade. It would further retard Serbia's EU and NATO prospects, undermine relations with immediate neighbors, and create a rift with Washington, which has been highly supportive of Serbia's international integration.
A second scenario, in which Kosova's statehood is denied, will prove more threatening to regional security. The credibility of political institutions in Prishtina that the U.S. and the EU have spent years constructing would evaporate as public frustration and political radicalism would delegitimize the government and provide new opportunities for irredentist militants.
Extremism in Kosova could destabilize several neighboring states. Continuing ambiguity over statehood would discredit democrats and encourage radicals to undermine Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia by launching new guerrilla movements, challenging the integrity of state borders, and provoking inter-ethnic conflicts.
The credibility of international institutions would be sorely tested by a new Balkan insurgency. NATO's military presence, which has been steadily scaled down, would need to be reinforced and the U.S. and its allies could be faced with a major foreign policy failure if any Balkan state begins to unravel. Years of political and economic investment would be wasted and anti-Western groups could exploit the crisis to undermine trans-Atlantic unity and European stability.
Given a choice between statehood with institutional supervision on the one hand, and state failure with regional conflict on the other, there is only one realistic option for Kosova's final status.
                    [post_title] =>  Kosova After Final Status 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => kosova-after-final-status_101269
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101269
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [1] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101289
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Nicola Nixon
During the 1990s, all the European post-communist countries made a great display of rejecting 'communism'. This took different forms in different countries but there are certain similarities across the board. For example, in most former communist countries, notions of women's equality were rejected in favour of a return to 'traditional' family values; the upshot of which has been a massive reduction of women's involvement in the public sphere, particularly in politics, and Albania is no exception. Gender equality was therefore dumped. Notions of collectivity such as cooperative organisations or even sometimes simply 'cooperation', were similarly jettisoned, as tarnished with the brush of Marxist-Leninism. 
Yet in all cases, this was largely window-dressing. Many of the underlying social habits that had been formed during and due to communist authoritarianism, in particular countries, slipped through the net and are still making their presence felt in contemporary societies. In Albania, one of these is the significance of family background as the basis for reputation in public life. Rather than notions of individual merit, family reputation can clearly be seen as a dominant force in public political life, all the way to the top. And it is this which provides the context in which to understand Sali Berisha's rather shocking attack on Edi Rama at last week's opening of the DP local election campaign.
During the communist period in Albania, 'biografi' - one's family's reputation - was everything. The Party, through the secret services, maintained a grip on people's actions and words through collective punishment of one's family. And this didn't have to mean one's immediate family. The actions of one member could resonate out to one's cousins, aunts, uncles and other distant relatives. It was one of the more sinister ways in which totalitarian power was maintained. For example, if someone escaped Albania or committed a 'crime against the state' such as criticising the state openly, their entire family would be punished through numerous means. Among these, beyond imprisonment, were forced relocation of whole families to isolated regions, the reduction in employment or study prospects, and the reduction and careful monitoring of family movements. I have heard numerous stories that start with such statements as; "I couldn't go to university because my cousin was imprisoned", "My movements were monitored by the sigurimi because my uncle got out to Greece" etc. In other words, individual worth was judged on the basis of one's family background. While those at the bottom end of the rung were therefore constantly concerned with what their family members were doing, those at the top were constantly monitoring and judging their actions on that basis. 
This concept is ever-present in Albania today and constitutes, to my mind, one of the most dramatic ways in which Albanian society is still living, in a sense, in the communist period. Family reputation remains one of the strongest points of judgement of a person rather than an assessment on the basis of his/her actions. It is very common to hear the pronouncement of one person in the public eye on another, starting with, "Well, his father wasŢ, "Her family has an excellent reputation etc." This deeply ingrained societal tendency accounts in part, of course, for the high degree of nepotism in such things as employment in Albania.
If family reputation - as a collective entity - is everything, then of course scandal within any family taints all members of the family in the public eye. Given that the denigration of one's family background is likely therefore to have an effect on public opinion in Albania, it is not so surprising to read that the brunt of Berisha's attack on Rama had little to do with Rama's performance in public life, but more to do with scandalising his familial reputation. "When Edvin was young," stated Berisha to a packed audience of DP supporters and the media, "he ruined the wedding of his brother. Broke everything and destroy the ceremony. He was telling him why did you take my wife." Relevance? An internal family scandal that denigrates Rama's reputation more effectively than anything he could say about his political actions. Berisha went on to mention Rama's divorces and insinuate that Rama carries on 'orgies' with public money. One can hardly be the member of a 'normal' family if, as Berisha proposed, "he is neither a man nor a woman". But the key statement, that evidences this ongoing obsession with family reputation was when the Prime Minister suggested that Rama "doesn't have a family because he doesn't believe in it."
To the outside observer, the first impression of these and the numerous other strange things that emanated from Berisha that night is that they simply represent a lack of political maturity. But what I am suggesting is that these comments represent something considerably more sinister: the ongoing use of authoritarian forms of political power, that have their roots in the communist system, in contemporary Albanian political life. And until such time as there is a serious assessment of the forms of social and political power that operated during that system, and a rejection of those rather than the superficial rejection of 'Communism', they are likely to continue to dominate Albanian political life and hinder its development.
                    [post_title] =>  The importance of family reputation in Albanian political life 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-importance-of-family-reputation-in-albanian-political-life_101289
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101289
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [2] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101194
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Olli Rehn
I am glad to discuss the Western Balkans in this highly qualified company and here in Rome. Italy is a strong supporter of the EU's enlargement policy and a great advocate of the European perspective for the Western Balkans. I thank you for your support and commitment. 
Let me begin by referring to the results of the December European Council. After the Summit we had headlines indicating that "EU leaders are closing doors to the East". This was misleading spinning. 
The correct headlines should have read "the EU keeps its doors open for South Eastern Europe". This door is kept open for Turkey, Croatia and the other countries of the Western Balkans. Once any of these countries meets the EU's accession criteria, she can, on her own merits, walk through that door.
The first countries that walked through the EU door were Bulgaria and Romania. It is worth celebrating, even if the rest of Europe would not necessarily feel like it. This is a major step for the 30 million new EU citizens in these countries. The fifth enlargement round was completed. 
In other words, the EU Summit was not about closing doors, but building a renewed consensus on enlargement. It will enable to maintain the EU's soft power to encourage democratic and economic transformation. Moreover, the December European Council reconfirmed the European perspective for the Western Balkans. This is an important commitment. 
For Serbia the forthcoming elections will be a crucial opportunity to take a step forward towards the European future that its citizens deserve. 
I expect that a new reform-oriented and pro-European government in Belgrade will make rapid progress towards the EU. Thanks to its institutional capacity, Serbia should be able to implement the Stabilisation and Association Agreement quickly once the negotiations will be concluded, and thus open the door to applying for membership.
I look to the new government to demonstrate its clear commitment to achieving full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal without delay. As the EU Member States have many times reaffirmed, full cooperation with the ICTY is an essential condition for the pace and conclusion of the SAA negotiations.
After the SAA, the next logical step for Serbia would be to achieve candidate status for EU membership. As soon as Serbia has achieved a solid track-record in implementing the SAA, the EU would be able to consider an application for membership. This is the clear policy of the EU, as reiterated in the conclusions of the European Council last December. The SAA is thus the gateway to applying for membership.
Kosovo is also moving towards critical times. The EU wants to ensure that the status process succeeds and leads to a sustainable settlement. 
The status settlement needs to be politically and legally clear and set out a vision for Kosovo's future development. Kosovo's status question is sui generis, and sets no precedent. 
This will give a further impetus for the Kosovo authorities to progress on reforms in the key areas of the rule of law, economy and public administration. We need to guarantee a successful transfer of the responsibility from the UN to an International Civilian Office which will be a guarantor of the status settlement. As final status moves closer, preparations for the EU role in the future international presence are intensifying. The EU's engagement in Kosovo is likely to include our contribution to the International Civilian Office, including an ESDP operation in the rule of law and an EU presence to implement the Community financial assistance.
In Kosovo, working groups are currently preparing for transition in the specific areas of constitution, civil administration, economy and the rule of law. 
In the Commission's view, the status should be clearly defined, respect the Contact Group guiding principles and lead to a sustainable, multiethnic and democratic Kosovo. Kosovo should be able to engage in international contractual relations with the International Financial Institutions and to negotiate an SAA with the EU. 
That's why the EU will welcome the submission of the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari's proposal after the Serbian elections, and support his efforts. Italy will have an important role to play as a member of the UN Security Council.
For the countries of the Western Balkans, another door was opened in December, when these countries established a free trade area (CEFTA). They replaced a patchwork of 32 bilateral trade agreements with one regional trade agreement. This is a strong signal to potential investors that the region is building an attractive, stable and predictable environment for foreign investments.
For ordinary people, the doors will open when the EU finalises the visa facilitation negotiations. The high cost of visas, long queues and rigid bureaucracy have created obstacles to the free movement of people. This is a first step towards visa free travel.
Last July I attended the EXIT rock festival in Novi Sad in Serbia. I talked to young Serbs and other young people from the region. The possibility to travel freely in Europe was at the top of their wish list. They do not see the EU as a bureaucratic monster, but as a ticket to peace, liberty and better economic opportunities.
Let me recall the mood in summer 2005: Do you know who cheered most in our neighborhood after the French and the Dutch referenda? The Turkish nationalists, the Serbian radicals, and the Russian panslavists. 
Why? Because they thought that the EU would now turn into itself, withdraw its commitments, and become too weak to project its soft power of peace, stability and European values in its neighborhood. 
It is our joint mission to prove those radical nationalists wrong by restoring a renewed consensus on EU enlargement. 
After the Dutch and French no-votes, many politicians were ready to relegate enlargement straight to Serie B - or even out of the league. But instead of an almost sure relegation we are still firmly in Serie A, or the Premier League. We will for sure make it to the Champions' League again. I am glad Italy is playing on our side and in our team.

This speech was delivered at  the International Conference  The European perspective for the Western Balkans  organized by the  Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in   Rome, 16 January 2007.
                    [post_title] =>  A clear EU perspective for the Balkans 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => a-clear-eu-perspective-for-the-balkans_101194
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101194
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [3] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101195
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Albert Rakipi
There are at least two reasons which require a serious reassessment of the EU perspective as it is understood from the Western Balkans and from Brussels. First, with the final status of Kosova process coming to an end, it is the time to move from a security agenda to a development one. In this context  only a  clear   status  of Kosova from  a legal and practical perspective  will   help  create the environment  where potential security problems  will derive  not from ethnic issues but from the region's economic problematique. 
The second reason is related to the need for a strategic role of EU in the region. From this perspective as the Amato Commission warned almost one year ago, the real referendum on the EU's future will take place in the Balkans. Practically in the Western Balkans or "little Balkans" since after Bulgaria's and Romania's EU membership it looks like a small island surrounded by EU countries which, in foreign policy, may well make or break the Union's outward ambitions.
My second consideration is about the Italian initiative and Italy's role to reopen the debate on EU perspective in the Balkans in a time when the Union itself is involved in a process of deep reflection on constitutional and other derivatives of the deepening process of integration. In this context, Italy's role is crucially important not simply because Italy is the EU front line state with our region. This is just one part of the story. As one of the key players of EU, Italy has strategic capacities to play an important role in the Balkans.
Another new element in Italy's and EU rethinking and commitments in the Balkans is the real fact that the motives need no longer be the spillover effects of Balkans instability. For a relatively long time, the European Union and especially the EU front line states like Italy have been motivated to intervene to a certain extent for security reasons that have been related to organized crime, forced migration and alike.
I don't   mean that  the Balkans is free of  such threats  but parallel with  the negative reasons  that have   motivated  the outside   assistance and intervention, now there are positive    reasons  for  outside commitment  to  the region. Opportunities for Italy and the EU itself are slowly materializing in the Balkans.
Now let me to come to my contribution to the issue of European perspective as seen from the Balkans through three dimensions 
First: What is European Union in terms of perceptions and expectations?
Second: How is the issue of local ownership understood both by the elites and societies in our region? 
Third: How is the EU membership perspective serving as a driving force behind the state building process in the Balkans? Actually I will bring  evidence mostly  from Albania  but nevertheless  I think that  a number of  issues  to a certain point  might be relevant  for  other countries  too. 

EU Strategically the most 
important actor
The European Union is considered to be the most important strategic actor  in Albania.  According to   the latest study of Albanian Institute for International Studies the EU occupies the first place  among  ten  countries or international institutions. 
Albania signed the SAA on June last year making a new qualitative step in its relations with the European Union. The road to signing this agreement was relatively  long - it took  almost three years and half- compared to other countries in the region. And the reason has little to do with the technical conduct of negotiations. Instead, Albania needed to demonstrate that the political process and institutions were functioning more or less properly or at least differently from the previous years. Nevertheless this agreement remains the most important one the post communist country has signed so far.
Actually the  European Union  is much more present and more  visible  for the hole society. The level of support for EU membership  is also exceptional in Albania. According to the same study more than 92 percent of Albanians would support  EU membership in the case  of  potential referendum. And this level of support  has been consistent  during the last six years. 
There is no doubt  that  this level of  support  is a good thing  and should be exploited by  the political elite and other  relevant institutions in the country in order to undertake the necessary reforms in the political and economic realms. A more careful analysis of such popular support for EU membership in a poor country like Albania  shows   exactly   the  integration  stage and the structure of  Albanian economy. The real test will be  the  SAA which will affect - at least initially- negatively  the Albanian national economy. Given Albania's experience  with bilateral Free Trade agreements with other Balkan countries, the capacity of Albanian economy  to operate and survive in a larger and more  competitive market  is low. Nevertheless, it is  clear that there is no other development alternative for South East European countries.

The issue of local ownership 
Considering the European Union as strategically the most important actor and having popular support  for EU membership  is just the nice part of the story.
Another perspective that needs to be analyzed is the issue of local ownership of EU Integration process. The real question is  the  commitment and  the capacity  of local elites to reclaim ownership of the process.  This in fact represents   the proper  approach and at the same time the essential  challenge. I will bring few details   in order to illustrate that the EU agenda  is simply considered as  a Brussels agenda and not as a national program  to develop  the economy and to strengthen  state capacities.
In Albania  there are  grave misperceptions regarding the European Integration process. Many perceive it  as a miracle that will come  from Brussels  and not as something that can be achieved through internal reforms  that will resulted in a consolidated democracy with a functioning market economy. For example the majority  of Albanians  that would vote for EU membership believe  that  the EU membership will improve their living standards.  
Despite a higher level of knowledge and understanding of the European integration process further misperceptions  continue to prevail. So a substantial part of  Albanian society - about 40 percent think that Brussels should accept Albania before  it is ready for EU membership. The third misperception is related to the expectations that Albanians have from a potential EU membership.  According to surveys carried out during the last six years, free movement is  perceived as  the most important benefit  of EU membership

EU Membership - A driving force to state - building 
process

If we look at today's Balkans from  the state capacity perspective it is not  difficult to realize that  the state is weak  in terms of its ability to provide  for its citizens  public goods like, security, a  functioning legal system, a certain standards of educations, health care, infrastructure, roads, communications or other  basic services that a state is supposed to provide.
The state  in   the Balkans is weak for  complex reasons: the state tradition  which does not go very far,  the  very low level  of industrialization and  economic development, the agrarian structures  of national economies., the  nature of the previous regime  and economy  including the conflicts and wars  of the last decade just to mention a few of them.   With such a  historical background  it is no wonder that the state building  process is still under  way  in our region.
The state building process is one of the most important issues facing the world community because it presents the modern threat to national, regional and international security.  The state building process actually is the core of the International Institutions / Organizations including EU.
During the last decade and especially after the end of the Kosovo war, the prospect of EU membership for the weak Balkan countries has been e real driving force of state building process. Compared to other major hotspots in the world map, the Balkans is one of the regions where state building has a realistic chance to succeed in the short-term through a unique combination of internal and external factors. Primary among these is the presence of the European Union offering perspectives, guarantees and aid that virtuously feeds into the state-building cycle.
Analyzing the dynamic of EU intervention in the Balkans after the first crisis of 1991 it is notable that the increasing role of EU actually concentrated on the core of the  security problem in today's Balkans: the  weak state.  In order to overcome state weakness the European Union - and other players too - are involved in day to day state-building process in countries like Albania Macedonia and other Balkan countries by promising them EU membership. The local elites are under the pressures to undertake the required reforms in order to meet EU criteria.  Further the EU conditionality serves as a basis for domestic legitimacy of the government in Balkan states. Failing to meet EU conditions means otherwise losing government legitimacy which is an essential feature of weak states.  
In Albania  the scale of foreign  and especially  EU intervention in internal politics  has been relatively higher  than in other countries but that is because  local elites see politics as a zero sum game which sometimes undermines  the minimal consensus necessary for democracy .
Another crucial aspect of  EU state building dimension in the Balkans  is  related  to state capacities . In Albania for example the EU is building or   reorganizing state institutions such as police force,  custom services ,  infrastructure like roads communication   etc.  
For the arguments mentioned above   keeping alive the EU perspective is  crucially important   for the  future of the region.
The latest stage of affairs  in the region suggests the need for a change in  EU approach   towards the region.  A   change in a positive direction   would be to see the region not only as a threat but  as an opportunity as well.
Further in the last four or five years  the EU or some  of its member states including Italy have identified  organized crime  as  a main security  threat emanating from the Balkans. This is only partly true. The fact is that organized crime is not  a security threat per se.  The organized crime and other  similar phenomena are  simply  the symptoms   of state weakness in  the Balkans including Albania. Consequently  the proper   way to address  issue like organized  and crime corruption   is to invest  and strengthen state capacities in the Balkans.
Another observation for the  idea how  and why  to make changes  in EU approach toward the Balkans. Rule of Law is an essential features of  EU model of state functioning.  For  more  than one decade the EU  have  been investing in institutional  building   in Albania and other Balkan countries.  Much was needed  and thanks to EU assistance  there is good progress  in  Albanian  institutional capacities. However   investing in Institution-building  is in one way or another  a top down approach. Probably time has come if not to give up the top down approach at least for a combined perspective: Parallel with investment in institutional capacity the weak state in this region can be strengthened  with  strategic economic  investment 
 Let me be more clear   by bringing  here what  a Great Thinker like Karl Poper  reminds  us.
 In one of his latest interview  he  tell us that  Gorbachev   did something  grotesque, ridiculous. Gorbachev   established a stock exchange in Moscow . We have seen pictures  of its  formal  opening with great celebration.. But the Stock exchange  was  really ridiculous simply because  there was no  stock and no money to buy stock at that time in Soviet Union. Albania did something similar and certainly  more ridiculous . It was  the year 1992 when the government decided and established the Bursa in Tirana which practically still is not working although they have office , code of procedures  like in other western countries.
 What I am trying to say  is not  that  the top  down approach  is not any more  relevant  in state building process. Rather the Balkan experience shows  that  a combined perspective of investment on institutional capacities and strategic economic investment would   really help strengthening the state's capacity in the Balkans.   
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
This speech was delivered by Dr. Albert Rakipi in the Conference European Perspective for the Balkans , Italy's role" organized by the Ministry  of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Rome  January 16, 2007
                    [post_title] =>  Keeping alive the EU perspective 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => keeping-alive-the-eu-perspective_101195
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2007-01-19 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101195
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [4] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101183
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2007-01-12 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2007-01-12 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Fatos Lubonja
The most disgusting thing, but at the same time absurd, unacceptable, repulsive and intolerable, which has characterised politics and the politicians in our country (traditionally), is the exercising of that irresponsible and arrogant "pragmatism,"  according to which "all means may be used in political battles, ignoring the fact that these "means" could be totally against the interests of societyŢ
I believe we all know that our politics have been and still are permeated by this spirit. This is not news. It is no rocket science to understand that our Opposition hopes and prays, day and night for snow to fall, for power cuts, all the set backs possible, so that the Government will fall as soon as possible; because the last thing the Opposition wants is for the Government to create election standards, let alone score a success. In the final account, has not Edi Rama called this Majority an "invading" force? On the other hand, no great intelligence is called for to grasp the fact that the Majority hopes and prays that the Opposition will make as many 'faux pas' as possible, hopefully even refuse to participate in the elections, for the sole reason of allowing the Majority to rule without any trouble. Suffice it to mention that all the Majority requires is the support of the Internationals.
What could be said when you find yourself up against a situation like the situation of this Winter, which has jeopardised having elections in the country and which brings back to centre-stage the image of a primitive Albania, a pre-democratic country, is that this kind of pragmatism has its own periods when it is implemented in a peaceful manner and periods when it is exercised with virulence. This Winter we are experiencing one of its explosive phases which makes us focus even more profoundly on this pragmatism. This virulent period could, in other words, be summed up with the well known expression, "our side must make things as bad as possible for the other side so our side reaps the rewards."
If we go back into the history of these two parties, we would soon draw the conclusion that things could not have been otherwise, because this political class has this kind of pragmatism rooted deep in its genes, inherited from the Mother that spawned it. (Enver Hoxha managed to isolate Albania for his own power, with spine-chilling, destructive consequences.) Let us not forget that, in the period of '91, after losing the first elections of 31 March, the DP commenced a destabilization action that resulted in mass scale looting and shocking destruction. The philosophy was that the worst possible situation had to be created for the government, so that it could be declared powerless and then early elections announced. And in fact the action was a success, although it must be admitted that at the time there were many factors, also psychological, which justified it. '97 was also characterised by this philosophy practiced by both parties, I would say. 
The Opposition could hardly wait for the situation created by the collapse of the pyramid schemes, because when their votes were stolen in 1996 it was incapable of creating any truly civil, political movement. Even when the crisis reached its climax it thought exclusively of its own power. However, on the other hand, Berisha preferred to create a situation of North-South chaos and civil unrest, which brought the Internationals to Albania, prior to his departure from the scene.
From those years to date many things have changed. And here, it is well worth while reflecting on how far we have advanced in reducing this kind of irresponsible pragmatism of our politicians-in terms of this being an indication of the slightest progress made of democracy as the power of the people. Today, no one can undertake destabilising acts like those of a decade ago, with the hope that such a thing would bring them to office. But to what degree can this be attributed as a merit to our politicians or as a merit to our public? I believe that chiefly this should be dedicated to the citizens of the country who have gained greater political maturity and no longer follow our politicians blindly into destructive adventures, but also because today they know their political class, they know who they are dealing with and for whom they nurture no illusions whatsoever, but also because the process of privatization has left far less space for destruction. In other words, in this aspect, we have also taken a few steps forward as against the nineties'. However, on the other hand, in comparison with the minimal demands to be called a democracy, we are still miles behind, and this is because, as I stressed earlier on, the essence of pragmatism developed on the basis of the poor work by your opponent and not on the basis of your own good work, remains exactly the same in our politics. Was it not like this even in the relatively peaceful times of Nano, when he used to say to Sali Berisha, "you are my best card to guarantee I remain in office," bearing in mind that the latter had less credibility due to 1997.
The crisis of this winter has enhanced the opinion that the time has come to find ways of putting an end to this kind of warped pragmatism, because people are truly exhausted and "scarred" by it. In other words, if we were to use positively the expression, "things must get worse before they get any better,"- accepting that the worst has reached a climax, - this situation should raise our awareness towards the fact that the time is now here to see the birth of a civil spirit or movement against this political culture of irresponsible pragmatism and arrogance. In my opinion, in its cultural essence, it must seek the growth of the capacity to be rational, look beyond the present and beyond oneself; it must have two key principles at its centre such as opposition to this evil; the principle of placing respect for the law above respect for the party that uses any and every means and the principle of placing the interests of the represented above the interests of the politicians.
                    [post_title] =>  Do things have to get worse for them to get any better ? 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => do-things-have-to-get-worse-for-them-to-get-any-better-_101183
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2007-01-12 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2007-01-12 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101183
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [5] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101161
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2007-01-05 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2007-01-05 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
A year of major international decisions is fast approaching. U.S. policies during 2007 will determine the long-term security of several crisis regions. The status of Kosova is the most important unresolved item on the Balkan agenda. Most capitals seek a prompt decision over Kosova's statehood to remove ambiguities that undermine security, prevent cross-border cooperation, and discourage foreign investors.
The Kosova decision presents an opportunity and a risk for the wider region. An internationally mandated solution limiting Kosova's independence will be more destabilizing than full statehood. It would unsettle existing political institutions and spur radicalism among a growing army of frustrated youths. In the event of a decision for Kosova's full independence, there is little the Serbian government can do except exclude itself from the EU and isolate itself from neighbors.
Washington seeks to secure the remaining piece in the Balkan puzzle in order to turn responsibility for the entire region over to the EU. The White House wants to focus attention on the Middle Eastern crisis where there are no easy solutions.
The war in Iraq has seriously eroded the credibility of the Bush presidency and the effectiveness of American leadership. In order to restore its global stature, the U.S. will need to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan and not become embroiled in civil wars that provoke anti-American terrorism. 
If Iraq descends into complete ungovernability, political chaos, ethno-religious cleansing, and sectarian civil war, public pressure for a full U.S. military withdrawal could become irresistible. If the Iraqi operation is judged to be a foreign policy failure then the implications for U.S. policy will be profound.
Damaged American prestige and an unwillingness to engage abroad for fear of repeating its Middle Eastern errors, will encourage further instabilities. Iran and North Korea will challenge the security of their neighbors by pursuing nuclear weapons programs. A U.S. evacuation from Iraq and a growing Iranian threat would endanger Israeli security, undermine the unity of Lebanon, and increase threats against U.S. forces throughout the Persian Gulf region.
Perceived U.S. weakness in the Middle East would embolden the regime in North Korea to escalate its threats against South Korea and Japan. Pyongyang would calculate that in the middle of an election campaign with a much weakened presidency Washington will lack the determination to thwart North Korea's regional ambitions. 
A depleted American military capability could revive a number of disputes, including the Taiwanese-Chinese conflict over sovereignty and the Pakistani-Indian dispute over territory. A weakened and internally preoccupied America will certainly unnerve close U.S. allies around the world, making them more vulnerable in dealing with regional challenges. 
An Iraqi fiasco and a further deterioration in Afghanistan would damage NATO's status as the most effective international alliance. And the EU would increasingly find its "soft security" diplomacy an inadequate tool without an effective military component.
Russia will also seek to exploit America's hesitation as a global leader. In addition to increasing pressures on its near neighbors in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova to rejoin the Russian orbit, Moscow will use all available policy tools to regain control over former East European satellites, create splits within the EU, and drive wedges between Europe and America.
In his last year in office, President Putin will be intent on displaying Russian power on the global stage. One cannot discount that Putin will run again for office if there is mass demand for the present Constitution to be changed to enable a third presidential term.
With all the uncertainties and instabilities looming and the U.S. preoccupied with elections and a need to redefine its international role, there will be new opportunities for "rogue states" and terrorist networks to assert themselves. Unless the U.S. together with its allies can implement an effective international agenda, 2007 will demonstrate that the world is heading toward greater insecurity without a confident and protective America.
                    [post_title] =>  2007: A Year of Promise and Peril 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => 2007-a-year-of-promise-and-peril_101161
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2007-01-05 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2007-01-05 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101161
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [6] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101051
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Adrian Klosi
Perhaps very few people have heard of the small rural settlement in the North of The Netherlands known as Makkinga, but there is every chance we will be hearing more and more of this location in the future. Like its provincial brother, Maastricht, Makkinga is becoming a shining example throughout the whole of Europe, which could one day be adopted by the rest of the world at large.
This northern village in The Netherlands has removed all traffic signs and road markings. As items that are no longer required, the stop signs, one way signs, traffic priority signs, cross section lights, parking signs, road signage, the prohibited areas, together with the sign posts and the intersection lights are all piling up in the storage depots of the Town Hall and the local Police Station of Makkinga waiting to be recycled and put to better use than disciplining the public in traffic.
Expectations are high although this project is still in its experimental stages. However, so far, so good, the project ahs been very successful. With feelings of special pride, the Chief of the Traffic Police under the local Town Hall of Makkinga, H. van der VŮexplained before the cameras of a German public television station the idea and system he designed. Drivers, being license holders, know traffic rules only too well. There is no reason for them to violate the white lines on the road, when someone is crossing the road. There is also no reason why they shouldn't give way to the car traveling along the main trunk when they are coming out of a side road, the driver gives way to the vehicles to his right and goes first before traffic coming from his Left. It is impossible for them not to drive at walking pace when passing children's playgrounds. It is impossible for them not to give way to the pedestrian or the cyclist, when they are turning left or right and the cyclist is crossing the road. And so it goes onŮthere is no reason why the Traffic Rules should be violated. In many European cities, particularly in the older and more scenic ones, with their greenness, alleyways and historical buildings, people complain about the density of the road signage, the endless stop and start signs. If you walk through a German public garden, you can read signs that say pedestrians are allowed to walk on the grass, but bicycles are prohibited; that owners of dogs and cats must clean after their pets in public parks and deposit this waste in special bags you can find lining the walkways; signs that say you can dump bottles in specially designated rubbish bins to be recycled; bins are emptied at certain hours of the day and never on a Saturday or Sunday, and so on. In other words, sensing sign posts as being things that are unnatural and unnecessary for people of sound reasoning, the public of Makkinga are showing signs of advancing towards emancipation and self discipline and it appears that the rest of Europe is with them. There are two pillars to the system of Mr. van der V: the pedestrian always has right of way; secondly, the people who move around Makkinga make eye contact at the decisive moment. That split second of eye-contact and the understanding is clinched as to who gives way to who. This Chief Traffic Warden in this Dutch province was boasting in vain. It would come as no surprise if he were summoned suddenly to the European Office of Patents and asked to register the ownership of his invention.
Great injustice! He was also wrong when he declared before the cameras, "Ours is the first town in Europe that manages its traffic without road signs." Naturally, he didn't know any better, not because he was being mean. He could not have known that the capital city of Albania has long since been managing (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say- conducting,) road traffic and it has been doing this without having the slightest need for the example of a certainŮMakkinga.
In Tirana, and perhaps in the majority of the other cities of Albania, the right hand does not have the right of way before the left hand, when you drive out of a side road, there is no reason why a driver should stop and wait for the pedestrian, the old man with his walking stick, a mother carrying her child across the road, because they are the ones who wait for you, in our capital, a one way street has a meaning only when it is very narrow with enough room for one and a half vehicles, there people can walk down the road on both sides without any problem at all. It is true that there are traffic lights in Tirana, but stopping at a red light is an exception today, because the rules on these streets are that the more powerful vehicles (that is, the big four wheel drive vehicles, police vehicles, politicians' vehicles, the luxury vehicles of the Mafia etc), shoot through the red lights, the rule being that there are no traffic lights and the exception being, there are red and green lights. In Tirana, drivers don't stop in front of a sign that says, "STOP," but they do stop, lights flashing when they have to pop out of the car to do something, they double park and leave their tail lights flashing in the middle of the Rruga of Kavajes or "Rruga e Durresit" and rush off to buy a lottery ticket, or they stop in the middle of the road on noticing a next door neighbor and exchange a few sentences, who, surprisingly has bought the same kind of Mercedes Benz; or they stop to change money with the street dealers in the middle of the boulevard, or outside of Albtelecom etc. etc.
In Tirana there are no signs warning play grounds ahead, because there are no playgrounds, because in the areas where there should be playgrounds, there are only rows and rows of apartment blocs. In Tirana, on the high speed motorways, there are no signs indicating flyovers or overhead bridges, because there aren't any. Pedestrians perhaps deftly take advantage of cases, when the traffic is so dense that you can meander through it easily, like a lost deer, from one footpath to the other, or when the road is clear (always with the risk of failing to notice a musketeer who hurtles around the corner). At the major roundabouts, like the one at Wilson Square or Zogu i Zi, the pedestrian is non existent, no lights have been envisaged for the pedestrians, even the political battle over Zogu i Zi took place to decide whether or not vehicles were going to drive parallel to one another or at different levels and not to decide whether underground or overhead passes should be inserted for pedestrians. Then why is there any need for road signs? For traffic lights? So the same two principles assume value in Tirana as well, the same as in Makkinga, in other words the principle of priority and the principle of eye contact. With a few differences: in the case of the first principle, it is not the individual who comes first but the vehicle. An individual has two legs and can cross the road only with the good heartedness of the driver. The streets have been built for vehicles, says the brain of the Albanian, driver, whoever crosses them risks their lives. A symbol of this reality is the appearance of the villager who crosses the motorway, straddling the low concrete wall dividing the motorway down the middle, pulling his bags over with one hand and trying to keep his body out of the range of the lightening flashes of the cars as they speed past him on both sides of the barricade going at at least 120 kilometers an hour in the fast lanes. The exact same goes for the second principle; in Tirana, due to the lack of road signs and markings and respect for the occasional bent old sign, obstinately standing there on the side of the road, there is a second of eye contact between driver and pedestrian; the only difference is that whilst in Makkinga, after this quick glance, way is granted to the weaker (and then to the party that actually has right of way), in Tirana it is always the stronger party that gets rights of way (perhaps an exception is made for a pretty girl).  The stronger, as we said earlier on, are the big luxury cars like the four wheel drives and the Mercedes Benz-s, mostly stolen, the police cars, and the vehicles of the Mafia with their DR number plates etc. Eye to eye contact and a certain degree of natural good understanding of many people actually results in the fact that there are fewer accidents on the streets of Tirana than could be anticipated. So, in view of the fact that the outcome is almost the same (although we don't have footpaths, lanes for cyclists, neither underground or overhead passes, nor lanes for coaches or tramways, or playground areas for children), in other words very few victims, why should Makkinga be considered any more advanced than Tirana?
Europe invented all those road signs during the last Century, from signage that catered for traffic with horses and carts and coaches up to modern vehicles of this age. Today, when all the drivers, pedestrians, cyclists have found themselves amongst rules that govern movement on their own, all the different the signs and the signals are becoming superfluous. And this is possible because compassion has not been lost to mankind, on he contrary it has increased.
Tirana went from the mules and pack horses of the Old Bazaar, through an interval of traveling everywhere on a bicycle and packed to the limit urban buses, to the origins of today of owning the most luxurious of vehicles down to the most tin can vehicles on four wheels on the whole continent. In all this cacophony of vehicles, the "strongest" is imposing his will the most and compassion is flying out the window. It is precisely this speed of things that is leading us in the opposite direction from Europe.
                    [post_title] =>  The Appropriation of the Albanian Model 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-appropriation-of-the-albanian-model_101051
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101051
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [7] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101052
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
Foreign policy has become a vital issue in American politics as candidates begin to line up for the 2008 presidential elections. With the death toll mounting among U.S. troops in Iraq, public support for military engagement is rapidly falling and President Bush's approval ratings have plummeted. 
The Iraqi imbroglio has highlighted three basic problems in Washington's strategy in the Middle East. First, America evidently cannot handle insurgencies. Over thirty years ago, the Vietnam war demonstrated that in the full glare of the world media, a democratic state cannot compete with an unaccountable enemy that murders civilians as an essential part of its strategy and where every massacre is presented as an American defeat.
Insurgencies become even more difficult to combat where the indigenous government is weak and where foreign recruits are mobilized and supported by neighboring states. In the middle of such a conflict, it is difficult to win people's "hearts and minds" as Vietnam proved.
Second, America cannot handle civil wars except when they are exhausted, as was the case in Bosnia-Hercegovina. In Iraq, the insurgency has deliberately provoked sectarian and inter-communal violence that is steadily escalating into a full-scale civil war in which the government exerts little authority and the Iraqi security forces exercise little control.
Third, many critics of White House policy contend that the U.S. or any other power cannot implant durable democracies in unsuitable political environments. This is especially problematic when the American military is widely seen as an occupying force without which the fragile administration in Baghdad would rapidly collapse.
The Middle East is not post-communist Eastern Europe where democratic traditions have some history and where the citizenry hold clear aspirations to "rejoin the West." Moreover, each European country was given the prospect of assimilating with the EU and NATO if it fulfilled certain conditions, with the promise of long-term stability and prosperity. Such pledges have not been offered to any Middle Eastern state.
Although no country is fully immune from democracy, Arab societies are traditionally based on the principles of patriarchy, hierarchy, and authoritarianism. Moreover, religious authorities have assumed the role of national leaders, especially in the Shiite community, and demand blind obedience to religious edicts and the rejection of "Western liberalism." In the middle of a violent insurgency in a country on the verge of civil war and challenged by religious dogmatics and a secessionist movement among the Kurds, the implanting of democracy seems a utopian proposition.
Although it is easy to criticize President Bush over his Iraq policy, thus far no one has detailed any credible and workable alternative. Democrats and Republicans remain internally divided as to solutions and timetables for troop withdrawal. Some want a quick exit; others seek a longer-term phased pullout, while others still even advise an injection of more U.S. forces in the hope of crushing the various rebellions. 
Clearly, no strategy can bring instant success or even a durable victory. A fast military departure could precipitate even greater chaos and ungovernability culminating in the collapse and potential partition of the Iraqi state. A slow pullout will result in escalating U.S. casualties and even greater public opposition at home. In both scenarios U.S. credibility will be severely damaged around the world.
At the same time, other foreign policy challenges are growing. The success of the NATO mission in an increasingly unstable Afghanistan cannot be guaranteed. Iran and North Korea are rapidly developing nuclear capabilities and challenging regional stability. The upcoming U.S. presidential elections will also focus on the question whether the invasion of Iraq, designed to combat terrorism, actually created the conditions for expanding the terrorist threat by increasing anti-Americanism and bringing new recruits for the jihadists.
There are no easy solutions to growing foreign policy threats but the next U.S. President must find a way to convince American voters and America's allies that he has the right answers.
                    [post_title] =>  The Future of U.S Foreign Policy 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-future-of-u-s-foreign-policy_101052
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2006-12-15 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101052
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [8] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 100999
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Alba Cela
Here we are once again, trapped in the dark cold and boring nights of the Albanian winter. It's the sixteenth season in a row with eyes glued to the clear sky wishing for rain. Sixteen years are not a short time. In most economic schemes they represent the long term. In 2004, an independent study published by the UNDP and the AIIS, showed that the energy crisis translates immediately into 'missed production' or a hit to GDP growth. The study also listed recommendations ranging from the increase of systematic imports to the construction of a new hydropower plant. None of this seems to have been taken into account. If UNDP and AIIS were to write the study once again they would have no need to change their section on 'causes of the crisis.' What's even worse a new manipulative strategy seems to have been designed in order to coerce the country into the passive acceptance of the conditions. KESH refuses to release the regular hours of shortages, making any possible plan to cope with the hourly ration, impossible. I wonder if they think that by irritating the people hard enough they will submit and say "Just tell us when you will cut the power and we won't complain."
Stagnant problems and structural mishaps stand in the way of all reform in the country. Without energy there is no fuel to progress, without change there is no energy. One cannot blame a single actor. The government fails to invest in the major infrastructure, KESH fails to be transparent and financially stable, the Albanian consumer fails to pay regularly, the EU fails to understand that we desperately need the Bulgarian power plant and finally God fails to send us rain!  On a final account it seems this crisis reflects a wider one, the one that stands in the pillars of our politics and mismanagement of economy, the crisis within all of us.
                    [post_title] =>  The Albanian blackout syndrome 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-albanian-blackout-syndrome_100999
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=100999
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [9] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 101000
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Jerina Zaloshnja
Serbia's Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Dra۫ovi桴ook advantage of the two day summit of the OSCE in Vienna at the beginning of the week, to publicly reiterate Serbia's stand towards the Kosova issue. According to Dra۫ovi桡ny kind of settlement for Kosova will be a bad settlement, implying that Serbia seeks at least a preservation of the status quo in Kosova, an option that is not only useless, but also dangerous.
Simultaneously, the Serbian FA Minister had an intensive round of bilateral meetings with the FA Ministers of the OSCE member countries, seeking their support on the issue of the status of Kosova. This is neither an episodic or isolated effort. There is no doubt whatsoever that  Serbia has thrown itself into a diplomatic offensive on a broad scale to prevent the proclamation of the status of Kosova at the end of January next year. A few days ago, President Tadic visited Berlin and other top level Serb officials have visited or held meetings with London, Paris, Beijing, and naturally, with Moscow. Diplomatic sources in Tirana admit that there is an escalation of Serbian diplomatic activity in the major capitals, canvassing for support against the independence of Kosova. Officially this is a diplomatic campaign to protect Serbia, but in essence it is nothing other than a campaign against Serbia itself. Serbia against Serbia. Dardan Velija, advisor to Prime Minister Ceku says that Serbia against Serbia is not a new phenomenon. If there is anything positive here, it is the fact that Serbia against Serbia is happening via diplomatic means and not military as we saw a decade ago in the Balkans.
It is na෥ to think that Kosova, administered by the United Nations for the last seven years could possibly return to the Serb fold. Moreover, Serbian statesmen themselves are convinced that the best solution for Kosova is its independence and discretely, among themselves, they don't hesitate to express these stands. 
A number of Serbian academicians and scholars have long since been insisting that the preservation of Kosova's status quo has always constituted a fundamental obstacle to Serbia from the viewpoint of the development of democracy and the return of Serbia to the folds of the European family.
Russia has also joined the campaign of Serbia  against  Serbia. For interests that have nothing to do either with Serbia or with Kosova, or even with the Balkans for that matter, Russia is strongly supporting precisely the preservation of the status quo in Kosova. According to top Russian officials, Moscow backs a compromise settlement and it will use its veto on the Security Council if Serbia does not agree with the proposal of Ahtissari envisaged to be put forward publicly, immediately after the elections in Serbia. In other words, Russia is arming Serbia with a "new weapon", Moscow's right of veto on the UN Security Council. 
Parallel to the diplomatic offensive of Serbia it seems that the government of Kosova and the other institutions have stepped up contacts with important centers of world policy making. Obviously for both sides it is clear: the International Community will be making the final decision on the issue of Kosova's status based on the reality of developments. However, the difference is that the Serbians continue to build up their diplomatic offensive on the basis of a false reality which not even they themselves believe.
                    [post_title] =>  Serbia against Serbia 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => open
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => serbia-against-serbia_101000
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101000
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

        )

    [post] => WP_Post Object
        (
            [ID] => 101269
            [post_author] => 68
            [post_date] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
            [post_date_gmt] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
            [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
As the moment of truth approaches for Kosova, it is time to look at the impact that international decisions will have for the future of the Balkans. In sum, the U.S. and the EU will need to balance the potential instabilities arising from Kosova's final status.
UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari is presenting his report on Kosova to the Contact Group. His likely solution will be "supervised independence," whereby NATO and the EU will control Kosova's security and international relations while Prishtina will assume most other governmental functions.
Ahtisaari's proposal is likely to separate independence from sovereignty, in that Kosova may not be afforded full statehood and will not automatically gain a UN seat. The calculation is that Russia will approve if sovereignty is not made explicit. The UN Security Council will not pass a resolution to recognize Kosova as a sovereign state but will leave such decisions to individual countries.
Supervised independence with precise roles for NATO and the EU, will be acceptable to most Kosovars. However, international recognition as a sovereign state remains the key variable. Without the prospect of statehood, the possibility of instability in Kosova may escalate.
The U.S. will probably act with like-minded allies to formally recognize Kosova as a sovereign state. Other powers would then follow suit, including most EU members and the Muslim world. Russia would be unable to extract significant advantages by further postponing Kosova's statehood.
The biggest question for the Balkans is which scenario will prove more destabilizing: Kosova's independence and sovereignty or its maintenance as a non-sovereign entity. In sum, which is the more dangerous prospect: a Greater Serbia or a pan-Albania?
Following international acceptance of Kosova's statehood, Belgrade will vehemently complain but its case will be weakened by several factors. Serbia lost Kosova seven years ago when NATO intervened to prevent the genocide of the Albanian majority by the Milosevic regime. A state that planned to murder and expel its own citizens and lost a war in the process is not entitled to keep former victims and their territory within its borders. 
The international recognition of Kosova will simply ensure de jure what has existed de facto since 1999 under a UN and NATO umbrella. Moreover, the Kosovar population is entitled to have their status defined and secured so democratic construction and economic development can proceed with the prospect of eventual EU and NATO entry.
Serbia can no longer launch military attacks or use nationalist militias against its neighbors. Cutting off relations with major European states will be counter-productive for Belgrade. It would further retard Serbia's EU and NATO prospects, undermine relations with immediate neighbors, and create a rift with Washington, which has been highly supportive of Serbia's international integration.
A second scenario, in which Kosova's statehood is denied, will prove more threatening to regional security. The credibility of political institutions in Prishtina that the U.S. and the EU have spent years constructing would evaporate as public frustration and political radicalism would delegitimize the government and provide new opportunities for irredentist militants.
Extremism in Kosova could destabilize several neighboring states. Continuing ambiguity over statehood would discredit democrats and encourage radicals to undermine Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia by launching new guerrilla movements, challenging the integrity of state borders, and provoking inter-ethnic conflicts.
The credibility of international institutions would be sorely tested by a new Balkan insurgency. NATO's military presence, which has been steadily scaled down, would need to be reinforced and the U.S. and its allies could be faced with a major foreign policy failure if any Balkan state begins to unravel. Years of political and economic investment would be wasted and anti-Western groups could exploit the crisis to undermine trans-Atlantic unity and European stability.
Given a choice between statehood with institutional supervision on the one hand, and state failure with regional conflict on the other, there is only one realistic option for Kosova's final status.
            [post_title] =>  Kosova After Final Status 
            [post_excerpt] => 
            [post_status] => publish
            [comment_status] => closed
            [ping_status] => open
            [post_password] => 
            [post_name] => kosova-after-final-status_101269
            [to_ping] => 
            [pinged] => 
            [post_modified] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
            [post_modified_gmt] => 2007-01-26 01:00:00
            [post_content_filtered] => 
            [post_parent] => 0
            [guid] => http://46.183.120.20/tiranatimes/?p=101269
            [menu_order] => 0
            [post_type] => post
            [post_mime_type] => 
            [comment_count] => 0
            [filter] => raw
        )

    [queried_object] => stdClass Object
        (
            [term_id] => 30
            [name] => Op-Ed
            [slug] => op-ed
            [term_group] => 0
            [term_taxonomy_id] => 30
            [taxonomy] => category
            [description] => 
            [parent] => 0
            [count] => 721
            [filter] => raw
            [cat_ID] => 30
            [category_count] => 721
            [category_description] => 
            [cat_name] => Op-Ed
            [category_nicename] => op-ed
            [category_parent] => 0
        )

    [queried_object_id] => 30
    [post__not_in] => Array
        (
        )

)

Latest News

Read More