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

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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

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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

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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

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Greek economic agenda waning

By Mentor Nazarko In its policy towards Albania, over the past fifteen years Greece has had two principle action agendas to realize: a political agenda, with a historical background, and the other agenda, with an economic background. Under the government

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Nato Future Still In Question After Summit

By Janusz Bugajski NATO’s “transformation summit” in Latvia was intended to map the course of the Alliance for the next decade and adapt it both politically and militarily to 21st century security threats. However, despite words of agreement, serious questions

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Russian demands over Kosova

By Janusz Bugajski Western officials have assumed that Russia will accept the majority decision by the Contact Group and the UN Security Council in support of Kosova’s de jure independence. However, concern is now growing in Washington that the Russian

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Talking Today’s Serbia

Jelica Minic came to Albania this October for the conference “The final status of Kosova and Security in the Balkans”, an event organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies. An economist by education, Minic’s experience varies from being active

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Importance Of Black Sea For Allied Security

By Janusz Bugajski There are four reasons why the Black Sea region is important for the security of Europe and the Atlantic Alliance: state integrity, military security, economic cohesion, and international cooperation. First, with regard to state integrity, weak states,

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The 41 Golgotha-s of one massacred girl

By Alba Cela After the news of the girl that was brutally massacred and found in pieces at the lake of Zall Herr, 41 pair of parents went to the National Morgue in Tirana to check whether this poor creature

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                    [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 
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                    [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 
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                    [post_date] => 2006-12-08 01:00:00
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                    [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 
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                    [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 
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                    [post_date] => 2006-12-01 01:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Mentor Nazarko
In its policy towards Albania, over the past fifteen years Greece has had two principle action agendas to realize: a political agenda, with a historical background, and the other agenda, with an economic background. Under the government of Mr. Simitis, the expectations were surpassed in the economic agenda, with wholesale penetration of Greek capital into our country and throughout the whole region. The historical agenda faded somewhat, which, undoubtedly has been carefully filed in the offices of the chancellery, to be retrieved at a later date.
 We should all actually be happy with this kind of a vision. But what will happen, when, with the advent to office of the new Nea Demokratia government, the economic agenda will fade and the historical agenda will re-surface, in the face of a political class like ours, which does not have the strength to cope with the other side? Perhaps the Greek companies can preserve their lead in the field of mobile telephone communication, with the help of this government that does not liberalize the market and has blocked the penetration of the third operator, but this cannot last forever. 
And the superiority of the banks is shifting: the penetration of major Italian banks is overturning the partial supremacy of the Greek banks. Something to this effect may have happened in the sector of oil distribution, etc. In exchange, Greece may be satisfied that it is making progress in the construction of five or six cemeteries for the Fallen of a war waged on Albanian territory that they regard as being glorious. However, the insistence in such an undertaking, is not welcomed by the Albanians, and the image of Greece, so very necessary for the comfort of Greek business here, is threatened. 
The same thing happens, when there is a stubborn persistence of unilateral undertakings of granting citizenship to the so-called "homogenous" citizens, although this is an act that runs completely counter to European Conventions that seek a reduction of cases of dual citizenship. There is a reaction from personalities who influence local public opinion, there are comments made by frustrated citizens, fed up with the latest Greek decision etc; all of this has an impact on this perception. Should there be a persistence in such propaganda undertakings, that provoke the Albanians and create a hostile climate towards the Greeks?
Sense of justice?
The relations between our two countries are languishing under the full scale invasion of Greek politics, which does not indicate even a minimal sense of justice in dealing with the issues of the past, that retain validity today too. It is true that when two neighboring countries do not have an equal level of development, the bigger country benefits the most from the relationship, however shameless abuse due to size, international status, temporary advantage, fails to create a good opinion amongst the Albanian public. 
For example, the obligations of the Treaty of Friendship are being ignored, especially Article 15, "on the lifting of obstacles to allow the entitlement of assets on mutual territories." The Law of War and the associated legislative framework block the functioning of this article, stopping access of the Albanians to their assets in Greece. Greek authors once again come to our aid, accurately confirming this statement, in short, that the Law of War exists and that it blocks access of Albanians to their assets on Greek territory, and which are worth a great deal today. 
Somewhere back around 1999, the Greek press published a reserved document of the foreign policy of this neighboring country, which underlined that everything must be done to obstruct, at all costs, the creation of an anti-Greek climate in Albania, particularly through the media, and this, first and foremost, was linked with the need of business to work calmly. An entirely legitimate objective of the neighbors, however, when the historical agenda has the upper hand, then it poisons the social environment with the phantoms of the past.
                    [post_title] =>  Greek economic agenda waning 
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                    [ID] => 100942
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2006-12-01 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2006-12-01 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
NATO's "transformation summit" in Latvia was intended to map the course of the Alliance for the next decade and adapt it both politically and militarily to 21st century security threats. However, despite words of agreement, serious questions remain over NATO's future.
During the months leading up to the summit, a number of factors lowered expectations over the results. Several member states remain deeply divided over NATO's post-Cold War purpose and the extent of Alliance operations outside Europe.  
Most capitals agree that NATO should develop from its traditional role as a defender of Europe to a global player capable of acting and intervening anywhere in defense of Alliance interests. Nevertheless, the scale and nature of such global involvement is under dispute. 
NATO's operations now range far beyond traditional European boundaries as 50,000 soldiers operate on four continents. Their missions include peace-keeping in the Balkans and Afghanistan, supporting African Union forces in Sudan's Darfur region, and delivering humanitarian aid in Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake and in the U.S. following Hurricane Katrina. 
The military operation in Afghanistan has shown the limits of NATO's transformation as not all members have signed up to the actual business of fighting or provided the necessary troops and equipment. In Afghanistan, NATO finds itself engaged in the most substantial and difficult military mission it has ever conducted. NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) now patrols most of the country and provides security and reconstruction assistance. 
Washington's priority has been to enhance Alliance capabilities and partnerships for future operations such as the one in Afghanistan. However, enlisting concrete Allied commitments in terms of troops and resources has proved difficult and does not bode well for future missions. 
The primary dispute in Afghanistan is over the limits some countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, have placed on their military presence. Troops from these countries are not deployed to the more dangerous parts of the country while NATO operations are obstructed because commanders must work through national capitals to mobilize units and this slows down and endangers the mission.
NATO leaders are also seeking to interconnect the Alliance more effectively with other multi-national institutions, including the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, non-governmental organizations, and development agencies. 
Additionally, Washington in particular seeks to develop institutional partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea so they can cooperate more closely with NATO in joint missions. However, such proposals are strenuously opposed by France as a means of enhancing U.S global dominance. Paris remains wary of American intentions and calculates that the "globalization" plan will become an instrument of U.S. foreign policy in which NATO will become the primary instrument.
Although Riga was not an enlargement summit, the U.S. leadership wanted the allies to reaffirm NATO's open-door policy for potential new members. And indeed, positive signals were sent to countries such as Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia and they seem destined to receive formal membership invitations at the next NATO summit scheduled for 2008.
In search of a bigger support base, Alliance leaders also offered "partnership for peace" (PFP) agreements to Bosnia-Hercegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, with the prospect of eventual NATO membership. This move has generated some controversies in the Balkans.
It is worth remembering that Serbia has conducted minimal military reforms while some commanders are still protecting the indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic. While Serbia should certainly become a NATO candidate, it needs to be held to the same standards as its neighbors and not receive special favors because it remains the primary source of Balkan instability.  
Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica welcomed the PfP decision and asserted that it should be emulated by the European Union because "setting conditions is no way to integrate." Kostunica is either displaying his arrogance or ignorance of the EU, where integration is based on strict conditions and equally applied to all candidate states.
                    [post_title] =>  Nato Future Still In Question After Summit 
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            [6] => WP_Post Object
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                    [ID] => 100883
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2006-11-24 01:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
Western officials have assumed that Russia will accept the majority decision by the Contact Group and the UN Security Council in support of Kosova's de jure independence. However, concern is now growing in Washington that the Russian regime may veto the entire process.
Moscow is not only pushing for an indefinite delay of decisions on Kosova's status, but publicly opposes any solution that is imposed on Belgrade. Moreover, it is claiming "inalienable rights of state sovereignty" for Serbia and opposes Kosova's membership in any international organizations, including the UN.
Moscow is seeking several Western concessions in return for its neutrality over Kosova. First, it wants Western acquiescence that it will be the primary security provider in the post-Soviet region. Second, it is pushing for a halt to further NATO expansion eastward. And third, it seeks to minimize U.S. military involvement among Russia's neighbors. 
Moscow will also use Kosova as a precedent along Russia's borders. In recent months, the Kremlin has become more aggressive toward its most vulnerable neighbors, especially Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. The Kosova solution may embolden Russia to conclude that it has greater international legitimacy in supporting territorial separatism elsewhere.
In Ukraine, Putin is heating up the issue of the Crimean peninsula and encouraging the Russian majority to ignore the authority of the central government. With deep divisions in Kyiv, the Russian administration aims to extend its influence by playing the separatist card. Such a policy will also gain Moscow bargaining chips with the U.S. in future regional disputes, generate anxiety among other neighbors, and keep Ukraine tethered to Russia.
In Moldova, Russia has increased its pressures to steer the pro-Western government away from its aspirations for NATO accession. During the past year, Moscow has cutoff energy supplies and imposed embargos on Moldovan exports to Russia. It also backs the Transnistrian authorities and their pursuit of a separate state that could one day merge with Russia. 
However, Moscow has not openly recognized Transnistrian independence as it seeks to manipulate the issue to keep the Moldovan government off balance. Its priority is to keep Moldova out of NATO by maintaining the threat of separatism rather than fully realizing it.
In Georgia, the Kremlin has also imposed trade sanctions and energy embargos and supported referenda on independence for the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As with Moldova, Moscow will not support Georgia's division outright, as it prefers to maintain pressure on the current government until it falls into the Russian orbit and surrenders its Western aspirations.
While the U.S. and most of EU states seem committed to Kosova's independence, they will need to bargain with Russia over its stance on final status. The fundamental error was made a decade ago when Russia was included in the Contact Group at a time when its power was in serious decline. And the West will now have to pay the consequences of raising Russia's international stature.
Although Washington is unlikely to yield to all of Moscow's demands in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, it may decide to acquiesce to some of Russia's regional policies by muting its criticism of the Kremlin and tempering its support for further NATO enlargement.  
Of course, any perceived U.S. appeasement of Russia's neo-imperialism will send negative reverberations throughout Eastern Europe. In the long-term, the most effective way to stifle Russia's ambitions is to partially step back when necessary, for example when negotiating over Kosova, and then take the offensive for further NATO enlargement when Kosova is resolved.
Kosova leaders must also remember their strategic allies long after independence is achieved. When the Russian authorities seek lucrative business deals in a sovereign Kosova, officials should understand the Kremlin's political calculations and remember its objectives. Russia cannot be a genuine ally of any European state as its goals primarily serve Moscow's expansionist interests and counter those of an expanding Europe and an enlarging NATO.
                    [post_title] =>  Russian demands over Kosova 
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                    [post_date] => 2006-11-10 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2006-11-10 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => Jelica Minic came to Albania this October for the conference "The final status of Kosova and Security in the Balkans", an event organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies. An economist by education, Minic's experience varies from being active in governmental levels to the NGO high ranks. In 2000 she was assistant Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia. Currently she works for the Institute of Economic Sciences in Belgrade and is one of the founders of the European Movement in Serbia, one of the most influential non-governmental organizations in the country, established 1992. The main aims of the organization are to promote European integration of Serbia, regional cooperation, decentralization and strengthening of the local communities, entrepreneurship, as well as to support young people to travel and communicate with neighbouring and other European countries. One of their latest programs was gender oriented. Together with the daily news Blitz in Belgrade they elected a virtual Women Government. This Women Government is supposed to comment on everything that is going on in our society from a different angle, from the perspective of active, publicly known and very distinguished ladies, according to Minic. It was a specific breakthrough because from a list of 161 candidates, the readers of the newspaper had the possibility to elect the Women Government of 21 from an excellent pool of women experts. It was also the way to show to the politicians in Serbia, as well as to the wider public that these ladies could become very representative candidates at different parties' lists at the forthcoming parliamentarian elections in Serbia.
Tirana Times approached her in order to learn more about the diverse and interesting experience and points of view that she brings to Tirana. 

TT- There have been intensive recent developments in Serbia, even after the complete closing of the Milosevic chapter. Montenegro is now independent and the negotiations with the EU are frozen due to the international arrest mandate about Ratko Mladic. Where does Serbia stand now? What are the main challenges that the European Movement faces in this context?
Serbian political scene has been very turbulent for almost two decades. The most recent events like assassination of the Prime Minister Djindjic three years ago, fulfillment of the commitments towards the Hague Tribunal, independence of Montenegro, Kosovo status talks, the referenda for the new Constitution, Parliamentary elections to be held in December etc. are making citizens in Serbia to feel very frustrated and insecure. The European Movement in Serbia is very much focused on promoting the European perspective of Serbia and regional cooperation in order to counterbalance all internal difficulties and possible tendency of self-isolation.

TT- What is the level of domestic support for the integration process inside Serbia?
There is a paradox in that respect. The political consensus is not matching properly the social consensus which is very high - over 70% of population supporting European integration of Serbia since the year 2000.

TT- This conference is the first occasion in which Serbian scholars from Belgrade come to Tirana and discuss the future status of Kosovo. What does this tell us about the level of academic cooperation between Belgrade and Tirana? Should it change?
The level of academic cooperation between Belgrade and Tirana is unfortunately very low. The cooperation between our business people, NGOs, media, parliamentarians is slightly better. But we need also a strong political support for further cooperation and it will come. Those who are able to anticipate the future will be the winners.

TT- You launched forward some very interesting thesis about economic possibilities of cooperation. What are the main areas where you think cooperation is mostly necessary between Serbia and Kosovo but also in the general regional context?
JM- Kosovo and Serbia were integral parts of the same country, of the same state, of the same economy so the economic roots are the same and also knowledge about each other is high. Unfortunately we had the dissolution of Yugoslavia and conflict in Kosovo as well. Now we are in front of the solution of the situation after the conflict, by the international governance in Kosovo practically.  Hopefully, we are going to reestablish normal links between Kosovo and Serbia again. We recently made some analysis of trade flows and movement of people between Kosovo and Serbia and we learned a lot. This was the first time that serious analysis was done by the European Movement in Serbia and the Kosovo Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED) and we identified plenty of common problems: lack of regulated flows but also a lack of liberal trade, lots of illegal flows, gray and black economy. Unfortunately, we are also on the line of illegal transport of people, of arms and drugs. That is something that we have to fight against together. We have to legalize our trade flows, to improve the knowledge of our offer and demand but we should also start to think about future investments in the region. We should, in a way, anticipate the future free trade area in Southeastern Europe, and Kosovo and Serbia are going to be part of that area. We should think about the common energy market because we are part of that. We are also part of the master plan for the development of the transport infrastructure in the Western Balkans and some of the important main roads are going through Serbia and Kosovo. It is crucial for our development to modernize the railways, build new highways, and repair existing roads then to work together in building new water supply systems. Kosovo had problems with water and Serbia has water resources that can be used to support Kosovo. There is a lot of interdependence between the two which should be strengthened. All prejudices should be demystified, the agenda of the status talks should be put on the discussion table and analyzed, and if necessary some mutual compensation provided. But, we should start with open minds to help each other, not to confront each other any more.

TT-Your views and your voice seem unrepresentative to us. Are they really so? Is there a group of people in Belgrade that shares your opinions or do you feel out of place and unsupported? 
JM-I am definitely not alone. There are many people who see the future in that way. Our citizens in a way are more open minded than our politicians. It's not only in the case of Kosovo's future. They are simply more realistic and more pragmatic. When we organized public polls in Serbia we noticed that politicians sometimes do not take care of what their electorate will say. Citizens are speaking openly for themselves. There are people who have already tried to reestablish or preserve contacts that they had with Kosovo, people that would be ready to become engaged in Kosovo, experts form different fields. One day and it is not such a distant future, perhaps 10 years or even in 5 years, new generations will establish new contacts. We are going to live in the common space trying hardly to become integral part of the European Union. This is one of the common aims of everybody in the region and it is very important to start to lobby together, to start together to change the image of the region and to improve it. In this way it will be much easier to attract foreign investors. It will facilitate the circulation of everyone in the region including experts that can share the rare resources that we have in the field of human capital. 

TT- This question is in regard to a comment or a plea that you made in the conference when you asked Albanians to help Serbia. It is quite refreshing to hear such an interesting request. Could you please elaborate a little bit on what exactly do you mean by Albanians helping Serbia?
JM- Serbia is in a difficult situation having in mind all that happened in the nineties. We have now a democratic government in Serbia, which in fact needs support from everybody to stay democratic. We are now going to have new elections, hopefully we are going to elect again a new democratic government which will again need help from the European Union, from the international community, from the region and specifically from Albania and other former Yugoslav republics with whom we had or had not conflicts. As it is our duty to support all democratic governments in the region, it is also the duty of the government in Serbia to welcome all efforts of democratic oriented forces in Kosovo, Albania and the region. We should start to think about each other and our mutual interdependence and we should start to send positive signals to each-other, to announce publicly some good messages. Otherwise we are going to keep ourselves in a ghetto of negative energy and bad will.  

TT- Finally, how do you see the future of Kosovo? What, according to you, will be the outcome of the Serbian elections and constitutional referendum? How will that affect Kosovo?
I see Kosovo as an independent entity, but not immediately. As it was told at the conference, the problem is more how and when. And a very crucial question is: could we expect the international community and EU first of all, to help properly consolidation, further democratization and economic development in Kosovo. This is a long term interest of Serbia and the whole region. Hopefully, Serbian elections will bring a democratic government which will be able to give solutions for a long list of problems Serbia is faced with. After the elections and referendum on the new Constitution, Serbia is probably entering a new period. Positive economic performances could help political stabilization, and defining a new Kosovo status will become inevitable precondition for the European future of both Serbia and Kosovo. The status and treatment of Serbian and other minorities in Kosovo will become a test for Kosovo's democratic capacity and sustainability of the regional peace and stability.
                    [post_title] =>  Talking Today's Serbia 
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            [8] => WP_Post Object
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                    [ID] => 100713
                    [post_author] => 68
                    [post_date] => 2006-11-03 01:00:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2006-11-03 01:00:00
                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
There are four reasons why the Black Sea region is important for the security of Europe and the Atlantic Alliance: state integrity, military security, economic cohesion, and international cooperation.
First, with regard to state integrity, weak states, divided states, and authoritarian states along the Black Sea rim are a threat to their own security and that of their neighbors. Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and potentially Ukraine are divided states where the absence of state integrity and elite consensus corrupts state institutions, fosters organized crime, undermines economic development, discourages foreign investment, and prevents regional cooperation. 
These states are also susceptible to Russian political manipulation and economic blackmail precisely because they remain weak and divided. Russia and Belarus are authoritarian states seeking to limit Euro-Atlantic expansion. Belarus may prove a danger to its neighbors if it becomes fully dominated by Moscow and serves as an outpost of anti-Westernism in Central Europe. Russia itself is intent on constructing a sphere of control in the Black Sea region and a separate "Eurasian pole" to split America from Europe.
Second, regarding military security, a variety of violent threats challenge the Black Sea region, including a spillover of armed conflict from the separatist entities in Moldova and Georgia; Russian incursions among neighbors, and Russia's military build-up. A potential escalation of armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan or between Georgia and the two Russian proxy regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia may also precipitate a wider conflict by drawing in neighboring powers into the conflict.
Third, in terms of economic cohesion, major energy supplies to Europe from the Caspian Basin will increasingly traverse the Black Sea region. Their transit needs to be secured from potential disruption, whether political blockages by suppliers or transit countries or deliberate sabotage by sub-state actors. Supply transit needs to be assured to all consumers and such guarantees are best served by diversifying suppliers and routes in case of blackmail or sabotage.
And fourth, regarding international cooperation, the Black Sea region connects the EU with the Middle East, the Caspian zone, and Central Asia - three areas that will be critical for U.S. and EU security interests over the coming decade. The region will remain a battleground between Atlanticism and Eurasianism, between the West and Russia as both will seek to expand and project their influences. 
A multitude of other security threats challenge the region, including international jihadist terrorism, weapons proliferation, international organized crime, and potential natural disasters. As a result, a coherent strategy for sustainable security needs to be devised by the EU and U.S. working in tandem with states in the region, especially those seeking Euro-Atlantic inclusion. 
Unfortunately, the EU has treated the Black Sea states beyond Romania and Bulgaria differently from the western Balkans, which have been offered the prospect of EU accession provided that they fulfill the required membership criteria. By contrast, the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) has not offered the prospect of entry to the remaining East European states. Without more effective incentives for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus, especially the prospect of eventual EU membership, the ENP is in danger of lacking sufficient momentum and incentive to promote structural reforms and substantial foreign investments. 
Meanwhile, NATO may be willing to enlarge eastward but two factors will need to be determined before decisions on including any of the other Black Sea countries is finalized. First, there must be a commitment by candidate states, their political elites and publics to NATO membership. And second, there must be a commitment by the Alliance that Black Sea inclusion is in the strategic interests of all NATO and EU allies regardless of Russia's opposition. In the long-term Black Sea inclusion in both NATO and the EU will be an important strategy for protection against expansive Russian policies that challenge and undermine Euro-Atlantic interests.
                    [post_title] =>  Importance Of Black Sea For Allied Security 
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                    [post_date] => 2006-11-03 01:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Alba Cela
After the news of the girl that was brutally massacred and found in pieces at the lake of Zall Herr, 41 pair of parents went to the National Morgue in Tirana to check whether this poor creature was one of their offspring. I find this to be the saddest aspect of the entire story. The girl is now dead and hopefully will be soon laid to rest in earth's lap. The 41 parents who did not recognize her chopped face will proceed slowly on their Golgotha paths, to seek relentlessly their lost children. No one will hear their pangs of pain, until another day another person will be found dead and they will rush again to see if they can release their heavy cross from their old shoulders that bear the weight  of someone else's crime.
Who are these lost children and why can't they be found? Who is doing anything to help these parents who have done nothing to deserve their hardest punishment: the loss of a child?
Questions like these come to mind when I see the tearful sister on TV wondering weather this massacred girl is her sister who was forced to prostitute after being raped inside her own family.  The girl's disentangled body parts are the metaphoric evidence of our own society coming apart due to the hardest economic and social chaos and the political authority's incapacity to come to terms with crime's far reaching grip. We could not help the girl to survive her destiny. Who knows if we can help these parents to survive their reality?
                    [post_title] =>  The 41 Golgotha-s of one massacred girl 
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            [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.
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