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EC President: “No unanimity among member states on opening negotiations”

EC President: “No unanimity among member states on opening negotiations”

TIRANA, Jan. 24 – European Council President Charles Michel in a joint press statement with Prime Minister Edi Rama said there is still no unanimity among EU member states countries on whether Albania should open accession negotiations with the union.

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SPAK begins investigations on alleged Bulqiza mayor’s cocaine snorting video

SPAK begins investigations on alleged Bulqiza mayor’s cocaine snorting video

TIRANA, Jan. 24 – The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office launched on Friday an investigation into Bulqiza’s Mayor Lefter Alla, after ABC News Television posted a video in which, according to the journalist Artan Hoxha he appeared to be snorting cocaine.

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The Truth that Must not Die

The Truth that Must not Die

The President of Poland on the 75th Anniversary of Liberation of the Nazi German Death Camp KL Auschwitz   On January 27, 1945, Soviet soldiers liberated the German Nazi death camp KL Auschwitz. What they found there continues to sow terror

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Ministry of Education closes Iran-backed capital school

Ministry of Education closes Iran-backed capital school

TIRANA, Jan. 23 – The Ministry of Education has closed the Saadi School, which was reportedly funded by Iran and has been operating in Tirana for several years.  This ruling was issued by Education Minister Besa Shahini.  The decision does

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Tirana and Rome strengthen strategic partnership

Tirana and Rome strengthen strategic partnership

TIRANA, Jan. 23 – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama visited his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte at Rome’s Palazzo Chigi on Thursday, in context of rebuilding earthquake-damaged buildings in the country, as the EU’s official Donors’ Conference for Albania’s earthquake is

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Think tanks from the region debate current EU integration process amidst expected developments

Think tanks from the region debate current EU integration process amidst expected developments

TIRANA, Jan. 22 – The Albanian Institute for International Studies, in cooperation with the European Policy Institute Skopje and the European Movement Serbia held on Wednesday a conference on the region’s European integration assessing whether the perspective is still realistic

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US diplomats broker Kosovo-Serbia airline

US diplomats broker Kosovo-Serbia airline

TIRANA, Jan. 20 – US diplomats brokered on Monday the signing of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on the reopening of the Pristina-Belgrade airline in a bid to improve economic ties between the two countries. The agreement was signed

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EC says it aims to open accession talks with Albania, N. Macedonia in March

EC says it aims to open accession talks with Albania, N. Macedonia in March

TIRANA, Jan. 16 – The European Commission aims to open accession talks with Albania and Northern Macedonia in March, according to local media reports.  While on an official visit in Tirana, Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said during a press conference

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Albanian PM files defamation lawsuit against Kosovo counterpart

Albanian PM files defamation lawsuit against Kosovo counterpart

TIRANA, Jan. 16 – The ‘Oath of Justice’, a program prepared by the Kosovo Institute of Justice, reported that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has filed a lawsuit against outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, alleging he has defamed him

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Majority and new opposition reach electoral reform agreement

Majority and new opposition reach electoral reform agreement

TIRANA, Jan. 15 – The country’s main political forces reached an agreement on Tuesday to carry out the electoral reform by March 15.  A group of four members representing the three main parties – Damian Gjiknuri, Rudina Hajdari, Oerd Bylykbashi

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24 - European Council President Charles Michel in a joint press statement with Prime Minister Edi Rama said there is still no unanimity among EU member states countries on whether Albania should open accession negotiations with the union.

Michel also stated in Tirana that he hoped the Donor Conference on February 17 would be a real support for the Albanian people after the severe November 26 earthquake.

He said the first pillar is the need for the governments of the EU member states to think about the enlargement process and the reforms required, in order for this process to be credible and with political leadership.

“Before the summer, the European Commission made proposals to the European Council regarding the opening of negotiations for Albania andNorthern Macedonia. We will have this debate at the European Council on the basis of a proposal to be made again by the European Commission on this subject. We are here,” Michel said. 

He added the European Commission should be clear on its orientation and then engage into constructive dialogue with the member states regarding the decision.

“The European Commission must be clear about the orientation it will make and then we will need to consult the member states and it will be a strong dialogue, an intensive dialogue and a responsible dialogue and I as President of the European Council will encourage the approach of the views and will encourage the European Commission to decide,” said Michel.

Michel said the Council of Europe needs to make a decision with which all member states will adhere to and that all work pillars should advance parallelly. 

“Work has begun. Very soon we will have the opportunity to have a discussion. It will be part of my work on how steps can be taken. As president of the CoE I can say that today we do not have unanimity,” said Michel.

The third point, according to him, is the mobilization that needs to be done around the European Union's table to achieve an investment and growth pact for the Western Balkans, a growth pact that will mobilize all possible spheres in order to encourage economic development - a key condition for advancing social and economic progress and also for advancing all regional cooperation.

Meanwhile, Rama reiterated his belief that the EU will support Albania both in overcoming the damages of the November earthquake and in the progress of the integration process.

"We have also spoken with the President of the European Council about the reform process and the integration process. We have shared views on what has been achieved so far, what needs to be achieved at the same time, and on the internal discussion in the EU of what is now known as the new Enlargement Methodology, and overall I am very pleased that the President has expressed the will to be especially committed to the region,” Rama said. 

Asked if he will lobby for opening negotiations, Rama said that under these conditions, even if France asked to join the EU, it would not be accepted by France. 

“It is a decision within the EU and we must respect it. What is happening in view of a new methodology should be seen as a new opportunity for our relationship with the EU,” he said. 

“We would continue to do the same thing if we had opened the negotiations. There is a clarity to the fact that our reforms are moving forward, that the expected results are coming and will continue to come.”

Albania is awaiting widespread support on February 17th when a donor conference will be held to overcome the severe damage of the earthquake, as well as in March if the opening of negotiations for full EU membership is approved.

The November 26 earthquake claimed the lives of 51 people, wounded about 1,000 and nearly 15,000 people lost their homes, and now hopes that EU member states and other donors will assist with the reconstruction. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24 - The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office launched on Friday an investigation into Bulqiza's Mayor Lefter Alla, after ABC News Television posted a video in which, according to the journalist Artan Hoxha he appeared to be snorting cocaine.

Well-known reporter Hoxha said "the footage was taken by a security camera in a public setting some time ago and SPAK has launched an investigation into the video being published.”

Alla, denying everything, stated on social media that the video was edited and that he was being blackmailed and would go to court.

But journalist Hoxha said he cannot expose the location where the event was filmed from a private police camera system, nor the persons who blackmailed or lured him into confidential meetings to protect the video, but he "is sure enough that the person in the video is exactly the Bulqiza mayor and that there is no montage, because the stopwatch moves freely.”

Alla wrote on his Facebook page that "Bulqiza is no longer run by the Democratic Party, they have been robbed of their ability to steal its properties, but are all turned into video editors."

But journalist Hoxha said she could not tell the public the sources of the video and the way it came to his hands, not to endanger the lives of those who helped him do his job as a journalist.

He added that the video in fact came to him by accident, but then made several verifications and accurate identifications.

While the SPAK launched an investigation, Alla announced he was headed to Tirana to sue one former opposition MP. 

The DP demanded his dismissal and his prosecution for not reporting the crime.

The DP declared that it is Prime Minister Edi Rama who should be removed from power because he promoted co-governance with crime and remains in power with the support of crime.

 
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                    [post_content] => The President of Poland on the 75th Anniversary of Liberation of the Nazi German Death Camp KL Auschwitz

 

On January 27, 1945, Soviet soldiers liberated the German Nazi death camp KL Auschwitz. What they found there continues to sow terror and elicit unequivocal moral condemnation to this day.

Nearly 7,000 prisoners regained their freedom then. Previously, between January 17-21, about 56,000 prisoners were taken out of Auschwitz and its sub-camps, and forced on devastating death marches into the heart of the Third Reich. Those who remained in the camp were but shadows of people, permanently mutilated by unimaginable physical and mental torture. They miraculously survived inhuman living conditions, hunger, frost, illness, slave labor, merciless beating, humiliation and abuse from the henchmen. Some of them were victims of criminal medical experiments. Every day they would watch the death of their fellow sufferers: men, women, the elderly and disabled, and children. They were witnesses to numerous executions - including those carried out by members of the SS for cruel entertainment. Some prisoners were forced to move the bodies of those murdered into gas chambers and to burn them in crematoria, knowing that they would experience exactly the same fate.

This is only a brief description of the hell on earth, represented by the Konzentrationslager Auschwitz as it was, the place where more than one million Jews and thousands of victims of other nationalities were slaughtered, including Poles, Roma, Sinti, and prisoners of war from the Red Army. The same fate was shared by millions of Jews murdered in other German Nazi death camps: Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Kulmhof, Stutthof and dozens of others. The authorities of the Third Reich planned and carried out the total extermination of the Jewish people. That is why they created a network of camps operating as real death factories. Murders were perpetrated there as if in a cycle of industrial activity – by hundreds and thousands, efficiently, bearing in mind the time factor and cost of transport, keeping minute records. There had been no historical precedent for such extreme dehumanization and degradation of millions of innocent victims.

It is hard to put it into words, to read, to talk about it... In the biblical Book of Kohelet we find the following words: For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. Nevertheless, the effort must be made. This knowledge must be passed on to new generations even at the price of sorrow it causes. We must forge the future of the world based on a profound understanding of what happened more than 75 years ago in the heart of Europe, and what eyewitnesses continue to relate to us. What befell the nation of descendants of Leibniz, Goethe, Schiller and Bach, when they were infected with the virus of imperial pride and racist contempt - may come as an everlasting warning. We must also not forget that the last, decisive step leading towards World War II, the war without which there would have been no tragedy of the Holocaust, was the secret pact between Hitler and Stalin of August 23, 1939. The agreement meant that Central and Eastern Europe were deprived of its freedom and sovereignty, and the ensuing close cooperation between the two totalitarian regimes lasted until the very last hours before the attack, which Nazi Germany launched on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

The truth about the Holocaust must not die. It must not be distorted or used for any purpose. In the name of sacred memory of the annihilation of the Jews and out of respect for other victims of the 20th century totalitarianism - we cannot, and we shall not condone it. We will not cease in our efforts to make the world remember this crime. So that nothing of the kind would ever happen again.

Very early on, the Polish resistance movement took up the mission of uncovering the truth about the Holocaust and of supporting Jews threatened with extermination. The Polish Underground State, established on our occupied territories, tried to protect all those who until recently were citizens of independent Poland. In September 1940, Witold Pilecki, an officer of the Polish Army, acting in agreement with the underground authorities, deliberately let himself be imprisoned in Auschwitz. He escaped in April 1943, and then produced and passed on a report on what was happening there. A passage from it reads as follows: "Those sick [with typhus], unconscious but also those almost recovered (...) were packed into vans and taken (...) to the gas chambers. (...) One eight-year-old boy asked the SS man to leave him. He knelt before him on the ground. The SS man kicked him in the stomach and threw him into the van like a puppy.” Also, Jan Karski, an emissary of the Polish authorities in exile, watched with his own eyes the horrors occurring in the Warsaw Ghetto and in the German transit camp in Izbica. He prepared a memorandum on German systematic genocide of Jews. Starting from December 1942, he was presenting it to opinion leaders and to top authorities of the Allied Powers. Earlier, General Władysław Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish Government in London, addressed a note to the Allies adopted at the meeting of the Council of Ministers on June 6, 1942. He reported in it: "...the destruction of the Jewish population takes place in unbelievable proportions. In cities such as Vilnius, Lvov, Kolomyia, Stanisławów, Lublin, Rzeszów, Miechów, tens of thousands of Jews are massacred. The Gestapo carries out mass executions in the ghettoes of Warsaw and Cracow every day. (...) Jews in Poland have suffered the most terrible persecution in their history.”

At the same time, the Polish Underground State established the Council to Aid Jews at the Government Delegation for Poland. That allowed nearly 50 thousand people to obtain documents, shelter, money and medical care. Polish diplomats were organizing escapes for Jews to territories not controlled by Nazi Germany. A significant percentage of Holocaust survivors owed their lives to thousands of Polish Righteous Among the Nations. In our family stories, historical and literary documents, the memory about many people of Jewish origin hidden in attics, cellars and barns, is still alive. So are the memories of sharing with Jewish fugitives a modest meal or showing them a safe escape route. And it must be remembered that in Poland, every such gesture was punishable by death at the hands of German occupiers, something that happened hundreds of times. Among millions of Poles there were also people who could have helped Jews in the hiding, but did not because they could not overcome their fear for their own lives and for the lives of the loved ones. There were also those who, acting on a base impulse, handed Jews over to the German occupation authorities or committed disgraceful acts. Under dramatic circumstances of that time, the judiciary of the Polish Underground State would sentence such criminals to death and have them executed.

German Nazi concentration camps built in occupied Poland were and still are an unbearable humiliation for us today. They stand in a stark contrast with our one thousand years’ long culture and history, with the Polish spirit of freedom, tolerance and solidarity. Genocide of Jews, albeit perpetrated almost all across war-time Europe, came as a particularly heavy blow to the Polish state, which was for centuries multinational and multi-confessional. The Jewish community in pre-war Poland was one of the most numerous in Europe. Of the 6 million citizens of the Republic of Poland who died in the wake of World War II (over one-fifth of the total population), as many as 3 million were Polish Jews. And they were the largest group of Holocaust victims. The Jewish community, which lived and prospered on Polish soil for nearly ten centuries, have almost disappeared within a few years’ time. Poland suddenly lost thousands of Jewish artists, researchers, doctors, lawyers and clerks, businessmen, craftsmen, merchants and other valued professionals. Among those murdered were spouses, friends, neighbors and fellow employees. In our cities, memory persists about the martyrdom of Jews forced by the German occupiers into the prison-like ghetto districts. There are but a few pre-war synagogues left serving as houses of prayer today. Yiddish and Hebrew no longer resound in the surviving buildings of Jewish religious schools or in ritual baths. Within Poland's current borders, there are nearly 1,200 identified Jewish cemeteries, but no surviving people to visit the graves there. Jewish works of art and craft, antique books, prints and manuscripts written by scholars, writers and composers were irretrievably destroyed.

The history of Jews in Poland and their annihilated world is now retold through publications and scientific conferences, festivals, exhibitions, concerts and monuments, sponsored by state scientific and cultural institutions such as museums, theatres, archives and libraries. Gradually, Jewish religious communities, community organizations, publishing houses and magazines are being brought back to life. We support these actions, because German Nazism cannot have the final say in the narrative of the Polish Jews and their martyrdom.

Commemoration of the tragedy of the Shoah should be an important and lasting element in education for peace – as a story that sinks deeply into human hearts, bringing down barriers of prejudice, division and hatred. It should be a lesson about how to show understanding and help those who are hardest hit by adversity.

It is in this spirit that we will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. By decision of the UN General Assembly, for fifteen years now it has been commemorated on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. That is why in four days' time, in the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, where the ashes of more than one million Holocaust Victims are buried, we will meet with leaders and high representatives of countries from all over the world. We shall be accompanied by venerable survivors. On the 75th anniversary of the symbolic end of the extermination, we will bear witness to the truth. Together we will call for peace, justice and respect between nations.

Eternal memory and reverence to Those Executed in KL Auschwitz!

Eternal memory and reverence to the Victims of the Holocaust!

 

*President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda
                    [post_title] => The Truth that Must not Die
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 23 - The Ministry of Education has closed the Saadi School, which was reportedly funded by Iran and has been operating in Tirana for several years. 

This ruling was issued by Education Minister Besa Shahini. 

The decision does not explain the reasons for the school's closure, but it is recalled that this step was taken shortly after our country declared 'non grata' to two Iranian diplomats in Tirana a few days ago.

Diplomats declared personae non-gratae were Mohammad Ali Arz Peimanemati and Seyed Ahmad Hosseini Alast, both of whom were also heads of the Saadi Shirazi Foundation, which finances the school in question.

Albanian government sources told the Voice of America that the two diplomats are being expelled for activities against the Iranian opposition MEK group, being hosted in Albania. According to them, cultural attaché Seyed Ahmed Hosseini Alast had held senior positions in the Revolutionary Guard of the Islamic Republic and Mohamed Peimanemati was a member of Iran’s Mois Operational Intelligence Unit and was responsible for several terrorist acts carried out in EU countries.

According to sources, they had been collaborators with Qassem Soleiman, Iran’s most powerful general whom the US assassinated on the first days of 2020.

This is the second time Albania has declared Iranian diplomats working and living in the country personae non gratae. 

In December 2018, Iran’s Ambassador to Albania and another embassy diplomat were expelled from the country after being suspected of being involved in “activities that threaten security in the country”. 

At that time, the Albanian Foreign Ministry specified that the decision had been taken in consultation with the Allied countries, due to their activity in Albania contrary to their diplomatic status.

Extremism expert Adrian Shtuni sees the move by the Albanian government as a defiant act against Iran’s recent statements concerning “a very small but devilish European state, where Americans cooperate with Iranian traitors against the Islamic Republic.” 

Shtuni says the fact that Albania houses 3,000 members of the Iranian opposition group MEK, after a deal first made with the US in 2013, puts the country at risk not because of the group’s current activities, but simply because of their status as active members of the Iranian regime’s opposition. 

The growing tension between the US and Iran after the assasination of Soleiman has also ignited friction between Iran and Albania, whose relations have not been the best ever since the country began hosting the opposition group. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 23 - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama visited his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte at Rome’s Palazzo Chigi on Thursday, in context of rebuilding earthquake-damaged buildings in the country, as the EU’s official Donors' Conference for Albania’s earthquake is fast approaching. 

The meeting also focused on bringing neighborly relations in both political and economic fields between the countries even further, as well as Albania’s European integration and Italy’s growing role in the region, after it strongly advocated that Albania and North Macedonia should have opened negotiations with the EU last November. 

Initially, Rama met with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. 

From the conversation with Di Maio, as reported by Albanian media, Rama is heard saying that the earthquake damage bill from preliminary calculations could reach a billion euros. 

When asked how reconstruction in Albania is going, Rama is reported responding that “the final bill is expected to reach 1 billion euros.”

“One billion? I am hopeful we will find a solution at the Donors’ Conference,” Di Maio is reported saying. 

The topic of conversation was also earthquake investigations, after the arrival of the GdF investigators in Albania a few days ago.

Rama said that Italy further supports Albania in reconstructing damaged areas, while Conte re-affirmed that he is interested in the progress of this process.

"Palazzo Chigi, Rome - With the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, for further support of friendly Italy in the function of Reconstruction, on the eve of the Donors' Conference in Brussels on February 17,” wrote Rama on a Facebook post. 

This is the third time that Rama and Conte meet in the range of several months. 

Contes's visit to Albania in October was followed by Prime Minister Rama's visit to Italy last year. 

After meeting the two top Italian officials, Rama reportedly said he is also planning a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the future to guarantee the proper success of the conference to take place in February. 

 
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TIRANA, Jan. 22 - The Albanian Institute for International Studies, in cooperation with the European Policy Institute Skopje and the European Movement Serbia held on Wednesday a conference on the region’s European integration assessing whether the perspective is still realistic juxtaposed to a perception of a shifting target. The event finalized a yearlong project supported by the Western Balkans Fund in the framework of its strategic goal of fostering cooperation between think tanks in the region.

 

The researchers from the three countries aspiring to join the EU discussed with an audience of diplomats, officials and students the current dynamics regarding the enlargement policy and the EU institutions' commitments to bring the Western Balkans closer, in the context of the EU member states’ latest decision to postpone opening accession negotiations again with Albania and North Macedonia last October. 

 

“In the case of Albania, an important development was the decision made in the German parliament. We should not forget that Northern Macedonia and Albania were treated in different ways in terms of moving forward. Albania has a precise list of deadlines and tasks and is still under these conditions. Those tasks are on the table to perform. I believe that enlargement is a good story for the EU itself, because it will show its vital energy and its own power to change, not just the Balkan countries. The progress of this phase remains to be seen, as well as a response to the credibility of the process at this point. If the process is based on clear rules, then integration and enlargement will be a success story for both the EU and the Western Balkans,” said Alba Cela, Executive Director of AlIS. 

 

Vladimir Medjak, Deputy President of the European Movement of Serbia put emphasis on the growing nationalization of enlargement policy that is happening within the EU. 

“We didn’t expect the things that happened in November, but nationalization is becoming a thing…and it’s not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to internal processes, but it’s a very bad thing when it concerns the EU foreign policy, and especially its enlargement process. October proved me right and the member states’ decision was the culmination of the nationalization within the enlargement process,” Medjak said.

  

Ardita Abazi, program Manager at EPI Skopje said that Macedonian society was overall disappointed by the decision to postpone opening of accession negotiations, though so many sacrifices were made and many tasks were fulfilled, such as the historic Prespa Agreement. 

“Too many people in Northern Macedonia feel that the EU left them alone; while for Albania the member states had some other concerns, as far as Macedonians are concerned the decision was disappointing,” Abazi said, adding that “we need to determine when it’s enough for this stage, for this process. When we can open accession negotiations and stop raising the bar for our countries…set the limit for opening accession negotiations. I hope that now we can be involved in our discussion, as well as our governments.”

 

Dijana Spalevic, Program Manager of the Western Balkans Fund, said the WBF is here to support the region and all the integration process. “The region is joint about the common goal and that is EU integration process and that is what we as WB strongly promote and support through our projects. We anticipate the results and see the progress in respect to what is to be done,” Spalevic said.

 

French ambassador to Albania Christine Vasak gave her comment at the conference’s conclusion, saying that candidate countries should be embark on a reflection process over whether they genuinely met the Copenhagen criteria, and stressed that the achievements so far are important, but more are needed.

 

“You have said that France is against enlargement but take a step back and notice that every stage of enlargement would not have happened without my country and any other member state,” Vasak said. “Why are so many people leaving Albania, when they have a wonderful country, and going to Britain, Germany and France. Keep in mind that rule of law has been at the center of everything since the European Union was created and up to all its latest documents,” Vasak added. 

 

Researchers from Albania, Northern Macedonia and Serbia affirmed that there is still a strong desire in the region to integrate into the EU, and now it is expected to see how the process will unfold with new developments expected prior to the EU WB Summit in May 2020 that will take place in Zagreb.

[post_title] => Think tanks from the region debate current EU integration process amidst expected developments [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => think-tanks-from-the-region-debate-current-eu-integration-process-amidst-expected-developments [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 14:30:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 13:30:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=144005 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143976 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-21 10:32:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-21 09:32:46 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 20 - US diplomats brokered on Monday the signing of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on the reopening of the Pristina-Belgrade airline in a bid to improve economic ties between the two countries. The agreement was signed by Milun Trivunac, secretary of state at the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Eset Berisha, director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority at the US embassy in Berlin, in the presence of Ambassador Richard Grenell, Donald Trump's special US envoy for the Kosovo - Serbia peace talks and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. O'Brien was quoted as saying the agreement signed by representatives of both countries represented a “historic agreement,” while stressing that there had been no such flights between Kosovo and Serbia for 21 years. The flights will be operated by the German airline Lufthansa. Grenell wrote that “the US president, Donald Trump, has once again provided us with a historic victory. Kosovo and Serbia signed an agreement today to deploy the first flight between Pristina and Belgrade in 21 years.” In Pristina, Kosovo's president, Hashim Thaci, welcomed the request to open the Pristina-Belgrade airline, describing it as an important step in the process of normalizing relations between the two countries. “I welcome Lufthansas' request to open an airline between Pristina and Belgrade. This is an important step in the movement of citizens and the process of normalization. I am grateful to Councilor Robert O'Brien and Ambassador Richard Grenell for pushing this process forward,” Thaci wrote on social media. Meanwhile, outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said that "the initiative to open a third civil airline for commercial flights with Serbia, after having it with Albania and Northern Macedonia, is a major step in promoting good neighborly relations and consolidating Kosovo’s sovereignty.”  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the intention of the German company Lufthansa. “This is an important step that will facilitate the movement of people and goods in the Western Balkans region. The commander of our KFOR mission holds the authority for Kosovo airspace under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. NATO will remain involved in the long process of normalizing air traffic in the Balkans. Mr. Stoltenberg's reaction. The Director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority Eset Berisha, is quoted in a statement from his office as saying that this places the contact between the two civil aviation authorities, that of Kosovo and Serbia, as equal partners. “This is the first step towards the full normalization of Kosovo's airspace and the opening of air corridors to all states around it. This will most benefit the citizens of Kosovo who use Pristina Airport services,” Berisha was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, the director of the office for Kosovo in the Serbian government, Marko Djuric, said the airline could come into being after lifting the full tariff from Serbian products in Kosovo and resuming talks between Belgrade and Pristina. The 100 per cent tariffs on Serbian goods were imposed in November 2018 by the Kosovo government in opposition to the Serbian campaign against Kosovo's independence. Serbia conditioned the resumption of talks with their abolition, while Pristina resisted international pressure to suspend them. Monday's agreement is the first signed between the two countries without the presence of the European Union, which facilitates talks on normalizing relations between them. It is also the first achievement in relations between the two countries since Ambassador Grenell was involved in the negotiation process between Kosovo and Serbia.   US President calls Kosovo-Serbia airline “a victory”   US President Donald Trump called the deal between Kosovo and Serbia a victory in establishing direct flights between the two countries. In a Twitter post Monday night, President Trump wrote that nobody thought it was possible.  “Everyone said it would be done. But for the first time in a generation, there will be direct flights between Serbia and Kosovo. Another win. Thanks to @WHNSC Ambassador Robert O'Brien and Ambassador @RichardGrenell!,” Trump wrote on Twitter.  [post_title] => US diplomats broker Kosovo-Serbia airline [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => us-diplomats-broker-kosovo-serbia-airline [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 10:35:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 09:35:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143976 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143928 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-17 10:58:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-17 09:58:31 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 16 - The European Commission aims to open accession talks with Albania and Northern Macedonia in March, according to local media reports.  While on an official visit in Tirana, Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said during a press conference with Prime Minister Edi Rama that "the previous report of the Commission on Albania remains valid, a place ready to initiate talks and we are working to make this a reality before the Zagreb Summit,” he said, speaking about the event which is to take place in May. Last October, the leaders of the member states failed to reach a consensus on a positive decision for Albania and Northern Macedonia, thanks to France's insistence on the need to revisit the entire process of negotiations and enlargement itself. “With the methodology we will create a new approach based on four principles. First, the processes are more reliable, more political, more predictable, and for me it is a priority to make it more dynamic. We are drafting a proposal that will take these things into account, "Mr. Varhelyi explained, stating that" I am talking to member states to convince them that with this new methodology we will be able to agree on the start of negotiations. " For Rama “what constitutes a reason to feel encouraged is the Commissioner's approach to the need, but also to the conditions, to adopt and accept together a more appropriate methodology as a result of which to think reasonable and to involve France in continuing the process.”  Rama and the European Commissioner then visited several areas in the city of Durres hit by the November 26 earthquake.  The European Commission has given a first aid of 15 million euros, and on 17 February will organize a major donor’s conference.  "We will stand by Albania and continue to help. We hope that the donors' conference will produce very good results. We will speak with member states and international financial organizations to make their contribution,” Varhelyi said, while announcing that “in relation to the work done so far, from pre-accession funds, I have the opportunity from the budgetary authority to give 28 million euros for the so-called "performance reward".  The approval belongs to the European Parliament, which "has a certain process, a procedure to follow, but we have already submitted a proposal to the EP and I believe everything will go on very soon,” said Commissioner Varhelyi.   [post_title] => EC says it aims to open accession talks with Albania, N. Macedonia in March [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ec-says-it-aims-to-open-accession-talks-with-albania-n-macedonia-in-march [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 10:34:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 09:34:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143928 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143925 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-17 10:53:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-17 09:53:48 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 16 - The ‘Oath of Justice’, a program prepared by the Kosovo Institute of Justice, reported that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has filed a lawsuit against outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, alleging he has defamed him and seeking compensation of the damage caused to his image.  Rama’s lawsuit, which the ‘Oath of Justice’ claims to have seen and which has over 30 pages, reads "On 17.10.2019 and 29.10.2019, the respondent Ramush Haradinaj, at the time of making the statement, Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, in an interview given to journalist Artur Zheji published in the 360 ​​degree program on 17.10.2019 as well as in the interview conducted on 29.10.2019 in the TV program Pressing Zone published on television "T7" of the Republic of Kosovo has made a public statement of defamatory and deceptive facts in the address of the claimant as a consequence of the violation of the honor, personality, reputation and dignity of the claimant with the consequences provided for in the applicable legislation.” The indictment alleges that the statements were made in the context of debates about the dialogue process between Kosovo and Serbia and that, in principle, the indictment would have to result in a mutually binding agreement and mutual recognition between these two states. "This issue has dominated the public debate since late 2018 and 2019, resulting in allegations of 'treason', each time against persons alleged to have supported the idea of ​​so-called 'exchange of territories' during this dialogue process. between Kosovo and Serbia,” it is quoted in the text of the lawsuit. Referring to some statements of Haradinaj in which Rama was mentioned in the text of the indictment, it is stated that “the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania has no formal and legal-political role in the eventual agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia. This is due to the fact that this kind of agreement, based on the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, constitutes an act that can be approved only and exclusively by the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo and, moreover, requires the exclusive approval of 2/3 of all MPs. The Assembly of Kosovo [1], and consequently 80 votes in favor, including members of the ruling and opposition coalitions, under any circumstances. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania has never supported or stated in support of such an idea.” Haradinaj wrote on facebook late Wednesday that he is aware of reports of Rama's indictment. “I will, by law, prepare a response to the lawsuit, within the legal deadlines! Prime Minister Rama's lawsuit is completely unfounded and a political diversion made by him to hide behind media dramas and to evade responsibility. Our nation and Kosovo have people who worship God at all times,” Haradinaj's post reads. Relations between the two PMs deteriorated last spring after a Berlin meeting on April 30 hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron gathering Western Balkan leaders to discuss their European future, external influences in the region, but at the heart of the discussion was the issue of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. After that meeting, Haradinaj said he had faced pressure from Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Edi Rama to suspend tariffs on Serbian goods imposed in November 2018, leading to the suspension of talks with Serbia. On his part, Rama said at the time that he had not pressured Haradinaj to lift the tariffs but had suggested he listen to Merkel and Macron, who asked Haradinaj to suspend the tax temporarily, for six months or even four months, pledging to enter the Kosovo-Serbia reconciliation process themselves. Haradinaj then said that "there is a well-founded suspicion that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic have discussed the partition of Kosovo and that those discussions were held under the leadership of the Chief Minister of the European Union’s Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini.” Distance disputes between prime ministers have been repeated several times over the past year.   [post_title] => Albanian PM files defamation lawsuit against Kosovo counterpart [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albanian-pm-files-defamation-lawsuit-against-kosovo-counterpart [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-24 10:31:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-24 09:31:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143925 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 143942 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-16 11:12:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-16 10:12:59 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 15 - The country’s main political forces reached an agreement on Tuesday to carry out the electoral reform by March 15.  A group of four members representing the three main parties - Damian Gjiknuri, Rudina Hajdari, Oerd Bylykbashi and Petrit Vasili - agreed to adopt the electoral reform in a transparent, inclusive and consensual way among political parties. They agreed to discuss and draft the reform outside parliament, at the political parties’ table, and the meeting’s consensual product to be adopted without amendments by the commission and parliament. Representatives of the united opposition, leaders of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform, as well as representatives of parliamentary groups in the parliament, attended the Political Council set up between the government and the opposition. The majority agreed not to amend the agreed product with the opposition, in the commission or in the plenary commission.  In addition to the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations, the parties agreed to discuss any other electoral issues that serve to achieve international election standards. The meeting between Socialist and Democratic representatives took place shortly after the resigned opposition leader Lulzim Basha declared alongside other allies that "the resolution of the political crisis will come through early parliamentary elections on the same day as local elections, with an electoral code addressing the problems of vote buying, voter intimidation, pressure on the electoral administration, depoliticisation of the State Police, electoral infrastructure, ID cards, civil status register, address register, media freedom, non-voting secrecy and a political instrument that guarantees the political will to enforce any existing law or to be amended by the consensus of all political forces, with transparency and civic inclusion.” For his part, Prime Minister Edi Rama welcomed the inter-party agreement.  “Beyond more than a year lost in the path of conflict leading to the extreme irrationality, this rational return to the Dialogue Roundtable on Election Reform should be commemorated, where all OSCE/ODHIR recommendations will be integrated into the Electoral Law,” wrote Rama on social networks. The US Embassy to Albania welcomed the parties agreeing to work together on electoral reform, an important step to fully address the ODIHR recommendations. “The reform will support efficient and credible electoral processes and will strengthen Albanian democracy. We hope that the parties continue to move forward with this current spirit of cooperation, to ensure that the elections in Albania are free from fraud, interference and corruption,” the US Embassy in Albania said in a statement. The agreement between the main political forces was also welcomed by the European Union. The head of the EU mission in Tirana, Luigi Soreca, said today's political agreement is an important achievement for restoring political stability in Albania and for the path to EU integration. “We welcome today's inter-party agreement on the way forward for a comprehensive electoral reform, in line with OSCE-ODIHR recommendations. We believe that all parties will continue to work together to complete a timely electoral reform, which will be approved by Parliament, to the benefit of the Albanian citizens and their European future,” Soreca wrote on social media. . The OSCE Presence in Albania welcomed today's political agreement on electoral reform.  "We see this agreement as an important first step towards a comprehensive and timely reform that will address all OSCE / ODIHR recommendations to the benefit of all Albanian citizens," the statement said, underlining that it remains ready to continue assisting the electoral reform. The opposition has long been demanding early elections through many protests and believes that electoral reform can bring them closer, while the Socialists think electoral reform should be tried out through regular elections. It remains to be seen whether the parliamentary opposition MPs will react if they vote unanimously on the reform drafted in good faith at a political table outside parliament. Rudina Hajdari, co-chair of the parliamentary commission on electoral reform, attended today's roundtable, and further said she needed to talk with her opposition colleagues in parliament. [post_title] => Majority and new opposition reach electoral reform agreement [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => majority-and-new-opposition-reach-electoral-reform-agreement [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-17 11:15:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-17 10:15:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143942 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 144063 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2020-01-25 09:40:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-25 08:40:11 [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 24 - European Council President Charles Michel in a joint press statement with Prime Minister Edi Rama said there is still no unanimity among EU member states countries on whether Albania should open accession negotiations with the union. Michel also stated in Tirana that he hoped the Donor Conference on February 17 would be a real support for the Albanian people after the severe November 26 earthquake. He said the first pillar is the need for the governments of the EU member states to think about the enlargement process and the reforms required, in order for this process to be credible and with political leadership. “Before the summer, the European Commission made proposals to the European Council regarding the opening of negotiations for Albania andNorthern Macedonia. We will have this debate at the European Council on the basis of a proposal to be made again by the European Commission on this subject. We are here,” Michel said.  He added the European Commission should be clear on its orientation and then engage into constructive dialogue with the member states regarding the decision. “The European Commission must be clear about the orientation it will make and then we will need to consult the member states and it will be a strong dialogue, an intensive dialogue and a responsible dialogue and I as President of the European Council will encourage the approach of the views and will encourage the European Commission to decide,” said Michel. Michel said the Council of Europe needs to make a decision with which all member states will adhere to and that all work pillars should advance parallelly.  “Work has begun. Very soon we will have the opportunity to have a discussion. It will be part of my work on how steps can be taken. As president of the CoE I can say that today we do not have unanimity,” said Michel. The third point, according to him, is the mobilization that needs to be done around the European Union's table to achieve an investment and growth pact for the Western Balkans, a growth pact that will mobilize all possible spheres in order to encourage economic development - a key condition for advancing social and economic progress and also for advancing all regional cooperation. Meanwhile, Rama reiterated his belief that the EU will support Albania both in overcoming the damages of the November earthquake and in the progress of the integration process. "We have also spoken with the President of the European Council about the reform process and the integration process. We have shared views on what has been achieved so far, what needs to be achieved at the same time, and on the internal discussion in the EU of what is now known as the new Enlargement Methodology, and overall I am very pleased that the President has expressed the will to be especially committed to the region,” Rama said.  Asked if he will lobby for opening negotiations, Rama said that under these conditions, even if France asked to join the EU, it would not be accepted by France.  “It is a decision within the EU and we must respect it. What is happening in view of a new methodology should be seen as a new opportunity for our relationship with the EU,” he said.  “We would continue to do the same thing if we had opened the negotiations. There is a clarity to the fact that our reforms are moving forward, that the expected results are coming and will continue to come.” Albania is awaiting widespread support on February 17th when a donor conference will be held to overcome the severe damage of the earthquake, as well as in March if the opening of negotiations for full EU membership is approved. The November 26 earthquake claimed the lives of 51 people, wounded about 1,000 and nearly 15,000 people lost their homes, and now hopes that EU member states and other donors will assist with the reconstruction.   [post_title] => EC President: “No unanimity among member states on opening negotiations” [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ec-president-no-unanimity-among-member-states-on-opening-negotiations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-25 09:40:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-25 08:40:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=144063 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object] => stdClass Object ( [term_id] => 37 [name] => Free to Read [slug] => free [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 37 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Want to read some of our articles, but are not ready to become a full paid subscriber? Register for free, and read all articles in this section — for free. [parent] => 0 [count] => 1094 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 37 [category_count] => 1094 [category_description] => Want to read some of our articles, but are not ready to become a full paid subscriber? Register for free, and read all articles in this section — for free. [cat_name] => Free to Read [category_nicename] => free [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 37 [post__not_in] => Array ( ) )

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