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OSCE Ambassador issues apology for shameful public act

OSCE Ambassador issues apology for shameful public act

TIRANA, Oct. 15 – The head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Bernd Borschardt, issued on Monday a public apology to citizens who he might have insulted on Sunday, when he responded by giving the middle finger to protesters’

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National Association of Judges says PM’s attacks undermine judiciary’s independence

National Association of Judges says PM’s attacks undermine judiciary’s independence

TIRANA, Oct. 13 – The National Association of Judges considered the attacks of Prime Minister Edi Rama and Deputy Prime Minister Erjon Brace as interfering with the judiciary and said through a statement on Thursday they overall undermine the independence

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Final Venice Commission report says ‘no’ to President’s dismissal

Final Venice Commission report says ‘no’ to President’s dismissal

TIRANA, Oct. 12 – The Venice Commission approved on Friday a final opinion on President Ilir Meta’s decision to cancel June 30 as an election date.  In a statement, the VC notes that its experts are of the opinion that

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Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign

Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign

On October 1st,  Agro & Social Fund announced the official launch of the BORROW WISELY! campaign – a one month educational campaign aimed mainly at current and potential clients.  The campaign is organised under the auspices of the Microfinance Centre,

Read Full Article
The Netherlands to separate Albania from N. Macedonia regarding EU integration

The Netherlands to separate Albania from N. Macedonia regarding EU integration

TIRANA, Oct. 9 – The Netherlands remains critical of Albania’s European Union progress and sticks to its proposal that “the European Council should evaluate Albania and Northern Macedonia on their own merits.”  The Netherlands’ final position on the October 18

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Albanian female ministers ask for green light from the Netherlands

Albanian female ministers ask for green light from the Netherlands

TIRANA, Oct. 8 – The female MPs of the Albanian Assembly addressed the Netherlands in an open letter on Tuesday, asking it to join the rest of European Union member states in giving Albania the green light to open accession

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Opposition party Vetevendosje wins over Kosovo parliamentary elections

Opposition party Vetevendosje wins over Kosovo parliamentary elections

TIRANA, Oct. 7 – High-rank Albanian leaders of state and politics praised on Monday Kosovo elections in which the main opposition parties, Vetevendosje (Self Determination Movement) and LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo), emerged victorious.  “Yesterday’s elections in Kosovo were a

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New banknotes to circulate soon

New banknotes to circulate soon

TIRANA, Sept. 25- The Bank of Albania had a stock of cash, thus it decided to create new cuts for the existing banknotes. But apart from looks the BoA has also updated the security elements in banknotes, to make them

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China celebrates 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

China celebrates 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China

TIRANA, Sept. 24 – The Chinese Embassy to Tirana celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday evening at the premises of the National History Museum in Tirana with an official reception. The

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24 percent increase in asylum applications amid political tension

24 percent increase in asylum applications amid political tension

TIRANA, Sept. 24 – Albanian citizens’ desire to leave the country is as present as ever in 2019. According to data provided by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), a total of 14 thousand applications for asylum in an EU

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 15 - The head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Bernd Borschardt, issued on Monday a public apology to citizens who he might have insulted on Sunday, when he responded by giving the middle finger to protesters' calls to him.

Borchardt was strolling on a weekend evening when he was suddenly found amid calls of "Rama Go" and "Shame on you" on the street near the capital's police department, where relatives of some of the detainees were protesting the release of their relatives.

Borchardt lifted one finger without turning his head to see to whom his gesture was actually directed.

“I respect the right of Albanians to protest peacefully. I would like to sincerely apologize to those I may have offended yesterday,” said Borchardt.

He has been at the center of criticism by Albanian citizens and politicians for 24 hours for the unusual gesture of a career diplomat on both local media and social media.

This is not, however, the first time Borchardt has come under criticism from opposition supporters.

Young opposition activists wrote graffiti at the capital’s building entrance where he resides with the slogan "Shame on you" as they believed he was taking the government’s side during political crisis debates and election processes.

The opposition has repeatedly issued statements criticizing the role of the OSCE ambassador to Albania, whether directly or indirectly, in favor of the government and against the opposition.

The OSCE has rejected the allegations through statements in which it defends its ambassador to Tirana, saying that his stances and the assistance he gives to political processes in Albania are part of the organization's work program and commitments in support of democracy and strengthening Albanian institutions. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 13 - The National Association of Judges considered the attacks of Prime Minister Edi Rama and Deputy Prime Minister Erjon Brace as interfering with the judiciary and said through a statement on Thursday they overall undermine the independence of the judiciary and public confidence in the justice system.

“The National Association of Judges of the Republic of Albania and the Union of Judges of Albania are anxiously following the attitudes of recent days by senior political representatives towards judges. Such repeated attitudes by executive officials not only do not serve inter-institutional relations but are a threat to the independence of the judiciary, while undermining citizens' confidence in the justice system,” their statement read.

The judges emphasized on Rama’s stand at the time when the judicial reform is being implemented has detrimental consequences.

"Meanwhile aggressive and incorrectly addressed attitudes, at the time of implementing such a profound reform of the system, have detrimental consequences for the reform.”

They also called on the Supreme Judicial Council and international institutions to respond to attacks on judges and prosecutors.

"Finally, the National Association and the Association of Judges would like to invite the High Judicial Council, as well as our friends and international partners, to maintain their position on the recently emerging behaviors."

In recent days, both Rama and Brace have stepped up attacks on the judiciary following a series of rulings that they considered "criminal". 

Last Wednesday, Rama said during a speech the ruling Socialist Party will make a new law for the judges and prosecutors who are still part of the justice system but, knowing the vetting process will dismiss them soon, are trying to benefit as much as they can through “absurd decisions dictated by crime and corruption.”

“I will soon make a law for this issue. I'm talking about a criminal organization with constitutional legal immunity, prosecutors and corrupt judges who know they won't pass the vetting,” Rama said.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 12 - The Venice Commission approved on Friday a final opinion on President Ilir Meta's decision to cancel June 30 as an election date. 

In a statement, the VC notes that its experts are of the opinion that although the President may have acted beyond his constitutional powers, his actions do not justify his dismissal.

Following the plenary hearing of Albanian President Ilir Meta's case on cancelling the election date, the statement mainly focuses on whether or not to dismiss Meta, as the parliament has already set up a special investigative commission inquiry. 

“While the President may have acted beyond his constitutional powers, there are indications that his actions may not have been of such a nature as to justify his dismissal,” the statement said, referring to expert conclusions.

In fact, the draft opinion which surfaced one week ago stated that “the President has exceeded his constitutional powers by announcing and postponing local elections beyond the local authorities' electoral mandate without a specific legal basis. However, the elements set forth above could lead to the conclusion that these acts may not have been of a sufficiently serious nature to authorize the dismissal of the President.”

On Friday’s final report, it was stated that “even in the case of a state of emergency, such as war or natural disaster, the Assembly would have to adopt special legislation to delay elections.”

In the draft opinion, the VC experts, given the situation in Albania, point out that Meta may have had legitimate intentions, but that he had no legal basis for the decision. 

“Annulment of elections is possible only in situations that meet the requirement to declare a state of emergency. However, the applicable constitutional rules for emergency situations have not been followed in this case. There has not even been a political consensus that would have allowed the definition of an ad hoc legal basis.”

According to the statement, "in response to the political crisis in the country and an election boycott by some major political parties, the President initially canceled and then postponed the local elections.” 

The draft opinion gave a more detailed explanation of this, given that the opposition boycott was one of Meta's arguments to cancel June 30 as the main opposition forces did not participate in those elections. And according to experts, “the boycott of elections by political parties, even if they represent a significant part of the electorate, cannot hinder the conduct of regular elections. Otherwise, these parties would take the power to completely hinder any elections.”

Referring to Parliament's ruling on the case, the statement notes that “even if the Parliament was to find that the President exceeded his powers, the Venice Commission questions whether the action was of such a character as to prove a ‘serious violation,’” while further adding that “even if the Assembly were to determine the seriousness of the violations, this should not necessarily lead to dismissal, taking into account the power of the plenary session to consider other constitutional purposes, such as safeguarding of checks and balances and stability in the country.”

While noting that the president's decree was not challenged before a court, in Friday’s statement, it is underlined by the Venice Commission that "if parliament were to favor dismissal, it would ultimately be up to the Constitutional Court, which currently does not function, to confirm whether the President's decisions are "serious" violations that would justify his dismissal.”

The draft opinion of the Venice Commission was criticized by Meta last week. 

At the heart of the objection was the fact that, in his view, legal assessments "are insufficient unless they are decided in the light of the extreme circumstances in which they are applied.” According to Meta, "the draft opinion is often contradictory" and "one gets the impression that the experts of the Venice Commission are a priori guided by some fixed ideas, making the facts and analysis inconsistent with the conclusions of the draft opinion.”

On Friday, however, Meta’s Spokesperson Ted Blushi issued another statement, blaming the Socialist government of “misusing” the VC draft opinion in order to wrongly inform Albanians of the commission’s opinion of Meta’s legitimacy and breach of the constitution. 

“I will let you know and confirm with the utmost responsibility that the Venice Commission reiterated that the President of the Republic has not violated the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. The Venice Commission has also highly praised the President's calls for dialogue and his efforts to reach a compromise between the parties that were instrumental in resolving the crisis,” Blushi’s statement said. 

 
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                    [post_content] => On October 1st,  Agro & Social Fund announced the official launch of the BORROW WISELY! campaign – a one month educational campaign aimed mainly at current and potential clients.  The campaign is organised under the auspices of the Microfinance Centre, an international organisation which promotes international customer protection standards and financial education. It will run in fourteen countries, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Moldova, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Greece & Tajikistan.

The BORROW WISELY! campaign draws together a simple checklist of questions for customers to ask themselves before taking a loan, in order to ensure they take on safe and responsible levels of debt.  Throughout the campaign, which runs all October, Agro & Social Fund’s staff will actively approach existing and potential customers with a wide-ranging information campaign, including posters, leaflets and brochures.

Licensed by the Bank of Albania, Agro & Social Fund is a microcredit financial institution, which started operating in the Albanian market in 2001 under the name Building Future, a microfinance program of World Vision Albania. The institution is focused on micro, small and medium-sized businesses, agribusinesses, in rural and urban areas, to promote entrepreneurship and business development, sustainable development of local communities, support for marginalized groups, in order to fight poverty, contribute to the creation of new jobs, push for the economic growth of the country and social cohesion.

Agro & Social Fund’s activity is based on principles such as respect of clients, transparency in communication, confidentiality, non-discrimination, and avoidance of overindebtedness. As a member of Microfinance Centre, it promotes international standards of customer protection and financial education. 

Given Agro & Social Fund's daily activity on financial education and customer awareness toward over indebtedness; as part of their mission they have joined the campaign Borrow Wisely. #2019BWC.

The BORROW WISELY! campaign draws together a simple checklist of questions for customers to ask themselves before taking a loan, in order to ensure they take on safe and responsible levels of debt.  Throughout the campaign, which runs all October, Agro & Social Fund’s staff will actively approach existing and potential customers with a wide-ranging information campaign, including posters, leaflets and brochures. The institution will partake in organizing campaign presentations at university auditors, as well as joining regional and local activities throughout October 2019.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-10-09 11:03:03
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 9 - The Netherlands remains critical of Albania's European Union progress and sticks to its proposal that "the European Council should evaluate Albania and Northern Macedonia on their own merits.” 

The Netherlands' final position on the October 18 vote by the European Council was discussed at the Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

North Macedonian media reported that the discussion resulted in the decision that "the Netherlands will give the green light to Macedonia and red to Albania.”

The Dutch Foreign Ministry clarified its position regarding the opening of negotiations. 

In a press release, it stressed that candidate countries must meet strict conditions before taking another step in integration.

“The Netherlands critically tracks progress in both countries and is of the opinion that the Council should evaluate each country on its own merits,” the statement said. 

According to the Netherlands, "more work needs to be done in the fight against corruption and organized crime" in Albania.

As for Northern Macedonia, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said it had made "encouraging progress".

Here they praised the Prespa Agreement on the country's name, which the Netherlands calls "an example for the region". 

Northern Macedonia was praised by the Special Prosecution for its continued fight against corruption, but stressed that "the law guaranteeing the independence of the prosecution for future high-level corruption cases should be adopted.”

Meanwhile, the female MPs of the Albanian Assembly addressed the Netherlands in an open letter on Tuesday, asking it to join the rest of European Union member states in giving Albania the green light to open accession negotiations. 

“By writing this letter, we hope that you will understand how critical this moment is for our nation, how much energy and motivation it would add to all efforts if we would get from you, as we have gotten from the German parliament, a recognition for what we have achieved so far and the conditions for going forward towards a common European future,” they concluded. 
                    [post_title] => The Netherlands to separate Albania from N. Macedonia regarding EU integration 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 8 - The female MPs of the Albanian Assembly addressed the Netherlands in an open letter on Tuesday, asking it to join the rest of European Union member states in giving Albania the green light to open accession negotiations. 

“By writing this letter, we hope that you will understand how critical this moment is for our nation, how much energy and motivation it would add to all efforts if we would get from you, as we have gotten from the German parliament, a recognition for what we have achieved so far and the conditions for going forward towards a common European future,” they conclude.

In the letter, the female MPs say that eight out of 15 Albanian ministries are led by women who, as mothers, daughters and wives, are fighting a hard battle for their country, which they cannot possibly win alone. 

“Failure of our efforts to open membership talks is the greatest price for these dark forces. We do not seek to change your views, we simply want you to join other European nations by extending your hand to Albania and allowing us to take these efforts to another level,” the letter says. 

The letter comes after Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok confirmed that the Dutch government still believes it is too early to open accession negotiations with Albania.

“Albania has to do more to fight organized crime and corruption,” 

Albania is expecting a positive vote on opening accession talks with the EU by all countries at the October 17 meeting of the European Council, although Germany has already announced it will agree to opening negotiations under some pre-conditions. 

The Netherlands, on the other hand, is one of the three initial countries which have refused the opening of accession negotiations with Albania two times now, along with France and Germany. 

Unlike France, which has denied enlargement due to internal EU issues and under the belief that the union needs to reform from within, and Germany, which has ackowledged some of Albania’s steps and set some accession pre-conditions this time around, the Netherlands has argued Albania’s steps towards the EU are insufficient to justify opening negotiations.

The Netherlands has constantly asked for further establishment of the rule of law, for more concrete steps in the fight against corruption and for high-end corrupt public figures to be investigated, prosecuted and, if necessary, convicted.

Germany, on the other hand, approved at the end of September some long-standing pre-conditions such as functionality of the Constitutional and High Courts and the drafting of an electoral reform, and two completely new ones – the punishment of anyone who has participated in vote-rigging and a final decision on the legality of the June 30 local elections once the Constitutional Court starts working again. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 7 - High-rank Albanian leaders of state and politics praised on Monday Kosovo elections in which the main opposition parties, Vetevendosje (Self Determination Movement) and LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo), emerged victorious. 

"Yesterday's elections in Kosovo were a great example of the functioning of democracy and of the trust in democracy and a free vote,” said President Ilir Meta, congratulating Kosovo's citizens and political class.

On his part, Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke of "successful parliamentary elections", wishing "Albin Kurti's Vetevendosje for the best result and LDK and Vjosa Osmani for the second best result,” but also “PDK and Kadri Veseli for exemplary acceptance of the result. Happy new day for Kosovo,” concluded Rama's Twitter post.

For Albanian opposition leader Lulzim Basha “Kosovo opened a new page in its journey as a democratic state. The people of Kosovo voted for change by mandating the opposition to lead the way in economic transformation and Euro-Atlantic integration.”

While congratulating the two winning parties, Vetevendosje and LDK for the victory, Basha further added that “the people of Kosovo set an inspiring example with the civic and mass participation in the elections, the Kosovo Police showed great professionalism in immediately stopping those who violated secretive free voting by photographing it. Kosovo proved to the world that it is a functioning democracy and that it deserves as soon as possible the country and its role in all international institutions and processes.”

Meanwhile, Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti, announcing the victory, said he would be the country's next prime minister. The new Kosovo government will face many challenges, both internationally and domestically.

US-based Balkan affairs expert Edward Joseph said the same thing concerning Kurti’s challenges to Voice of America. 

“Being in government changes people and politicians. For Albin Kurti it seemed easy to criticize

from the outside and object. It's quite different to go to Brussels or Washington, or wait for senior officials from these two countries and listen to them. We must not forget that Kosovo is dependent on the support of the international community. KFOR takes care of Kosovo's security, there is no army yet. Its economy depends on the EU. Therefore, Kosovo cannot afford isolation. This should be excluded,” Joseph said.

But the views of the leader of Vetevendosje, often described as harsh on the international scope and isolating for Kosovo, do not seem problematic to Janusz Bugajski, an analyst at the Center for European Policy Analysis. 

“He is determined to secure Kosovo's firm stand in the economic, political and strategic fields. I think that's what America wants. America loves countries that are independent, secure, and that require less engagement by US troops. So, it loves countries that can serve in the alliance. I think that Kosovo, rather than being consuming, can contribute to the NATO common security. In a way I think Kurti is the right person for this,” said Bugajski.

The most difficult challenge, and one of the priorities of the next government, is to return to the table negotiations with Belgrade. 

This is also Washington’s expectation, which has appointed two special envoys to Kosovo, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, President Trump's representative for talks with Serbia, and senior diplomat Matthew Palmer.

 
                    [post_title] => Opposition party Vetevendosje wins over Kosovo parliamentary elections 
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                    [ID] => 143168
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-09-25 11:35:41
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-25 09:35:41
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 25- The Bank of Albania had a stock of cash, thus it decided to create new cuts for the existing banknotes. But apart from looks the BoA has also updated the security elements in banknotes, to make them more contemporary with the rest of world economies. And to also make it way harder for counterfeiters to falsify the money, although forgeries of Albanian currency have been minimal in the past decade.

The first banknotes to hit the market will be the 200 and 5000 Lek, coming out on September 30. In 2020, the circulation of the 1000 Lek banknote will follow, along with a new banknote value of 10000 Lek which will have a national hymn theme, BoA governor Gent Sejko said. The 2000 Lek will start circulating in 2021, and the 500 Lek will come last in 2022. The existing banknotes will keep circulating parallel to the new ones, and the Bank of Albania will pull them gradually over a period of years. 

Some of the new security elements to be added in these notes will be the security thread which will be inside the note and not outside as in the current money. The hologram is also another feature that will be added and will be at the right side of banknote. Another new and interesting feature will be the material of the 200 Lek which will be made of polymer plastic. This makes the banknote stronger and therefore lasting longer.

Apart from the production costs, some other extra costs the banking sector might face from these security elements, especially regarding the polymeric banknotes, will be adapting and/or ATM machines and money counters. These machines are programmed to read the paper banknotes only, thus it would either require a system update or changing the machines entirely so they can adapt to the new cuts and materials.

 
                    [post_title] => New banknotes to circulate soon
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                    [ID] => 143146
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-09-25 10:55:19
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-25 08:55:19
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 24 - The Chinese Embassy to Tirana celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Tuesday evening at the premises of the National History Museum in Tirana with an official reception.

The reception was attended by the highest leaders of the Albanian state, President Ilir Meta, Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruci, Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Albania-China Friendship Bashkim Fino and other senior personalities of Albanian political, economic and cultural life, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps in Tirana.

After welcoming guests, Ambassador Zhou Ding expressed solidarity with the Albanians who were affected by the strong earthquake during the weekend. 

"The Chinese people and the Chinese Embassy will always stand by you and we are ready to help," said Ambassador Zhou Ding. 

He pointed out that seven decades after its creation, the People's Republic of China has contributed to more than 30 percent of global growth. The ambassador underlined that China has built the world's largest social security network, reducing the impoverished population from 770 million to less than 20 million. 

“China has built the world's largest mobile communications network as well as the largest high-speed rail system,” Mr. Zhou Ding said

The Chinese ambassador further added that in the next 15 years China's import of goods and services is expected to exceed $ 30 trillion and $ 10 trillion respectively, which represent huge opportunities for Albania, Europe and the world.

Referring to the current developments, Ambassador Zhou Ding guaranteed China's support for Albania's EU membership and assessed that in the framework of the "One Belt One Road" initiative and the "17 + 1" Cooperation Mechanism the two countries have deepened mutual political trust, exchanges and two-way cooperation in trade, education, tourism and human resources.

Responding to the interest of the Albanian and Chinese media at the ceremony, President Meta praised the Albanian-Chinese exchanges during the 70 years of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.  

"We are very pleased with the level of current relations between our two countries, as I can underline that for at least two decades relations between the two countries and the two peoples have been excellent and China has made a tremendous contribution to development, modernization, industrialization of Albania in that period ”

"We are happy that after a period of stagnation, not due to China's fault, our relations have again returned to this very positive tradition of friendly relations and quite open and beneficial to both our countries and peoples. I am convinced that the prospect of relationships is in all fields and not just in the field of trade, but also in investment in different sectors,” Meta added.

The ceremony was accompanied by music, conversation and warm red colors to celebrate Chinese history and culture. 

 
                    [post_title] => China celebrates 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China 
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                (
                    [ID] => 143155
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-09-24 11:14:48
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-24 09:14:48
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 24 - Albanian citizens’ desire to leave the country is as present as ever in 2019. According to data provided by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), a total of 14 thousand applications for asylum in an EU country were made during the January-July period, indicating a significant increase of 24 percent as regards to the same period of last year. 

While around 90 percent of these applications are first-time applications, some applicants try their luck more than once.

At least around 2,000 citizens have left the country monthly, with no intention of returning during this year’s first seven month period. 

The data does not show the full number of people who have left the country seeking asylum, as many of them have not applied for asylum and neither have they disclosed their lack of willingness to return upon leaving.

The rise in the trend to leave Abania in the last months of 2018 coincides with the troubling political climate which has taken over citizens and left them with no other choice but to find shelter in foreign states. 

The rate of departures in the country is comparable to those of countries involved in war or grave conflict, therefore ranking Albania as one of the ten countries with the highest number of asylum applications. 

The report shows that 1995 applications came from Albania in July only, while 6,543 came from Syria, 5 040 from Afghanistan and 3, 800 from Venezuela. However, it must be taken into account that unlike Albania, these countries have a much higher population number, with Syria having 17 million people, Afghanistan having 38 million people and Venezuela having 28 million people.

However, an average of 97 percent of Albanians have had their applications rejected. 

In July, only 54 citizens obtained their status as refugees, while 1470 of them had their applications denied as Albania is considered a safe-origin country, currently part of the EU integration process.

The status of approximately 12 thousand applications from Albania is still pending, according to the data provided by EASO.

 
                    [post_title] => 24 percent increase in asylum applications amid political tension 
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            [post_date] => 2019-10-15 09:33:31
            [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-15 07:33:31
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 15 - The head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Bernd Borschardt, issued on Monday a public apology to citizens who he might have insulted on Sunday, when he responded by giving the middle finger to protesters' calls to him.

Borchardt was strolling on a weekend evening when he was suddenly found amid calls of "Rama Go" and "Shame on you" on the street near the capital's police department, where relatives of some of the detainees were protesting the release of their relatives.

Borchardt lifted one finger without turning his head to see to whom his gesture was actually directed.

“I respect the right of Albanians to protest peacefully. I would like to sincerely apologize to those I may have offended yesterday,” said Borchardt.

He has been at the center of criticism by Albanian citizens and politicians for 24 hours for the unusual gesture of a career diplomat on both local media and social media.

This is not, however, the first time Borchardt has come under criticism from opposition supporters.

Young opposition activists wrote graffiti at the capital’s building entrance where he resides with the slogan "Shame on you" as they believed he was taking the government’s side during political crisis debates and election processes.

The opposition has repeatedly issued statements criticizing the role of the OSCE ambassador to Albania, whether directly or indirectly, in favor of the government and against the opposition.

The OSCE has rejected the allegations through statements in which it defends its ambassador to Tirana, saying that his stances and the assistance he gives to political processes in Albania are part of the organization's work program and commitments in support of democracy and strengthening Albanian institutions. 

 
            [post_title] => OSCE Ambassador issues apology for shameful public act
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