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MoI says FRONTEX is vital in controlling refugee flow at Albanian-Greek border

MoI says FRONTEX is vital in controlling refugee flow at Albanian-Greek border

TIRANA, April 9 – Albanian Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj said on Monday Albania cannot manage the potential refugee flux making its way through the country on its own. Lleshaj said during a conference with Czech counterpart Jan Hamáček that there

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The challenges of Albanian democratic consolidation

The challenges of Albanian democratic consolidation

By Dr. Elez Biberaj Albania is facing its most serious predicament since its implosion in 1997 – a deteriorating political situation, the practical dismantling of the check-and-balance system, and a seemingly collapsed judiciary.  Institutions that sustain a rational, all-inclusive, democratic decision-making process are weak. Polarization is striking and there is

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OSCE counters extremism and terrorism in Bratislava conference

OSCE counters extremism and terrorism in Bratislava conference

TIRANA – More than 400 political representatives, national counter-terrorism coordinators, senior policy experts, practitioners and representatives of civil society, business and academia from across the OSCE’s participating States and Partners for Cooperation gathered in Bratislava for a two-day conference to

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Albania is at crossroads

Albania is at crossroads

In a speech delivered during the last parliament session, and conveniently   ignored by main TV news channels, the former minister of foreign affairs, Ditmir Bushati openly positioned himself against the approach, which his own majority and the Prime Minister Rama

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Head of Serious Crimes Appeal risks dismissal under vetting process

Head of Serious Crimes Appeal risks dismissal under vetting process

TIRANA, April 3 – The Independent Qualification Committee said on Tuesday it is investigating the head of the Serious Crimes Appeals Court Fehmi Petku, after noticing discrepancies on all three re-evaluation fields. On his side, Petku objected the IQC’s claims,

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“Albania should speed up reforms and EU integration in face of possible economic decline,” WB says

“Albania should speed up reforms and EU integration in face of possible economic decline,” WB says

TIRANA, April 3 – The World Bank said on Tuesday Albania’s economic growth could stagnate this year due to the drought, as last year’s production and export of electricity took the lead in economic growth. Experts also claimed that structural

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German investors worry over lack of transparency in public tenders, German Ambassador says

German investors worry over lack of transparency in public tenders, German Ambassador says

TIRANA, April 2 – The German Ambassador to Tirana Susanne Schütz said on Monday that potential and existing German enterprises often complain of the country’s weak information policy and transparency, especially related to public tenders and shady property relations for

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The tempest in the teacup of Albanian diplomacy

The tempest in the teacup of Albanian diplomacy

The Albanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj, charged with special delegated ministerial powers by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edi Rama, whose second title has been forgotten too soon, stirred up debate again this week

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Seventh opposition protest deepens deadlock

Seventh opposition protest deepens deadlock

TIRANA, Mar. 28 – The opposition’s seventh protest in the course of 40 days began with tensions in front of the parliament, where as in the previous cases hundreds of police forces had surrounded the entire area and all access

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‘Bread, salt and heart’ through the eyes of a Kuwaiti lens

‘Bread, salt and heart’ through the eyes of a Kuwaiti lens

By Sidonja Manushi  On February 19, the National History Museum hosted for three days a special photo exhibition from a far-away artist who might have managed to capture the essence of being Albanian much better than some of the local

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, April 9 - Albanian Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj said on Monday Albania cannot manage the potential refugee flux making its way through the country on its own. 

Lleshaj said during a conference with Czech counterpart Jan Hamáček that there is information “about the circulation through social media of the efforts of organizing a refugee caravan from Greece to Europe.”

He further implied that Albania has limited capacity to expect a potential influx of refugees who could move to Albania through its border with Greece when he noted that “Albania has the capacities it has and can not expand them every time a refugee wave is activated.”

Lleshaj called the management of refugee inflows “a  difficult and multi-dimensional challenge to manage and a situation that is hard to deal with from only one country.”

“The situation is being kept in constant control, Albania has the capacity to partially keep the situation under check, but certainly our part only is not enough, this is a big issue that goes beyond the size of Albania and the region,” Lleshaj said.

He recalled the difficult 2015 refugee situation, termed the year of the crisis in Europe because hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq flooded Europe  through the Mediterranean Sea to escape war and persecution.

In November 2015, about 160,000 refugees settled in the reception centers of Greece.

However, recent events at the Greek-Albanian border show refugees’ goal is to flee to North Europe, through Albania or Macedonia. According to Lleshaj, the situation can only be managed with the help of European partners.

“Albania will be able to manage the situation and keep it under control as it is much better coordinated with its European and FRONTEX partners currently located on the common border of Albania with Greece,” Lleshaj said.

Albania is the first non-EU member that signed last year's EU border management agreement, known as the FRONTEX (European Border and Coast Guard Agency) agreement. This agreement allows the EU to coordinate the operational cooperation with Albania on the management of the EU's external borders.

The focus of the cooperation is illegal migration, migration flows and cross-border crime. Since the deal with FRONTEX, last year, the technical and operational assistance of the EU has increased in Albania's borders. Effective EU external borders management, controlling potential migratory flows, the fight against smuggling of immigrants continue to be important challenges for Albania, the region and the EU.

 
                    [post_title] => MoI says FRONTEX is vital in controlling refugee flow at Albanian-Greek border
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                    [post_content] => By Dr. Elez Biberaj

Albania is facing its most serious predicament since its implosion in 1997 – a deteriorating political situation, the practical dismantling of the check-and-balance system, and a seemingly collapsed judiciary.  Institutions that sustain a rational, all-inclusive, democratic decision-making process are weak. Polarization is striking and there is no political center, which makes compromise very difficult.

Albania finds itself in the unenviable position of being one of Europe’s poorest and most corrupt countries. Although Albania has averaged an annual real GDP growth of 4 percent, one third of the population still lives in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than one dollar per day. Many Albanians believe the current system is rigged against them.  They have lost hope, seeing little opportunity to shape their country’s future.  According to recent Gallup surveys, some 60 percent of Albanians would like to emigrate. Since the early 1990s, more than a million-and-a-half Albanians have emigrated, with those between the ages of 20 and 40 leaving in the largest number.  Albania’s population today is estimated at 2.9 million – the same as it was in 1989 – and within the next thirty years is expected to decline to 2.6 million.

Having won a clear mandate in the 2017 elections, Prime Minister Edi Rama has been riding high. But his rule has been tarnished by poor governance, pervasive corruption, and economic mismanagement, and his leadership style has alienated many.

As is the case with some other East European leaders, Rama has become decidedly more authoritarian, corrupt, arrogant, and less transparent. He has attempted to maximize his power, shrinking public space, undermining independent institutions, stacking the judiciary with loyalists under the guise of reforms, and marginalizing the opposition. Rama has instituted a kleptocratic model of governance, granting no-bid contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to companies close to the government. The patron-client relationship between government officials and prominent businessmen has deformed the government decision-making process, violating the basic rules of the game, distorting market competition, and leaving ordinary Albanians without meaningful ways of effecting change.

The media environment has become less free and independent. The Prime Minister has steadily challenged the very notion of an independent media, launching his own, online outlet, ERTV.  He has steadily undermined the media, using an increasingly aggressive and threatening rhetoric, and characterizing them as “trashcan media.”  His recent attacks on the VOA, for airing a report on collusion between Socialist Party officials and organized crime groups during the 2017 elections, were breathtaking in their audacity.

Many journalists, vulnerable to political and economic pressure, practice self-censorship and avoid reporting about taboo topics. It is troubling that in 2019, the Albanians must rely on the international media, including the VOA, for reporting on sensitive issues.

Rama has refused to address the many scandalous revelations of corruption, including the publication of wiretaps revealing the involvement of senior Socialist officials with organized crime groups in vote buying during the 2017 elections. He has unabashedly provided impunity to high officials despite clear evidence of corruption and collusion with organized crime groups and drug traffickers.

The State Department’s 2019 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released in March 2019, identified Albania as a key transit country for narcotics distribution and “a base of operations for organized crime organizations operating in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and South America.”  The report listed Albania as a major money-laundering country, and added that, “Official corruption is pervasive and fosters an environment in which drug traffickers are largely able to operate with impunity.” The State Department report noted that justice reforms were undermined by “pervasive corruption.”

It was against this background that the Democratic Party-led opposition decided, in February 2019, to withdraw its deputies from parliament.  This unprecedented step pushedAlbania into a state of increased tensions, which risks violence,governance breakdown, and the postponement of Albania’s EU integration. Rama has dismissed Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha’s demands to resign and create a technical government as simply an attempt to grab power. Despite the urgency of the situation, the Prime Minister has thus far made no serious effort to reach out to the opposition.

There is no question that the Democratic Party and other opposition parties had a litany of legitimate grievances.  But by withdrawing from parliament, they simply abdicated their responsibilities to their electorate and made it easier for Rama to move in a more authoritarian way.  Arguably, Basha could have pursued a two-track policy: remain in parliament and challenge Rama’s governance and power structure, while at the same time mobilize support for nation-wide protests, develop an alternative platform, and work to position his party as best as possible to win the next local and parliamentary elections.  While Albania’s elections have in general been problematic, they offer the best and most realistic opportunity for the opposition to dislodge the governing party.

Basha took this hugely important decision in the absence of a real, honest debate about the rationale and potential risks of such a course and without any serious effort to enlist international support. Few Democrats had the courage and opportunity to question the assumptions under which the decision was made.  As should have been expected, the United States and the European Union expressed support for the government and criticized the opposition.

While Basha has been able to organize large protests in Tirana, it is not clear to what extent the opposition’s message has resonated with the populace.  There has not yet been a critical mass of public pressure that would force Rama to resignor radically adjust his position. The society at large seems disillusioned and increasingly disinterested in politics and unwilling to act. Despite growing discontent with government policies, ordinary Albanians have displayed little enthusiasm for societal activism that would bring much desired changes, apparently believing that they have no influence over the political system.  It is not clear if Basha has a strategy to broaden his party’s appeal and engage the civil society, whichwould help the opposition sustain the protests and convince Rama to compromise. There is a huge disconnect between the means at his disposal and his desired ends. Lack of a road map and Rama’s staying power could lead to an erosion of support for Basha and fragmentation of the opposition bloc.

Rama does not seem to comprehend the magnitude of the challenges his country faces and has adopted an uncompromising position.  The international community’s criticism of Basha’s decision and reluctance to seriously scrutinize the government’s policies and actions, have emboldened Rama, giving him confidence in his grip on power. His strategy has been to portray a sense of normalcy, embark on the offensive with his own rallies, hoping that in due time support for the opposition will vanish.

This is a short-sighted policy.  The longer the crisis continues, the greater the risk that Albania will face a potentially combustible situation.

​Albanians today appear dangerously adrift and without a clear vision for the future.  They seem to have lost trust and confidence in their leaders and in themselves.  They are likely to suffer further setbacks unless they make some critical choices and develop a strategy that will not only reverse their current backsliding but will set their country on a clear democratic path.

In past crisis, Albanian leaders were able to forge, at the last minute, unexpected and face-saving deals.  While there has been a serious breakdown in trust and communication between the government and opposition, there is still time for acompromise to end the cycle of escalation that is essential for maintaining the nation’s social cohesion.  But this requires political will on both sides to deescalate the conflict and pull back from maximalist demands. Thus far, political will has been missing and the current situation could easily settle into a prolonged stalemate.

However, unless Albanian leaders make serious efforts to find a compromise, Albania will likely descend into a quagmire.  An early test will be the local elections, scheduled for June.  It is in the interest of both sides, that the opposition takes part in the elections.  If Basha boycotts the elections, the opposition will deprive its supporters of representation and face the risk of being further marginalized.  On the other hand, it would be shortsighted for Rama to go ahead with the elections in the absence of the opposition’s participation or to attempt to create his own opposition to dislodge the official one.

Current Albanian leaders are facing a crisis of their own making.  Clearly, they have a responsibility to their nation to find ways to de-escalate the conflict and alter their country’s dysfunctional trajectory before Albania slides into a full-blown national emergency, with a high probability of civil conflict. The crisis could be defused with an agreement on the local elections, followed by changes in the electoral code and a deal on holding early parliamentary elections. It has become imperative that the 2008 constitutional changes be revisited with the objective of strengthening independent institutions and empowering the parliament. The current electoral law, which has led to a dangerous distance between the people and their elected representatives, must be changed. There is an emerging consensus that Albania should return to a mixed or winner-take-all system and shift away from the current proportional system.

But ultimately, any arrangement in the absence of a complete national overhaul and real, fundamental reforms will not necessarily deliver a clean break or revitalize the country’s political system.  Albania desperately needs a restart and a national compact – an agreement on shared national goals, and principles of good governance – that would reshape the country’s political order.

The next phase could determine if Albania will evolve into a consolidated democracy or take a pro-authoritarian, one-party direction. The established political leaders, which have dominated the country’s politics since the early 1990s and are responsible for Albania’s lagging behind, have run out of steam and can no longer serve as a catalyst for fundamental change. Let us hope that three decades after the demise of communism, the Albanian society is able to produce new elites that will display the real statesmanship that the road ahead demands.

*Dr. Elez Biberaj is the Director of the Eurasia Division at the Voice of America 

[post_title] => The challenges of Albanian democratic consolidation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-challenges-of-albanian-democratic-consolidation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-09 13:34:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-09 11:34:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141251 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141236 [post_author] => 338 [post_date] => 2019-04-05 17:19:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-05 15:19:12 [post_content] => TIRANA - More than 400 political representatives, national counter-terrorism coordinators, senior policy experts, practitioners and representatives of civil society, business and academia from across the OSCE’s participating States and Partners for Cooperation gathered in Bratislava for a two-day conference to take stock of efforts to prevent and counter terrorism as well as violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism (VERLT) in the OSCE area. Strengthening cooperation among states and fostering partnerships between governments and civil society are key to countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. These are the goals and the recurring message of the annual OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference which was held in Bratislava March 25-26, 2019. “Actions of violent extremists and tragic acts of radicalized individuals have become a virus infecting our societies, harming people and hindering peaceful development,” opened Lukáš Parízek, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic/Special Representative for the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship, recalling recent incidents in Christchurch, New Zealand and Utrecht, the Netherlands. Parízek said that countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism and radicalization is a key security commitment of OSCE participating States and remains one of the top priorities for Slovakia’s 2019 OSCE Chairmanship. The OSCE is developing powerful, human-rights compliant counter-terrorism programmes, as well as platforms and mechanisms for government and civil society cooperation to disengage individuals from violent extremism and terrorism. The conference itself was supposed to serve as an opportunity for representatives of participating and Partner States, together with parliamentarians, experts, civil society and business to foster multi-stakeholder approaches to preventing violent extremism and radicalization. Director of the Office of the OSCE Secretary General Paul Bekkers underlined that the conference provides an opportunity to discuss current trends such as home-grown terrorism, the rise of right-wing nationalist violence, and the return of foreign terrorist fighters and their family members. He said that these trends challenge existing policies and quick responses while retaining OSCE’s values must be taken. “We will discuss the pressing issue of rehabilitation and reintegration of former terrorism offenders and returning foreign fighters. After all, individuals are often returning back into the same environments which enabled their radicalization to terrorism in the first place. It is imperative that we find the right mix of responses to protect society and to help those willing to redeem themselves,” said Bekkers. Michèle Coninsx who is Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) stressed that a more comprehensive and holistic approach is needed to preventing and countering terrorism. Coninsx noted that terrorism must be fought on multiple fronts. The policies and methods followed must employ a broader perspective that is focused on developing close partnerships with civil society and private industry. She said that community engagement and resilience are also essential in responding to and countering the spread of violent extremism that leads to terrorism. The opening speakers’ remarks were followed by keynote speeches by Oleg Syromolotov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Oleg Kravchenko, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus; Artak Apitonian, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia; Dragan Pejanović, State Secretary at the Ministry of Interior of Montenegro; Chris Harnisch, Deputy Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism at the United States State Department and John Gatt-Rutter, Head of the Counter-Terrorism Division at the European External Action Service. The discussions will conclude tomorrow with closing remarks by Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism, Thomas Greminger, OSCE Secretary General, and State Secretary Parízek. In this conference Albania was represented by Dr. Arben Ramkaj, a renowned teolog from the Albanian Muslim community who serves as director of the Inter- Religious Collaboration Center in Elbasan (IRCCE), OSCE specialists, Agron Sojati who is National Coordinator for Countering Violent Extremism/Director of the Coordination CVE Center - Albania, and Deputy Interior Minister Besfort Lamallari. "I also would like to stress, as mentioned in the conference, the importance of the coordination among the states and the civil society for countering violent extremism, but also for treating this phenomenon based on the reality each country has to deal with on its own. This conference was also a good opportunity to connoisseur more civil society actors , who are practically the unknown soldiers in curing this phenomenon and its further prevention," said Dr. Ramkaj regarding the conference. WhatsApp Image 2019-04-05 at 11.21.29 AM(1) [post_title] => OSCE counters extremism and terrorism in Bratislava conference [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => osce-counters-extremism-and-terrorism-in-bratislava-conference [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-06 22:47:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-06 20:47:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141236 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141214 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-04-05 08:59:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-05 06:59:56 [post_content] => In a speech delivered during the last parliament session, and conveniently   ignored by main TV news channels, the former minister of foreign affairs, Ditmir Bushati openly positioned himself against the approach, which his own majority and the Prime Minister Rama has adopted towards the political crisis that engulfed the country since the opposition MPs took the drastic decision to collectively give up their mandates. Despite this aggressive act on behalf of the opposition, which he also condemned, Bushati called upon the majority and the PM Rama to renounce the arrogance and contempt that they are treating the situation with. Bushati, which was removed from his ministerial post last December, in a move that raised many eyebrows, reminded the government and its head, but also the international community representatives, that democracy is not about procedures but about essential content. Bushati made an appeal for a political agreement that according to him should be made with the real opposition, the political opposition that is not the result of mere application of substitution procedures. “Democracy as a procedure is the formal substitution of the lists of the Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration. But democracy is also essence and in that regard gives us the opportunity for a future agreement for the Electoral Code and the rules of the game be that with the parliamentary opposition but most importantly with the political opposition. That I believe is the higher expression of awareness that the Socialist Party and the progressive Albanian socialists can have for the fate of democracy and for the fate of Albania,” Bushati said. After the collective ‘burning’ of the opposition mandates, the Central Electoral Commission proceeded with the substitution of the MPs with those next in line according to the lists drafted by the DP and the SMI. The Prime Minister rushed to consider them as the ‘new opposition’, a move that went in line also with the stance of key high level representatives of the OSCE, which also considered it a legal and proper procedure. In general, the international community that has a significant clout over the political developments in Albania was silent or dismissive to this situation, signaling in a certain sense the acceptance of, what is in fact, a fake opposition. Bushati called for a deal with the real political opposition which stands outside the Parliament doors. Former Minister Bushati, who seems to be sketching an independent profile within the Socialist Party, called yesterday for a grand deal that would end the political conflict in Albania between the government and the opposition. Such a conflict has been a predominant and overwhelming characteristics in post-communist Albania. Bushati brought to this speech the example of Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia that reached a peaceful agreement after several decades of being at odds with each other. Albania is now at a big and important crossroads- the former minister added. “Why it is that Greeks and Macedonians can find the way to look forward and we within ourselves cannot find a common language”- Bushati rhetorically asked in a parliament audience that kept eerily silent for most of the time. The former high ranking member of the Rama cabinet bypassed the Prime Minister during his parliament speech by calling upon old school brand names of the Socialist Party such as Speaker Gramoz Ruci, former Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and Musa Ulqini, another senior figure of the SP, to step in and contribute to a solution. These three names are among the very few left from the Socialist Party that don’t come from the close loyal entourage of the Prime Minister himself that have followed him from the municipality and that are only loosely and recently related to the SP.   “I am asking you today, how can it be possible Mr. Ruci that after three decades as a politician of experience, how is it possible Mr. Ulqini, how is it possible Mr. Majko?  Aren’t we all Albanians, part of the same nation? Why is it so hard for us to find a common language and move forward?” were Bushati’s strong words of appeal to his senior party colleagues. The former minister used his speech in the parliament to send a clear message also to the international community and especially to the OSCE, whose independent credibility is at an all-time low in the country, to stop downplaying and ignoring the political crisis that Albania is currently facing. Additionally Bushati was clear in implying during his speech that the government should give up its practices of “the state from point zero” or history starting whenever one side comes to power. He recalled to the attention of the majority in the parliament that the NATO membership was the final achievement of the contribution of all the political forces and governments. During the official ceremonies that marked the tenth anniversary of NATO membership for Albania the government did not send out invitations to the opposition or to former government leaders from the Democratic Party. In a ten minute spot broadcast in TVs, including the personal online channel of the Prime Minister –ERTV, the only featured portraits were that of Rama himself and of his current ministers. Indeed Albania got the official membership invitation during the 2008 NATO Summit of Bucharest where the official participants were Prime Minister of the time Sali Berisha and Minister of FA, Lulzim Basha. In the Summit there were also present key high level figures of the Socialist opposition of that time. Last but not least, in a very interesting move, Bushati also attacked the model of governance that has brought about the extreme economic polarization of the country and the accumulation of control over public wealth in the hands of a few oligarchs. This accusation is one of the strongest used by the opposition and one of the most resonant in the public opinion therefore the mentioning of it by a former minister of the Rama cabinet is set to make waves for a long time. Bushati is for the moment the first public voice against the approach of Prime Minister Rama, to ignore and ridicule the political crisis, against the arrogance and the spirit of excluding the opposition to the point of treating it like the enemy front towards integration. The reaction of PM Rama, not visible during the session, will be of high interest in this regard. It is still early to conclude whether the thesis presented by former minister Bushati to revise key tenants of the governance and narrative approach of PM Rama, to reconsider the governance model and especially to prioritize reaching a deal with the actual opposition have the potential to encourage and internal reflection process within the Socialist Party. What is clear at this point is the formation of a group inside the SP that opposes the policies of PM Rama. It seems like the former Minister of FA is at the top of this group or at least their sole public voice. Moreover it is important to mention in this context that the rift between PM Rama and former minister Bushati stems not only from the different political principles that they seem to harbor but also because of the unsaid dynamics related to the removal of Bushati as minister at the end of last year. During this last month it has become clear that they have taken opposing sides in the internal fight for power within the Socialist Party, quite relevant to its very future. The Prime Minister Rama has in fact used against the former minister, the young deputy minister Cakaj who substituted him. In the last two public conferences, Cakaj has made unprecedented, indirect yet obvious accusations towards the former minister of presiding over a ministry entrenched in nepotism and illegality and has announced the undertaking of a deep reform in this institution. Pm Rama might decide to easily crush this internal challenge by deploying his usual tactics of political gas-lighting or his media attack squad. In the meantime the public revolt of the former Minister Bushati remains one of the most robust and revealing discontent voices so far.     [post_title] => Albania is at crossroads [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albania-is-at-crossroads [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-09 13:33:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-09 11:33:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141214 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141203 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-04-03 23:46:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-03 21:46:54 [post_content] => TIRANA, April 3 - The Independent Qualification Committee said on Tuesday it is investigating the head of the Serious Crimes Appeals Court Fehmi Petku, after noticing discrepancies on all three re-evaluation fields. On his side, Petku objected the IQC’s claims, saying they are mistaken concerning his wealth declaration, his questionable ties with crime elements and his professional integrity. Meanwhile, it was a report provided by the Directorate of Securing Classified Information that raised doubts on Petku maintaining contact with people belonging to organized crime networks. “Information has also been ensured concerning inclusion with passive corruption in evaluating judicial cases,” the spokeswoman said, adding there has been information concerning Petku’s son which alleged he might be pressured by organized crime networks. Petku objected to these allegations and raised concerns over the directorate’s professionalism, saying that the compilation of two reports with different results goes against the rules and that one of the two reports is invalid. “Either the first report or the second are illegal,” Petku said, adding that the evaluation of the integrity of his professional figure was conducted beyond the legal deadline. Meanwhile, the investigation also found issues with the judge’s wealth declaration, whereas the IQC raised doubts for concealment, false declaration and inability to legally cover his wealth based on his wage. In addition to the dictatorate’s report, the IQC spokeswoman Xhensila Pine said the commission had undertaken a more thorough investigation of Petku’s properties. According to these investigations, Petku owns a piece of land approximately 270 square meters and a three-store building in Tirana’s “Ali Dem” neighborhood. He also owns a 4000 square meters piece of land which he bought in August 1996 for six million Albanian Lek anda 2000 square meter land which he bought for three million. Petku also co-owns 1600 square meter land with other individuals and an agricultural land of 100 thousand square meters surface. In addition to possible conflict of interest, Pine said Petku has no sources that justify all this accumulated wealth. On his side, Petku said that in addition to having declared all the properties mentioned by the report in advance, he had also clarified that the majority of those properties were inherited. He further said his family belonged to those who had been persecuted during communism and that he’d been deported after his uncle’s escape in 1967. Petku added his family had worked difficult jobs during communism that would be paid more than usual, from 35 to 40 thousand Albanian Lek at the time, and that is how it managed to buy properties.   [post_title] => Head of Serious Crimes Appeal risks dismissal under vetting process [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => head-of-serious-crimes-appeal-risks-dismissal-under-vetting-process [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-03 23:46:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-03 21:46:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141203 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141192 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-04-03 12:20:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-03 10:20:01 [post_content] => TIRANA, April 3 - The World Bank said on Tuesday Albania's economic growth could stagnate this year due to the drought, as last year’s production and export of electricity took the lead in economic growth. Experts also claimed that structural reforms and efforts to integrate within the EU should continue both in Albania and in the region. The World Bank made these comments during the publication of its Regional Economic Report. According to the report, Albania's economic growth this year may resume a downward trend due to several deterrent factors, among which are the climatic conditions and the country’s political situation. “Political uncertainty and delays in implementing structural reforms can undermine both the business climate and the progress of EU membership, which should continue to be one of the country's main goals,” said Ilda Shijaku, World Bank expert. According to the WB report, it is vital to move reforms forwards in order to mitigate risks and increasing public discontent. Further on, the World Bank says the protests that have involved not just Albania, but some countries in the region are a sign of insecurity. "The protests that are noticed in many Balkan countries are also related to delays in implementing structural reforms. For those cases they relate to economic uncertainty or difficult economic conditions and uncertainty about the future, the authorities of those countries should take measures to accelerate structural reforms by facilitating labor market integration through investment in human capital, improving the business climate and creating equal development conditions for all,” Shijaku said. According to the World Bank, the main task remains the improvement of the business climate and law enforcement, because this year the economy will grow less than last year. "Fiscal risks are present and relate mainly to off-balance sheet activities, including Public Private Partnerships, as well as liabilities accumulated by public utilities,” said Shijaku. The growth in electricity production and export helped the economy increase by 1.5 percent to a total of four per cent, but foreign direct investments are now taking place at a slow pace. Among the external risks are the trade wars taking place between other states and the economic difficulties neighboring countries are going through. “Another external risk factor is a slower pace in the economic growth of EU countries, especially Italy, which recorded recession recently. Also, the conditions for borrowing are also less favorable, thus increasing Albania’s costs, already significantly exposed to foreign lending of money,” Shijaku said. Economic growth, according to experts, came mainly from the increase in domestic demand and a largest trade consumption. Albania, the World Bank reported, experienced an economic growth of over 4 percent last year, public debt declined and jobs increased, but structural reforms and the path towards the EU need to be sped up.   [post_title] => “Albania should speed up reforms and EU integration in face of possible economic decline,” WB says [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albania-should-speed-up-reforms-and-eu-integration-in-face-of-possible-economic-decline-wb-says [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-03 12:20:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-03 10:20:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141192 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141184 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-04-02 12:55:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-02 10:55:42 [post_content] => TIRANA, April 2 - The German Ambassador to Tirana Susanne Schütz said on Monday that potential and existing German enterprises often complain of the country’s weak information policy and transparency, especially related to public tenders and shady property relations for possible investment objects. In an interview for local media Monitor, Schütz said the Albanian government should take measures to minimize these concerns and halt this negative trend from further deterioration. Albania has a great development potential for many sectors, including tourism, the green energy sector, as well as agriculture and the service sector. In all sectors it is equally important to create the right basic conditions for potential investors - both Albanian and foreign. First to apply here are security, transparency and a well-functioning, effective and non-corrupt administration. It is important that potential German investors to be welcomed by the Albanian side and receive professional care,” Schütz said. According to Schütz, shortcomings in paying public tenders also negatively affect Albania’s image as a possible investment destination and the common goal of politicians and international representatives alike should be to oppose the conceived perception by offering positive examples of how Albania welcomes foreign investors. On the other hand, Schütz argued the country’s ongoing justice reform and its vetting process are successful and have contributed positively in improving Albania’s image in the eyes of foreign investors. “The justice reform is a success story for which Albania can take pride. Especially the vetting process, which apparently is unique all over the world, strengthens trust in the rule of law and can substantially contribute to Albania's attractiveness as an investment destination. It has also been praised by German entrepreneurs. From the German economy’s point of view, these reforms must necessarily continue,” Schütz said. Further on, Schütz added that German media is currently reporting the internal political situation taking place in the country as a deadlock and displaying violent confrontations between the opposition’s protesters and the Albanian police on TV. “Potential German investors see images of flying stones, molotov cocktails and tear gas. In order not to harm Albania as an investment destination, I think the opposition also has a responsibility to direct the political discourse peacefully and through the institutions provided for in the Constitution, namely, first of all, the parliament,” Schütz told Monitor. Schütz mirrored the words of the Albanian Exporters Association, which at the beginning of May said the country’s deadlock will directly negatively affect the economy, foreign and local investments, exports and the general development of the country. Although Germany remains one of Albania’s biggest donors, their trade exchange is not one of the highest. According to the National Statistics Institute, Germany is Albania’s fourth biggest export partner, as opposed to being the main partner for most of the region’s countries. “The international flow of goods is influenced by various factors. An important criterion is certainly customs and other trade barriers, but also the geographic proximity factor plays a role. Thus, we see that countries closer to Albania, above all Italy, are important partners. In trade with other neighboring countries in the region, such as Kosovo or North Macedonia, we see a growing trade volume,” Schütz said. Germany began cooperating with Albania in the field of development policies in 1998, right before the country officially opened its borders.   [post_title] => German investors worry over lack of transparency in public tenders, German Ambassador says [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => german-investors-worry-over-lack-of-transparency-in-public-tenders-german-ambassador-says [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-02 12:55:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-02 10:55:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141184 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141151 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-29 07:47:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-29 06:47:29 [post_content] => The Albanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj, charged with special delegated ministerial powers by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edi Rama, whose second title has been forgotten too soon, stirred up debate again this week with his decision to cleanse the ranks of the Albanian diplomats. Announcing the removal from posts for about 20 serving diplomats the allegedly ‘prodigy child’ has argued that the reasons behind this move have to do with the lack of credentials and performance and even allegations of nepotism regarding the ones that have been targeted. There is no doubt that there are serious, concerning problems with the representation of Albania abroad. Up until the end of the nineties a small core group of diplomats was developed and was accepted by both political sides in Albania. This consisted of seasoned and well-prepared individuals which were quietly protected from the effect of political power changing hands. Instead of strengthening and expanding this group, the changes in the foreign service law in 2014 shattered the entire logic of diplomacy by career progression and implemented the ‘open doors’ policy which had the scandalous effects of increasing the number of unprepared and unsuitable people being the face of Albania in the world. The situation now is that embassies and consulates harbor a garden variety of pensioners, former people accused of crimes alongside the usual suspects from the extended families of politicians. Indeed the situation would have warranted the removal of twice as many people, perhaps even more. However at the same time is obvious that the unexperienced and militant minister is being used as an easy and convenient instrument for the internal political fight within the Socialist Party. Sadly there is little chance he is aware of how destructive this is for the Albanian foreign policy in such a crucial time. The revolution that the representation of Albania abroad needs should start with a systemic rethinking of the law, with the restoration of career diplomacy as the primary way for promotion and with a strategic priority setting for key national goals. This cannot be achieved by petty witch hunts and all attempts to do so will make this representation even less legitimate, even less efficient. This strategic vision needs to be based on a comprehensive knowledge of problems which sadly cannot be transmitted by metrics such as “kilometers of books read” but by years of experience and being embedded for a desirably sufficient time in the identification of the dynamics. The same is valid for the idea of incorporating excellence students in the foreign service trumpeted as part of the effort to accommodate the student demands. The only way it can be done properly is through legitimate competitions and a career system in which they start in the basic levels and move up by building expertise. The façade shows of promoting excellence by force do not serve foreign policy goals, on the contrary. Otherwise this is just a little tempest in a teacup, useless and ridiculous.   [post_title] => The tempest in the teacup of Albanian diplomacy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-tempest-in-the-teacup-of-albanian-diplomacy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-29 07:47:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-29 06:47:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141151 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141138 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-28 23:54:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-28 22:54:35 [post_content] => TIRANA, Mar. 28 - The opposition’s seventh protest in the course of 40 days began with tensions in front of the parliament, where as in the previous cases hundreds of police forces had surrounded the entire area and all access roads leading to the building, where the weekly parliamentary session was taking place. Initially, a group of protesters, mostly residents of the Astir area who, since November, have been protesting against the Great Ring project looking to expand the city ring, tried several times to break the line of policemen surrounding the walking road between the interior ministry and the Gallery of Arts. A similar situation was repeated several times at the parliament’s main entrance, where the main opposition leaders remained among the protesters. The occasional attempts of a group of protesters to open the way to the building were backed by police. Small firecrackers and smoke bombs were released by protesters, while short speeches were being held by opposition representatives, former MPs who have abandoned parliament since February, when the opposition resigned its parliamentary mandates altogether, leading the country to deadlock. Protesters also marched toward the ministry of interior, where they sprayed the outside walls with black spray to condemn the police decision to arrest 14 protesters over the sixth protest last Thursday. Local media also reported some citizens were left injured from clashing with police forces. As in the previous protests, head of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha gathered the protesters at the DP headquarters when the protest ended, where he held the closing speech before singing the national anthem. In his speech Basha stated there can be no elections with Rama or a pact with the "Balkan’s Moduro”, meanwhile promising the Albanians supporting this anti-government rally that he will never betray them. "The time of the gang is over. Whoever doesn’t get it, can understand clearly there will be no elections with Rama, no pact with the Balkans’ Moduro. This resistance began to return governance back to every Albanian and will not stop until it becomes a reality. Nobody in this protest is here for the power chair and much less for bargaining, but to end the bargain at the expense of the people,” Basha said. Basha’s words were not addressed only to opposition supporters, but also to disappointed Socialists: “Betrayed Socialists, lift your head, join the movement of hope.” The opposition's demands remains unchanged: the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama and the establishment of a caretaker government that can lead the country to early elections. In addition to resigning their parliamentary mandates, the opposition is also heading towards a total boycott of the local elections to be held in June by refusing to hand in their candidates list. [post_title] => Seventh opposition protest deepens deadlock [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => seventh-opposition-protest-deepens-deadlock [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-02 11:31:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-02 09:31:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141138 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141103 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-03-28 18:30:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-28 17:30:17 [post_content] => By Sidonja Manushi  On February 19, the National History Museum hosted for three days a special photo exhibition from a far-away artist who might have managed to capture the essence of being Albanian much better than some of the local ones. Ebtisam Al-Houti is a Kuwaiti artist who got introduced to Albania due to her husband’s position as the Ambassador of Kuwait to Tirana, but who fell in love with the country, its nature and its traditions completely on her own. “Albania is a unique country that you will not get bored to visit and live due to its diverse cities with rich history, culture, art, museums, archeology and ancient architecture. It is a rare example of the cities whose heritage and architecture have been preserved through the ages. Albania has charming nature, magnificent natural resources, beautiful mountains, plains, rivers and lakes, which fascinated me by nature and environmental tourism. In which I have memories that will not be forgotten,” she said, painting the country through the eyes of a wanderer, as much as a photographer. Born in Kuwait in 1958, Ebtisam Al-Houti is an artist mainly fond of photography. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Kuwait University. Soon thereafter, Al-Houti was assigned to the position of senior psychologist and deputy head of the Psychological Counseling Unit at the Faculty of Education at Kuwait University from 1995 to date. Al-Houti’s connection to the art of photography began in the Republic of Benin in 2011. It was during this time that she was drawn to the picturesque nature and splendor of the arts, as well as to the beauty of expression of the people of Benin. Since that time, Al-Houti has focused on developing her photography and enhancing her skills. It was perhaps this mixture of the love to travel and the desire to explore and understand the culture of all the countries she visits that gave birth to the exhibition’s unique character. Titled “Albania, hospitality’s bright smile,” Al-Houti’s pictures capture one of the most trademark, yet hardly understood, traits of Albanian custom - that of hospitality. Albanian hospitality is one of those things tourists mention the most when asked about what they found remarkable in the country. Despite the country’s small size and big - sometimes bad - reputation, the average Albanian is friendly and peaceful. With family and communal ties strongly preserved, Albanians remain giving and hospitable, in a world fast-changing to individualism and ties based on interest. “Most of the people of Albania, regardless of the different cities, religions and social levels, and despite the existence of cultural and ethnic differences among its members, are peaceful and friendly, and maintains the strength of family ties. It is a nation that coexists with different groups of society in natural harmony,” Al-Houti said. Her exhibition did not escape the attention of high-rank officials either, the most noteworthy among whom was Albania’s President Ilir Meta, who posted pictures with the artist in his official Instagram page. “A warm meeting with Kuwaiti artist Ebtisam Al Houti, engaged over the last years with promoting one of the biggest and most important Albanian characteristic and value, hospitality,” Meta wrote, adding he “appreciates Al Houti’s efforts to strengthen brotherly ties with the Kuwaiti people and to create a guide for foreign tourists, an indication of Albania’s humane values and fairytale beauty.” “Bread, salt and heart” is one of the most used Albanian expressions and probably the motto to remember this exhibition by. Used by Albanians when they invite someone into their houses even if they have nothing to offer other than bread, salt and an open heart, Al-Houti took this expression and manifested it with images. The exhibition includes photographs taken in six Albanian cities, embodying the spirit of hospitality through a series of cultural discoveries and exchanges between the people of Albania and the artist. Among them was Tirana, the country’s capital, Shkodra, the cradle of Albanian culture, Korca, the city of arts and museums, Berat, with its ancient architecture, Mirdita, with its magical nature and Gjirokastra, the city of leaders. “I honestly enjoyed all the cities that I visited in this work, which contains so many beautiful memories, that I have lived and enjoyed from the warm welcoming ... and the wealth of meeting the wonderful families and wonderful friends ... along with valuable historical information,” Al-Houti said, describing her travels. While in Tirana, the artist was invited to a house that was built in 1927 and was greeted by most of the women of the extended family “who showered me with love, generosity, welcome and a flood of warm emotions.” The photographs show a variety of treats traditionally offered in the capital, from home-cooked food and thana juice, hasude dessert and the flavorful Turkish coffee, especially prepared on a wooden fireplace. Similarly, in Shkodra she visited a home that was built 200 years ago; during that visit, Al-Houti engaged in an interesting discussion about the ancient city over Turkish coffee and a local dessert known in Shkodra as “hajimakula.” In Korca, she was hosted at a house which was built over 100 years ago. As the artist describes in her photography book, “discussion covered a variety of topics, with a great deal of ease and spontaneity, coupled with a beautiful spirit of people who were proud to display their love and pride in their city and the abundance it envelopes.” There, she was offered fragrant apples that make Korca famous all over Albania, as well as homemade peach jam and juice. The hosts’ own honey, decorated with almonds, made an excellent addition to the aesthetic selection of Korca’s photographs. Reminiscing on her experience traveling through the country, Al-Houti said the hospitality found in Albania is incomparable with any other country she’s visited. “Frankly, I did not find the level and beauty of Albanian hospitality except in the Gulf countries to which I belong and some Arab Islamic countries that have the same cultures and traditions,” she said concerning the subject of her art. In Berat - which has made it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its magnificent architecture - she was hosted in another old, carefully preserved, house. As a traditional treat, she was offered homemade quince jam and Turkish coffee. Mirdita might have been the most unique of locations Al-Houti visited, despite her saying she was not able to pick a favorite one. Mirdita is known as the city of valleys, long-distance tours, waterfalls, ecotourism and natural resources. The 200-year old house she visited in Miredita was located on an ancient travel path, and contained no modifications that would cause its original splendor to diminish. Among the stories told in that house, Al-Houti learned that years ago, the current residents’ great grandfather would host travellers who passed through searching for a place to stay. He would take anyone in need in, offering them food and a place to stay for free. In Miredite, she took pictures of freshly-squeezed grape juice, grilled chestnuts, seasonal fruit, lacnor for dessert and Turkish coffee. Interestingly, the area’s chestnuts are some of the country’s best. Gjirokastra is the last of cities, but definitely not the least one - if anything, it is the cherry on top. In Gjirokaster, a rare example of preserved architectural wonder, Al-Houti visited a house built 400 years ago - what she called “a truly beautiful architectural masterpiece.” Extending their hospitality, the hosts offered her homemade fig and cherry jam, fresh pomegranate juice and saltines. If there is one thing that Al-Houti’s photographs depict is that hospitality offered with sincere love will always be accompanied with abundance. It was also the thing that made her feel more at home, among the nature, history and culture. “Is there anything more important than the strength of family bonds among members of one family, and the strength of social relations between members of society of all sects and religions and acceptance of the other opinion? That is the basis of building and the strength of the community accompanied by the whiteness of the heart and spirit and the nature with which God created man. I hope that Albanian people will adhere to the blessings that God has given and not neglect them,” she asked, drawing parallels between Albanian custom and the practices and core values represented in the teachings of Islam that she was raised by. Ultimately, it is the graciousness that remains throughout the visit of a guest and the way Albanian hosts bid farewell at the door with the hopes of seeing them again that made “Albania: Hospitality’s bright smile” one of the most interesting exhibitions to grace the National History Museum and which will give the artist, and other visiting after her, a reason to return to Albania.     [post_title] => ‘Bread, salt and heart’ through the eyes of a Kuwaiti lens [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => bread-salt-and-heart-through-the-eyes-of-a-kuwaiti-lens [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-01 11:15:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-01 09:15:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141103 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141301 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-04-09 15:44:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-09 13:44:50 [post_content] => TIRANA, April 9 - Albanian Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj said on Monday Albania cannot manage the potential refugee flux making its way through the country on its own. Lleshaj said during a conference with Czech counterpart Jan Hamáček that there is information “about the circulation through social media of the efforts of organizing a refugee caravan from Greece to Europe.” He further implied that Albania has limited capacity to expect a potential influx of refugees who could move to Albania through its border with Greece when he noted that “Albania has the capacities it has and can not expand them every time a refugee wave is activated.” Lleshaj called the management of refugee inflows “a  difficult and multi-dimensional challenge to manage and a situation that is hard to deal with from only one country.” “The situation is being kept in constant control, Albania has the capacity to partially keep the situation under check, but certainly our part only is not enough, this is a big issue that goes beyond the size of Albania and the region,” Lleshaj said. He recalled the difficult 2015 refugee situation, termed the year of the crisis in Europe because hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq flooded Europe  through the Mediterranean Sea to escape war and persecution. In November 2015, about 160,000 refugees settled in the reception centers of Greece. However, recent events at the Greek-Albanian border show refugees’ goal is to flee to North Europe, through Albania or Macedonia. According to Lleshaj, the situation can only be managed with the help of European partners. “Albania will be able to manage the situation and keep it under control as it is much better coordinated with its European and FRONTEX partners currently located on the common border of Albania with Greece,” Lleshaj said. Albania is the first non-EU member that signed last year's EU border management agreement, known as the FRONTEX (European Border and Coast Guard Agency) agreement. This agreement allows the EU to coordinate the operational cooperation with Albania on the management of the EU's external borders. The focus of the cooperation is illegal migration, migration flows and cross-border crime. Since the deal with FRONTEX, last year, the technical and operational assistance of the EU has increased in Albania's borders. Effective EU external borders management, controlling potential migratory flows, the fight against smuggling of immigrants continue to be important challenges for Albania, the region and the EU.   [post_title] => MoI says FRONTEX is vital in controlling refugee flow at Albanian-Greek border [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => moi-says-frontex-is-vital-in-controlling-refugee-flow-at-albanian-greek-border [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-09 15:44:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-09 13:44:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141301 [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] => 924 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 37 [category_count] => 924 [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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