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Great Ring protests persist despite injuries and arrests

Great Ring protests persist despite injuries and arrests

TIRANA, Nov. 27 – The Astir area residents looking to revoke the Great Ring project that foresees demolition without compensation of all houses lacking mortgage resumed their protests on Tuesday, despite the violent clashes with police last Thursday in front

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Albania reconfirms Panucci for Euro 2020 qualifiers

Albania reconfirms Panucci for Euro 2020 qualifiers

TIRANA, Nov. 22 – Albania’s football association has confirmed Christian Panucci will be given another chance as Albania coach and lead the Red & Black through the Euro 2020 qualifiers despite the national side’s poor track record under the Italian’s

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Friendly against Wales could be make or break for under-fire Albania coach

Friendly against Wales could be make or break for under-fire Albania coach

By Ervin Lisaku TIRANA, Nov. 19 – The upcoming friendly against Wales could be Christian Panucci’s last as head of Albania’s national side following an embarrassing 4-0 home loss against Scotland that saw Albania relegated to League D of the

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Albania events to follow

Albania events to follow

Tirana Liberation Day is on Nov. 17. In this day the Tirana Municipality organizes some festive activities, but the most traditional one, is that moment when veterans gathers at ‘Unknown Soldier’ monument, putting there flowers and remembering this historical day.

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Albania likely to sack Panucci in case of failure in next two games

Albania likely to sack Panucci in case of failure in next two games

TIRANA, Nov. 15 – The upcoming Nations League qualifier against Scotland and a friendly with Wales in the next few days could prove decisive for Christian Panucci and his fate as Albania’s coach, Albania’s football association president has warned. “We

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Tirana residents protest Great Ring project, as opposition warns of corrupt affair

Tirana residents protest Great Ring project, as opposition warns of corrupt affair

TIRANA, Nov. 12 – Over the last two weeks, residents living in the Astir area – soon to be part of a construction project that foresees demolishing a number of houses and buildings – have been protesting and calling on

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President Meta attends hundredth anniversary of WWI armistice in Paris

President Meta attends hundredth anniversary of WWI armistice in Paris

TIRANA, Nov. 12 – Albanian President Ilir Meta was invited by French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to attend the commemoration ceremony of the hundredth anniversary of the World War I armistice, which took place at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris.

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Albania makes Greek-Cypriot politician and 52 Greek citizens ‘personae non-gratae’

Albania makes Greek-Cypriot politician and 52 Greek citizens ‘personae non-gratae’

TIRANA, Nov. 11 – The Albanian foreign ministry announced on Friday the Cypriot, Euro Parliamentarian Eleni Theocharous is now a ‘persona non-grata,’ after the latter attended on Thursday the Greek minority member’s Kostantinos Katsifas funeral service in Bularat, Gjirokaster, where

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President-PM debate on Albania’s new MoI persists, as Meta inquires answers

President-PM debate on Albania’s new MoI persists, as Meta inquires answers

TIRANA, Nov. 11 – Albanian President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama publicly exchanged commentary again on Saturday, when Rama re-sent his proposal to make General Sander Lleshi the country’s new interior minister to Meta to decree, although Meta

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Albanians still lead region’s youth migration, with 79 percent looking to leave

Albanians still lead region’s youth migration, with 79 percent looking to leave

TIRANA, Nov. 8 – The ever-increasing trend of Albanian youth to leave the country as soon as possible has lowered chances for the country’s economy to improve, as experts have claimed for years it’s particularly this part of the society

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 27 - The Astir area residents looking to revoke the Great Ring project that foresees demolition without compensation of all houses lacking mortgage resumed their protests on Tuesday, despite the violent clashes with police last Thursday in front of Albania’s parliament which left 13 police officers injured and 11 citizens under arrest. 

Local media reported on Tuesday morning these protests again saw clashes with the municipal police, which is in charge of making sure that Great Ring project works continue in Astir.

Opposition lawmakers, especially those from the main opposition Democratic Party, have attended the protests, which have been scattered in different parts of Tirana for more than two weeks now, almost daily.

On Sunday, local media even reported the State Police had taken penal action against DP leader Lulzim Basha and a number of other opposition lawmakers who were attending the protest on Sunday without taking permission to rally.

A day after Thursday’s violent display of protest towards what the protesters have called “corrupt government plans to empower private businesses, all behind the facade of supporting a street expansion project,” Prime Minister Edi Rama and Basha exchanged public accusations on who is to blame for the situation.

Basha again blamed Rama and his socialist government of corruption, as the DP claims there was no real competition behind the construction companies bidding to win the tender and that the street expansion’s  40 million euro cost has set a record high, while being made a reality without a building permit and in total violation of the law. 

On Friday, Basha also said the government is obliged to compensate all citizens’ whose houses will be demolished from the street expansion project - even those whose houses are under legalization process.

Rama, on the other hand, during a media statement in Fier, said that according to him the law is clear and that objects standing in the way of important projects will not be legalized. He blamed the opposition of leading citizens’ in a protest to receive what doesn’t belong to them unlike any other time and said its political interests and struggle for power is what fuels its support of the citizens’ protests.

Among the injured during Thursday’s protest were also residents, while one of the thirteen police officers that were injured was reported to have lost he fingers of one hand after a firecracker thrown during the protest exploded close to her hand.

Local media reported on Sunday Tirana’s Court released ten out of the 11 protesters who were arrested on Friday after the protest. Dorjan Protoduari, 31-year-old protester who allegedly threw the firecracker that harmed the police effective who lost her fingers and who was arrested while visiting his mother in the hospital, has remained in prison.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj published pictures showing that some of the families whose houses will be demolished under the Great Ring project have moved in the designated social homes in the area of Shkoza, all furnished and equipped with household appliances. 

“A new beginning for everyone! The first families affected by the Great Ring project left primitive residences without permission on the footsteps of the road, for a new start with dignified social housing. Time for people to make their own accounts” Veliaj wrote on Facebook. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 22 – Albania’s football association has confirmed Christian Panucci will be given another chance as Albania coach and lead the Red & Black through the Euro 2020 qualifiers despite the national side’s poor track record under the Italian’s lead during the past one and a half years.

The confirmation comes after Albania closed their Nations League campaign with a humiliating 4-0 home loss against Scotland but claimed a hard-earned win in a friendly against Wales this week that somehow relieved pressure on under-fire Panucci following a series of poor performances, having lost eight out of 14 games since taking over in mid-2017.

Albania's football association president Armand Duka says firing Panucci few months before the Euro qualifiers would be a hasty decision and luxury a modest national side such as Albania cannot afford.

"It is not time for hasty decisions. Panucci has his pros and cons. We can't afford the luxury of changing coaches at a time when the Euro qualifiers start next March. We remain a modest team and can do better if everybody supports the coach and the staff for the Euro qualifiers," Duka, who has been in charge of Albania’s football association for the past sixteen years, has told a local TV.

The head of Albania’s football association says the national sides looks consolidated now and has gained key players such as Ardian Ismajli and Myrto Uzuni, two Croatia top league players, in tests during the past few games.

Panucci, who was hired on a two-and-a-half year €280,000 contract, had been set a Euro 2020 qualification target whose first opportunity he missed with Albania finishing bottom in League C Group 1. Firing him before his contracts ends in November 2019, would also have financial consequences for the football association.

The upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers are set to begin in March 2019 after ten groups are drawn in early December 2018.

 

Also read: Morale-boosting win against Wales saves Panucci from early Albania departure
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TIRANA, Nov. 19 – The upcoming friendly against Wales could be Christian Panucci’s last as head of Albania’s national side following an embarrassing 4-0 home loss against Scotland that saw Albania relegated to League D of the inaugural Nations League campaign and Albania’s 2018 performance under the Italian coach being one of the worst in decades.

Albania host Wales on Tuesday, Nov. 20 in a friendly that could prove decisive for the Italian coach’s chances to continue leading Albania through the Euro 2020 qualifiers, having already lost a chance to keep qualification hopes alive through the Nations League, a UEFA tournament that largely replaces friendlies, but also plays a major part for the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign by deciding the final four places via play-offs.

Albania desperately needed a win against Scotland, but the national side’s hopes received a severe blow as Albania remained in 10 men early in the game following a foolish headbutt by captain Mergim Mavraj, a former Hamburger defender who now plays in the Greek top league.

The embarrassing performance against a Scotland team facing key absences and debut Scot players easily scoring to Albania irritated the almost packed stadium with crowds chanting for Panucci’s resignation and leaving the stadium in the second half as Albania failed to have a single shot on target for the entire game.

However, Panucci insisted he will not step down even after the Scotland loss and it is now up to the Albanian football association to decide on his stay.

The 45-year Italian had already been under pressure following a series of poor performances which he justified with key absences in the national side and newly called up players needing time to adjust.

Albania’s football association president had indicated Panucci’s performance would be analyzed following Scotland and Wales games, but the embarrassing loss against the Scots seems to have already set the association in motion to settle the contract with Panucci and seek for a replacement ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

A renowned former Italian international who played for top European clubs, but had little coaching experience when taking over as Albania coach, the 45-year-old Panucci has lost eight out of 13 games since taking over in mid-2017 when he succeeded compatriot Gianni De Biasi who led Albania to a first-ever appearance at a major competition such as Euro 2016.

Panucci, who was hired on a two-and-a-half year €280,000 contract, had been set a Euro 2020 qualification target whose first opportunity he missed with Albania finishing bottom in League C Group 1.

Albania collected only a home victory against Israel and was relegated to League D for the for the next 2020-21 UEFA Nations League as the lowest ranked third-placed team in a League C where the three remaining groups featured four teams.

In case of not settling the deal amicably, Albania could face a €140,000 penalty for unilaterally cancelling the contract with Panucci who now faces a key test against a tough side such as Wales led by Real Madrid striker Gareth Bale.

The friendly against top-20 FIFA ranked Wales will apparently be a make or break for Panucci. Wales also failed to secure a top spot in their League B, Group 4 as they suffered a 2-1 home loss against Denmark last weekend to finish second and will now be fighting for a spot in the Euro 2020 through the traditional qualifiers.

Chances for Albania to make it to the Euro 2020 are only through the traditional format of the upcoming qualifiers where they need to secure a top two finish in order to repeat their 2016 historic first ever qualification to a major tournament. Third-placed teams in the traditional qualifiers are no longer provided a play-off opportunity, which is now granted through the Nations League with one finals place on offer for each of the four Leagues to decide the final four teams making it through the Euro 2020.

The upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers are set to begin in March 2019 after ten groups are drawn in December 2018.

 

Albania vs Wales

Tuesday, Nov. 20; 20:00

Venue: Elbasan Arena
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                    [post_content] => Tirana Liberation Day is on Nov. 17. In this day the Tirana Municipality organizes some festive activities, but the most traditional one, is that moment when veterans gathers at 'Unknown Soldier' monument, putting there flowers and remembering this historical day. 

A talk with artist Hiwa K- Harabel Contemporary Art Platform has the pleasure to invite the public in an open Talk with Iraqi artist Hiwa K which will take place in hall Black Box (University of Arts.) on 16th of November 2018. Hiwa K will bring in Tirana pieces of his successful screenings that permeate through a connective inception; the experience of obligated escape from homeland. Included in his life experience are causes of migration, difficulties of endurance at every turn, by any means, and above all, prevails the longing for living and survival, regardless of obstacles.

Travel to Discover Tirana will be organizing a day tour to Pellumbas cave and Erzen river canions for the hiking lovers on Nov. 18. The traveling starts at 9 a.m. from the Palace of Congresses to a destination not far from Tirana, for a picnic, nature hiking and music. 

International Tirana Trade Fair launched its 25th edition at the Palace of Congresses from Nov. 21-24. This is the largest fair in Albania, taking place since 1994 and organized by Klik- Expo Group Albania. The most notable companies in Albania and from the world in various sectors, such as heavy industry, textile, garment and footwear, communication services, will have a chance to promote their brands and products at this fair in a national and international audience. 

The fair will also be organizing a talk by Paul Hodgkins on the theme of ‘’The power of project leadership.’’ He will talk on how to go beyond the barrier of just project manager and become a leader. The objective is to demonstrate that it is vital, if project managers are to ensure sustainable and positive project outcomes for their team, their sponsors, their stakeholders, their customers, for society and their country; that they must adapt from being a ‘project manager’ to be able to become a ‘project leader’.

 

Cinema

Bohemian Rhapsody- Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound. They reach unparalleled success, but in an unexpected turn Freddie, surrounded by darker influences, shuns Queen in pursuit of his solo career. Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie manages to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid. While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. Queen cements a legacy that continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day.

Operation: Overlord- On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to penetrate the walls of a fortified church and destroy a radio transmitter. As the soldiers approach their target, they soon begin to realize that there's more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation. Making their way to an underground lab, the outnumbered men stumble upon a sinister experiment that forces them into a vicious battle against an army of the undead.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web- Fired from the National Security Agency, Frans Balder recruits hacker Lisbeth Salander to steal FireWall, a computer program that can access codes for nuclear weapons worldwide. The download soon draws attention from an NSA agent who traces the activity to Stockholm. Further problems arise when Russian thugs take Lisbeth's laptop and kidnap a math whiz who can make FireWall work. Now, Lisbeth and an unlikely ally must race against time to save the boy and recover the codes to avert disaster. A film based on the fourth novel of Millenium Series started by Stieg Larsson. 

First Man- Director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

Burn the Stage- The first film by BTS showing their BTS Wings Tour behind the scenes. The full history of the K-Pop band will unfold, along with their rise to fame. This film brings a more intimate look at how this band broke barriers and conquered the music scene.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald- J.K. Rawling brings the sequel of beloved Fantastic Beasts. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided world.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms- In an effort to thwart Grindelwald's plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided world.

Cold November- In the beginning of the '90s, Yugoslavian Government cancelled the autonomy of Kosovo, dissolved its Parliament and closed down the National Television. Whole institutional life was reorganized by new authorities, while the majority of citizens responded with peaceful demonstrations. During this evil time, Fadili who is working as an archivist has to choose between two options, being aware that both of them are wrong. In this way, he involuntarily and unwillingly, 'swallows' the shame, endures the pressure coming from all sides and deals with the bad reputation for just one reason: to provide welfare for his family.

Night School- Teddy Walker is a successful salesman whose life takes an unexpected turn when he accidentally blows up his place of employment. Forced to attend night school to get his GED, Teddy soon finds himself dealing with a group of misfit students, his former high school nemesis and a feisty teacher who doesn't think he's too bright.

Cats and Peachtopia- A cat named Blanket has long been living in a high-rise apartment in the city with his son, Cloak. One day, curious about the outside world, Cloak decides to leave home and embarks on an adventure to find the legendary cat's paradise. To find his son, Blanket must overcome his fear and reconcile with his past, with the help of a female Macaw.

 

Theatre

trav 2La Traviata- Giuseppe Verdi’s renowned opera in three acts returns at the Albanian stage in a selected cast for bringing viewers the thrills of this masterpiece. The National Theatre of Opera and Ballet will stage this beloved piece, the most well-played operistic work internationally, at the Palace of Congresses. 

The Diary of Anne Frank- Metropol Theatre will be staging The Diary of Anne Frank until Dec. 2018. The theatre has chosen the adapted part from Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, directed by Amela Demaj with a selected cast from the open auditions the theatre policies. Known for its smaller stage, this theatre focuses on integrated scenery and viewer-actor engagement.

Just Like You- Professor Lee Shackleford’s puppet-play for young children Just Like You, is still being staged at the Metropol Theatre. This puppet show seeks to teach kids about children with special abilities and disabilities, how their lives are, and context and information regarding these abilities they hold. Prior to the show, the actors underwent a five-month course to learn sign language, so they can relate more with the public. 

Father Sergius- The National Theatre will be introducing to the public Leo Tolstoy’s Father Sergius directed by Fatos Berisha, staged at ArTurbina from Nov. 15-18. The play follows the story of military man Stefan Kazatski, who retreats to the life of a monk after he faces the betrayal of his wife and best friend. The tormenting fight of a man against the freedom of life with its beauties, temptations and lusts, and the seclusion due to a promise made to God. 

Hypocrites or the English Patient- A play by Jeton Neziraj with a direction by Agon Myftari and Blerta Neziraj, a courtesy of the National Theatre brought at the stage of ArTurbina. This comedy follows six characters who tell of the ‘’happy end’’ in message centers, the illegal kidney transplants and heart stents operations that happen meanwhile the Balkan Highway of Peace is being built. A comic, pornographic portrayal of a healthcare trapped in the greedy mouth of capitalism. 

Masked- The University of Arts will stage a play from Israeli writer Ilan Hatsor, directed by Milto Kutali, and with a cast of renowned actors Alfred Trebicka, Arben Derhemi, Ismail Shtino. The play seeks to show that when violence asks, loss responds. The play will come at the scene of the National Experimental Theatre from Nov. 15-18.

The Man Outside- A dramatic play by Wolfgang Borchert brought by the National Experimental Theatre, which follows the story of post-war soldier Beckmann, who returns home from Russia and finds his wife with another man, and therefore losing him home, his beliefs, illusions. An exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered from most veterans who return home, to an alienated man who seeks suicide. Due to its sensitive topic, Borchert himself put an undertitle to this play, calling it ‘’A play that no theatre wants to perform and no audience wants to see.’’

The Enchanted Library- A children’s theatre play adapted by Marsel Greva and Kleard Germenji, directed by Greva, and brought to the audience at the stage of the National Experimental Theatre. It follows the story of 10-year-old Daisy who assumes the clerk position at her grandfather’s bookstore, after he falls ill in his bed. Daisy loves books, and she is astonished to find that the fantasy worlds of the books at the store come to life. Soon, she finds herself obtained in adventure with her favorite characters to find a priceless necklace.

Brother and Sister- The children’s play adapted and directed by Xhuliano Brisku si still being staged at the National Experimental Theatre. Witch Morgana abducts two little kids, John and Joanna who are brother and sister, so she can become queen of Nolan. When the two kids manage to escape the evil witch, she poisons the water and fruits of the woods, so the kids can turn to animal and be killed by the hunters. John turns to a roe, and prince Noah captures Morgana. But how will John return to a kid again?

 

 

Exhibitions

flakaHere- or Rather There, is Over There- The ongoing art installation by Kosovo artist Flaka Haliti will be exhibited at the National Arts Gallery until early 2019. The installation suggests a general skepticism toward unambiguous definitions of space. The destabilization of territorial ascriptions, especially dichotomies between East and West, is characteristic of the artist's work. 

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt: Collages and Editions- An ongoing exhibition at the National Arts Gallery of the German artist Wolf-Rehfeldt until early 2019. The artist is associated with visual poetry and mail art. A collection of her typewritten arts is currently being exhibited, along with a recent short mediated interview with the artist who tells of her life, fascinated to find that there is still interest in her work. Working primarily for a post world war 2 Germany, she stopped when the Berlin wall was torn down.

Marc Chagall: Magical Gravity- An ongoing exhibition of renowned French-Russian artist Marc Chagall at the Center for Openness and Dialogue inside the Prime Ministry building. The exhibition consists of 180 engravings made by the artist where he let his imagination run wild in depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Gogol’s Dead Souls, and La Fontaine’s Fables. 

Manastir Congress: The Path to a National Union- The National History Museum in Tirana will be hosting an exhibition about the Manastir Congress from Nov. 14-22 in the framework of its 110th anniversary. The exhibition will present the path to the composition of the Albanian alphabet during the 19th century. Pictures of the members of the congress accompanied with their biographies will be displayed, as well as books written by them. 

Flowers to Alysse- Kalo Gallery will be displaying a personal exhibition by Leon Cika, a contemporary artist who works with painting and photography. This personal exhibition is a set of paintings dedicated to his granddaughter Alysse, by whom he was inspired to produce the work. The main theme of the work is centered around flowers, their depiction in various, strong colors, and love.

Appearances- Zeta Gallery introduces a solo show by Idlir Koka. The paintings brushed in an expressionist style filled with art history references, deal with aspects of entertainment and show consumption while putting in the spotlight the spectator who fills the auditorium. Koka aims to decipher the nature of the spectacle and its hegemony over the culture of our day, through images. All his works of the latest series describe the details of human activities within the theatrical scenery and stalls.

Tirana- Venice- New York- The National History Museum is exhibiting a set of 50 paintings by artist Gjergj Meta. The paintings in a contemporary expressionist style focus on scenery and depict the reflections of the artist from the three respective cities that he has visited, worked and exhibited on.

Moti i Madh- A collaborative exhibition from the Museum of Kosovo and the National History Museum in Tirana. This exhibition contains statues, replicas, engravings of various authors and portraits, through which visitors are acquainted with moments of life and battles of the Albanian National Hero, Gjergj Kastrioti-Skënderbeu, who was the most consistent and most prominent representative of the leading Albanian elite, who steadily led the front of the Albanian war against the Ottoman Empire.

Taso- A personal exhibition by renowned artist Gazmend Leka at the FAB gallery, which opens on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., until Nov. 29. 

 

Music, Dance and Nightlife

 

Teelco- Progressive techno musician Teelco, will be organizing a couple of music events in Tirana for two consecutive events, on Nov. 16 at the Piu 39 Food & Club Tirana, and then on Nov. 17 at Pepper Pizza Tirana. On Nov. 16, Pepper Pizza Tirana will also be hosting a music night from Antoin.

Dabo- Destil Hostel in Tirana will be hosting a music night on Nov. 16 by Dabo starting at 9 p.m.. The musical alter-ego of artist Donald Braho, Dabo is known for his hypnotic sounds mainly within the genre of electronic music, -techno, electro, breaks,- mixed with beats of funk, pop, and jazz. Adding vocals, his sets are discerned among the audience, in an appraisal to his added scenic performance along with the musical combinations. 

Ledri Vula- Nightclub Folie Terrace will host a party on Nov. 16 starting at 11 p.m., under the music of Kosovo rapper Ledri Vula, a favorite among the Albanian audience.

Tiri & Band- Garage Tirana is hosting a live music event Friday, Nov. 16 starting at 10 p.m., where musicians Tiri Gjoci followed by Sokol Turdiu will be playing live for the audiences. 

Butrint Imeri- Nightclub Cinco Cavalli in Tirana will be hosting a party on Nov. 16 starting at 11:30 p.m., under the music of artis Butrint Imeri. Imeri is an R&B and soul singer, newly emerging at the Albanian scene.

Sabri Fejzullahu- Night club Magic 4 at Italia boulevard will be hosting a musical event on Nov. 16, with musician Sabri Fejzullahu, starting at 11 p.m..

Lollipop- Nightclub Lollipop will be hosting a party on Nov. 16 starting at 11:30 p.m., on the theme of Unizkm’s Selfie Party. The music is brought by celebrated Albanian musician, Dj Sardi. 

Irkenc Hyka- Nightclub Folie Terrace will be hosting another party on Nov. 17 starting at 11 p.m., under the music of renowned musician Irkenc Hyka, an Albanian R&B soul singer, favorite among youth.

West Side Family & Buta- Nightclub L’arena Premium Club on Elbasan St. will be hosting a party on Nov. 17, starting at 11 p.m.. Invited will be beloved hip-hop and rap music group West Side Family, in a collaboration with rapper Buta.

Gerta Mahmutaj & Band- Bla Bla Public Bar in Tirana hosts a musical night with R&B soul singer Gerta Mahmutaj on Nov. 22, starting at 9 p.m.. Gerta is a newly emerging musician in the Albanian music scene.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 15 – The upcoming Nations League qualifier against Scotland and a friendly with Wales in the next few days could prove decisive for Christian Panucci and his fate as Albania’s coach, Albania’s football association president has warned.

“We have to win against Scotland, if we make it, it won't be a failure. We have a lot of absences which is a great problem, but Panucci's performance will be analyzed after the next two games. Panucci needs everybody's support, the campaign will not be a failure if we win against Scotland,” Albania’s football president Armand Duka said this week in the first direct warning about Panucci who has been in charge of Albania since July 2017, succeeding compatriot Gianni De Biasi who led Albania to a first-ever appearance at a major competition such as Euro 2016.

The warning comes as Albania faces a key test in a final qualifier against Scotland on Saturday Nov. 17 that will prove decisive for the national side’s further progress at the inaugural Nations League, a UEFA tournament that largely replaces friendlies, but also plays a major part for the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign by deciding the final four places via play-offs.

It also comes at a time when pressure has been mounting on coach Panucci, a renowned former Italian international who played for top European clubs, but had little coaching experience when taking over as Albania coach. The 45-year-old Italian has lost seven out of 12 games since taking over in mid-2017 and Albania now almost find themselves out of the Nations League competition as they rank bottom of their League C Group 1 with only three points from their first three games. Albania need to beat Scotland by at least three goals in their final home qualifier and hope Scotland beat Israel in their final group encounter on Nov. 20 to possibly qualify through superior goal difference in case all three teams finish level on six points in what is a little likely scenario.

Albania will also play a tough home friendly against top-20 FIFA ranked Wales on Nov. 20 ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, scheduled to begin in March 2019 after ten groups are drawn in December 2018.

However, in case of poor performance in the upcoming two home games Albania is likely to sack to Panucci and look for a new coach ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Panucci, who was hired on a two-and-a-half year contract, has been set a Euro 2020 qualification target.

 

Also read: Albania desperately need Scotland win to keep Nations League hopes alive
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 12 - Over the last two weeks, residents living in the Astir area - soon to be part of a construction project that foresees demolishing a number of houses and buildings - have been protesting and calling on the government to guarantee them compensation for their properties.

On Monday, after protesting for about two hours in front of Tirana’s Municipality building and asking for a meeting with Mayor Erion Veliaj or any municipality representative authorized to give information, the protesters said Tuesday, Nov. 13, is the deadline to have a meeting or else they warned to block Unaza e Madhe (Great Ring road) for good. 

“We will not free the road until we are given a solution to our problem,” protesters said, as they blocked one of the main roads in Tirana’s centre, creating heavy traffic.

One of the protesters who gave a declaration for local media during the protest, said his son’s wife had ended up in prison for protesting the road expansion project foreseeing the demolition of their houses.

“They took my son’s wife to give birth in prison. There are men in that house, not just women. They cannot step over all these people,” the Astir resident told local media.

In front of the municipality, protesters also started chanting anti-government statements, such as warnings that their houses will be demolished over their dead bodies. 

The protests, which began right after the Head of Road Authority Afrim Qendro and other officials announced on Nov. 5 that “317 objects will be touched by the Great Ring road expansion project,” have been ongoing over the last two weeks at the Astir area and have even turned violent at times.

Residents have time and time again blocked the traffic in both axes at the Astir road, continuously calling for a complete compensation of all the people living in the buildings to be demolished, as opposed to those who already have property ownership titles, as the government plans on doing.

Another reason behind the aggravated protests is the residents’ claims the government did not warn them enough time in advance of the plan to demolish the houses and only give compensation to those who have already received their property ownership titles.

The protests have turned violent as drivers passing at Astir have physically confronted and tried to remove residents, while on Saturday the cameraman of a private media who was doing field reporting was punched by an angry driver.

 

The government’s plan

Last Monday, Nov. 5, Head of Road Authority Afrim Qendro, Head Inspector of the National Inspectorate of Territory Defense Dallendyshe Bici and Tirana Deputy Mayor Arbri Mazniku, among others, gave a press conference regarding the Great Ring road project.

Qendro said that during the project’s tracking phase around 317 projects will be demolished, 163 out of which are under legalization and will be disqualified and 123 hold property ownership titles and will receive compensation.

He added there is no other kind of information for the remaining objects in the area.

“We are in the first phase of object tracking. As soon as we have the approving status from the Real Estate Registration Office, we will begin demolishing the objects. But we will wait for the institutions. The project has a 100-year-old importance and will be accompanied by all urban elements. We conducted our field work and made all preliminary assessments,” Qendro said.

Further on, Qendro clarified the owners of the objects to be disqualified will be included in the homeless people’s list and be given a lease bonus.

“All households that are under legalization will need to be disqualified. The Tirana Municipality will arrange them available housing support programs. They will be treated with a special lease payment procedure in order to move to a quick procedure and be approved as soon as possible at the municipal council and have the opportunity to benefit the lease bonus for a period of at least one year, but which is also renewable until they have the opportunity to be restructured and managed in the new houses,” Qendro said.

The Big Tirana project, from the capital’s Maternity Hospital to the roundabout known as ‘the Eagle’ - due to the double-headed eagle statue at its middle - at the Tirana-Durres highway entrance, has cost 26.5 billion ALL for a length of 27 km. 

Soon, the segment from the Eagle to Shkoza is also expected to be launched. 

 

The political dimension 

On Monday, the opposition’s Democratic Party made public, through its spokeswoman Ina Zhupa, documents allegedly proving the benefactors of the Great Ring project were predetermined.

“The corrupt scheme is clear. The winners have been predetermined because in three different tender procedures, there was only one valid offer, while the second participator was been included to legitimize the tender but has not actually made any offers,” Zhupa said. 

Only a day earlier, DP leader Lulzim Basha spoke of an “offshore company” related to the Great Ring project and promised to reveal the “government’s corrupt affairs” the rest of the week,

On Monday, Zhupa made the names of alleged offshore companies clear.

“DH Albania was established this year’s July, one month and a half before the tender opening, under the name of the parent company Dunvel Haberman ltd. Its parent company is an offshore company, with unknown owners, registered in the United States of America, which is known as a fiscal paradise. The other company, Biba X, has no road construction experience and only added this activity shortly before the winner of the 18 million euro tender was announced. The company Biba X  was seized even during the period when it participated in the project’s tender,” Zhupa said. 

DP  representatives and lawmakers have attended the protest on different days throughout the week, expressing solidarity with the protesters’ cause.

DP lawmaker Flamur Noka, in a media statement, denounced the municipality’s silence on the Greater Ring road residents’ “legitimate protest.”

“On this seventh day of protest, everything has gone to dead ears. The government and the municipality act as if these residents don’t exist, only because they notified they will demolish all their houses. No one has come to talk to them,” Noka said. 

He added the municipality’s behavior with over 2,000 residents is “barbarous” and “non-humane,” as it has taken their money and votes to legalize their houses, which has now decided to demolish without granting compensation.

He promised the residents’ the DP’s support in their legitimate right to be compensated. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 12 - Albanian President Ilir Meta was invited by French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to attend the commemoration ceremony of the hundredth anniversary of the World War I armistice, which took place at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris. 

At the start of the officially activity, which was also attended by US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other world leaders, Meta was welcomed in a state ceremony at the Élysée Palace by Macron and his wife,.

During his meeting with Macron, Meta expressed the high estimates for the traditional and excellent relations between the two countries and stressed the importance of their dynamic. 

Meta also praised Macron’s role in building a stronger and much more united Europe.

During his stay in Paris, Meta also met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with whom, according to the president’s office announcement, he praised the unique relations between our people in respect and gratitude toward Israel's history and expressed his will to build an even closer relationship in the future between the countries.

Despite the excellent relations between France and Albania mentioned by Meta, France’s Macron was one of the key players, along with Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Stef Blok, who blocked Albania’s chances to open accession negotiations in order to eventually become EU member back in July.

According to Macron, the EU should not expand before fixing its own internal policies and making sure all its member states are aligned with the same democratic core values and perspectives, also signaling distrust towards Albania’s so-far-achieved EU-based reforms.

France is one of Albanian asylum-seekers’ favorite destinations, while French authorities have warned, time and time again, the country must do something to curb its migration waves, especially since it’s considered a ‘country of safe origin,’ meaning Albanian citizens are, most of the time, not applicable to receive asylum by EU states.

 
                    [post_title] => President Meta attends hundredth anniversary of WWI armistice in Paris
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-12 10:21:18
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 11 - The Albanian foreign ministry announced on Friday the Cypriot, Euro Parliamentarian Eleni Theocharous is now a ‘persona non-grata,’ after the latter attended on Thursday the Greek minority member’s Kostantinos Katsifas funeral service in Bularat, Gjirokaster, where she issued extremist, anti-Albanian calls, according to Albanian authorities.

On Thursday, the defense ministry also announced 52 out of the many Greek citizens who attended the funeral service are also ‘personae non-gratae,’ for the same reason.

“This decision comes as a necessary constitutional and legal reaction of the institutions of the Republic of Albania towards the repeated extremist behavior of Euro Parliamentarian Eleni Theocharous. Her statements which incite hatred, violation of the country’s constitutional order and encouragement of territorial claims towards the Republic of Albania cannot and will not be again called on Albanian soil,” said Glen Dervishi, Regional Adviser to the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati.

Further on, Dervishi called Theocharous’ calls and statements an organized show that was made to look like an aggressive provocation, which turned a funeral service into a challenge of the constitutional order and Albania’s safety and security - all things unacceptable for the Albanian state and society. 

The Greek foreign ministry quickly reacted to the announcement, asking for sound explanations.

“At this delicate moment, we expect Albania to stay away from acts which further burden the atmosphere of our bilateral relations,” the Greek ministry announcement read.

On Friday, the Albanian foreign ministry was quick to issue a reply to official Athens, where, through Dervishi, said neighboring Greece and its people are a valuable asset to Albania’s capital of traditional ties and friendship.

Extremist elements or groups which, in Greek, or even in Albanian, speak a common language of hatred and division not related to the European language that unites our peoples and states, will have no chance to undermine our common path of peace and strategic cooperation in function of the future today's children in Albania and Greece deserve,” Dervishi said. 

On the other hand, the defense ministry’s statement which announced 52 Greek citizens are now also “personae non-gratae” explained it was a reaction to the organized activity aiming to harm Albania’s sovereignty and challenge the constitutional order and the country’s security.

In the European Parliament, Theocharous is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. On Thursday, she joined several hundreds of Greek citizens to attend the funeral service of Kostandino Katsifas, who was killed during a shootout with special Albanian police forces who were gathered in Bularat to maintain order during the festivities honoring the fallen Greek soldiers during the Albanian-Italian war.

Strong nationalist tones and anti-Albanian calls prevailed during the burial ceremony on Thursday, while a group of Greek citizens temporarily also blocked the highway caring an unfolded Greek flag. 

The tensions that followed Katsifas’ death in Albania came at a time the countries seemed to have decided to leave their tensioned-at-timed relationship and begin a process of political dialogue to solve all pending issues between them.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 11 - Albanian President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama publicly exchanged commentary again on Saturday, when Rama re-sent his proposal to make General Sander Lleshi the country’s new interior minister to Meta to decree, although Meta rejected it last week.

Meta’s spokesperson Ted Blushi said Meta has begun the process of cooperating with all the relevant institutions to become clear on all the questions he had since the start but which he did not manage to, despite all the efforts.

“Concerning the new process, he has decided to also inform the head of parliament on all his questions, as the procedure of naming a new minister is a mandatory cooperative process between three institutions - prime minister, president, parliament,” Blushi said.

Rama responded to Meta’s statement through his Head of Communication Endri Fuga.

Fuga said Rama appreciates Meta efforts to receive clear and full answers, but added Meta had not asked any clarifications from Rama after sending him a letter where he, without offering any reason or justification, rejected Lleshi and asked to meet Rama.

Further on, Fuga stated Meta will receive the answers to all the questions he had sent in the form of a written letter on Monday morning.

“Also in function of exhaustively addressing the issue, which President Met has not raised as an issue during his meeting with the prime minister, but only express it in written form, as a questionnaire to the minister of defense, only yesterday, the President will receive along with his answers an exhaustive solution, which doesn’t leave place for any interpretations. From any side,” Rama’s statement highlighted.

Last week, after former Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj unexpectedly resigned his post, Meta refused to sign the decree on Lleshi's appointment.

The official motives of this decision have not yet become official and there is not even an official act coming from the president for his decision, apart from the letter sent to Rama saying that "he was not able to create full conviction to trust Lleshi.”

Meta’s stand on the issue has been accompanied with public debate.

During his parliamentary speech last Monday, Rama insisted the president cannot reject the appointment of a government member and went on to make Lleshi deputy minister of interior, but will all competences of a minister himself.

Asked again on Friday, Meta stood by his decision to reject Lleshi, while also speaking of the legal motivations behind his rejection. 

“For what it concerns the legal part, without wanting to give lectures on the Constitution to amateurs, dilettants or those who are biased, I would invite them to read the Constitution and the president’s competences again and see only his oath is formal or ceremonial,” Meta said.

Meanwhile, both the US Embassy to Tirana and the EU delegation have reacted to the news of Lleshi’s appointment as deputy MoI by stressing it is vital the interior ministry if fully functional.

Analysts and independent political observers also claimed Albania has fallen into a sudden constitutional crisis throughout last week, while also raising concerns about Lleshi’s appointment as deputy minister as unprofessional.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 8 - The ever-increasing trend of Albanian youth to leave the country as soon as possible has lowered chances for the country’s economy to improve, as experts have claimed for years it’s particularly this part of the society that can help speed up development. 

According to a Gallup study, 79 percent of Albanians between 15 and 29 years old want to leave Albania once and for all.

“I wanna leave as soon as possible. I have thought of going to Germany,” an Albanian youth told local media.

Among the region’s countries, the second largest figure of people who seek to leave their home countries is observed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 62 percent, while the third largest figure is observed in Macedonia, with 51 percent, while for Serbia and Montenegro, the part of youth that wants to leave is smaller than 50 percent.

The main reasons Albanian youth wants to leave Albania is the perceived unemployment.

“There is no work and making a life is very difficult,” another youngster told local media. 

According to the official Albanian statistic institute (INSTAT), during the second trimester of 2018 unemployment for ages 15-29 years old reached 22.6 percent, almost two times more than the average unemployment rate. 

More than the lack of work, it is the lack of hope for a better future most youths quote as their main reason for leaving the country.

“There is no future here,” another Albanian youth has told media.

These figures are not the result of only one study.

Back in August, the National Youth Network and the CRCA Centre completed another survey as part of the National Youth Index, where it was resulted that the youth, which accounts for 35 percent of the population, claims it is not a priority for any public institution.

“The first problem raised in all consultations conducted with young people from all 12 regions of Albania is the lack of studying opportunities. They complete their study cycle and feel this difficulty since their student years. Then, when they finish their studies, they have no employment opportunities due to the lack of incentive policies for youth employment by the government,” head of the NYN and study’s author Ervjola Osmanaj said.

Youth participation in decision-making processes is also very low. The report found that over 70 percent of young people do not have government support to be represented in decision-making processes or local government branches.

Polls show that young people are being used only as a political background, but do not have any effective participation in policy-making or political decision-making and do not find support from it.

In addition, one of the main challenges for youth remains employment, while about 80 percent of youth organizations say they do not have government support for promoting youth employment.

The report also cites data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), which show Albania occupies one of the first places in Europe for youth unemployment.

All these circumstances, taken together, are main drivers behind Albanian youth’s apathy and inclination to leave the country and never look back. 

 
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            [post_date] => 2018-11-27 13:35:32
            [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-27 12:35:32
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 27 - The Astir area residents looking to revoke the Great Ring project that foresees demolition without compensation of all houses lacking mortgage resumed their protests on Tuesday, despite the violent clashes with police last Thursday in front of Albania’s parliament which left 13 police officers injured and 11 citizens under arrest. 

Local media reported on Tuesday morning these protests again saw clashes with the municipal police, which is in charge of making sure that Great Ring project works continue in Astir.

Opposition lawmakers, especially those from the main opposition Democratic Party, have attended the protests, which have been scattered in different parts of Tirana for more than two weeks now, almost daily.

On Sunday, local media even reported the State Police had taken penal action against DP leader Lulzim Basha and a number of other opposition lawmakers who were attending the protest on Sunday without taking permission to rally.

A day after Thursday’s violent display of protest towards what the protesters have called “corrupt government plans to empower private businesses, all behind the facade of supporting a street expansion project,” Prime Minister Edi Rama and Basha exchanged public accusations on who is to blame for the situation.

Basha again blamed Rama and his socialist government of corruption, as the DP claims there was no real competition behind the construction companies bidding to win the tender and that the street expansion’s  40 million euro cost has set a record high, while being made a reality without a building permit and in total violation of the law. 

On Friday, Basha also said the government is obliged to compensate all citizens’ whose houses will be demolished from the street expansion project - even those whose houses are under legalization process.

Rama, on the other hand, during a media statement in Fier, said that according to him the law is clear and that objects standing in the way of important projects will not be legalized. He blamed the opposition of leading citizens’ in a protest to receive what doesn’t belong to them unlike any other time and said its political interests and struggle for power is what fuels its support of the citizens’ protests.

Among the injured during Thursday’s protest were also residents, while one of the thirteen police officers that were injured was reported to have lost he fingers of one hand after a firecracker thrown during the protest exploded close to her hand.

Local media reported on Sunday Tirana’s Court released ten out of the 11 protesters who were arrested on Friday after the protest. Dorjan Protoduari, 31-year-old protester who allegedly threw the firecracker that harmed the police effective who lost her fingers and who was arrested while visiting his mother in the hospital, has remained in prison.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj published pictures showing that some of the families whose houses will be demolished under the Great Ring project have moved in the designated social homes in the area of Shkoza, all furnished and equipped with household appliances. 

“A new beginning for everyone! The first families affected by the Great Ring project left primitive residences without permission on the footsteps of the road, for a new start with dignified social housing. Time for people to make their own accounts” Veliaj wrote on Facebook. 

 
            [post_title] => Great Ring protests persist despite injuries and arrests 
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