Back to homepage

Free to Read

North Macedonian PM to resign, leading country to snap elections after EU rejection

North Macedonian PM to resign, leading country to snap elections after EU rejection

TIRANA, Oct. 21 – North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said snap elections will take place after talking about failure to get a date for opening accession negotiations during the European Council meeting on Thursday in Brussels.  He did not

Read Full Article
EU decides: “No opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia”

EU decides: “No opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia”

TIRANA, Oct. 18 – France’s insistence against the overwhelming majority of European Union member states brought about on Friday the European Council not reaching a decision to open membership talks with Albania and Northern Macedonia.  During a news conference following

Read Full Article
Mountain in labour a mouse is born: the Balkan Mini Schengen

Mountain in labour a mouse is born: the Balkan Mini Schengen

By Genc Pollo* “Mountain in labour a mouse is born” that Esopian fable came to my mind when I heard the news of the meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia of the government leaders from North Macedonia, Albania and the host

Read Full Article
OSCE Ambassador issues apology for shameful public act

OSCE Ambassador issues apology for shameful public act

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

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

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

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

Read Full Article
Independent Qualification Commission dismisses SPAK candidate Ndini Tavani

Independent Qualification Commission dismisses SPAK candidate Ndini Tavani

TIRANA, Oct. 12 – The Independent Qualification Commission dismissed on Friday special prosecution candidate Ndini Tavani.  The decision was made by the judicial body composed of Alma Faskaj, Brunilda Bekteshi and Roland Ilia. Regarding the property criterion, the IQC found

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

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

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

Read Full Article
Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign

Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign

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

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

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

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

Read Full Article
Albanian female ministers ask for green light from the Netherlands

Albanian female ministers ask for green light from the Netherlands

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

Read Full Article
WP_Query Object
(
    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 37
            [paged] => 3
            [error] => 
            [m] => 
            [p] => 0
            [post_parent] => 
            [subpost] => 
            [subpost_id] => 
            [attachment] => 
            [attachment_id] => 0
            [name] => 
            [static] => 
            [pagename] => 
            [page_id] => 0
            [second] => 
            [minute] => 
            [hour] => 
            [day] => 0
            [monthnum] => 0
            [year] => 0
            [w] => 0
            [category_name] => free
            [tag] => 
            [tag_id] => 
            [author] => 
            [author_name] => 
            [feed] => 
            [tb] => 
            [comments_popup] => 
            [meta_key] => 
            [meta_value] => 
            [preview] => 
            [s] => 
            [sentence] => 
            [fields] => 
            [menu_order] => 
            [category__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [ignore_sticky_posts] => 
            [suppress_filters] => 
            [cache_results] => 1
            [update_post_term_cache] => 1
            [update_post_meta_cache] => 1
            [post_type] => 
            [posts_per_page] => 10
            [nopaging] => 
            [comments_per_page] => 50
            [no_found_rows] => 
            [order] => DESC
        )

    [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => category
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => 37
                                )

                            [include_children] => 1
                            [field] => term_id
                            [operator] => IN
                        )

                )

            [relation] => AND
        )

    [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                )

            [relation] => 
        )

    [date_query] => 
    [post_count] => 10
    [current_post] => -1
    [in_the_loop] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [current_comment] => -1
    [found_posts] => 1055
    [max_num_pages] => 106
    [max_num_comment_pages] => 0
    [is_single] => 
    [is_preview] => 
    [is_page] => 
    [is_archive] => 1
    [is_date] => 
    [is_year] => 
    [is_month] => 
    [is_day] => 
    [is_time] => 
    [is_author] => 
    [is_category] => 1
    [is_tag] => 
    [is_tax] => 
    [is_search] => 
    [is_feed] => 
    [is_comment_feed] => 
    [is_trackback] => 
    [is_home] => 
    [is_404] => 
    [is_comments_popup] => 
    [is_paged] => 1
    [is_admin] => 
    [is_attachment] => 
    [is_singular] => 
    [is_robots] => 
    [is_posts_page] => 
    [is_post_type_archive] => 
    [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 890c5676405e224ed9fc4883867b10fe
    [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 
    [thumbnails_cached] => 1
    [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => 
    [query] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 37
            [paged] => 3
        )

    [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS  wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts  INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1  AND ( wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (37) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 20, 10
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143326
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-21 14:39:21
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-21 12:39:21
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 21 - North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said snap elections will take place after talking about failure to get a date for opening accession negotiations during the European Council meeting on Thursday in Brussels. 

He did not hide his emotions as he said his country had suffered a great injustice. 

"We brought all our commitments to reality, but the European Union did not reflect on the promises made. We made reforms, we solved the problems with our neighbors while the EU did not comply with its word,” Zaev said.

“The European Union failing to decide to open talks with us is a historic mistake and this was confirmed by all European leaders,” Zaev said, highlighting the frustration and outrage.

He further said the EU decision was taken under unresolved internal problems, which Northern Macedonia cannot change.

He, however, came feeling responsible in front of citizens. 

"I stand in front of you and clearly urge you, the European dream for Macedonians, Albanians, Serbs, Vlachs, Turks, Roma, Bosniaks and others living in our country - it will not be ruined,” he said. 

"That's why I propose the quick holding of snap elections. Elections, as soon as possible,” said Zaev, who will also be resigning from his post as the country’s PM. 

Zaev said that it’s up to citizens “to take the right way towards democratic and European values, to development and prosperity, or to the dark path of isolation, nationalism, divisions and conflicts, which is the way backwards.”

The opposition, both Macedonian and Albanian, has been calling for early elections for months, as the Democratic Union for Integration has not backed the idea, due to the possibility of regression from reforms and integration processes, as its officials have often said.

A part of analysts have also said that early elections would halt the progress of reforms launched and take Northern Macedonia a precious time to achieve the required European standards. 

Following Zaev’s statement, the ruling and opposition parties in Northern Macedonia agreed on Sunday evening for early parliamentary elections to take place on April 12, 2020.

In the meeting convened by President Stevo Pendarovski, the issue of snap elections was the second topic after the failure to obtain a date for opening negotiations with the European Union.

The election date was accepted by consensus of all participants in the meeting: Zaev, who is both PM and chairman of the Social Democratic League, Hristijan Mickovski of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, Ali Ahmeti of the Democratic Union for Integration, Zijadin Sela chairman of the Alliance for Albanians , Afrim Gashi of Alternative, Bilal Kasami of the Besa Movement and Menduh Thaçi of the Albanian Democratic Party.

Under a deal made some years ago, three months before the election date, the PM must resign and form a caretaker government, which will include the opposition. 

Under this agreement, the technical government should be formed by January 3.

Zaev said at the meeting that his party was ready to accept a single constituency or open lists.

Northern Macedonia currently has six constituencies and each sends twenty deputies to the Republican Parliament.

Opposition leader Mickovski told reporters that it was important to set a date for early elections, as he dismissed allegations made by SDSM officials that he was glad the country did not get a date for EU negotiations. 

Opposition parties have been calling for early elections for months, criticizing Mr Zaev's government for corruption scandals, nepotism and inability to carry out reforms that would lead the country towards European integration.

 
                    [post_title] => North Macedonian PM to resign, leading country to snap elections after EU rejection
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => north-macedonian-pm-to-resign-leading-country-to-snap-elections-after-eu-rejection
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-21 14:39:21
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-21 12:39:21
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143326
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [1] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143323
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-21 12:58:53
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-21 10:58:53
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 18 - France's insistence against the overwhelming majority of European Union member states brought about on Friday the European Council not reaching a decision to open membership talks with Albania and Northern Macedonia. 

During a news conference following the end of the council’s meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron said he recognized the progress made by both countries, but that there were still some things to be resolved. 

He championed his idea of ​​reforming the membership talks and enlargement process, which he described as a bureaucratic process. 

“If we don't work properly with 27 members, how can it be better with 28,29 or 30,” Macron said, referring to the EU's own internal problems, which he said had “a new vision.” 

For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed regret that there was no unanimity in opening talks with Albania and Northern Macedonia, while stressing that "Germany believes that the objectives set by the European Commission have been achieved.” 

She underlined the fact that in the case of the two Balkan countries it is not about EU accession, but about launching a process of negotiations. 

The new President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, said the decision was greatly disappointing.  

"Both countries and their citizens have made great efforts to meet the conditions set. When one is required to make further efforts, it is our duty to keep the given word . It will be difficult to explain to the people of these two countries why we are delaying the next step, at a time when progress has been made,” he said. 

As for Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, not opening talks with Tirana and Skopje "is a historic mistake". 

He said that Italy would propose for the issue to be re-addressed to the General Affairs Council next month, stressing that "if Europe creates such issues in the Western Balkans, not only it does not favor itself, but runs the risk of favoring other countries which aim to expand their sphere of influence.” 

The problem in the case of Albania and North Macedonia is not only related to the lack of support, but also to the uncertainty of the future of the process itself. Both French President Macron and Chancellor Merkel have said they will address the issue ahead of the Western Balkans summit in Zagreb next spring, but without specifying what will be done pending the French idea of ​​revising the process.

For his part, Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said after the meeting that "the leaders of European Union member states failed to uphold their commitment to open membership talks with Northern Macedonia and Albania at the European Council summit," Hahn wrote, referring to an “extreme disappointment.” 

According to him, “EU member states should clarify how serious their commitment is to the Western Balkans' EU integration is.”

Hahn reiterated his statements a few days ago after the meeting of the member states’ foreign ministers, noting that "this is not a moment of glory for the EU. Refusing to acknowledge the progress made will have negative consequences, including the risk of destabilizing the Western Balkans with full impact on the EU.” 

Reactions came plenty from all sides and levels of the political spectrum both internationally and in Albania and North Macedonia. 

North Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov wrote on social media that "the least the European Union owes the region is to be direct with us. If there is no more consensus on the European future of the Western Balkans, if the 2003 Thessaloniki pledges do not stand, the citizens deserve to know.”

Meanwhile, Slovenian European Parliament MP Tanja Fajon said this was an unacceptable decision and accused France of "playing a dirty game and we will all pay the price".

Carl Bildt, co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Affairs, said that "this is no small issue. By blocking accession negotiations for the Balkans, France, the Netherlands and Denmark not only violated earlier commitments, but stripped the EU of any credible strategic approach to this important region.”

Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, while expressing regret over the decision, warned that "this will undermine the credibility of the European Union in the region and strengthen the ambitions of Moscow and Beijing."

On his side, analyst Florian Bieber of the University of Graz in Austria said the failure would cause long-term damage.

“How can we argue for the EU in the Western Balkans? How can we say that genuine effort will be rewarded? The EU and Macron in particular betrayed what the Union stands for. Like the false promises of the 'hour of Europe' dawning in 1991, this failure will cause lasting damage,” he wrote in a tweet. 

 

European Parliament to object EC decision 

On Thursday, a number of Albanian media reported that the European Parliament asked the council not to block the opening of negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia.

With 412 votes pro, 136 against and 30 abstentions, the EP underlined that "both countries fulfill the requests that were made to open negotiations," expressing "deep disappointment" for the EC's lack of consensus.

In its resolution, the EP “calls on the European Council, in light of these issues and basic problems, to stop interrupting the perspective of accession negotiations and to seek through a commission proposal a new partnership with these countries; calls on the commission to monitor how funds are used in N. Macedonia and to ensure a detailed report for the parliament; advises the President to forward this resolution to the commission, to the council, to the governments and parliaments of the member states and to the governments and parliaments of Albania and Northern Macedonia respectively.

 

US: “Disappointed with EU’s inability to recognize countries’ strong efforts to reform” 

The United States expressed disappointment “that the European Council did not recognize each country's very strong reform efforts through a decision to open membership negotiations at this time."

In a statement issued by US State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus, it was stated that "a positive decision would have reaffirmed the credibility of their path to the EU and would have resolutely opposed malicious foreign actors seeking to undermine the values of the Western and Euro-Atlantic community.”

The statement underlines the fact that "the European Council did not say 'no' to neither Albania nor Northern Macedonia, nor did it set new conditions for the opening of accession negotiations. Hopefully, the European Council will reach a consensus on a positive decision for both countries ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit next summer.”

The US State Department statement said “the United States will remain a strategic partner of Northern Macedonia and Albania as they continue to work to strengthen the rule of law, advance anti-corruption efforts, develop their economies and to fight organized crime. We urge both countries to remain steadfast in building transparent, rule-based, democratic societies that respond to the needs of citizens. The United States will continue to work with European partners to advance the common goals of stability and security in the Western Balkans.”

 
                    [post_title] => EU decides: “No opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia” 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => eu-decides-no-opening-of-negotiations-with-albania-and-north-macedonia
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-26 09:09:32
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-26 07:09:32
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143323
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [2] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143298
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-18 09:48:11
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-18 07:48:11
                    [post_content] => By Genc Pollo*

"Mountain in labour a mouse is born" that Esopian fable came to my mind when I heard the news of the meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia of the government leaders from North Macedonia, Albania and the host country in order to discuss a Mini Schengen Agreement.

Maybe that is because of the rather misplaced and pretentious name or maybe because of some creeping fatigue with photo op summits that one barely remembers the day after. Some would counter that it is nice to see leaders talking in friendly get togethers in a region that saw bloodshed not so long ago. In this spirit a few years ago the European Commission officials and Western Balkans politicians played football in Vienna with then Prime Minister Gruevski scoring goals. Not being nihilistic by nature and hoping for an added value I perused the page long Novi Sad statement. The only new and specific thing I could find was the commitment to have until 2021 the nationals of the three countries cross the respective borders by using only the ID card.

Well, fact is that since 2009 Albanian citizens travel to North Macedonia and also to Kosovo and Montenegro, by showing their ID at the border. North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro have the same border regime while Kosovo has it with North Macedonia and Montenegro. Again since 2010 Albanian citizen travel visa free to Serbia and vice versa. If they would be able to use just the ID as promised in Novi Sad this would be the only concrete improvement in regional cross border travel requirements. It may boost the numbers a bit since for instance only 55 000 Serbs visited Albania this year so far.

All this is not much but is still fine. It has little to do with the EU Schengen system. In the EU it meant long years of hard work to harmonise police and border control standards and to put in place an information exchange regime coupled with personal data protection until the border post were removed. Such a process is not very likely in the Western Balkans not simply because of distrust rooted in history but also because it could interfere with the EU integration of each country.

The most quoted reference in Novi Sad was a World Bank study which had found out that truck drivers wait for 20 million hours annually for border and customs inspections. While enhancing border infrastructure and simplifying border trade procedure without assuming unnecessary risks in smuggling criminality and terrorism prevention would be welcome there was nothing specific about it in the Novi Sad declaration. We shouldn't also forget that Western Balkan countries and Moldova are already in a free trade area called CEFTA.

News had it that those issues would be tackled in the follow up meeting in Ohrid next month where all six Western Balkans countries would be invited. But here we start really talking about the obvious elephant in the room; which is the unresolved issues left over from the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Kosovo and Serbia after a long and ineffective Brussels facilitated dialogues don't really recognise travel and vehicles documents and work on impromptu and unreliable arrangements; mutual official recognition will require heavy lifting that no Ohrid participant can shoulder. Add to that Bosnia-Hercegovina with her internal problems that mean limited ability to engage in such external relations and the picture becomes complete.

The Novi Sad leaders can meet and talk without EU and US chaperones and this is fine. Whether such talk can bring about positive change and meaningful benefit for their people has yet to be proved.

*Genc Pollo MP

fmr. Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration

fmr. Deputy PM, Minister of Education, Minister of Telecom&IT

Tirana, Albania

 
                    [post_title] => Mountain in labour a mouse is born: the Balkan Mini Schengen
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => mountain-in-labour-a-mouse-is-born-the-balkan-mini-schengen
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-18 09:48:11
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-18 07:48:11
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143298
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [3] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143275
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-15 09:33:31
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-15 07:33:31
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 15 - The head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Bernd Borschardt, issued on Monday a public apology to citizens who he might have insulted on Sunday, when he responded by giving the middle finger to protesters' calls to him.

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

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

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

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

After the gesture, the Council of Albanian Ambassadors issued a statement inter alia that all diplomats accredited in our country must respect the Albanian people.

“The Council of Albanian Ambassadors, while showing a special respect and esteem for all accredited diplomats in Albania, calls on each of them to respect the Albanian people, as well as the legitimate right of every Albanian to protest peacefully,” the statement said. 

It further emphasizes that "the lack of respect for such reactions can damage the reputation and credibility of the organization in Albania” and calls for an evaluation of the gesture by the highest organization ranks such as the secretariat, as well as the necessary disciplinary steps. 

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

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

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

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

 
                    [post_title] => OSCE Ambassador issues apology for shameful public act
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => osce-ambassador-issues-apology-for-shameful-public-act
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-18 09:16:10
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-18 07:16:10
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143275
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [4] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143272
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-13 09:31:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-13 07:31:00
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 13 - The National Association of Judges considered the attacks of Prime Minister Edi Rama and Deputy Prime Minister Erjon Brace as interfering with the judiciary and said through a statement on Thursday they overall undermine the independence of the judiciary and public confidence in the justice system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
                    [post_title] => National Association of Judges says PM’s attacks undermine judiciary’s independence   
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => national-association-of-judges-says-pms-attacks-undermine-judiciarys-independence
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-16 09:32:14
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-16 07:32:14
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143272
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [5] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143286
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-13 09:21:42
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-13 07:21:42
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 12 - The Independent Qualification Commission dismissed on Friday special prosecution candidate Ndini Tavani. 

The decision was made by the judicial body composed of Alma Faskaj, Brunilda Bekteshi and Roland Ilia.

Regarding the property criterion, the IQC found problems with the prosecutor's financial ability to buy an apartment in 2015. 

Tavani had declared an apartment purchased in 2015 worth 4.5 million ALL, of which he had paid three million ALL. 

He had declared as source for the three million lek his and his wife's salary as well as his income from working as a lawyer.

The commission, after investigation, found that Tavani was not able to generate the amount of 2.5 million ALL .

On the other hand, the commission found financial issues in 2009 related to the purchase of a car in the amount of 7,000 EUR and in 2016 for the purchase of a car in the amount of 900 thousand ALL and for holiday expenses.

In relation to the cleanliness of figure criterion, two reports were drafted in which the latter considered Tavani inappropriate to continue his work. 

According to the Directory of Securing Classified Information, Tavani was found to have abused his office in a case involving VAT fraud schemes. 

In the meantime, the commission also found that in 2015 there had been a criminal report against Tavani, but the case had been dismissed and no complaint had been filed against him.

Concerning the professionalism criterion, the commission found problems in two of the five files examined. The IQC found that Tavani  had terminated a case in 2015, only one day after the filing of criminal proceedings. 

Tavani also delayed the investigation into a case where two notaries were indicted. Investigations were delayed by three months to take into question the whistleblower and the notary but only the latter's statements were taken. 

The investigation was then postponed for another three months for the whistleblower's questioning, and then was ultimately dismissed.

The commission also found that Tavani had decided to dismiss a case made public by the Stop show, without conducting sufficient investigations.

 
                    [post_title] => Independent Qualification Commission dismisses SPAK candidate Ndini Tavani 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => independent-qualification-commission-dismisses-spak-candidate-ndini-tavani
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-18 09:24:59
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-18 07:24:59
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143286
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [6] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143264
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-12 09:08:27
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-12 07:08:27
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 12 - The Venice Commission approved on Friday a final opinion on President Ilir Meta's decision to cancel June 30 as an election date. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
                    [post_title] => Final Venice Commission report says ‘no’ to President’s dismissal 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => final-venice-commission-report-says-no-to-presidents-dismissal
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-12 09:10:54
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-12 07:10:54
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143264
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [7] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143252
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-10 11:19:14
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-10 09:19:14
                    [post_content] => On October 1st,  Agro & Social Fund announced the official launch of the BORROW WISELY! campaign – a one month educational campaign aimed mainly at current and potential clients.  The campaign is organised under the auspices of the Microfinance Centre, an international organisation which promotes international customer protection standards and financial education. It will run in fourteen countries, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Moldova, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Greece & Tajikistan.

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

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

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

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

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

 
                    [post_title] => Agro & Social Fund launches the BORROW WISELY! Campaign
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => agro-social-fund-launches-the-borrow-wisely-campaign
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-11 11:25:10
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-11 09:25:10
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143252
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [8] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143246
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-09 11:03:03
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-09 09:03:03
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 9 - The Netherlands remains critical of Albania's European Union progress and sticks to its proposal that "the European Council should evaluate Albania and Northern Macedonia on their own merits.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“By writing this letter, we hope that you will understand how critical this moment is for our nation, how much energy and motivation it would add to all efforts if we would get from you, as we have gotten from the German parliament, a recognition for what we have achieved so far and the conditions for going forward towards a common European future,” they concluded. 
                    [post_title] => The Netherlands to separate Albania from N. Macedonia regarding EU integration 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-netherlands-to-separate-albania-from-n-macedonia-regarding-eu-integration
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-11 11:07:01
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-11 09:07:01
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143246
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [9] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 143240
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-10-08 19:52:50
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-08 17:52:50
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 8 - The female MPs of the Albanian Assembly addressed the Netherlands in an open letter on Tuesday, asking it to join the rest of European Union member states in giving Albania the green light to open accession negotiations. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
                    [post_title] => Albanian female ministers ask for green light from the Netherlands 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => albanian-female-ministers-ask-for-green-light-from-the-netherlands
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-10-10 19:54:32
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-10 17:54:32
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143240
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

        )

    [post] => WP_Post Object
        (
            [ID] => 143326
            [post_author] => 29
            [post_date] => 2019-10-21 14:39:21
            [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-21 12:39:21
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 21 - North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said snap elections will take place after talking about failure to get a date for opening accession negotiations during the European Council meeting on Thursday in Brussels. 

He did not hide his emotions as he said his country had suffered a great injustice. 

"We brought all our commitments to reality, but the European Union did not reflect on the promises made. We made reforms, we solved the problems with our neighbors while the EU did not comply with its word,” Zaev said.

“The European Union failing to decide to open talks with us is a historic mistake and this was confirmed by all European leaders,” Zaev said, highlighting the frustration and outrage.

He further said the EU decision was taken under unresolved internal problems, which Northern Macedonia cannot change.

He, however, came feeling responsible in front of citizens. 

"I stand in front of you and clearly urge you, the European dream for Macedonians, Albanians, Serbs, Vlachs, Turks, Roma, Bosniaks and others living in our country - it will not be ruined,” he said. 

"That's why I propose the quick holding of snap elections. Elections, as soon as possible,” said Zaev, who will also be resigning from his post as the country’s PM. 

Zaev said that it’s up to citizens “to take the right way towards democratic and European values, to development and prosperity, or to the dark path of isolation, nationalism, divisions and conflicts, which is the way backwards.”

The opposition, both Macedonian and Albanian, has been calling for early elections for months, as the Democratic Union for Integration has not backed the idea, due to the possibility of regression from reforms and integration processes, as its officials have often said.

A part of analysts have also said that early elections would halt the progress of reforms launched and take Northern Macedonia a precious time to achieve the required European standards. 

Following Zaev’s statement, the ruling and opposition parties in Northern Macedonia agreed on Sunday evening for early parliamentary elections to take place on April 12, 2020.

In the meeting convened by President Stevo Pendarovski, the issue of snap elections was the second topic after the failure to obtain a date for opening negotiations with the European Union.

The election date was accepted by consensus of all participants in the meeting: Zaev, who is both PM and chairman of the Social Democratic League, Hristijan Mickovski of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, Ali Ahmeti of the Democratic Union for Integration, Zijadin Sela chairman of the Alliance for Albanians , Afrim Gashi of Alternative, Bilal Kasami of the Besa Movement and Menduh Thaçi of the Albanian Democratic Party.

Under a deal made some years ago, three months before the election date, the PM must resign and form a caretaker government, which will include the opposition. 

Under this agreement, the technical government should be formed by January 3.

Zaev said at the meeting that his party was ready to accept a single constituency or open lists.

Northern Macedonia currently has six constituencies and each sends twenty deputies to the Republican Parliament.

Opposition leader Mickovski told reporters that it was important to set a date for early elections, as he dismissed allegations made by SDSM officials that he was glad the country did not get a date for EU negotiations. 

Opposition parties have been calling for early elections for months, criticizing Mr Zaev's government for corruption scandals, nepotism and inability to carry out reforms that would lead the country towards European integration.

 
            [post_title] => North Macedonian PM to resign, leading country to snap elections after EU rejection
            [post_excerpt] => 
            [post_status] => publish
            [comment_status] => closed
            [ping_status] => closed
            [post_password] => 
            [post_name] => north-macedonian-pm-to-resign-leading-country-to-snap-elections-after-eu-rejection
            [to_ping] => 
            [pinged] => 
            [post_modified] => 2019-10-21 14:39:21
            [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-21 12:39:21
            [post_content_filtered] => 
            [post_parent] => 0
            [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=143326
            [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] => 1055
            [filter] => raw
            [cat_ID] => 37
            [category_count] => 1055
            [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
        (
        )

)

Latest News

Read More