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Nationalistic sentiments take over Katsifas’ funeral service

Nationalistic sentiments take over Katsifas’ funeral service

TIRANA, Nov. 8 – Albanian police took drastic measures on Thursday at the Kakavije border point between Greece and Albania, as thousands of Greeks were expected to cross in order to attend the funeral of Konstantinos Katsifas, who died on

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Appointment of Albania’s new chief spy decreed by president after one year hanging

Appointment of Albania’s new chief spy decreed by president after one year hanging

TIRANA, Nov. 6 – Albanian President Ilir Meta announced on Tuesday he signed the decree appointing Helidon Bendo as the new Director of the State Intelligence Service (SHISH). Bendo, who has so far served as deputy director of SHISH, was

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Albania sets local elections date, as lack of electoral reform remains major issue

Albania sets local elections date, as lack of electoral reform remains major issue

TIRANA, Nov. 6 – On Monday, it was announced the upcoming local elections will be held on June 30, 2019, as per President Ilir Meta’s decision, although the countries government and opposition still haven’t agreed on the electoral reform. Last

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Rama-Meta clash turns into show of political strength

Rama-Meta clash turns into show of political strength

TIRANA, Nov. 6 – The clash between Albania’s President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama to appoint General Sander Lleshi as the new interior minister, after Fatmir Xhafaj resigned last weekend, seem to have turned into a show of

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PM Rama makes Lleshi deputy MoI following president’s rejection

PM Rama makes Lleshi deputy MoI following president’s rejection

TIRANA, Nov. 5 – After Albania’s President Ilir Meta rejected Prime Minister Edi Rama’s proposal to make Sander Lleshi the country’s new interior minister, Rama appointed Lleshi as deputy minister of interior on Monday morning. After a meeting with the

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President rejects PM’s proposal to make Lleshi Albania’s new MoI

President rejects PM’s proposal to make Lleshi Albania’s new MoI

TIRANA, Nov. 4 – An official statement from the president’s office announced on Saturday night President Ilir Meta “is not yet fully convinced to trust the candidacy of Sander Lleshi as new minister of interior.” This statement is proof of

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President Meta to miss deadline to decree Lleshi as new MoI

President Meta to miss deadline to decree Lleshi as new MoI

TIRANA, Nov. 3 – Albania’s President Ilir Meta said on Friday he still hasn’t decided whether to decree General Sander Lleshi as the country’s next minister of interior as per Prime Minister Edi Rama’s proposal, although the deadline for his

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Minister of Interior’s resignation raises red flags

Minister of Interior’s resignation raises red flags

TIRANA, Oct. 28 – Albania’s Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj handed in his resignation from office to Prime Minister Edi Rama on Saturday morning. Rama himself made the news public through a tweet, while also announcing General Sander Lleshi will

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Former MoI Tahiri makes comeback claiming innocent according to Italian court

Former MoI Tahiri makes comeback claiming innocent according to Italian court

TIRANA, Nov. 1 – Albania’s former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri spoke in a press conference on Thursday morning regarding a document issued by the Italian Catania court which he says proves that he is innocent. According to Tahiri, the

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Study again finds majority of doctors want to leave Albania

Study again finds majority of doctors want to leave Albania

TIRANA, Nov. 1 – On Wednesday, the Together for LIfe Association published a study showing the majority of doctors admitted they are ready to leave Albania due to difficult working conditions which make them feel underappreciated and overworked. According to

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 8 - Albanian police took drastic measures on Thursday at the Kakavije border point between Greece and Albania, as thousands of Greeks were expected to cross in order to attend the funeral of Konstantinos Katsifas, who died on Oct. 28, during a shootout with Albanian police. 

Local media reported throughout Thursday morning that 670 foreign citizens had entered the Kakavije border point, all of whom were thoroughly checked by the police.

Additional sources reported at least ten people were kept from entering Albania, although it is highly probable a much bigger number was detained, as at least one right-wing Golden Dawn Party van filled with supporters was warned by the Greek side to be arriving.

Among the Greeks prohibited from entering were also those allegedly wearing shirts bearing nationalistic signs and anti-Albanian quotes mentioning Northern Epirus.

On the Albanian side, police forces from Tirana even arrived to Bularat, where Kotsifas was killed and buried, while the Gjirokastra police was placed in the periphery of Bularat, to make sure no incidents occur during the funeral, which took place at around 1pm. 

On its side, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs also called on all Greek citizens who decided to attend Katsifas’ funeral to demonstrate self-control and respect over Katsifas’ family and the funeral service , according to Greek media. 

Katsifas was dressed in military uniform and close to 2000 people attended it. 

No matter the draconian measures to maintain a civil and calm funeral, nationalistic sentiments and tones did take over the service, as reported by local media. 

According to local broadcaster Top-Channel, the service  was accompanied by numerous Greek flags as well as nationalistic symbols which not only went against Albania, but also Macedonia. 

After the religious service , the crowd allegedly accompanied Katsifas’ coffin by singing nationalistic chants and unfolding a flag where “Northern-Epirus” was written, as “Albanians leave, this is Greece” was heard being sang in the background.

After the entire funeral ended, the crowd of Greek citizens was reported by Top-Channel correspondent to have also gone to the Gjirokaster-Kakavije main road holding the unfolded Greek flag, creating traffic and blocking the way of vehicles passing there. 

Konstantinos Katsifas, who was killed during a shootout with officers of the Renea Special Force on Sunday, as Bularat was commemorating the fallen Greek soldiers during the Greek-Italian war, caused a storm of nationalistic and radical statements that overtook the public discussion.

Katsifas was reported by Albanian media and police forces to have shot on the RENEA effectives who were gathered in Bularat to make sure nothing happened during the commemoration service, while the Albanian police said normal procedure was followed during the entire event.

Greek media, however, reported RENEA effectives lowered a Greek flag the minority member has placed to commemorate the fallen from the war and that caused him to shot at them and, in turn, be killed.

Throughout the week, protests overtook major Greek cities Athens and Thessaloniki, as many Greeks saw a hero in the face of Katsifas and called for investigations to go to the end of what happened. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 6 - Albanian President Ilir Meta announced on Tuesday he signed the decree appointing Helidon Bendo as the new Director of the State Intelligence Service (SHISH).

Bendo, who has so far served as deputy director of SHISH, was proposed about a year ago to take over leading this institution right after his predecessor Visho Ajazi resigned.

Meta kept the decree of his appointment hanging during this entire time, although Bendo actually led the institution with all the competencies the director would have.

Asked last December on this issue, Meta said that "such a decision is important and the President of the Republic must be convinced that a final decision strengthens the independence and efficiency of such an important national security institution.”

A career intelligence officer and a mathematician by training, Bendo had been at the service since the tumultuous 1990s, at the same time that Ajazi also signed up.

However, Ajazi left to live in Canada for many years working in IT, where his primary training is based, until returning as head of the intelligence service.

Albanian media reported this week Ajazi had competed several months ago to get a job as a security advisor at NATO headquarters, indicating he was planning to leave the service.

SHISH is Albania’s primary intelligence service. Its responsibilities include acquiring intelligence and counterintelligence on issues relevant to national security. Its responsibilities also extend to issues related to constitutional order and specifically encompass a role in fighting organized crime, illegal trafficking and terrorism.

Meanwhile, Ajazi’s resignation last year, after serving as the head of SHISH for five years, sparked questions whether the decision was personal or had come under pressure from the government. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 6 - On Monday, it was announced the upcoming local elections will be held on June 30, 2019, as per President Ilir Meta’s decision, although the countries government and opposition still haven’t agreed on the electoral reform. 

Last week, Meta also consulted the heads of the parliamentary groups on the issue, while on Monday he conducted a meeting with Chairman of Parliament Gramoz Ruci.

During the last local elections, the left-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Edi Rama's Socialist Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) won the overwhelming majority of 61 municipalities in the country.

The SP managed to get a total of 45 municipalities, with almost all the country’s major cities passing under its control with the exception of Shkodra, which maintained its traditionally right-wing political affiliation. 

The right-wing coalition only managed to win 15 municipalities, while the Finiq municipality in the country’s south was won by the Greek Ethnic Minority for the Future (MEGA) Party.

The lack of an electoral reform remains a persisting issue when it comes to elections, particularly because it is one of the most important conditions for Albania to open accession negotiations with the EU.

Although a special parliamentary commission for the electoral reform has been established for two years now, there is still no agreement between the parties regarding its functionality and the way to achieve an electoral reform.

Meanwhile, EU representatives have said numerous times after Albania failed to open accession negotiations back in June, that without achieving the electoral reform before the 2019 local elections, Albania has no chance to open negotiations in the near future. 

The last to speak about it in the media was Gunther Krichbaum, chair of the Commission on EU Affairs in the German Bundestag.

Back in September, Krichbaum, at an interview for local Panorama newspaper, expressed disappointment over the weak progress the Albanian government has made to meet the conditions set by the EU and the German Bundestag.

“Negotiations can only begin after Albania has carried out the necessary reforms. In addition to the complete verification of judges and prosecutors, the electoral reform should also be mentioned here. If the 2019 local elections take place under the old electoral law, I see no real chance of opening accession negotiations in 2019,” Krichbaum said on Sept. 4. 

Although the Albanian majority has made the electoral reform one of its main priorities, last October it called on foreign representatives to closely monitor and assist the process in a similar way they did the judicial reform ,but so far there have been no results.

A main issue that requires attention is the conflicting conditions and expectations of the ruling majority and the opposition parties in regard to the electoral reform.

The Socialist Party has placed importance in counting the votes of all Albanian citizens abroad, especially those of immigrants, whereas the main opposition party, the Democratic Party, had declared non-negotiable the condition to implement electronic voting and electronic vote-counting, as well as looking to change the electoral system to make lawmakers more directly accountable to voters. The latter suggestion has also been supported by the Socialist Movement for Integration Party.

 
                    [post_title] => Albania sets local elections date, as lack of electoral reform remains major issue  
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 6 - The clash between Albania’s President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama to appoint General Sander Lleshi as the new interior minister, after Fatmir Xhafaj resigned last weekend, seem to have turned into a show of strength between the institutions Rama and Meta represent. 

As Meta notified through a short announcement on Saturday he had not created the right conviction to trust Lleshi as a candidate for interior minister, Rama said on Monday morning, after the Socialist Party’s parliamentary group meeting, the parliament will approve Meta’s decree to dismiss Xhafaj while making Lleshi deputy minister of interior with all the competencies of the minister himself. 

On Sunday morning, Meta and Rama had a 90-minute long private meeting, after which the PM’s office announced the two had discussed concerning Lleshi in a constructive manner and had decided to keep the dialogue between them open. 

“The conversation was open and constructive and the prime minister will continue communicating with the President of the Republic,” explained the announcement the PM's office.

However, political science experts and analysts pointed out Rama’s decision to appoint Lleshi deputy minister of interior is a clear sign the communication between Rama and Meta has been interrupted. 

On his side, Meta also reacted in harsh tones through a spokesperson from the president’s office.

“The Head of State confirms his maximum commitment in respect to the Constitution, to cooperate with all state institutions, in the interest of stability, institutional empowerment and growth of institutional cooperation with transparency and constructiveness, but will not allow any challenging attempt against the authority of the institution he represents as Head of State, General Commander of the Armed Forces and Head of the National Security Council,” Meta’s spokesperson announced.

The spokesperson also underlined that Meta has always been available to provide transparent and responsible explanations for whatever issue the parliament is concerned and added the president is convinced the days Albania was led by a “First Secretary” are over. 

Meta’s position for the appointment of a new minister has opened up a constitutional conflict and a previously unregistered precedent.

According to the Albanian Constitution, a minister is appointed and dismissed by the president upon the PM’s proposal within seven days, leaving no room for intervention by the president himself. The constitution further stipulates the president, in exercising his powers, issues decrees.

In the current situation, Meta decreed the dismissal of Xhafaj as minister of interior also referring to the legal framework, while the announcement for rejecting Lleshi as the new MoI has not been officially motivated by any legal decree and an official announcement in the official website of the president is missing. 

In this context, Meta’s reasons behind Lleshi’s rejection are still unclear. 

During an interview on Friday night, Meta said the president is obliged to practice all his constitutional duties in order to be fully convinced for any kind of proposal brought to him to decree and added this case is particularly delicate and requires the uttermost attention.

However, local media has reported this stand does not have a previous precedent. 

Last year, former President Bujar Nishani who publicly spoke against appointing current Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj, nonetheless accepted he did not have the competence to reject the proposal.

Meanwhile, analyst Lutfi Dervishi said the constitutional article that foresees appointing and dismissing ministers seems like way to impose to the president the automatic decree of every ministerial proposal coming from the prime minister.

Despite differing opinions, analysts claim Meta is trying to maintain his influence on new appointments in all institutions; in the justice system, intelligence services, government etc, and provide the role of a guarantor and constructive officer, for as long as the new names are approved by him. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 5 - After Albania’s President Ilir Meta rejected Prime Minister Edi Rama’s proposal to make Sander Lleshi the country’s new interior minister, Rama appointed Lleshi as deputy minister of interior on Monday morning. 

After a meeting with the Socialist parliamentary group, Rama announced the decision through an official tweet.

“Complete agreement among the parliamentary group. The parliament will approve tomorrow the president’s decree to dismiss the former minister of interior. Sander Lleshi will head the ministry of interior as deputy minister,” Rama said.

He added there was more news to the story which he will communicate in front of the parliament on Tuesday morning.

Appointing Lleshi as deputy minister came with assigning him all ministerial rights and competences, thus giving him the leading role in the ministry of interior despite Meta’s public rejection of Rama’s proposal. 

Rama’s decision came after a 90-minute meeting between him and Meta, regarding the latter’s decision to unconstitutionally reject Rama’s proposal to appoint Lleshi after Fatmir Xhafaj’s resignation last week.

Meta, after almost missing the deadline to decree Lleshi as the new MoI and hinting at a possible rejection of his appointment, announced on Sunday via a Whatsapp message for the media he rejects Rama’s proposal of Lleshi, without making his justification public.

Following this development, Meta and Rama met in private, while the Prime Minister’s office only stated the following concerning their meeting.

“Upon his request, the Prime Minister met the President of the Republic, to discuss the content of the latter’s letter regarding the proposal to decree General Sander Lleshi as the new Minister of Interior. The conversation was open and constructive and the prime minister will continue communicating with the President of the Republic,” the statement announced.

During an interview on Friday, Meta said the president is obliged to practice all his constitutional duties in order to be fully convinced for any kind of proposal brought to him to decree and added this case is particularly delicate and requires the uttermost attention.

However, local media has also reported the president’s position risks opening a constitutional conflict, and a strong clash with the government, in the current conditions when the Constitutional Court is out of order. Last year, former President Bujar Nishani who publicly spoke against appointing current Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj, nonetheless accepted he did not have the competence to reject the proposal.

Meta also met with the Socialist head of parliament Gramoz Ruci following the majority’s decision to appoint Lleshi deputy minister with all the competences of the minister, but what went on during the meeting between Meta and Ruci is still unknown. 

Meanwhile, analysts and independent political observers claim Albania has fallen into a sudden constitutional crisis, while also raising concerns about Lleshi’s appointment as deputy minister as unprofessional.

The hasty political developments over the last two weekends, from Xhafaj’s resignation to Meta rejecting Lleshi as the new MoI, prompted critical comments.

Political analyst Aleksander Cipa said it might open a new chapter in the conflictual relations between the president and the socialist majority and an institutional clash between PM and president.

Analyst Afrim Krasniqi said Meta’s behavior is more political than presidential and that non-decreeing a new minister puts the country in a new political crisis.

Meanwhile, analyst Lutfi Dervishi said the constitutional article that foresees appointing and dismissing ministers seems like way to impose to the president the automatic decree of every ministerial proposal coming from the prime minister.

Despite differing opinions, analysts claim Meta is trying to maintain his influence on new appointments in all institutions; in the justice system, intelligence services, government etc, and provide the role of a guarantor and constructive officer, for as long as the new names are approved by him. 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-04 22:04:30
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 4 - An official statement from the president’s office announced on Saturday night President Ilir Meta “is not yet fully convinced to trust the candidacy of Sander Lleshi as new minister of interior.”

This statement is proof of what Meta warned on Friday during an interview when, referring to Italy as an example, he mentioned how the Italian president vetoed the prime minister’s proposed name for minister of economy.

Although, according to Meta, the Albanian constitution clearly states the country’s president is to be held accountable for any assigned signature, local media has reported no article in the constitution foresees the president vetoing a ministerial proposal. 

In this context, the official method Meta will use to justify his decision is still to be seen. Upon decreeing former Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj’s dismissal, after his resignation, Meta referred to all the constitutional articles justifying his signature. 

The short announcement concerning Lleshi’s veto, however, doesn’t contain any legal references and has not been published in the president’s official website. 

During his interview on Friday, Meta said the president is obliged to practice all his constitutional duties in order to be fully convinced for any kind of proposal brought to him to decree and added this case is particularly delicate and requires the uttermost attention.

Apart from the fact the constitution provides that "a minister is appointed and dismissed by the President of the Republic, with the Prime Minister's proposal within 7 days", there is a precedent that goes against the attitude currently held by Meta.

Last year, former President Bujar Nishani who publicly spoke against appointing current Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj, nonetheless accepted he did not have the competence to veto the proposal.

The presidency’s announcement also doesn’t provide the reasons behind Meta’s veto of Lleshi as the country’s new minister of interior. In the cases when the president decrees the return of a law to parliament, he accompanies the decision with all legal explanations, while in this case, everything remains unclear, although it is an important matter currently.

Last but not least, the president's position risks opening a constitutional conflict, and a strong clash with the government, in the current conditions when the Constitutional Court is out of order.

 
                    [post_title] => President rejects PM’s proposal to make Lleshi Albania’s new MoI
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-03 12:06:55
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-03 11:06:55
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 3 - Albania’s President Ilir Meta said on Friday he still hasn’t decided whether to decree General Sander Lleshi as the country’s next minister of interior as per Prime Minister Edi Rama’s proposal, although the deadline for his decision is fast approaching. 

Meta said during a local TV show he’d find a way to announce his decision at the right time and that he wouldn’t be pressured by individuals or by the deadline, while making clear what his reasons are behind the prolonged decision process.

“The president has a duty to exercise all his constitutional responsibilities to gain full conviction concerning any proposal given to him to decree. The president can not put his signature on any formal declarations because that would be irresponsible. Even more for such a task, which at the present moment requires even more responsibility and attention” Meta said.

The Albanian constitution gives the president a seven-day window to appoint a new minister - Saturday is the last day of this deadline.

Meta, during his interview, even took as an example the case of the Italian president who, a few months back, vetoed the decree of one of the ministers of the newly-elected government. According to Meta, in the case of Italy, the president had deemed the proposed minister did not properly represent Italian and European values, thus signaling the possibility of also vetoing Lleshi as the future minister of interior.

“The constitution is very clear: the president is responsible for any assigned signature. Otherwise, the president would not have this opportunity and this instrument to confirm, verify, control, and guarantee the integrity of each ministry. Therefore, I want to say that every president has the duty, with his actions, or his inaction, to take the proper public responsibility and to show maximum accountability. So, in this sense, no one should have any doubt that I will exercise my competencies, especially in this situation, maximally and courageously ” Meta said.

On the other hand, local media has pointed out the constitution does not literally state, in any place, cases of not decreeing a proposal for the appointment of members at the governmental cabinet. Last year, former President Bujar Nishani who publicly spoke against appointing current Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj, nonetheless accepted he did not have the competence to veto the proposal.

Concerning Xhafaj, who is still minister of interior until a successor is appointed, Meta said he showcased will to move forward in the fight against organized crime, despite difficulties and complicated circumstances. 

 

 
                    [post_title] => President Meta to miss deadline to decree Lleshi as new MoI 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-03 09:41:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-03 08:41:00
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 28 - Albania’s Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj handed in his resignation from office to Prime Minister Edi Rama on Saturday morning. 

Rama himself made the news public through a tweet, while also announcing General Sander Lleshi will be taking Xhafaj’s post. 

“I accepted the resignation of Minister Xhafaj, whom I thank for his valuable contribution. General Sander Lleshi will bring new positive energy as the head of interior affairs. The track has been paved. Now we need to increase the speed and achieve even more meaningful results,” Rama wrote on Twitter.

Head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha wrote in social networks soon after news of his resignation broke out that "Fatmir Xhafaj was the only interior minister in Europe with a drug trafficker brother," and that his resignation "is an important step in our battle to clear up politics from crime.” 

In the same context, the opposition has also demanded Rama’s resignation for his alleged ties with crime. 

Xhafaj’s resignation comes at an interesting time, as the Albanian police has been overseeing a number of operations aiming to capture the country’s most notorious criminal rings, while his replacement by the counselor for security issues - a politically non-experienced figure - has raised even more doubts among the lines of analysts and political scientists. 

An official reason behind Xhafaj’s resignation is yet to be given, although he’s been the target of numerous opposition attacks, particularly regarding the alleged protection of his brother, Agron, who used to be part of a narcotics trafficking ring in Italy.

The accusations towards Xhafaj began with the surfacing of the ‘Babale case,’ in which Albert Veliu, former collaborator of Agron during his drug-trafficking years in Italy, claimed he recently spoke to Agron to help him traffick narcotics in order to make some easy money. 

Both Xhafaj and Rama have denied the veracity of this audio-surveillance, while the country’s prosecution is investigating the case and has already issued two arrest warrants against Veliu and the man who impersonated Agron. 

However, the Babale case investigations also made clear the fact that Agron’s sentence years back was eased significantly by saving him some prison years. Following the case breakout, Agron left to Italy to serve his sentence. 

Xhafaj is one of the Socialist Party’s main politicians, a lawmaker and minister for several mandates, and chairman of the parliamentary committee of the judicial reform.

In his first appearance for the media after resigning from office, Xhafaj said his decision was motivated by personal reasons and called on the opposition to proceed with investigations concerning all the accusation it has made against him, now that he is not the country’s interior minister any longer. 
Along the vetting of the judiciary, he devised the vetting process for the state police, while leading the ‘Force of Law’ operation for many months.

Xhafaj had also been often critical of his predecessor Saimir Tahiri, who is also under fire for possible ties with criminal rings in the country due to the criminal records of his relatives in neighboring Italy.

Tahiri had announced a press conference recently, which he cancelled after Xhafaj’s resignation according to local media. 

In context of his abrupt resignation, there are five main leads local media has reported as possible reasons: a consensual resignation, an unexpected fight or disagreement with PM Rama, pressure from forme MoI Tahiri, or the alleged ongoing investigations into Durres mayor Vangjush Dako for vote-buying on behalf of the Socialist Party.

 

Political science experts comment on Xhafaj’s resignation

Avoiding to make speculations on the circumstances that brought the unexpected move on Xhafaj’s side, who only recently led a series of successful police operations and arrests and did not give any signs he was considering to leave his post, the biggest part of analysts have nonetheless concluded his resignation most likely signals tensions in the ranks of the socialists and pressure coming from criminal groups, which are strongly tied to the governing socialists.

“On the other hand, Xhafaj’s position as minister was also compromised by his brother's punishment in Italy for trafficking narcotics," said Armand Bajrami, ABC TV  journalist and analyst.

Analyst Afrim Krasniqi, head of the Institute of Political Studies, says that for 4 years the socialist majority has been promising the same things, as targeting gambling, the crackdown of crime and the 40 gangs, indicating that concrete results are missing, that the socialists can not fight criminality , a fact that indicates that concrete results are missing, that the socialists cannot fight criminality, that reforms have slowed down and that when a criminal group is caught, immediate pressures from the world of crime cause political storms.

According to him, the socialist majority has difficulties in keeping its promises for the rule of law and the sought political reforms.

“The government's cabinet resembles a group of Rama's loyal advisers and assistants than figures with professional and political personalities from the socialists’ ranks, credible enough to lead the country's important reforms. Meanwhile, organized criminal and corrupt groups have achieved frightening levels of pressure and manage to influence political decision-making, imposing up to the election of deputies or even ministers’ changes,” Krasniqi said.

Further on, a number of analysts believe that the pressure from international institutions on Albanian authorities is the only means to achieve results in establishing the bodies foreseen under the country’s judicial reform and avoiding any problems that may arise within the SP to hamper the rhythm of progress. 

“In addition to major delays in judicial reform and the appointment of judges and prosecutors, analysts believe that there has been a lack of self-sufficiency among the police forces, although the expectation in both of these processes has been high by Albanians and internationals,” Bajrami added. 

 

Who is General Sander Lleshi 

After Rama’s recommendation, Lleshi is to be decreed by the President of the Republic Ilir Meta as the new interior minister. Sander Lleshi, Brigadier General. In 2011 he held the post of Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Albania. In 1996-2000, Lleshi was Commander of the Courses at the Defense Academy in Tirana and then for three more years was Commander of the Skanderbeg Military Academy. In 2003-2006 he served as Defense Attaché of the Republic of Albania in Germany. In 2013, Rama made him part of his cabinet, appointing him as Security Adviser.

 
                    [post_title] => Minister of Interior’s resignation raises red flags 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-01 09:24:39
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-01 08:24:39
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 1 - Albania’s former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri spoke in a press conference on Thursday morning regarding a document issued by the Italian Catania court which he says proves that he is innocent. 

According to Tahiri, the Catania court document asks that investigations towards Tahiri be terminated because there is not enough evidence tying him with narcotics trafficking.

“The prosecutor of the Italian Anti-Mafia and the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Italy, at the conclusion of all investigations, asked the Italian Court to terminate the investigations for Saimir Tahiri because there is no involvement in any illegal activity. The Italian court approved the request of anti-mafia prosecutors and today I hold the court’s decision, which adopts the prosecution's request to terminate the investigation against me,” Tahiri said.

Tahiri, who is under accusations of being tied to the Habilaj criminal ring in the country since last October while investigations are still ongoing, said that over the last year he has been attacked by every part of Albanian society - ambassadors, journalists, the media and the Albanian political figures.

On Monday, Tahiri told the media, while leaving the serious crimes prosecution, that he had submitted evidence that was crucial to his process. 

Tahiri’s press conference brought the immediate reaction of the opposition’s Democratic Party. At another press conference at the DP headquarters, legal expert Gazmend Bardhi said the crimes for which Tahiri was charged and is being investigated were not carried out in Italy, but in Albania and accused Tahiri of threatening judges and prosecutors not to investigate the case.

“The Albanian prosecution has all the evidence that proves beyond all doubt the active involvement of Saimir Tahiri in the protection of the Habilajs and drug trafficking,” Bardhi said.

Tahiri turned into a controversial topic since last year’s October, when Italian police arrested an Albanian-Italian criminal ring led by the Habilaj brothers.

Wiretaps made public in Albania included the Habilaj brothers mentioning Tahiri in their conversation from the time the latter was minister of interior. 

The country’s opposition has pushed for Tahiri’s arrest and although a special body has been established to overlook his case, the deadline for the investigation towards him has been continuously postponed. 

 
                    [post_title] => Former MoI Tahiri makes comeback claiming innocent according to Italian court 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-01 08:31:07
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-01 07:31:07
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 1 - On Wednesday, the Together for LIfe Association published a study showing the majority of doctors admitted they are ready to leave Albania due to difficult working conditions which make them feel underappreciated and overworked. 

According to the study numbers, approximately 80 percent of doctors who participated in the polls are ready to leave the country. 

The study, which has been supported by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, found that 24 percent of doctors are ready to leave immediately, while 54 percent would leave if given the chance.
Doctors in university campuses, according to the survey, are more likely to leave the country than those working in regional hospitals. Nearly 40 percent of doctors with scientific degrees consider leaving Albania an important step in their career.
Most doctors in university hospitals claim to have significant workplace deficiencies, feel undervalued, overworked, and under stress.

Albania has on average one physician per 1000 inhabitants, while remote areas in broken geographical terrains have the biggest difficulties in getting medication.

Doctors claimed to a large extent in the surveys that they are insecure at work, and are being criticized more than they should.
Further on, they said that they themselves have lost confidence in the health system and want to leave Albania for professional and economic reasons.
They consider that the biggest problems in the Albanian health care system are management bureaucracy, financial insecurity and non-funding to increase the quality of services.
The lack of specialized doctors in recent years has affected both regional hospitals and university centers. 

The overwhelming majority of doctors rank them in the most bad-paid group in the health system, while pointing out that the future in Albania is unsafe. 

This, of course, is not the first time attention is drawn to this alarming issue. A number of health analysts have said in the past Albania is facing a massive doctor shortage and losing specialists at an alarming rate as emigration and retirement rates soar.

“It’s getting worse every day. Albania is running out of doctors. In two and half years, more than 400 doctors have left the country. Add to that figure the number of those retiring and the number of those graduating every year is less than those leaving practice,” former Minister of Healthcare Tritan Shehu warned two years back. 

Back then, Albania had 1,1 doctors per 1000 inhabitants, while EU countries have around five doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, and neighboring Macedonia has 4.6 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants. 

The causes for the low number of doctors and beds stem from little investment in the sector, which include inadequate salaries medical personal and not giving incentives to specialize.

Many young doctors apply to emigrate to Germany and other countries at the first available time.

The trend has been warned to get worse once Albania joins the EU, as seen by countries like Bulgaria and Romania, which have seen an exodus of medical professionals toward the wealthier northwestern part of the continent.

 
                    [post_title] => Study again finds majority of doctors want to leave Albania 
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            [post_date] => 2018-11-09 10:25:26
            [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-09 09:25:26
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 8 - Albanian police took drastic measures on Thursday at the Kakavije border point between Greece and Albania, as thousands of Greeks were expected to cross in order to attend the funeral of Konstantinos Katsifas, who died on Oct. 28, during a shootout with Albanian police. 

Local media reported throughout Thursday morning that 670 foreign citizens had entered the Kakavije border point, all of whom were thoroughly checked by the police.

Additional sources reported at least ten people were kept from entering Albania, although it is highly probable a much bigger number was detained, as at least one right-wing Golden Dawn Party van filled with supporters was warned by the Greek side to be arriving.

Among the Greeks prohibited from entering were also those allegedly wearing shirts bearing nationalistic signs and anti-Albanian quotes mentioning Northern Epirus.

On the Albanian side, police forces from Tirana even arrived to Bularat, where Kotsifas was killed and buried, while the Gjirokastra police was placed in the periphery of Bularat, to make sure no incidents occur during the funeral, which took place at around 1pm. 

On its side, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs also called on all Greek citizens who decided to attend Katsifas’ funeral to demonstrate self-control and respect over Katsifas’ family and the funeral service , according to Greek media. 

Katsifas was dressed in military uniform and close to 2000 people attended it. 

No matter the draconian measures to maintain a civil and calm funeral, nationalistic sentiments and tones did take over the service, as reported by local media. 

According to local broadcaster Top-Channel, the service  was accompanied by numerous Greek flags as well as nationalistic symbols which not only went against Albania, but also Macedonia. 

After the religious service , the crowd allegedly accompanied Katsifas’ coffin by singing nationalistic chants and unfolding a flag where “Northern-Epirus” was written, as “Albanians leave, this is Greece” was heard being sang in the background.

After the entire funeral ended, the crowd of Greek citizens was reported by Top-Channel correspondent to have also gone to the Gjirokaster-Kakavije main road holding the unfolded Greek flag, creating traffic and blocking the way of vehicles passing there. 

Konstantinos Katsifas, who was killed during a shootout with officers of the Renea Special Force on Sunday, as Bularat was commemorating the fallen Greek soldiers during the Greek-Italian war, caused a storm of nationalistic and radical statements that overtook the public discussion.

Katsifas was reported by Albanian media and police forces to have shot on the RENEA effectives who were gathered in Bularat to make sure nothing happened during the commemoration service, while the Albanian police said normal procedure was followed during the entire event.

Greek media, however, reported RENEA effectives lowered a Greek flag the minority member has placed to commemorate the fallen from the war and that caused him to shot at them and, in turn, be killed.

Throughout the week, protests overtook major Greek cities Athens and Thessaloniki, as many Greeks saw a hero in the face of Katsifas and called for investigations to go to the end of what happened. 

 
            [post_title] => Nationalistic sentiments take over Katsifas’ funeral service 
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