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Pristina’s ‘Hapësira’ rebirths society from underground

Pristina’s ‘Hapësira’ rebirths society from underground

By Sidonja Manushi Pristina is a force to be reckoned with. In addition to many of its native musicians making international headlines, its steadily growing underground techno scene strongly testifies to that. “It’s not an aesthetically beautiful city,” a Spanish

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Italian police crackdown on Albanian-Italian narco-trafficking group

Italian police crackdown on Albanian-Italian narco-trafficking group

TIRANA, May 31 – Italian police said on Friday they crackdown on an Italian-Albanian network suspected of trafficking large amounts of marijuana from Albania to Italy. According to the Italian police, four Albanians and one Italian were arrested in Florence,

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Strengthening Religious education should be at the core of anti-radicalization efforts, AIIS report concludes

Strengthening Religious education should be at the core of anti-radicalization efforts, AIIS report concludes

TIRANA, May 30 – “Investing in strengthening religious education to meet contemporary demands is an investment in the future,” was one of the important conclusions presented during an event that the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) organized with the

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Justice reform and vetting: for the citizens, with the citizens

Justice reform and vetting: for the citizens, with the citizens

By Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO).   The EU and the US are fully committed to continue supporting the reform of the judiciary in Albania,

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EC again recommends opening of Albania-EU accession talks

EC again recommends opening of Albania-EU accession talks

TIRANA, May 29 – The European Commission again recommended opening membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia on Wednesday, as announced by Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn during the presentation of the enlargement package to the European Parliament’s Foreign Committee.

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Head of Albanian Trade Protection: “Business is stronger than a corrupt state”

Head of Albanian Trade Protection: “Business is stronger than a corrupt state”

TIRANA, May 27 – The Head of the Association for the Protection of Traders and Albanian Trade Nikollaq Neranxi called on all Albanian entrepreneurs and business owners alike to meet in the face of the economic decline threatening the country.

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Opposition holds consecutive rally calling for PM’s resignation

Opposition holds consecutive rally calling for PM’s resignation

TIRANA, May 27 – The protests called on Saturday night by the Albanian opposition took place peacefully, except for a few minutes of tension near the parliament, where protesters halted after their stay in front of the government building. While

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President Meta: “Willing to revise the local elections’ date”

President Meta: “Willing to revise the local elections’ date”

TIRANA, May 25 – Albanian President Ilir Meta said on Friday that he is willing to review and change the local elections’ date if both the majority and the opposition show the will to resolve the political crisis between them.

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German MPs say Rama’s resignation should not be viewed taboo to solve conflict

German MPs say Rama’s resignation should not be viewed taboo to solve conflict

TIRANA, May 26 – In a joint statement for Deutsche Welle on Friday, Johann David Wadephul, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the German parliament and at the same time the head of the Western Balkans working group,

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President calls on political parties to avoid civil confrontation

President calls on political parties to avoid civil confrontation

TIRANA, May 17 – Albanian President Ilir Meta called on the main political parties to act responsibly regarding the country’s deadlock on Friday and resolve the political crisis. Meta said that the majority and the opposition must act responsibly and

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                    [post_content] => By Sidonja Manushi

[caption id="attachment_142013" align="alignright" width="300"]60179457_2370223829904029_6247740688989945856_o photo by: Anyla Ademaj // Boiler Room Kosovo 2019[/caption]

Pristina is a force to be reckoned with. 

In addition to many of its native musicians making international headlines, its steadily growing underground techno scene strongly testifies to that.

“It’s not an aesthetically beautiful city,” a Spanish friend who’d visited long before I did said, “but there’s such a powerful vibe to it. You feel as if things are happening.”

Words along those lines have become a common description for the second youngest capital in the world, while their truth comes alive when one enters the Rilindja Warehouse (Rebirth, in Albanian), to attend a Hapësira (Space) event. 

Now, it’s common knowledge that music can make statements surpassing political and ideological divisions. For the 2015-founded NGO, techno does exactly that, while managing to represent, symbolically, an entire generation of post-war youth. 

“What brought Hapësira into life was lack of space for youth, in terms of showing their abilities and their creative mind,” Arbnor Dragaj, one of its co-founders, told Tirana Times. 

Conceived by a handful of strong-willed individuals whose core-value is freedom of expression and creation of a space that will not judge anyone but instead will serve as a platform or a getaway out of daily stress and life’s hardship, Hapësira does more than destroy the physical barriers limiting the youth - it pushes them to think outside their own mental boxes. 

Even symbolically, this is a fitting theme. The Rilindja Warehouse, where I first came to know the Hapësira community, has almost accompanied the NGO step-by-step, becoming host to some of their most noteworthy events.

This relationship was crowned on Hapësira’s 15th party, when the international broadcaster Boiler Room arrived at the venue and enabled millions around the world to enjoy the performances of DJs such as Anthony Linell and Umwelt, and local rising DJs the Balkans are no stranger to, such as Toton and Hapësira’s very own, one of its co-founders, Uran B.  

In the past, the warehouse used to house the printing process of a number of classic texts in Albanian, as well as the first Albanian newspaper in then-Yugoslavia, ever. This cultural past adds a poignant meaning to the post-industrial landscape which times and time again fills with techno sounds, and separates Hapësira from your average party-organizer. 

Techno, like literature, like painting, reinvents the generation by offering it a space where “youth can dance away its troubles.” 

In a four-year span, the Hapësira community evolved from serving 200-300 to almost 1500 people and its events inspired a number of other organizations to act with social benefit in mind. 

“In our perspective the greatest collaboration is when everyone is giving the best out of themselves to the community/audience they serve, as a result each of us (as a puzzle) complete the bigger picture,” Arbnor said.

On top of the ever-growing number of dancers attending Hapësira’s event from all around the region, the enormous support can also be viewed from the help going towards the capital’s vulnerable communities in goods, which Hapësira collects from attendees in exchange for discounted event tickets.

“SRF initiative along with bigger crowds have bloomed, from 50kg goods collected in first event, now up to 500kg. This also brings a totally different spirit to the party itself, as people are not coming only to have fun for themselves, but they also lift the mood and enrich the tables of the families in need, all this making the events more cheerful,” describes Arbnor. 

Currently only available during their events, the SRF is expected to live on a weekly basis as the NGO establishes itself permanently.

[caption id="attachment_142014" align="alignright" width="300"]60127445_2370224216570657_7499379122087395328_n photo by Anyla Ademaj[/caption]

Ironically enough, what Hapësira does for Pristina’s estranged, isolated youth is a lesson for the entire region which, although relatively peaceful for the last two decades, lacks in what it offers its youth and consequently, in what it takes back from them in energy and creativity. 

“In the Albanian language, Rilindja means Renaissance or Rebirth, which is exactly what we need as a society.That shall definitely come from the underground. When we first created Hapësira, which came out of need for a free space to empower our passion, Rilindja was also there at its heart, because we needed to be reborn, and where best than Rilindja, which used to enlighten our society through books and inform them through newspapers in the crucial times for our people. Our hope is to awaken the youth, to inspire them to think independently and freely outside the box. Music - techno - and industrial spaces such as Rilindja, have the power to intrigue those thoughts and hopefully will also inspire action,” Arbnor concludes. 

In a region where culture, art and education is anything but a priority, it remains to the people on the ground to make a difference and awaken a passionate response in those who have the power within them to make a change. Dancing to techno beats among strangers who share a like-minded vision of change and evolution is one of the purest, most genuine feelings one can experience and one which Hapësira is pioneering. 

The future foresees turning Hapësira into a Cultural Alternative Centre which can serve the community in many additional ways. Once settled into a permanent home, Hapësira plans to extend its activities in various events, not only in entertainment but infotainment as well, while also looking to bring these events outside of Kosovo too. 

The immediate future, on the other hand, is expecting one of the most legendary techno names inside Rilindja on June 8 - Zak Khutoretsky, also known as DVS1, will be visiting Pristina to once again make history in the way one country’s underground scene is establishing itself from the rubble. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 31 - Italian police said on Friday they crackdown on an Italian-Albanian network suspected of trafficking large amounts of marijuana from Albania to Italy. 

According to the Italian police, four Albanians and one Italian were arrested in Florence, Siena, Brindisi and Vlora, while over half the marijuana amount was blocked during the investigative process.

The criminal group has been investigated, according to the Italian police, for importing, transporting and distributing large quantities of marijuana from the Albanian coast to those of Puglia. 

The drug trafficking was made possible through speed boats which left from Vlora. However, according to Italian police sources, large quantities of narcotics were then transported from the Puglia region to southern Italy, towards some of the major Italian cities known for the marijuana criminal market.

The Albanian police did not give details regarding the people that were arrested in Vlora on behalf of the Italian justice. 

Italy continues to be the main destination of cultivated marijuana in Albania. Despite the efforts of Albanian police, the phenomenon of marijuana cultivation has still not disappeared from some areas in Albania known for its cultivation. 

Local media recently reported the first marijuana crops for this season have been discovered, while field data say that this year again saw great cultivation trends. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 30 - “Investing in strengthening religious education to meet contemporary demands is an investment in the future,” was one of the important conclusions presented during an event that the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) organized with the participation of multiple diverse stakeholders’ engagement in countering radicalization and violent extremism in Albania. 

AIIS has conducted for about a year a comprehensive research project to map the ideological roots and factors that affected the religious radicalization of Albanians, most visibly manifested in the high number of foreign fighters who traveled to Syria between 2012 and 2014.

The event was opened by National Coordinator of the Centre against Violent extremism, operating at the Prime Minister’s office who focused on the need to keep all stakeholders not only informed but also very well coordinated in their efforts to better understand and counter similar phenomena. In addition, he underlined the need to make foreign financing of religious institutions and activities in the country more transparent, adding that the initiative is currently being considered by relevant institutions.

Dr. Albert Rakipi, Executive Director of AIIS and lead author of the report “Religion and Doctrine: Ideological roots and causes of radicalization in Albania”, presented briefly the findings of the research based on multiple interviews, focus groups, examination of literature and of the functioning of the Albanian Muslim Community, etc.

Rakipi went through the historical phases of the development of Albanian Islam highlighting the issues and factors that influenced the emergence of radicalization. He focused on the first ten years of the post-Communist transition and the chaotic situation when all religious communities faced incredible difficulties in their struggle to be revitalized after the harsh ban of the Communist dictatorship during the mid-sixties. Rakipi brought to the attention of the audience the needs of the religious communities particularly in the field of education and finances mentioning also some of the relevant report recommendations for policymakers.

The key findings were discussed by a distinguished panel composed of academics, religious teachers and civil society experts. Head of the Islamic Sciences department of the Beder University, Genti Kruja mentioned the example of their department collaborating intensively with the other two theological schools in Albania, Catholic and Orthodox as an example of structured and systemic interreligious dialogue and cooperation. “The students of today will be the religious preachers and teacher so tomorrow and they will remember having collaborated together since their school desk times,” Kruja said.

Head of the Tirana Madrasa, Ali Zaimi focused on the need to clarify myths and misunderstandings about religious and doctrine as well as to have a more nuanced view of the religious schools present in Albania. He said that by developing critical thinking and an honest appreciation of diversity they could reach the necessary results with the pupils to be resilient against radicalization.

Head of the Interreligious Collaboration Center of Elbasan and member of the Council of Theologians, Arben Ramkaj spoke about the Albanian Islam as being adapted to the context of social realities on the ground as well as about the impact of competing geopolitical actors in the region. Ramkaj mentioned the conflicts of the 90s as a space in which competing religious but also geopolitical streams made their mark also in Albania. To underline the uniqueness of Albania’s Islam, he emphasized it saw itself as part of the Albanian nation rather than a part of umma, also known as the community of Muslims.  

Philosophy professor and human rights expert, Gjergji Sinani, focused on the importance and the strength of religion in shaping individual and collective conscience and the vulnerability of societies in times of crisis. Sinani therefore called for a careful examination of recent initiatives about religious education and for them to be in line with the guidelines and models offered by international institutions such as OSCE.

AIIS researcher Alfonc Rakaj highlighted the contextual factors which played an important role for the ideas to take root. Among them, he highlighted the presence of high informality, poor education, lack of or weak institutions and dismal public services. In addition, he added that the ensuing chaos resulting from the collapse of the communism, and the ideological vacuum it created, must be considered as potential variables that have contributed to the appeal of religious doctrine.

Participants welcomed the discussion and suggested that this should be an ongoing dialogue between stakeholders. Foreign ambassadors present in Tirana highlighted the positive model of Albania as a country where interreligious harmony prevails and called for more publicity about his particular feature of the country. 

All panelists underscored the importance of education as a key factor in helping reduce malicious ideological influences. In this regard, they reiterated that much could be learned from the pre-WWII period when Muslim education attained a highly regarded, and well respected standard for quality.  
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                    [post_content] => By Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO).

 

The EU and the US are fully committed to continue supporting the reform of the judiciary in Albania, to guarantee the right of the citizens to a democratic society where nobody is above the law. The vetting of the judiciary is an essential step in this direction.

 A little over one year has passed since the Independent Qualification Commission held the first hearing in the framework of the vetting process. Since then, the first instance vetting institution has adopted more than 140decisions. These were followed by around 20 final decisions at the Appeal Chamber level. 

The very tangible results achieved to date have allowed us to take stock of this first year of intense work and to address the challenges that lie ahead, considering that vetting is going to continue for some years to complete the evaluation of over 800 judges and prosecutors. 

First, the people of Albania deserve special praise. It is thanks to their strong determination that the judiciary across the country is being cleared of corruption, for once and for all. Their desire for a truly impartial and professional judiciary meant that the reforms could be started. Citizens must be praised as well for their continuous interest, throughout the process. Since the vetting institutions started to deliver the first results, the public has closely watched every single step, outcome, and decision. This public interest has also generated a large number of denunciations of corruption and mismanagement of justice from citizens directly to the observers deployed at the International Monitoring Operation (IMO). In the past six months, the IMO received close to 250 denunciations from individual citizens, private enterprises, NGOs and public institutions.This readiness to contribute demonstrates that citizens trust that vetting is going in the right direction to respond to the legitimate public aspirations.

Second, the newly created structures of the judiciary deserve special encouragement. We should not forget that the justice reform involved a root and branch overhaul of the whole governance of the judiciary. It focused on creating an independent and self-governed system that ensures integrity and sustainable accountability, as well as independence from political influence. The EU fully supports the new separate judicial and prosecutorial councils that have been established, as well as the new Justice Appointment Council, while acknowledging that it takes time to build a solid new system.

Third, now that a year has passed, it is possible to make a first analysis of the vetting cases and results. The vetting is a complex process and every single dossier, comprising thousands of pages, is different from the other. There are nuances and aspects across the three pillars of the assessment that might lead to different conclusions on grounds that appear to be similar. The IMO International Observers have monitored the decisions of  the vetting institutions at all levels, as well as followed closely the outcome of investigations conducted by auxiliary bodies. A rigorous work by the Appellate Chamber is now very important to dispel any concerns about the unbiased administration of justice. It is also important to note that if an assessee thinks that his/her individual rights were damaged in the process, the Constitution of Albania guarantees that he/she has the right to address the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg.  A number of assessees have already referred their case to the Court, and the future rulings will also contribute to the jurisprudence of the vetting institutions. 

Fourth, when reviewing the vetting results of the first year of operations, it is clear that the process has had a strong impact on existing institutions. It is very positive that the new bodies within the judiciary have now been formed to undertake the responsibilities with the utmost commitment and professionalism. The lack of a quorum at the Constitutional Court has of course been a very high price to pay for the transition. One should not be surprised that the re-evaluation process has had implications and consequences in the judiciary at all levels. Nevertheless, the process of replacing the judges is ongoing and this transition will end soon. We trust that the new Justice Appointment Council that conducts the ongoing evaluation and ranking of the candidates, and that all the other institutions that are responsible to make the final appointments, will seek candidates with the highest integrity from among those who have applied. Their work needs to be carried out quickly, howeverwithout sacrificing quality.  

Considering the high public interest, it is important to ensure close monitoring of the process and to contribute constructively to its progress. This does however not excuse attacking the process in unfair and unacceptable terms, including when personally targeting individual members of the vetting institutions. Some people may fear judicial reform and be willing to derail it, but this cannot be allowed. It is the responsibility of all Albanian institutions, political parties, as well as civil society, to ensure that the strengthening of the independence, impartiality and accountability of the judiciary through this process is guaranteed. The months ahead will be crucial as Albania moves from the transition phase of judicial reform to its full implementation. The vetting bodies will ensure the continuous handling of priority cases so that the new institutions can be fully established.

The EU, together with the US in the IMO, will continue supporting this process so that the people of Albania can benefit from the reform and take pride in the change that they demanded and have craved for so long.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 29 - The European Commission again recommended opening membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia on Wednesday, as announced by Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn during the presentation of the enlargement package to the European Parliament's Foreign Committee.

“Albania has moved reforms forward, especially a major transformation of the justice system, including an unprecedented reassessment process for judges and prosecutors,” said Hahn. 

For North Macedonia he said not only that it followed its own reforms, but also that it reached a historic agreement with Greece, solving the longstanding name issue.

The European Commissioner stressed that “both countries have moved ahead with reforms, particularly in the fields set by the Council in June 2018. In order to remain credible, the European Union must adhere to its commitments and respond clearly and positively when the countries meet their obligations,” Hahn said.

In the summary of the EC assessment sent to the EC and Albanian parliament, it is noted that the country “has continued to make good progress and has demonstrated its continued determination to advance with the European Union agenda. 

Regarding to the deadlock the country is facing currently, the commission states that “the opposition parties, most of which resigned their parliamentary mandates in February 2019, should engage constructively in democratic institutions and engage in a broad European consensus.”

It also recommended that Albania should improve transparency and control over the financing of political parties.

Concerning the electoral reform, no progress has been made to address and complement the OSCE/ODIHR electoral reform recommendations.

It also mentioned, despite the mostly positive comments about the justice reform, that the Constitutional Court should have nine members, but only one of them has remained due to resignations, retirements and the vetting process. 

The EC report did say that police have stepped up operations to catch criminal organizations.

But according to the Commission, "the creation of a sustainable register of proactive investigations, prosecutions and punishments in the fight against corruption at all levels and organized crime remains a long-term challenge that continues to require further strengthened and sustained efforts by Albania, including operational cooperation with EU Member States.

This is the third time the EC recommends to the European parliament the opening of accession negotiations for Albania - last year, the EP parliament rejected the suggestion due to some member states, such as the Netherlands, not being convinced with Albania’s progress in the fields of fighting organized crimes and corruption. 

Political experts have doubted whether all EP member states will unanimously agree to open accession negotiations with Albania this year as well, considering the tense situation the country finds itself in. 

Recently, the Dutch parliament formally requested that a visa regime be re-introduced for Albanian citizens, claiming they are a driving force of criminality in the region and many of them unjustifiably asking for asylum, considering Albania is a country of safe origin.

 
                    [post_title] => EC again recommends opening of Albania-EU accession talks 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-05-30 16:03:28
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 27 - The Head of the Association for the Protection of Traders and Albanian Trade Nikollaq Neranxi called on all Albanian entrepreneurs and business owners alike to meet in the face of the economic decline threatening the country.

“The situation we are going through is critical. The decline in consumption as a result of the increasing poverty is getting worse by the day, as well as the massive departure of Albanians, has brought the honest, formal business that is not a customer of power to fight for survival,” Neranxi wrote in his article.

What further deepens the problem, Neranxi says, is the state’s inclination to act as a fine-giver, while business owners have nowhere to complain regarding these inconsistencies because there is no court to complain to.

“The Constitutional Court and the High Court do not work! In these extreme conditions, we as entrepreneurs need to unite and make decisions, even extreme, to save our work that we created with sweat and which is seeking to destroy us deliberately! Our strength is greater than the intrigues of power over us,” Neranxi concluded. 

 
                    [post_title] => Head of Albanian Trade Protection: “Business is stronger than a corrupt state” 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-05-27 16:27:32
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 27 - The protests called on Saturday night by the Albanian opposition took place peacefully, except for a few minutes of tension near the parliament, where protesters halted after their stay in front of the government building. 

While previous anti-government protests were dominated by explosives and smoke bombs being thrown to the government building, Saturday’s protests were mostly characterized by symbolic elements. 

Initially carried baking pans with the inscription “Rama GO,” which were then filled with fake money that stood for government corruption, as well as projections on the walls of the Prime Minister’s Office of anti-government slogans. 

As it got darker, the protesters lit up balloons bearing the words “GO” directed towards Edi Rama and released them above one of the capital’s main boulevards.

Head of opposition Lulzim Basha repeated in his speech what the opposition has been essentially calling during each protest of the last three months, since it resigned the parliament collectively. 

“Today’s battle is for Albania, today’s battle is for Europe. The Albanian people, the European people in this square and everywhere are determined for political solution. It will pass only through the removal of the causer and the hijacker of democracy,” said Basha.

According to Basha, citizens’ protests gave a clear message that now "is the chance for the political solution of the crisis. Pity for whoever reads it as a sign of weakness, because we are stronger than ever. Freedom or death! Democracy or death! Let this be the prelude to happiness in solving this crisis, through the dictates of Europe's norms and principles. Without any compromise on Euro-Atlantic principles and norms. Let's be the prelude to the political solution to open the way to Albania like all Europe.”

In the speech held at the close of the protest, in front of the DP’s headquarters, Basha was more direct, saying that Saturday’s message is the clear and straightforward message to friends and allies and to the foes and enemies of democracy, that the opposition is ready to sacrifice everything for the free vote, being a people of Europe, and that it won’t accept the anti-European despotism of a bandit government that has hijacked the country, seized justice, and blocked the journey to Europe.

“So let the following hours and days be a day of deep reflection for those who think they can continue to hijack the people, the government of this country, for those who think they will slay democracy, as this will not happen, our strength is union, determination, resistance, our strength is the confrontation and confrontation will exist until we win this battle,” he concluded.

The stop in front of the parliament was accompanied by moments of tension, while a group of protesters removed the metal fence at the entrance. A small fire was ignited and some strong items were thrown in the police direction, while the police water hose was put into use for only a moment. DP Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi intervened to quiet down the protesters, while Basha returned to the headquarters of the DP.

The international community once again preceded Saturday’s protest with a call for peace and against violent acts. 

The US Embassy said through a statement that both protest participants and law enforcement officials should stay away from violence.

“Encouraging physical collisions or throwing explosive devices, Molotov bombs and stones is undemocratic and illegal. Those involved in acts of violence commit a crime and should be put in front of responsibility,” the announcement said.

On the same line was the European Union Delegation and embassies of EU member countries. “We condemn the acts of violence that have occurred in the previous protests and call on the protest leaders and the Albanian authorities to ensure that today's demonstrations are conducted in a regular and peaceful manner. All parties involved have the responsibility to guarantee the safety of those on the streets of Tirana tonight. There is no room for violence in a peaceful protest. Law enforcement authorities have the responsibility to act with restraint, even if provoked,” noted the statement.

Call for peaceful demonstrations also came from the top OSCE leaders who reiterated the stance on the violent protests of May 11, stating that “violence is unacceptable and that riots can not replace democratic political engagement.”

Meanwhile, the EU and US diplomatic delegations called on the parties for a “constructive dialogue aimed at finding a way out of the current political situation as an urgent manner.”

Earlier on Saturday, President Ilir Meta also addressed the opposition, pointing out “how important it is to be completely peaceful. In previous protests, despite civic support, some acts of violence are unacceptable, so I would like to remind you that the justice of your cause should not be affected by the unresponsive actions of certain individuals. It is the responsibility of the leaders of the United Opposition for the continuation of the protests where they invite the citizens to participate.” 

 
                    [post_title] => Opposition holds consecutive rally calling for PM's resignation 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-05-25 13:25:30
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-25 11:25:30
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 25 - Albanian President Ilir Meta said on Friday that he is willing to review and change the local elections’ date if both the majority and the opposition show the will to resolve the political crisis between them.

“I express my institutional readiness, in accordance with the competence given to me by the Constitution, to revise the Decree setting the date of local elections and to enact another date for their development, in accordance with the expressed will of the political parties,” Meta said through a press conference. 

Given the German parliament's statements that the local elections without the opposition's participation will be problematic in terms of facilitating a truly democratic process, Meta wrote that the president has the responsibility to “protect political pluralism by ensuring fair competition and free and fair elections.”

Addressing Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition leader Lulzim Basha, who have been exchanging public letters with each other for two days, Meta said they should “stop public excuse essays and engage sincerely and responsibly in finding a stable solution as quickly as possible.”

At the end of his statement, Meta stated that he is willing to give up and resign as president, “if the parties also consider this element as important for a comprehensive solution.”

For two days, Rama and opposition leader Basha have been exchanging public letters between them, where Rama asked Basha for dialogue, while Basha rejected his invitations. 

In these letters, Rama expressed that he is ready to establish dialogue to resolve the crisis, but that June 30 as a date for the local elections is non-negotiable. 

 
                    [post_title] => President Meta: “Willing to revise the local elections’ date”
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                    [post_content] => 

TIRANA, May 26 - In a joint statement for Deutsche Welle on Friday, Johann David Wadephul, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the German parliament and at the same time the head of the Western Balkans working group, as well as Christian Schmidt, from CSU, rapporteur for Albania in the Foreign Commission and former Federal Minister, repeated their request for dialogue between the government and the opposition.

In the same statement, DW reports it was highlighted by the German lawmakers that dialogue conditions should not be considered taboo between the countries, neither should the possibility to postpone elections’ date.

Top Channel, local news in Albania, had a direct connection with the correspondent of DW in Berlin, Anila Shuka, to whom the two deputies gave the statement.

“It was the second time within ten days that the same deputies made the same request, unconditional dialogue. But they have added that there can be no taboo, both the election date and the resignation of the prime minister can be considered in order to sit at the dialogue table,” Anila Shuka explained.

Further asked, Shuka said that despite internal changes that may come about the German Bundestag or possible losses on the side of the Social-Democrats after elections will not affect the German parliament’s vote regarding Albania and North Macedonia, which has been set on September.

“The message coming from the 2 German MPs is clear: they will not be willing to accept local elections without the opposition's participation, nor will they agree to okay the opening of negotiations without the political crisis in Albania being solved,” she concluded.

 

[post_title] => German MPs say Rama’s resignation should not be viewed taboo to solve conflict [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => german-mps-say-ramas-resignation-should-not-be-viewed-taboo-to-solve-conflict [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-30 16:23:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-30 14:23:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141915 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141811 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-05-17 11:36:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-17 09:36:37 [post_content] => TIRANA, May 17 - Albanian President Ilir Meta called on the main political parties to act responsibly regarding the country’s deadlock on Friday and resolve the political crisis. Meta said that the majority and the opposition must act responsibly and be aware of the consequences they will face if the country goes in a civil row. “This situation should not exist 22 years after Albania separated with 1997, which was a very bad year. Everyone should make a self check and take responsibility. For completely selfish and occult interests, Albania and Albanians don’t need to go to confrontation for completely selfish and occult interests. They have decided to co-exist in a democratic way and have separated from exclusionary systems since the 90s,” Meta said. He added that no one can put their responsibilities on others, much less to the President of the Republic. “They know very well what needs to be done and should be aware of the consequences they will face if they lead the country towards confrontation,” Meta said. On the other hand, the head of OSCE in Albania, Ambassador Bernd Borchardt, said at a scientific conference on communist crimes on Friday that even at present the shadows of the totalitarian past are here, as groups holding different opinions curse each other without facts and without logical arguments . “Dialogue with the political opponent is refused. Those who try to put the facts against myth are attacked. This dictatorial discussion is heard by many Albanian politicians; sooner or later they end up accusing each other with metaphors and the early rhetoric of "the enemy of the people,” Borchardt said.   [post_title] => President calls on political parties to avoid civil confrontation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => president-calls-on-political-parties-to-avoid-civil-confrontation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-21 11:39:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-21 09:39:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141811 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 142011 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-05-31 10:30:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-31 08:30:46 [post_content] => By Sidonja Manushi [caption id="attachment_142013" align="alignright" width="300"]60179457_2370223829904029_6247740688989945856_o photo by: Anyla Ademaj // Boiler Room Kosovo 2019[/caption] Pristina is a force to be reckoned with. In addition to many of its native musicians making international headlines, its steadily growing underground techno scene strongly testifies to that. “It’s not an aesthetically beautiful city,” a Spanish friend who’d visited long before I did said, “but there’s such a powerful vibe to it. You feel as if things are happening.” Words along those lines have become a common description for the second youngest capital in the world, while their truth comes alive when one enters the Rilindja Warehouse (Rebirth, in Albanian), to attend a Hapësira (Space) event. Now, it’s common knowledge that music can make statements surpassing political and ideological divisions. For the 2015-founded NGO, techno does exactly that, while managing to represent, symbolically, an entire generation of post-war youth. “What brought Hapësira into life was lack of space for youth, in terms of showing their abilities and their creative mind,” Arbnor Dragaj, one of its co-founders, told Tirana Times. Conceived by a handful of strong-willed individuals whose core-value is freedom of expression and creation of a space that will not judge anyone but instead will serve as a platform or a getaway out of daily stress and life’s hardship, Hapësira does more than destroy the physical barriers limiting the youth - it pushes them to think outside their own mental boxes. Even symbolically, this is a fitting theme. The Rilindja Warehouse, where I first came to know the Hapësira community, has almost accompanied the NGO step-by-step, becoming host to some of their most noteworthy events. This relationship was crowned on Hapësira’s 15th party, when the international broadcaster Boiler Room arrived at the venue and enabled millions around the world to enjoy the performances of DJs such as Anthony Linell and Umwelt, and local rising DJs the Balkans are no stranger to, such as Toton and Hapësira’s very own, one of its co-founders, Uran B.   In the past, the warehouse used to house the printing process of a number of classic texts in Albanian, as well as the first Albanian newspaper in then-Yugoslavia, ever. This cultural past adds a poignant meaning to the post-industrial landscape which times and time again fills with techno sounds, and separates Hapësira from your average party-organizer. Techno, like literature, like painting, reinvents the generation by offering it a space where “youth can dance away its troubles.” In a four-year span, the Hapësira community evolved from serving 200-300 to almost 1500 people and its events inspired a number of other organizations to act with social benefit in mind. “In our perspective the greatest collaboration is when everyone is giving the best out of themselves to the community/audience they serve, as a result each of us (as a puzzle) complete the bigger picture,” Arbnor said. On top of the ever-growing number of dancers attending Hapësira’s event from all around the region, the enormous support can also be viewed from the help going towards the capital’s vulnerable communities in goods, which Hapësira collects from attendees in exchange for discounted event tickets. “SRF initiative along with bigger crowds have bloomed, from 50kg goods collected in first event, now up to 500kg. This also brings a totally different spirit to the party itself, as people are not coming only to have fun for themselves, but they also lift the mood and enrich the tables of the families in need, all this making the events more cheerful,” describes Arbnor. Currently only available during their events, the SRF is expected to live on a weekly basis as the NGO establishes itself permanently. [caption id="attachment_142014" align="alignright" width="300"]60127445_2370224216570657_7499379122087395328_n photo by Anyla Ademaj[/caption] Ironically enough, what Hapësira does for Pristina’s estranged, isolated youth is a lesson for the entire region which, although relatively peaceful for the last two decades, lacks in what it offers its youth and consequently, in what it takes back from them in energy and creativity.  “In the Albanian language, Rilindja means Renaissance or Rebirth, which is exactly what we need as a society.That shall definitely come from the underground. When we first created Hapësira, which came out of need for a free space to empower our passion, Rilindja was also there at its heart, because we needed to be reborn, and where best than Rilindja, which used to enlighten our society through books and inform them through newspapers in the crucial times for our people. Our hope is to awaken the youth, to inspire them to think independently and freely outside the box. Music - techno - and industrial spaces such as Rilindja, have the power to intrigue those thoughts and hopefully will also inspire action,” Arbnor concludes. In a region where culture, art and education is anything but a priority, it remains to the people on the ground to make a difference and awaken a passionate response in those who have the power within them to make a change. Dancing to techno beats among strangers who share a like-minded vision of change and evolution is one of the purest, most genuine feelings one can experience and one which Hapësira is pioneering. The future foresees turning Hapësira into a Cultural Alternative Centre which can serve the community in many additional ways. Once settled into a permanent home, Hapësira plans to extend its activities in various events, not only in entertainment but infotainment as well, while also looking to bring these events outside of Kosovo too. The immediate future, on the other hand, is expecting one of the most legendary techno names inside Rilindja on June 8 - Zak Khutoretsky, also known as DVS1, will be visiting Pristina to once again make history in the way one country’s underground scene is establishing itself from the rubble.   [post_title] => Pristina’s ‘Hapësira’ rebirths society from underground [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => pristinas-hapesira-rebirths-society-from-underground [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-31 10:30:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-31 08:30:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=142011 [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? 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