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National Youth Network urges US, EU countries to support Albanian students’ protests

National Youth Network urges US, EU countries to support Albanian students’ protests

TIRANA, Dec. 14 –  The Albanian National Youth Network (ANYN) made a public appeal on Friday to the US Embassy and the European Union Delegation in Tirana, urging them to publicly support the demands of University students, who are in

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President Meta returns 2019 Budget to parliament over protesting student demands

President Meta returns 2019 Budget to parliament over protesting student demands

TIRANA, Dec. 13 – On Thursday noon, Albanian President Ilir Meta publicly announced he has decided to return the 2019 Budget draft law back to the parliament to revise, only a few days after the same parliamentary majority approved it.

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Albanian gov’t fails to meet students’ demands as protest grows bigger by the day

Albanian gov’t fails to meet students’ demands as protest grows bigger by the day

TIRANA, Dec. 11 – As the government failed once more on Tuesday to meet the deadline set by protesting students’ to comply with their demands, Tirana traffick suffered heavily due to completely blocked streets due to what quickly became the

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Albania’s Partizani emerge top favorites for long-awaited Superliga title

Albania’s Partizani emerge top favorites for long-awaited Superliga title

TIRANA, Dec. 10 – Albania’s Partizani have emerged as top favorites to claim a long-awaited Superliga title this season in what could be a major triumph for an elite Albanian club that has been trophiless at the top flight of

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When light speaks through the clouds

Kalo Gallery is hosting in its spaces a photo gallery of Blanc-Goh Juat Pheng, or else known as Jannie, an artist from Singapore. The photo series is focused on the clouds over the artificial lake of Tirana, and the various

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Albania and Serbia at odds over Lute

Albania and Serbia at odds over Lute

The 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place at Port Louis from Nov. 26- Dec. 1. A list of 40 countries enlisted their nominations, seven among them named in urgent need

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University students protest tariff hikes, low education standards in Albania

University students protest tariff hikes, low education standards in Albania

TIRANA, Dec. 6- Over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday what started as Construction Engineering, Architecture and Urban Development students taking the streets of Tirana in protest of the government’s decision to place some additional fees turned into a big student protest

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Illyrian heritage found in Montenegro

Illyrian heritage found in Montenegro

The Center for Archeology of Montenegro started a preventine project in Doclea near Podgorica, one of the most important historical Montenegrin monuments. These projects started due to the archeological excavations happening there, but also after an ancient villa was destroyed

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Albanian MFA calls for investigation into Albanian murder in Corfu Island, Greece

Albanian MFA calls for investigation into Albanian murder in Corfu Island, Greece

TIRANA, Dec. 4 – The Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs issued a statement Tuesday on Petrit Zifle’s murder in the hands of a Greek Golden Dawn member, calling on Greek authorities to conduct a full investigation on the

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Albania target Euro 2020 finals through second spot finish in tough qualifying group

Albania target Euro 2020 finals through second spot finish in tough qualifying group

By Ervin Lisaku TIRANA, Dec. 3 – Albania have been drawn in a tough Euro 2020 qualifying campaign group stage with reigning world champions France and will apparently be fighting for a second spot with Iceland and Turkey in a

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 14 -  The Albanian National Youth Network (ANYN) made a public appeal on Friday to the US Embassy and the European Union Delegation in Tirana, urging them to publicly

support the demands of University students, who are in their 9th day of protest demanding for better education standards and higher education budget by the government. 

“We publicly urge the USA and the EU to publicly come in support of the student's demands and use their communication channels and the positive influence that they exercise in Albania to push the Albanian government to take urgent measures to address the students’ demands,” the appeal stated. 

For the last nine days, thousands of university students in Albania have been demanding eight points: tariff cuts, increased education budget, participation in faculty management and faculty election, eradication of corruption and low standard of professors and they have stated their points are non-negotiable. 

On its side the government, although expressing support of the students, has not yet undertaken any actions to solve these first eight urgent issues, instead calling for a student representation to talk to.

As the ANYN appeal reminds, Albanian students make up 25 percent of the population, while more than 26 percent of them are unemployed. The high level of unemployment drives a big part of the young population to seek asylum and better working opportunities abroad. 

In this context, Albania currently has the biggest number of asylum seekers in the EU than any other country whose origin is considered safe. 

A recent GALLUP survey showed that at least 79 percent of the young population wants to leave Albania. This alarming situation affects not only Albania losing its workforce, but also EU host countries which have to deal with illegal migration. 

“The Albanian National Youth Network will continue its open public support to the students’ protest, while asking all Western European diplomatic missions in Tirana, to address these concerns to the Albanian Government, which should meet the demands of students and young people in Albania,” the appeal concluded. 

There has so far been no official reaction from any of the international delegations to Albania regarding the protests, despite them becoming the biggest and most intense the country has seen in years.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 13 - On Thursday noon, Albanian President Ilir Meta publicly announced he has decided to return the 2019 Budget draft law back to the parliament to revise, only a few days after the same parliamentary majority approved it.

“The President of the Republic, Ilir Meta, attentively following the latest political situation in the country, as well as assessing the broad public consensus on student demands, which are considered by all political actors as fair, legitimate and feasible, aiming at everyone’s best interest in meeting the social objectives set forth in Article 59 of the Constitution, as well as in guaranteeing stability in the country, by decree no. 10997, dated 13.12.2018, has decided on the "Return to the Assembly for review of law no.99 / 2018 ‘On the 2019 Budget’, for its review," reads the Presidency announcement.

Further on, Meta said he is fully convinced the Albanian parliament will reflect on a comprehensive cooperation in order to meet the students' and the public interest demands .

Meta’s decision comes right after head of the Socialist Movement of Integration, simultaneously his wife, proposed two amendments to the budget law, which according to her would immediately meet the demands of protesting students.

The Budget Law was also mentioned by Speaker of the Parliament Gramoz Ruçi, during the plenary session on Thursday, when he said that the amendments can not be considered as the law was already in the Presidency, as it had to be initially decreed by the head of state before examining the proposed amendments.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 11 - As the government failed once more on Tuesday to meet the deadline set by protesting students’ to comply with their demands, Tirana traffick suffered heavily due to completely blocked streets due to what quickly became the most massive protest the country has seen in years.

On the seventh consecutive day in a row that students gather in front of the country’s Education Ministry, the number of students asking for better education conditions and lowered tuition fees grew by the thousands.

Although local media reported police authorities had stopped students buses coming from other cities, the protest was joined by students coming from Durres, Vlora, Elbasan, Shkodra, Korca and Gjirokastra.

Seniors from Tirana’s high schools also joined the protest, while those who remained in the outskirts held their own rallies and skipping classes.

Students claim that their eight requirements for tariff cuts, increased education budget, participation in faculty management and faculty election, corruption and low standard of professors are non-negotiable and they expect the government to meet them.

They also stress their demands are part of the existing laws and should have been met by the government before students took the streets, leaving the government no place to negotiate but urging it to meet its legal duties in relation to the students.

A number of representatives speaking to local media claimed Prime Minister Edi Rama’s two-hour live speech yesterday and his proposals are unrelated to their eight basic demands regarding the education system.

According to them, Rama's promises for free scholarships, or for increased work places are luxury promises long overdue, as they now seek to have the most basic conditions for living and studying met.

Additionally claiming they don’t trust Rama’s desire to set up dialogue, they decided to refuse any talks and persist to keep their protest away from politics.

Further on, protesting students said they felt offended by Rama’s statement last week calling protesters “failing students who costs taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay,” when in fact, they allege, Minister of Education Lindita Nikolla was a weak student herself.

Over the last seven days, thousands of students are chanting the government and university authorities are abusing their families’ money because the government raised the cost of their studies, lowering the standard of their university life.

Meanwhile, the government met one of the protesters' demands and expressed readiness for dialogue concerning the rest, but the students said they will continue the protests until all requests are met. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 10 – Albania’s Partizani have emerged as top favorites to claim a long-awaited Superliga title this season in what could be a major triumph for an elite Albanian club that has been trophiless at the top flight of the country’s football during the past quarter of a century.

The Tirana-based club extended their Superliga lead to five points last weekend as they drew away to Teuta and main rivals, reigning champions Skenderbeu, the club that has dominated Albanian football during the past decade, suffered their second consecutive defeat.

Skenderbeu lost away to Kukes last weekend, in their third straight game without a win, reflecting uncertainties over the club’s future as they await a final say by Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport over a 10-year European competition ban handed earlier this year by European football governing body, UEFA, over match-fixing.

With the Switzerland-based court not having announced a date yet on the final say over Skenderbeu’s European competition future, chances are that the decision, the severest-ever handed to a European club, will be upheld or only slightly reduced, compromising Skenderbeu’s future as a leader in Albanian football.

Skenderbeu, who lost many of their key players this season over financial cuts, have been going through tough times over the past three weeks following a good season start, dominating until a few weeks ago.

Tirana-based Partizani, who have decently rivalled Skenderbeu at the Albanian Superliga during the past few years, are taking advantage of Skenderbeu’s recent poor form and are now top favorites to claim a long-awaited title.

Once the most successful Albanian club under communism, Partizani have struggled since 1993 when they claimed their last top league title in a tough transition period as the country switched to a multi-party system and a market economy following almost five decades under a hardline Stalinist dictatorship.

Having dominated the Albanian top league until the early 1990s with 15 titles, Partizani have been mostly uncompetitive during the past 25 years, and even spent several seasons in inferior leagues, but did not lose the popularity they enjoyed under communism as a club affiliated with the Albanian army and boasting fans all over the country. Partizani only claimed two Albanian Cup trophies during the past 25 years and turned competitive only in the 2015-2017 campaigns when they finished second.

The Reds are now two games short of being crowned Superliga winter champions and face a tough test against third-placed Kukes, the surprise 2017 champions, in a home encounter set for Friday, Dec. 14.

Partizani feature goalkeeper Alban Hoxha, the sole domestic league player to receive a call-up for the Albanian national side by Italian coach Christian Panucci.

Last summer, Partizani signed So Hyon-uk, a North Korean international who played as a midfielder in top Bosnian and Serbian leagues for a couple of seasons before moving to Albania last summer, when he became the first-ever player from isolated North-Korea to play in Albania.

Partizani’s top scorer so far this season is Jasir Asani, an ethnic Albanian from neighbouring Macedonia, who has scored four goals for the Reds.

The club is coached by Skender Gega, a former Partizani player who also managed the Albania U19 and U21 teams from 2011 to 2015.

"I think we are on track. Last year, there was much fanfare from new arrivals, but it's much quieter now. I am pleased with this group of players, we have no pressure to become champions but the desire is so strong and time will tell," Gega said last August ahead of the championship's kick off, few months after taking over as new Partizani coach.

Partizani take to this year’s campaign in an Albanian-led team after a failed short-term experience with an Italian duo last year.

Partizani’s 2017-18 campaign project with Lucciano Moggi, the former Juventus managing director who is suffering a lifetime ban from Italian football for his role in the 2006 ‘Calciopoli’ match-fixing scandal, and former Juventus player Mark Iuliano who only had a short spell as Partizani coach, failed to produce any result with Partizani ranking fifth and failing to progress through the Europa League qualification campaign last season.

Meanwhile, Albania’s historically most successful club, Tirana, continue facing problems this season following their Superliga comeback after an embarrassing first-ever relegation last year.

Last October, Tirana sacked Brazilian coach Ze Maria who led them to Superliga promotion, but managed to get only six points in the last eight games under a new Albanian coach to see themselves rank seventh, just above the relegation zone and its Superliga stay still uncertain under lackluster performances.

Durres-based Teuta are also decently rivalling this year, ranking fourth and trailing leaders Partizani by six points this year after hardly managing to escape relegation last season.

However, with 20 other matchdays to go and new reinforcements expected in the winter transfer window, everything is likely to remain uncertain amid tough rivalry by three clubs and the winner be decided only by the end of May 2019 when the championship officially ends.

The Albanian Superliga features 10 teams, two of which are relegated following a four-stage 36-game championship.

 

Skenderbeu’s future at risk

Uncertainties over the final say by Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport over a 10-year European competition ban, continue to keep the situation tense at Korça-based Skenderbeu whose players had been promised revised contracts by late 2018 when the club initially expected a final say.

In case the severe ban is upheld, or only slightly revised, the finances of Albania’s most successful club on European stage, could receive a severe blow and Skenderbeu, will apparently no longer afford key players and rival for the Superliga title without key European competition income.

Skenderbeu claimed their eighth Superliga trophy last season, with seven of their titles earned during the past decade when they dominated Albanian football and became the first ever Albania club to make it to the Europa League group stage with two appearance in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 campaigns.

The 10-year ban and a €1 million fine handed by European football’s governing body, UEFA, in March 2018 made Skenderbeu ineligible to compete in this season international competition where Albanian clubs failed to make it to the group stage of either the Champions League or Europa League.

UEFA’s disciplinary body handed Skenderbeu the ban over 50 matched the club is suspected to have fixed in the Champions League and Europa League campaigns as well as in the Albanian Superliga and in friendlies since 2011 based on its betting fraud detection system. The new ban follows an earlier 2016-2017 ban from the UEFA Champions League campaign, which the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld following Skenderbeu’s appeal.

Skenderbeu deny claims and are hopeful of overturning the UEFA punishment, the severest ever handed to a European club, but prospects are Skenderbeu could be lucky to get away with a reduction of their 10-year ban.
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                    [post_content] =>  IMG-9126 

Kalo Gallery is hosting in its spaces a photo gallery of Blanc-Goh Juat Pheng, or else known as Jannie, an artist from Singapore. The photo series is focused on the clouds over the artificial lake of Tirana, and the various lighting and colors they grasp throughout the day, creating an emotional movement and amazing scenery.

‘’When the power of light speaks through the cloud, our perception of the environment changes. Each captured moment is unique. This exhibition displays images from the magnificent work of the creator of the universe. The nature is metamorphosed with the contrast of colors,’’ said artist Jannie.

 

The exhibition is a collection of 24 photos taken from various spots of the park surrounding the lake, and at different times during the day. Except expressing her love for nature, calling it her ‘’warhorse’’, Jannie tried to communicate great detail of the scenery that the naked eyes sometimes fails to see, for example how the clouds can throw light, just being a mirror for the sun.

IMG-9128

After having worked for many years in the banking industry, Blanc-Goh Juat Pheng (Jannie), has been traveling across many countries with her family. She also lived in many of those counties, like Singapore, Australia, France, China, Vietnam, currently residing in Albania.

 

During her travelings she learn to experience and appreciate many different beautiful cultures and places. Learning through these experiences, she started submitting to the hobbies and pastimes of painting, photography and writing encouraging spiritual notes.

 

While on such travels, she noticed how the sun, the oceans, clouds, waters, trees, lakes, rain, storms, how the nature speaks to us through its unique language. Being amazed by such a communication and having an artist’s mind and soul, she tried to capture interesting moments of such communication with her close friend, the camera.

IMG-9123

 

The exhibition opened at Kalo Gallery on Dec. 5, 2018, and will remain open until Dec. 9. 

 
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                    [post_content] => The 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place at Port Louis from Nov. 26- Dec. 1. A list of 40 countries enlisted their nominations, seven among them named in urgent need for safeguarding. Among the 40 countries were also Serbia with its nomination of ‘’Singing to the accompaniment of the Gusle.’’ 

Gusle is a bowed stringed (one to three strings) instrument which is used to accompany the singing of epic poetry and folklore. It is held vertically, rested between the knees while the hands create the music. This is a largely used instrument in Balkans for singing heroic songs. Gusle in Albania is known as lahuta (lute), a traditional instrument widely used by the North of Albania. There is also a book called ‘’Lahuta e Malcis’’ (The Highmountain Lute) written by renowned Gjergj Fishta, poet, educator, politician, franciscan. 

Some media in Albania panicked over this news and rushed to write that UNESCO has already declared the lute or gusle as a Serbian instrument, meaning that the lute is not Albanian after all. However, Serbia has merely nominated in safeguarding the practice of singing using the gusle.

In one of the paperworks of its application to the UNESCO, the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information, after having explained what the gusle is and its used practice, also added that ‘’this archaic form of folk art promotes the highest ethical values, the importance of kinship and the homogeneity of the community, and it is also a blend of the community's historical memory and traditional music skills. The communities that practice it consider it the most representative element of their identity. Singing to the accompaniment of the gusle, as part of both performing arts and oral tradition, is present in the entire territory of Serbia. However, its practice is more pronounced in the western and central parts of Serbia and in Vojvodina.’’

This nomination is still under consideration by UNESCO. To this news also reacted Albanian Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro in correcting the false allegations made so far.

‘’No decision has been made and in no case did the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage claim, as it is falsely said in media, that the ‘lute is not Albanian, but Serbian’,’’ said Kumbaro in a media announcement.

In a paperwork for its application, Serbia claims that communities and groups concerned of this practice of ‘’singing to the accompaniment of the gusle is an element of the living cultural practice of a significant number of local communities in Serbia whose members identify themselves ethnically as Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosniaks, Albanians, and confessionally as Orthodox Christians and Muslims.’’ 

Even in a section below regarding the geographical range the practice includes, it writes that ‘’the geocultural zones where singing to the accompaniment of the gusle is part of living cultural practices do not coincide with administrative borders and the practice can also be found in some areas of the neighboring countries (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Croatia), as well as in the Diaspora.’’

So, in no case did Serbia claim that the gusle or lute is a Serbian instrument, but it is merely claiming the practice of singing with a gusle as a Serbian intangible heritage. Yet, it does not deny that this practice is spread among other Balkan countries, thus making it a Balkan tradition. 

For the origins of the gusle itself exists no clear consensus, as it is not clear where the instrument came from. In Albania however, the instrument cifteli is far more spread than the practice of the lute. The Albanian Ministry of Culture said that it is in contact with the respective Montenegrin Ministry, so more South-Eastern European countries can be included in this process of safeguarding the cultural instrument. 

Academic and musicologist Vasil Tole also reacted to this news with some more insights. He said that the Serbian gusle has some minor changes from the Albanian lute, however, the important note is that Serbia has successfully submitted its epos at UNESCO, and this should serve in encouraging our country’s institutions in working better for registering our epos as an intangible heritage.

‘’Naturally Serbs registered their part, but that doesn’t mean that the door to register our own epos and lute to UNESCO is closed for us. It is a heritage present in both nations, but we claim that it is earlier in our regions, according to studies made by various foreign albanologues and scholars,’’ said Tole regarding the situation. 

He added that the lute is a Balkan instrument, however, where the case lies is registering the various works and eposes made for singing along with the instrument, which are a cultural heritage to each nation that has a tradition of singing with a lute. Tole has been part of the team preparing the documentations for submitting the Albanian epos and lahuta to UNESCO as an intangible heritage.  

The documentation work started eight years ago by a team raised from the Ministry of Culture. Within a year from when the work started, the team decided that except the Epos of the Braves, in the documentation would also be included the lute, the towers in which the epos would be sang, and the traditional outfit xhubleta. 

The Albanian Academy of Sciences said two years ago in an optimistic declaration that the documentation consisting of five thousand explanatory pages, entitled ‘’The Albanian Epos of the Brave in five countries of Balkans,’’ was ready. The documentation was conducted by Prof. Dr. Zymer Neziri, Prof. Vasil Tole, and Prof. Dr. Shaban Sinani. However, it seems that the file has been stuck since due to failed lobbying from the Albanian Ministry of Culture and that of the Foreign Affairs.

You can download the Serbian application document from UNESCO here: 38970-EN 

And you can check the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia for singing with the gusle by pressing in the link.

 

Note: an update was made to the article to add the words and insights made by Prof. Vasil Tole concerning the case.
                    [post_title] => Albania and Serbia at odds over Lute
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 6- Over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday what started as Construction Engineering, Architecture and Urban Development students taking the streets of Tirana in protest of the government’s decision to place some additional fees turned into a big student protest from all over Albania. 

Initially, the students’ demands centered on removing a 670 Albanian Lek fee for every credit left to be obtained for failed classes and changing university payment deadlines. 

However, as the protest’s scope started expanding to include Elbasan students on Wednesday and Durres and Korca students on Thursday, the list of demands also grew longer.

As of Thursday, the students’ demands included: cancelation of extra fees charging students retaking classes by the credit, 50 percent reduction of university fees, improvement of dorm facilities, addition of one student representative at the university board, to arrive at an equal number of university and education ministry representatives, as it is foreseen in the law for Higher Education. 

University students from Shkodra also warned they will be joining the capital students protesting on Friday.

On Wednesday, hundreds of students gathered at the Engineering Faculty building’s front yard, part of Tirana’s public Polytechnic University, and marched through the city streets heading towards the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth. 

Tirana University students, the majority coming from the natural sciences and law faculties, joined the protest on the way to the education ministry.

Deputy Minister of Education Besa Shahini asked for a representative body once the protesters blocked the traffic in one of Tirana’s main streets, but the students haven’t complied so far, instead waving their “Drop the Fees” banners and throwing eggs on the ministry’s walls.

Education Minister Lindita Nikolla said during a conference the added credit fee per failed class students are mainly objecting to does not go in effect this year and will probably only apply to first-year-students starting in 2019. 

The country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, on the other hand, replying to a citizen’s Facebook comment on one of his daily pictures asking him to give striking students a solution, said “he doesn’t think taxpayer money should pay for failing students’ university costs.” 

“Is there consent that you, taxpayers, pay failing students’ university costs? I don’t personally think so, and the second point is there has been no fee hikes since 2014 (which is not something the ministry decides on anyway, but the university itself, it’s called educational autonomy), but there is a lot of disinformation spread by a minority that doesn’t want to accept the education reform,” Rama wrote. 

Despite Rama’s claims, countless experts’ stand on the education system is that imposition of fees on failed classes puts students at an even greater disadvantage to professors, who often pressure students under the risk of failing classes. Moreover, countless studies have shown that corruption is widespread among the faculty.

Students have not agreed to speak to any government representatives - they have given the education ministry a deadline by 4pm on Thursday to issue a statement. 

 

Education Ministry backs off

On Thursday evening, after the student protests blocked one of Tirana’s main roads throughout the day, Nikolla held a press conference to communicate the government’s decision, after reinforcing previous statements that it is universities that decide upon the fees, rather than the government.

"Starting today the government will abolish the fee-related decision, there will be no additional costs for failing students. The Council of Ministers’ Decision Article 4 will be removed and there will be no fee for failing students' examinations,” Nikolla said.

This decision came after meetings Nikolla reportedly held throughout the day with university Deans and Rector. 

Concerning students’ demand to drop university fees by 50 percent, Nikolla said only universities can take that decision. 

“We thank students for encouraging communication. The government will back off from tariffing failed classes,” Nikolla concluded. 

 

 
                    [post_title] => University students protest tariff hikes, low education standards in Albania
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                    [post_date] => 2018-12-04 17:04:39
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                    [post_content] => The Center for Archeology of Montenegro started a preventine project in Doclea near Podgorica, one of the most important historical Montenegrin monuments. These projects started due to the archeological excavations happening there, but also after an ancient villa was destroyed while building the railway passing nearby.

During the excavations multiple Illyrian temples were found, speaking of the ancient Illyrian tribe Docleati from whom the city’s name derives. The Docleati are said to have had this territory as their own, and thus built the ancient city. While this was already known, archeologists have claimed that more proofs of the Illyrian presence resurfaced during the excavations.

‘’This area has an obvious antiquity where various ancient cultures are intertwined,’’ said Milos Zivanovich, an archeologist from the Center for Archeology who has made extensive studies on Doclea and its history. 

Regarding a natural perspective, Doclea is on a raised hill platform which allows a protection. The city was fortified by a surrounding wall built with stone blocks, from which the excavations have started. The stone walls are able to tell their age which date as back as the fourth century BCE. 

‘’The purpose of these excavations is discovering the sight of the city and the discovery of the major urbanistic changes that have happened through various eras in the city of Doclea,’’ said Zivanovich. 

The foundation of the city is related to the Roman effort to urbanize the newly established province of Dalmatia in the beginning of the first century CE. Doclea was named after the Illyrian tribe Docleati on which territory it was built. It soon turns into an important trading center and receives the status of municipium during the Flavian Age along with other Dalmatian cities. Romans enforced the city’s protection through mighty two-and-a-half meter thick walls, towers, battlements and fortified bridges across the rivers. It also flourishes as a capital city of the Late Roman province of Praevalitana (third - fifth century CE).

For Doclea has written historian Pliny the Elder from first century CE, and geographer from second century CE, Ptolemy, who have had close contact with this Illyrian civilization heritage. Archeologists have also found other ancient cities in Montenegro which are considered as a huge discovery concerning the existence of the Illyrian Empire in these territories. 

To the local team of archeologists were also joined a group from Warsaw, who from 2000 have conducted studies in the city of Risan in Montenegro and that have found ruins of monumental Illyrian buildings and ancient coins. According to the archeologists these are the first findings of the kind in the area of Illyria who might belong to the Illyrian King Ballaios and Queen Teuta of the tribe Ardiaei. 

 
                    [post_title] => Illyrian heritage found in Montenegro
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 4 - The Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs issued a statement Tuesday on Petrit Zifle’s murder in the hands of a Greek Golden Dawn member, calling on Greek authorities to conduct a full investigation on the circumstances that led to the 63-year-old’s murder.

“The ministry issues its condolences to the passing away of citizen Petrit Zifle, congratulates the capturing of the perpetrator by the Greek police, and calls for a thorough clarification of the circumstances of the incident,” the statement reads.

Greek media reported Zifle and the 44-year-old Greek extremist, who was also a Golden Dawn party candidate in Corfu Island at the latest elections and who has already been arrested and confessed to the murder, had argued concerning Macedonia and other ethnic disputes until separated by other customers; a day later Zifle was found lifeless inside a ditch.

This is the latest in a series of deaths that have tensed Greek-Albanian relations lately. Before Zifle, a 33-year-old Albanian was found dead under unknown circumstances in the Trikala prison, while earlier in November Altin Mullai was killed during a shootout with Greek police, as he was caught during an anti-drug raid close to the Greek-Albania border. 

Tensions between the two neighboring countries were raised after ethnic Greek Konstantinos Katsifas was killed in Albania’s Bularat village during a shootout with Albanian special police forces, who were gathered in the village to maintain order. 

Although official reports stated Katsifas was shot dead only after he opened fire on the crowd that was gathered to celebrate the Greek soldiers who died during the Greek-Italian war, official Tirana and Athens found themselves at odds over the incident while Greeks in Athens and Thessaloniki even took the streets in protest of Katsifas’ death.

Albanian migrants living in Greece are the most vulnerable to the tensions that arose after Katsifas’ death and funeral, attended by a big number of Greeks, 52 of which were announced persona-non-gratae after displaying anti-Albanian cheers and symbols in the country’s south.

Greece is currently second in hosting Albanian migrants after Italy. 

Meanwhile, only one day before the foreign ministry’s statement, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told local media the Albanian-Greek relationship is a traditional relationship of friendship between two neighboring countries.

“Greeks love Albania, Albanians love Greeks. The rest is just politics,” Rama said, also confirming there will soon be another meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras under the process of intense dialogue and discussions on many issues. 

 
                    [post_title] => Albanian MFA calls for investigation into Albanian murder in Corfu Island, Greece 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-12-03 13:07:17
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                    [post_content] => By Ervin Lisaku

TIRANA, Dec. 3 – Albania have been drawn in a tough Euro 2020 qualifying campaign group stage with reigning world champions France and will apparently be fighting for a second spot with Iceland and Turkey in a bid to repeat their 2016 success when they earned a first ever qualification to the finals of a major tournament.

Having missed a chance to keep qualifying hopes alive through the inaugural UEFA Nations League by finishing bottom in their League C, Group 1, and having also lost much of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign shine during the past couple of years, Albania will be trying for another miracle qualification in a tough group stage where France are undisputed favorites for a top finish and Iceland, Turkey and Albania will rival for a second spot that also earns direct qualification for the Euro 2020 finals.

Moldova and Andorra are also featured in Group H of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign that will be held over ten matchdays from March to November 2019 with Albania playing the first qualifier at home to Turkey, a much more experienced national side, but which has been struggling to qualify for major tournaments during the past decade following a golden period in the 2000s. Albania last played Turkey in a friendly in late 2017 to claim a surprise 3-2 away victory. Both teams are equal on their 10 encounters so far with each having claimed four wins and drawn twice since the early 1970s.

Iceland will be another tough opponent for Albania in their bid for a second spot finish having become the smallest nation by population to qualify for the Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup finals, but disappointing in their Nations League campaign this year, finishing bottom and failing to claim any points in encounters with Switzerland and Belgium.

Albania and Iceland have played each other five times since the early 1990s with the tiny Island of 340,000 residents having claimed three victories compared to two for Albania. Iceland beat Albania 2-1 both on home soil and away in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers to finish second in the group stage, but lost to Croatia in the playoffs and failed to reach their first major finals.

Albania also made it to the Euro 2016 finals in their first ever appearance at a major tournament in a tough group stage with Portugal, the reigning European champions, Denmark and Serbia, finishing second to earn direct qualification.

Albania ended their historic debut in a major football tournament in a dramatic disqualification filled with suspense after the national side was unlucky to make it to the knockout stage of the Euro 2016 as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Albania, who collected three points in their group stage fixtures following a victory with Romania and losses against hosts France and Switzerland were punished by their -2 goal difference.

However, Albania disappointed in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign finishing third in a tough group stage where it couldn't do much against former world and European champions Spain and Italy, the latter also failing to qualify for the first time in six decades at the finals of a World Cup after losing a playoff with Sweden.

The national side's disappointment continued in the Nations League campaign with Albania collecting only a home victory with Israel and finishing bottom in a group stage topped by Scotland who will be given another chance for the Euro 2020 should they fail to qualify through the traditional format.

The poor performances nearly led to the dismissal of Albania's Italian coach Christian Panucci, who has been in charge since mid-2017 succeeding compatriot Gianni De Biasi, but has lost eight out of 14 games since taking over in one of Albania's poorest ever performance which the coach has justified with key absences and a new generation of players replacing former veterans of the Euro 2016 campaign.

 

Reactions at home 

Speaking after the draw, coach Christian Panucci described reigning world champions France as the absolute favorites and said Albania will be fighting for a second spot with Turkey and Island.

"The draw could have been better or worse, but we will work to achieve the impossible. France are the favorites. I see Albania fighting for a second spot with Turkey and Iceland," said the 45-year coach who has been under continuous pressure this year following a series of lackluster performances.

Albania recently got a morale-boosting win against Wales following a humiliating 4-0 home defeat against Scotland earlier in November to relive pressure on Panucci, a former Italian international who played for top European clubs, but had little coaching experience when taking over as Albania coach.

Former Albania coach Gianni De Biasi who led the national side to the finals of France 2016, the national side's first ever appearance to a major tournament, says Albania stands real chances to claim another qualification.

"Albania should believe in the second spot and in qualification. In the Euro 2016 campaign, Portugal had the stature of present-day France but Serbia and Denmark are not like Iceland and Turkey with all due respect [for the latter],” says De Biasi.

“I believe Albania will rival through the end for a second spot with Island and Turkey," De Biasi, mostly jobless since leaving Albania has told local media.

Chances for Albania to make it to the Euro 2020 are only through the traditional format of the upcoming qualifiers where they need to secure a top two finish in order to repeat their 2016 historic first ever qualification to a major tournament.

 

Kosovo’s campaign

Having claimed a surprise but convincing Nations League promotion in their League D, Group 3, Kosovo will also be playing in a tough qualifying campaign with England, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and Montenegro in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

One of the world’s youngest national sides, having been admitted as UEFA and FIFA member only in 2016, Kosovo claimed historic success at the Nations League campaign, topping their group and standing another chance to qualify as one of its league’s best teams even in case of failing a top two finish in the traditional format.

Many of Albania’s national side’s players are of Kosovo roots with encounters between the two teams hailed as a local derby.

 

Euro 2020 campaign

Twenty-four teams will reach the Euro 2020 finals with four places to be decided by the UEFA Nations League play-offs in March 2020.

Twenty teams, the top two in each of the ten groups, reach the tournament via the traditional qualifiers, running from March to November 2019.

The Euro 2020 finals will be held in 12 host cities across the continent in celebration of the competition's 60-year history.

 

GROUP H

FRANCE

ICELAND

TURKEY

ALBANIA

MOLDOVA

ANDORRA

 

MATCHDAY ONE

Friday 22 March, 2019 - Albania v Turkey

MATCHDAY TWO

Monday 25 March - Andorra v Albania

MATCHDAY THREE

Saturday 8 June - Iceland v Albania

MATCHDAY FOUR

Tuesday 11 June - Albania v Moldova

 MATCHDAY FIVE

Saturday 7 September - France v Albania

MATCHDAY SIX

Tuesday 10 September - Albania v Iceland

MATCHDAY SEVEN

Thursday 10 October - Turkey v Albania

MATCHDAY EIGHT

Monday 14 October - Moldova v Albania

 MATCHDAY NINE

Thursday 14 November - Albania v Andorra

MATCHDAY TEN

Sunday 17 November - Albania v France
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            [post_date] => 2018-12-14 11:27:56
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 14 -  The Albanian National Youth Network (ANYN) made a public appeal on Friday to the US Embassy and the European Union Delegation in Tirana, urging them to publicly

support the demands of University students, who are in their 9th day of protest demanding for better education standards and higher education budget by the government. 

“We publicly urge the USA and the EU to publicly come in support of the student's demands and use their communication channels and the positive influence that they exercise in Albania to push the Albanian government to take urgent measures to address the students’ demands,” the appeal stated. 

For the last nine days, thousands of university students in Albania have been demanding eight points: tariff cuts, increased education budget, participation in faculty management and faculty election, eradication of corruption and low standard of professors and they have stated their points are non-negotiable. 

On its side the government, although expressing support of the students, has not yet undertaken any actions to solve these first eight urgent issues, instead calling for a student representation to talk to.

As the ANYN appeal reminds, Albanian students make up 25 percent of the population, while more than 26 percent of them are unemployed. The high level of unemployment drives a big part of the young population to seek asylum and better working opportunities abroad. 

In this context, Albania currently has the biggest number of asylum seekers in the EU than any other country whose origin is considered safe. 

A recent GALLUP survey showed that at least 79 percent of the young population wants to leave Albania. This alarming situation affects not only Albania losing its workforce, but also EU host countries which have to deal with illegal migration. 

“The Albanian National Youth Network will continue its open public support to the students’ protest, while asking all Western European diplomatic missions in Tirana, to address these concerns to the Albanian Government, which should meet the demands of students and young people in Albania,” the appeal concluded. 

There has so far been no official reaction from any of the international delegations to Albania regarding the protests, despite them becoming the biggest and most intense the country has seen in years.
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