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Human rights education tour makes Tirana stop

TIRANA, March 22 – The Youth for Human Rights International 12th World Educational Tour, which is traveling 74,468 kilometers around the world to promote Human Rights Education, arrived in Tirana and was welcomed by the city’s mayor. The purpose of

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Albania host Armenia in decisive Euro 2016 qualifier

Albania host Armenia in decisive Euro 2016 qualifier

By Ervin Lisaku TIRANA, March 23 – Albania will play home to Armenia this weekend in a decisive match for their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes. Albania currently rank third on Group I with 4 points, but one game in hand over

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Prosecutors seek parliament’s permission to arrest Doshi, Frroku

Prosecutors seek parliament’s permission to arrest Doshi, Frroku

The two lawmakers are wanted on charges of fabricating the story of an assassination plot, according to the General Prosecutor’s Office TIRANA, March 20 – Albania’s General Prosecutor’s Office has asked parliament for permission to arrest two lawmakers, Tom Doshi

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Albania offers Albpetrol, oil blocks to foreign investors

Minister Rama reconfirmed government’s plans to complete the privatization of Albpetrol oil company after a failed tender in 2012, and make the free oil and gas blocks under Albpetrol’s management available to foreign investors for exploration TIRANA, March 17 –

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‘Expressing in colors’ for a good cause

‘Expressing in colors’ for a good cause

Interview with Rita Hoffmann, a member of a group of expats who recently held an exhibition as part of their continuing charity efforts A group of expats and members of the diplomatic community in Tirana recently opened an exhibition at

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Albania tries to cope with Strasbourg court verdicts

TIRANA, March 19 – The Finance Ministry reported that it is trying to fulfill the financial obligations of verdicts against the state issued by the European Human Rights Court, where hundreds of Albanians have sued the government as a last

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Elhaida Dani releases new ‘I’m Alive’ Eurovision song

Elhaida Dani releases new ‘I’m Alive’ Eurovision song

TIRANA, March 17 – In less than one month after Albania withdrew its late 2014 winning song for the Eurovision song contest, the country’s representative Elhaida Dani has released a new song and video in record time ahead of the

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Albania to borrow up to €750 million from international markets

Albania to borrow up to €750 million from international markets

TIRANA, March 16 – The Albanian government says it plans to borrow Euro 250 million in a 10-year loan to support public investments and expects to raise another Euro 300 to 500 million in its second Eurobond issue later this

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On Int’l Women’s Day, calls grow for more female leaders

TIRANA, March 8 – As Albania celebrated International Women’s Day Sunday with some ceremonies across the country, there were calls for a stronger leadership roles for women in Albania and neighboring countries. A group of women lawmakers from Albania, Kosovo,

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Committing to respecting children’s rights and fighting child labor

By ROBERT WILTON* We are here to build on an important partnership. We are here to address a crime. The use of forced child labour is a serious human rights violation. In Albania, children reportedly work in the agricultural, textile,

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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_120591" align="alignright" width="300"]Neighboring Macedonia was also part of the tour Neighboring Macedonia was also part of the tour[/caption]

TIRANA, March 22 – The Youth for Human Rights International 12th World Educational Tour, which is traveling 74,468 kilometers around the world to promote Human Rights Education, arrived in Tirana and was welcomed by the city’s mayor.

The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

Meetings were held with government officials including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as key human rights bodies such as the Ombudsman, the Commissioner for the Prevention of Discrimination, NGOs and other stakeholders. Workshops were held in two universities in Tirana and they raised awareness about the inhuman modern-day slavery with the play, “Story of Monica” at the Palace of Culture in Durres sponsored by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth.

Arber Kodra, President of Youth for Human Rights Albania said that the country has a constitution and laws that protect human rights but we lack implementation.

“Human rights education is key toward creating more peaceful communities,” Kodra added.

Reaching further, the team met with officials of both Kosovo and Macedonia.

The tour circled the globe to Mexico, St. Kitts and Nevis, UK and Brussels before arriving in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

“These meetings are encouraging. Albania is definitely taking the lead on Human Rights Education in the region,” said Mary Shuttleworth, president of Youth for Human Rights Education.

In Albania, TV and radio show appearances included Top Channel TV, TVSH, Vision Plus, Club FM and Club TV as well as Radio Tirana.

They are now traveling to Kazakhstan then on to Nepal, Taiwan with the grand finale in Washington DC completing their 46,272 mile journey to promote human rights education.

In the spirit of the United Nations International Human Rights Day 2015, “Human Rights 365,” the organization work toward making every day, 365 days of the year, a Human Rights Day.
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                    [post_content] => By Ervin Lisaku

TIRANA, March 23 - Albania will play home to Armenia this weekend in a decisive match for their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes.

Albania currently rank third on Group I with 4 points, but one game in hand over group leaders Denmark, after a sensational win away to Portugal last September and a draw at home to favourites Denmark a month later. A drone incident and a fight over national symbols in the qualifier with Serbia last October punished both teams with Albania being handed a 3-0 loss and Serbia deducted 3 points. Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport is currently examining appeals by both Albania and Serbia after the UEFA appeals body confirmed the earlier decision of the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Italian coach Gianni De Biasi described the March 29 qualifier against Armenia as a decisive match and his most important since he took over as Albania manager in late 2011.

“We will play to win. We are not under pressure, but we should not be euphoric. To me, this is the most important match as Albania's coach. It is a decisive match for us," De Biasi told reporters.

Armenia have collected only one point in a home draw against Serbia in their first three qualifiers and rank bottom of Group I, level on points with Serbia, but have high class players such as midfielders Mkhitaryan who plays for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga.

Albania has played Armenia three times previously but the records are all even with Albania having all won, drawn and lost.

The sides' only competitive meetings came in 1998 World Cup qualifiers when they drew 1-1 in Tirana before Armenia won the return fixture 3-0 in Yerevan.

More recently, they came together for a friendly in Tirana in August 2013, with Albania – under current coach Giovanni de Biasi – prevailing 2-0, Valdet Rama and Ergys Kaçe the scorers, says UEFA in the match background.

The new match will be played at the newly reconstructed Elbasan Arena stadium in the central town of Elbasan on Sunday, March 29 at 18.00.

Football experts say Albania, whose players play in prestigious leagues including Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, stands a real chance to qualify for the France Euro 2016 after historically finishing bottom and second from bottom in the Euro and World Cup qualifying stages.

Nine group winners, the nine group runners-up and the best third-placed side qualify directly for the final tournament of the Euro 2016. The eight remaining third-placed teams will contest play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers.

Albania's next qualifier will be away to Denmark in September 4 before hosting Portugal three days later.

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_120499" align="alignright" width="300"]Tom Doshi (front) Frroku (middle) Tom Doshi (front), Mark Frroku (middle)[/caption]

The two lawmakers are wanted on charges of fabricating the story of an assassination plot, according to the General Prosecutor's Office

TIRANA, March 20 – Albania's General Prosecutor's Office has asked parliament for permission to arrest two lawmakers, Tom Doshi and Mark Frroku.

Prosecutors believe they lied to law enforcement officials investigating claims by Doshi that he and another MP had been a target of assassination.

In a statement, prosecutors said the two MPs are suspected of criminal offenses tied to filing false charges and making "false statements to prosecutors."

The request to make the arrests comes following an intense investigation that started after Doshi claimed publicly that Parliament Speaker Ilir Meta had paid an assassin to murder Doshi and another MP, Mhill Fufi of the opposition Democratic Party.

Doshi made the claims after he was expelled from the ruling Socialist Party's parliamentary group. He then said Frroku, another ruling coalition MP and a personal friend, was the one who had warned him of the plot. Frroku has publicly denied any involvement.

The General Prosecutor's Office noted that “the investigation has found reasonable doubt” that Doshi “fabricated the story.”

It added that there was no concrete and reliable proof that the plot to assassinate Doshi was real.

The investigators have concluded that Doshi and Frroku made up the story with the help of Burim Bami, the would-be assassin who Doshi said had warned Frroku instead of carrying the attack.

This is a web news update. More in-depth coverage on this topic:

Prosecutors continue Doshi investigation, as opposition rally calls for Meta’s resignation

Amid political drama, Socialists expel campaign financing baron
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_120486" align="alignright" width="400"]New Picture (1) Energy Minister Damian Gjiknuri speaks at the Albania Oil, Gas and Energy 2015 Summit.[/caption]

Minister Rama reconfirmed government's plans to complete the privatization of Albpetrol oil company after a failed tender in 2012, and make the free oil and gas blocks under Albpetrol's management available to foreign investors for exploration

TIRANA, March 17 - The Albanian government has invited international investors to participate in the privatization of Albpetrol oil company and get involved in onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration.

Speaking at an international energy summit in Tirana this week, Prime Minister Edi Rama described energy as one of the most important sources of Albania's growth at a time when the country is set to become a regional gas hub from the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline bringing Caspian gas to Europe through Albania, Greece and Italy.

Addressing investors in the two-day summit, many of whom shareholders in TAP, Prime Minister Rama reconfirmed government's plans to complete the privatization of Albpetrol oil company after a failed tender in 2012, and make the free oil and gas blocks under Albpetrol's management available to foreign investors for exploration.

“This will the year of the completion of a prolonged privatization process in Albpetrol state company," said Rama, adding that international financial institutions were assisting with the company's financial assessment and privatization documentation.

In its 2015-2017 national economic reform programme approved last January, government says it plans to restructure Albpetrol oil company, the biggest remaining state run company whose privatization in 2012 registered a spectacular failure after a fake Euro 850 million bid by an Albanian-led consortium.

Government says it has set up a working group with technical assistance from the IFC, the World Bank's private sector lending arm, to study Albpetrol’s restructuring and identify its proper form of sale or a public-private partnership in a bid to increase production, employment and investment in the oil sector.

The Prime Minister described Albpetrol as an atavistic and hybrid enterprise under state management during the past two decades of Albania's transition to a market economy.

Energy Minister Damian Gjiknuri announced government would soon initiate tender procedures for the exploration of the first three oil and gas blocks under concession contracts.

Albania currently has 13 free onshore and offshore oil and gas block which are scheduled for concession.

Foreign investors engaged in oil and gas exploration in Albania are exempted from the 20 percent VAT, can have their exploration stage extended from 5 to 7 years and engage in production from 25 to 30 years.

Studies show Albania’s oil and gas reserves are estimated at 400 million tonnes, of which around 10 percent are easily extractable.

Canada-based Bankers Petroleum which operates the Patos-Marinza heavy oilfield in south-western Albania and is the country’s largest foreign investor. Petromanas Energy, another Canada-based company and its Dutch partner Shell have recently made an important discovery from its Shpirag-2 well in Block 2-3, which covers an area of 3,450 square kilometres onshore south-central Albania.

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_120482" align="alignright" width="240"]Rita Hoffmann Rita Hoffmann[/caption]

Interview with Rita Hoffmann, a member of a group of expats who recently held an exhibition as part of their continuing charity efforts

A group of expats and members of the diplomatic community in Tirana recently opened an exhibition at the President's Office, working together with the country's first lady, Odeta Nishani. The group, already engaged in several charity projects, aimed to help people in need through the sale of the paintings and other works of art.

The exhibition, "Expressing in Colors," had works from Ahouva Cohen, Rita Hoffmann, Betsy Ferries, Grace Darlington, Luisa Carver, Merilee Esplin, Nicole Graf and modeling with recycled materials by Isabel Tausch, according to the president's press office.

Albanian First Lady Odeta Nishani expressed "Gratitude for their modest contribution, because the profits from the sales of a part of their works have gone to assist and aid people in need.”

After the exhibition, Tirana Times caught up with one of the people who had work featured in the exhibition Rita Hoffmann, to talk to her about the exhibition and her impressions of Albania. Mrs. Hoffman is in Albania accompanying her husband, who serves as Germany's ambassador to Tirana.

Can you tell us a little bit about how this exhibition came together and why?

In a friendly conversation with the First Lady we talked about my passion for painting. When the First Lady saw some of my works she spontaneously suggested to present them at an event at the President’s Palace, which was most nice of her. I then told her about the group of friends with whom I paint once every week and that we are seven ladies -- after Ahouva has left Albania with her husband, the Israeli Ambassador, recently, we are now six -- with a great love for painting. I also told her that we all work in different techniques -- oil, acrylics, pastels, watercolors -- but that we all enjoy to be and to work together and to discuss about art, and that our teacher Luisa is having every once in a while an exhibition where paintings are sold, with the proceeds being donated to a charity. Other members of the group are also engaged in voluntary charity work. In the course of this conversation the idea was born to stage an exhibition of paintings of all members of the group and I am most grateful for this wonderful opportunity given to all of us by the First Lady.

IMG_6553 (1)What did the exhibition feature?

The exhibition presented 50 paintings of 7 painters, which were divided into 4 categories, namely pleine air, still life, figures and abstract, presenting all the techniques I mentioned earlier. More generally speaking I think the exhibition featured a great passion and love for art and the results of ongoing processes of learning how to express what you feel, what you want to show, and how you see things. A nice addition feature to the exhibition were fashions made of unconventional materials and discarded objects presented by most charming models.

What was your role in the exhibition?

As a member of the painting group I helped to organize the exhibition together with people of the office at the Institution of the President, who, I have to say, did a great job!

How long have you been painting and what is your preferred style?

Perhaps you will find this surprising -- and to tell you the truth I am myself still surprised about this -- but I started painting only less than 5 years ago, when we were on post in Geneva! At first, it was meant only as a past time hobby, to do something nice with a very dear friend in a real atelier with fellow artists and a maestro, but then I became really fascinated by painting. My favourite painters are the expressionists, I also like modern art, abstract paintings. It is hard to say, because there are so many styles I like. The way I paint and in a sense my style depends often on the mood I am in or on the exhibitions I have visited.

P1020180 (1)What paintings were you featuring in the exhibition?

There were some which are more in an expressionist style while others are abstract; the themes vary from still life to the head of a cow to park in Tirana to blue&red.

You have now been in Albania for close to two years, how do you find the country and its people so far?

I like Albania as a country very much, and what I like in particular are the very friendly people here. Everybody is so nice and helpful which makes it so easy for foreigners to feel welcome. I am also very impressed to see that Albanians have so much love and passion for art -- not only visual art, but especially also music -- and that there is so much talent here!

As diplomats we have lived in quite a number of rather different places in the world -- Vienna, Windhoek/Namibia, London, Geneva, New York, Berlin -- and wherever possible my husband and I loved to go to the opera, to concerts, theaters, exhibitions, and so forth, so we were delighted so find out how much Albania has to offer in the cultural field!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I very much wish the Albanians, especially the young people, that they can fully develop their talent and that they can receive the education and training necessary to achieve that. If people work hard enough I am confident many have the potential to be successful also outside their own country, as quite a number of outstanding examples demonstrate.

 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 19 - The Finance Ministry reported that it is trying to fulfill the financial obligations of verdicts against the state issued by the European Human Rights Court, where hundreds of Albanians have sued the government as a last resort after having their property and other rights violated.

The cases won by Albanians at the court have mainly covered complaints on the property restitution or compensation.

The ministry said they have already paid on the decision for 38 verdicts while two are still in the process.

The government has planned to spend some 2 billion leks covering verdicts of the courts. The ministry said there are no overdue financial obligations left at this point.

By law, if the government does not pay the money of the court's verdicts within three months, there is an interest rate added to the principal.

The Albanian government has created an inter-ministerial working group to deal with such issues.

The European Court of Human Rights is an international body established by the European Convention on Human Rights. It hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights provisions concerning civil and political rights set out in the convention and its protocols.

As a member of the Council of Europe, Albania has a legal obligation to comply with the verdicts.

An application can be lodged by an individual, a group of individuals or one or more of the other contracting states.

In addition to property rights, Albanians have used the court to fight extradition and to seek compensation over deaths where the state was perceived at fault.

Most Albanians perceive the country's judicial system as corrupt, and often resort to launching appeals to the Strasbourg court to seek justice once they have exhausted all the judicial steps inside Albania.

 
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                    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-20 09:45:41
                    [post_content] => elhaida DaniTIRANA, March 17 - In less than one month after Albania withdrew its late 2014 winning song for the Eurovision song contest, the country's representative Elhaida Dani has released a new song and video in record time ahead of the promotional tour for next May's competition in Austria.

Dani's new song "I'm Alive" is a pop ballad with modern and ethnic element which grows by the end and manages to exhibit Elhaida’s impressive vocal, says Eurovision on its official website.

"I believe I did my best in record time and hope and I can pay you back for the trust in me," Dani told fans in social networks, sharing the new music video with them.

The new entry was composed by Kosovo duo Zzap & Chris, with lyrics by Sokol Marsi and the adapted English version by U.S based Kosovo singer Linda Halimi who came third in the 2014 national competition serving as platform to select the country's Eurovision representative.

Back in late December 2014, Dani was initially selected to participate in the Eurovision contest with her "Diell" (Sun) ballad but the song was withdrawn after a dispute with its composer.

“The author of the song ‘Diell‘, for personal and irrevocable reasons, has decided to withdraw the song and unfortunately it will be impossible for me to perform it in the Eurovision song contest 2015. Accordingly to his decision and in agreement with the Albanian broadcaster RTSH, I will represent my country in Vienna with a new song,” wrote in social networks Dani, who in 2013 made every Albanian proud by winning the Voice of Italy song contest.

“I will work hard to ensure the presentation of a song appropriate to the prestige of the event and to make Albania achieve a respectable result in the competition," she added.

Born in the northern town of Shkodra, Dani, 21, started her singing career 2008 when she participated in the Kënga Magjike festival. One year later she won the Star Akademi talent show, followed by her victory in Top Fest in 2012. She rose to fame in 2013 when she won the Voice of Italy song contest.

"This means a lot to me. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to represent Albania in an important festival such as Eurovision and making my dream come true," Dani told the audience in late 2014 after she was announced the festival's winner and asked to sing the winning song again.

Back in 2012, Rona Nishliu became the most successful Albanian Eurovision representative after ranking fifth among 26 finalists in the 2012 song contest held in Azerbaijan. Nishliu collected 146 points to see herself rank 5th, the best result since 2004 when Albania made its Eurovision debut with Anjeza Shahini who came sixth.

 
                    [post_title] => Elhaida Dani releases new ‘I'm Alive’ Eurovision song
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                    [post_date] => 2015-03-16 14:56:26
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 16 - The Albanian government says it plans to borrow Euro 250 million in a 10-year loan to support public investments and expects to raise another Euro 300 to 500 million in its second Eurobond issue later this year.

In a tender announcement, the Finance Ministry says it is seeking proposals by major financial institutions for a 10-year Euro 250 million loan at a fixed interest rate until April 1, 2015 and expects the full disbursement of the amount by next June.

The loan is guaranteed by the IBRD, the World Bank's lending arm for middle income and credit-worthy poor countries, which is guarantor for Euro 200 million, or 80 percent of the total loan.

Meanwhile, the Albanian government has also launched a call for a consultant as it prepares to issue its second Eurobond as its inaugural five-year Eurobond of 300 million euros matures this year.

The timing seems favourable as the European Central Bank continues keeping its key rate at a historic low of 0.05 percent and has undertaken quantitative easing of Euro 1.1 trillion into the ailing eurozone economy, considerable cutting bond yields in international markets.

Finance Minister Shkelqim Cani has earlier said government is planning to borrow Euro 300 million to 500 million from international markets so that lending to businesses and households from local banks is not affected. After overcoming a 12-month moderate decline only last July, lending continues remaining at sluggish growth rates of 2 to 3 percent with non-performing loans at around a quarter as the key barrier for easier lending standards.

In its new rating, Standard & Poor's, one of the world's leading rating agencies revised Albania's outlook on long-term sovereign credit rating to positive from stable affirming its 'B/B' ratings, which is expected to have a positive impact on Albania's external borrowing and the Eurobond interest rates.

In late 2010, Albania issued its first-ever Eurobond of 300 million euros with a maturity of up to five years and an interest rate of 7.5 percent. The money was mainly used to pay off a costly syndicated loan to fund the costly Durres-Kukes highway linking Albania to Kosovo.

Government’s new borrowing comes at a time when the Albanian economy is expected to accelerate to 3 percent in 2015, up from an expected 2 percent in 2014 but public finances continue struggling as public debt stands at a record high of around 70 percent of the GDP.

In its new 2016-2018 macroeconomic framework approved in early 2015, government expects the public debt to embark on a downward trend starting 2015 as part of its fiscal consolidation programme with the IMF.

Public debt is expected to drop by 0.2 percent to 71.8 percent in 2015 before dropping to 68.9 percent in 2016, 65.7 percent in 2017 and 62 percent in 2018, registering the first decline since 2010.

Total debt service, which includes interest payments plus the repayments of principal to creditors, cost the Albanian government a record of around 57.8 billion lek (Euro 404 million) in 2014, almost the same amount government spend on public investments, as public debt rose to 72 percent of the GDP, according to a report published by the Finance Ministry.

Albania's official public debt stock climbed to a record high of around 978 billion lek (Euro 6.85 billion) or 69.15 percent of GDP excluding government arrears of around 2.6 percent of the GDP.

Recent legal changes allow the Finance Minister to borrow without prior approval by Parliament within the limits set by the budget.

Government argues the legal changes, which were approved again by the Parliament last February after the law was turned down by the President, are aimed at accelerating borrowing procedures in order to secure lower interest rates.
                    [post_title] => Albania to borrow up to €750 million from international markets
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                    [post_date] => 2015-03-13 10:38:27
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 8 - As Albania celebrated International Women’s Day Sunday with some ceremonies across the country, there were calls for a stronger leadership roles for women in Albania and neighboring countries.

A group of women lawmakers from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Presevo Valley gathered in Prishtina's parliament to discuss their role and how to increase the participation of women in politics and decision-making.

Albanian lawmaker Mesila Doda told a Kosovo newspaper that there need to be more women involved in politics, saying that Albania has advanced some on this issue, but the neighboring countries like Kosovo had not. She urged all political parties in Albania and Kosovo to have more women in their election lists.

"Why not," she said. "It would be good for us if a woman would become the next Mayor of Tirana."

Albania holds municipal elections on June 21, and several women have been named as potential candidates on both sides of the political spectrum for the key post of mayor of the Albanian capital, seen as a stepping stone to the prime minister's office.

OSCE Ambassador to Albania Florian Raunig urged local political parties to include more women in the Albanian politics as key to the further development of democracy.

The country’s laws require that at least 30 percent of the nominated candidates should be women. In fact that is never been accomplished or fulfilled. Parties have preferred to pay the associated fines instead. However, there are more women in the latest parliament and government than ever before.

“A substantial representation of women in decision-making is essential for any country that wants to reach its full potential. Albania has made remarkable progress particularly by increasing the number of women in government to 30 percent,” said Raunig. “However, there are still challenges ahead as women make up only about 20 percent of members of parliament, and especially in the local government where only 12 percent of local councilors and only one percent of mayors are women.”

He added that several political parties have pledged to increase the number of women candidates on their lists.

"This is laudable and is hopefully an indication that the Albanian political class is serious about dealing with the issue of gender equality in politics. It is also essential that the parties put women in positions in the candidate lists which give them a fair and realistic chance to be elected,” Raunig said.

In the run-up to the 2015 local elections, the OSCE Presence in Albania has intensified efforts to promote gender equality and empower women to fully participate in public and political life. The presence says it is building their capacity to stand as candidates in the elections and lobbying for the full implementation of the gender quota in the Electoral Code – both in letter and spirit.

 
                    [post_title] => On Int'l Women's Day, calls grow for more female leaders
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                    [post_date] => 2015-03-13 10:20:18
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                    [post_content] => By ROBERT WILTON*

We are here to build on an important partnership. We are here to address a crime.

The use of forced child labour is a serious human rights violation. In Albania, children reportedly work in the agricultural, textile, garment, footwear and mining sectors. According to INSTAT, 57,000 children in Albania – eight percent of five to seventeen year-olds – are economically active.

A number of these children are reportedly employed in factories, where they are exposed to heavy machinery and chemicals. By international standards and Albanian legislation this is the worst form of child labour, as it jeopardises the physical, mental and moral well-being of the child.

Addressing child labour in economic sectors is an extremely difficult task, but working together, we can find solutions. That is why the partnership established between the OSCE Presence and BiznesAlbania is so important.

One solution is the Code of Conduct we are presenting today. It is a common standard to prohibit the exploitation of children in the worst forms of child labour and the employment of children below the minimum legal age.

This is a true partnership - an initiative of the OSCE Presence, funded by the Italian Government and embraced by BiznesAlbania. This code is a comprehensive framework for businesses to consider their impact on the rights and welfare of children. It contains of a number of commitments that businesses can take to respect children’s rights in their operations.

The code also informs other stakeholders, particularly in government and civil society, on their engagement with business. While the government has the primary duty to protect, respect and fulfil children’s rights, businesses and civil society must comply with the national law and respect international standards on children’s rights. The code, as a measure of positive action, seeks to advance the role of businesses in upholding international human rights standards to help build a world fit for children.

The Code of Conduct was written by Mr. Mike Dottridge, an expert in the field. He will speak to us in a few minutes. It is also based on the results of multi-stakeholder consultations here in Albania with business associations, civil society representatives and the government.

Today’s endorsement of the code by BiznesAlbania is an important step towards protecting children’s rights in Albania. It will be followed by an information campaign targeting businesses and employees on the employment of children. The presence will provide further expertise to BiznesAlbania to help raise awareness amongst the business community and secure their commitment to implement the code.

It is critical that companies do business in a socially responsible manner: with care for people, resources and the environment. Let me conclude by calling on all businesses to step up their efforts to respect and support children’s rights in the workplace and community. This is not only a legal obligation, but also a moral responsibility we all share to protect every single child, without discrimination.

Together, let us commit to respecting children’s rights and build a future in which all children have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

*These were the comments the OSCE Deputy Head of Presence Robert Wilton made at the event “Code of Conduct on the employment of persons below 18 years of age” in Tirana on March 11, 2015.

 
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            [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_120591" align="alignright" width="300"]Neighboring Macedonia was also part of the tour Neighboring Macedonia was also part of the tour[/caption]

TIRANA, March 22 – The Youth for Human Rights International 12th World Educational Tour, which is traveling 74,468 kilometers around the world to promote Human Rights Education, arrived in Tirana and was welcomed by the city’s mayor.

The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

Meetings were held with government officials including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as key human rights bodies such as the Ombudsman, the Commissioner for the Prevention of Discrimination, NGOs and other stakeholders. Workshops were held in two universities in Tirana and they raised awareness about the inhuman modern-day slavery with the play, “Story of Monica” at the Palace of Culture in Durres sponsored by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth.

Arber Kodra, President of Youth for Human Rights Albania said that the country has a constitution and laws that protect human rights but we lack implementation.

“Human rights education is key toward creating more peaceful communities,” Kodra added.

Reaching further, the team met with officials of both Kosovo and Macedonia.

The tour circled the globe to Mexico, St. Kitts and Nevis, UK and Brussels before arriving in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

“These meetings are encouraging. Albania is definitely taking the lead on Human Rights Education in the region,” said Mary Shuttleworth, president of Youth for Human Rights Education.

In Albania, TV and radio show appearances included Top Channel TV, TVSH, Vision Plus, Club FM and Club TV as well as Radio Tirana.

They are now traveling to Kazakhstan then on to Nepal, Taiwan with the grand finale in Washington DC completing their 46,272 mile journey to promote human rights education.

In the spirit of the United Nations International Human Rights Day 2015, “Human Rights 365,” the organization work toward making every day, 365 days of the year, a Human Rights Day.
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