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New Albanian mode: drink beer in the cathedral

By Jerina Zaloshnja “No, no, don’t tell me this is a beer factory. This is a real beer cathedral!” That is how an Italian businessman G.V. has written in the guestbook after visiting Birra Korca factory located somewhere in the

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Albania’s Euro Atlantic agenda

By Alfred Moisiu During this year, Albania based on the Summit 2005 document, undertook concrete actions to encourage the important objectives of the three main pillars of development, security and human rights and to implement the United Nations ambitious agenda

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A Breath of Optimism through Fresh, Foreign Eyes

By Alba ȥla As if the return to my own country had not been challenging enough, Jake, my American friend from graduate school, announced that his visit would be on the same day that my plane was landing in Tirana.

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Fatmir Velaj takes part at Vienna Biennial

VIENNA, Oct. 8 – The Vienna biennial stands open from Sept. 21 to )ct. 10 organized by a group of experts of the “Schillerplatz” arts academy and also a team of correspondents from Berlin, London, Zagreb, etc. some 60 artists

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Excuse me, will you open that window, please?

Travel notes from a trip to Gjirokastra By Jerina Zaloshnja It was pure coincidence that I took a photograph of that tiny little window, while we were walking down “Fools Walkway,” and I felt my throat tighten with emotion. It

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Forsaken Albania

By Artan Lame Tirana, in the twenties’ The Clock Tower, or as it is known in the old language “the mound of the Clock”, together with the Mosque of Ethem Bey, constitutes the most valuable object of this city called

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Cross Border Cooperation Prospective Euro-Region or a Pending Effort?

Traditionally, national borders have placed adjacent regions of different countries in a rather peripheral position thus resulting in a particular kind of economic development challenges for these borderlands. The emergence of the cross border cooperation phenomenon in post World War

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Forsaken Albania

By Artan Lame Petrela, 1942. Petrela is a village full of the ancient history of this country, and it has managed to preserve some of this history at least in their memories. Legend has it that the rampants, rising above

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Province Town- where Albanians meet Gay and Lesbian comunity

By Alba ȥla Meet the funniest town in Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Provincetown! or as it is usually referred to shortly P-town, a safe haven for gay and lesbian couples to celebrate their diversity in a peaceful and funny atmosphere, away

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Give me a break

By Jerina Zaloshnja “Sixty dollars! It’s a new rule from above. 60 dollars,” spoke the man with the white coat and unshaved beard as he lazily chewed on his gum. I was struck. “Where am I to find sixty dollars?”

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                    [post_content] => By Jerina Zaloshnja
"No, no, don't tell me this is a beer factory. This is a real beer cathedral!" That is how an Italian businessman G.V. has written in the guestbook after visiting Birra Korca factory located somewhere in the suburbs of Korca city, 180 kilometers southeast of Tirana. Of the same opinion, according to myself, would be all who would visit that new factory. That is how happened with me.
At the entrance of the factory, the same place as the former well-known factory of Korca beer (which culminated its success in the 1980s) you are surrounded by a somewhat mystic spirit. This is not a newly built modern factory but a construction with mixed ancient and modern elements, the work of great masters of stone, ceramic and carving productions. Yes, yes, it is precisely a little cathedral, designed with small ceramic and carvings, red ones, hung along the walls which are also carved with reliefs and include some lines on drinking pleasures by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. 
The factory ceilings are all carved stones, as are the walls and floor. The small carved stones replacing the tiles make you happy and it seems as if you have put your feet in a little small town painted in red where everything goes okay! The pavilions of the just-rehabilitated factory resemble small rooms where nothing makes a sound but the computers monitoring the production and a few employees. Some two or three architects and an interior designer are giving the last touches to the factory's museum, which, in fact, will be a museum for the city of Korca itself, its citizens and the famous history of the beer brought for the first time to the country by an Italian in the 1920s. A restaurant for friends and VIPs on top of the terrace of the Birra Korca will soon be completed. Those who know about the extraordinary nature before your eyes can relax and observe nature while you have dinner with the local characteristic dishes. You will not have left Tirana only to have a look at the beer factory.
Factory... That is not solely an investment by the Albania businessman Irfan Hysenbelliu. That is the first example of Albania's economic tourism.

Italian Umberto who showed Beer to the Albanians

There is a history associated with the beer factory in Korca. That is the FIRST BEER factory in Albania. Construction began in 1928 by an Italian investor known to by the name of Umberto Umberti. He chose Korca simply because it completed the parameters some other cities in Albania did not. He started to build the factory in Shkodra, he took the raw material there, but there were two different reasons which made him turn to Korca. The first reason was that the water had better elements than that in Shkodra and, the second, in the Korca-Pogradec region there was planted and grew a very aromatic plant known as lupolo, which is a very important element for the beer yeast. Construction was completed in 1932 and that was the first beer sold in Korca. The Italian owner distributed it in barrels to every bar and restaurant and also gave it for free to the citizens so that they got used to that. After liberation at the end of World War II the factory became a public property until 1990. From 1994 to 2004 it was owned by some former Korca shareholders that sold it that year to businessman Irfan Hysenbelliu.
During 2004 -2006 the factory was totally transformed. Some 80 years of work had to be totally revamped.  Nothing but the great name of the factory had remained, a name that had also faded with the passing of years. During the first stage of investment the old technology was removed and all the old buildings surrounding the old main building were pulled down. Now the technology is contemporary, installed in 2005 and totally automatic. "It was thought the technology should be Czech because they are a strong name in beer production," Birra Korca manager Besnik Duda told the Tirana Times.
The company businessman Irfan Hysenbelliu is linked with has a 135-year old history of experience. That company has been installing technology for beer factories for that many years. Experts of the Czech company have been working in Korca's new beer factory for a year and a half. Some 28 experts of the Czech company have installed the new line of production and now there are some 34 technology experts taking care of the production. "The new line bought from the Czech company has quadrupled the capacity compared to the best year of production of Birra Korca in the 1980s. The investment of the first stage to put in the factory in operation has reached 14 million euro," said Duka. In two or three years the owner has plans to build a second factory with a 500-,000 to one million hectoliters annual capacity. Now the capacity is 100-120,000 hectoliters per year. The investment of businessman Hysenbelliu will employee around 200 people.

"Our beer is original"

"Birra Korca factory produces market beer, real and original. The beer market has two kinds of beers commercial and original, we have tried to preserve the old taste of beer and very soon we'll produce black beer, which was exclusive for Birra Korca in past years," says the manager. The installation stage has been completed and the first stage of beer production has already started. The raw material for beer production will be imported from Austria from the Pilsen company. Birra Korca entered the market in the first days of August.
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                    [post_content] => By Alfred Moisiu 
During this year, Albania based on the Summit 2005 document, undertook concrete actions to encourage the important objectives of the three main pillars of development, security and human rights and to implement the United Nations ambitious agenda of reforms. The positive results achieved by the foundation of the Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council, Resolution on Development, the foundation of the Emergency Response Central Fund and also the reforms of the Secretariat and Management fill us with optimism and make us believe that United Nations must continue its reforms in order to respond as best as possible to new realities and challenges.By re-iterating our willingness and intention to work closely with all the delegations and to reach as consensual as possible agreements in all the significant aspects of the reforms, we think that a solid and inclusive reform of Management is necessary for the strengthening of the United Nations in order to consolidate the transparency and responsibility and to enjoy a more effective and efficient administration of the resources. We support the efforts to reform ECOSOC while believing also that the reform in the Security Council will produce progress and results thanks to the efforts and commitment of all the member countries. We hail the High Level Meeting on Migration because we believe that international migration that is supported by the right policies can bring major advantages to the development of the countries of origin and the receiving ones on the condition to respect and guarantee the basic rights of migrants by avoiding any discrimination and double standard.
The UN role continues to remain very important also in the war against terrorism, especially by securing an effective, global and intensive response to this threat. We praise the recent consensual adoption of the global strategy against terrorism as we also assess that the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism will mark a precious achievement made possible by the UN efforts against terrorism. Albania is collaborating very closely with all the UN bodies in the war against terrorism and the visits of the Monitoring Team founded in compliance to the Resolution 1267 of the Security Council and the visit of the Security Council Committee Against Terrorism founded in compliance to the resolution 1540 of the Security Council demonstrated that Albanian is fulfilling its obligations to prevent the activity and financing of terrorist groups also on the national level.We have supported the resolution of the Security Council on the Israeli-Lebanon conflict, which consists in the peaceful solution of the issue and sending the peacekeeping forces in that area. Albania is part of the countries that have given financial support to rebuild Lebanon.

Fulfilling the European Union and NATO standards
The main orientation of Albania's foreign policy remains the European and Euro-Atlantic integration and that is why the efforts of Albanian state and society are directed towards fulfilling the European Union and NATO standards. A few days ago the European Parliament ratified the Association-Stabilization Agreement of Albania with the European Union which places our country at the most important stage; that of fulfilling the obligations that stem from the Agreement and the entire Albanian political class and society are conscious about this. We all believe that the actual membership in the European Council and OSCE and also the perspective accession in EU and NATO are a natural part of the move for development rather than an objective for objective sake.We have established relations of active cooperation and dialogue on the regional level with all the countries by remarkably influencing the strengthening of regional security and stability. Together with the countries of the region we have made an agenda of joint actions against terrorism, organized crime, distribution of arms and border managing which has an inter-border feature and we have also undertaken concrete initiatives to encourage the economic development of the region.

Kosova,  a sovereign, independent, democratic and multi-ethnic state
Albania assesses that the main issue put forth to be resolved in our region continues to remain that of Kosova. Kosova has marked a great progress in the internal stability, in advancing the fulfillment of the required international standards, in improving the inter-ethnic relations, in founding and efficient functioning of Kosovar central and local institutions, in the serious and professional commitment in the process of negotiations with Belgrade through the intermediation of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, President Ahtisaari and also in its gradual integration in regional activities, initiatives and structures as part of Kosova's integrating process in the European Union and NATO. The leadership of Kosova, the representing Kosovar institutions, opposition, civil society, media and the entire civil factor are demonstrating social and political cohesion and also increasing unity and open and full cooperation with the international factor to build a Kosova which would be sovereign and independent, democratic and multi-ethnic state, integrated in the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. The UN Mission and the commitments of the General Secretary there have played a significant part of the success also.The progress of talks between Prishtina and Belgrade in Vienna is positive. We encourage the continuation of constructive dialogue and wish for the Serbian side to do the same by demonstrating realism, solidarity with the attention of international community and respect for the aspirations of the people of Kosova. Albania is against any possible scenario for the partition or disintegration of Kosova, which according to the tradition of the past can bring conflicts and instability in the future.
We support a full and quick solution of the issue of the status of unique Kosova: a solution that takes in consideration the will of its inhabitants themselves, guarantees functionality within the Kosovar state and society and freedoms of the minority communities. A Kosova, being a sovereign, independent, democratic and multi-ethnic state, with a clear Euro-Atlantic perspective serves to peace and stability in the region and wider.
The view expressed occasionally that the independence of Kosova would leave the door open to implement in an analog way the same solutions for problems which exist at the present in different countries and regions does not seem accurate to us. The solution of any problem must take into consideration the historical and geographical context and other dimensions that exclude the search and mechanic application of unjustifiable analogies. By taking into consideration the historical, juridical and moral aspects of the issue of Kosova and also the fact that it reaches the present times with convulsions and wars that accompanied the disintegration of former-Yugoslavia, I think that solving it according to the will of the very citizens of Kosova is completely legitimate. Seen under this light, this solution marks also the end of the chapter of this disintegration and turning of a new page as part of the democratic developments that have taken place in the Balkans in the last decade. 

Meeting the Millennium Goals
Albania stands at an important stage of the progress of all sided institutional, legal and economic reforms, with its aim oriented towards the European models and standards. Our commitment is to improve the governance on all the levels in order for the governance to be as close as possible to the interests of the citizens and country. The actual government has undertaken various economic initiatives that aim to liberalize the procedures and enhance our capability to attract foreign investments. We are conscious that this objective can be achieved only by carrying out the reforms that realistically enable a competing and open market for the free initiative that offers opportunities to as many people as possible to conduct business or to be employed and coordinated with the reforms in the priority public sectors: increasing the investments in infrastructure and power sector, education and health sectors and also completing it with effective social policies in favor of social groups and individuals in need. Our objective is for the economic growth to directly serve meeting the Millennium Goals by being transformed into the main factor for the reduction of poverty, lowering of unemployment rate to the average level of the developed European countries and also to secure a stable and long-term economic growth, which does not compromise the chances of future generations.
The all sided engagement against corruption is part of the efforts to strengthen the Rule of Law and develop the country. In this framework there are being undertaken concrete actions for reforms in legislation and institutions in order to take preventive measures, to narrow the room for corruptive abuses, to enhance public transparency, to eliminate the conflict of interests, to enhance the access in decision taking and strengthen the monitoring role of civil society, local communities and media.We have paid a special attention also to the fight against organized crime, drug and human being trafficking and money laundering. Today we can state with full conviction that these phenomena is being faced with the strong power of the law and with the structures built in the country in cooperation also with the international factor and that is why the results are tangible.

A strong and effective United Nations
Albania supports and contributes for a strong and effective United Nations Organization, capable to successfully overcome new challenges because we consider it an Organization based on the values and principals of multilateralism, global partnership for development, joint action to strengthen collective peace and security to the benefit of promoting human rights, Rule of Law and commitments against terrorism.
In conclusion, please allow me, Madam President, to assure you that my country will be active in fulfilling the commitments and obligations that stem from the responsibilities within the Organization and also from those decisions that the Sixty-first Session of the UN General Assembly will adopt.
This speech was delivered at UN General Assembly


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                    [post_content] => By Alba ȥla
As if the return to my own country had not been challenging enough, Jake, my American friend from graduate school, announced that his visit would be on the same day that my plane was landing in Tirana. I had been in and out of the country for the last 5 years pursuing different schools in different countries and had finally decided to try settling down in the homeland, my homeland, Albania. There are many of us, coming back, out of preference for the lifestyle back home, strong family ties, or sheer lack of alternatives. We are all confused and scared and not brave or as ready to face all the difficulties as someone would like to think. But we are willing to tryō
For me coming back means living close to family and trying to build up a career. I am dimly aware of the many obstacles that I will encounter and quite certain that there will be times that I will regret taking the plane back here. But for the moment all I can feel is the excitement of a new life among new people although this time speaking my native language.
My friend Jake had planned his Balkan trip long before, when we were studying in Budapest. I imagined he would want to sample as many of the local flavors as he could; that is why I suggested he visit my hometown, Berat, instead of limiting his time to Tirana. With 2500 years of history behind it, beautiful nature and an inspiring collection of timeless religious art I believe it has something simply unique to offer the passing tourist and traveler. I made a wise guess that by the time I arrived, Jake would have already savored that curios mix of chaos and novelty that makes our capital Tirana special. Thus, I set out to plan a short but comprehensive plunge into other local Albanian pleasures. 
 First of all, once approaching Berat, Jake would enjoy the sight of Tomorri Mountain, that appears suddenly, surrounded by flat low plains as a king mountain, mystical and powerful in the sunbathed distance.  No wonder it is called the Mountain of Gods. Had he had more time we could have gone for an excursion through the canyons of Bogova to enjoy that unspoiled nature that we are blessed with and that we will hopefully have the sense to preserve. For now we would be limited to the town itself.
 I could predict the excitement in my friend's face when we would reach the castle. The thousand years of history and the different invasions that are now imprinted in the different stone layers would find their way roughly summarized in a short historical account that I would provide. The churches with their beautiful unique religious art displays, the characteristic whitewashed houses with wooden window cases, and the Ottoman style bridge that crosses the town would resemble to my friend a fantastic showcase straight out of a history textbook. He would peek into the warmth of the daily interactions and be fascinated by the spirit of the little town and he would comment on everything. He would not want to know about the power shortages and the bureaucratic scandals that plague the country and I would not blame him. This would be a day of discovery and enjoyment. I wish we could all have a chance to    experience it.
We would top our day with a delicious sampling of local cuisine, abundant in spices and flavors and good old Turkish coffee. In the late afternoon I would definitely make him experience the local evening walk, that typical stroll that fills the locals' life with that necessary spice of gossip without which life would be wellƣomfortable but tasteless. That stroll, that daily annoyance to those of us tightly obsessed by our privacy, is simultaneously an interesting feature that testifies to the presence of a community, not an aimless gathering of people that happened to be born here. 
Jake and I never took this delightful, granted semi-utopian, trip due to our different uncoordinated travel plans. But the important thing is that going through this imaginative journey I was shown once again what I am coming back for. Those familiar yet somehow unappreciated tastes and flavors, that warmth, that pride in antiquity and the joy that stems from being part of that beauty. And above all that sense of roots and of belonging to that annoying community, but a Community neverthelessō
Now I recollect all this, and attribute it to my imagining his transfigured tourist gaze and reconcile it within my inner self. I know daily life is full of problems and it is very easy to forget those few pleasures that we can afford by living here. But that is precisely what I want to remember: to be able to see through fresh eyes and appreciate. And if you out there are just like me, a confused returning student that feels like a foreigner in his own country, take my word for it:  There is plenty out there for us to enjoy! Don't give up.
                    [post_title] =>  A Breath of Optimism through Fresh, Foreign Eyes 
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                    [post_content] => VIENNA, Oct. 8 - The Vienna biennial stands open from Sept. 21 to )ct. 10 organized by a group of experts of the "Schillerplatz" arts academy and also a team of correspondents from Berlin, London, Zagreb, etc. some 60 artists from all over the world took part in the biennial and among them Albanian painter Fatmir Velaj.He has sent there "country house", "the house in the forest" and also the "the red feeling rhapsody". They are worked in acrylic 100x120cm,130x180cm and 140x210cm.
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                    [post_content] => Travel notes from a trip to Gjirokastra

By Jerina Zaloshnja
It was pure coincidence that I took a photograph of that tiny little window, while we were walking down "Fools Walkway," and I felt my throat tighten with emotion. It resembled a black cavity in that wall built out of huge and smooth white stone; or like a human mouth with a bundle of black rags jammed down its throat. Spine-chilling! Instead of glass window panes, somebody, probably the owners of this abandoned domicile, had nailed boards onto the frame, so you couldn't see anything inside, if there were anything left to see inside. As the occasional passer-by informed me, the house with the boarded up window had been abandoned for at least ten years now, and there was absolutely nothing inside. As if the boards were not enough, wires had been run underneath and over the iron bars covering the window on the outside, all very complicated. Who could ever attempt to have a look inside?
"This city is suffocating," I said to myself and quickened my step. Gjirokastra, (300 kilometers south of Tirana), gave me the exact same first impression as when I had visited it fifteen years ago. From the balcony of my room at "Hotel Turizmi," the only five star hotel in those years in Gjirokastra, the view of the city was so silent and void of movement; the streets were almost lifeless in this city of white stone. You could almost feel the pulse of the people as they went through the ritual of their evening stroll in the city's only square. It resembled the seclusion of a bunker, a small, stifling bunker within the confines of Albania-a bigger bunker. I distinctly recall that for the whole month that I was there on a business trip back then I never saw a single woman sit down in a coffee shop for a coffee or stroll down the street in the evening. Men were proprietors of this city. It was also dominated by many houses that were monuments of culture, and who knows why, but at night time a strange type of bird warbled from rooftops, a bird I had never seen in other cities before. I remember one funny episode from those previous times. Sitting on the hotel's veranda overlooking the city one evening, a couple from France who were having dinner suddenly started laughing whilst looking in the direction of the main square. "May I ask what you are laughing at," I found the courage to ask as there were only the three of us sitting on the veranda. "Well," replied the lady in broken English, "for a whole hour, only one vehicle has driven by, another car just went past, but, it was the same oneŢ It was probably one of the few vehicles in the city. It was the luxury vehicle of the First Secretary of the District, the most important person in the city, a gray "Fiat" of the seventies'.
The walkways between the houses still preserve that strange silence to this day, although the voices of the locals rebound like the sharp rapping of the wooden clogs over the cobblestone paths. The residents of the old city quarters still have the habit of squatting down against the outside walls of their houses and drinking coffee they pour out of coffee pots handed down over generations.
Locations have strange, mysterious names such as "Fools Walkway." This is a narrow alleyway, down which the inebriated would lurch at night, dislodging stones as they stumbled, making a terrible din. There are other strange names in the other city quarters too. Manalat, Varosh, Dunavat. The oldest houses are between two to three centuries old, but still await reconstruction work due to the insufficient funds allocated in the state budget for this work and flaws in Albanian legislation on monuments of culture. Up above the city, the Castle walls house the most interesting museum containing all the kinds of weaponry that have ever existed in Albania, since the Stone Age. There are still levels far below the castle that have not yet been penetrated. This city has always been distinguished as the city of the affluent, of memoirs, of personal libraries, of individuals who bequeathed property to relatives in wills - a unique case in Albania. This city has given birth to individuals, who, in a manner of speaking, have shaped the history of Albania. This is the birthplace of a linguist of European caliber, Eqerem ȡbej, the writer Ismail Kadare, Dino Cici, a self taught inventor who in 1930 built an airplane without water and without gasoline, with wooden gears, as well as the individual who stifled this country for forty five years on end, dictator Enver Hoxha,

The movement of the "Stone City"
At one of the eateries at Viroi (one of Gjirokastra's tourist attractions), at ten at night, the voices of women carry across the water. This is a major change; women appear to be enjoying themselves a lot more now. You can see them climbing into latest models of Mercedes Benz, going out for a drink. The traffic is endless; the luxury vehicles with their Greek number plates come and go, bringing back emigrants for holidays with their families. In the "New Town," as the locals call the lower part of the city, built during these past fifteen years and which has no connection with the old, museum and traditional part of Gjirokastra- the eateries and coffee shops are packed. There is a businesslike air about people, they seem to have a goal and are certain they will get to where they are going. As regards what I said earlier, and due to the fact that there are dozens of  money dealers on the streets, swamped with customers, very busy changing currencies, obviously there have been major changes in Gjirokastra. The air is far cleaner than in Tirana, the city is relatively litter free, you don't see beggars digging into rubbish cans. People laugh. Apart from the money in their savings accounts, they also preserve a kind of identity. Yes, it is obvious that things have begun to move in Gjirokastra. It's as if this younger part of the city is fighting to escape from the emptiness and the abandonment from which the castle and the entire surrounding museum zone suffer.

Stories of financing, foreign donors and hashish
"The City Hall belongs to everyone. It's like a donation box where everyone should drop something," says Mayor of Gjirokastra, Flamur Bime, for the Tirana Times. According to him, the good management of public finances and funding of projects by foreign donors have restored trust amongst the citizens. Bime is not a local, at least he is not one hundred percent from Gjirokastra, however he is wealthy. Before running for Mayor, he was the owner of a powerful construction company. This is one of the rare cases. In Albania, individuals who become Mayors or top officials in the State or in politics usually come from modest backgrounds. It appears that the fact that he has a considerable personal wealth already leaves no room for any incentive to misuse public funds. He certainly is very good at getting finances right. During the two and a half years of his mandate, Bime seems to have conducted a veritable fiscal revolution related to public funds. All indices that showed loss have been continually positive. All financial hemorrhage has stopped due to daily checks. 25 young men and women, all with foreign degrees, have been employed in the Municipality. Every evening financial accounts showing all activities of the Municipality are placed on his desk, so that financially everything is watertight. With the profits from these savings he has tar sealed 36 kilometers of new roads for the city and the locals call him the only Mayor who urbanized Gjirokastra. From 94 million new lek which was the revenue of the Municipality when Bime came into office in 2003, today, the Municipality realizes 150 million new lek. Foreign donors have been the second targets of the Mayor. Three years ago, "Pakart" was the only foundation operating in Gjirokastra, funding a few modest projects. Bime came up with the idea for the Foundation to join staffs with that of the Municipality to realize joint projects to restore the ancient city. The foundation realized 80 per cent of the projects, the Municipality 20 per cent. Following this incentive, the UNDP approached the Mayor with proposals for several other community projects. With fifty-fifty percent funding, the Municipality and the UNDP completed 6 projects, another four were conducted with the funding of the Austrian Government. A project with the Italian Government paid for the creation of the passport of Gjirokastra, the photographing and digitalization of the entire museum zone of the city. The tight control over finances and the work with the donors are, at the end of the day, fifty percent of the reason why things have begun to change for the better in this city of stone. "Hashish and the Kakavija Border Customs Point are the other half of the reason," says Odisea, a reporter who works for Deutsche Welle told the Tirana Times, and a young police officer of the city's Force who expects to be moved to a new post any day now. The police officer will be shifted to another district, to the Border Customs Point known as "Tri Ura," (Three Bridges), on the south eastern border with Greece. The young man does not appear to be happy with this. From what he was saying, this border post is located at a spot that is quite open and divest of trees and foliage. So it is easier to detect illegal border crossings by smugglers with their trucks. So financially the policeman thinks he would be better off where he is. Unfortunately others have their eye on his job in Gjirokastra, individuals who have their connections with the current government and do not want to waste time in becoming wealthy. The leading businesses of the city keep business thriving through trade with Kakavija. This is obvious when you look at the people in the streets, the bulk of whom unfortunately speak Greek. Linda, a reporter for one of the Albanian daily newspapers insists on visiting Lazarat, a village where instead of wheat crops the locals grow hashish, so that she too could take a photograph of these crops. It is now the peak of the harvesting and the processing of these crops. Linda seeks the assistance of the Police to get her scoop of the day. However, none of the police officers are game enough to drive a police van up into the area on such a perilous trip. "One of the local Police Chiefs even offered me a handful of money not to publish anything on the farmers who grow these crops. A few days after the publication of her photos of the fields of hashish crops, the local police force launched a major action, slashing and destroying entire crops, but they failed to capture a single crop grower, they had all disappeared without trace. "This is one of those strange stories that repeats itself at about this time every year, and everyone knows what's going on," said Linda. The crops that produce drugs, the Border Customs Point of Kakavija have become secure sources of livelihood in Gjirokastra.
* * *
"My family settled in this area about three hundred years ago. My grandfather sold limestone and building materials. My family laid the cobblestone roads of the Big Bazaar. We used to have a three storied house, with two wells and subterranean storage rooms. But still I am not originally from Gjirokastra," says Odise regretfully. Many people from other regions settled here. People like Odise believe that this is not good for Gjirokastra. They seem to be waiting patiently for some sort of "ending" to this episode, something like a duel to see which part transforms the other; the locals absorb the outside settlers or the other way round. Perhaps they hope that the words of the local folk song will come true, which says that this city will even transform the outside settlers into original Gjirokastri-ts. There are also others who believe strongly that the outsiders will change something in the rigidity of this stone city. They will be the motor that will make it move. They will revive life in the old, museum section of the city and will develop cultural tourism. The 200-300 year old museum houses will be transformed into museums, always attractive to tourists. Perhaps the outsiders and the new times will even manage to prise open that tiny window, all boarded up and closed on "Fool's Walkway." It is beyond doubt that in the state it is in, no-one would be interested.

The Castle of Gjirokastra
It is 800 meters long and 200 meters wide. It was first mentioned as an inhabited location in the fourth Century BC. The encompassing wall inside the castle dates back to the 6th Century, the year 568. The initial inhabitants of the Castle were the members of the Tribe called the Argjirins.  (In the 12th Century Gjirokastra is mentioned as a township too, with about 200 families).  With the Turkish occupation, offices were built within the castle walls, water reservoirs, and prison cells. To this day, there are levels beneath the castle that have never been explored. It is thought that they were used as prison cells because it is pitch black and the cobbling on the stone floors is pointed, possibly a means of torture. In 1812, Ali Pasha of Tepelena, the new conqueror of the castle, constructed the Great Porte and the south western section of the castle. (The inhabitants left when the Pasha of Janina arrived). On the same spot where today the stage for the national folklore festivals stands, the Pasha built a viaduct raised on stone arches. It was 12 kilometres long and it brought supplies of fresh drinking water into the castle from Mt. Sopoti. The last arches of the viaduct were destroyed by King Zog the First in 1929, who also possessed the Castle for a few years. With the stones of the arches of the viaduct, the King built a prison which was used as such up until 1968.
                    [post_title] =>  Excuse me, will you open that window, please? 
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                    [post_content] => By Artan Lame
Tirana, in the twenties' The Clock Tower, or as it is known in the old language "the mound of the Clock", together with the Mosque of Ethem Bey, constitutes the most valuable object of this city called Tirana. With foundations laid in the first years of the XIX Century, it took about 20 years to complete, not so much for the degree of difficulty in constructing it, but mostly because of a lack of finances. Begun with the money of Haxhi Ethem Bey, it was later financed by the traders of the local Bazzar, when the Bey ran out of money. Today, this would be called, "additional tender funds for unexpected construction work." This is anoriental type tower and the works of the clock have been installed above the clock's dial, where the two stone arches can be seen in the photograph. The clock originally did not have a dial or hands to tell the time, as western type clocks do, but the time was conveyed by the bell chimes. The bells were at the top of the tower beneath the small roof, visible above teh two arches we mention earlier. Urban legend has it that the original clocks made out of beaten iron and bronx sheeting, were plundered by the Austrian Army during WWI, in 1917, however, I don't believe these legends all that much. The upper part of the tower was destroyed in 1928  adn it was re-constructed in the shape it has today with state expenditure. I mentioned this just in case the owner of the land on which the tower stands comes forward.
The photo shows the entire complex-tower-mosque-minaret, taken from "28 November Street," the entire area of which has been dug out, it appears to be the moment when the tower was being fitted out in 1924. The building to the left of the photo was the State Hospital at the time and had been a hospital since the time of the Turks. It had originally been a school and was built in the thirties of the XIX Century.
At first glance, you can see a telephone pole, which Albtelecom of that time must have purchased by tender, because you could hardly find a more crooked pole. One thing I have always noticed in today's photographs of Albania, is the presence of  mazes of telephone wiring and power cables hanging everywhere and criss crossing the skyline inall directions. This photo above makes you understand that this is not a defect of modern times, but a ailment that has accompanied development in this country ever since the arrival of the telephone or electric power.
                    [post_title] =>  Forsaken Albania 
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                    [post_content] => Traditionally, national borders have placed adjacent regions of different countries in a rather peripheral position thus resulting in a particular kind of economic development challenges for these borderlands. The emergence of the cross border cooperation phenomenon in post World War II Europe was a direct reaction to these regional challenges, aiming to better address the mutual concerns of border communities. Accordingly, cross / trans border cooperation is often considered by experts and policy analysts as an effective tool to reduce regional disparities, to boost social and economic development in remote areas and to move on with further integration of national economies in a given geographic area. In the context of Albania, border communities were afflicted the most by nearly half a century of communist rule in the country, as they directly witnessed the consequences of isolation from important cultural and economic centers. This is particularly true of Northern border communities which were deprived of their historical markets across the border without any corresponding efforts to integrate them in the national economy. Due to the economic features of Albanian communist regime, border areas are now facing two primary challenges: (1) within national borders - marginalization of their development prospects due to the "monopoly" of the country's center over the socio-economic development; and (2) compared to the communities across the border - sharp disparities and inequality of economic development. The Shkodra district constitutes an "excellent" example of this. Unfortunately, the Northern border regions continue to be an illustrative case of challenged communities in this sense. Although quite rich in natural resources, socio-economic development opportunities for this important cultural and historic center, Shkodra has remained marginalized from the general economic development of Albania in the post communist era.
The very recent publication of Albanian Institute for International Studies  presents a theoretical and practical  observation  of Cross Border Cooperation taking as  case study  Shkodra region in the context of Albanian Montenegrin relations.
                    [post_title] =>  Cross Border Cooperation Prospective Euro-Region or a Pending Effort? 
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                    [post_content] => By Artan Lame
Petrela, 1942. Petrela is a village full of the ancient history of this country, and it has managed to preserve some of this history at least in their memories. Legend has it that the rampants, rising above the village, belong to a castle that was recognised s the Seat of Mamica, the sister of Skenderbeg. Ballaban Pascha Badera was from the same  village and was one of Kastriot's strong opponents. He was killed in 1466 and buried in his village of birth. 
In 1935, the decision was adopted to bury General Gilardi in the village of Petrela. The General was killed in combat trying to put down the Fieri Uprisings. King Zog gave him a magnificent funeral.
Following the invasion of Albania by Italy, the village became a tourist attraction adn the Italians invested heavily here. After the War, the glory of the village began to wane somewhat only to be revived in the early 90-ties.
The first photo, taken from the castle, shows the square in the centreof the village (1) constructed by the Italians, the construction of a small hotel (2), the construction of several surrounding public buuildings (3,4), and a large sports field (5), below the main square. You can see two large tents erected in the lower field, used when school children visited on excursions from Tirana, organized by the schools of the capital and financed by the Italians. Top right there is a straight road (6), which winds uphill towards a smaller clearing on the hilltop, where the monumental grave to General Gilardi stood (7). You can see several willow trees behind the inn (8), amongst which nestled the place of prayer of Ballaban Pascha. A beautiful drinking fountain was erected and engraved into the wall of the village square(9). In this foto the drinking fountain is under construction. A fountain was also built in amongst the olive trees(10) and a more secluded garden.
For the curious who would like to know what happened in later years, I could say that the first to be destroyed was the grave of the General, stone by stone, during the fifties'. Later on in 1967, the place of prayer of Ballaban Pascha was next to go, It was obliterated mercilessly despite the 500 years it carried. Today there is not a trace of its existence. The fountain was abandoned years ago and you can only see traces of it beneath the bushes.The owner of the building that can be seen in the lower part of the other photograph, came forward and claimed his ownership rights, so the history of the village is no longer learnt there, but the underwear of the courageous wife of the also courageous property owner, wave in the breeze.
Yes, they obliterated the memories this village haboured, but still that does not impede us from remaining a people with ancient history and a rich culture!!!!
                    [post_title] =>  Forsaken Albania 
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                    [post_content] => By Alba ȥla
Meet the funniest town in Cape Cod, Massachusetts:  Provincetown! or as it is usually referred to shortly P-town, a safe haven for gay and lesbian couples to celebrate their diversity in a peaceful and funny atmosphere, away from the curious or prejudiced gaze that follows them elsewhere. P-town is located right at the tip of Cape Cod and is easily reached by boat or bus from popular destinations like Boston or Newport. It was the first place where the pilgrims landed, the supposed first missionary settlers in America, from whom Americans have inherited the tradition of thanksgiving, a popular holiday still cherished throughout the country. A high tower stands still near the center of the town commemorating the arrival of the famous Mayflower ship, and also the agreement that they all signed about the way they wanted to conduct their life away from Britain.
The changes form their arrivals in 1620 are breathtaking. The pilgrims were strict religious people and one can only take a wild guess at to what their reaction would be to the contemporary Provincetown, bustling with a gay and lesbian carnival parade every summer. Its main artery is Commercial Street, lined up with shops, restaurants and other tourist destinations. Surrounded by vast beautiful beaches and equipped with a generous choice of different entertainment offerings, P-town is not an unusual tourist destination. Curiously, over time it has developed into a place where diversity and individuality are accepted and accommodated with ease. In the summer it hosts hundreds of international students who work seasonally in the shops, hotels and restaurants of the town.
 I visited p-town in my second year in the States to meet some of my old friends who were working there for the summer but also to learn more about the community of gays and lesbians it hosts. I found a beautiful fun little town which had been a fishing village before. Sitting at the beautiful veranda of the caf顅uropa I thought that it is probably named so to celebrate its whitewashed walls full of decorative flowers in proper Mediterranean style. I met Bulgarian, Albanian and Romanian friends from school and they all had a story to share about P-town. Though not necessarily for religious reasons, our cultures as well have been quite rigid to the idea of homosexuality and the reactions are still uninformed at best. For these people who faced the culture of gays and lesbians everyday though things were easier to explain. "It is different to know real people with real lives. You understand they are no monsters, you understand that your own misconceptions were wrong- said one student from Kosovo who waited at one of the most popular restaurants in town-and above all they are al friendly and respectful. And that is what is important to me." 
One year later, I decided to chase other acquaintances to learn about their experience, their lives in the gay town. Having had two gay guys as two of the best friends (and 2 of the most important people) in my life, I felt compelled to send a message of tolerance and of the need to cherish diversity. So far I have found nothing more self-reflective and thoughtful as the account given by D from Tirana who spent only one summer in P-town. Here is what he recalls:

How did you decide to go to P-town? Was there something in particular that made you choose this destination?
I had heard a lot about P-town from my college peers. It seemed like each of them had a lot of fun there and also made decent money over the summer while we had no school. My first two summers in the US I did not "earn a fortune" as opposed to all my friends who had been to P-town, who kept telling about fun summer jobs and great wages. On the contrary, I barely saved to break even in my first two summers working as a lift operator in an amusement park in MD, and as a cashier at Burgerking in CT. So I decided to go to P-town both to make some money, but also I was very curious of the gay fun life everyone was talking about. Also two of my best friends T. and S. were going there that summer so I made up my mind to go the this exotic town.

You knew before hand that P-town was inhabited by lets say a little "unusual" community. Were you prepared for what you found on ground? How did the reality differ from your expectations? 
If by "unusual community" you refer to the gay community there, yes I knew that it was a gay, and hence weird in my mind, community. I was aware that it was a gay town, so to speak, but what I did not know was that what I thought was "gay" was different from what it actually was. Before going to P-town, I had always thought that 99% of gays were effeminate men (sissies, or queens). What I realized in P-town was that the gay men, were predominantly very muscular, much like Hollywood action movie stars, and they had no "feminine" behaviors at all: their bodies were quite manly, so were their voices, and their gestures. I would not tell they were gay, had I seen them elsewhere. So their appearance was different from what I expected. Many times I thought how embarrassing it was that me, being a straight guy and hence a real man as I considered myself, couldn't beat any of those gay guys. I felt I was the "sissy" oneŠBut of course, some of them had a normal body, i.e. not really built up. 
Also I had never thought two men, and two women could kiss in the streets, hold hands while nobody staring at them. In the beginning I was shocked, meaning surprised, at this, but after a month it was as natural as two opposite sex persons kissing and holding hands in the streets.
I had expected weirdo-s but I found people. Like everywhere else people are different: some are vegetarians, some love pasta, some love sports, some are too religious, while these ones have "same sex" relationships. Now, after the experience in P-town, I believe that being gay is like any other attributes.

What impressions do you have from homosexual people (gay and lesbian) in p-town?
Other than their appearance, I realized that the gay guys were normal people: some were mean, some OK, and some very good people. As a matter of fact I made friends with some of them, and found out that besides our sexual orientations we had a lot in common. Before going to P-town, I had never imagined becoming a close friend to a gay guy, but eventually this happened: one guy I was working with at the beach resort, named Paul. We had a great time together at work and off work. We dined together several times; and sometimes together with his boyfriend. I even hanged out at his house. 
Let me briefly tell you about the first time I went at his place: the first time Paul invited me over, I was so afraid to go, I thought he would allure me to sex, knowing that he had told me I was a cute guy, or as my other friends Jason always told me "sugar lips". My heart was beating fast when I was at the passenger seat of his car. We entered the house and I was searching for the "emergency exits". I thought that I would get out of the balcony in such a case. BUT NOTHING HAPPENED. Paul showed me the house and the garden. We had some refreshments and sandwiches, watched some TV and that was it. After that I felt so ashamed of even having thought the possibility of a rape. Oh god, how much prejudiced we are (I was!). 
What also struck me was that the gay gays were very style-conscious: the most of them had great style and they did not smoke. 
Here we interrupt our interview and D explains to me that the obviously gay guys like to call each other "fags", but would not allow straight guys to call them so. He compares this to another dichotomy in the American society: "It is very similar to what happens with the word "nigger" and the white guys; the colored people don't like to be called such from the whites, but happily call each other so." Most of my friends in the States have been able to discern this interesting observation about the African American community here but not all of us can extend that to the homosexual community. He proceeds to tell me that eventually he gained the right to call them "fag" and vice versa because they realized he was not homophobic. His account continues:
Well what else? Very, very, gentle as opposed to the female gays. I think that the lesbians in P-town were quite rude, they were the ones to cause trouble. Me being a security guard in a gay resort, never witnessed throwing out a gay guy, but every other day we'd have trouble with the ladies. Also contrary to my previous belief, I never saw a pretty lesbian like those in the porn moviesŠThe guys were handsome, oh yeah, but the girls, well it seemed to me they had become lesbian because of their looksō
Everyone has a story and some of the stories they shared with me were impressive. Some of them had had families for years before realizing that they had to be themselves and turning to be entirely absorbed in the gay life. Being able to listen to them made me realize how much more considerate I should be before judging.
Do you think that as a result of your summer experience something in you has changed mostly referring to the opinions you hold about gay people?
Definitely: before P-town I thought being gay was wrong. But being gay is not more, nor less than just, oh well, being gay. I tried to understand whether this was their choice or innate. From what I understood it was innate. Paul could tell whether a certain woman was charming/sexy or not, but even if she were she was "transparent" to him. He would have no desire whatsoever for the sexiest of ladies, even Marylin. Others like Kevin, told me that while other guys at his elementary school, would love to hold their girl classmates' hands, he actually preferred to walk hand to hand with his boy classmatesŠBut others found out they were gay in their late 20's some of them had even been married before. Whether inborn or not, it doesn't really matter. Everyone has their right to the pursuit of their happiness. I don't mind gay people. What bothered me was the fact that little by little, every day, I was tempted to "try it". Not only it was not "wrong" anymore, but now I was considering "trying it". They would come up and tell me the advantages of having sex with a male versus a female. But, I didn't budge. On the other hand, I would not like to spend another summer in P-town, because I'm afraid I would break and "try it". Frankly, I don't know what held me from trying. My best guess would be my parents, my friends, my teachers, everybody in Albania who views being gay as a crime. I was brought up thinking it is a crime, and I don't want to be a criminal. The same thing as having an earring or dying your hair. I'd love to have an earring but my dad would die of a heart attack, becauseŠ"this is wrong." 
 
What do you think about the general hostile attitude in Albania towards the phenomenon and the culture of gays? It is a rigid society that considers this topic a tabooō
We Albanians are messed up. We think that spitting in the street, throwing garbage out of our balconies, hooting the horns in the street as soon as the green light comes up, Ƴtealing arms and shooting at each other is OK, but being gay is wrong. Oh please, I can't understand my people! I can't tell what's wrong in our mindsō

D. ends on a perplexed and almost angry note and I consider his confusion as fully justified. Perhaps if everyone could have the opportunity (and a mind open-enough to welcome that opportunity) to live through such an experience, even the most stubborn homophobic could change their mind at least slightly about being gay and about how gay people are. Till then we seem to be condemned to live in a dark and anguishing prejudice.
                    [post_title] =>  Province Town- where Albanians meet Gay and Lesbian comunity 
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                    [post_date] => 2006-09-24 02:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Jerina Zaloshnja
"Sixty dollars! It's a new rule from above. 60 dollars," spoke the man with the white coat and unshaved beard as he lazily chewed on his gum.  I was struck. "Where am I to find sixty dollars?" I asked myself as I put my cold hands deep in my pockets knowing fully well that they would come up empty.  I was sure that I had thirty dollars and a few cents in thereحy wife put as much in there early in the morning.  We had asked earlier at the hospital and they had clearly answered: "the price for storing a cadaver in the morgue is exactly 30 dollars and change."
-"Emergency situations call for emergency rules bro, the whole world knows that,"-said the man chewing on gum.  "This is an emergency."
I followed him like a well-trained puppy.  The Gummy Man opened all the drawers of the run-down freezing room with the plaster falling off the walls, the humidity and the smell.  "Emergency!"  Indeed, an emergency right and proper unveiled in front of my eyes.  There was nothing else you could call it but an emergency.  In one of the drawers of the small freezing room of the morgue of our city hospital, there where a single cadaver ought to be stored, I saw with my own eyes that those people, meaning Gummy and his lively colleagues, had carried out an emergency over the dead bodies!  They had placed two cadavers in one drawer and in one case evenō
What an emergency it must be in our city!  I was horrified.  I turned my eyes to Gummy and suddenly a wave of deep primordial respect for him washed over my entire being.  How was he able to place two dead in the space of one while mustering the necessary poise to pronounce the situation "an emergency"?  
Ecce Homo.  Instead of being saddened by all of these eventsشhe sudden departure of my dear father from this life, the sixty dollar payment for emergency situations, the two-in-one deal at the morgue؉ found myself deeply respectful of Gummy.  There we were, facing each other.  His hands deep in his pockets, mine fiddling with the insufficient amount of money.  I saw what had remained of my father six hours after his final closure of the eyes, and I may say that I was surprised at the contrast between man alive and man dead.  
"We've got to stick him in broƨe can't wait forever," said Gummy with the airs of a professional.
I called my wife. "Bring me thirty more," I told her. "What for," she asked.
"For entertainment," I snapped.  Gummy got curious and elaborated: "Wha',"- he asked. "Nothin'" I told him.  I knew that my wife would not let me down.  While Mary, my wife, had never enjoyed what they call a 'healthy relationship' with her father-in-law, she was imbued with a Protestantish ethic that meant that I would be able to not let my father stink. 
And that is what happened.  She arrived breathless half hour later, and gave me the money wordlessly.  "Give them to Gƥntleman" I told her pointing at Gummy. "Šhe knows what to do."
"An emergency situation, lady," he repeated calmly and put the money in his pocket.  I can't remember if he gave us a bill for our emergency spending, but it is a certain thing that my father gained a place to stay.
"We'll put him by this officer here,"-he said as he opened the last drawer to the right.  There they were, two manly cadavers one over the other. A miracle!  Gummy earned even more respect as he not only made the emergent seem natural, but he even remembered the names and professions of each cadaver under his watch! 
"There we go," he said after he balanced the new cadaver on top of the old one.
"And the late gentleman, what did he do, what was his profession?" he asked me.
"Nothing. He did nothing," Mary answered in my place.
What more can I tell you?  Some events are difficult to narrate for choice readers such as your honorable selves, but I will certainly do my best.
At the end of the story, Mary and I were 180 dollars poorer.  Right after the business at the morgue was over, I ran over to a restaurant to order a lunch as it is our tradition after the funeral.  I left there a nice little prepayment since, despite Mary's insistence, I wanted to honor my dead father that had worked all his life for his offspring.  The next day, when it was time for the burial, as I was hugging the cadaver one last time (they had brought him home two hours before the ceremony was due) someone touched both my shoulders and whispered: "stop everything, is frozen."
"Of course he is frozen," I told him angrily.
"No, stop, everything is frozen."
"Whaaat?"
"We have to return poor dad at the morgue. An emergency,"- said Ben, my first degree cousin on my mother's side.
An emergency! I was frozen worse than my progenitor.
"Yeah, bro! An emergency. No more room for the dead in the graveyardƨaven't you watched the news?" asked Ben.
Yesƹes I remembered them warning about it in the news for quite a while now.  And it seems they were right.  In the last few days, the mayor was accusing the government for the absence of land to bury the dead in Tirana, absolving the municipality of all blame.  On the other hand, a ministerƴhe pretty one, was doing the opposite. And, it turned out to be true!  How could I forget about this emergency?  "Of all the times to die..." I whispered.
-"Lord, what troubles!"-I heard my dear Mary.  She came close to me and she tried to lift my spirits.  But she was not as good at it as she used to be back then.
"Let us solve this as we are losing face,"-said Ben the first degree cousin and took control of the situation.
We returned father to the morgue where he stayed for another 48 hours.  We also cancelled our lunch at the restaurant of course, but they did not return the prepayment.  The people that had come from afar left somewhat angry but thankfully speechless as they had wasted all that money on the trip.
So, you will ask how did the burial take place as there must have been one since in this land of tradition we do not cremate.  As good old father used to say: "even in war one finds the strength to bury the dead." And, I did solve it.  I called Athens where I talked to Sasha an honest-to-God immigrant who also happened to be my other first cousin from the father's side and begged him to bury my father with his father who had left us fifteen years ago and now could not occupy too much space in his spacious and lonely grave.
Sasha was a bit hesitant, but when I assured him that all expenses for the common grave would be mine, he conceded. I spent five phone card for that concession of his and for finding out the location of the grave!
-"Third row?"
-"No, no, eighth, otto."
-"First bed?"
-"Maybe, but check first. I haven't been in a while because the Greeks at the borderŢ
-"The number of the grave?"
-"I told you to check first.  If I had a Greek name thenŢ and Sasha put the phone down.
Finding the grave of Sasha's father was not much of a problem.  Willpower can carry you far in this country.
I must say I did not have any big problems after my phone conversation with cousin Sasha.  Everything proceeded in the most common way possible.  I mean, no emergencies.
                    [post_title] =>  Give me a break 
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            [post_date] => 2006-10-13 02:00:00
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            [post_content] => By Jerina Zaloshnja
"No, no, don't tell me this is a beer factory. This is a real beer cathedral!" That is how an Italian businessman G.V. has written in the guestbook after visiting Birra Korca factory located somewhere in the suburbs of Korca city, 180 kilometers southeast of Tirana. Of the same opinion, according to myself, would be all who would visit that new factory. That is how happened with me.
At the entrance of the factory, the same place as the former well-known factory of Korca beer (which culminated its success in the 1980s) you are surrounded by a somewhat mystic spirit. This is not a newly built modern factory but a construction with mixed ancient and modern elements, the work of great masters of stone, ceramic and carving productions. Yes, yes, it is precisely a little cathedral, designed with small ceramic and carvings, red ones, hung along the walls which are also carved with reliefs and include some lines on drinking pleasures by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. 
The factory ceilings are all carved stones, as are the walls and floor. The small carved stones replacing the tiles make you happy and it seems as if you have put your feet in a little small town painted in red where everything goes okay! The pavilions of the just-rehabilitated factory resemble small rooms where nothing makes a sound but the computers monitoring the production and a few employees. Some two or three architects and an interior designer are giving the last touches to the factory's museum, which, in fact, will be a museum for the city of Korca itself, its citizens and the famous history of the beer brought for the first time to the country by an Italian in the 1920s. A restaurant for friends and VIPs on top of the terrace of the Birra Korca will soon be completed. Those who know about the extraordinary nature before your eyes can relax and observe nature while you have dinner with the local characteristic dishes. You will not have left Tirana only to have a look at the beer factory.
Factory... That is not solely an investment by the Albania businessman Irfan Hysenbelliu. That is the first example of Albania's economic tourism.

Italian Umberto who showed Beer to the Albanians

There is a history associated with the beer factory in Korca. That is the FIRST BEER factory in Albania. Construction began in 1928 by an Italian investor known to by the name of Umberto Umberti. He chose Korca simply because it completed the parameters some other cities in Albania did not. He started to build the factory in Shkodra, he took the raw material there, but there were two different reasons which made him turn to Korca. The first reason was that the water had better elements than that in Shkodra and, the second, in the Korca-Pogradec region there was planted and grew a very aromatic plant known as lupolo, which is a very important element for the beer yeast. Construction was completed in 1932 and that was the first beer sold in Korca. The Italian owner distributed it in barrels to every bar and restaurant and also gave it for free to the citizens so that they got used to that. After liberation at the end of World War II the factory became a public property until 1990. From 1994 to 2004 it was owned by some former Korca shareholders that sold it that year to businessman Irfan Hysenbelliu.
During 2004 -2006 the factory was totally transformed. Some 80 years of work had to be totally revamped.  Nothing but the great name of the factory had remained, a name that had also faded with the passing of years. During the first stage of investment the old technology was removed and all the old buildings surrounding the old main building were pulled down. Now the technology is contemporary, installed in 2005 and totally automatic. "It was thought the technology should be Czech because they are a strong name in beer production," Birra Korca manager Besnik Duda told the Tirana Times.
The company businessman Irfan Hysenbelliu is linked with has a 135-year old history of experience. That company has been installing technology for beer factories for that many years. Experts of the Czech company have been working in Korca's new beer factory for a year and a half. Some 28 experts of the Czech company have installed the new line of production and now there are some 34 technology experts taking care of the production. "The new line bought from the Czech company has quadrupled the capacity compared to the best year of production of Birra Korca in the 1980s. The investment of the first stage to put in the factory in operation has reached 14 million euro," said Duka. In two or three years the owner has plans to build a second factory with a 500-,000 to one million hectoliters annual capacity. Now the capacity is 100-120,000 hectoliters per year. The investment of businessman Hysenbelliu will employee around 200 people.

"Our beer is original"

"Birra Korca factory produces market beer, real and original. The beer market has two kinds of beers commercial and original, we have tried to preserve the old taste of beer and very soon we'll produce black beer, which was exclusive for Birra Korca in past years," says the manager. The installation stage has been completed and the first stage of beer production has already started. The raw material for beer production will be imported from Austria from the Pilsen company. Birra Korca entered the market in the first days of August.
            [post_title] =>  New Albanian mode: drink beer in the cathedral 
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