Climate Change Putting Unregulated Economic Growth At Risk?

By Jeff Thimm Earlier this week, on Monday Oct. 5, Vaclav Klaus, prime minister of the Czech Republic, promoted his recent book Blue Planet, Green Shackles – what is at risk: climate or freedom, newly translated into Albanian and published

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Independent Kosova, A Major Contribution To Peace And Stability In The Balkans

We are gathered here today, after a year, during which the World has faced one of the heaviest financial and economic crisis in history. We are gathered here once again in a time when hundreds of millions of people in

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HAS THE SCALE TIPPED AGAIN?

The newly formed cabinet of PM Berisha has welcomed only one woman amongst its ministers By Blerta Picari In September 2008, we heard the news on introducing the quota system into the electoral code in Albania, aiming to improve women’s

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Walk away from republican spirit may announce the return of nationalism

By Artan Pernaska The recent publication of the “Macedonian Encyclopedia” has aroused vivid criticism among Albanians in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in Kosov련Kosovo), in Montenegro and in Albania. The late Encyclopedia represents Albanians as mountaineers having come

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Where does the heresy lie in the claims of Vlora University?

By Valbona Sulce Once again, Vlora University has managed to take center-stage in the media, and subsequently, in daily conversation too. No mean undertaking by the way, in tiny Albania with its multitude of universities. The regional universitieis have always

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Does Albania Face The Danger Of A Regime “࡬a Putin”?

By Fatos Lubonja In the articles I wrote in the lead-up period to these elections I repeatedly expressed the idea that Albania faces the danger of the installation of a regime “࡬a Putin.” I mean this in terms of the

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Rama’s boycott lacks character

By Henri ȩli Several such institutions of liberal democracy as hunger strikes, boycott etc, have an accentuated moral character and moreover, it is precisely in their morals and character that the strength of these implements of democracy lies. However, this

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A boycott worth boycotting immediately

By ARBEN MALAJ In its protracted transition period, the Socialist Party has targeted and contributed towards the modernization of Albanian politics. However, following the elections of 2009, the Socialist Party is radicalizing political stands, applying boycotts of the Parliament of

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Economic Challenges

Albania’s future government will bring together the right-wing coalition headed by the Democratic Party (Partia Demokratike, PD) and the left-wing Socialist Movement for Integration (L췩zja Socialiste p철Integrim, LSI). LSI is a former split-off (schism) from the Socialist Party (in 2004)

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Why Zogby Failed In Albania

By Dr. Eduard Zaloshnja Opinion polls in nations where democracy and elections are relatively new are often used by policymakers in the developed world to hone their policies toward such countries. However, one thing they should keep in mind is

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                    [post_content] => By Jeff Thimm

Earlier this week, on Monday Oct. 5, Vaclav Klaus, prime minister of the Czech Republic, promoted his recent book Blue Planet, Green Shackles - what is at risk: climate or freedom, newly translated into Albanian and published by the Albanian Institute for International Studies (available for sale at the Tirana Times Library, Rruga "D촨mor촠e 4 shkurtit", No.7/1 Tirana, Albania).

His presentation on the core messages of his book suggested that the main topic was the fallacy of global warming, using specifically selected data from the IPCC's 4AR (International Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report) and a few personal experiences to support his claims.  His arguments centered on his belief that global warming is not only a scientific farce, but a well designed ploy by the environmental lobbies to gain political power and economic opportunity. This, he claims, is a direct affront upon economic development and the freedom of that underlies democracy. He even went so far as to call Environmentalism the new Communism.

A few points of clarification and correction are due to get the facts straight; both on the nature of global warming and climate change, and the role of regulation in promoting just and equitable economic development.

One of Klaus's "scientific proofs" that global warming is not a reality is that Greenland is called Greenland because it was once a vast expanse of green. Ambassador of the OSCE to Albania, Robert Bosch, challenged this tabloidic proof with the historically accurate explanation depicted in acclaimed UCLA geography professor Jared Diamond's world renowned book, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies of the story of Eric the Red's banishment to one of the now-once-icy Nordic colonies and his use of false marketing to attract colonists. Klaus's retort was that such a story could only come a global warming alarmist like Al Gore. Regardless, the name of a country is not proof for or against the phenomena of global warming and climate change - the science is.

From macroscopic perspective of geological time-scales, while somewhat impractical, we see that the long term trend of the earth is cooling. In accordance with one of the laws of physics known as entropy, an equilibrium will be reached between the hot earth and the cold space around it. This will continue until the sun swells into a red giant and consumes the earth, returning it to whence it came. While creationists might disagree, the surface of the earth was originally a liquid mass of magma, expelled from the belly of the sun, and as it cooled, a thin crust solidified and the conditions developed to allow life to form and evolve.

From an ecological standpoint (microscopic in comparison to the earth's existence), climate change is one of the most powerful forces driving evolution. Hot or cold, bright or dark, wet or dry - those species that are unable to survive the new environmental conditions become extinct and only those that make it through the evolutionary bottleneck survive. The critical element that allows this culling to occur without life ending completely is biodiversity; the seemingly excessive diversity of life forms that have evolved traits that allow them to survive the plethora of environmental conditions that are found on earth. For those species that have evolved within certain environmental conditions, climate change can spell the end.

Humans, Homo sapiens, have evolved within specific environmental conditions, two notable ones being temperature and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and oxygen (though others include rainfall patterns, seasonal variations, ocean levels, and ecosystem). While we have developed the technology to regulate temperature within a closed environment (e.g. fire, clothing, air-conditioning), we have not quite mastered the art of creating closed environments (though the Biosphere Project is noteworthy for its contribution). If we allow atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to increase beyond our biological tolerance, hopefully our technological developments will allow us to escape our industrial effluents and seek refuge in modern caves and bio-domes. Reproducing the countless ecosystem services that we depend upon, however, has proved extremely costly, such that many governments are turning to wetlands for wastewater treatment and forests for air filtration (pollinating a field of corn becomes quite tedious when the bees are gone and we must do it manually).

The question remains however if this is the trajectory that we wish to take, or more correctly, risk taking. A free market might create the incentives necessary to develop the technologies that will allow us to survive in the most extreme conditions - but is this what we want? 

Unfettered capitalism and unregulated economic growth would return us to a paradigm of survival-of-the-fittest, which is perplexing considering that we fled this paradigm of nature by developing such things as culture, language, agriculture, medicine, education and governance. We realized that the elderly (the learning from our past) and the young (the possibilities of our future) were worth defending from the paradigm of wild nature. Why would we recreate another wild within our social structures in the name of absolute economic growth?

In his final statement, Klaus reiterated his believe that freedom is at stake, and central planning and government is the culprit. The use of the term freedom should not be tossed around lightly, for it is the boundaries we set collectively that allow us to be free from the perils beyond. Regulation and planning, if conducted in the right manner, do not impede economic growth, rather, they limit its undesired consequences. And make note: there are considerable differences between a planned economy (as attempted in communism) and a regulated economy (as is developed in Europe in relation to health care, education, social security, and environmental standards alike). We do not know for a certainty what the consequences of our actions are, but we do need to act upon the knowledge that we have, however imperfect it may be.

Let us not forget that the future of civilization is ours to develop, and that the quality of life held by all peoples of the world will be determined by our ethical foundations - may they be equitable and just.




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                    [post_content] => We are gathered here today, after a year, during which the World has faced one of the heaviest financial and economic crisis in history. We are gathered here once again in a time when hundreds of millions of people in our world are being oppressed by tyrannical regimes or are facing extreme poverty, diseases and major health or social calamities. We are gathered here in a time when brutal conflicts continue to take away the lives of innocent people in several regions of our world.
Albania and the Albanian people continue to engage in international cooperation and are determined to offer their modest contribution in advancing peace, freedom and security and respect for human rights, fighting poverty, promoting sustainable development and prosperity, and, last but not least, protecting the environment.

A country of new democracy, but a functional one

As a European country, Albania remained fully committed and determined to carry out every reform and to take every decision and every other measure required for its membership into the European Union.  About 94 per cent of Albanians supporting the country's Union membership process was not only a strong encouragement, but also a major obligation on the Government to proceed quickly in that direction.  
This current autumn we expect the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission adopt positive decisions on the status of the candidate country and in regard of examination of our request for the visa liberalization.
Albania is the country of a new democracy, but functional one. About two months ago, Albania held the general elections about which the international observers, OSCE/ODHIR said they met the main standards of the OSCE and they deserve a general positive assessment. The newly formed government has defined as the main pillar of its program the building of a new modern infrastructure countrywide, taking Albania into the digital age, reform of the health system, education, and fight against poverty and employment of the Albanian citizens. 
Next year, together we shall make an analysis of the progress in regard to meeting the Millennium Goals. And on the Millennium Development Goals, the country has put a lot of effort into achieving those Goals, to the extent that in the last three years, around 400,000 Albanians came out of the poverty line, and extreme poverty was reduced by 70 per cent; tens of thousands of new jobs were created; the number of university students doubled; and infant mortality got reduced drastically.

Factors that protect Albania from the crisis

The years 2008 and 2009 saw the worst financial and economic crisis that the world has ever known since the Great Depression. The Albanian economy felt the consequences of this crisis. Its exports fell by 10 percent and the level of financial crediting was drastically reduced. Despite these consequences, however, Albanian GDP grew by more than 5 percent in the first six months of 2009; our revenues marked an 8 percent increase in comparison to those of last year; and, foreign direct investment were 59 percent higher than last year.
I believe the main factors that protected the Albanian economy from this crisis have been: first of all, the fact that Albania has the lowest fiscal burden in Europe and its economy is largely based on liberal standards; second, the fact that the government invested in infrastructure projects 10 percent of the country's GDP in 2009, or 20 percent of the GDP of the year 2008 invested in infrastructure during the last two years taken together; third, our profound reforms towards small government, as a result of which Albania now has one of the smallest public administration per capita in Europe and in the entire world; and last, but not least, the most favorable climate for business and investments created by my government during the past four years.
I take this opportunity to invite investors from all of your countries to consider my country in their projects that will definitely turn out to be a new success story for them and for Albania.

"Delivering as One". a project that has marked an excellent track record

Albania has maintained an excellent cooperation with the United Nations and its agencies. Albania is one of the pilot countries of "Delivering as One" initiative and through its experience and positive results, is making an important contribution to this UN reform. "Delivering as One" provides for an excellent time and money saving mechanism as well as a much more efficient coordination of the work of the UN agencies in their cooperation with the member state. This project has marked an excellent track record in my country due to the coherence and better coordination of the activities of the United Nations bodies with those of the national authorities in particular -with regard to aligning international projects with country's priorities.
We are happy to realize, that our reform priorities and our national strategy on European integration is fully harmonized with the Millennium Development Goals and those of the "Delivering as One" initiative. The outcome has demonstrated that this project, the philosophy of which lies on the concept of national ownership, has yielded higher efficiency in the implementation of UN development programms.
Albania is a plural-religious society with a religious harmony par excellence. In die framework of the Alliance of Civilizations and in accordance with our National Strategy on intercultural dialogue, we bring forward our example of religious harmony and co-existence, one of the most invaluable spiritual heritages of our nation, as a contribution to the aims of this UN initiative.
This Session was preceded by the Summit on Climate Change. It gives me great pleasure to let you know that 90 percent of electricity diat my country consumes comes from a renewable hydro power. Although we are open to other energy sources, including nuclear, we are working hard and have secured so far about 5 Billion Euros of new investments for new hydro power and wind and biomass energy plants. Albania intends to become a small superpower of energy in the region.

Determined to help Kosova

The last decade of the brutal conflicts in the Balkan region seems to have been archived in the annals of history. The countries of this region are engaged in a process of cooperation in all fields and European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
This year, Albania and Croatia became full members of NATO. Other countries in the region have made significant progress towards EU and NATO membership. I must stress at this point that the establishment of the independent state of Kosova, although only a small period of time has passed since its declaration of independence, has turned into an important factor of peace and stability in the South East European Region. In this country, which declared its independence 20 months ago, inter-ethnic tensions have significantly been reduced. Serbs are not leaving Kosova anymore, the opposite is happening, many Serbian families are coming back to Kosova to build their future there. My government is determined to help and assist the government of Kosova in its projects that facilitate the return of the displaced people in the country.
The European Union has sent its EULEX Mission, which is doing an excellent job and providing an extremely precious help to the government of Kosova and its authorities into consolidating the rule of law and functional democracy in Kosova as well as into developing the best European standards of coexistence of various ethnic communities. KFOR also has played a very positive role and the fact that its mission has been drastically reduced is a clear evidence for stability in this country. Meanwhile, 62 country-members of the United Nations have recognized the independent Kosova, and the Republic of Kosova has become a member of the IMF and the World Bank. Nevertheless, Kosova has not yet taken the place it deserves in the family of sovereign countries of this prestigious organization.
I would like to point out in this occasion that all countries that recognize the Republic of Kosova and the international institutions that accepted it in as an independent member-state did so because, above all else, they are convinced that the independence of Kosova and its international recognition bring a major contribution to peace and stability in the Balkan region.
This is why I take this opportunity and express my deepest gratitude to all the governments of the member-states of the United Nations that will consider in their agendas the review and assessment of this existing reality in the South Eastern European region and the possibility of recognizing the independence of Kosova. In my humble judgment, this would be a great contribution to the peace, stability and security in our region.
14 years ago, after condemning the coercive oppression, violence and barbarisms of the Milosevic Regime against Albanians in Kosova, 137 member states of the United Nations voted in the Resolution 49/204 of 23 December 1994 to recognize and respect the will of the inhabitants of Kosova. Today, this will is turned into the reality of the independent Kosova. Today, this will is recognized by 62 countries that took that historic vote.
I hope and firmly believe that the rest of the countries that voted that historic resolution will reaffirm the will that they expressed 14 years ago, this time through the recognition of the newest European state, the Republic Kosova.

Albania supports every effort for global peace and security

With its foreign policy of peace and good relations with all other countries, its modest but important contribution in international missions of peace and human rights protection through its policy of good neighborliness as well as moderate and constructive role in the region, Albania has turned into a producer and direct contributor of stability and security in regional and global scales.
Today, Albania participates in peacekeeping missions in several international operations in the framework of the United Nations and other regional security organizations, such as in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Chad and others. Only about 2 months ago, Albania doubled the number of troops in its ISAF Mission. My country acknowledges and supports every effort for global peace and security and will continue to support all efforts of the United Nations, NATO and other actors promoting peace, stability and security in the world, also towards those countries that are a threat to the world, like Iran and North Korea with their very dangerous nuclear programs.

An efficient, transparent Security Council

All country-members of the United Nations share the responsibility for the efficient functioning of this organization. No one could ignore the track record of the United Nation's activities in many fields. Whenever there is a crisis, poverty, famine disease, or a disaster, die United Nations is there to provide relief and support.
However, for a long time now, it has been evident that the world, countries and the complexity of the relations develop much faster than die United Nations is able to adjust to new realities. This is why Albania strongly supports the continuation of the reform process of this organization and the further improvement of the system of the United Nations.
A more efficient decision-making mechanism is pivotal in this respect. We support the efforts to reform the Security Council. We believe that in order to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, we need a Security Council that is efficient, transparent and legitimate in its decision-making process and, where regional and individual member-countries are adequately represented
._______________________
Address of Prime Minister of Albania H.E. Sali Berisha at 64-session of UN General Assembly :

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                    [post_content] => The newly formed cabinet of PM Berisha has welcomed only one woman amongst its ministers

By Blerta Picari

In September 2008, we heard the news on introducing the quota system into the electoral code in Albania, aiming to improve women's participation in politics and achieving gender equality instead of equity. Women NPOs were exalted by this 'achievement' for they thought of it as the mark of a long fought battle. During the past elections we saw the consequences of underestimating the level of independence women ought to experience in their private sphere in order to be successful in their political undertakings. The newly formed cabinet of PM Berisha has welcomed only one woman amongst its ministers. Many articles have been written on this issue, however, they do not address the true reasons why women's participation in the public sphere in Albania has been left up to the quotas.  

When a discussion about the division of the private and public life in Albania from a feminist perspective begins it becomes rather difficult.  When talking about the differences in treatment for men and women one must consider first the private sphere which is reflected onto the public one.  The private is too personal and it would be very simplistic to cite the last author that wrote about it.  And when we talk about the public sphere, we refer to others by excluding ourselves, as if we don't belong to the society which we often criticize.  

In order to understand others, one must first build a relationship with one's self, and this is particularly true of women.  They are often wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, etc., and due to these many roles, they tend to undermine the way how they view themselves. Although in Albanian society there are only a few people that know about the fundamentals of the feminist movement, most, can tell you how and why (according to them) women and men are in substance different, and therefore treated as such.  Gender is a socially-constructed concept and it varies in different cultures influenced by specific factors.  In a patriarchal society, such as my own, women are reduced to the household or the private sphere although there is little room for their own self, while men to the public one. Therefore, due to all possible (f)actors that must be taken into account, relationships between women and men, and later on even amongst people of the same sex, are built based on the win-lose principle or of the conqueror and the conquered. 

Women's participation in the public sphere is rather limited to their sexuality. To many foreigners that I come across Tirana, initially, seems like a pretty liberal place according to the way women dress. However, attempting to imitate the sexual images observed in the media doesn't mean that women are indeed liberated.  The opposite can be actually true in many cases.  The unspoken messages dictate that young women should always be sexually attractive for the males and this is often done in a demeaning and submissive manner.  The models taught are patriarchal in substance and in form and allow little space to improve a woman's self-esteem.  Such examples can be observed everywhere. If you are a woman driver, then of course you are reminded at least once a day about your supposedly limited driving abilities.  In the workplace, the lunch tables are often divided based on sex as men sit and talk about "important" political and economic issues while women talk about dresses, hair and make up and gossip about others.  In addition, living on your own when your parents live in the same city can be considered rather strange and inappropriate.  Many landlords often ask whether you are on good terms with your family, for they don't understand why in the world a young woman would want to live on her own.  And so on and so forth.  Gender becomes the glue that holds together most of the human interactions in our daily life. 

In the public realm, international donors and embassies in Albania have supported the change of the electoral code to include gender quotas and promote gender-balanced lists within parties. However, it is quite clear that the current gender representation in the parliament is a true indicator of the place women reserve in our society. They are almost invisible in the public sphere. For those that know the reality of Albanian politics, introducing the quota system can hardly be seen as an accomplishment. A women's movement and not a quota system, aims to bring positive change not only at the macro level, but primarily and most importantly at the micro level. Although in the public sphere decisions are often made by male politicians to introduce gender quotas in order to promote women in politics, these are rather short-term and short-sighted solutions.  Even though we can find many band-aids to publicly solve our patriarchal problems, they will not provide long-term and sustainable answers for many Albanian women in their daily life. As a consequence, they will fail, hence undermining any efforts for a just and equal society for men and women. 

Why are politicians concerned that the scale has once more tipped in favor of males? In Albania, it has never been any other wayŮ


                    [post_title] =>  HAS THE SCALE TIPPED AGAIN? 
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                    [post_content] => By Artan Pernaska

The recent publication of the "Macedonian Encyclopedia" has aroused vivid criticism among Albanians in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in Kosov련Kosovo), in Montenegro and in Albania. The late Encyclopedia represents Albanians as mountaineers having come to FYROM in the XVIth century and tries to delegitimize the position of the Albanians as a constituent part of the FYROM republic. Trying to grow out of the republican frame of mind into the national-state frame of mind, the Macedonian political attitudes as well as academic life seem concerned with delegitimizing and then wiping out the role of the Albanians as a one of the pillars of recent Macedonia. Its position as a pillar ethnic group, an ethnic group possessing its own nationality, and participating in an emancipated and liberal way in the creation and in the support of the modern Macedonian state. Every entry in the Encyclopedia concerning the Albanians and their historical figures has been treated in a down-grading, segregative and provocative manner.

Encyclopedic racism
The Albanian media, intellectuals, political parties as well as Macedonian and foreign media and institutions have reacted over the theses spread by the Encyclopedia. The ideas reflected there remind of old Serbian propaganda, which aimed at checking and downscaling Albanian political and institutional rights before and after the Balkan Wars. The same theories that they tried to make instrumental against the creation of the Albanian state in 19912 and to the benefit of jeopardizing Kosov련Kosovo) and Macedonia in the War Years. The connection of the theories expressed in the Macedonian Encyclopedia with racist and segregative politics and propaganda has already been demonstrated by the political history of Serbia.
Thus the words written in the Encyclopedia were offensive also form the fact that they are a repeat of past policies which have been injurious and to the Albanians and have since been condemned. The reactions have been multiple from Albanian as well as Macedonian political parties. "Encyclopedic racism" titled Ora News (21.09.2009). The "Falsiclopedia" called it the movement Zgjohu (Awaken !) which is active in Macedonia, (Lajm, 18.09.2009). "This publication has aroused ire among Albanians, to start with, from the fact that it was published with the money of all of us, to offend us !" wrote Ramadan Ramadan, (Lajm, 20.09.2009). "We should make a slight draw-back from the acceptation of their auto-declaration as Macedonians" suggests Ramadan.
 "It is clear now that ŠAlbanians in Macedonia should have their own encyclopedia", spoke out Menduh Tha詬 leader of the Albanian Democratic Party (Partia Demokratike Shqiptare, PDSH), Lajm, 20.09.2009.


"Made not from any individual or non-governmental organization, but made by the Academy of Sciences and financed by the state this sets a precedent and is an unforgivable blunder in a row of blunders", writes Idaver Sherifi.

In 2001 the Macedonian Academy proposed the division of FYROM
P쭬umb Xhufi, (Express, 19.09.2009) and Idaver Sherifi (Lajm, 22.09.2009) remind that it was this same institution (the Macedonian Academy) that in 2001 proposed the division of FYROM and the separation of the Albanians from the Macedonians, a proposal that was rejected by the Albanians.
Myzafer Korkuti, vice-chancellor of the Albanian Academy, refers to older ex-Yugoslav or Macedonian scientific work and publications after the Second World War and says that the Encyclopedia has gone astray former findings of Macedonia's own Scientifics, (Alsat, Express, 19.09.2009).
As Albanian counterparts, some Macedonian opposition parties highlight that this publication is in line with a number of political actions of the new government towards Albanians in Macedonia or in the region. Many Macedonian writers, intellectuals, artists and historians distance themselves from the stand of the compilers of the Encyclopedia.
The political climate in Macedonia seems to bear the seeds of policies oriented at provoking Albanians in FYROM or elsewhere (see our former report Macedonia Disheartens, Tirana Times, 15.05.2009). To what extend they are related or coordinated with the positions taken on Albanian history by Macedonian compilers of the Encyclopedia remains unknown. But an attentive lecture of the behavior of Macedonian governmental or local powers towards the Albanians, especially after the late elections in the country, shows signs of smoothly-enveloped aggressiveness and flowery provocativeness. The lecture of such stands as for example towards the president of Kosov련Kosovo) or many other occurrences at the local level makes to think about the goal of such stands. And, from a point of view, that goal may be to provoke the Albanian constituent group of FYROM to such reaction that this body could be stigmatized and delegitimized from its position as part-taking in the nation-building of Macedonia. This would leave Macedonians alone to dominate over a national state and apply nationalist, racist and segregative policies over the other components of the Macedonian democracy.
If it were the case, it would mean that like often in the history of the Balkans states and of FYROM, the governments and societies are undressing from republican conceptions of state, to control nationally whatever form of power to the detriment of the other constituent groups. This would mean the end of the republican state and the beginning of the nationalist era.
That reminds wars and sufferings and should not be encouraged, neither allowed.

                    [post_title] =>  Walk away from republican spirit may announce the return of nationalism 
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                    [post_date] => 2009-10-02 02:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Valbona Sulce


Once again, Vlora University has managed to take center-stage in the media, and subsequently, in daily conversation too. No mean undertaking by the way, in tiny Albania with its multitude of universities. The regional universitieis have always been considered as 'periphical', 'irrelevant, 'the ones that make all the noise', in comparison with the Tirana University. The first time Vlora University managed to hit the headlines, in print and electromic media for a time, (when a proposal was floated to change its name), it was not all that fortunate, and in my opinion, neither was its cause all that appropriate. However, irrespective of the angle from which you approach the issue, this time you have to admit that the Vlora University is right and that the stand of its counterparts all over Albania is outrageous. Despite the fact that not a day passes without personnel of these universities exchanging remarks of frustration about the poor quality of the students they are compelled to handle year in and year out, none of them have the courage to do this in public and so remain silent. It would be in their own honour as colleagues, academicians, as learned scholars to support this stand, because it is not an issue of fifty students being admitted or not to University. This is about the values we are building up as a society, the values we are educating our children with. To accept that a public institution be violated, just because you want to trample upon universal principles of merit and competition, actually indicates a lack of fundamental knowledge of the Rule of Law and encouragement of the culture of violence and force. Even if these students are right, they must learn to wait for the decision of the respective institution, calmly and without strife. In the final account, to admit that you are not cut out for university is not at all the biggest disaster that could befall a person. There have always been and will always be poor students. Not everyone has the inclination to be a scientist or scholar. We must teach our children to ask for what they are entitled to and to get down to the task of finding the best possible ways of making something of themselves as individuals. We are unconsciously nurturing a culture that scorns professional work, when we should be showing contempt for unmerited marks that bring unmerited work positions. Then we are the first to complain that we don't have a functioning State! Where does the heresy lie in the claims of Vlora University? This University is asking for a threshold to be established for candidates for students. Let any teacher come forward and claim that he/she can work at university level with students whose average marks are below six (as far as I'm concerned even seven is debatable), because we are talking about a University and not a course for seamstress. We are talking about students here, in other words, individuals capable of researching and studying, who need to read 100-300 pages per day, three or four chapters to be able to participate in a class debate, students capable of drawing comparisons, of writing essays. Let anyone step forward and defend the thesis that these students could cope with such a flow. Not even the argument, "they will be weeded out along the way," stands. Why do we have to admit them first and then tell them later on, "sorry, you haven't got what it takes," when we can save ourselves, their families and themselves all that time, energy and dissapointment, by saying 'No' at the outset? Would we be so lucky that our universities establish such criteria and have ambitions to offer the market quality products! This is how you increase competition, this is how you shape top quality product. We have been shouting "We want quality," for the past eighteen years. Then why don't we accept the initial steps to acquire this quality?  Why? Because the proposal comes from a small university without the clout? Or is it because when there are so many universities there may not be a flow, but there would be a trickle? I do not know the Rector of that small University or any of its teaching staff, but I thank them for re-opening this debate and which may just be solved once and for all. If the Court decides that Vlora is right, then we may be able to say that the reform of higher education is on the right road. If not, then the agony will be dragged out. And just maybe, a future Minister of Education could be one of those students who are shouting today, "We want diplomas."!
                    [post_title] =>  Where does the heresy lie in the claims of Vlora University?  
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                    [post_date] => 2009-09-25 02:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Fatos Lubonja

In the articles I wrote in the lead-up period to these elections I repeatedly expressed the idea that Albania faces the danger of the installation of a regime "࡬a Putin." I mean this in terms of the consolidation of a powerful majority that controls the principle interests of the country, therefore politics too, confronted with a weak and feeble Opposition, without the power to conduct opposition or bring about a rotation. I have always been of the opinion that no matter who the winner, Berisha or Rama, this danger would in both cases, loom on the horizon. It is only natural that I ask whether or not these elections proved this hypothesis or did it turn out to be mistaken? The fact that the electorate was almost divided down the middle could give rise to the thesis that there is no danger of such a regime because the Opposition remains strong against a fragile Majority. The fact that apart from a Berisha-Putin we also have Ilir Meta in coalition with Berisha, which in one way or another is conceived as a strengthening and not weakening of Meta's party, urges some to think that Meta will exert control on Berisha, everywhere and at any time, which creates the hope that a regime "࡬a Putin" will not happen.
Irrespective of all of this, I find none too few arguments supporting my idea that this danger remains fully viable. I point out, at this juncture, that when I say "danger" I mean that we should not think this process as now being determined, as inevitable, but as a trend against which there must be resistance, so that it is curbed and avoided. Perhaps the Putin risk may have been greater if Rama had won these elections, bearing in mind the fact that Rama would have controlled both central government and the Municipality of Tirana; and a victory by Rama would have knocked both Berisha and Meta right out of the game. However, it can never be said that the country does not face such a risk with Berisha's victory.
There are a score of indications of this, which in my opinion, are being borne out both by these elections and the developments in the aftermath.
First, I believe that this risk emanates from the structure of our economy which also dictates politics. If we were to follow through the flow of events in our country over the last ten years, we could quite safely claim that during this decade our political parties have grown more and more to closely resemble one another. True, a few sporadic differences still remain that are linked with the origin of the militants, (not just class but also geographical origins), but I believe that this has faded in favour of those groupings within the parties which were also their main supporters in the electoral campaigns and which have transversal tendencies. This transversal trend has now been proven in a number of projects they have worked on together, dictating political compromises, but the transition of the SMI to the DP camp, seems to me to be obvious proof of this transversal feature, if not a culmination point of this tendency. 
Second, another feature of our political parties, which leads the country towards this danger and which was illustrated by the DP-SMI collaboration is the close similarity of their party programs, or the compulsory approximation of programs on behalf of the interests expressed in the above paragraph. As I pointed out in my previous article, the word, "integration," or "employment," which according to the leaders of the DP and SMI, indicate common programs, in reality show that in essence there are no different programs. Even the slogan launched by Rama, "Beyond the Left and the Right," and which today is being applied against him by the Berisha-Meta tandem is an indication of this. Most certainly what could be said is that what has been lost with the SMI joining the coalition with Berisha is the existence of a party where shelter was provided for all of those who fought the system which has been created by the two big parties. Therefore, in a certain manner, this flourishing of the SMI inside the DP could also be seen as a further step towards a regime "࡬a Putin."  
Third, the developments prior to and after the elections revealed that even concerning the structure of the parties, there is a striking resemblance with the leadership "࡬a Putin" within these parties, meaning the absolute leader, who, even when he is compelled to resign from a post, remains the real leader. What these elections managed to prove is the even greater accumulation of power in the hands of the leaders of the pyramid-type party structures, which seem to have lost to an even greater degree the links between the leader and the base, in favour of the Leader-Base direct link. The idea of the resignation  of those leaders who lose, which is one of the ways of creating internal democracy in the party, does not even occur to these leaders, but it also looks as though there are no intermediate structures that would impose such a move on them. Today, there are several leaders who should have resigned including Meta and Rama, but instead of this we witnessed manifestations of solidarity on the part of the militants for their leader.
Bearing in mind the three points I mention above, and, focusing first on the Majority, would it not be fair to pose the question as to what purpose two parties in the Majority and not the one party would serve in the future? This question could also be put in this way too: Does the same fate await the SMI as that of Gjinushi's SDP of Ceka's Democratic Alliance, Pollo's party and so on or even the fate of a party that appeared to have its own strong identity - the HRUP, which has now been reduced to one seat in the Assembly? To remain in line with the parallelism we drew with Putin's regime, (of course greatly simplified), I wish to underline that one of the methods Putin used to reinforce his party and power was the "purchasing" of opponents and giving them lucrative posts in power; In other words by absorbing them, just as we can see that the small parties in our country have been absorbed. 
Therefore, I believe that the risk we could head towards a Putin type regime remains strong. In this article I will not focus on the tendencies Berisha has shown to gain control of entire institutions which should function as guarantors against the control of the power of the Executive; I will not dwell on the fact that it is obvious that with the second victory of Berisha, these institutions (the judiciary or even the institution of the President), will feel even more feebler in their efforts to safeguard the relative independence they sued to have. With this fact in mind too, it is obvious that the danger of a regime "࡬a Putin" becomes even more tangible.
It is not rocket science to comprehend that the continuation of this perilous process of the concentration of power will be the destruction of the Opposition keeping it very weak. It is easy to imagine a Berisha-Meta commitment to eradicate every hearth of opposition or even to stage a settling of accounts that is absolutely final. I believe that the growth of their control over the media and finances will facilitate such a process. The question then arises as to what the Opposition should do in these conditions.  What will Edi Rama's fate be? What does his staying or leaving the SP mean in relation to the danger of the installation of a regime "࡬a Putin"? I will leave this answer to another article.
                    [post_title] =>  Does Albania Face The Danger Of A Regime "࡬a Putin"? 
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                    [post_content] => By Henri ȩli

Several such institutions of liberal democracy as hunger strikes, boycott etc, have an accentuated moral character and moreover, it is precisely in their morals and character that the strength of these implements of democracy lies. However, this is not the case with the latest boycott which Edi Rama's Opposition has decided on against the new Parliament that emerged from the 28 June elections. This boycott has the feel that it lacks character for at least two reasons: the first reason is because this is not a genuine boycott. It is a boycott with strings attached. This means, merely, that it has the symbolic component, but there is no content, it is not lucid and streaked with nuances. If Edi Rama assesses that these elections were sub-standard, then instead of replying to these sub-standard elections with a sub-standard boycott, he resorts to something which both is and is not a boycott. On the other hand, Rama lacks sufficient arguments for a full boycott before Albanian society, the International Community and local players, but on the other hand, he needs a boycott to justify his inglorious stay at the head of the SP. If Edi Rama really believed what he said, if he had the proof and the arguments, if he had faith in his cause, he could have called a full boycott; he could call on his electorate to protest in the streets and refuse to recognize an illegitimate government, refusing Parliament and everything it produces. Realistically speaking, this is what would be beneficial to the Albanian public. Genuine and real support for this boycott would then be a civil, individual and political obligation for all those players of sound reasoning who believe in the system and in the values of democracy. If he can't achieve this, then, it would be well worth his while not to stage any kind of boycott, but recognize the realization of the 28 June process and allow the system to move forward. The second reason why Rama's boycott is a political action void of character is because of its non-effect beyond the fence of the SP and the lack of impact it produces on the democratic system or negative consequences on the Socialist Party, and above all, on Opposition on the whole in Albania. The least that could be said for a boycott which is non-existent and lacks foundations is that it has no influence beyond the domain of the SP.  Whoever does not believe that his reasons are politically real sees more clearly his internal goal in the SP. On the other hand, the SP, taking up a position on the outskirts of the political system even though it has the highest numbers in Parliament than any Opposition has had before, deprives itself of an effective struggle within the system and also Albanian society of a real Opposition. In democracy, the same institution with the moral strength within its ranks, such as a just boycott, is just as negative or valueless if we do not have to do with such a truth and the moral strength for which this institution exists. This is why Rama's boycott with conditions is void of character.

                    [post_title] =>  Rama's boycott lacks character 
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                    [post_content] => By ARBEN MALAJ

In its protracted transition period, the Socialist Party has targeted and contributed towards the modernization of Albanian politics. However, following the elections of 2009, the Socialist Party is radicalizing political stands, applying boycotts of the Parliament of its country, for undefined periods of time. In some cases, the debate within the party bodies on the negative effects of a boycott was inadequate, in other cases truncated or excessively saturated with the alternative thinking. The boycott began in the absence of the final report of OSCE/ODIHR on the last elections. The fact that everyone is waiting for the OSCE/ODIHR report on these elections should not come as a surprise, and even less so as "regret for the violation of national sovereignty," for a country that applies for EU membership. This report will have several main moments: the identification of the problems observed during all phases of the elections; the clarification of the responsibilities of the Majority and the Opposition, the CEC and the Electoral College on concrete violations. This report, even in its cautious diplomatic language, will provide a political evaluation of the achievement or failure to achieve standards. The Report will try to offer a series of recommendations, to reduce and eliminate a repetition of these violations, proposing suggestions to all political parties on how to improve the electoral process which will lead to these standards finally being attained. It is expected that this Report will have no mean impact on the country's integration. On the basis of the assessments in this report and the consensus with the 27 member states of the EU, the Swedish Presidency of the European Council will be obliged to shed light on the fate of the application our country has made to join the EU. Prior to the elections the EU repeatedly said that the fate of this application lies in the hands aof the Albanians themselves, in the standards of the 2009 parliamentary elections. If the Swedish Presidency passes this application over to the European Commission, irrespective of the deadline of the process of preparing public opinion, Albania's request for EU membership would be considered accepted. Winning the status of a candidate country will be a later process, by no means easy and by no means short. This does not mean that automatically all the observations and complaints concerning the electoral process become null and void, what it does mean though is that, on the whole, these observations have not created arguments required to freeze the application. In this case, the Opposition loses a fundamental argument for its boycott and especially for its integration mission of the country. The Socialist Party has only one option open to it to exert some impact on political developments in Albania, and that is if the international assessment on the elections brings about even a temporary paralysis of the country's integration process; only if the application is blocked and is not passed on to the European Commission. In this case, in the course of fulfilling its mission and political responsibilities to speed up the country's integration, the SP could make an impact up until the moment of early elections. In essence, these early elections could be like 'an exam for the autumn season to improve marks in election standards,' so that the country does not become bogged down on its course towards integration.  Every other stand or exhausted sophism to make this boycott legitimate would be a very bad investment for the Socialist Party. Due to the very prolonged Opposition, some political parties, with radical stands or permanent, internal political bickering, lose public faith and support, the political dedication of its members and their elected, fades. Gradually, highly qualified individuals, tired of the absence of the effectiveness of the Opposition and the decline of optimism for future victory, grow less active and begin to withdraw. With this depletion of generating and quality human resources, these parties begin to decline and face the threat of remaining in the Opposition. The SP, in the Opposition, should be able to win due the supremacy of its values, its parliamentary and public performance on the whole. The moment is here where we should speak out in public too and stress that radicalism is suicide for the political future of the SP. This is a boycott that must be boycotted immediately. The SP must seek and re-gain its position of the modernizing avant-garde of Albanian politics. Public debate for an institutional Opposition, debate on not boycotting institutions must continue, irrespective of the threats of expulsion. 

                    [post_title] =>  A boycott worth boycotting immediately  
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                    [post_date] => 2009-09-11 02:00:00
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                    [post_content] => Albania's future government will bring together the right-wing coalition headed by the Democratic Party (Partia Demokratike, PD) and the left-wing Socialist Movement for Integration (L췩zja Socialiste p철Integrim, LSI). LSI is a former split-off (schism) from the Socialist Party (in 2004) running in the June 2009 elections with its own coalition.
Commenting on the new governmental alliance, the actual Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha, hastened to see colliding points between the programs of the main government parties, PD and LSI. European Union integration and creation of jobs were top electoral promises of both parties. 
But as LSI will come from the opposition into the government, the economic challenges that the new governing body will face are expected to be not only economic but also cognitive and strategic.

Cognitive challenges

The main difficulties in the ruling assemblage that will be formed successive to the 28th of June election are expected to be in the cognitive field. LSI believes that Albanian economy has entered crisis since the first months of 2009. PD, the main alliance party headed by Sali Berisha, the actual Prime Minister of Albania, has never publicly recognized a crisis and has claimed that Albania will continue in 2009 with its growth cycle. Recognition of the economic situation, whether Albania is in a critical situation or whether the country is in a virtue cycle of growth will perhaps be the first challenge of the governing body.
Though Sali Berisha and the right-wing government have resolved the question of crisis and have had different stands in different places and occasions, they have never publicly admitted that Albania is facing crisis, though they have recognized that the influence of the global economic crisis will be felt in Albania. On the contrary, LSI believed Albania to be subject to world crisis in 2009 and the web page of Integrimi, the organ of LSI, is still manifesting titles like "Economic crisis, Albania will be hardly hit in the second semester."
In the case that the forthcoming government will not admit the hypothesis of a crisis and will not adopt economic policies that will try to mend the effects of the global downturn on the Albanian reality, the future economic orientation of the government might be influenced by the past economic policies that might be reiterated, as well as the electoral programs of the main governing parties, PD and LSI.
In the past LSI has been attentive to measures called for by Albanian entrepreneurs and its electoral program included not only measures supporting a healthful economy, but also measures specifically aiding a crisis-bitten economy. While the Democratic Party (PD), satisfied with its own achievements as ruling party, has ignored calls for anti-crisis measures and does not reflect any such particular measures in its electoral program. Before the elections, answering calls for anti-crisis measures, Prime Minister Sali Berisha made claims that Albania had done formerly what the other Balkan countries were doing in front of the crisis (namely tax reductions and other supportive measures) and that there was no more space for such supportive policies. Besides he considered that Albania, though at a lesser pace, will continue its economic growth.

Electoral programs

Whether the ruling political parties will follow their electoral programs or not, or the spirit of which the programs will be predominant, will be difficult to guess. A former study published in January 2009 by the Kosov롄emocratic Institute (Instituti Demokratik i Kosov쳬 KDI) on the influence of the electoral programs of the main parties on the Assembly's proceedings, finds that this influence has been restricted.
A similar study concerning Albania and the influence of the electoral programs on the parliament as well as government undertakings has not crossed our way. Empiric evidence seems to point out that the Democratic Party (PD) realized the decisive part of whatever fulfillment of its electoral promises during the last months of its governing mandate.
The Democratic Party (PD) has promised 160,000 new jobs which PD hopes will be created by the construction of 104 hydro-power plants, by the construction of multi-kilometers of roads, canals and aqueducts, by the construction of schools and hospitals, by the construction and functioning of new ports and airports, new tourist resorts, factories, mines and by the construction of 6 new industrial parks.
Infrastructure development, jobs and improved wages and retirement pensions echo as the main electoral promises of this party. PD has promised pensions and wages higher than in 6 countries of the European Union (EU).
LSI has promised the creation of 100,000 new jobs and says it would base all its economic, fiscal and educational policies on the necessity to create new jobs. The economic program of LSI is more detailed and foresees the abrogation of reference wages and exemption from taxes for the 3 first years of businesses that employ more than 5 employees.
The economic program that LSI manifested during the electoral campaign is also more fiscally-aware and fiscally-friendly. The left-wing party states in its program the reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on food of primary necessity. From 20 % LSI would want it to become 10 %. LSI foresees a bunch of other fiscal advantages for employees and anti-crisis fiscal measures for businesses as well as would like to see agriculture supported.

Popular expectations

As Sali Berisha, the actual Prime Minister has often liked to put it during the electoral campaign and after the elections, "ƴhe main decisions belong to the sovereign." The sovereign here means the voting people. A lecture of the popular expectations and the popular economic priorities expected for the future government can be made through a lecture of the polls preceding the election.
Economic-related issues ranked ahead of all concerns expressed by Albanian society. Unemployment and job-related fears or expectations show as the most sensitive issue.
The major concerns of the interviewed people in the pre-electoral polls organized by Zogby International from January to June 2009 were: Jobs and Unemployment; the state of the Economy; Poverty; Inflation and High Prices and Corruption in Government.
Roads, Infrastructure and Utilities, and a list of socio-economic concerns like Healthcare; Schools and Education; Emigration; Crime and Violence and the Environment and Pollution, came next. These findings are the more important from the fact that on each of the polls a new set of interviewed people emerged and the answers were not furnished by a regular panel.
If the future government wants to listen to its electors these are the main issues on which it should concentrate.

                    [post_title] =>  Economic Challenges 
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                    [post_date] => 2009-09-04 02:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Dr. Eduard Zaloshnja

Opinion polls in nations where democracy and elections are relatively new are often used by policymakers in the developed world to hone their policies toward such countries.  However, one thing they should keep in mind is that voters in these countries may fear repercussions from non-democratic authorities that still hold power. An example illustrating voters' fear in countries with a fragile democracy is the exit poll conducted recently by Zogby International in Albania .
Here, on Election Day (June 28), Zogby projected with certainty a huge advantage by 14 parliamentary seats for the ruling Democratic coalition in a parliament with only 140 seats. Meanwhile, 12 seats were considered by Zogby too close to call.  But judging from the percentages predicted in each district, as reported live by Zogby's representative on Top Channel (an Albanian TV network), it was clear that most of the undecided seats - 8 to be exact - were very easy to call. They should have been called for the ruling Democrats...
After almost all the votes were counted in Albania , the results showed that the district percentages predicted by Zogby on Election Day were statistical years far from reality.  Why this spectacular failure?
In order to project the distribution of parliamentary seats among the competing coalitions, Zogby hired around 1,000 local interviewers, who interviewed voters in 500 polling stations across the country.  Voters were selected randomly in each polling station and were asked to anonymously fill out questionnaires very similar to the real ballots, which were placed in a mock ballot box.  A total of 1,000 questionnaires per district were completed.
Usually, not all the voters selected randomly for an exit poll take part in it.  For example, in the U.S. , around 10% of selected voters refuse to take part.   Whereas in Zogby's Albanian exit poll, around 20% of selected voters, mainly in rural areas, refused to fill out questionnaires outside of polling stations. And the key question here is why so many Albanian refused to take part in Zogby's exit poll.
In the U.S., the refusal to pollsters on Election Day happens mainly because some voters are too lazy or busy to spend a few minutes answering questions - not because opposition supporters are intimidated by the party in power.  Not so in Albania . 
The wide gap between Zogby's projections and the real results in the Albanian elections was a strong indication that a wide majority of voters that refused to take part in the exit poll were opposition supporters.  And indeed, a preliminary report by international observers released the day after elections stated that civil servants leaning toward the opposition were intimidated by the party in power.  
Adding two and two together, it is easy to understand why samples in almost every electoral district in Albania were severely biased toward the incumbent Democrats.  For example, in the district of Tirana (the biggest by far), Zogby's sample suggested a 14% lead for the Democratic coalition, whereas the results showed that the real lead was a mere 1%.  And such dramatic differences between Zogby's samples and real results were registered in other big districts like Kor諬 Elbasan, etc.
If Zogby could find a way to estimate what percentage of the voters that refused to take part in its exit poll were opposition supporters, it could have reweighed its samples in each district so that they would represent more closely the reality.  For example, if the refuters were distributed at a ratio of 3 to 1 in favor of the opposition, Zogby would have projected only a 3-seat advantage for the Democrats.  The final results pegged them at a 4-seat lead...
And the question is whether there was a way to estimate how many voters that refused to take part in Zogby's exit poll were opposition supporters?  The answer, unfortunately, is no.  But an alternative way for estimating the bias in Zogby's samples existed.  If a question on previous voting was included in the questionnaire, and a comparison between samples' previous voting patterns and the real election results in the past was made, the bias could have become evident and, more importantly, measurable. And after measuring it, the bias could have been corrected.
But why Zogby did not include this magic question in its questionnaire? According to Zogby's representative who presented the results live on Top Channel, they didn't want to burden the interviewees with many questions. This, because they had assumed the Albanian voters to be like their American counterparts, who have a problem with polls only because of time pressures - not government pressures...
The take-home message for policymakers in the developed world from Zogby's failure in Albania : Beware of polls in underdeveloped countries!

Dr. Zaloshnja is a Research Scientist at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton. MD, USA . He examined polls in Albania on behalf of Top Channel, the Albanian TV network that commissioned Zogby International to conduct an exit poll on June 28, 2009.
                    [post_title] =>  Why Zogby Failed In Albania 
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            [post_date] => 2009-11-06 01:00:00
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            [post_content] => By Jeff Thimm

Earlier this week, on Monday Oct. 5, Vaclav Klaus, prime minister of the Czech Republic, promoted his recent book Blue Planet, Green Shackles - what is at risk: climate or freedom, newly translated into Albanian and published by the Albanian Institute for International Studies (available for sale at the Tirana Times Library, Rruga "D촨mor촠e 4 shkurtit", No.7/1 Tirana, Albania).

His presentation on the core messages of his book suggested that the main topic was the fallacy of global warming, using specifically selected data from the IPCC's 4AR (International Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report) and a few personal experiences to support his claims.  His arguments centered on his belief that global warming is not only a scientific farce, but a well designed ploy by the environmental lobbies to gain political power and economic opportunity. This, he claims, is a direct affront upon economic development and the freedom of that underlies democracy. He even went so far as to call Environmentalism the new Communism.

A few points of clarification and correction are due to get the facts straight; both on the nature of global warming and climate change, and the role of regulation in promoting just and equitable economic development.

One of Klaus's "scientific proofs" that global warming is not a reality is that Greenland is called Greenland because it was once a vast expanse of green. Ambassador of the OSCE to Albania, Robert Bosch, challenged this tabloidic proof with the historically accurate explanation depicted in acclaimed UCLA geography professor Jared Diamond's world renowned book, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies of the story of Eric the Red's banishment to one of the now-once-icy Nordic colonies and his use of false marketing to attract colonists. Klaus's retort was that such a story could only come a global warming alarmist like Al Gore. Regardless, the name of a country is not proof for or against the phenomena of global warming and climate change - the science is.

From macroscopic perspective of geological time-scales, while somewhat impractical, we see that the long term trend of the earth is cooling. In accordance with one of the laws of physics known as entropy, an equilibrium will be reached between the hot earth and the cold space around it. This will continue until the sun swells into a red giant and consumes the earth, returning it to whence it came. While creationists might disagree, the surface of the earth was originally a liquid mass of magma, expelled from the belly of the sun, and as it cooled, a thin crust solidified and the conditions developed to allow life to form and evolve.

From an ecological standpoint (microscopic in comparison to the earth's existence), climate change is one of the most powerful forces driving evolution. Hot or cold, bright or dark, wet or dry - those species that are unable to survive the new environmental conditions become extinct and only those that make it through the evolutionary bottleneck survive. The critical element that allows this culling to occur without life ending completely is biodiversity; the seemingly excessive diversity of life forms that have evolved traits that allow them to survive the plethora of environmental conditions that are found on earth. For those species that have evolved within certain environmental conditions, climate change can spell the end.

Humans, Homo sapiens, have evolved within specific environmental conditions, two notable ones being temperature and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and oxygen (though others include rainfall patterns, seasonal variations, ocean levels, and ecosystem). While we have developed the technology to regulate temperature within a closed environment (e.g. fire, clothing, air-conditioning), we have not quite mastered the art of creating closed environments (though the Biosphere Project is noteworthy for its contribution). If we allow atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to increase beyond our biological tolerance, hopefully our technological developments will allow us to escape our industrial effluents and seek refuge in modern caves and bio-domes. Reproducing the countless ecosystem services that we depend upon, however, has proved extremely costly, such that many governments are turning to wetlands for wastewater treatment and forests for air filtration (pollinating a field of corn becomes quite tedious when the bees are gone and we must do it manually).

The question remains however if this is the trajectory that we wish to take, or more correctly, risk taking. A free market might create the incentives necessary to develop the technologies that will allow us to survive in the most extreme conditions - but is this what we want? 

Unfettered capitalism and unregulated economic growth would return us to a paradigm of survival-of-the-fittest, which is perplexing considering that we fled this paradigm of nature by developing such things as culture, language, agriculture, medicine, education and governance. We realized that the elderly (the learning from our past) and the young (the possibilities of our future) were worth defending from the paradigm of wild nature. Why would we recreate another wild within our social structures in the name of absolute economic growth?

In his final statement, Klaus reiterated his believe that freedom is at stake, and central planning and government is the culprit. The use of the term freedom should not be tossed around lightly, for it is the boundaries we set collectively that allow us to be free from the perils beyond. Regulation and planning, if conducted in the right manner, do not impede economic growth, rather, they limit its undesired consequences. And make note: there are considerable differences between a planned economy (as attempted in communism) and a regulated economy (as is developed in Europe in relation to health care, education, social security, and environmental standards alike). We do not know for a certainty what the consequences of our actions are, but we do need to act upon the knowledge that we have, however imperfect it may be.

Let us not forget that the future of civilization is ours to develop, and that the quality of life held by all peoples of the world will be determined by our ethical foundations - may they be equitable and just.




            [post_title] =>  Climate Change Putting Unregulated Economic Growth At Risk? 
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