Tag Archives: Albania

Albania hell for animals ‘safari park’ closed

Four Paws reported they managed to  transfer the wild animals from “Europe’s worst zoo” in Fier, Albania, to a new shelter. “However, this is just a temporary situation, as we will look for species-appropriate accommodations for each one of them“, they added. The operation took place under supervision of Albanian police, entering the filthy prison for wild animals together with veterinarians from Four Paws, who initiated the rescue operation.

On October 23, the animal rights group said Albanian authorities had ordered the closure of the zoo which then followed the recent evacuation process.

Four Paws has been investigating Fier Safari Park Zoo since December 2015 but explained that because of legal regulations, it was not possible to intervene until now.

“Due to safety reasons, the owner of Safari Park Zoo was not informed in advance about the confiscation of the wild animals,” Four Paws statement read.

Norway joins EU measures against Russia over Crimea

In a declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the alignment of certain countries concerning restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, Federica Mogherini welcomed the decision of Montenegro, Albania, Norway, Ukraine and Georgia.

The Council extends the existing restrictive measures until 23 June 2019.

The Candidate Countries Montenegro and Albania, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.

They will ensure that their national policies conform to this Council Decision.

The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it.

Recently at Helsinki Summit President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Crimea joined Russia as a result of a democratic referendum.

“People in Crimea went to a referendum and voted for joining Russia. If this is annexation, what is democracy then?” Putin raised a rhetorical question. “We are aware of president Trump’s posture, that… Crimea is part of Ukraine,” Putin said. “He told me this today. I responded with the words pretty much similar to what I’ve said to you, and I think we should leave the discussion at that.”

Citizens of Crimean Republic votes to join Russian Federation in the aftermath of dramatic events of Euromaidan Revolution (2014) culminating in a violent overthrow of democratically elected President, and legitimate government.

Initially Crimea joined Russia as Tavrichesky region by ‘ukaz’ (1784) singed by Catherine the Great ending a protracted military campaign against Crimean Caliphate slave-trade, and systemic abduction of her subjects (mainly women and children) for sales at biggest  market between Europe and Asia. According to different historical sources from two to three million people passed through Caliphate slave market by date.

Mid-July Crimean officials reported maximum of  31 thousand cars passing Crimean bridge à day, and one million vehicles crossed the bridge since opening in May.

 

 

Dutch Parliament blocks Albania EU accession talks

The Netherlands is blocking the opening of negotiations with Albania on joining the European Union. A majority of the House of Representatives gave a clear opinion to the upcoming meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on June, 25.

The decision did not come as a surprise, because Dutch lawmakers have already expressed serious concerns with organised crime and corruption in Balkan country.

“We have serious concerns about the fight against corruption and organized crime,” said Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok. “More progress needs to be made on these points first.” However Blok does not close the door for Albania to join the EU in the future.

The parliamentary factions of VVD, CDA, CU, PVV, SP and 50Plus are “forbidding” the government to agree on negotiations with Albania on accession, The Telegraaf newspaper reports.

Three of the four government parties, including liberal-conservative VVD, the party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, as well three opposition parties, have indicated that the progress of the Albanian government has not been sufficient to discuss the opening of negotiations. Subsequently Rutte has no mandate to accept the talks opening during upcoming European Council the end of this month, as it was previously planned by the EU officials.

The situation with Northern Macedonia (Severna Makedonia) is complex due to the name change, but there is no similar block imposed to restrict Rutte movements.

However there is a word in Brussels, that contrary to the EU officials plans, Austrian government will block the accession talks with N.Macedonia.

Albania occupies 91 place among 180 countries in corruption index of Transparency International.

 

 

 

Albania among top ten destinations

This week, the travel guide Lonely Planet named Tirana in their top ten “essential destinations in Europe” list, calling it a transformed “vigorous metropolis” and highlighting the city’s green and sustainable ethos.

Further showcasing Albania’s potential as a top tourist destination, Italian paper Travel News, named Drimadhes one of the five most beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean as well as “the most beautiful beach on the Albanian Riviera“. With direct flights to Tirana from over 30 cities in Europe, it is predicted that 2018 will witness the largest numbers yet of foreign tourists visiting Albania.

This year’s list aims at resolving the problem of overflow of tourists, or mass tourism, which devastates locals in communities like Reykjavik, Iceland, or Florence, Italy to name a few.  Some cities are even considering visitor caps per day to curb the problem. S The Mayors of overwhelmed by crowds cities have already taken measures. The municipality of Venice banned the new hotels and fast food restaurants opening in a bid to cap the number of tourists streaming through the streets.

Venice ‘visitor-only‘ routes to popular landmarks have been introduced last year ahead of the bank holiday weekend to keep tourists away from the locals – who have long complained about excessive crowds.

Topping Lonely Planet’s 2018 list for underrated European destinations is the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, which is often overlooked in favor of more well-known regions like Tuscany, Campania and The Veneto.

Europol crack on Albania and Romania organized crime

Four individuals have been arrested as a result of a joint investigation between the Belgian and Romanian Police, supported by Europol, against a mobile organised crime group specialised in house burglaries. Up to now, the criminal gang is suspected of being involved in 40 different house burglaries with a prejudice estimated at more than EUR 100 000.

Three of the arrests were performed in Belgium and one in Romania. The latter arrestee was extradited to Belgium in early February 2017.
Composed of Albanian and Romanian nationals, the criminal network was extremely violent, attacking victims in their own homes when caught in the act.

On 8 March 2017, as part of a joint action day, three house searches were conducted in Focsani (Romania) by the Romanian authorities, with assistance from a Belgian magistrate and two police officers. As a result, jewellery, watches, cosmetics, leather goods and RON 23 000 (equivalent of EUR 5 100) were seized. In addition, five suspects were brought in for questioning as there is strong indication that the criminal gang was also involved in money laundering.

Europol contributed to the investigation from the very beginning by providing analytical support and facilitating the information exchange. An operational meeting was hosted at Europol’s headquarters, bringing together experts from Albania, Belgium, Italy, Romania and Switzerland to discuss concrete operational actions.

Overheat in Kosovo

Serbia Kosovo

Aleksandar Mitic, OPINION

A new graffiti banner appeared on the stands of the football stadium of Sparta Prague in the Czech capital, media reported on January 24. It reads “Kosovo is Serbia”, and is a reference to the long-held views by the Sparta fans, but also fans at dozens of stadiums around Europe – from Warsaw and Athens to Paris and Madrid – that Kosovo is a province of Serbia and that unilateral Albanian separatism should not be rewarded.

The same phrase “Kosovo is Serbia”, painted on a train rallying Belgrade to Kosovska Mitrovica North – the only urban enclave in Kosovo from where Serbs had not been expelled since the war in 1999 – obtained not only extreme media attention but triggered a surprisingly high political attention worldwide. While Belgrade claimed the passenger train, on its promotional trip, was merely an expression of Serbia’s support to its integrity and to the suffering Kosovo Serbs, the Kosovo Albanians saw it as a provocation and sent dozens of armed vehicles to block its entry into what they consider as their own territory. Belgrade averted a conflict by stopping the train in central Serbia, but the political aftermath proved almost as tense.

Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic reacted by warning that any future attacks against Kosovo Serbs would be met by an armed response from Serbia, while Kosovo Albanian president Hashim Thaci warned that Serbia was looking at a “Crimea scenario” to take back Kosovo, and that Albanians were infuriated by the “painted” signs of Serbia’s claim to the province.

While the rhetoric was harsher than usual, it showed, however, a continuity of both sides’ policy on the Kosovo issue.

Belgrade, on one hand, continues to argue that Kosovo’s secession – which began with the 1999 NATO bombings and continued with a unilateral secession – is a dramatic violation of international law and a precedent for conflicts worldwide. Yet, similar to the train case, its Kosovo policy sometimes appears as a “one step forward, two steps back” policy. Serbia is fighting Kosovo’s entry into the UN institutions, such as UNESCO, yet it is giving up parts of sovereignty in Kosovo by agreeing to the demands of the European Union – and Germany in particular – in exchange for the opening of new EU negotiation chapters. The expected delay of Serbia’s potential entry to the EU – now put at 2027 – however fuels criticisms among those who believe that Serbia should not hurry with giving up on its sovereignty prerogatives, in particular in Serb-populated northern Kosovo.

The Kosovo Albanians, on the other side, have a long-term strategy of putting pressure by arguing that if they do not get everything they wanted, there will be chaos in Kosovo. It is a strategy which paid off in 1999 – when they triggered the NATO bombings, in 2004 – when they succeeded in obtaining the beginning of status talks, in 2008 – when they received Western support for a unilateral secession from Serbia, in 2011-2012 – when they received support for “rounding up” what they now perceive as their own sovereignty over Kosovo. Every time a crisis appears in Kosovo, the same Albanian rhetoric and threats are employed – every time with success. Why change then the scarecrow tactics?

Yet, changes in the US administration and elections Europe-wide which are boosting opponents of Kosovo’s secession, are fueling worry in Pristina. An “independent Kosovo” – a pet project of the Clinton family – is perhaps not as secure anymore.

Aleksandar Mitic, president of the Center for Strategic Alternatives

Belgrade, 24/01/2017

Photo: Graffiti in Prague, couresy of Aleksandar Mitic

kosovo-prague-photo

 

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