Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Albania PM Seeks to Ease Tensions With Serbia

Edi Rama
Albania's prime minister said Wednesday that his nation and Serbia must try to end decades of hostility toward one another by focusing on major issues such as their mutual desire to join the European Union, not last week's dispute over a soccer match.
Edi Rama had been expected to make a landmark visit to Serbia on Wednesday — the first by an Albanian leader in nearly 70 years — as part of an effort to ease tensions left over from wars fought following the breakup of Yugoslavia.
But the trip was postponed until Nov. 10, after the two nations competed in a soccer match last week that descended into an on-field brawl after a drone carrying an Albanian nationalist banner flew over the stadium in the Serbian capital.
In an interview with The Associate Press on Wednesday, Rama, an ardent soccer fan, said international politics "cannot be driven by football (soccer) games."
"The peace we have achieved is still very fragile (and) we have to build on it," he said.
Albania and Serbia remain at odds over Kosovo, the Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, and has a majority of ethnic Albanian inhabitants.
Rama, who became prime minister following a landslide election victory last year, again urged Belgrade to reconsider its position on Kosovo.
"The sooner Serbia recognizes formally what I strongly feel and believe they have already recognized without saying so, that Kosovo will never be part of their country again, the better for Serbia (and) the region," he said.
Rama, however, insisted it is time for his country and Serbia to end decades of hostility and that their shared desire for EU membership could be a means to that end.
"We cannot go anywhere alone," Rama said. "Together we can make the EU understand that the Balkans is important for the EU today as much as the EU is important for the Balkans."
He also said his agenda in Belgrade next month will not include "revisiting the memories of a football game."
UEFA, Europe's governing body for soccer, plans to consider penalties against Albania and Serbia on Thursday over last week's match, which was abandoned goalless and in chaos.
Players fought on the field after the drone hovered overhead carrying a banner showing a so-called map of "greater Albania" including Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Fans at the Belgrade stadium hurled broken seats and other objects as they ran toward the visiting team's dressing room.
The dispute quickly turned into a diplomatic spat, with Serbia accusing Albania of a deliberate provocation, while Tirana countered that its players had been insulted and attacked. Several ethnic Albanian businesses in Serbia were damaged after the game.
Rama acknowledged that the drone had set off an "explosion of something that was boiling up then and before then."
But he also said: "Greater Albania is a Serbian nightmare, not an Albanian project, neither in Albania nor in Kosovo. What should unite us is much bigger than what divides us. ... We want a greater Europe, not a greater Albania. That's what we are fighting for."
Rama, who will meet his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, said he aims to address Serbian concerns over the soccer match, then go on to more important issues.
 Greece, urgent measures for Northern Epirus

Constantine Cholevas *

The fanatical violence of Muslim Albanians against the Greeks in Northern Epirus, Dervitsani is neither the first nor the last incident of this kind.presence of Hellenism in the ancient homes of the Epirus land disturb the major parties in Tirana and the Principles encourage various actions oppression, intimidation and dehellenization.

Of course, to be down to earth, Greece must talk about the responsibilities of the treasury of the Northern Epirus Greek population. Many of them have settled permanently in Greece and have left the elderly in the villages of ethnic Greek community. however, the big problem is the growing nationalist and irredentist fever Albanians in the Balkans. To reach the final goal, which is "Natural Albania", the union of the current Albanian territories belonging to Greece, Serbia, FYROM and Montenegro, the first step would be ethnic cleansing with mild tones against the Northern Epirus. There is no the ethnic cleansing by planes and tanks, as did Attila in Cyprus. 


It is a fraudulent policy, which is beginning to yield results. Greeks in Northern Epirus and elsewhere in Albania oppressed as to education, property rights, their access to public office, the right to peace and security, and forcibly prevented Greeks to elect local officials, as happened in Himara. 

Greece has a duty to protect the Greeks of Albania, asking the following: -

To abolished the communist decree recognizes as minority areas only a few villages of Gjirokastra and yield the right of Greek-language primary schools in all the Greek communities across Albania.
 - Stopping the use of maps showing Greek territories as Albanian, and even in schools in Northern Epirus.
 -To conducted honest inventory of national and religious groups and international control. The earlier terminated by the Orthodox Church of Albania and Omonia, the organization of Greek National Minority, as spurious and inaccurate. 
-To stop any reference of Albanian parties and ministries on the issue of Muslim Chams, whose parents were convicted in Greece as war criminals and partners of Italian fascists for occupation. 
- To connect any economic benefit of Greece and the European Union to Albania fate and rights of ethnic Greek community.
 - To denounce the UN, NATO and the European Union The overflights banner to claim Greek territories, as we saw during the recent match Serbia - Albania. 

The flag of Great Albania included Corfu, Epirus and western Macedonia, and was welcomed by the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. Note that the banner has labeled in English the word INDIGENOUS, stating that the territories claimed by neighboring countries Albanians consider living autochthonous (indigenous) Albanian population! 

The political leader which presented the banner was Ismail Kemal Vlora who proclaimed the independence of Albania on 28/11/1912. The Vlora (the name means originating from Vlora) studied the Zosimaia School in Ioannina. Despite the Greek education, he worked as prime minister against the Greeks. Let us not deceive ourselves, then, that all Albanian children attending Greek schools will be removed from the Albanian nationalism. Probably, most of them will show friendly and law-abiding behavior. 

However, we should not exclude phenomena type Vlora Ismail. should not underestimate or overestimate the Albanian nationalism. And let's not forget that this year is the 100 anniversary of the independency of the Northern race. 

Constantine Cholevas * 
Analyst, Political Scientist 

http://www.dimokratianews.gr

Albanian PM's visit "to be good and fruitful"

BELGRADE -- Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has said he expects the visit of Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama on November 10 to be "good and fruitful."
(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)
"I think I protected our national interests in the best way, clearly letting everyone know that we want peace and stability in the region," Vučić told reporters in Belgrade, speaking at the seat of his Serb Progressive Party (SNS).
According to him, "Serbia's interests are protected by the decision to postpone the visit of Rama."

"We also protect the interests when we said that you cannot come and say and do what you want after incidents were caused," he said, in reference to the abandoned October 14 UEFA qualifier between Serbia and Albania.

Vučić then added that any instability in the Western Balkans disturbed Serbia the most and that many would like "to topple Serbia" by causing instability.

He said that "a majority of people responded well and understood all messages" after the stadium incident, when a drone carried a map of the so-called Greater Albania over the pitch.

The prime minister added that individuals acted in the wrong way, but that all perpetrators of subsequent incidents and attacks on businesses owned by ethnic Albanians in Serbia have been arrested.

"I am proud that all of the attackers were arrested, and they (Albanians) continue to boast about drones and flags. This is the essential difference between us and them," Vučić said.

He declined to comment on speculation about the protocol that will be in place for his Albanian counterpart's visit in November, but said Rama "did not ask to participate in a political rally in Preševo."
Rama: Electricity price won't increase 
 
Prime minister Edi Rama has said that debtors have only 5 days to pay the electricity bills. In a press conference at noon, Rama said that time has come for thieves to face the law.

"The operation will have the full inclusion of all state police forces. Today we have completed an operational plan that will include the distribution company and the State Police. Any thief would face law", he said.

During his speech, the prime minister stressed that the action against power theft will begin from big businesses. "I'll start from those who are the main problem. Of those who have large factories and businesses and to pay as households.

We will not increase the price of electricity, but will change the limit of 300 KW. Thieves can not continue to steal power", he further said.

Turkey continues gas exploration despite Greek Cyprus threat to block EU talks

ANKARA, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Turkey is continuing its seismic surveys off the Cyprus Island, despite opposition from Greek Cypriots, who have threatened to block Ankara's ongoing European Union (EU) accession talks, demanding Turkey halt its gas exploration activities in the disputed region, local Hurriyet Daily News reported on Wednesday.
"The Turkish ship Barbaros will continue seismic studies off the Cyprus coast," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Tuesday after meeting Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
"Necessary measures are taken to protect the Barbaros ship. Nobody should try to create a crisis," Davutoglu said. "We have the right to conduct seismic studies derived from agreements signed between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We will always use this right."
"Turkish Cypriots have rights in entire continental shelf and in economic zone of the Cyprus Island, as much as Greek Cypriots have," Davutoglu said, adding that everyone should accept "reality of this international law."
Turkey's controversial move, sending an oil and gas exploration ship to the region, came after Greek Cypriots licensed exploratory drills in the same economic zone.
Ankara argues that Greek Cypriots should not take individual steps over the natural resources of the disputed island until the two sides agree on a comprehensive solution for reunification.
The Greek Cypriot administration's spokesperson, Nicos Christodoulides, said on Tuesday that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades could submit a complaint against Turkey to EU leaders during next week's Council of Europe meeting in a move to halt the country's EU membership process.
Turkey has been negotiating its EU accession but progress has been slow because of its dispute with Cyprus, which has already blocked eight of the 35 negotiating chapters.
Anastasiades suspended talks for reunification of the island in early October after Turkey announced it would explore gas off the Cyprus.
Cyprus has remained divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied the northern part of the island following a coup by Greek army junta officers. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared in November 1983, but it is recognized only by Turkey.

Mysterious ‘Russian sub’ off Sweden may be Dutch – Defense Ministry source

Published time: October 22, 2014
Submarine HNLMS Bruinvis (screenshot from youtube video)
Submarine HNLMS Bruinvis

Swedish authorities reportedly searching for a Russian submarine in its waters are probably looking in the wrong direction. The sub is probably Dutch, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told RT.
Earlier Swedish media reported that the nation’s navy is looking for a submarine in the Baltic Sea, possibly belonging to Russia.
Russia said there was no substance in reports of the Russian connection in the story.
“On Sunday the Russian Defense Ministry provided whatever aid it could to the Swedes in their futile search,” the source commented.
The source added that if the Swedish Navy wanted to spare taxpayers’ money and nerves, they should turn to The Netherlands.
The country’s Walrus-class diesel-electric submarine Bruinvis was in the Baltic Sea last week, not far from Stockholm.

Photos of the emergency surfacing procedure by this submarine were leaked to Swedish media and reported as an emergency surfacing by a Russian submarine, the source said.
“Bruinvis has been docked in the Estonian capital Tallinn since Friday last week and is about to sail back. Hopefully, this report will help the Swedish Navy locate it as it travels back to one of the Dutch naval bases,” the source said.
The Dutch Navy said on Monday the Bruinvis wasn’t near Stockholm at the time the mysterious submarine was spotted. The joint drills with Sweden, in which the submarine took part, ended on Tuesday, after which it set off for Tallinn, said a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Defense, Marnoes Visser.

Swedish media reported that the country’s navy deployed search parties on Friday after receiving reports of an identified submarine.
Reports said a communication in Russian was intercepted at a frequency reserved by the Russian Navy for emergencies, which prompted the conclusion that a Russian submarine was in trouble on a secret mission in Swedish waters.
But Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told reporters that the search was prompted by a photo sent to the Defense Ministry by a man, who witnessed it surface and dive again. He said the Navy didn’t single out Russia as the foreign nation behind the submarine activity.
"From the information we have, we cannot draw the same conclusion as the media that there is a damaged U-boat. We have no information about an emergency signal or the use of an emergency channel," he said.

An amateur photo made available and taken on October 19, 2014 by Swedish Defence shows a dark object in a white wake in the sea. (AFP Photo / Swedish Defence)
An amateur photo made available and taken on October 19, 2014 by Swedish Defence shows a dark object in a white wake in the sea. (AFP Photo / Swedish Defence)
The admiral confirmed that a Swedish naval exercise, involving a submarine from the Netherlands, had been under way off the Stockholm coast at the time of the first sighting.

NATO seeks more U.S. ships

Exercise Sea Breeze in September included ships from Ukraine and NATO allies. The destroyer Ross represented the U.S. in the Black Sea exercise. NATO's maritime boss wants to plan more large-scale exercises.
Exercise Sea Breeze in September included ships from Ukraine and NATO allies. The destroyer Ross represented the U.S. in the Black Sea exercise. NATO's maritime boss wants to plan more large-scale exercises. (MC2 John Herman / Navy)
NATO’s sea boss wants to see more of the U.S. Navy in Europe.
Royal Navy Vice Adm. Peter Hudson, who leads NATO Allied Maritime Command, said Oct. 7 that he was trying to lay the groundwork for more large-scale exercises to build cooperation between NATO powers, which would mean more time in 6th Fleet for sailors looking forward to sunny Mediterranean ports.
Hudson said tensions with Russia have prompted the renewed push, and that he’d like to “re-energize complex, joint, integrated training, so whether that’s frigates and destroyers in my warfare units or with carrier strike groups or amphibious ready groups, we’re well versed in it.”
NATO has four standing maritime groups — two groups of frigates and destroyers and two groups of minesweepers. Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is commanded by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Brad Williamson. The U.S. Navy’s boosted presence in eastern Europe was emphasized again Oct. 10, when the destroyer Cole entered the Black Sea.
The resurgent Russian threat recently prompted leaders of the NATO countries to pledge new commitments to the collective defense treaty and an awareness they need to restart large-scale exercises.
“It used to come naturally 25 years ago,” Hudson said in a Pentagon round-table with reporters. “We used to do big, complex NATO exercises in all environments, but the world has changed. We haven’t been doing as many of those in the last 10, 15 years. But I think Ukraine has told us we need to up our game and I think that’s the plan in the near future.”
The first big exercise in nearly a decade will be held next year. Called Trident Juncture, the huge endeavor will put 25,000 NATO troops into the field, Hudson said, though planning for the exercise predates Russia’s incursions into Ukraine. Hudson said he was also visiting Washington, D.C., to discuss with Navy leaders ways to fill the standing groups, which have operated at about half strength in recent years. He would not say if he was asking for greater U.S commitments to the groups, but said fully manning them is vital to combat the rising threat from Russia.
“Six or seven destroyers … isn’t going to defeat a complex enemy,” he said. “But it will sustain a theater, ... it will put all the connectivity into a region in place so that the follow-on forces can deliver.”

Albanian PM wants to be given key to Belgrade - report

BELGRADE -- Albanian PM Edi Rama has sent a plan of his visit to Serbia according to which he should be given the key to the city of Belgrade.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
This is what the daily Politika is reporting on Wednesday.
The official visit to Belgrade, the first by an Albanian prime minister in 70 years, was originally scheduled to take place on October 22, but was postponed for November 11 after the incident during the Serbia vs. Albania football game on October 14.

The newspaper writes today that Rama plans to hold a public meeting in the southern town of Preševo, and also wants Belgrade Mayor Siniša Mali to symbolically present him with the the key to the Serbian capital.

According to the report, none of the regional leaders visiting Serbia have sent a plan of their visit without previous consultations with the Serbian government. The Albanian ambassador in Priština was at the same time quoted as saying that "there is no detailed plan of Rama's visit, but he would like to visit Preševo after Belgrade."

It is also not customary for regional leaders to, during diplomatic visits, require to visit areas with inhabited by a majority belonging to their nation - in this case, ethnic Albanians in Preševo.

Another Belgrade daily, Večernje Novosti, on Tuesday reported that "the protocol during Rama's visit has not been determined," and that it was possible he would not be received by President Tomislav Nikolić.

Rama's visit was postponed after the football game unrest, sparked by a small remotely operated craft that carried a map of the so-called Greater Albania - an expansionist nationalist Albanian project - above the pitch. The Albanian prime minister's brother, Olsi Rama, was suspected of operating the craft.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

U.S. welcomes joint statement by Vučić and Rama

BELGRADE -- The U.S. embassy in Belgrade welcomed the willingness of Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić and his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama to solve problems through dialogue.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
“We welcome the joint statement of Prime Ministers Aleksandar Vučić and Edi Rama that re-committed the governments of Serbia and of Albania to preserving stability in the region," said Press Attache at the US Embassy Steven Stark.

"We fully support the decision of the two prime ministers to reschedule the visit and to continue to solve problems through dialogue," Stark said in a written statement to Tanjug.

The visit of Prime Minister Rama to Belgrade, originally scheduled for October 22, was postponed after an incident at a football match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade.

The European championship qualifier match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade on October 14 was abandoned after a brawl that followed the appearance of a drone bearing a flag depicting the so-called Greater Albania, a nationalist project that would include parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece.

Five days later, Vučić and Rama agreed in a telephone conversation that the official visit by the Albanian prime minister to Serbia should be postponed to take place on November 10.

The two prime ministers said in a joint statement that the incidents at the stadium during the football match between Serbia and Albania were very unfortunate.

"There are still obvious disagreements about how the incident occurred, but we must not and we will not miss the opportunity to meet and work on maintaining regional stability," the two officials underlined.

It is time we turned a new page in the political and economic relations between Serbia and Albania, the two prime ministers concluded.
Albanian PM: Move closer to EU as a team 
 

We cannot move towards Europe by attacking each other. This was Rama's message during a conference organized in the Day of Albania-Germany Cooperation.

Rama stressed the importance of regional cooperation in order to approach the Balkan countries with EU as soon as possible. "These days it is inevitable to speak about football especially when we know that Albanians, have long been fans and followers of the German football.

Germany's national team is another example to understand why Germany has always been successful. If you need to get closer to Europe you should function as a team. The road is difficult, but given the political support and the will and also the cooperation and support of Germany no doubt that things become easier "Rama said.

In his speech, Rama praised cooperation with Berlin noting that Albania sees Germany as an important strategic partner for economic development, but also as a source for stable performance leadership across the region.

According to the prime minister, "the regional engagement and cooperation that Germany wants with all countries places us before a dual responsibility. The responsibility of being on the same level as Germany and of being a partner Europe requires.

Political risk slowing foreign investment in Greece: think tank

ATHENS Tue Oct 21, 2014 



(Reuters) - Political uncertainty is slowing foreign investment in Greece, the country's most influential think tank warned on Tuesday, endangering a fragile economic recovery.
Fears of a snap election and the government's plan to exit early from a bailout triggered a sell-off in Greek bonds last week, pushing the yield on 10-year government paper above 9 percent and pricing it out of international capital markets.

A presidential vote in February or March is seen as a likely trigger for early elections next year as Greece's coalition government does not have the backing of 180 lawmakers needed to push through its nominee for head of state.
Under Greek law, parliament must be dissolved if it fails to elect a president. Greece's main opposition, the anti-bailout Syriza party, which leads in opinion polls, has said it will not back any candidate put forward by the ruling coalition.

"Part of the electoral cycle uncertainty (after the European parliament elections in May) remains, continuing to dampen investment ventures from a portion of foreign investors," the think tank, IOBE, said in a report.
IOBE expects the economy to pull out of a six-year recession and expand by 0.7 percent this year, sticking to a previous forecast in July, and still sees unemployment averaging 26.7 percent.
The think tank's projections are broadly in line with estimates by the country's European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders, who expect the 183-billion euro ($233 billion) economy to grow by 0.6 percent this year.

IOBE also expects deflation to slow slightly to 0.8 percent from 0.9 percent last year.
Tourism, a major currency earner for Greece, will continue to be a main recovery driver, the think tank said, a forecast supported by balance of payments data released by the central bank on Tuesday.
The Bank of Greece said the country's current account surplus widened in August compared to the same month last year, boosted by higher tourism receipts. Tourism revenue grew 10 percent to 3.18 billion euros.
After meeting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens, the chief executive of British tour operator TUI Travel said on Tuesday that visitors to Greece rose 10 percent this year and the company aimed at a same-level increase in 2015.


Nationalism gaining strength in Serbia, Albania

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has postponed a visit to Serbia, amid political tensions between the two countries following violence at a football match. Nationalism on both sides is on the rise.
Aleksandar Sekulic's workdays aren't always this busy. The young human rights activist has been traveling across Serbia, visiting Albanian-owned shops and snack bars targeted by nationalistic attacks.
At least a dozen bakeries and snack bars in the north of the country have been vandalized or torched by Serb nationalists in the last few days, with a bomb even being used in one case. Even a mosque was targeted.
According to Sekulic, who works for the Belgrade-based NGO Youth Initiative for Human Rights, "it's pure luck" that no one was killed. The Serb government and society in general have condemned the attacks. A few suspects have been arrested.
Pointing the finger
The Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania - abandoned last Tuesday in Belgrade - is to blame for the renewed tensions.
A protest against the accord on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo 
AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC
Stefan Mitrovic of Serbia grabs a flag depicting so-called Greater Albania
Photo: REUTERS/Marko Djurica The Euro 2016 qualifier was disrupted by nationalist propaganda
Chaos erupted when a remote-controlled drone carrying a banner glorifying Albanian territorial aspirations appeared above the pitch. Albanian nationalists envision a land comprising Kosovo, parts of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece.
The banner was a signal for Serb hooligans to storm the pitch and attack Albanian players. After the game, Vienna saw massive rioting between members of the two ethnic groups.
Red-hot nationalism has flared on both sides since the incident, with "enemy" flags being burned and calls for genocide spreading online. DW has also received user comments along those lines. As has happened so often in the past, both sides are pointing an accusing finger at the other party.
"The Albanian public ignores the fact that one shouldn't defend nationalist Albanian symbols," Sekulic told DW. "On the other side, in Serbia, they are using the banner attack to justify racist campaigns in stadiums and violence against Albanians."
Politicians on both sides have fanned the flames in the media.
Serb President Tomislav Nikolic claimed that Albanians generally hate Serbs, and will do so for centuries to come, while Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama said the Serbs have once again proven themselves to be notorious nationalists and racists.

DW

Monday, October 20, 2014

Greek public order minister to seek help from US on terrorism, illegal immigration

First entry: 19 October 2014 - 10:03 Athens
Greek public order minister to seek help from US on terrorism, illegal immigration
Greek public order minister to seek help from US on terrorism, illegal immigration
Greek Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias will seek closer cooperation with the US on fighting terrorism and dealing with irregular immigration when he travels to Washington next Friday for a week of meetings with American officials, a Greek daily reported.
Ministry sources have told Kathimerini that Kikilias hopes to secure Washington’s help in dealing with domestic terrorists and possible jihadists that may pass through Greece with the aim of joining the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Syria and Iraq.
"Our intention is to ask for assistance with regard to technical equipment that would improve our capability in terms of security and communication," said a Public Order Ministry official who wished to remain anonymous.
"The American government recognizes the progress that has been made on security matters over the past few months."
Kikilias is due to hold talks with all of the top security officials in Washington. He is to meet first with Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama’s adviser on homeland security issues, including counterterrorism.
The Greek minister is also due to meet CIA chief John Brennan, as well as the head of the FBI, James Comey, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
"We are working closely with the US, as well as Great Britain and Israel, with regard to the exchange of intelligence," said the ministry source. "Our aim is to strengthen the level of cooperation in this area."
Source: ekathimerini
45 Albanians barred from entering Greece 
 
Two days have already passed and 45 Albanian citizens are not allowed to enter the Greek territory, without any concrete justification, as they said to News 24.

They say that besides being barred from entering the country, the Greek border police has also offended them.

According to them the cause could only be what happened in Belgrade and after that in Dervican, an event which by the Greeks was called an incident.

In this village, after the match between Serbia and Albania where hooligans and security guards violated the players of the national team, a small group of youths have caused material damages to a vehicle.

ALBANIA CONDEMNS FLAG BURNING IN BELGRADE

  • AFP
Albania condemns flag burning in Belgrade
TIRANA — Albania on Sunday condemned the burning of its flag during a football match in Serbia, the latest in a series of incidents aggravating political tensions between Belgrade and Tirana.

The Albanian foreign ministry urged Serbian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice and called on "Serbian politicians to distance themselves from those acts that are... harmful for the future and stability of the Balkans."

The incident took place during the match between Serbian first division sides Partizan Belgrade and Red Star Belgrade on Saturday, when Red Star fans were photographed setting fire to an Albanian flag.

The incident further threw into doubt the forthcoming historic visit of Prime Minister Edi Rama to Belgrade, the first by an Albanian prime minister in 68 years.

Rama was due in Belgrade on Wednesday, but there were already questions over whether the visit would go ahead after the violent end of a Serbia-Albania football match on October 14.

The Euro 2016 qualifying tie in the Serbian capital had to be abandoned after a drone carried a pro-Albanian flag over the stadium, sparking a brawl on the pitch.

European football's governing body UEFA has opened a formal probe into both Serbia and Albania over the violence.

Serbian leaders labeled the incident a planned "political provocation."

Rama said on Friday he had decided to travel to Belgrade, but his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic was still undecided whether to allow the visit.

Belgrade accused Rama's brother of controlling the drone from his seat in the stadium's executive box. But Olsi Rama, who later returned to Tirana with the Albanian team to a hero's welcome, denied the claims.

Following the incident, hooligans attacked several ethnic-Albanian owned shops in Serbia, notably in the northern town of Novi Sad. A Molotov cocktail was thrown into one bakery, while several others had their windows broken, local media reported.

Rama's visit was made possible by improved ties between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo, populated mostly by ethnic Albanians.

The 2013 deal between Belgrade and Pristina on normalization of ties was brokered by the European Union that the former foes, as well as Albania, hope to join.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 despite opposition from Belgrade.

Relations between Tirana and Belgrade have been sensitive over Kosovo and the ethnic Albanian minority in southern Serbia, which often demands more autonomy.

Turkey's Beşiktaş will play against Partizan in Belgrade on October 23, some Serbian newspapers and Partizan fans groups issued threats against Beşiktaş fans to not to come to Belgrade.
An Albanian from Italy placed drone on church roof 
Photo: Tanjug

BELGRADE – An Albanian from Italy, Ismail Morinaj (32), was a “specialist” who, on 14th of October, from the dome of the Church of the Holy Archangel Gabriel, launched a drone with the flag of so-called “Greater Albania”, which was then flown to the Partizan stadium, writes Belgrade media. 

 According to reports, Morinaj, mountaineering and rock climbing expert, entered Serbia on October 11, in a car with Italian license plates, and stayed in a hostel close to Partizan stadium, using an Italian identity card. Serbian Daily “Informer” reports that Morinaj, immediately after the match, ran from Serbia, but the police located him and have already asked Interpol to help in apprehending him. 

According to the paper, there is evidence that Morinaj and the brother of Albanian Prime Minister, Olsi Rama, know each other very well, and that they planned together details of inserting the drone to the stadium, in order to provoke riots. The paper writes that Rama, after Morinaj “drove” the drone to the stadium, took control of the aircraft, most likely through a program that was previously installed in his “iPhone”.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Albanian PM’s visit to Belgrade postponed 
 Edi Rama - Photo: AP

 BELGRADE – The prime ministers of Serbia and Albania, Aleksandar Vucic and Edi Rama respectively, agreed on Sunday in a telephone conversation that the official visit by the Albanian prime minister to Serbia should be postponed for November 10. Edi Rama - Photo: AP Edi Rama – Photo: AP The two prime ministers said in a joint statement that the incidents at the stadium in Belgrade during the football match between Serbia and Albania were very unfortunate.

 “There are still obvious disagreements about how the incident occurred, but we must not and we will not miss the opportunity to meet and work on maintaining regional stability,” the two officials underlined. It is time we turned a new page in the political and economic relations between Serbia and Albania, the two prime ministers concluded. Vucic and Rama underlined that it is necessary to continue the dialogue and the process started at a conference on the Western Balkans in Berlin on August 28, because that will pave the way to improvement in relations between the two countries, the region and entire Europe. 

The European championship qualifier match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade on October 14 was abandoned after a brawl that followed the appearance of a drone with a flag depicting the so called Greater Albania, a nationalist project that would include parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. UEFA launched an investigation against both football associations.

Sweden steps up search for 'crippled Russian submarine' making Mayday distress call off its coast

  • Swedish ships, helicopters and troops are scouring waters off Stockholm
  • Follows reports a Russian submarine ran into difficulties on secret mission
  • Sources say a distress signal in Russian was intercepted 
  • Soviet submarine sightings caused security alerts in Sweden in the 1980s
  • The Russian defence ministry denied the reports today 
| Sweden has beefed up its military presence amid reports of 'a crippled Russian submarine' off its coast.
In a throw back to the Cold War, Swedish ships, helicopters and troops are scouring the waters off Stockholm following reports that a Russian submarine might have had mechanical problems while on a secret mission in the archipelago.
The operation began after Sweden's ministry said it was given a reliable tip-off about 'foreign underwater activity' off the country's coast in the Baltic Sea. 
Scroll down for video 
Swedish ships, helicopters and troops are scouring the waters off Stockholm for what was officially described as 'foreign underwater activity'
Swedish ships, helicopters and troops are scouring the waters off Stockholm for what was officially described as 'foreign underwater activity'
The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper said Sweden had begun a search after a distress signal in Russian was detected on an emergency frequency
The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper said Sweden had begun a search after a distress signal in Russian was detected on an emergency frequency
The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper said Sweden had begun a search after a distress signal in Russian was detected on an emergency frequency on Thursday evening.
Encrypted radio traffic from a point in the Stockholm archipelago and Kaliningrad was picked up later as well.  
Another signal was intercepted on Friday night and Swedish intelligence was able to pinpoint the locations of the participants. One was in the waters off Stockholm, while the other could be traced to Kaliningrad, the port that is the home of Russia's Baltic Sea fleet.
Defence analysts cited in other reports speculated that a submarine might have been replacing old spy equipment or monitoring a Swedish naval exercise. 
Captain Jonas Wikström said: 'We consider the information we received as very trustworthy. I, as head of operations, have therefore decided to increase the number of units in the area.' 
Russia's military intervention in Ukraine this year has fuelled suspicion about its intentions towards other neighbouring states, notably in the Baltic.
It has several submarines based in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania and facing out to Sweden, as well as a much bigger force near Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula.
Last month, another Swedish newspaper, Expressen, reported an incursion by two Russian SU-24 fighter bombers into national airspace. Sweden scrambled jets to see them off, it said.
Swedish navy fast-attack vessels are engaged in a military operation in the Stockholm Archipelago 
Swedish navy fast-attack vessels are engaged in a military operation in the Stockholm Archipelago 
Swedish corvette HMS Visby patrols the Stockholm Archipelago searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in the waters 
Swedish corvette HMS Visby patrols the Stockholm Archipelago searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in the waters 
Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in its waters
Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in its waters
The submarine hunt is an early political test for Stefan Löfven, the new prime minister, whose centre-left minority government took office this month
The submarine hunt is an early political test for Stefan Löfven, the new prime minister, whose centre-left minority government took office this month
In September two Russian Su-24 attack jets reportedly violated Swedish airspace over the Baltic, prompting Sweden's air force to scramble its own fighters. 
Soviet submarine sightings caused security alerts in Sweden, which is not a member of Nato, in the 1980s. 
The most famous incident took place in 1981 when a Soviet submarine hit rocks near Karlskrona, the main Swedish naval base, in the south of the country. 
The Russian captain claimed that the submarine had strayed off course and got lost.
The submarine hunt is an early political test for Stefan Löfven, the new prime minister, whose centre-left minority government took office this month. 
But Russia defence ministry denied reports that one of its submarines got into trouble off Sweden.
A spokesman said: 'Russia's submarines, like the surface ships, have been following their tasks in the world's oceans according to the plan.
'There have not been any emergencies or accidents with the Russian military vessels.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Air Force’s top-secret X-37B spacecraft lands after nearly two years in orbit

Published time: October 17, 2014 20:18
X-37B Orbital Vehicle (Reuters / HO)
X-37B Orbital Vehicle (Reuters / HO)

The Air Force’s top-secret space plane landed in California on Friday morning after nearly two years orbiting Earth on a classified mission. The robotic spacecraft’s purpose remains a mystery, though surveillance is a likely candidate.

The Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle ‒ an unpiloted aircraft that looks like a miniature space shuttle ‒ made its third landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California after spending more than 670 days in low-Earth orbit.

“I'm extremely proud of our team for coming together to execute this third safe and successful landing," Col. Keith Balts, commander of the 30th Space Wing that is headquartered at Vandenberg, said in a statement. "Everyone from our on-console space operators to our airfield managers and civil engineers take pride in this unique mission and exemplify excellence during its execution.”
The spacecraft was launched on December 11, 2012 by an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It has since been flying in low-Earth orbit, performing whatever mission the Pentagon had prepared for its third test run. In March, X-37B broke its own space longevity record for staying in orbit. Its two previous rounds in space in 2010 and 2011-2012 lasted 225 and 469 days, respectively. This mission lasted a total of 674 days.

A report by the IDG News Service earlier in 2014 suggested the trip’s mission was to test out the Air Force’s new space capabilities while also boosting the intelligence community’s surveillance capacity. However details about X-37B missions ‒ including the payloads carried to orbit ‒ are officially classified, Space.com reported.
Conventional theories from space and military enthusiasts believe the spacecraft will add additional reconnaissance capabilities to the US arsenal – either directly, or by deploying a small satellite from its cargo bay at a desired orbit.
More sinister theories suggest that the vehicle may be weaponized and serve as a space counterpart to the Predator unmanned aerial vehicles. Some postulate that it could be used to attack and destroy adversaries’ satellites orbiting the Earth. Others suspect that the X-37B might be used to transport troops to global hotspots within mere hours.
The Air Force owns two of the solar-powered space planes built by Boeing’s Phantom Works. The spacecraft will call Florida’s Kennedy Space Center home, thanks to an agreement between the Air Force and NASA announced last Wednesday. The X-37B will use the center’s Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) Bays 1 and 2 to process the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle for launch. The OPF bays have sat unused since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in August 2011.
“This agreement ensures the facilities will again be used for their originally-intended purpose ‒ processing spacecraft,” the space agency said in a statement. “In addition to vehicle preparation for launch, the X-37B Program conducted testing at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility to demonstrate that landing the vehicle at the former shuttle runway is a technically feasible option.”
NASA expects to complete renovations on the two hangars by the end of the year, though painted blue doors on OPF-1 already tout it as "Home of the X-37B," marketing that is visible to passing tour buses, C4ISR & Networks reported.
The X-37B is about 29 feet long by 9.5 feet tall (8.8 by 2.9 meters), with a wingspan of 15 feet (4.6 m) and a payload bay the size of a pickup-truck bed. Two X-37Bs could fit inside the payload bay of the space shuttle, which was 184 feet (56 m) long from nose to tail.
Matoshi: Edi Rama should go to Serbia 
 
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has confirmed that he will visit Belgrade on October 23rd. Publicist Halil Matoshi thinks it is nonsense to say that Rama should not visit Serbia. Matoshi explains that he is absolutely against mixing sports with politics.

"First, I am against any interfering in the internal affairs of the Republic of Albania. And, second, I am against mixing the sport with politics.

We are dealing with a football game and nothing more. There are two opposing teams, 22 players, respectively. I think the problems of Tuesday evening, which occurred in Belgrade, should not serve as an opportunity for the alienation between the two peoples" said Matoshi to "Telegrafi" newspaper.

According to him, this visit should bring these two countries closer and not create more problems.

Greece sends demarche to Albania

ATHENS -- The Greek government has announced that a demarche had been delivered to the Albanian foreign minister because of attacks against members of the Greek minority.
It was stated that the Greek ambassador in Tirana forwarded the protest note because of the attacks Albanians staged against Greeks in southern Albania after the stadium incident in Belgrade.
The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Albanian authorities are asked to condemn the incidents that occurred near the border between the two countries.

The Greek ambassador also asked Albania to undertake all necessary measures in order to find, arrest and punish those responsible, as well as to protect the ethnic Greek minority ahead of the upcoming celebration of Greek Independence Day, October 28.

"The ambassador conveyed Greece's enormous concern because of such attacks on peaceful Greek minority, which represents an obstacle to the European perspective of Albania," the statement added.

The ministry in Athens also warns that "attacks of extremists and nationalists certainly weaken the European perspective of the country" and "awaken memories of the past of the Balkans that all countries in the region need to leave behind for the benefit of the common European future."

As the Greek media reported earlier this week around 100 people carrying Albanian flags and banners with nationalist messages arrived in the village of the Dervician in the district of Gjirokaster and demolished stores and cars before they were stopped by the police.

The violence broke out a few hours after the football match in Belgrade was abandoned on Tuesday night because of incidents sparked by a drone flown over the pitch, with a map of Greater Albania attached to it - showing Albania expanded to include parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece.
The rise of the tension on Military Co-operations

Agreement on technical cooperation between armed forces of Serbia and Russia
InSerbia-PiB-0992

BELGRADE – The agreement on technical cooperation between the armed forces of Serbia and Russia is very significant for the Serbian military as an umbrella agreement used in further talks, Serbia’s Defence Minister Bratislav Gasic said on Friday. InSerbia-PiB-0992 The agreement was signed on Thursday by Gasic and head of the Russian federal agency for technical military cooperation Alexander Vasilyevich Fomin. 

The presidents of the both countries attended the signing. “Serbia has signed its first contract with the Russian Federation as an independent country,” Gasic told Radio and Television of Serbia, pointing out that the agreement was the bases for all future forms of cooperation and negotiations regarding the modernisation of the Serbian Armed Forces and equipment and spare parts purchases. 

He hopes that thanks to its reforms, Serbia will be able to take out the commodity loan it discussed with the Russian side in 2012 and will be able to buy new aircraft in 2016. Serbia and Russia have had close military relations so far, but they can now be expanded to military education, healthcare and technical cooperation based on this agreement, Gasic noted. It is extremely important that Serbia develop its defence industry and retake the place it belongs to it, because that branch can start the country’s reindustrialisation, he pointed out. 

The Serbian Armed Forces were reduced in size from 2000 to 2012, sold their equipment and property, and had that trend continued, this once respectable military force would have been reduced to a civil defence force, he stated. 

The military has been growing stronger for the past two years, and it has been successful in its work on all three of its missions, maintaining security, taking part in international peace operations and helping the population during natural disasters, Gasic said. 

The military parade held in Belgrade on Thursday in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin showed that, he remarked. The Serbian government is committed to EU integration, he said, adding that Serbia lied both in the east and west and wished to have good relations with everyone while keeping the interest of its people as its top priority.
Agreement on technical cooperation between armed forces of Serbia and Russia Today Politics Published: Oct 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm Modified: Oct 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm 0 Get Short URL Twitter1 Facebook2 Google Reddit BELGRADE – The agreement on technical cooperation between the armed forces of Serbia and Russia is very significant for the Serbian military as an umbrella agreement used in further talks, Serbia’s Defence Minister Bratislav Gasic said on Friday. InSerbia-PiB-0992 The agreement was signed on Thursday by Gasic and head of the Russian federal agency for technical military cooperation Alexander Vasilyevich Fomin. The presidents of the both countries attended the signing. “Serbia has signed its first contract with the Russian Federation as an independent country,” Gasic told Radio and Television of Serbia, pointing out that the agreement was the bases for all future forms of cooperation and negotiations regarding the modernisation of the Serbian Armed Forces and equipment and spare parts purchases. He hopes that thanks to its reforms, Serbia will be able to take out the commodity loan it discussed with the Russian side in 2012 and will be able to buy new aircraft in 2016. Serbia and Russia have had close military relations so far, but they can now be expanded to military education, healthcare and technical cooperation based on this agreement, Gasic noted. It is extremely important that Serbia develop its defence industry and retake the place it belongs to it, because that branch can start the country’s reindustrialisation, he pointed out. The Serbian Armed Forces were reduced in size from 2000 to 2012, sold their equipment and property, and had that trend continued, this once respectable military force would have been reduced to a civil defence force, he stated. The military has been growing stronger for the past two years, and it has been successful in its work on all three of its missions, maintaining security, taking part in international peace operations and helping the population during natural disasters, Gasic said. The military parade held in Belgrade on Thursday in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin showed that, he remarked. The Serbian government is committed to EU integration, he said, adding that Serbia lied both in the east and west and wished to have good relations with everyone while keeping the interest of its people as its top priority. Subscribe to Our Feed SOURCE Tanjug InSerbia Team InSerbia | E-Mail: desk@inserbia.info | http://inserbia.info TAGS army Bratislav Gasic Russia Serbia Twitter Facebook Google Reddit Previous article New Serbia-Albania match on neutral ground - report Next article Red Star Belgrade beats Galatasaray SIMILAR ARTICLES New Serbia-Albania match on neutral ground – report Oct 17, 2014 0 Biden: US not supporting ”Greater Albania” – report Oct 17, 2014 1 Albanian Ambassador: No “Greater Albania” In Gov’t Program Oct 17, 2014 0 Dick Advocaat pleased with his players’ conduct Oct 17, 2014 0 NO COMMENTS Leave a Reply Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Today Agreement on technical cooperation between armed forces of Serbia and Russia Oct 17, 2014 0 BELGRADE - The agreement on technical cooperation between the armed forces of Serbia and Russia is very significant for the Serbian military as an... 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Putin meets with Merkel and Poroshenko

MILAN -- Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Milan with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
Putin and Merkel stated that there are still serious differences in their opinions regarding the Ukrainian crisis.
Shortly afterwards, the Russian president spoke with the Ukrainian counterpart during a meeting attended by Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister of Italy Mateo Renzi.

"There are serious disagreements about the evaluation of the internal conflict in Ukraine, and about the deep causes of what is happening there now," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Putin late last night met with Merkel, after arriving to the Euro-Asian summit from Belgrade.

"During this long and detailed conversation (two and a half hours) Putin and Merkel carefully checked the implementation of the agreement signed in Minsk," said Peskov.

The agreement was signed on September 5 establishing a cease-fire in the east of Ukraine between separatists and forces loyal to Kiev, and is being broken on a regular basis.

Merkel last night also spoke with Poroshenko when, according to a source close to the Ukrainian government, they "expressed regret that a number points of the agreement has not been implemented, although they were accepted by both sides."

Hellenic Republic - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Ministry announcement regarding the demarche made by the Greek Ambassador to Tirana

Friday, 17 October 2014
On the instructions of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Greece’s Ambassador to Tirana made a demarche to the Albanian Foreign Ministry, asking that the Albanian authorities condemn the incidents that occurred in the village of Dervican against members the Greek National Minority of Albania following the suspension of the Serbia-Albania football match.

Ambassador Rokanas also requested that all the necessary measures be taken to find, arrest and punish those who carried out the unprovoked attack, as well as to protect the Greek National Minority ahead of the upcoming events in celebration of the 28 October anniversary.

The Greek Ambassador conveyed Greece’s strong concern at similar attacks that target the peaceable Greek National Minority and pose an obstacle to the country’s European perspective, which is weakened and certainly not strengthened by extremist conduct and nationalistic flare-ups that awaken memories of a Balkan past that all the countries of the region must abandon, to the benefit of the region’s common European future.

Finally, Greece’s Consul General in Gjirokaster made corresponding representations to the local
authorities.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NATO Naval Drills Begin in Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean

  • Last updated: 16 Oct. 2014


A large fleet of naval vessels is taking part in the multinational “Noble Justification” military exercise which is underway in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. More than twenty warships, and several submarines and aircraft, are involved in the drills. "The exercise Noble Justification is a substantial opportunity for NATO to develop force integration, multinational inter-operability and enhance readiness, by using of an improved technology", said NATO's Maritime Commander, Vice Admiral Peter Hudson.
The aim of the event is to test the collective defence and crisis response capabilities of NATO’s Response Force. It will also test NATO naval forces to respond to crisis situations anywhere in the world, at short notice.  More than five thousand military  personnel are taking part from fourteen NATO nations: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Two partner nations, Finland and Sweden, are also involved.
“It exercises a high-density, high-threat scenario in which NATO responds to a threat to its integrity, and the sovereignty, of its member states,“ said Vice Admiral, Peter Hudson. The event is being directed from NATO’s Maritime Command at Northwood in the United Kingdom. The exercise is running from 13-26 October.
A wide variety of aircraft are participating, including U.S. B-52 bombers. Anti-submarine and electronic warfare units are also taking part.

THE PRESS RELEASE OF NATO 

NATO’s Response Force (NRF) tests its crisis response capabilities at Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic 
 
A large fleet of warships from NATO’s Response Force (NRF) sailed from ports across Europe today to take part in the maritime component of Exercise NOBLE JUSTIFICATION in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, which will encompass the anti submarine component and the electronic warfare component.

The Noble Justification prepares and tests the highest levels of readiness for rapid response to any NATO contingency. It also develops force integration, multinational interoperability and enhances readiness by building joint capability and deployability through a high density, high threat scenario in which NATO responds to a threat to its integrity and the sovereignty of its member states.
The warships will participate in demanding training evolutions that will enable them to respond to crisis situations anywhere in the world at short or no notice. The exercise, which runs through October 26,  will involve more than five thousand military and naval personnel from 14 NATO nations: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany , Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States; and 2 partner nations: Finland and Sweden.

Afloat participants will include 23 warships: ten frigates, two amphibious ships, five auxiliary ships and six Mine Countermeasures vessels along with a number of submarines,  small units and embarked Marines.  Exercise Noble Justification will also include a wide variety of aircraft, including U.S. B-52 Stratofortress bombers. The participation of the bombers, which will assist in the exercise’s focus of validating the Spanish Maritime Forces as the 2015 NATO Maritime NRF, aims to strengthen interoperability with NATO allies and demonstrates the United States’ commitment to enhancing regional partnerships.  

NATO Allied Maritime Command, in Northwood, UK, is responsible for directing the exercise, ensuring that the NATO Response Force (NRF) is faced with a realistic and demanding scenario, presenting a number of challenges for the participants.
The first part of the exercise will focus on interoperability training in asymmetric multi-threat and maritime warfare operations. This will help units to be ready to work together for the second phase of the exercise, during which the force will undertake demanding responses within a complicated, crisis response scenario.

“The exercise Noble Justification is a substantial opportunity for NATO to develop force integration, multinational interoperability and enhance readiness, by using of an improved technology” said NATO’s Maritime Commander, Vice Admiral Peter Hudson of the UK Navy. “It exercises a high density, high threat scenario in which NATO responds to a threat to its integrity and the sovereignty of its member states. “ he said.


For more information on the exercise please contact NATO Maritime Command:
Email: publicaffairs@mc.nato.int
Telephone: (+44) 1923 956 763
http://www.mc.nato.int/Pages/home.aspx