Friday, October 31, 2014

Israeli FM grumbles politics is not IKEA after Sweden recognizes Palestine

Published time: October 31, 2014 
Israel Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman (AFP Photo/Georges Gobet)
Israel Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman (AFP Photo/Georges Gobet)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman lamented Sweden's decision to recognize Palestinian statehood, saying the Scandinavian country was getting involved in an issue more complex that IKEA furniture.
"The Swedish government should understand that Middle East relations are more complex than a piece of self-assembled IKEA furniture, and the matter should be handled with responsibility and sensitivity," Lieberman wrote in a Facebook post.
It is doubtful whether this less-than-diplomatic comment will help Israel and its top diplomat change Stockholm's decision. Commenting on the remark on Thursday, Lieberman's Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom said:
"I will be happy to send Israel FM Lieberman an IKEA flat pack to assemble. He'll see it requires a partner, cooperation and a good manual."



Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom (Reuters/Annika AF Klercker/TT News Agency)
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom (Reuters/Annika AF Klercker/TT News Agency)
Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden after the country formally recognized Palestine as a sovereign state on Thursday. The Scandinavian country is the first member of the EU to do so after becoming part of the European Union, and the third after Malta and Cyprus.
Under the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's relations with its long-time allies in the US and Europe have been damaged. The country continues to pursue controversial policies like developing its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The EU is mounting pressure on Israel by denying funding and cooperation to Israeli companies operating in the settlements.
Washington despite its differences with Tel Aviv disagreed with Sweden.
"We believe international recognition of a Palestinian state is premature," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. "We certainly support Palestinian statehood, but it can only come through a negotiated outcome, a resolution of final status issues and mutual recognitions by both parties."
Support for Palestinians is growing as they make their case with international organizations like the United Nations and individual countries, as Sweden's move indicates.

Διακλαδική άσκηση «ΠΥΡΠΟΛΗΤΗΣ» 2014


Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos


VIDEO OF THE DAY: 

http://youtu.be/zjVrcpaqOfs

"PYRPOLITIS 14" the Greek Military Exercises under observation of the NATO General Secretary, Stoltenberg. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greece angered by Albanian nationalists attack on minority village


October 30 2014

Greece’s Ambassador to Tirana made a demarche to the Albanian Foreign Ministry, asking the Albanian authorities to 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.

According to a press statement by the Greek Foreign Ministry, Rokanas conveyed Greece’s strong concern at similar attacks that target the Greek minority and pose an obstacle to Albania’s European perspective.

Source: Hellenic Foreign Ministry

NATO says Russian jets, bombers circle Europe in unusual incidents


October 29 at 4:24 PM
NATO said Wednesday that it had intercepted a large number of Russian aircraft flying close to European airspace in the past two days, in an “unusual” series of incidents that brought Russian bombers as far afield as Portugal.
The aircraft — at least 19 in all — offered reminders of Russian air power at a time of the worst relations between the West and Russia since the Cold War. Russian military aircraft have significantly increased their activity in Europe since the conflict in Ukraine began earlier this year, with NATO scrambling to intercept aircraft more than 100 times in 2014. But a NATO official said the scale of the latest incidents was the most provocative this year.
Over the Atlantic Ocean and the North, Black and Baltic seas, Russian bombers, fighter jets and tanker aircraft were detected flying in international airspace, NATO said. There were no incursions into national airspace, a violation of sovereignty that would have significantly amplified the seriousness of the four incidents, three of which took place on Wednesday.
“We’re raising it as an unusual level of activity,” said Lt. Col. Jay Janzen, a spokesman for NATO’s military command in Mons, Belgium. “The flights we’ve seen in the last 24 hours, the size of those flights and some of the flight plans are definitely unusual.”
U.S. officials regard the flights as a show of force by the Putin government. “It’s concerning because it’s moving in the wrong direction,” said one U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the air activity publicly. “It’s not helping to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. It’s not helping to improve relations between NATO and Russia. It’s not helping anybody.”
Smaller-scale incidents have also increased this year, approximately tripling from the same period in 2013, Janzen said.
In at least one of the four incidents, the aircraft had switched off their transponders and had not filed flight plans with civilian air traffic controllers. That means that civilian air traffic control cannot track them, potentially creating a risk for civilian planes.
That incident took place around 3:00 a.m. in Western Europe on Wednesday, when four Tu-95 long-range strategic nuclear bombers and four Il-78 tanker aircraft flew over the Norwegian Sea. Norwegian F-16 fighter jets scrambled to intercept them. Six of the planes returned to Russia, but two of the bombers skirted the Norwegian coast, flew past Britain — sending Typhoon fighter jets to scramble in response — and then finally looped west of Spain and Portugal, attracting Portuguese F-16s. Then the two bombers appeared to return to Russia, Janzen said.
The Tu-95 bombers are not commonly seen close to Europe, Janzen said. Nor are the MiG-31 fighter jets that were intercepted along with other aircraft above the Baltic Sea in two separate incidents Tuesday and Wednesday. It was not immediately clear whether the two incidents above the Baltic represented the same group of seven planes entering and departing a Russian military base at Kaliningrad.
There was no immediate reaction from the Russian government.
Fighter jets from Norway, Britain, Portugal, Turkey, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Sweden were involved in responding to the Russian aircraft, Janzen said. Finland and Sweden are not members of NATO, and they have long refrained from joining the defensive alliance, which was formed after World War II as a bulwark against the Soviet Union.
But military incidents with Russia this year have caused both countries to start to reevaluate their positions. Most recently, the Swedish military last week spent several days searching a vast territory for an unidentified underwater craft suspected to be Russian. Last month, Sweden said two Russian military planes had violated its airspace.
A Novus opinion poll released Tuesday found for the first time that more Swedes favored joining NATO than opposed it.
The most recent violation of NATO airspace was last week, when a Russian spy plane flew almost 2,000 feet into Estonian airspace. This year, NATO increased its air patrols based in the Baltics from four to 16 jets, a measure of the newly hot confrontation between the two military juggernauts.
The incidents appear to have set European militaries on edge this week. British fighter jets were scrambled Wednesday to bring a civilian Antonov cargo jet into a London airport; it stopped responding to radio calls from air traffic controllers while flying over the British capital. That caused a supersonic boom that was audible across a large stretch of southeastern England.
Missy Ryan contributed to this report.

NATO Secretary General thanks Greece for Allied contributions


  • Last updated: 30 Oct. 2014


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Greece for its unwavering support to the Alliance during a visit to Athens on Thursday (30 October 2014). “We thank you for all the contributions you make to our shared security,” the Secretary General said. “This commitment has been sustained despite difficult times. Throughout, Greece has remained an active and effective member of our Alliance and for over 60 years, NATO has been committed to keeping Greece safe.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on board of the Greek Frigate HNS Salamis


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Security challenges in Eastern Europe and in North Africa and the Middle East are top of the agenda the Secretary General's talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos. “We face many challenges in many ways and  from many directions. This is why we must keep NATO strong. We must work with our partners to bring more stability to our neighbourhood. And we must keep the bond between Europe and North America rock solid,” the Secretary General said.
Turning to the crisis in Ukraine, the Secretary General called on Russia to end its destabilising actions, withdraw its forces, and make genuine efforts to ensure the ceasefire is respected. He said the planned holding of so-called elections by armed separatists in Eastern Ukraine “would undermine the Minsk agreements and would not contribute to a peaceful solution.”
Together with Greek Defence Minister Dimitrios Avramopoulos, the Secretary General also visited the Greek Frigate HNS Salamis to observe a regular joint exercise which demonstrated maritime and rapid reaction capabilities that Greece has deployed in missions like the NATO counter-terrorism Active Endeavour operation in the Mediterranean.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NATO chief Stoltenberg to visit Greece

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will travel to Athens on Thursday for talks with the Greek leadership, according to an announcement from the Alliance.
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New NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will meet Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos and Defense minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. Stoltenberg visited Turkey soon after he became the NATO chief on 1 October.
Speaking at an event organized by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels on Tuesday he commended Turkey's role in dealing with the crises in Syria and Iraq.
"Turkey is doing a lot; because Turkey is receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees. And Turkey is the country most affected by the crisis, the NATO Ally most affected by the crisis in both Iraq and Syria. And therefore, I commend that when I was in Turkey the huge effort Turkey is doing to take care of all the refugees that are coming to their country", he said.
Commenting on the Cyprus problem, he said, "the relationship between Turkey and Greece is a bilateral issue between Turkey and Greece. In addition, NATO is not involved in the efforts to try to find a solution related to the problems we see in Cyprus". Referring to his upcoming visit to Greece, he said "the bilateral issues between two member countries is not something that I want to solve out within NATO, or to address within a NATO framework".

Public Order minister meets US Attorney General in Washington

Public Order minister Vassilis Kikilias met with US AG Eric Holder in Washington, with security and terrorism issues dominating the meeting.
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The US government is satisfied with the way domestic terrorism has been dealt with in Greece while recognizing the "optimal level" of cooperation between the two countries in combating organized crime, Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said after completing his two-day contacts in Washington.
On the second day of his visit to the US capital, Kikilias met with the US Attorney General Eric Holder, the Director of the CIA John Brennan, the director of the FBI James Comey, and officials of the White House and the State Department.
Security and terrorism issues dominated the meeting, according to a senior diplomatic source. US officials emphasized on the issue of information exchange and strengthening of operations for the monitoring and detection of foreign fighters, an issue of particular interest to the US, which is also discussed in meetings with government representatives and security services of allied countries.
Kikilias presented the Greek positions on a wide range of issues, such as international and domestic terrorism, international and cyber crime and discussed with them ways to further strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.
"I had the opportunity, in this very important trip organized by the Attorney General Eric Holder, to meet with senior intelligence and US Government officials and the Attorney General himself, with whom we discussed issues which have to do with common interests and common aspirations of the two countries in terms of security in the broader region of the Balkans and the Mediterranean," Kikilias noted.
Kikilias also stressed that "Mr Holder expressed content on behalf of the US Government for the achievements of the Greek government lately on the issue of domestic terrorism," adding that "he reaffirmed his own and his government's to cooperate in new challenges, such as cyber crime and the issue of jihadists."
The Greek minister added that "the Greek government remains firm in its position on security in the region. Security is equivalent to the political and economic stability and constitutes the only way for investments and hence growth."
Earlier on Tuesday, Kikilias had visited the CIA headquarters, where director John Brennan acknowledged the important role of Greece as a factor of stability in Southeastern Mediterranean and expressed his own and the US side's readiness to provide "all possible assistance" to the Greek efforts in security issues.
Then, he visited the FBI and met with its director James Comey. The two officials reaffirmed the "optimal level" of cooperation in the fight against organized crime.
Finally, the two sides reaffirmed the relationship of "mutual trust" and agreed to continue and "further strengthen" their cooperation in dealing with terrorism and modern security threats.
On Thursday, Kikilias will be the keynote speaker at an event organized by the Fletcher School / Tufts University, in collaboration with the Konstantinos G. Karamanlis Foundation, in Boston.
His visit to the US will be completed on Friday with contacts in New York, where, among others, he is expected to meet with Archbishop Demetrios of America and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate Robert Menendez.
Source: AMNA, Photo: Eurokinissi

NATO jets track 'unusual' Russian bomber sorties

BRUSSELS Wed Oct 29, 2014
(Reuters) - NATO aircraft tracked Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea on Wednesday and sorties of fighters over the Baltic in what the Western alliance called an unusual burst of activity at a tense time in East-West relations.
In all, NATO said in a statement, its jets had intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday, and some were still on maneuvers late on Wednesday afternoon.
"These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace," the alliance said.
A spokesman stressed there had been no violation of NATO airspace -- as there was last week when a Russian spy plane briefly crossed Estonia's border. But such high numbers of sorties in one day were, he said, rare in recent years.
In the biggest exercise, four Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers, a Cold War icon since the 1950s equivalent to the U.S. B-52, flew out over the Norwegian Sea in the early hours of Wednesday, accompanied by four refueling tanker aircraft.
 
 
Norwegian F-16s were scrambled and tracked the formation, which eventually broke up, with six planes heading back toward Russia and two Tu-95s flying on south over the North Sea, where they were intercepted by British Typhoons. Portuguese F-16s later tracked them in the Atlantic before they turned for home.
A Norwegian military spokesman said: "We see Russian aircraft near our airspace on a regular basis but what was unusual is that it was a large number of aircraft and pushed further south than we normally see."
In a second incident, two Tu-95s accompanied by two fighter jets were being tracked by Turkish aircraft over the Black Sea on Wednesday afternoon, while flights of seven Russian warplanes were monitored on Tuesday and Wednesday over the Baltic Sea.
On Tuesday, German and Danish planes were involved in tracking them as well as aircraft from non-NATO states Sweden and Finland. On Wednesday, Portuguese F-16s posted in the Baltic intercepted a similar group of fighters and fighter-bombers.
NATO said it had conducted more than 100 such intercepts of Russian aircraft this year so far, about three times as many as in 2013, before the confrontation with Moscow over separatist revolts in ex-Soviet Ukraine soured relations.
President Vladimir Putin has committed to reinvigorating Russia's armed forces, which had been undermined by the economic troubles that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tension over Ukraine has seen the U.S.-led NATO alliance step up its vigilance, especially on its eastern frontiers with Russia.
The spokesman said there was no particular reason for concern over Russian warplanes exercising their right to fly in international airspace but that such sorties were shadowed by NATO aircraft as a precaution and to protect civil air traffic.
(Additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi in Oslo; editing by Andrew Roche)

France to hand over first Mistral helicopter carrier on Nov 14 – Russia

Published time: October 29, 2014 
Launching the stern of the first Russian Mistral type dock assault helicopter carrier "Vladivostok" at the Baltic Shipyard. (RIA Novosti/Igor Russak)
Launching the stern of the first Russian Mistral type dock assault helicopter carrier "Vladivostok" at the Baltic Shipyard. (RIA Novosti/Igor Russak)
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France may hand over the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia on November 14, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. He announced that Moscow had received an invitation to take delivery at France’s Saint-Nazaire shipyards.
“Rosoboronexport [Russia’s state owned arms exporter] has received an invitation to arrive in Saint-Nazaire on November 14, where 360 Russian sailors and 60 specialist trainers are already,” Rogozin said.
On that day, Vladivostok – the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carrier ships – should be handed over to Russia. The Deputy PM also assumed the second carrier, the Sevastopol, would also be in dock.
“We act from the fact that France must protect its own reputation as a reliable partner, including on issues of military cooperation," he said. France has always stressed that for them this would be “the litmus test of their national pride and sovereignty,” the Deputy PM added.
On Tuesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that France will decide on delivery of the Mistral-type helicopter carriers to Russia only in November.
“The French president stated earlier that if the political situation does not improve, he will not permit delivery of the helicopter carriers,” Le Drian said. “The president will make a decision by November.”

Launching the stern section of a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. The ship will be christened the Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)
Launching the stern section of a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. The ship will be christened the Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)
Rogozin emphasized that so far everything is proceeding according to plan.
French shipbuilders in the Saint Nazaire shipyard have said, according to RIA Novosti, that the helicopter carriers are ready for delivery.
There has been no official statement from the French authorities yet.
Russia and France signed a €1.12 billion ($1.6 billion) contract for building two Mistral-type ships in June 2011.
Under the deal, Russia was supposed to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in October this year.
However, delivery has been postponed due to the conflict in Ukraine, the impetus behind the international community’s pressure on France to cancel the contract.
Western allies have been pushing Paris for months, saying that France has to make sacrifices to meet its commitment to oppose Moscow through sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
The second Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, is expected to be handed over to Russia next year.
The Mistral-type helicopter carriers can accommodate up to 30 light helicopters in its hangar and on deck, although Russia plans to arm the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol with 16 heavy aircraft. The ship can also carry up to 450 combat troops (or 900 for short missions) in addition to the crew, complete with amphibious transports, armor and a command center.
Operation against energy theft. 52 arrested throughout Albania
28/10/2014
Operation against energy theft. 52 arrested throughout Albania
On the first day of the operation against energy theft, which is focused on businesses, the police has arrested 49 people and seven others are on the run.

Most of the suspects were arrested in the capital, with 21 of them coming from Tirana, including an employee of the Distribution System Operator, accused of power abuse.

Six persons were arrested in Lezhe, five in Fier, five in Vlore, three in Shkoder, two in Elbasan and Gjirokaster, and the others in the rest of Albania. All are business owners.

The police is continuing with the procedures for the other cases identified by the police. The police is working for identifying the people who might have made it easier for the theft, such as employees from the Distribution Operator, or former employees.
World Bank: “Doing Business”, Albania moves 40 spots up
29/10/2014
World Bank: “Doing Business”, Albania moves 40 spots up
Albania has climbed more spots on the list of countries with a good business climate for 2014. The World Bank says that Albania’s position improved with 40 spots, from 108th country in the world to 68th.

The report makes an analyze of the period since June 2013 and it says that the increased evaluation for Albania has come due to the reforms that the country has undertaken during this period in three main areas that are related with the Construction permits, property registration and creation of new businesses.

The World Bank notes that the new urban planning law has enabled much simpler procedures, by unifying the property permit with the construction one, and reducing the time that is needed for these permits. The registration of properties was made easier through the electronic registers and deadlines. As for opening new businesses, the bank says that Albania has reduced the costs and has made registration formalities easier.

One of indicators that has got worse is the tax payment procedure. The Bank says that it is more expensive due to the increased tax on profit. But although Albania has climbed more spots, has not been classified among the 10 more reforming economies in the world, because the reforms in Albania were undertaken only in three areas, while other countries have reformed five different elements related to the business climate.

This is the second time that the Albanian economy marks a strong improvement in the business making climate. The first time was in 2009, when our country was listed among the 10 most reforming economies in the world. Since then, Albania had dropped to the 108th place. This improvement brings the Albanian economy closer to the European ones as regards the business climate.
PHOTO OF THE DAY

This morning Dimitris Avramopoulos suddenly asked Chief of navy Evangelos Apostolakis to boarding in the submarine S121 Pipinos in first performing tests.
Avramopoulos who hand over tomorrow to new Defence Minister considers a big achievement in his second period as a MOD the submarines case, also give a solution with the P-3 Orion ASW aircrafts and yesterday signed a tendering procedure to supplying new torpedoes for our 214 submarines. 




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Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos' visit to the Fleet HQ and to war vessels at Salamis Naval Base‏ - See more at: http://www.avramopoulos.gr/en/content/defence-minister-dimitris-avramopoulos-statement-after-completion-military-parade-honour-national-anniversary#sthash.raypNq9i.dpuf

Greece Boosts Navy Mission Amid Spat With Turkey

Ioannis Kasoulides, Sameh Shoukry, Evangelos Venizelos
Greece's foreign minister said Wednesday his country will boost its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean as part of NATO and United Nations-approved missions. Evangelos Venizelos made the announcement in Cyprus at a time of renewed tension with Turkey over oil and gas exploration rights off the divided island.
Venizelos said Greece would be sending a frigate and submarine, and denied it was in response to a current Turkish survey mission in waters where Cyprus has already licensed companies to drill.
"Greece has a longstanding naval presence in the region," he said. "All countries in the region must work toward ... safeguarding peace and stability in that region. That is my message to Turkey."
Cyprus has been split along ethnic lines since 1974, and only Turkey recognizes the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north where it maintains a strong military presence. The internationally recognized government is in the Greek Cypriot south.
Venizelos met the foreign ministers Ioannis Kasoulides of Cyprus, and Sameh Shoukry of Egypt for talks that centered on offshore energy rights.
In a joint statement, the ministers said they "deplored the recent illegal actions perpetrated within Cyprus' exclusive economic zone."
The leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt are scheduled to meet in Cairo on Nov. 9.

Slovenian, Albania to beef up business Cooperation

 

LJUBLJANA, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The presidents of Slovenia and Albania reiterated here on Tuesday to upgrade bilateral economic cooperation on the basis of good relationship between the two countries.
In talks with his Albanian counterpart Bujar Nishani, Slovenian President Borut Pahor said that there is great potential in Slovenia-Albania trade when the two countries enjoy excellent relations.
Both Slovenia and Albania are NATO member states. Slovenia, the first Balkan country to join the European Union, supports Albanian efforts for EU membership.
Currently, trade between Slovenia and Albania remains rather modest, with the latter ranking 61st place among the former's trade partners in terms of the volume of traded goods.
Slovenia's exports to Albania, mostly pharmaceuticals and food products, registered 35 million euros (44 million U.S. dollars) in 2013 as compared with 650,000 euros (828,863 U.S. dollars) in imports from Albania, according to Slovenian Press Agency's report.
Albania vowed to boost business cooperation with Slovenia when its Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati was visiting Ljubljana in June.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Italian army chief visits Belgrade

BELGRADE -- Italy believes it is time to speed up Serbia's EU integration, Chief of Staff of the Italian Armed Forces Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli said on Tuesday.
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Cooperation between the two countries' armed forces will facilitate Serbia's EU integration, Mantelli told a joint news conference with Serbia's Chief of the General Staff General Ljubiša Diković.

Italy is currently the Council of Europe's presiding country and will use the next 6 months to support Serbia's EU integration, Mantelli stressed.

It is time to speed up Serbia's integration, because history waits for no one, while problems keep piling up, he said after a meeting with Diković.

Italy sees Serbia as a factor of stability, not just in the Balkans, but also in Ukraine and in the Islamic world, in the context of crises that surround Europe and cause concern there, he underscored.

Italian soldiers are among KFOR troops in Kosovo in order to facilitate civil and social development, and they have Serbia's support in those efforts, he remarked.

According to Mantelli, cooperation in training air force ground troops and members of the river flotilla are areas where cooperation will continue in the future.

Diković said he was pleased with the level of cooperation so far, adding that he and Mantelli would discuss improvements in a number of areas during the Italian Admiral's visit.

According to Diković, those areas include military and military economic cooperation and joint participation in EU and UN missions.

The Serbian Armed Forces plan to send a unit to the UN peace mission in Lebanon as part of the Italian contingent there, which numbers over 1,500 troops, Diković noted.

The current security situation will also be among the topics during Mantelli's visit to Belgrade, since 750 Italian troops are part of KFOR, Diković pointed out.

"Our Italian friends support the Serbian Armed Forces reform completely," he stated.

According to Diković the discussions with Mantelli will include also the possibility of repairing Serbian military equipment in Italy.

Cooperation in military education, training and economy is well developed, Diković said, adding that he and Mantelli would talk about further improvements in those areas and addition of new forms of cooperation.

During his first visit to Belgrade, Mantelli, who was welcomed formally at the Serbian military headquarters, pointed out also that the armies of the two countries "worked together in the First World War, when the Italian navy helped the Serbian army evacuate from Albania so it could recover and return to the front."
PHOTO OF THE DAY

On this Oxi Day, we remember how Greeks refused Mussolini’s advances in WWII, helping to turn the tide against the Axis Powers. That day, as in days past and future, the Greeks fought like heroes.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

 

 Lonely Planet discovers Kiparo and Pilur of Himara Region are Greek villages



Mountain villages of Albania: A stay in two Greek-Albanian mountain villages, Qeparo and Piluri – located about 4km apart along the old Vlora–Saranda road near the Ionian coast in southern Albania – is a memorable immersion in traditional local hospitality and simple highland cuisine. Piluri is claimed to be the birthplace of traditional Albanian iso-polyphonic singing (which is inscribed on Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage). It has fewer than 100 residents, but still keeps the singing tradition alive. Qeparo preserves the original architectural style of the region and guards some hundred-years-old olive trees. It also holds the dubious fame of being connected to an ex-head of the CIA, whose emigrant family originated from here. An easy nearby excursion is the Porto Palermo castle (associated with the notorious Ali Pasha), set on a picturesque peninsula overlooking the eponymous bay.

Where is Mr President to be “found”?

First entry: 27 October 2014
Where is Mr President to be “found”?
Where is Mr President to be “found”?
The dangerous escalation of Turkish provocations in Cyprus’s EEZ zone during the last few days is no coincidence. On the contrary, these are some absolutely deliberate and carefully planned moves by Ankara, aiming to hinder the positive developments pertaining to the upcoming exploitation of gas reserves by Greece and Cyprus, to which they belong by international Law of Sea.
Worrying intensely about the strengthening of Greece and Cyprus’s political and economic role in the broader area – which is also due to Athens and Nicosia’s cooperation with Tel Aviv and Cairo, Turkey is now trying to act ahead of developments and stop or at least obstruct the perfectly legitimate exploitation of the Cypriot and Greek underwater wealth with its usual method of “bullying”.
Turkey is actually attempting to forcefully take a piece of the “share” of someone else’s property! And it doesn’t restrict itself to direct and provocative declarations of aimless claims and demands regarding the internationally recognised Cypriot EEZ, presenting itself as a supposed “representative” of the illegal Turkish-Cypriot pseudo-state’s interests.
At the same time it is trying to “undermine” in any way possible the recognition of Greece’s EEZ in the Aegean, questioning a series of legal and sovereign rights that our country has. Ankara disputes the following:
  • Greece’s right to expand its territorial sea by up to 12 nautical miles, as the Law of Sea foresees and as almost every other coastal country in the international community has already done. This dispute is accompanied by war threats as well! Turkey is speaking of casus belli!
  • The range of the Greek national airspace, through constant violations by Turkish military aircraft.
  • Our national sovereignty over islands, through the novelty theory of “grey zones”. They reached the point of violating that sovereignty even in cases of inhabited islands. A clear example of this is the case of Kastellorizo. They even include it in the… eastern Mediterranean instead of the southern Aegean Sea, using this ridiculous “argument” to restrict the Greek EEZ and cut it away from the Cypriot one, although they normally border with each other. And we should not of course forget Turkey’s constant demand for the demilitarisation of the eastern Aegean islands, whatever that means and with what lurks behind it…
  • Greece’s powers within the Athens FIR (Flight Information Region), under ICAO rules (International Civil Aviation Organisation). Turkey is constantly refusing to comply with air traffic regulations, while at the same time questioning our country’s activity in terms of search and rescue operations within its area of control.
Facing all these constant and forever escalating disputes and illegitimate claims by Ankara, which are being promoted through war threats and violent infringements of our national airspace and waters – often with armed military aircraft flying over our inhabited islands, Greece must respond in a peaceful but at the same time determined and effective way, making use of all its “weapons” and particularly of its EU membership.
Also, in order for Greece to come up with an effective response, a national action plan is required, and all national powers must be united in implementing it. What else must happen for our state and political leadership to meet and liaise? Which point must the Turkish Barbaros and its war convoy reach for us to wake up? Why must our country always be united in national disasters and not in preventing them? And furthermore: Where is the President of the Greek Republic to be found? And what does he intend to do? Will he continue to remain silent and be… absent or will he finally take initiative so that our political leaders come together on crucial national issues? Will Mr Karolos Papoulias cease the opportunity to write a positive ending to his presidential term, which is coming to a close? Or will he continue with this deafening silence?

Greek ForMin condemns presence of Turkish vessels off Cyprus

First entry: 24 October 2014
Greek ForMin condemns presence of Turkish vessels off Cyprus
Greek ForMin condemns presence of Turkish vessels off Cyprus
Greek Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday condemned Turkey for "the flagrant violation of international law," referring to the presence of a Turkish research vessel and warships of the southern coast of Cyprus where Nicosia is already conducting research for hydrocarbons.
Issuing the statement on the occasion of United Nations Day, Venizelos underlined the duty of member states "to reflect on the fundamental chartered principles of the United Nations, the principles of respect for the sovereignty of member states, of abstention from hostile actions and from the threat of violence, of dedication to the peaceful resolution of differences, of respect for international law."
"Unfortunately, these principles are often violated in practice," Venizelos said, noting that, in Cyprus, the violation of international law continues 40 years after the invasion and ongoing Turkish occupation of the northern portion of the island.
Source: ANA-MPA

New poll gives Syriza 8.5-point lead over New Democracy

First entry: 25 October 2014Athens,

New poll gives Syriza 8.5-point lead over New Democracy
New poll gives Syriza 8.5-point lead over New Democracy
A new opinion poll has given Greece’s main opposition Syriza an 8.5 point lead over ruling New Democracy.
The Public Issue poll published in Efimerida Ton Sintakton on Saturday said support for Syriza was running at 35.5% against 27% for New Democracy.
To Potami comes third with 10.5% and the Greek Communist party KKE fourth with 6.5%.
Junior coalition partner Pasok follows with 6%, tying with the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party. The rest of the intended vote goes to Independent Greeks (3%), Democratic Left (1%) and “other” (4.5%).
These percentages would translate into 144 seats in parliament for Syriza, 71 for New Democracy, 28 for To Potami, 17 for KKE, 16 for Pasok, 16 for Golden Dawn and 8 for Independent Greeks.
 Journalist Executed by ISIS to be Honored With 2014 "Oxi" Greek Day Award
"James Foley in 2011" by CNN 

by Anastasios Papapostolou - Oct 15, 2014
"James Foley in 2011" by CNN“James Foley in 2011″ by CNN

American journalist James Foley, who was publicly executed by ISIS in Syria on August 19, will receive (posthumously) the 2014 Oxi Day Award for his extraordinary courage in the defense of freedom and democracy.


President Bill Clinton, who nominated Foley for the award, is expected to introduce Foley (via video) when the award is presented to his parents, Diane and John Foley, at the Fourth Annual Washington Oxi Day Foundation Gala on October 23, 2014 at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.

The Award is named after the one-word answer the Greek Prime Minister gave when Axis Forces requested surrender at 3:00 am on October 28, 1941 — “Oxi” (“No” in Greek). Hitler had just crushed 15 countries leaving Great Britain and Greece alone standing against Hitler. (Russia had a non-aggression treaty with Germany and America was still neutral). Yet heavily outnumbered Greece became the first country to defeat the Axis Forces moving President Franklin Roosevelt to say, “When the world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared to question the invincibility of the German monster…”

James Foley, the first American citizen killed by ISIS in response to American airstrikes in Iraq, showed the same David vs. Goliath courage against ISIS today that Greece showed against the Nazi forces in WWII. Foley, who served as a conflict journalist in Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Libya (where he was captured and held for 44 days by lethal extremists) and finally Syria, knew full well the danger into which he ventured. Yet, he proceeded because as he said, “I believe that front line journalism is important. Without these photos, videos and first hand experience you can’t really tell the world how bad it might be. These kinds of things are very important to me.” His extraordinary courage continued during his time as an ISIS hostage. A released fellow prisoner said of Foley, “He was an extraordinary person with a strong character. He never gave in to the pressure and violence of the kidnappers”.

This award will be presented at a full capacity black tie gala made up of high level US government officials, foreign dignitaries, national journalists and other opinion leaders and leaders of the national Greek-American community. Also present that evening will be John Foley’s brothers Michael and John (US Air Force) and their wives, sister Kathryn (US Navy) and other family members.

International musician and human rights activist Bono nominated and introduced 2013 Oxi Day Award winner John Githongo of Kenya, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen received the 2012 Oxi Day Award, and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi received the 2011 award for a female (the Battle of Crete Award).

In 2009, Foley became an embedded journalist with US troops in Iraq, where his brother was serving as an officer in the United States Air Force.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Greece and Serbia improve military co-operation

24/10/2014
Greece is an important partner to Serbia in developing its capacities for multi-national operations, EU integration and military education.
By Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade
photoSerbia's co-operation with Greece's military will help increase regional security and safety. [AFP]
The armies of Greece and Serbia are working together to improve defence co-operation and regional safety and stability.
According to Colonel Milan Konjikovac, acting chief of the Directorate for International Military Co-operation at the Serbia Ministry of Defence, co-operation in the defence sector with Greece has been seen in education, joint training and preparation for participation in multi-national operations.
"Military education co-operation between the two countries was established in 2003, and it is identified as a wide area of co-operation that will continue. More than 90 of our members have participated in various trainings at the Multinational Peace Support Operations Training Centre in Kilkis, in northern Greece, in the past 10 years," Konjikovac told SETimes.
"Greece is also committed to supporting Serbia's EU integration process," said Colonel Antonios Kostakis, Hellenic Republic's defence attaché to Serbia, at a recent meeting with Konjikovac.
"Greece will continue to support Serbia in the process of European integration, and it is ready to transfer experiences in the security and defence aspects of joining the European Union."
Konjikovac said Serbia could learn a lot from Greece's EU record.
"Greek experiences within the common security and defence politics of the EU, co-operation in projects of European Defence Agency and the concept of battle groups of the EU are valuable for us," he said.
Aleksandar Radic, a military analyst at the Euro-Atlantic Initiative in Belgrade, told SETimes that military co-operation with Greece is important because of geography, which could lead to other fields of improvement.
"When you go from military co-operation to military technical co-operation, which means joint work on development of military technologies and equipment, it indicates wider development and includes more interested parties, and there is a room for economic co-operation. Greece, as a NATO member, has access to the technologies, and there is a room for discussion on co-operation in some technological development," Radic told SETimes.

03/03/2014
He added that a joint military exercise could be the best next step, which would strengthen relations between officials and soldiers.
According to Greece Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Athens is willing to play a constructive and positive role in the western Balkans by promoting good relations and co-operation to help create an "oasis of security" for all people living in southeast Europe.
Konjikovаc said that Serbia's military co-operation with regional states contributes to the development of good relations and improvement of security and stability.
What other sectors could benefit from Serbia's co-operation with Greece? Tell us your thoughts below.
This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.

Serbian PM voices readiness for talks with Albania

BELGRADE - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that he is ready to talk with representatives of Albania, underscoring that all attackers on small shops owned by ethnic Albanians have been arrested in Serbia following the incident in the recent football match between Serbia and Albania.

In an interview to the weekend issue of the Belgrade-based daily Danas, Vucic said that he has not heard that any Albanian official actually condemned the incident that led to the Serbia-Albania match being abandoned because a drone carrying a map and other symbols of so-called Greater Albania appeared above the pitch.

"We take pride in the fact that we arrested the attackers and hooligans, and they take pride in their ghost flags as they are now calling them in the interviews in connection with the incident. They are telling us that this is the map of a Greater Albania, but that this has never been their national project. Then they are saying that they would like to join the EU united," Vucic said.

To a Danas journalist's remark that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that his policy is not the policy of a Greater Albania, Vucic said that he would like to believe in that.

As I would like to have seen the condemnation of such a serious provocation as the appearance of the drone with a Greater Albania map certainly is. And I have not heard that from any Albanian official. As you know, no Serbian official has approved of the pitch incursion by our fans, and all those who threw stones at ethnic Albanian shops have been arrested, the prime minister said.

When the journalist pointed to the fact that the stands reverberated with anti-Albanian chants, Vucic said that the shouts of hatred could be heard in matches between domestic clubs too, and asked : “Why didn't you take note that everyone was chanting against me in that stadium? …It is not the first time.”

He, however, said that “this is not nice”.
“The incident was directly caused by the drone and Albanian players who jumped on Serbian ones. Are we to blame for the pitch incursion and everything that happened after that? Yes, we are, and we will bear the consequences,” the prime minister said.

Speaking about the investigation into the incident, Vucic said that he would neither confirm nor deny that the brother of the Albanian prime minister was involved in it, but rather wait for the outcome of the investigation which “is being carried out very diligently”.

Asked about the smear attacks against Albanians in certain domestic media after the incident, Vucic said he himself demonstrated no hatred in any of his statements.

I certainly do not hate Albanians and am ready to talk with them any time. A part of them are citizens of our state and I will always have an honest dialogue with them, Vucic underscored.

I am afraid that sometimes there is room for concern that not only our media, but our behavior in general, are plagued by hatred, he noted.

Vucic said that he asked for the Albanian prime minister's visit to be postponed to November 10, from October 22 as was initially planned, “so as to create a possibility for rational talks”.
“I did not want to let someone trample on Serbia's pride the day after the incident. So, you cannot possibly try to cause instability in the state, and then say tomorrow: 'hahaha just a joke',” the prime minister said.

When the journalist indicated that there is no proof that the Albanian state leadership caused the incident, Vucic noted that he did not hear that Albanian officials condemned the incident.
“Someone did organize that. Let's wait and see the results of the investigation, have a little patience. Even if no one from the state was involved in that, it was no coincidence that I was informed in advance that something bad was in the works, about which I informed the European Commission, three hours before the match took place,” the prime minister said.


Photo Tanjug, J. Pap/ Archive
"Ethnos" Newspaper, Greece: The Grand Mother of Himara speaks..........





Looks like a dramatic story, a script for "Hollywood", a real event that occurred for 50 consecutive years, from the Second World War of 1940, to the collapse of the communist dictatorship in Albania in 1991.

6 Greek soldiers killed on the battlefield of the Italian - Greek, war, in the winter of 1940, in Skutara of Himara Region, and are
buried and held in top secret for 50 consecutive years in the yard of the home of a woman who at the time was 8 old years.

Ermiony Brigou is decorated with the highest title by the President of Greece, Karolos Papoulias, to honor the Greek soldiers, fallen in WWII.

"I am pleased to honor Mrs. Ermiony Brigou, from Himara of Northern Epirus" in name of the greek people, for the care shown to the fallen of the Greek soldiers to the front.

The Greek newspaper, Ethnos, has devoted a main page in its edition, about the history of this woman, which dedicates all women of Himara.


http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=64083985



Friday, October 24, 2014

Putin lashes out at US, West for destabilizing world

Published time: October 24, 2014 
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Vitaly Belousov)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Vitaly Belousov)

Vladimir Putin lashed out at the United States and the West for destabilizing the world order of checks and balances for its own gains. He also accused the West of inflaming the situation in Ukraine and said Russia is not interested in building an empire.
The Russian President delivered a fierce broadside aimed at the United States in a speech for the Valdai Club in Sochi, which is an informal group of scholars. He hit out at Washington for behaving without regard to the rest of the world's interests
“The system of international relations needed some changes, but the USA, who believe they were the winners of the Cold War, have not seen the need for this.” He added that the US has been trying to create the world “for their own gains." The Russian President added that because of this, regional and global security had been weakened.
During his speech, Putin used the Russian version of the Latin phrase, “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi” (what is allowed for god, is not allowed for cattle,) alluding to the double standards used by Washington.

US sponsoring Islamic extremism

Putin also touched on the issue of the growth of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and also accused the West of, "turning a blind eye," to the encroachment of international terrorism into Russia and Central Asia. Putin believes the US has played a considerable role in sponsoring the growth of Islamic extremism, using the example of Washington's funding of the Mujahidin in the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980's, which eventually gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
“It never ceases to amaze me how our partners have been guilty of making the same mistakes time and again. They have in the past sponsored Islamic extremists who were battling against the Soviet Union, which took place in Afghanistan. It was because of this the Taliban and Al-Qaeda was created,” the president added.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is the latest terrorist organization, which is destabilizing the world and Putin was scathing of countries that have been helping to fund the Islamist militants by buying cut price oil they are selling.
“Terrorists have been selling oil at really low prices and those countries who have been buying it and then selling it on, are financing terrorism, which will eventually come back to bite them,” the Russian President said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and former Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schussel during the final plenary meeting of the 11th session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi October 24, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and former Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schussel during the final plenary meeting of the 11th session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi October 24, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

Putin all for Nuclear cuts

Relations between Russia and the US have been plummeting for months; however Vladimir Putin accused the US of using the EU to further its own gains against Russia. He hit out at the numerous sanctions that have been imposed on Moscow, saying, "This was a mistake, which has a knock-on effect on everyone."
“The USA, which has implemented sanctions against Russia, is sawing at the branches, upon which they are sitting,” President Putin added.
The reduction of nuclear arsenals was another issue, which was high on the agenda for the Russian President and once again, he was not afraid of having a dig at Washington for their reluctance to cut the number of nuclear missiles. He mentioned that unfortunately many countries see the only way to preserve their sovereignty is, "To make a nuclear bomb."
The reduction in nuclear arsenals was initially proposed by the Obama administration and Putin admitted it had potential, before talks about decreasing weapons stockpiles collapsed.
"Russia has been all for the continuation of talks about the reduction of nuclear arsenals," and according to President Putin, "Moscow is ready for serious talks, but without “double standards."

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the wrap-up session of the 11th Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on 24 October 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the wrap-up session of the 11th Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on 24 October 2014. (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

Genie out of the bottle

Perhaps Putin's harshest criticism was reserved for the West's creation of color revolutions and "controlled chaos," which he a likened to "letting the genie out of the bottle," with particular reference to Ukraine.
"We have been trying to discuss the Ukraine issue with the EU for a long time, but we were told this was none of our business. They then put two countries against each other, which has led to countless destruction of infrastructure. When I asked why did they do this, they just shrug their shoulders and don’t have an answer," Putin added.
President Putin made reference to the ‘Bear’ defending its territory to take a swipe at the US for its continued encroachment towards Russia’s territory. “He is considered the owner of the Taiga, but he, I know for a fact, does not want to go to a different climatic zone, as it is uncomfortable for him there. However, he will not give it to anyone else; I think that this should be clear,” he said.
The Russian President said that there is no truth whatsoever in claims from the West that Russia is interested in empire building and that Moscow is looking to destabilize the world order. With relations between Russia and the West at a very low ebb, Putin also hinted Russia will look to develop allies further afield.
"Russia has made its choice – we want to develop our economy and develop democratic values. We work with our counterparts in the Shanghai Cooperation, the BRICS union for example. We want our opinions to be respected likewise. We all need to be cautious to not make hasty and dangerous steps. Some of the players on the global front have forgotten about the need for this," he said in another barb directed at Washington.

Western Balkans for stronger ties and cooperation

BELGRADE -- Countries of the Western Balkans continue to work together towards a common goal - safe environment, political stability and economic prosperity of the region.
(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)
This is what participants of an informal regional conference held in Belgrade on Thursday stressed in a joint statement.
This would ensure a better life for all our citizens, and promote our European prospects, said the foreign and finance ministers of the Western Balkan countries gathered for an informal meeting in the Serbian capital on Thursday.

The ministers discussed programs that could boost the economic growth and attract foreign direct investments to the region, improve structural reforms, regional cooperation and infrastructure projects, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a release.

The conference on the topic of 'Economic management and ties' is a continuation of the talks that took place at an informal meeting in Kotor, Montenegro, in July, the consultations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month, and the conference on the Western Balkans held on August 28 in Berlin, the release states.

Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić said at the opening that, ever since it was launched, the initiative to hold meetings in this format has proved beneficial for empowered action, dialogue and cooperation in the region.

Dačić thanked the outgoing EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule for his engagement and dedication which contributed to the success of this format of meetings, and to the strengthening of ties between countries of the Western Balkans and the European Union.

Fuele said that the European Commission is ready to support better interconnection between the Western Balkan countries in terms of transport and energy, adding that EUR 1 billion will be allocated for that purpose through IPA funds and that favorable loans totaling EUR 10 billion will be provided by the international institutions by 2020.

Closer regional ties and comprehensive economic reforms will send a strong signal to potential investors, Fule pointed out.

A joint statement was adopted at the end of the meeting, whereby the countries in the region committed to coordinate their economic cooperation and forge stronger economic ties, in cooperation with the European Commission, and so create more space for economic growth and employment.