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This elucidation of the past will serve us now and in the future, as well – By Prof. SAMI REPISHTI

By | June 26, 2015
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A courageous step towards full sovereignty By Harry Bajraktari

Congratulations are in order as Kosova moves to forms its own army

 

The parliament of Kosova kicked off today a 10-year transition plan towards the transformation of Kosova Security Force (KSF) into a full-fledged army.

It is both a courageous and a careful decision that proves once again the maturity of the young republic. It is courageous because Kosova institutions stood up for its rights as a sovereign country and fulfilled the will of the people. It was democracy in action. It was challenged by a climate of baseless panic and disinformation produced mostly by a growingly alarmist Serbia. However, the leaders of Kosova stood fast.

It is also a carefully thought and planned move. The transformation has only just begun. There were great celebrations in the streets of Prishtina, but changes are mostly symbolic, and the process is sober and serious. The structure and the mission of KSF will remain unchanged as the security force coverts itself into an army. A long process of military capacity building in cooperation and consultation with NATO, US and other allies has taken its first step.

This is how young democracies should behave. This is how countries that care about peace and stability of their region should act.

The decision has been criticized by Serbia, which is now calling for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Belgrade maintains that the new army’s real intention is taking control of the north of the country and implementing an ethnic cleansing of the local Serbs. It has gone as far as to threaten with military intervention.

Kosova has been criticized also by NATO and EU for the timing of this change and the lack of inclusion of the Serbian political parties in the process.

The concerns of our allies are important and Kosova is working hard to address them. However, in all honesty, if by “good timing” they mean waiting for an approval from Serbia, then it is a futile plan. Kosova is not rushing this process. This step is taken as the country approaches the 11th anniversary of its independence and the process will take another decade to be completed. 21 years is very long time for any country.

Instead of criticizing them, NATO and EU should praise the leaders of Kosova for their patience and restrain.

On the other hand, the allegations coming Serbia are completely unfounded. There are no plans to change the operations plans of the armed force of Kosova. The only country that has practiced ethnic cleansing in Kosova is Serbia and it has still to recognize and apologize for forcing one million of Kosovars out of Kosova within a few days, in 1999, in a move that earned worldwide condemnation. On the contrary, Kosova has been sponsoring for years the return of the ethnic Serbs in Kosova, has funded the rebuilt of their homes and has given them ample local decentralized powers like nowhere in Europe. Similarly, Kosova’s Army will defend all the people of Kosova, including the ethnic Serbs. Just like KSF, it will be a multi-ethnic force with a growing number of ethnic Serbs in its ranks.

If Serbia really wants to help the situation in Kosova, it should stop pressuring and threatening the local ethnic-Serbs to quit their positions in the republic’s multi-ethnic institutions including the police and the army.

I also hope that the call for an urgent session in the Security Council will not be taken in consideration. The world has many places that deserve urgent attention, where wars and famine are risking the lives of millions of people. Serbia and its ally, Russia, should stop trying to misrepresent the situation in the Balkans and treat it like a war zone. It hurts everyone, including the Serbs that the government in Belgrade claims to protect. But if this urgent session take place, I hope the threat of Serbia to intervene militarily in Kosova takes center stage. It has been the only recent threat to peace in the region that merits discussion.

Finally, I would like to express once again my deep gratitude to the United States of America, for its principled foreign policy in the Balkans, for being a great ally of Kosova, and for showing once again leadership when many of our European allies are demurring.

In my lifetime, I have seen some major milestones in the history of Kosova, including its liberation in 1999 and its declaration of independence in 2008. Today will count as one of those great moments, when a sovereign country, a freedom-loving people is exercising the legitimate right to defend itself.

Congratulations to the long-suffering people of Kosova on this great day for them. Congratulations to President Thaçi, Prime Minister Haradinaj, and Speaker Veseli. Congratulations to all the parties and the civil society for showing unity and determination in this great moment in history. God bless the United States of America and God bless the Republic of Kosova!

Harry Bajraktari is leader of the Albanian-American community from New York. He is the founder and former publisher of Illyria newspaper.

 

The Alliance for the Protection of Theatre fights to preserve Albania’s cultural heritage

The Albanian National Theatre in Tirana, Albania. Photo courtesy of Aleanca Per Mbrojtjen e Teatrit, photo used with permission.

A fight is on to protect the National Theatre in Albania.

For more than three months, artists, activists, and ordinary citizens have been protesting on a daily basis in the Albanian capital of Tirana in response to the government’s decision to demolish the historical monument building. Their plan is to replace it with a more modern building proposed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.

This is a public-private partnership whereby the Albanian government will grant land to the Fusha company to further develop and enhance the area.

Protests demanding the president to veto the Special Law. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

To legitimize the partnership, the government proposed a Special Law in February 2018 (nicknamed The Fusha Law by opponents) that favors procurements and contracts like this.

The parliamentary opposition refused the law, claiming it infringes on the Constitution and the 2003 Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) because it breaks free market competition criteria.

The majority of the ruling Socialist Party voted in favor of the law on June 5, 2018, despite all opposing legal arguments.

As news about the planned Special Law erupted, artists and activists created The Alliance for Protection of the Theatre to demonstrate their commitment to saving the historic building.

Public hearings create deeper divides

In the aftermath of the announced law, the Alliance pushed back in defense of the National Theatre. Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj organized three “public hearings” on behalf of the Ministry of Culture to hear the group’s grievances. However, observers suggested these hearings seemed orchestrated to create a discord rather than unity.

During the hearings, the director of the Construction Institute, Agron Hysenlliu, claimed that “activity in [the theatre building] must be suspended as it lacks the technical conditions for safety as to the necessary standards,” according to his state agency’s assessment. However, this institute never released these assessments to the public, further inciting doubt about the veracity of these claims.

Petitions, counter-petitions, propaganda

Citizens sign the petition for the protection of the National Theater. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

The Alliance gained momentum as national public figures, historians, academics and journalists joined. The Association of Albanian Architects also made a declaration opposing the demolition of the theatre, stressing the historical and aesthetic value of its Rationalist architecture.

They asked the government:

not to erase the collective memory of the generations, and that any new theatre is welcome but we do not have to destroy the old one.

They also created a petition arguing that the theatre could be repaired and that no official document proves otherwise.

However, some artists in favor of building a new theatre made a declaration of support for the Special Law. This declaration received some fake signatures from those apparently living outside of Albania.

Meanwhile, the state has produced propaganda insisting that the neglected theatre presents a risk to artists who perform there, claiming that the building itself has no cultural value. In fact, they say the building was erected during the fascist period (1939-1943) when it served as a “dopo lavoro” or “working man’s club,” further undermining its legacy.

Historians Rubens Shima, Aurel Plasari and others refuted this claim, arguing that its 73 years of history should be preserved and respected with dignity.

“Even the [Communist] dictatorship, did not demolish it,” wrote Plasari.

At 16 million Euros (19 million USD) or less than 1 percent of the state budget, Albania’s annual fund for art and culture is the smallest in the region. Members of the Alliance claim that its degradation and lack of funding for a restoration was intentional.

They point to current Prime Minister Edi Rama who has intended to demolish the building since 1998 when he served as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. At the time, he closed the theatre but then Prime Minister of Albania, Pandeli Majko, decided against its closure. In 2002, when Rama became mayor of Tirana, he announced a development plan that would demolish the theatre and build towers instead. Back then, artists were more unified and a bipartisan petition demanded preservation of the building.

Institutional vacuum, limited international support

In 2016, Albania changed a third of its Constitution and implemented judicial reforms that created an institutional vacuum whereby a high number of judges and prosecutors deemed unfit to hold their posts were expelled.

According to the EU, these reforms were considered successful because it weeded out corruption. However, many high positions within the judiciary were left empty, including the Constitutional Court. It is therefore impossible to challenge the Special Law, considered unconstitutional by many, under these circumstances.

Even the Albanian president refused to sign the law and returned it to parliament, but he only has the right to return the law once for further deliberation and could no longer deliberate when the majority voted for the law.

Docomomo International, a watchdog organization striving to modernist monuments, issued the first international call to oppose the theatre’s demolition with an open letter urging authorities to preserve the building:

On the context of the extraordinary transformation and innovation period that the city is facing, and since a reconstruction project has been approved for the National Theatre of Albania and adjacent areas, Docomomo foremost concerns rely on the new plans for this cultural center which intent to erase its original integrity. The new, 9,300 square meters contemporary building will be placed in the heart of downtown, right close to the National Opera and the National Art Gallery, replacing the original theatre.

Europa Nostra also sent an open letter to the Albanian government calling the demolition an “alarming decision.”

A worthless “shack” or treasure?

“I am the Theatre” – a protestor holding a sign in Tirana. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

Despite voluminous pleas from major organizations and institutions, Mayor Veliaj continues to call the theatre a “shack” unworthy of repair.

As the Alliance sent petitions, filed suits and contacted EU headquarters, they also made a public declaration to stress multiple problems with the Special Law.

However, Albania is not yet an EU member. In preparation, they have signed the Stabilization Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU and will enter negotiations in June 2019.

Activists point out that if Albania becomes an EU member, then the Special Law would violate SAA agreements. They insist that the parliamentary majority is infringing the Albanian constitution both through contents of the law and via unconstitutional procedures.

EU officials responded to the Special Law by recognizing that it has no “competence to assess the compliance of the Special Law with the existing Albanian legal framework.” Nevertheless, they encourage the Albanian government “to pursue the compliance with EU public procurement principles and ensure non-discriminatory market access”.

While the EU was one of the key sponsors of Albania’s judicial reforms, it does not address the institutional vacuum left as a result.

Actor Neritan Liçaj addressing a message to the Prime Minister. Photo courtesy of Rudi Erebara, used with permission.

While the exact demolition date is unknown, it could be within three months. Some Alliance members say they will block the path of demolition crews with their bodies if necessary.

They see it as the only way left to achieve their collective goal of saving Albania’s cultural heritage.

Editor’s note: The author of this post is an active member of the Alliance for the Protection of Theatre.

Sesilia Plasari Open Letter to Luigi Soreca, The New EU ambassador

H.E. Ambassador Luigi SorecaHead of the European Union
Delegation to AlbaniaDear Sir,I believe it is only right that you should know that feelings of dismay still resonate throughout Albanian society to do with the significant hope and expectations invested in the appointment of your Excellency being shattered on your publication on Twitter of a photo of Erion Veliaj with some children.As are most beginnings of a new posting, no matter how thoroughly prepped, it is neither possible for you to know the individual referred to, nor his efforts to attract young and old, using the most disgusting mannerisms. These mannerisms of his have become the subject matter of cartoons, mockery, jokes, which also translate into a great deal of concern. All this would be easy for you to verify.

The Mayor of Tirana Municipality is one of the politicians who, – parallel to all the rest of the damage they have caused – have been trying to demolish the building of the old National Theater, a monument of multiple, important cultural and historical values. For these efforts to succeed they have stooped to the most loathsome of means. And they are unconstitutional means in the circumstances when the one and the same government has left the country without a functioning Constitutional Court. Instead of the monument of multiple cultural and historical values they plan to erect, apart from a so-called “new theatre”, hugely profitable complexes – to be built with what else other than suspect monies.

To accomplish this, the Mayor has fallen to the most undignified, or more appropriately put, disgusting levels. His verbal effusions against a section of the artists and citizens whose opinions differ to his, identify with such a vile gutter jargon which if I translated would certainly grate on your ears. He has absolutely no intention of apologizing to the public against whom a Mayor proclaims war; a public whose voice you have yet to hear. You haven’t heard them Mr. Ambassador, because Albania is a country under censorship: the media are muzzled and are not allowed to express the indignation of this public, to keep Albanian society at large, those who are against the destructive Veliaj & Rama plan, informed.

The protest of these people in defense of the National Theatre, as a monument of multiple cultural and historical values, began back in February and it perseveres, every day. There has been no rest for these people. They were present every day of the Summer months, in the protest in front of the building earmarked for demolition.

Your arrival, nonetheless , was a source of encouragement for them. You come at a moment when an important part of Albanian society feels discouraged by certain foreign diplomats even though you have important media access. Erion Veliaj has all the media outlets and the propaganda machine behind him. Your posting on Twitter can only have a negative impact, making him on the other hand, feel even more supported. Please be informed that Albanian society does have others who deserve your attention. Albanian society does not only have a Mayor of Tirana who lacks any kind of quality professional background apart from an NGO agitation track record, a Prime Minister who is his personal political tutor.

If you were to be informed about the means Albania’s opinionated Prime Minister uses, opposing the most distinguished of intellectuals of this country, then you would be briefed, for example, on recent comparisons the Prime Minister has drawn equating himself to Engineer Gustave Eiffel. Amongst the senseless delusions with which he struggles to brainwash public opinion is also the way he compares the “new theatre “ which he offers as a ‘donation” to the Albanians, to the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, no one has opposed or protested against the construction of a “new theatre,” wherever that may be built in Tirana, and even less so the protesters.

The protest of the people of the theatre, the architects, cultural heritage experts, historians, etc. ,who make up those groups in society sensitive to this issue, has been spearheaded against the demolition of the existing National Theatre as a monument of multiple cultural and historical values and not against a “new theatre. “

With futile efforts, Mr. Rama has even tried to denigrate Maupassant, with his conviction that if the great writer were alive, the Albanian Prime Minister would have convinced him to change his mind. To tell the truth, as you can imagine, if Maupassant were truly alive, such a character as this Prime Minister would have been a golden inspiration for his satirical works. Therefore, please have the courtesy, and make it happen that Albanian society does not feel such disappointment, because it has suffered more than ever these past few years the trials and tribulations of emigration – relevant facts and figures proving this are readily available. You know far better than we do that Europe can not support the emigrants.

I, the author of these lines, was a stage producer and lecturer. After 18 years of study and professional activity in France, I returned to contribute to this work in my own country, but I was compelled to leave for a second time because the government in office today treats the artists barbarously. And not just the artists, of course. I also had to leave because in contrast to my colleagues in Albania, who are compelled to keep their mouths shut and tow the line at the real risk of losing their livelihoods, I did not keep my mouth shut. Those of us who do not remain silent or refuse to buckle under soon find out that there is no employment for them in Albania. The experience of France and the protection it extends me, oblige me not to remain silent, not to conform, but to speak out also on behalf of those who can’t; and also to write to you.

Please accept, honoured Ambassador, my considerations of the highest respect,

Yours faithfully,
Sesilia Plasari

Original source: Hashtag.al

 

The Balkanista: No to the demolition of the National Theatre – your heritage is not for sale!

I once vowed to keep this blog free from opinions that could be construed as political, but there is one pertinent issue that has really grabbed my attention. Now before you all decry me as a political puppet, or as being paid by whichever political party or figure you think I am agreeing with, stop and actually take in what I am writing. I am not, have never been, and never will be affiliated with any political party in this country, but as far as I am concerned, this is an issue that transcends political agenda. To me, this is an issue that represents a possible precedent that if set, will trigger a chain of events that will have a devastating impact on the rich cultural tapestry of this fine country. As a writer, a creative, an Albaniophile, and a lover of art, history, and heritage, I feel it is my duty as an individual to stand up and have my say.

The topic of my ire is the issue of the National Theatre located in the centre of Tirana. For those that do not know, the National Theatre is a beautiful old building located a stone’s throw from the Bashkia and Toptani Centre. Set in the middle of a pedestrianised plaza and surrounded by stunning, brightly coloured Italian colonial-style buildings, with Bunkart 2 nestled in the middle, the theatre is a landmark building; the subject of many Instagram shots, a tourist attraction, and an important part of Albania’s artistic heritage.

Designed by Giulio Berte, and built between 1938- 1939, Teatri Kombetare has served as the epicentre of the Albanian theatre scene for almost 80 years. During this time its boards have been trodden by the countries finest actors acting in both the country’s and the world’s finest plays, all whilst being overseen by Albania’s best theatre directors.

Yes, it was built by Italian invaders with blocks held by the cement of fascist propaganda, and yes, over the years it was a place favoured by communists, dictators, and their minions, but it was also a place where history was made, and most importantly it is the place where the art and theatre scene of today came from.

In 2008, some non-technical research was undertaken by the Bari Polytechnic institute with regards to the prefabricated material that was used to build it. This cement/poplar fibre/algae mix was suddenly deemed unsafe and this combined with years of sub-standard maintenance and above-standard neglect meant that the building was unusable and a risk to public safety. Then a further technical assessment was undertaken by The Institute of Construction (a state institution) who were able to declare in just 14 days that the theatre was quite literally on the verge of collapse. I mean, the fact that it withstood a quick succession of earthquakes, including the biggest one in the theatre’s history and still stands unscathed is of little consequence- it has been deemed unsafe and that is that. The supposed state of its trembling structure, combined with the presence of asbestos (not a valid reason for demolition) meant that its demolition seemed to be the only option.

Then, on February 8th, a chain of events was set into motion that surpassed levels of efficiency that would make Nordic countries jealous.

In just a couple of weeks, the theatre and the land it stood on was ordered to be released, sparking suspicion that it was earmarked for development. Then an unsolicited proposal for a new theatre and a block of commercial buildings on the premises was submitted to the Municipality along with formal government plans to enter into a Private Public Partnership for the construction of the new theatre with the same company proposing the project.

The Government then submitted a draft law that would allow Fusha LTC (the company that tendered their unsolicited proposal) the sole right to the National Theatre area whilst giving the government itself the right to negotiate the concession contract on behalf of the public.

So, in just three weeks the project went from unsolicited proposal to being ready to go. During this time and subsequent months, hundreds of pages of documents were created, research was conducted, studies are done, consultations given- a seriously impressive administrative feat. What was even better was the fact that the Ministry of Culture was able to set up a working group for the evaluation proposal, review it, assess it, AND create a six-page report stating it was a super idea, all on the same day.

The subsequent draft bill was approved by the Council of Ministers before being approved by parliament just a week later, in the middle of ongoing protests. The decision now lies in the hands of President Ilir Meta who has promised the public that he “will not be affected by any external factors”. I wait with baited breath for the outcome.

The whole thing just stinks- unsolicited proposals, discrepancies in numbers, biased reports, shrinking expanses of public land, the creation of new laws at the speed of light so a project can be approved, levels of efficiency that surpass AI, and a handful of people to get exceptionally rich, whilst the rest of us get culturally poorer- it just doesn’t sit right with me.

There is a saying that culture and cultural heritage is what shapes us at the most fundamental level- we construct identities from stories, buildings, and objects that conjure up the past of our ancestors- for good and for bad. When we visit historic places we are walking in the footsteps of people that have all contributed in some way to our present as well as our future. Discarding these facts is the height of philistinism and cultural unsophistication, and it shows a willful ignorance towards the identity of the country and its people.

There is also another point that I think is being missed here. As far as I believe, we never really own the land we inhabit, we are mere custodians who are entrusted with preserving it for future generations. It is not our place, nor our right to erase parts of history to make way for self-serving, capitalist, steel monoliths that serve no benefit to the inhabitants of the city. No one is going to look back and say “I’m so happy that government demolished the old theatre”, quite the contrary, they are going to look back with regret and pity on the greed of a few that was a detriment to all.

Of course, I am aware that these plans include a new national theatre and whilst that is all very well and good, it is blatantly obvious that its inclusion is an afterthought designed to placate the public whilst someone gets rich from the immense profit to be had. I am all for building a new theatre but this does not mean that the old one should be demolished. Why not turn it into a museum? Or an educational centre? An exhibition space? Or something that is beneficial to everyone in society, not just the gilded few.

Whilst I am in favour of progress, I am completely and utterly against the demolition of a historical and cultural monument, and I am completely against the building of a horrific and by all accounts, potentially illegal development that will blight the landscape for generations to come. The rest of the world is scrambling to protect their history and to savour the memories of their past (good and bad) and for a country that seems so desperate to join the EU, demolishing cultural heritage against the will of the people is not going to do many favours.

Your culture and heritage are not for sale, and once it is gone, you cannot get it back.

Follow the Balkanista

KOFI ANNAN – THE PEACEMAKING SPIRIT OF THE UNITED NATION Nga Rafaela Prifti

Photo: A tribute to Kofi Annan, from his family. In Photo Kofi Annan with his loving family

 

The state funeral ceremony of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was held in his homeland Ghana on September 13. Several political dignitaries, world leaders and senior officials including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres were in attendance at the state funeral. Thousands of people filled a large hall in the capital of the Accra country, where Kofi Anan coffin was wrapped in a national flag. In his speech, Secretary General Antonio Guterres conveyed the qualities of Annan as “an extraordinary leader” and “also a man that everyone in the world, those living in extreme poverty, conflict and despondency, could see in him an ally. To the United Nations staff who continues in his footsteps and to the young people, he would say: always remember, you are never too young to lead and you are never too old to learn. ”

Kofi Annan led the United Nations organization from January 1997 to December 2006. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with the United Nations in 2001, for “their work for a more organized and peaceful world”. As the leading figure of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, the 7th Secretary General, Kofi Annan became subject of criticism for failing to do enough to prevent the deaths of 800,000 Rwandans during the 1994 genocide and thousands of Muslim men and boys killed in the Srebrenica massacre, Bosnia.

On August 22, at the memorial service held at the United Nation’s New York Headquarters, Secretary-General António Guterres signed the condolence book for Kofi A. Annan and paid tribute to the leadership of the former Secretary-General. A career diplomat and a long term high-ranking official of the organization, Annan encompassed an informed wisdom, considerable experience and an optimistic vision for the future. “DIELLI” is providing some excerpts from Mr. Guterres’ remarks to its readers:

“…Kofi Annan, one of the best of us, a man who embodied the United Nation’s values and made us all proud to call ourselves his colleagues. This is a personal loss for many of us. It is difficult to imagine what a blow it must be to his wife and to his family. Our hearts go out to them. We know how much Kofi meant to the world. I would like to say a few words about what he meant to all of us who work for the United Nations. Kofi Annan’s years in office were an exciting time. He put forward new ideas. He brought new people into the United Nations family. He spoke passionately about our mission and our role. He created a renewed sense of possibility both inside and outside our organization about what the UN could do and could be for the world’s people. Because of his long and varied career in different offices and departments, it sometimes seemed as though Kofi knew everyone personally. But even staff members who never met him, felt a bond with Kofi because he was really one of us.

….in many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. His most defining features were his humanity and solidarity with those in need. He put people at the center of the work at the United Nations and was able to turn compassion into action across the UN system. We are still reaping the rewards of the millennium summit when he brought the world together to tackle the first global targets of poverty and child mortality. His response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic united governments, non-government organizations and the healthcare industry and undoubtedly saved many lives.

And Kofi Annan faced up to the grave errors made by the United Nations in the 90’s in its response to the Rwanda Genocide and Srebrenica killings by shining a light inside the UN. The reports he commissioned aimed to make sure such terrible mistakes are never repeated and set the international community on a new course in its response to mass atrocities. A true voice for the voiceless, he did not shy away from the most challenging issues but worked creatively to bridge differences and protect the most vulnerable. He stood his ground without antagonizing others. His humility, good humor, courtesy and charm went hand in hand with enormous wisdom and strength. He will always remain vivid in my memory for as long as I live, but not essentially because of the fact that he was an extraordinary statesman, a remarkable diplomat, an inspiring leader, but above all because of his gentleness, of his warmth, of his friendship. He was indeed a good man and a gentleman. And always at our disposal, to support us, to comfort us, to be in full solidarity with us in any difficult moment. Perhaps we can best honor his legacy by recalling his own words delivered at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and I quote, “Securing real and lasting improvement in the lives of individual men and women is the measure of all we do at the United Nations.”

In these times of growing political divides and intractable conflicts, we need the peacemaking spirit of Kofi Annan more than ever.

After Mr. Guterres speech, Ghana’s Ambassador Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee made her remarks after signing the condolence book. Expressing the pride of a nation for its son, she stated that Mr. Annan was Ghana’s gift to the world.

Kofi Annan and Kosovo – “there are times when the use of force may be legitimate in the pursuit of peace” 1999

As Albanians, we are reminded of his position and role at a critical point of our history, namely, the Kosova war. In 1999, UN Member States led by United States as well as NATO launched a campaign of strikes on Serbia without Security Council authorization. In his statement at the First Peace Conference at the Hague, Mr. Annan conveyed that the renewal of effectiveness and relevance of the Security Council must be the cornerstone of international peace. He raised a question, if Europe at the end of the century can still witness the crimes of Kosovo, “can we be justified in speaking at all of human progress?” In the face of such terrors, such as mass killings and genocide, he said, it is hard not to lose faith in humanity altogether. Mr. Annan criticized the NATO bombing, but recognized that such regional approaches — which lack the worldwide credibility of U.N.-endorsed actions — are bound to continue as long as the Security Council cannot unite.” Then, Secretary General Annan presented the case of Kosovo to address the conflict between the domestic interest and the international security as a major impediment of the Security Council’s role as a peacemaker. “For this much is clear: unless the Security Council is restored to its preeminent position as the sole source of legitimacy on the use of force, we are on a dangerous path to anarchy. But equally importantly, unless the Security Council can unite around the aim of confronting massive human rights violations and crimes against humanity on the scale of Kosovo, then we will betray the very ideals that inspired the founding of the United Nations.” Ever attentive to the lessons that need to be learned, Mr. Annan advised in favor of a “new, more broadly defined, more widely conceived definition of national interest in the new century, which would unite the states in the pursuit of such basic Charter values as democracy, pluralism, human rights and the rule of law.”

Mr. Kofi Annan was the 7th Secretary General of the UN and the first leader of the organization from an African nation.

He admittedly preferred to quote an African proverb that says:

“The world is not ours…. It’s a treasure we hold in trust for future generations.”

To that, he added his own wisdom:

“And I often hope we will be worthy of that trust.”

Grushti i Shtetit, i drejtuar prej Kryeministrit të vendit, duhet të marrë fund Nga Romeo Gurakuqi

RENDI JURIDIK DHE KONSTITUCIONAL duhet të rivendoset në vendin tonë

Në vitin e Skënderbeut, lajmëtari i kësaj shpalljeje të bujshme, të përgatitur për propaganda të mirëfilltë errësonjëse ndaj vëmendjes së publikut, dikur një djalë plangprishës i kryeqytetit dhe sot, kryeministër i vendit, ka sjellë para nesh një projekt, me anë të të cilit kërkon të shkatërrojë kompleksin e dy teatrove më të rëndësishëm në vend, që gjenden në kompleksin e dikurshëm të Fondacionit “Skanderbeg”, themeluar në kohën kur Minister i Arsimit ishte një prej njerëzve më vizionarë, që ka patur populli ynë, Profesor Ernest Koliqi. Dhe kjo ministri kishte në stafin e saj intelektualët më të ditur të vendit asokohe, si: Vangjel Koça, Aleksandër Xhuvani, Anton Paluca, Padër Anton Harapi, Xhevat Korça, Mustafa Merlika, Dhimitër Berati, Atë Zef Valentini, Karl Gurakuqi, Ekrem Vlora, Dom Lazër Shantoja, Eqrem Çabej, Kolë Kamsi, etj.

Në republikat kontemporane oligarkike, ku ndërthuren metodat e sundimit të klikave sunduese të fundit të shekullit XV, me ato Sigurimit të Shtetit të kohëra komuniste të Kadri Hazbiut, mund të ndodhin gjithshka, por jo në një vend, që pretendon të jetë kandidat serioz për të hyrë në BE.

Në vjeshtën e vitit 2013 Ju kam thënë publikisht, se Rilindja ështe kuptuar si rilindje e politikave të marrëzisë së përçarjeve, konfiktit, segregacionit dhe të shkeljes së lirisë dhe grabitjes së pronës dhe pasurise publike, shkatërrimit të trashëgimisë kulturore.

Një establishment, që nuk gjeneron dot lirinë e garantuar, që godet liberalizmin dhe klasën e mesme, që në momentin e saj të parë të ngjizjes, që funksionon si një klike grupesh kriminale, nuk ka si të ketë të ardhme. E keqja është, se ajo mund ta fundosë vendin në kaos dhe armiqësi të tejskajshme.

Sot, pas 5 vitesh në pushtet, Ju i keni tejkaluar parashikimet, duke vendosur vendin në kaos, hajduterinë në sistem, sistemin konstitucional në kolaps dhe së fundmi keni vendosur çdo gjë nën kontrollin e Krimit të Organizuar, që po bën kërdinë në këtë vend.

Kryeministri, i dalë nga zgjedhjet e blera të qershorit të vitit 2017 bën sikur nuk kupton, se në çfarë udhe po shkon Shqipëria. Ai ka vendosur ta bëjë karrierën e tij politike, duke e hedhur Republikën dhe Shqipërinë në kaos, rrënim dhe ç’orientim strategik, duke ju hedhur Ju dhe anëtarësisë së PS, nga një copë thelë, nga plaçka e madhe, që po e grabit, ai dhe klika e Tij, që e mbështet fuqimisht.
Vesi më i keq i tij është përbuzja ndaj shtresës së varfër, që mbijetojnë në këtë vend për të fituar bukën e gojës me djersën e ballit, duke mos i siguruar asgjnjë të ardhme fëmijëve të tyre, dhunimi i ligjit, shkatërrimi i kuadrit kushtetues, dhunimi i intelektualeve, injorimi i elitës intelektuale të shoqërisë civile.
Ai zbavitet nga Kulla e tij me dramën, që po i sjell popullit shqiptar. Sillet sikur ndodhet në një kopësht zoologjik. Para tij sillen ortakët e tij groteskë, të zgjidhur nga kafazët e ruajtjes, që janë hedhur si qejtë të kafshojnë çdo cep të Shqipërisë, përmes banditëve të kontrolluar nga deputetët e fortë socialistë krahinorë, përmes Ministrisë së Punëve të Brendshme dhe Policisë Partiake të Shtetit, që u ka lënë dorë të lirë ushtarëve të krimit, që po bëjnë baterdinë dita-ditës në këtë vend. Bizneseve të tyre nuk guxon t’u afrohet askush, as policia kriminale, as tatimet e Arben Ahmetajt, as OSSH-ja, as UKT –ja e Erjon Velisë, as Policia ndërtimore, as taksat bashkiake.
Ju sot keni sjellë një akt për shkatërrimin e dy teatrove.
Unë jam sot këtu për të kërkuar ndaljen e çdo akti të kontestuar dhe fillimin e procedurave urgjente për plotësimin e boshllekur të krijuar në administrimin e së drejtës. Duhet një arbitër për të ndalë dhe për të ndarë davanë e luftës politike, që ka pllakosur politikën shqiptare.
Me forcë keni sjellë një ligj, që Ju lejon të bëni shkatërrime të hapësirës së mbrojtur kulturore të kryeqytetit:
Me këtë vendimmarrje:
1. Keni shkelur ligjin për qeverisjen vendore;
2. Keni shkelur ligjin për konçensionet dhe partneritetin publik-privat;
3. Keni shkelur kushtetutën, që nuk ju jep asnjë tagër, as qeverisë qendrore dhe as qeverive krahinore për të tjetërsuar pronat publike. Dhe të qeverisësh, nuk do të thotë të falësh pronat publike të rëndësisë së veçantë.

Të nderuar deputetë!
Arsyeja pse një ligj korruptiv, guxon të sillet në Parlament ështe, se shumica parlamentare u ka hequr prokurorëve dhe gjyqtarëve autoritetin, që u jep kushtetuta.
Këtë autoritet të hetuesit dhe të prokurorit, Mazhoranca ia ka dhanë Ministrit të Brendshëm, në kohën e të cilit, për herë të parë në historinë e tranzicionit, ndodhen së paku dy vrasje enigmatike brenda stukturës së Ministrisë së Brendshme, ndërsa rolin e Gjykatësit Suprem e ka marrë Kryeministri i vendit.

Sot do t’i kërkoja përfaqësuesve të mazhorancës ndryshimin e kalendarit parlamentar. Gjithashtu është e nevojshme gjetja e një zgjidhjeje për vakumin e krijuar nga grushti antikushtetues i shtetit, i krijuar nga rënia e paramenduar e Gjykatës Kushtetuese.
Boshllëku nuk mund të vazhdojë më, ndaj për të bërë një zgjidhje emergjente, unë propozoj:

Ngritjen e një Komisioni Ekspertësh Konstitucionalistë, që do të përgatisin brenda pak ditësh, e theksoj, brenda pak ditësh, propozimet për ndryshimet e nevojshme kushtetuese në aktet transitive, ose në aktet themeltare, që do të mundësojnë vetëm vendosjen në funksion të Gjykatës Kushtetuese, ndryshe nga pjesa tjetër e sistemit të drejtësisë, së cilës do t’I duhet t’i lihet koha e nevojshme për të kryer vetingun. Duhet të gjendet një modalitet që t’i hapë rrugën kushtetuese Presidentit të Republikës, që të hedhë shortet e Këshillit të Emërimeve në Drejtësi, derisa të gjendet zgjidhja e kandidatëve për Gjykatën më të lartë të vendit, ose duhet të gjendet një zgjidhje e përkoheshme, ashtu sikur deshet të zgjidhnit për prokurorinë.
Duhet një zgjidhje me ligj të posaçëm të boshllëkut të krijuar në vend me Gjykatën Kushtetuese, pa penguar procesin e vetingut për institucionet e tjera të drejtësisë së re.
Kjo masë emergjente do të vendoste në kushte te barabarta të vlerësimit të së drejtës, sjelljen institucionale dhe vendimarrjen politike të krahëve të spektrit parlamentar dhe do të shmangte konfliktin politik të paparimtë dhe të pambarimtë.
E theksoj këtë, sepse shoqëria gjendet para një egërsie të shfrenuar të Kryeministrit të vendit dhe sankylotëve rreth tij, të cilët po perdorin rreth 60 deputetë socialistë me formim të cunguar, të sjellur nga periferia e vendit, të pandjeshëm për sentimentet qytetare të Tiranës dhe për trashëgiminë kulturore të mbetur të kryeqendrës së vendit. Provincializmi Socialist, që është në fakt minoritar në shoqëri, dikton sot politikat dhe vendimarrjet më të rëndësishme në vend. Një sistem i tërë piramidal i shkëmbimit të interesave të një grupi puthador dhe lëpirës deputetësh, i kapjes së kokës se tyre në korrupsion, favore dhe trafikim, i përdorimit abuziv të paditurisë së tyre sistematike mbi të vërtetat historike dhe kulturore, mban peng Parlamentarizmin dhe Europianizimin institucional të vendit tonë.
Mazhoranca parlamentare gjendet e drejtuar nga një njeri, që ka mprehur shpatën dhe po godet Republikën, po dërrmon ndarjen e pushteteve brenda saj, parimet e shpjegueshmerisë dhe përgjegjshmërinë në qeverisje, tolerancën në komunikim, etj.
Kjo është vetëm shfaqja e jashtme, që mbart brenda interesat e korrupsionit dhe krimit të organizuar ku është ngërthyer e tërë Kupola drejtuese e PS-së.

Të nderuar kolegë!

Sistemi ynë penal parashikon sanksione në rast të dhunimit të kushtetutës.

Grushti antikushtetues i Shtetit, përkufizohet si krim politik, duke u artikuluar në krime kundër sigurisë së brendshme dhe kundër sigurisë ndërkombëtare të shtetit. Të gjithë kanë nje karakteristikë të përbashkët se janë krime, që drejtohen kundër institucioneve politike shtetërore dhe përkundër stabilitetit të vendit

Zbulimi i këtyre krimeve u besohet zakonisht gjykatësve penalistë. Kushtetuta e Republikës së Shqipërisë ndalon drejtuesit më të lartë ekzekutivë të kryejnë atentat kundër Kushtetutës së vendit.

Në këtë rast Prokuroria e Përgjithshme ka detyrën e hetimit të krimit të shkaterrimit te Gjykates Kushtetuese dhe pengimit afatgjate te rindertimit te saj

I bej thirrje kryeprokurores që ta hetojë çështjen.

Askush nuk mund ta pengojë drejtësinë dhe aq më pak të parën drejtësi, që ruan stabilitetin, Drejtësinë Kushtetues.

Kryetari i Mazhorancës, mbasi e ka dërrmuar sistemin, po pengon dhe po saboton ri-Konstituimin e Gjykatës Kushtetuese, me veprime dhe mosveprime. Ai ka detyrim institucional të arsyetojë dhe veprojë pozitivisht në plotësimin e boshllekut të krijuar. Dhe Ai nuk e bën, qesh dhe tallet.

Ndaj, Grushti i Shtetit, i drejtuar prej Kryeministrit të vendit, duhet të marrë fund sot: RENDI JURIDIK DHE KONSTITUCIONAL duhet të rivendoset në vendin tonë.

-10:06

Interview with the Hero of Kosova, Ambassador William Walker – Head of the Kosova Verification Mission By Mimoza Dajçi

– New York, 2016

 

Greetings, Mr. Ambassador! I am glad to have the opportunity to meet and talk with you.

January 2016 marked the 17th anniversary of the Reçak massacre, where as Head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, you were the first to denounce it as a massacre and make it clear to the world that crimes against humanity were being committed by Serbian forces. What are your feelings about the atrocious crimes and events, many years later?

Ambassador William Walker: I still remember the horror of going into the village of Recak, on a very cold winter day. I saw bodies of the men and boys of the village, who had been killed the night before. It’s hard to forget something like that.

I go back to Kosova, to the anniversary memorial service every year that I can, and still feel the emotions I had that day. What I said, was the simple truth – it was what I saw. If that got the world to concentrate on what was happening in Kosova, that is great.

During the 1998-1999 war, the women of Kosova were also subjected to violence by Serbian forces, as there are more than 20,000 cases of rape. Can we touch upon the terror women had to live through, how the war impacted their lives and the consequences they have to live with to this day?

Ambassador William Walker: I am glad you mention that. Consequences of the war on the women of Kosova were very, very grave. There is a book written by a woman there, on the experiences of women during the war in Kosova. It deals with women being very badly treated and being raped. The author had it translated into English and I wrote an intro to the book, because I think it’s a very important and powerful description of what happened to the women of Kosova at the hands of the Serbs. And as you say, there are consequences to this day. There are children that were born of these rapes, women whose lives were absolutely ruined by what happened to them.

I am also pleased to say that the women of Kosova are very strong. Every time I go there, I see evidence of that. I see women going into politics and doing all sorts of things that maybe before and certainly during the war, they wouldn’t have done.

When I first went back to Kosova after the war, and went to some of the villages, the Mayor of Prishtina put at my service a young female interpreter. She was a very timid young lady who married at 16, through an arranged marriage, and had two children of whom she was very proud. She would interpret for me at the meetings we had, where the entire village would come “to talk to Walker”. The men of the village would then invite me back and I told them I would come back the next time, only if those women who are in the back of the room, are brought up front.

My interpreter and I talked a lot as we went around the villages for several days. I encouraged her to do something else with her career besides working in the Mayor’s office. The next time I visited Kosova, she was going to the university and the time after that, she had a good job. She went on to become one of the principle women of the parliament with Ramush Haradinaj’s party. Unfortunately, during a recent riot in the parliament, Donika threw tear gas at the governing coalition. She is a very strong woman.

During your visit in Kosova, on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the Reçak massacre, you were honored with the “Shkelzen Haradinaj” award, as well as declared an Honorary Citizen. What does this mean to you?

Ambassador William Walker:  It is a great honor. I think they have named a street after me and the government is also building a statue for me out by Reçak. Government officials as well as myself put some cement at the place they have designated for the statue.

Have you had the opportunity to visit Mitrovica and the tower of the Boletini family?

Ambassador William Walker: I have not visited the Boletini Tower but was last in Mitrovica about 4-5 years ago. Unfortunately, that is another terrible situation….

You have stated in the past, that the establishment of a special court to investigate crimes allegedly committed by members of the Kosova Liberation Army, was unnecessary. Is it your impression that this statement was taken into account by the internationals?

Ambassador William Walker: Yes, I have voiced objections to the concept that Kosova needs special courts. If the international community has helped establish the justice system, they should have confidence in the justice system, instead of looking for something else to really bring justice.

I am in favor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague. I went and was one of the principal witnesses against Milosevic. I talked at great length about Reçak and some of the other things I saw in Kosova. I am sorry that each trial takes 3-4 years.

Do you believe that the establishment of this new court comes as a consequence of Dick Martin’s and Carla Del Ponte’s accusations, which may have negatively influenced the international community against Albanians?

Ambassador William Walker: I really don’t know. Things happen in mysterious ways. My feeling is that the European Union, the international community, somehow feel that more should be done and they must show unevenness that a number of Serb war criminals were in fact tried and convicted. The one I was involved in, was Nikola Sainovic, who is a really bad man and was convicted. The internationals may think we have to have a special court to try Kosovars. Totally unnecessary!

Vojislav Seselj was recently found not guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague. Do you agree with the Tribunal’s decision?

Ambassador William Walker: I am particularly upset that one of the major war criminals from Serbia was acquitted. Seselj is, was and remains one of the most radical voices of Serb nationalism, which is exactly what led so many young Serbs to go into Kosova and do the horrible things they did. So I think he is very responsible for what happened. He is not a nice man. Sending him back to Serbia to be a hero and continue his vicious ways, of course I think the court made a big mistake. I understand there is an appeal and maybe three years from now there will be another decision.

 

Thank you!

Is it crazy to see Albania’s EU relationship as a model for post-Brexit Britain? Written by Epidamn Zeqo

Michael Gove, UK Justice Minister and Brexit campaign leader, proclaimed that after a successful leave vote, the UK could trade with the EU/Single Market like the three impoverished countries of “Bosnia, Serbia and Albania.” These western Balkan countries are EU candidate states and have a constricting free trade agreement with the bloc covering certain goods and some financial services.

Brussels sees these bilateral pacts, known as “stabilisation and association agreements” (SAAs), as special support for post-communist transition economies at the start of a long journey towards EU membership, rather than a divorce settlement for an integrated and developed one. Yet the SAA is a sui-generis or unique relationship between the Single Market and the EU candidate states in the Western Balkans, therefore, it has created the precedent of being able to trade goods with the Single Market without membership.

Only a seasoned Tory MP like Mr Gove was shrewd enough to seize on this valid precedent. It might go down well with the UK business community because it demonstrates that you do not need to pay the hefty EU membership fee to trade goods. It should be looked at more carefully as it does have elements of an “alternative model” for a Brexit vis-a-vis joining the European Economic Area with Switzerland and Norway who semi-automatically apply EU law, accepts free movement and pays into the EU budget.

Mr Gove’s remarks have drawn scorn with pundits and pro-EU opponents considering the apparent reference of the “Albanian model” as a “tactical blunder”, “crazy”, and “strange and absurd”.

Even Albania’s prime minister, Edi Rama, offered his op-ed to the Times, saying that “It’s absurd to drag Albania into the battle for Brexit”. In an attempt to “roll with the punches”, Rama went on to thank Gove for giving Albania a welcomed dose of publicity before the summer holidays and to invest (I guess being ridiculed is better than being ignored?).

Everyone knows it’s erroneous to compare any of the Western Balkan countries with the United Kingdom. Moreover, the SSA is a quasi-developmental trade deal so it won’t suit the needs of a cosmopolitan nation like the British. For example, Albanians, Bosnians and Serbs are not allowed to move freely and settle in the EU. Tony Barber’s sarcastic comparison of the Albanian post-communist exodus (1.25 million Albanians, almost a quarter of the population) to the two million Brits living and working in the EU was classless and unnecessary.

Evidently, these countries are just bad models in every aspect of governance, politics and the rule of law. But wasn’t Gove merely referring to the relationship that EU candidate states like Albania and Serbia have with the EU, and the precedent created by the SAAs? I was also surprised that critics have focused predominantly on Gove’s suggestion of following an “Albanian model”, pitilessly pointing out how absurd any comparison is. I’m puzzled why they did not call it the “Albanian precedent”? What about the “Bosnian model”?

Reading all the witty reactions I doubt if Britain and Albania are mutually exclusive? What do Brits really know about Albania and Albanians? British literary giants such as Shakespeare, Gladstone, Disraeli, Byron, Eduard Lear, and Edith Durham have all portrayed Albania. In the 19th Century, Byron and great painters such as Lear and Leon Jérôme, presented European chancelleries with noble views of proud and dignified Albanians.

Despite this, perceptions today towards the Western Balkans and Albania in particular are largely at odds with Byron’s romantic representation. Instead, Brits are uneasy with the idea of these countries joining the EU and view the culture at odds with their own, at least to a certain extent. Who can blame them, positive stories do not translate into popular culture as easily as the hit movie Taken. Albania is still considered an unworthy European state by most EU members.

It is true that the issue of the form of the state and its substance may not yet have an adequate policy and certainly not productive political culture in both Albania and Kosovo. However, this does not hinder the trend for progressive development in the future. It’s imperative that thepost-communist Albanian elite understands that aside from the political and economic dimensions of EU integration, the cultural integration is mission critical. This is because the dissolution of prejudice is the first step that leads to recognition.

Mr Gove, may I humbly suggest that it could be time to recognise that the best “Brexit model” could just be the “Bremain model” – in other words, the existing “UK model” with opt-outs in the EU. After all, being part of the EU/Single Market but not of the Schengen and the Eurozone looks like an excellent deal to most member states who are obliged to join all the pillars of our Union.  Outgoing US President Barack Obama was perhaps correct to warn that it would be “a big mistake for Britain to leave the EU and set asunder what has been a very successful relationship”.

It makes sense that the President of a more successful union (USA) weighs in favor of unity of another incomplete Union (EU). I say the EU is incomplete because it still does not have a fiscal dimension, and it’s missing a key portion of the European jigsaw puzzle – the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.

Epidamn Zeqo holds an MSc in European Political Economy from the London School of Economics and a dual MA in International Relations and Modern History from the University of St. Andrews. A native of Albania, he lives and works in London.

Counterrevolutionary Russia By Roger Cohen

TALLOIRES, France — For much of the 20th century Russia was a revolutionary state whose objective was the global spread of communist ideology. In the 21st century it has become the preeminent counterrevolutionary power.

The escalating conflict between the West and Moscow has been portrayed as political, military and economic. It is in fact deeper than that. It is cultural. President Vladimir Putin has set himself up as the guardian of an absolutist culture against what Russia sees as the predatory and relativist culture of the West.

To listen to pro-Putin Russian intellectuals these days is to be subjected to a litany of complaints about the “revolutionary” West, with its irreligious embrace of same-sex marriage, radical feminism, euthanasia, homosexuality and other manifestations of “decadence.” It is to be told that the West loses no opportunity to globalize these “subversive” values, often under cover of democracy promotion and human rights.

Putin’s Russia, by contrast, is portrayed in these accounts as a proud bulwark against the West’s abandonment of religious values, a nation increasingly devout in its observance of Orthodox Christianity, a country convinced that no civilization ever survived by “relativizing” sacred truths.

Beyond Putin’s annexation of Crimea and stirring-up of a small war in eastern Ukraine (although large enough to leave more than 6,000 dead), it is this decision to adopt cultural defiance of the West that suggests the confrontation with Russia will last decades. Communism was a global ideology; Putinism is less than that. But a war of ideas has begun in which counterrevolution against the godless and insinuating West is a cornerstone of Russian ideology. To some degree, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey shares Putin’s view of the West. China, meanwhile, finds uses in it.

Gone is the post-Cold War illusion of benign convergence through interdependence. Something fundamental has shifted that goes far beyond a quarrel over territory. Putin has decided to define his power in conflict with the West. The only question is whether he has limited or all-out conflict in mind.

This Russian decision has strategic implications the West is only beginning to digest. It involves an eastward pivot more substantial than President Obama’s to Asia. Putin is now more interested in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, whose core is China and Russia, than he is in cooperation with the G-8 (from which Russia has been suspended) or the European Union.

China reciprocates this interest to some degree because a Moscow hostile to the West is useful for the defense of its own authoritarian political model and because it sees economic opportunity in Russia and former Soviet Central Asian countries. But China’s fierce modernizing drive cannot be accomplished through backward-looking Russia. There are clear limits to the current Chinese-Russian rapprochement.

As a senior European official attending a conference organized by Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs put it, Russia’s is a “loser’s challenge” to the West, because it has given up on modernization and globalization, whereas China’s is potentially a “winner’s challenge,” because it is betting everything on a high-tech, modern economy.

Of course, being irrational and quixotic, losers’ challenges are particularly dangerous. Putin has gobbled a chunk of Ukraine after it pursued a trade pact with the European Union. He has said he’s adding 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to Russia’s stockpile. He has increased flights of nuclear-capable bombers. The message is clear: We’re leaning in on nukes.

How should the West respond? It cannot alter the appeal of its values to the world — witness the hordes of people dying in the attempt to get into the European Union. (Rich Russians have also been pouring into the West in search of the rule of law.) So what Russia sees as Western “subversion” (like the tilt of sane Ukrainians toward Europe) will continue — and it should.

The West must protect the right of peoples in the East-West in-between lands. The citizens of Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia and other states have the right to attain Western prosperity through Western institutions if they so choose. Poland and the Baltic states, now protected by membership of NATO, are inevitably magnets to them.

This new protection should borrow from the policies behind Cold War protection of Germany: firmness allied to dialogue. The West, in the words of Tomasz Siemoniak, Poland’s defense minister, has been “excessive” in its caution. Holding NATO exercises in Latvia, creating a new 5,000-strong rapid-reaction NATO “spearhead force,” and moving 250 tanks and other equipment into temporary bases in six East European nations is something. But the permanent and significant deployment of heavy weapons in the region is needed to send a message to Putin, as is greater European defense spending, and a clear commitment to maintain sanctions as long as Ukraine is not made whole with full control of its borders.

In the end, the very Western ideas and institutions Putin demeans will be the West’s greatest strength in the long looming struggle against Russian counterrevolution.

Self-defeating Daniel Serwer’ Answers Express’questions

Shpend Limoni at Pristina daily Gazeta Express asked some questions this morning about the defeat in the Kosovo parliament of the much-discussed proposal for a special court to prosecute some war crimes cases. Here in English are his questions and my replies:

Q: Kosovo rejected the creation of Special Court on yesterday’s vote in Parliament. US Ambassador Samantha Power a couple of days ago said that this issue would be a test for Kosovo leader’s credibility. Is there any consequence that Kosovo will face in the future?

A: Yes. At the very least, Kosovo will be seen as unwilling to administer justice to those who sullied the reputation of the Kosovo Liberation Army by committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and murder. For a country seeking international recognition and acceptance, that is not good.

There is nothing patriotic about such crimes—a Kosovo patriot should want to see the perpetrators brought to justice.

I hasten to add that it is not easy to do that. It is still too difficult for the Kosovo judicial system, which in any event has no jurisdiction over crimes committed in Albania. There is no realistic possibility of a serious prosecution in Kosovo.

Q: Prime Minister Mustafa and his Deputy Hashim Thaçi said that issue of Special Court would be on Kosovo Assembly agenda soon rejecting the creation of Tribunal by UN. Is it to late for Mustafa and Thaçi?

A: My understanding is that the constitutional amendment required failed to get a two-thirds majority by just five votes. That could change tomorrow if the political will can be found.

Q: US ambassador in Prishtina Tracey Ann Jacobson on here first reaction said that US won’t put veto against initiatives to establish a Tribunal under UN mandate. Do you think such Tribunal will be imposed?

A: Foreign Minister Thaçi said it well in Parliament: “We have two options: to create this court ourselves, together with the EU and U.S., and to end this issue once and for all in three to five years; or we fail and it will go to the U.N. Security Council where the court will be created by the opponents of Kosovo independence and will last 15 to 20 years.”

The sad fact is that Kosovo in the future will find it difficult to get many kinds of help from the US and EU if this decision stands.

This elucidation of the past will serve us now and in the future, as well – By Prof. SAMI REPISHTI

 

The Honorable Hellmut Hoffmann/

22 June 2015/

Ambassador, Federal Republic of Germany/
German Embassy/
Rruga Skenderbeu, Nr. 8/
1000 – Tirana, Albania/

Dear Mr. Ambassador:/
My name is Sami Repishti. I am a U.S. citizen of Albanian extraction.
I was born in Shkoder (Albania) in 1925, and educated there. As a student I opposed the Fascist and Nazi regimes. In 1943, my father, age 61, fell victim of the fascist terror. In 1944, my 17 year old cousin, was executed by the Nazis at the Mauthausen Nazi Camp .
In 1945, I opposed the forceful installment of a communist government in Albania, was arrested, cruelly tortured, and sentenced to 15 years in jail and forced labor. Released in 1956, despised and harassed, I escaped to then Yugoslavia, kept one year incommunicado, and sent to a refugee camp. In 1961, I entered Italy, and in 1962, emigrated to the United States as a political refugee. Since then, I have been living here with my family.
During my years in this country, I earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. French at the universities of Paris and the City University of New York , a diploma which enabled me to teach foreign languages in high schools and as adj. professor of French at the Adelphi University(N.Y.). Before, and after my retirement ,1991, I worked for the cause of human rights, with a stress on Albania, as well as Kosova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Presheva Valley and Çhameria, areas with large Albanian populations.
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Today, I am taking the liberty of writing to you encouraged by your latest activities on behalf of the Albanian victims of the Communist terror, especially the constructive joint initiative of the Embassy of the F.R. of Germany and the OSCE Office, Tirana, to initiate a public dialogue on the communist past in Albania. This initiative intends to get a clearer panorama of the level of knowledge that the different strata of the local population possess regarding the Communist past. It is hoped that the results will offer opportunities for new and more comprehensive initiatives on this subject, it was reported in the Albanian press in America.

The OSCE Office, Tirana, the party responsible for “the project” will ask-and find- the assistance of various sections of the Albanian civil society: in schools, especially in schools, and in the community at large, where serious discussions regarding the history of the flagrant violations of the most elementary human rights by the Communist regime of the dictator Enver Hoxha and his “camarilla”, will take place. It is hoped that by the end of the calendar year this activity will culminate into a wide and profound dialogue. For this search for truth and struggle for a reconciliation I am deeply grateful to several German foundations, in particular to the “Conrad Adenauer Stiftung”, for their valuable contributions.

I agree that for a success, the initiative must be primarily an Albanian one, intensely felt by Albanians ready, willing, and able to get engaged. I salute the conclusion of the Honorable Florian Raunig, representative of the OSCE Office, Tirana, that there was a lack of good will among the political party elites in the past, as I support his insistence that this time “they must do more”. He is starting the “project” convinced of the imperative necessity of an all-inclusive Albanian dialogue on the goals and the expectations of the entire Albanian society, as well as “…on the various initiatives proposed until now for the treatment of this difficult history”.

On June 2, in a seminar organized and held at the German Embassy in Tirana, the highly respected, and experienced, Mr. Roland Jahn, informed the attendees that the process of the opening of the Communist files must be “an open and a multidimensional initiative”. He added that ” the treatment of the past is not simply the review of the files; at their heart they are essentially human beings, victims brutally affected – and we must assure the victims that they will see a positive impact from the process. Otherwise, what’s the value of the disclosed documents? …We should make them available to the victims, so that they will know their past better, a past that in many cases is terrible, unimaginable”. Simply stated, the process is not individual but institutional, and it’s not for flimsy reasons, but for existential reasons. (In Germany) “…that was an enormous challenge for the application of the laws on files… Transparency is a multi-dimensional (audio and) visual activity, scientific approach, filming of witnesses, and full size movies…” so that people will learn the utmost about the injustices perpetrated by the instruments of the dictatorship . This elucidation of the past will serve us now and in the future, as well.

The results achieved will also assist us in weeding out the Administration and public services (Lustration!) of the people with a criminal past, increase public confidence in the Government –central and local- “…and prevent the re-entering into public services of the former secret police agents”. Evidently, this should be a major objective of the initiative. “The more we understand the dictatorship, the more we build the foundation of our democracy”. As it happened in Germany “…the opening of the STASI files made it possible the change of the political and social elites”. I fully agree with Mr. Jahn that”…in Albania there are specific problems related to the treatment of the Communist dictatorship; yet, the way of solving (them) should be direct conversations, open dialogue among the parties since the wide opening of the Communist past can be achieved only by collaborating with each other, and not by opposing each other”.

It is very heartening to me, a victim of the Albanian Communist terror, to learn about the “exposition” organized by your Embassy in Tirana, on June 12, 2015, at The National History Museum. You spoke about German victims of “ethnic cleansing”, (mostly by definition innocent victims. Albanians know the deleterious effect from their recent experience in Kosova) mostly in Poland and in the former Czechoslovakia, in 1945. Fortunately, they had a “motherland” Germany – and especially West Germany- they could call “Heimat”. In 1918, this safety net was missing. Germany as a whole was unable to rise from the ruins of WWI. As a result, many Germans, especially youth without perspectives for the future, turned into “adventurers”, seeking satisfaction in places where action was strong and violent. They were “Heimatloss”!

That was the position of over a million Albanians after the fall of Communism in 1990-91, and as a result of Communism; there was no shoulder to cry on for help! They left, ran, escaped often times at the risk of their lives, by land, sea and air, to find a life in liberty, and avoid the threatening poverty in a land devastated economically and disfigured socially; fear, depression, hunger and humiliation, was the heritage Communism left behind in Albania. You spoke about an “…Albania, a country that for almost half a century suffered under a dictatorship, Stalinist and unscrupulous, experiencing all tragedies and all forms of human sufferings that she was able to bear….My hope is, you said, that ‘the project’ will encourage a debate in this country, the road one should take for the treatment of the long decades of tyranny and its heritage left behind…”. You advised people of good intentions, “…to understand well the tragedies of past century, the conditions which created them. And learn the lesson that a constructive commitment, and peaceful co-operation could bear fruit even when the obstacles are great; and, only then something has been achieved.

Mr. Ambassador:
Your visit to the internment camp of Tepelena, and to the new Museum of the Persecuted in my native town of Shkoder have particularly touched me, and for intimate reasons. My mother (54), sister (14) and brother (11) have passed several years in Tepelena in the most primitive conditions. As for the Museum in Shkoder, it was built by my colleagues, right on the spot where torture cells and inhuman interrogatory practices took place during the decades of the Communist regime. The monstrous “Sigurimi i Shtetit”, an illegal and immoral institution, dwelled there, ignominious, brutal, ignorant to bring someone to tears, and merciless…! I spent many long months there as a prisoner of conscience in the hands of robots without a human conscience. Even today, 64 years later, I tremble when my thoughts uncontrollably go to those days, at those places. By visiting those “unholy places” where innocence was massacred because it did not accept the forceful dehumanization or the crime as normal in a civilized society, we honor the memory of he victims.. It was barbarity confronting honesty, dignity, the yearning for freedom! You said “the torturers would win, if our memory for the victim would fade!” I would like to add that forgetting the victim is tantamount to his second execution. To allow it, is to deny the essence of our humanity. It’s a surrender to nothingness!

Your thoughtful conclusion: “Strengthen your solidarity among yourselves. Do not allow divisions. Common problems must be presented jointly and in the spirit of solidarity”.
That’s not the road the Albanian “political elites” adopted after 1991!
Since that date, one after another, both major political forces have consciously worked to divide the victims of the Communist dictatorship,- the moral capital of our nation –by threats, bribes, favors and other forms of deception. It’s a secret known by all, and of course by us , “the victims”. It’s utterly disgusting!

Bringing the victims to join forces for the condemnation of the past, mobilizing them to prepare the ground for a more effective role in the political and social life of the country today, and a better future for themselves and their children, will be a major obstacle to overcome. Its size is commensurate only with the nobility of the task!

Your “project” shows one way, a promising way, to get out of the present vicious cycle. I endorse it! And, I offer my deep gratitude to you, to your devoted colleagues, and to all those in Albania, and abroad, who volunteer their assistance to make this “project” a reality.
With all my best wishes,
sincerely yours,

Sami Repishti, Ph.D.
former political prisoner

P.S. An Albanian version of this Letter will be published in our local press and in Albania. SR

Communists are evil

 

 

Thomas Marsh and Uran Kostreci

 

 

Dear Muçi,

 

It was such a pleasure to see you at the VOC ceremony, and also to recall the conversation we had one year ago when my sons were in attendance. Your friend, Uran, is an amazing heroic man. Thank you so much for introducing us. Please tell him that it was an honor to meet him, and that I truly appreciate the gift of his book. I felt a little embarrassed asking him to autograph it, but it seemed that might be my only opportunity… and someday my children and their children will know that I met Uran in person. Please give Uran my heartfelt best wishes.

 

Please also tell him that his book is so beautiful, and so heartbreaking and (in the passages about the communist partisans) it is horrifying. How can human beings do such things to each other?? Though we see this throughout history, the communists still hold the all-time record for sheer numbers of brutal murders. It seems that our annual VOC ceremony may be the start of a movement to, as Prof. Maryanovich said last year, identify them as evil. it has been some time since a major public figure (since Ronald Reagan!) has had the courage to call communists what they are: evil.

 

Again, it was wonderful to see you again. Please feel free to contact me at any time. This email is the most effective way.

 

God bless you,

Thomas

 

Thomas Marsh is a classical figurative sculptor who has created many public monuments in California, as well as works in public and private collections throughout the U.S. He was the concept designer and sculptor of the Victims of Communism Memorial (2007) in Washington, DC.

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