Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kotsias: Vorio Epiri dhe Kosova paralele te strategjise greke, “step by step”



Tirana, frike nga diplomacia e re greke?

Stavri Marko (SManalysis)



 



Niko Kotsias Ministri i jashtem grek, themelues I strategjise kombetare greke te viteve ne vazhdim, shprehet ne librin e tij “Politika e Jashtme Greke ne Shekullin e 21", se ne Ceshtjet kombetare te Greqise, Ceshtja e Vorio Epirit duhet zgjidhur ne kontekstin e Pavaresise se Kosoves.


Linja e kuqe e dipolomacise greke sipas Librit te Kotsias: “Njohja e Kosoves te kushtezohet me njohjen e Vetevetndosjes se popullsise greke ne Epirin e Veriut”


Diplomacia e Re greke, nderon kah?,, do te indiferente per Marveshjen Detare…….?
 




I pari minister I Tsipras qe shkeli nje ministry te lene nga Samaras, ishte Niko Kotsias. Ai u prit nga Evangjelos Venizelos ne Ministrine e Jashtme duke vazhduar keshtu traditen e politikes greke. Gjtae fjalimit te tij, ai kritikoi diplomacine e Venizelos sepse kishte ulur prestigjin e Greqise ne arenen nderkombetgare, si pasoje e Memorandumit dhe varferise ekonomike te Greqise. I menjehershem ka qene reagimi I Venizelos, I cili u justifikua se “As edhe nje ceshtje nuk duhet prekur te Linjave te Kuqe te Greqise prej diplomacies se re qeverise Tsipra.

Ka qene ky debate I cili mesaduket do te kete pasojat e veta ne diplomacine greke, e cila tashme duhet ti pergjigjet nje standarti te ri te dogmes Kotsias, prej studimete te te cilit per Ceshtjet Kombetare te Greqise, PASOk dhe Nea Demokracia, jane pergjegjes per nje seri zhvillimesh negative ne dem te interesave kombetare te greqise.


Por emerimin e Niko Kotsias me prejardhje sikunder Kryeministri Tsipras nga Epiri, si Minister I Jashtem I Greqise,  e kane pershendetur edhe politikane te djathte si dhe personalitete te Greqise Brenda dhe jashte saj.  Dikur Keshilltar I Jorgo Papandreut ne Ministrine e jashtme, Niko Kotsias, ka bashkepunuar me te gjithe Ministrat e Jashtem, vecanerisht pas botimit te Librit “Politika e Jshtme greke ne shekullin e 21"”, e cila eshte future si dogme e re, per diplomatet e rrinj grek.


Vecanerisht nje reagim positive per emerimin e Kotsias, vjen paradoksialisht nga ish Keshilltari I Samaras, Failos Kradiniotis, I cili u zgjodh deputet I ND, I njohur nga shtypi shqiptar per deklaraten qe ka bere per median shqiptare se “Greqia do te refgoje me force ndaj cdo pekreqesimi te komunitetit vorio epiriot ne Shqiperi”. Kradiniotis u shpreh ne rjetet sociale se “diplomacia greke, e meriton nje emer si Profesor I Ceshtjeve Nderkombetare Niko Kotsias, qe te udheheqe diplomacine greke, ne kete situate kritike per vendin”

Por Diplomacia e Qeverise Tsipras, pritet te ndryshoje kah dhe agresivitet ne ceshtjet kombetare te Greqise, vecanerisht me Shqiperine. 

Rreth dy vite me pare, ne Tetor te 2013, 23 ish diplomate dhe personalitete te Greqise, mes tyre edhe Niko Kotsias, I derguan leter Kryeministrit Grek Samaras, per te ridimensionuar qendrimet me Tiranen, ne kuader te mbrojtjes te interesave te Greqise ne Epirin e Veriut.  Letra e cila kaloi me shume zhurme nga Mediat ne Tirane, u injorua nga zyrtaret e Athines. Po ashtu Venizelos duke qendruar ne krah te Presidentit Papoulias gjate vizites se tij te fundit ne Tirane, iu pergjigj me indifference kritikave ndaj ofezave te adresuara Presidentit Grek nga grupet e shoqerise Cameria, ne mes te Tiranes. 


Eshte kjo arsyeja pse Tsipras ne strategjin e re kunder oligarkeve dhe korupsionit masiv qe renuan Greqine, po ndermer aksione per te favorizuar procesin ‘Lista Lagard” te parave te te fshehura te politikaneve greke neper bBallkan. Sigurisht shigjetat e para bien mbi Shqiperine, ku investime te dyshimta greke, te cilat jane shfrytezuar nga politikane greke per te fshehur par ate korrupsionit, jane bere ne dem te interesave te strategjise kombetare te Greqise me Shqiperine, duke angazhuar edhe shpeh diplomacine greke per ti dhene prioritet ketyre investimeve se sa Ceshtjeve Kombetare te Greqise si Vorio Epiri.


Ne ket aspect, ka paqartesi anullimi I vizites se Tsipres ne Tirane, parashikuar ne muajin dhjetor, po aq rendesi ka vizita qe ai beri ne Beograd, per te cilen u shporeh se “Greqia nuk do ta njohe kurre pavaresine e Kosoves”, duke shigjetuar edhe Tiranen se qeveria ime nuk do te jete tolerante me intolerance ne vashdimesi te Tiranes ndaj kkombeve fqinj”.

Por Tsipras, I cili po shikohet si problematic jo vetem nga Merkel por edhe nga zyrtare te NATO per shkak te qendrimit edhe me Rusine, ka krijuar nje “jastek” me Aleancen Perendimore, duke emeruar ne postin e Ministrit te Mbrojtjes liderin e Grekeve te Pavaruir ANEL, Panos Kamenos, I njohur per qendrimet e tij radikale te djathta, duke normalizuar keshtu mardhenjet me NATO, por edhe fale experiences se ish minister I PASOK, te Kamenos.



Tashme Greqia, do te kete Minister te Jashtem nje personazh prej te cilt priten zhvillime se pari per Tiranen dhe Shkupin, sigurisht prognozat jane se “Vijat e Kuqe” te Ceshtjeve Kombetare te Greqise, jane demtuar si pasoje e Mardhenjeve me Trojken, ku ekonomia e vendit, po shkon drejt nje krize totale qe kercenon sigurine dhe stabilitetin e Greqise. 
 Greqia sipas Kotsias, duhet te luaje nje rol te fuqishem per zgjidhjen ne praktike te ceshtjeve kombetare, duke nenkuptuar paralele diplomatike mes Kosoves dhe Vorio Epirit, pronat e qytetareve te saj te cilet vecanerisht ne Himare, jane ojekt I grabitjes nga Oligarket dhe politikane te larte shqiptare, , bllokimin e Maqedonise ne NATO dhe BE si dhe “Hapja e Kutise se Pandores”, ne rast se ndryshohen kufijte ne Ballkan.

Nderkohe, Tirana zyrtare, me ane te Kryeministrit Rama, pershendeti ne menyren me te shkurter fitoren e Tsipras, gje qe tregon indiferentizem dhe pasiguri ne relacionet e krijuara. Nga ana tjeter njeriu qe qendron pas Kryeministrit shqiptar per ceshtjet Nacionale, Taulant Balla, ne te njejten dite, deklaroi se" Pronat e Cameve, do te jete prioritet i qeverise shqiptare me qeverine e re greke", duke kaluar tek Shefi i Komisionit te Sigurise ne Parlamentin Shqiptar Spartak Braho, i cili hodhi idene se "Marveshja detare me Greqine, do te rinegociohet (!).  

Cfar pritet, vazhdimesi pa fund krizash ne mardhenjet Greko Shqiptare? ,,,,Nje indiferentizem apo perkeqesim diplomatik, si pasoje e Kosoves dhe Vorio Epirit, vecanerisht kur Kryeministri dhe Ministri i Jashtem Grek, vijne nga rajoni i Epirit, per here te pare ne historine e politikes greke, e dominuar nga familjet e medha.   

referenca:

http://www.defencenet.gr
http://www.kathimerini.gr/801165/article/epikairothta/politikh/sfodrh-antipara8esh-anti-teleths-paradoshs--paralavhs

http://www.gazetatema.net/web/2013/10/30/ish-diplomatet-i-shkruajne-samaras-kujdes-tiranen-nuk-ka-integrim-pa-zgjidhur-vorio-epirin/ 

http://epirusgate.blogspot.com/2014/12/ipeiros_18.html












Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Greek Govt’s First Upwind With EU for Russian Sanctions




eu_russia_ukraine

by Aggelos Skordas - Jan 27, 2015

Greece’s new SYRIZA-led government had its first impact with European Union partners regarding the imposition of further sanctions on Russia, due to the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. The tough statement against Russia issued by European Union senior officials earlier today caused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ fierce reaction as, according to government sources, it did not have Greece’s consent.

According to the same sources, the European Parliament, which issued the statement, did not follow the right procedure, adding that this is the reason the newly elected Greek government will release a statement on the issue. It should be noted that this was not the first time that Tsipras opposed the European Union sanctions against Russia.

European Union leaders threatened to tighten sanctions on Russia as early as Thursday over its support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, who are engaged in clashes with Kiev’s forces since a September truce. The European leaders condemned the killing of dozens of civilians in Mariupol and said the Union’s Foreign Ministers will “consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures,” European Council President Donald Tusk said in a written statement. “We note evidence of continued and growing support given to separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia’s responsibility,” continued the statement that caused the new Greek government’s first reaction.

Greece’s new Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, will have the opportunity to prove if his government’s decision is final at the Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Thursday. A possible veto by the Greek side would shatter the European consensus over the issue, while sanctions imposition require the absolute unanimity among the 28 member-states.
- See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/01/27/new-greek-govts-first-upwind-with-eu-for-russian-sanctions/#sthash.4OCaUues.dpuf

Scores injured and arrested in Pristina rioting

PRISTINA -- The situation was calm but still tense in Pristina on Tuesday evening after a day of clashes between the police and demonstrators.
(Beta/AP)
(Beta/AP)
Around 100 persons have been detained, while 29 protesters and 56 police officers have been injured.
Many downtown streets remain blocked and there is strong police presence this evening, the Albanan language website koha.net is reporting.

The Kosovo police used tear gas and a water cannon earlier in the day in an attempt to contain and push back about 1,000 demonstrators who threw rocks and firebombs.

Tanjug's reporter said that there were "several dozen injured on both sides," while the local media said the head of the Self-Determination group in the Kosovo assembly Visar Imeri was among them.

The police also used armored vehicles and arrested a number persons, among them the mayor of Pristina Spend Ahmeti.

The riots today broke out after another official of the Self-Determination party, Dardan Mulicaj, "gave the police an ultimatum to, within 15 minutes, remove the barricades placed in front of the Kosovo government building."

He said that a Serb member of the government in Pristina, Aleksandar Jablanovic, "called the mothers of Djakovica savages" and told the government and the police that the protesters were "not savages, and that so much security was not needed."

Previously, Jablanovic said that he described those Albanians who attacked Serbs in Djakovica with stones on Christmas Eve as "savages," and that this did not refer to "the mothers of Djakovica."
(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)
The protesters today demanded his resignation, and Pristina's takeover of the mining complex Trepca, majority-owned by the Serbian Development Fund, by means of turning it into a public company. This is opposed by the government of Serbia and Serb political representatives in Kosovo.

Opposition Initiative for Kosovo official Valdete Bajrami also spoke to say that "Jablanovic's prime minister is actually Aleksandar Vucic," and that Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa "cannot sack him for that reason."

She then called on Mustafa to resign, and accused him of putting together "a cumbersome government, with many members and political officials."

She also called for "urgent discussions" about a law on public enterprises, and said that it was recently withdrawn from procedure "because it will be discussed in Brussels."

The Self-Determination Movement organized today's rally, and its leader, Albin Kurti, was announced as one of the speakers.

A previous protest held on Saturday also turned violent.

The NGO "Mothers' Appeal" from Djakovica, which was among the organizers of that rally, did not take part today, saying the protests were "taking on a political and partisan dimension."

"Trepca miners and an organization of veterans of the 1998-99 war" also "distanced themselves," according to reports.

The protesters on Tuesday carried banners reading, "There is no state without Trepca," "Trepca is ours, not Serb," "Isa is a servant of Serbia," "Hashim (Thaci) to jail," "Jablanovic out," and, "Down with the government from Raska."

New Greek PM Alexis Tsipras forms cabinet

Yanis Varoufakis (27 January 2015) Mr Varoufakis argues that Greece should pursue a hard line in its negotiations with the EU and The IMF
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has formed a new cabinet with Yanis Varoufakis as finance minister and right-winger Panos Kammenos as defence minister.
Mr Varoufakis is an outspoken critic of the conditions imposed on Greece in return for the 2010 bailout.
He will have the tough job of leading talks with the EU over the Syriza party's pledge to renegotiate Greece's massive international bailout.
Mr Kammenos is a member of the anti-bailout Independent Greeks party.
It joined a coalition with Syriza, after the left-wing party narrowly failed to secure a majority in parliament in Sunday's elections.
The EU has meanwhile warned that the new government must stick to its creditor commitments.
But the government's chief economics spokesman, Euclid Tsakalotos, has argued that it is unrealistic to expect Greece to repay its huge debt in full.
PM Alexis Tsipras (left of centre) with members of his new cabinet - 27 January The new government faces a huge challenge in its bid to tackle Greece's economic woes
Supporters of Syriza celebrate the party's victory Syriza supporters - like the majority of Greeks - want an end to tough budget cuts
Correspondents say that the appointment of Mr Varoufakis - who holds dual Greek and Australian nationality - is a signal that the new Syriza-led coalition will take an uncompromising stance when renegotiating Greece's €240bn (£179bn; $270bn) EU-IMF package.
Mr Varoufakis insists that his country cannot restore its finances until its debt is lessened and has described the bailout as "fiscal waterboarding".
Before the appointment of Mr Varoufakis, Prime Minister Tsipras said EU leaders needed now to show that they were willing to work with Syriza - and that it would be his "worst nightmare" if the eurozone collapsed because Greece fell.
No panic The appointment of Mr Kammenos into the 11-minister cabinet is also likely to be controversial, correspondents say, because of his claims that Germany is to blame for his country's economic woes by its insistence on budgetary belt tightening.
Other key appointments made by the prime minister and detailed in the Greek press include:
  • Nikos Kotzias as foreign minister
  • Nikos Pappas as state minister
  • Nikos Voutsis as interior minister
  • Panagiotis Lafazanis as production and environment minister
  • Panos Skourletis as labour and social solidarity minister
Graphic showing how much Greece owes to whom
BBC Economics Editor Robert Peston says that if Syriza were to win its negotiations with the rest of the eurozone, other anti-austerity parties would look more credible to voters.
But if Syriza were to lose in talks with Brussels and Berlin and the final rupture of Greece from the euro were to take place, investors might well pull their savings from any eurozone country where nationalists are in the ascendant.
But so far, our correspondent says, investors are not in a state of frenzied panic.
Mr Tsipras earlier stressed that he wanted negotiation - not confrontation - with international lenders.
Meanwhile, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Greece cannot expect any reduction of its debt commitments.
German government spokesman Steffan Seibert also stressed it was important for Greece to "take measures so that the economic recovery continues".
line
Key dates
  • 26 January: Pre-scheduled meeting in Brussels of Eurogroup finance ministers expected to discuss Greece
  • 12 February: EU leaders' summit in Brussels, which newly-elected Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is due to attend
  • 16 February: Another Eurogroup meeting due to discuss "state of play" in Greece
  • 28 February: Current programme of loans to Greece under the European Financial Stability Facility ends. There is still €1.8bn of loans that could be disbursed to Greece if it meets the conditions imposed by the troika
  • First quarter of 2015: Economists estimate that Greece needs to raise about €4.3bn to help pay its way, with Athens possibly having to ask the IMF and eurozone countries
  • 19 March: Another EU leaders' summit

 

 

Greek Election Wins Putin a Friend in Europe

 
Yannis Behrakis / ReutersSyriza leader Alexis Tsipras

The landmark victory of radical leftist party Syriza in Greece's general election Sunday signals the country will strive to increase its ties with the Russian government, but will likely be unsuccessful in any attempts to sway European Union policies on Russia, political analysts said Monday.
Syriza, also known as the Coalition of the Radical Left, had 36.34 percent of the vote after the final ballots were tallied Monday. With an anti-austerity platform and a pledge to remain in the euro zone, the party — which has formed an unlikely coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks party in order to gain an overall majority — has been a staunch opponent of EU sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of Crimea and the ongoing fighting in Ukraine. While Syriza's affinities to Russia suggest President Vladimir Putin could have secured a loyal ally in a generally hostile Europe, Greece's fragile position within the EU makes it an improbable pro-Russian crusader.
"I doubt Greece will have enough weight in the EU to have a substantial impact on its policy toward Russia," Dimitris Papadimitriou, professor of politics at the University of Manchester, told The Moscow Times on Monday. "It will not want to risk a major confrontation with the EU over the imposition of sanctions against Russia. But it would not be surprising if the new government gets closer to Russia and looks to it for greater support."
Greece's new prime minister, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, established contact with Russia prior to being elected. Like other leaders of formerly fringe European political parties, Tsipras was received as a highly honored guest by the Kremlin. The leftist leader met with Russian officials in Moscow last May, including Valentina Matviyenko, chair of the Russian parliament's upper house who had served as Russia's ambassador to Greece in the late 1990s.
According to Greek media, Tsipras used the occasion to chastise the EU's policy on Ukraine, denounce European sanctions against Moscow and support separatist referendums in eastern Ukraine that the West said were illegitimate.
Greek objection to sanctions against Russia is in part motivated by the losses the country has suffered over Russia's subsequent ban on a range of food products from the European Union, according to Syriza officials. Kostas Isihos, the party's foreign policy boss, told government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Monday that Greek farmers, whose exports to Russia include fruit and olive oil, had lost some 430 million euros because of the sanctions.

Common Interests

The terms used in Russia's anti-Europe rhetoric also seem to have infiltrated Tsipras' vocabulary.
"It is a regression for us to see fascism and neo-Nazis entering European governments again and for this to be accepted by the EU," Tsipras was quoted as saying in May by the state-run Athens News Agency, a few days after Putin claimed that militant nationalism of the kind "that once led to the appearance of the Nazi ideology" had raised its head in Europe.
Syriza's natural leaning toward Russia stems from its origins as an amalgamation of communist, socialist and other leftist forces, according to Papadimitriou. The party with which it has formed a coalition, the right-wing Independent Greeks, also supports Russia because of its own platform that calls for conservative social policies in line with Orthodox Christian teachings.  
Putin warmly congratulated Tsipras on his victory Monday, expressing confidence "that Russia and Greece will continue to develop their traditionally constructive cooperation in all areas and will work together effectively to resolve current European and global problems," according to the Kremlin's website. Putin also referred to "current difficult conditions" and wished Tsipras success in working in them.
Despite their affinities, the prospect of immediate cooperation between the countries — political or economic — is slim given that both Athens and Moscow share a pressing problem: their struggling economies.
While Tsipras toils to renegotiate the terms of a 240 billion euro bailout deal with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, Russia is grappling with double-digit inflation, slumping oil prices and the dramatic devaluation of its currency.
"If Russia didn't have its own economic crisis, it might be willing to financially support the new Greek government's anti-austerity measures," said Vasily Koltashov, head of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements' economic research center. "It is unlikely that Greece views Russia as a useful partner right now. Chances are that they view Russia as a partner in [economic] trouble."

Friends in Europe

Russia has courted Europe's far-left and far-right political parties, which it views as platforms to influence European policy-making, according to political pundits.
The prospect of increasing Russian influence seeping into the EU became all the more probable when radical European parties made significant political gains during last May's European parliamentary elections.
France's far-right National Front topped the French poll with nearly 25 percent of the vote, earning 23 seats in the European Parliament. Syriza finished first in voting in Greece with 26 percent of ballots, securing six seats in the European legislature.
According to the Budapest-based Political Capital Institute, a policy research center, far-right parties in 15 out of 21 EU states have been vocal about their sympathies toward Russia.
"The [European] system is under pressure," Papadimitriou said. "Challenges to the system can come from the left or the right."
Other political parties at the extremes of Europe's political spectrum — also supportive of Russia — have applauded Syriza's victory.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen told France's RTL radio station that Syriza's win represented a "monstrous democratic slap in the face by the Greek people to the European Union."
"Syriza is the first anti-systemic, radical left party to come to power in Europe," Papadimitriou said. "I doubt it will be the last."

Greece’s Warning to the Rest of Europe

By

Perhaps the most shocking thing about Sunday’s election in Greece, which saw the left-wing Syriza Party emerge with the largest share of seats in parliament, was that something like this took so long to happen. After five years of austerity policies that have plunged much of the euro zone into a deep and grinding recession, parties on the far left and far right have been gaining popularity from the Atlantic to the Adriatic. With public anger rising, it was only a matter of time before one of them won enough votes to take power, and now it has happened. Syriza won a hundred and forty-nine seats in Greece’s parliament, just two short of a majority. On Monday, the party’s forty-year-old leader, Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in as the head of a coalition government that also includes a small right-wing nationalist party.
During the election campaign, Tsipras promised to reverse budget-cutting measures and to renegotiate Greece’s huge debts, which, even now, after two bailouts orchestrated jointly by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, come to about a hundred and seventy-five per cent of G.D.P. On Sunday night, after the election result became clear, Tsipras hailed what he described as a historic mandate for change. “Greece will now move ahead with hope and reach out to Europe, and Europe is going to change,” he told a cheering crowd of supporters. “The verdict is clear. We will bring an end to the vicious circle of austerity.”

What happens next is unclear. As a sovereign government, Tsipras’s administration will have the power to determine its own tax and spending policies. Right now, though, there appears to be little prospect that Greece’s foreign lenders will agree to reduce the country’s debt burden. In Berlin, a spokesman for Angela Merkel said that Germany would work with the new Greek government, but, he added, “We believe Greece has accepted terms that are not off the table after election day.” (Adding to the tension was the fact that Tsipras, in one of his first public acts as prime minister, laid flowers at a firing range where, in 1944, the Nazis executed two hundred Greeks from the Communist resistance movement.)
Many people across Europe are hoping that Tsipras succeeds in ending austerity. Over the past five years, Greece has undergone an economic cataclysm that has seen its G.D.P. shrink by a fifth. One in four people is unemployed, and the child-poverty rate is forty per cent. This isn’t merely a recession; it is Greece’s own Great Depression. Elsewhere in the euro zone things aren’t quite that bad, but they’re still pretty dire, especially in countries on the southern periphery. In Spain, for instance, the unemployment rate is 23.7 per cent, not much lower than the rate in Greece. Throughout the euro zone as a whole, the jobless rate is 11.5 per cent, which is more than twice the rate in the United States.
Syriza’s rise to power indicates the political dangers facing the euro zone as a whole if some way can’t be found to restore prosperity. Economic slumps, if they persist long enough, tend to generate political extremism: Europe’s history in the twentieth century provides blood-stained testimony to that fact. If the slumps are brought on by elected governments seeking to satisfy the demands of external debtors, the dangers only increase, as the Germans, above all people, should know.
This isn’t the nineteen-twenties, of course, but the recent period of austerity policies couldn’t go on indefinitely without generating a populist backlash. Syriza is a protest movement—a coalition of communists, environmentalists, and trade unionists. In the 2007 general election, it got just five per cent of the vote; in 2012, its share of the vote rose to twenty-seven per cent; and on Sunday it got thirty-six per cent of the vote. In other European countries, a similar process is at work. According to some recent opinion polls, Podemos, a Spanish left-wing party that was founded less than a year ago, is now the country’s most popular party. Like Syriza, Podemos draws much of its strength from its opposition to the E.U. and the I.M.F.: last week, its thirty-six-year-old leader, Pablo Iglesias, flew to Athens for a big political rally with Tsipras.
And it isn’t just left-wing parties that are gaining ground. In France, the anti-immigrant National Front is surging, with polls showing that its leader, Marine Le Pen, has far more support than President François Hollande, who is up for reëlection in 2017. In Italy, the conservative Northern League is making a comeback under an assertive new leader, Matteo Salvini, who has coupled opposition to immigration with criticism of the euro. Even in Germany, there are signs of polarization, with far right-wing groups recently staging a series of anti-Islamist rallies. The sight of Tsipras being sworn in will give fresh hope to all of these parties, and can only alarm representatives of more traditional parties that have toed the economic line laid down by Brussels and Berlin.
Is there room for a compromise short of Greece leaving the euro zone, which is something Tsipras says he doesn’t want to happen? Perhaps. The current agreement between Greece and its lenders runs out at the end of February, but the government isn’t due to make any more debt payments until the summer. There is time yet to talk, and there is also some financial leeway. One of the ironies of the situation is that, strictly in financial terms, the two Greek bailouts—one was in 2010, the other in 2012—have proved pretty successful. After slashing spending more or less as demanded by the bailout agreements, the Greek government is now running a primary budget surplus, which means that, setting aside the interest payments on its debts, it is meeting its bills. This is the outcome that austerity policies are supposed to produce.
Shouldn’t Greece be rewarded, then, for its efforts, with a new agreement that allows it to ease up on austerity policies, and that writes off some of its debts? In an article published before the election, Paul De Grauwe, a well-known professor at the London School of Economics who has previously advised the European Commission, pointed out that most international debt crises are eventually resolved through a mixture of austerity policies and debt write-downs. “The unilateral approach that has been taken in the Eurozone in which the debtors have been forced to bear the full weight of the adjustment almost always leads to a revolt of these debtors,” De Grauwe noted. “That is now underway in Greece. It can only be stopped if creditors dare to face this reality.”

Albania minorities object to territorial division



27/01/2015
"The new territorial division creates dangerous conditions that may result in social conflicts and ethnic confrontations", said Stavri Marko, representative of the Himara Community in the formerly Greek-majority Himara municipality.


Civil society groups in Albania call for a referendum on reversing the country's new territorial reorganisation to diffuse ethnic tensions.

By Erl Murati for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 27/01/15


photo 
 The Macedonian minority representatives in Albania meet at Pustec municipality. [Courtesy of Municipality of Pustec]
Albania's civil society is calling on officials to diffuse tensions and protect minorities from discrimination and potential violence as a result of the decision to scrap the existing municipalities and create a new territorial administration. 

The government reduced the 384 local government units to 65, effectively creating entirely Albanian-majority municipalities. 

Greek, Macedonian and other minority representatives said the government's move violates their rights and international norms. 

"The territorial reform runs contrary to the spirit of the Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and it constitutes a flagrant violation of the accepted European standards," Vangjel Dule, leader of the Union for Human Rights Party in Tirana, told SETimes


The new territorial division creates dangerous conditions that may result in social conflicts and ethnic confrontations, said Stavri Marko, representative of the Komuniteti Himarjot in the formerly Greek-majority Himara municipality. 

"It harms the wealth and the properties of Himara municipality," Marko told SETimes

Minority representatives said the move is in violation of the constitution, as public schools in minority languages will be closed and they will lose other fundamental rights, even the right to self-identify. 

"These are rights guaranteed by the constitution and the latter must be implemented," Marko said. 

The minorities said their voice was not considered at the meetings with Prime Minister Edi Rama or in parliament. 

"This is an issue that belongs to the community. The people must decide for themselves, people know better the balance of co-existence," Enio Theodhori, a law student in Tirana from Dropull village, told SETimes

The Macedonian minority has requested that it is represented in three municipalities, but the new territorial arrangement brought two -- Golo brdo and Gora -- into the third Pustec municipality. 

"The will of the Macedonian community in Albania was not respected. We Macedonians are concentrated into three areas, but our demands were only partially considered," Edmond Themelko, head of the Pustec municipality, told SETimes

Officials said the new territorial organisation will be applied in Albania's local election in June. 

But civil society representatives said the new municipal map should be revised to factor in the minorities and then approved again by the parliament. 

The Association of Communes and Municipalities in Albania lodged a request with the Central Elections Commission (CEC) for a popular referendum to annul the new reorganisation. 

"We already have the needed signatures, will present them to the Central Elections Commission, and hopefully we will begin as soon as possible," Vasfi Apostoli of the Macedonian Alliance Party for European Integration told SETimes

As many as 20,000 signatures per municipality must be collected to enact a referendum.
Albanian law stipulates no referendum can be held three months before or after elections. The local elections are scheduled for June 21 and all referendum-related procedures must end in March. 

However, five votes are needed in the CEC to approve a referendum. The CEC has long operated with four members because the other three resigned. 

"The territorial reform took place within a short time. This surely has harmed the ethnic minorities. There are minority regions, parcelled into various local units. This has created problems in maintaining the language and customs as well as the publications and radio-television for which they have their own rights," Fatos Baxhaku, an analyst at Shqip in Tirana, told SETimes

Baxhaku said the issue should be resolved quickly because it stirs local tensions, but also to ensure regional security. 

The government maintains that by the new territorial map, it has not violated the ethnic minorities but favoured them instead. 

"The territorial division has respected the minority rights by making tolerations on the general criteria. When we drafted the new territorial map, we set a number of exceptional criteria exactly to favour the minority and not to violate the ethnic proportions," Minister of Local Issues Bledi Cuci said. 

Ethnic tensions rose last month when the UHRP requested in parliament that the Greek minority obtain its own representative in the national council for public radio and television, but parliament declined.

Albania's minorities did not recognise the results of the 2011 census because census forms did not include an ethnicity item, but instead gave citizens the option to mark "other." Minority advocates say the procedure significantly understated the numbers of minority citizens. 

"Territorial issues are always a delicate matter. They need to be studied in depth and cannot be left in the hands of the parliamentary majorities, whenever they change," said Hasan Celibashi, an expert at the Centre for Security and Commitment in Tirana. 

"The territorial division is something that goes beyond political forces, and affects not only political parties, but the entire population. Governments come and go and administrative divisions cannot change on a whim. 

They should operate with caution because it can trigger violence, social clashes and ethnic conflicts in minority areas. In these zones, the situation is fragile and new administrative maps can throw fuel to the fire," Celibashi told SETimes

What can minorities do to ensure equitable territorial division and reduce ethnic tensions? Share your opinion in the comments section


This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2015/01/27/feature-01