Wednesday, November 29, 2006
U.S. Expert Warns That Kosovo Independence Would Affect Montenegro
November 29, 2006
Washington. U.S. political analyst John Zevales on Wednesday warned that a possible independence of Kosovo would have an effect on the demands of the Albanians in Montenegro and the government of the Republic of Srpska (RS), whose aspiration is to get united with their motherlands, the Serbian Tanjug agency comments.
Earlier he has stated that if the European Union soon assumes formal responsibility for Kosovo, one should not rule out a possibility that Brussels may have its own plan for the future status of the province.
Source: Focus News Agency
Friday, November 24, 2006
When: Friday December 8, 2006
Time: 8:00 a.m.
Venue: White House, Washington, DC
Come join the Albanian-American communities of the Diaspora as they converge in Washington, DC on Friday December 8th to protest against the maltreatment of Albanians in the Malesia e Madhe region of Montenegro.
The timing of this rally was coordinated to coincide with the arrival of Montenegro's newly appointed ambassador to the United States, Miodrag Vlahovic, who is scheduled to meet with President Bush at the White House in the early morning of December 8th.
Given the venue of this event, notices have been distributed to various Members of Congress welcoming them to join the demonstrators in a show of support for causes they are all too familiar with: freedom, liberty and justice for ALL citizen-members of a state.
In the interim, it is obligatory that all Albanians who have ever experienced persecution and injustice in the hands of majorities and/or repressive regimes (i.e., ALL ALBANIANS) come join the cause and DEMAND (1) an end to the continued subjection to unfair and discriminatory policies against Albanians' political, social, economic, and civic ways of life, and (2) the release of all prisoners who are being illegally detained and tortured without cause and due process.
As a newly independent state, Montenegro is vigorously pursuing membership into elite European institutions in an effort to prove that their democratic credentials are consistent with other member states of the European Union. Paradoxically, they are not! And if recent events in Malesia are any indication of how Montenegro will behave in the "new Europe", then it is destined to spiral out of control similar to what we witnessed in the Yugoslavia of the 1990s.
It is therefore our inherent right, as Albanians, to exploit these inconsistencies against democratic traditions and protest the international community to demand that Montenegro fulfill all preconditions in protecting, promoting and sustaining minority rights prior to any association with European treaties, pacts, and/or memberships!
It is thus for the reasons stated herein that these basic demands will be echoed off the walls of Washington monuments and the halls of justice come December 8th.
Get off your asses and come join the Pursuit of Freedom!!
Montenegro's democracy was ranked 58th according to a survey of 167 countries by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Montenegro was placed in flawed democracy section, and the country is behind Croatia and Serbia.
With countries ranked according to their electoral process, government functioning, political participation, political culture and civil liberties, 17 EU member states made it on to the 28-strong 'full democracies' list.
The rankings of Balkan countries: Serbia is ranked 55, Macedonia 68, Croatia 51. Bosnia and Herzegovina 87 sit in hybrid regime section.Sweden has a near perfect democracy, followed by Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.
Over half of the world's population lives in some sort of democracy, but just 13 percent in full democracies, according to this study. Meanwhile, with 55 countries falling in the worst category, almost 40 percent of people live under authoritarian rule.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Arrest of "Terrorists" Sows Discord in Montenegro
16 November 2006
Claim that Albanians plotted revolt ends political honeymoon with minority. By Petar Komnenic in Podgorica (Balkan Insight, 16 Nov 06)
A high profile case has cast a shadow over relations between Montenegro and its Albanian minority, since police arrested a group of Albanians on September 9 on terrorist charges.
The chief prosecutor Vesna Medenica last week said the men had set up a secret organisation, The Movement for Ethnic Albanian Rights in Montenegro, with the help of former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, to create an autonomous Albanian region in Montenegro using force.
Medenica claimed the 14 suspects - 11 of whom are in detention, the other three are on the run - planned to carry out terrorist outrages in the mainly Albanian Malesija area using arms smuggled in from Kosovo.
Their defence lawyers deny the charges, saying the authorities lack evidence for their claims and that the suspects made incriminating statements under duress in police custody. Albanian political leaders are also sceptical.The 11 suspects in custody have been named as Anton Sinistaj, Sokolj Ivanovic, Djordje and Kolj Rok, Pjetro Dedvukaj, Djona Dedvukovic, Viktor Sinistaj, Zef Berisaj, Vaso Koljcevic, Viktor Dresevic and Maljota Bojovic. The other three are Doda Ljucaj, Vaselj Dedvukaj and Djon Ljucovic.
The Albanian community numbers about 40,000 out of a total population of about 620,000. Most live in the resort of Ulcinj, on the border with Albania, while around 12,000 live in Malesija. Many work abroad in Western Europe and the United States.
Historically, relations between the Albanians and Montenegrins are good and Albanian parties strongly supported the republic’s successful drive for separation from Serbia.Hitherto, Albanian parties have limited their demands to the field of minority rights as opposed to territorial autonomy or border changes.
Attempts to stoke separatist agitation among Albanians have fallen flat. A movement launched in 2004 to demand special status for an Albanian region including Malesija, Tuzi, Ulcinj, Plav and Gusinje drew little response. As a result, the chief prosecutor’s claim that a secret society aimed to use violence to create an Albanian region in Montenegro has caused some surprise.
In a statement last week, Medenica said that "intensive communications in the areas of Malesija, Albania and Kosovo suggested this organisation persisted in its intentions… to procure significant amounts of weapons, ammunition, military equipment and counterfeit documents, to carry out violent terrorist acts. "
In September 2006, a decision was made to launch a campaign of violence… in ….the area of Malesija, aimed at intimidating the non-Albanian population and seizing vital facilities in the Tuzi area. "Their estimate was that the most convenient moment to spring into action was immediately after the closure of polling stations on the day of parliamentary elections held on September 10."
The arrests took place in the early hours of September 9, a day before the parliamentary elections in Montenegro, when police stormed houses in Tuzi and Malesija and arrested the 14 people.
Just days after the arrests, local media reported of possible police abuse when the arrests were made. Dragan Prelevic, the lawyer for Kolj and Rok Dedvukaj, both US citizens, told Balkan Insight the allegations were "exaggerated and contrary to the collected evidence".
Prelevic said the only real evidence was a diary that the police claimed to have found in a search operation - without the presence of any independent witnesses.
"Except for the diary they have no any other piece of evidence," said Prelevic. "The fact [is] that the suspects gave their statements under torture."Vaselj Sinistaj, a deputy in parliament for Albanian Alternative, also put little faith in police allegations."Those people, some of whom I know personally, cannot possibly be terrorists," he told Balkan Insight.
"Time will tell but this has caused polarisation in Montenegro, which can be only overcome by telling the truth." Mehmet Bardhi, leader of the Montenegrin Democratic Alliance leader, agreed, saying the real problem in Montenegro was not Albanian terrorism but their marginalisation in society. "
If Albanians had all their rights, I would never have set up a political party," he said. "The democratic pursuit of political ideas ought not to be a problem, including the idea of regionalisation."Bardhi went on to say that his party did not advocate regionalisation but special status for Albanians in the territories in which they lived.
Nik Djeljosaj, former chair of the NGO Unitas, which publicly demanded regionalisation in Montenegro two years ago, said it was not terrorism but regionalism that was on trial in Montenegro. "If some people believe people should go on trial over regionalisation, they have a problem with European standards and decentralisation," he said."This is an inevitable process. The allegation that we wanted to partition Montenegro is ludicrous."
Families and lawyers of the suspects, meanwhile, accuse the police of physical and psychological abuse of the men. "During the three days spent in police custody, our clients were beaten, intimidated, insulted and denied drinking water and food," a statement from Prelevic’s office read.
Human rights activist Aleksandar Zekovic last week urged the chief prosecutor to investigate whether the police had exceeded their lawful powers in the course of the arrest operation, codenamed Eagle’s Flight. "
The state organs enjoy the support of society in their efforts to maintain and preserve constitutional order, peace and safety," he said."But this does not mean we should ignore serious objections to the actions of the police and law enforcement officers in the premises used by the police and judicial organs."
Medenica said she would look at the complaints, making it clear she regretted what she saw as attempts to undermine public faith in law enforcement."Such a public campaign has a detrimental effect on the investigation itself, inducing a public sentiment of insecurity, which is why I have estimated it is necessary to make these proceedings open to the public," she said. "
The Podgorica state prosecutor has been requested to gather up all the complaints made by the accused concerning the instances of law enforcement officers' exceeding their official powers."
Petar Komnenic is a journalist with the Podgorica weekly Monitor. Balkan Insight is BIRN`s online publication.
Former Foreign Minister Miodrag Vlahovic has been approved as the new Montenegrin ambassador to the United States, MINA reported on Tuesday (November 14th). He is expected to go to Washington early next month (December 2006).
Vlahovic was active member of the Dukanovic government during Montenegro's campaign for independence, visiting the United States on several occasions to trump up support in the Diaspora. It was in Detroit last Novemeber that Vlahovic met strong resistance from the Albanian Diaspora where a demonstration was staged against the treatment of Albanians in Malesia e Madhe. Although Vlahovic was not at the rally, a strong message was sent to Montenegro, where for the first time, disgust and frustration bellowed through media channels that independence without minority rights would not be tolerated.
Vlahovic's visit to Washington early next month almost certainly guarantees more demonstartions on the way, but it will be interesting to see if his previous comments on "great" ethnic relations in Montenegro are reiterated to Washington officials. Developments since independence would seem to discredit his previous assertion.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Name: Zeljko Sturanovic
Post: Prime Minister of Montenegro
In office since: November 15, 2006
Preceded by: Milo Dukanovic
Born: 31 January 1960 -- Niksic
Political Party: Democratic Party of Socialists
Sturanovic was formerly the Minister of Justice in Milo Đukanović's government. After Đukanović's 3 October 2006 announcement that he will not accept the nomination for the Prime Minister again, Šturanović was picked as a Candidate for the Prime Minister the day later by the leaders of his party. Šturanović was welcomed as a PM Candidate even by Montenegrin Opposition, which is otherwise known to be a harsh critic of the ruling coalition.
Željko Šturanović and his Government were elected by the Montenegrin parliament on November 10, 2006. The 14-member Government, which also have two deputy premiers, was approved by a 42 to 28 vote. Šturanović was also sworn on November 10, 2006.
The Albanians of Montenegro have taken a keen interest in the selection of the new PM and have vowed to assert pressure on him to recognize the immoral treatment of Albanians with respect to human rights abuses, as evidenced by those being detained in prison today.
In a letter emailed to Željko Šturanović, the Albanian Diaspora in Detroit welcomed his ascend to office and promised to be a thorn in his side until all appeals for enhanced human treatment are met under the guise of local, regional, state, European and international laws.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
A group of ethnic Albanians arrested during Montenegro's recent elections had plans to destabilize the young Balkan nation just months after it became independent, the state prosecutor said Monday.
Revealing details of a newly declassified investigation, Prosecutor Vesna Medenica claimed that the group of 14 ethnic Albanian men had "detailed plans for terrorist attacks ... aimed at intimidating non-Albanian population" in a southwestern region close to neighboring Albania.
The group -- including three U.S. citizens from the state of Michigan and two U.S. residents of ethnic Albanian origin -- was arrested on the eve of Montenegro's Sept. 10 general elections, on suspicion of threatening the ballot with violence. Authorities seized a cache of weapons, including rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from the group.
Ethnic Albanians are about 7 percent of the republic's 620,000 people and generally have good relations with the government of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who led Montenegro to independence from Serbia in June.
The ethnic Albanians have long had their representatives in Montenegro's parliament and government, but the small and apparently renegade group, conspired to "commit acts against constitutional order and security in Montenegro," the prosecutor said.
The suspects' aim was to win autonomy for the small, southeastern area where the ethnic Albanians form a local majority, the prosecutor said, adding that the clandestine plan was code-named "Eagle Flight" and was partly financed by ethnic Albanians living in the West.
Leaders of the ethnic Albanian community have dismissed the accusations as unfounded and politically motivated.
Five of the 14 jailed men have complained of being tortured while in police custody. Amnesty International has urged the authorities to investigate those allegations.
Medenica pledged that prosecutors will look into the torture allegations and that police officers will be punished if the suspects were mistreated.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.