Tuesday, September 28, 2010
PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu resigned on Monday, potentially destabilizing the fragile political scene before talks with Belgrade which still refuses to recognize the former Serbian province's independence.
Sejdiu bowed to a constitutional court ruling last week that he may not serve simultaneously as the largely ceremonial head of state and as leader of his political party, which is junior partner in the coalition government.
"I respect the constitutional court decision," Sejdiu told a news conference in announcing his resignation as president, who is elected by parliament. "Over these years I have worked so that the Republic of Kosovo would have democratic institutions."
A 58-year-old former law professor, Sejdiu was elected president for the second time in 2008 but remained at the helm of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the second largest party which is part of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's government.
The resignation highlights the growing pains of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, although Belgrade lost control of its province nine years earlier.
In a major policy change, Serbia said earlier this month it would negotiate with Kosovo on practical issues for the country of two million which it does not recognize diplomatically.
Ilir Deda, executive director of the Kosovo think tank KIPRED, said Sejdiu's resignation was problematic for the negotiations which are expected to start next month.
"Kosovo cannot have talks with Belgrade with incomplete institutions amid a vacant presidency and politically weakened government," he said.
In July, in a blow to the impoverished country's image as it tries to attract international investment, authorities jailed the central bank governor in a corruption investigation.
Last Friday, the constitutional court ruled that Sejdiu committed "a serious violation" by serving as both president of Kosovo and leader of a political party. The ruling had been widely expected as the constitution bars the president from holding any political party functions.
Sejdiu was elected president in 2006 to replace Ibrahim Rugova who died of lung cancer.
Sejdiu helped to draft laws in Kosovo after the 1998-99 war when NATO waged a bombing campaign to halt killings of ethnic Albanians in a two-year counter-insurgency war with Serb forces. He was also the head of Kosovo delegation during status talks with Serbia when Kosovo declared independence.
The parliament has 60 days in which to appoint a successor.
(Editing by Adam Tanner/David Stamp)
Posted by Conference Organizer at 12:38 AM
Thursday, September 23, 2010
President Topi and his wife were accompanied by the Ambassador of Albania, Deputy Speaker of Kosova's Parliament, and the General Consul of Albania in the U.S.
The president's first stop was at the Albanian Islamic Center of Harper Woods, where he was received by the Center's Imam, Shuaip Gerguri. Topi thanked the attendees for their support of Albania's domestic and foreign initiatives along with the hospitality they expressed. There was a brief question and answer session that followed.
The President then visited St. Paul's Albanian Catholic Church and Community Center in Rochester Hills, where he respectfully honored two of Albania's most notable figures, Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu and Mother Teresa.
As the crowd chanted the president's name, Topi expressed his gratitude by walking over to the crowd and shaking hands while thanking them for their warm welcome.
St. Paul's congressional leader, Father Anton Kqira escorted the president into the center's library for coffee and a short discussion. Father Anton presented the president with a gift and thanked him for his generous visit to our community.
Thereafter, the president was honored in the banquet hall of St. Paul's where guests of honor accompanied him to the stage. Those seated beside the president and his wife included Congressman Gary Peters, Mayor of Rochester Hills Brian Barnett, Ambassador of Albania Aleksander Sallabanda, Honorable Consul of Albania Ekrem Bardha, and Deputy Speaker of Kosova's Parliament Naim Maloku.
The Masters of ceremonies were Viktor Ivezaj and Nevruz Nazarko.
The ceremony commenced before a capacity crown of approximately 700 guests, including visitors from as far as Toronto, New York and Illinois. Numerous media outlets were also present to record this historic visit.
The honored guests gave a brief statement related to the president's visit and shared their gratitude and delight with the opportunity to showcase their state and venue to Albania's head of state. Both Congressman Peters and Mayor Barnett thanked the president for his support of the United States and remarked that the U.S. Congress and the City of Rochester Hills will remain strong advocates for Albania's development and proliferation alongside western Europe.
The president acknowledged those present and marveled at the size and scope of St. Paul's Community Center, referring to it as a "Grand Cathedral." Topi congratulated the Albanian community of Michigan on their success and hospitality, and especially thanked the United States for their steadfast support of Albania. Mr. Topi also honored this day Mother Teresa as we continue to celebrate her 100th anniversary by asserting that, "she is a true icon of the Albanian people and a saint among all of us."
After the ceremony, the president was joined by nearly 150 invited guests for a presidential luncheon at Fortesa Restaurant in downtown Rochester. Topi fielded questions by the guests and enjoyed several laughs as his visit winded down.
The reception of President Topi was without question a successful event by all accounts; the president and his wife were humbled by the reception they received during their first visit to Michigan.
We welcome the president and his family to visit our great community again in the very near future!
Posted by Conference Organizer at 11:06 AM