Sunday, October 25, 2009

Du Bois Conference brings Diaspora together

24 October, 2009, Du Bois, Pennsylvania – The several Albanian-American NGOs converged today in Du Bois, Pennsylvania for a conference that is being heralded as historic. For the first time, the four most influential Albanian organizations (flying in from Detroit, New York and Malesia) united and discussed projects aimed at fully recognizing Malesia e Madhe as a distinct and fully functioning entity by way of full municipality status. Present were the leaders and members of (1) The Albanian-American Association, "Malesia e Madhe", (2) Homeland Unites Us, Inc., “Levizja Atdheu Na Bashkon”, (3) Humanitarian Fund Malesia, and (4) Ded Gjo' Luli Association.

The heads of these organizations were joined by policy experts, which consisted of a smaller "working group," who were unanimously approved to become the driving force behind the research, coordination, and execution of the full and autonomous municipality of Malesia. These experts represent the fields of political science, international law, economics, urban planning, and civic engineering, all areas crucial in the design and implementation of Malesia's internal infrastructure, sociopolitical and economic operations.

The working group presented an elaborate study that is being remitted for publishing where it clearly outlines that Malesia is a "fully functional region" that is "self-sufficient" and capable of supporting its politico-economic infrastructure "far greater" than at least seven of Montenegro's smaller and oftentimes insufficient municipalities, hence concluding that not granting Malesia a municipal status is purely a political motive pioneered by the central authorities in Podgorica.

While each leader and policy expert presented studies, analysis and projections related to achieving this single aforementioned goal, a unanimous agreement was reached by all 33 members in attendance on a Declaration outlining examples of discriminatory practices against Albanians in Montenegro, which include, in brief:

• political imprisonment followed by random acts of torture, hence failing to fully respect international norms where Montenegro is a signatory and party of;
• failure to recognize its sizeable Albanian minority population in all realms of decision-making structures and processes, thus excluding them from the political process and social fabric of mainstream society;
• failure to alleviate the academic disparities plaguing Albanians in scholastic institutions and course curriculum, where native language and learning tools are prohibited as means to sustain linguistic, historical, and cultural elements of the Albanian national heritage, thus accelerating the rate of assimilation and ethnic destruction;
• failure to provide financial support for the growing socio-economic backwardness in territories where Albanians live, where crumbling infrastructure, inadequate sanitation, unresponsive municipal services, and disproportional allocation of Capital City funding have led to a stagnant sociopolitical and fiscal climate; and
• Ignoring the legitimate demands of Albanians for the return of local self-government in the territory of Malёsia, where growth and progress in all the above-mentioned areas are blocked in the interests of Podgorica’s political elites, but at the expense of Malesia’s neglected minorities.

As a result of these inconsistencies, the working group conceived several demands that require immediate attention, stemming primarily from the illegal laws outlined in Montenegro's Bill for Territorial Division. These demands called for the Montenegrin government to approve and fund the status of the full Municipality of Malёsia, in whole, under the same laws afforded to her other territorial regions; that, in order to realize this objective, Albanian political parties in Montenegro set aside their differences and unite their efforts to immediately work towards the fulfillment of a full municipality in Malesia; that Albanian political parties, without delay, initiate a distinct strategy (with specific deadlines) to express control and leadership ability in managing a fully operational municipality.

This Declaration was unanimously approved and signed by the leaders of all four organizations, whereafter it was to be submitted to all affected parties, including those in the Montenegrin political apparatus and regional NGOs dealing exclusively with the issues discussed in Du Bois.

The Du Bois conference concluded on a high note, and each organization determined that all future conferences, projects, communications, and declarations will be handled by the experts in each field representing the working group. The members of each organization concluded that the Diaspora will once and for all speak with one voice, as the greater cause is much more salient than the constituent personal interests of a few. The aspiration now is that Albanians in Montenegrin work under the same rubric.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Establishing diplomatic relations with Kosova not priority for Montenegro

Podgorica, ME, 21 October 2009 -- Establishing diplomatic relations with Kosova has not been the priority of the Montenegrin government but the issue would be included in the agenda for the next period, the ruling Democratic Socialist Party, Serbian Politika newspaper online edition informed.

Speaker of the party Rajko Kovacevic said that “Montenegro co-ordinates its decisions with its European partners,” but refused to point when the country would establish diplomatic relations with Prishtina.

The issue on establishing diplomatic relations between Montenegro and Kosova has risen after Macedonia and Kosova signed an agreement several days ago on the demarcation of the Macedonian-Kosova border, the edition writes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kosova, Macedonia settle border dispute, Montenegro remains unresolved

Pristina/Skopje - The parliaments of Kosova and Macedonia have ratified a border agreement, ending a long dispute over the volatile region and established diplomatic ties, media reports said Sunday. Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki and his Kosova counterpart Skender Hiseni signed Sunday afternoon in Skopje an agreement on establishing diplomatic ties, the Macedonian' ministry said in a statement.

Kosova ratified the agreement on Saturday with 81 out of 120 members of parliament backing the deal. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and President Fatmir Sejdiu welcomed the ratification saying "it creates stability, safety and opens the path for European integration for Kosova."

Macedonia ratified the agreement late Saturday after a long dispute, with the opposition threatening to take the deal to the Supreme Court. In the 120-member parliament, 72 were for and 11 against the motion.

Albanians make up a third of Macedonian population and have very close contacts with their compatriots in Kosova where they are in the majority.

The border between Kosova and Macedonia was agreed in 2001 when Kosova was still part of Serbia. The region was used by Albanian extremists during Macedonia's insurgency in 2001 and is now populated by Albanians.

In neighboring Montenegro, where Albanians make up approximately 7% of the population, the two countries have yet to conclude a similar border deal. According to one Albanian political representative in Tuzi, borders will have to consider the demarcation line along the region of Plavё and Gusine. Similar to Macedonia, Montenegrin Albanians have demanded that the territories of Ulqin, Malёsia e Madhe, and Plavё and Gusine be recognized as belonging to Kosova and Albania-proper, a demand that has drawn strong accusations of a Greater Albania. Regardless of the rhetoric, between the two sides, the south-east Montenegro-Kosova border will like draw a great deal of attention in the coming months.

Kosova declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, after years of international supervision. It is recognized as independent by more than 60 countries, including Macedonia, the majority of European Union members and the United States.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Michigan men held prison in Montenegro are honored for bravery

October 11. 2009, Rochester Hills, Michigan -- Approximately 550 Albanians jammed St. Paul's Albanian Catholic Church and Community Center Sunday afternoon to welcome home Kola and Rrok Dedvukaj who served three years behind bars in Montenegro for crimes unsubstantiated to this very day.
Gjergj Ivezaj, President of the Albanian-American Association "Malesia e Madhe," gave a brief synopsis of their plight and described the time-line of events that followed their arrests, including the tireless efforts from the Diaspora to petition U.S. government agencies, IGOs and NGOs in an attempt to underscore the abuses that were being perpetrated in Montenegro. Following Mr. Ivezaj a heart-felt greeting was delivered by the community and religious leader, Father Anton Kcira, who welcomed the men home and assured them that the community and parish was with them during their entire ordeal.
Kola touched those in attendance with his somber yet brave account of the events that led to their conviction, maintaining that the charges wee illegal and never proven. Stating that he and the other 15 prisoners stood in front of the judge on 65 separate occasions, there was no "crack" in the armor of the Albanian prisoners, and as much as the officers abused, beat, tormented, and threatened their lives, no Albanian prisoner turned on the other, but all maintained their innocence to this very day. Kola reminded everyone in attendance that no release will be celebrated until every prisoner is released and reunited with their families.
Rroku followed Kola and stressed that our struggle is not over, it only begins. HE was grateful in all the help the various Albanian organizations provided and reminded all in attendance that Montenegro's intent is to wipe all Albanians out, it has been for centuries before, and still continues to this day. "We must maintain our ground and and defend our rights that are guaranteed to us by international law", Rroku maintained. "These laws, in the minds of Montenegrins, are not equal for Albanians, as proven during the illegal torture they experiences."
The mood of the crowd was supportive and with every show of passion and energy to continue to fight for the rights of Albanians, joy and applaud echoed off the walls as the crowd roared in agreement. After the event, attendees mingled with one another and discussed various ways to assemble and continue to work with their brethren in Malesia to expose the criminal apparatus that is suffocating Albanians in Montenegro.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Kosova's Independence is paying off: Highest GDP in Balkans

BIRN -- Kosovo is the country with the highest GDP growth in the Balkans in 2009, while Romania will face the worst economic slump this year, the IMF predicts.

Kosovo's GDP will grow by 3.8 per cent this year and 4.3 per cent in 2010, the Fund believes. In contrast, the Romanian economy will nosedive by 8.5 per cent this year, experiencing only slight growth of 0.5 per cent next year.

Kosovo's GDP per capita is expected to reach 1731 euros by the end of the year.

The IMF has slightly revised its predictions for Albanian growth for 2009, expecting the country's GDP to improve by 0.7 per cent, from 0.4 per cent in the previous estimates.

According to the IMF statistical database, Albania's nominal GDP will increase by 2.2 per cent in 2010, returning to a more typical growth rate of 6 per cent in 2011. GDP per capita will increase a slight 0.2 per cent this year to 2598 euros.

IMF projections are published twice a year, in April and October.Bulgaria will experience a 6.5 per cent fall in GDP this year, and 2.5 per cent in 2010. GDP per capita in Bulgaria is currently 3439 euros.

Serbia's GDP will fall 4 per cent this year, before growing 1.5 per cent in 2010. GDP per capita in Serbia is 3949 euros.

Macedonia's GDP will fall 2.5 per cent this year, with 2 per cent growth in the next fiscal year. A strong growth rate of 5 per cent is expected for 2011. GDP per capita in Macedonia is 2944 euros.Croatia's GDP will fall by 5.2 per cent in 2009, and will grow by 0.5 per cent in 2010.

GDP per capita is currently 8941 euros, which makes Croatia the richest country in the region.Bosnia & Herzegovina, BiH, will suffer a 3 per cent GDP drop this year, ahead of an expected 0.5 per cent gain in 2010.

GDP per capita in BiH is 2751 euros.Currently, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania have the lowest prices in the region, while Croatia and Romania have the highest, according to the Purchasing Power Parity index.

According to IMF data, a single US dollar in Macedonia buys 2.1 times more goods than in western European countries, followed by Bulgaria, 1.98; Albania, 1.9; Serbia, 1.83; and Bosnia, 1.76. In Croatia, a US dollar is worth just 1.2 times more than in western Europe.

The so-called Big Mac Index was created in 1984 by British newspaper The Economist with the intention of providing a better understanding of the real value of a dollar in different countries. Since then, the IMF has developed a more complicated purchasing power methodology.

Based on these calculations, GDP per capita in Kosovo is just 40 per cent of the world average, followed by Albania at 67 per cent; Bosnia, 72 per cent; Macedonia, 87 per cent; Serbia, 101 per cent; and Romania at 113 per cent. Croatia is 171 per cent richer then the world average.