Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gëzuar Vitin e Ri - 2012

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Albanians in Montenegro Protest Against Ethnic Discrimination

TUZ, MALËSIA E MADHE │ 28 December 2011

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, CITIZENS OF MALËSIA, AND DEAR STUDENTS – WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY TO PEACEFULLY PROTEST THE INJUSTICES DONE TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE CITIZENS OF THESE TERRITORIES. Recent developments in Montenegro have forced us to come out and protest since all other avenues of democratic and legal efforts have failed to achieve basic human rights, such as the right to local self-government, the right to submit national symbols, the right to employment, equal access to textbooks in the mother tongue, the denial of the right to equal opportunity, not allowing the full exploitation of various resources in the region of Malësia, and confiscation of property. We shall not fear to demand the rights that are afforded to each and every one of us, therefore I am grateful that you all have come out to show your resolve and stand up to demand the birthrights for which this country has an obligation to provide us.

For the past 20 years, by way of the Parliament of Montenegro, Albanian deputies have continuously brought forth and legislated for the realization of Albanian rights in Montenegro, however these pleas have been ignored by the central powers of the state. As a symbol of this protest, the Democratic Forum for Integration (DFI) vehemently demands the resignation of all Albanian deputies of the Parliament of Montenegro until the realization of our basic human rights as protected by the Constitution of Montenegro, as well as by international conventions.

We are not demanding anything that is illegal; instead we are seeking fundamental human rights that are guarantees of any democratic state. Refusal to respect such assurances demonstrates the exercise of a tyrannical state.

We will not allow Albanians in Montenegro to be used as slaves!

The “Urban Municipality of Tuzi” is living proof of the ignorance, ingratitude, abuse, and humiliation perpetuated by the ruling party's policies against the Albanians in this region.

The Demographic changes that have occurred in our territories over the past decade is a plan designed by the state and its secret cabinet meetings in efforts to assimilate Malësia and the Albanians in Montenegro. They forgot however, that our votes gave birth to this state. This country is a compilation of all the citizens of Montenegro, whether Montenegrin, Serbian, Albanian, Croatian, Bosnian, Roma, etc., and in no way unique state Montenegrin nationality, without addressing the historical aspect.

The Law of November 2nd of this year concerning the territorial organization of the state of Montenegro foresees Malësia without Municipality status. This law was adopted by the Parliament of Montenegro and clearly shows hatred toward Albanians in Montenegro, which in no way can be justified.

The bill prohibits the use of national symbols and strictly prohibits the legal use of the Albanian flag! I want Montenegrin lawmakers to answer one question: “In what other European country do minorities not have the right to identify themselves using their national symbols?” The flag is a sacred symbol of a nation. People who do not have the right to preserve their identity are threatened to become extinct without a trace of history.

The pillaging of Albanian lands by Montenegrins began 100 years ago and continues today. However, in the last decade the element of assimilation, orchestrated by Montenegrin secret agents, has angered Albanians and has led them to publically declare the following: “We will defend the land and our rights by any means possible.” Their statement illustrates the gravity of the situation, which is more serious than ever before. European lawyers understand the importance of property inheritances and rights, and have given special credence to such issues. They have also declared property to be a sacred and inviolable right as it is stated in Article 1 of Protocol 1 of ECHR (KEDNJ).

I would like to mention some events surrounding 2006, without mentioning the promises that were made before and after that year. In 2006, Malësia was promised full municipality by the administrative capital, Podgorica. The Albanian political parties, united in one single coalition force, were supported by the majority of residents of Malësia and thus gained local power. They pledged that they would not settle for an urban municipality, but instead would continue to fight for full and deserved “Municipality of Malësia.” Nonetheless, Montenegro has refused to grant Malësia full municipal status, whereafter no local Albanian politicians resigned to protest this bigotry and demonstrate loyalty to the constituents that elected them. And at the end, the Montenegrin authorities gave us “Eagle’s Flight.”

A few years ago, local Albanian politicians projected a political referendum by which the local government wanted to achieve a full municipality status for Malësia. Unfortunately, certain individuals abolished this initiative. Today, the current local government of Tuz insists that a referendum needs to be held for the municipality. But today, we must say NO to such a referendum because Malësia has suffered a demographic shift in its population. This is our first justification. If you legally analyze this situation, a referendum is a constitutional right and international law which is used for certain purposes such as the separation of the union or states, the adoption of particular laws and international agreements, but in no way can a referendum be used to resolves the fate of national minorities. In particular, it cannot be used to resolve the fate of the autochthonous Albanian population in Montenegro.

The FDI does not support the referendum in any way or form. The FDI rejects any call for a referendum for a Municipality of Tuz because we are aware of the danger and uncertainty it brings to our region and to our citizens.

No municipality in Montenegro was ever established by a referendum. And so the question arises: “Why should the residents of Malësia participate in a referendum for local government?!” Holding a referendum for Malësia is absolutely intolerable and it should be universally abolished! Holding a referendum for the Municipality of Malësia is in complete contradiction to international law. In 2006, the majority of citizens declared its desire for a full Malësia Municipality!

Because of these aforementioned injustices, which are being carried out by the Capital City, the ill-suited “urban municipalities” do not have created the competency to develop and sustain economic resources, social welfare, and/or social security; wherefore, the DFI strongly demands the following:

- The resignation of all consultants and employees of the “Tuzi Urban Municipality”, that only a full and self-sufficient Municipality be supported and nothing else;

- A call for early elections, where citizens can decide their own fate and in no way to impose policies aimed at eradicating Malësia, such that Malësia will only remain in the pages of history!

- The immediate dissolution of the “Urban Municipality of Tuzi” and the instantaneous formation of the MUNICIPALITY OF MALËSIA;

- The return of property to the citizens of Malësia, including, but not limited to: “Vuksanlekaj”, “Milesh”, “Shipshanik”, and “Dheun e Zi”;

- Petitioning the Constitutional Court to review the autocratic laws passed under the Law on Territorial Organization and the more recent law on national symbols. Given the complexity of these laws, Montenegro cannot postulate to be that democratic state seeking integration with the EU because, if adopted, these laws are nothing short of chauvinist and intended solely to ethnically cleanse (in a non-violent way) national minorities and, particularly, native Albanians.

These problems are not unique to regions primarily inhabited by Albanians, but also found in the districts of Ulcinj, Plav and Gucia, Bar, Rozaje, etc. In Ulcinj issues surrounding property rights and ownership, particularly are concerning the return of the Valdanos lands and marine goods. The remaining districts are so stagnant in their development that they are almost completely assimilated.

We want to help this country, but in order to do so we seek to be equal partners in its democratic transition and not mere servants! Montenegro will be integrated into the EU only when it is prepared to respect the rights all citizens of Montenegro, including the indigenous Albanian population. The integration of Montenegro into the EU means respecting human life and the significance of Chapter XXIV, which is a prerequisite for integration into the EU as it relates to the representation of minorities in public life and observation of state laws on discrimination – such as Montenegro’s outrages law banning the Albanian flag.

We thoroughly understand the EU requirements; therefore we raise our voices to remind Montenegro that their current path towards EU integration is not acceptable.

From this stage today, I appeal to Europe and the United States, declaring that we are citizens of the same world, we are together in this, and we need your assistance to resolve this issue, so we can share with you the benefits of a civilized society. We have reasonable aspirations to guide ourselves towards the right path and remove the obstacles of injustice, which oppresses us, diminishes our existence, and stops any progress that would make us equal. This is the belief of the Albanian youth.

― Anton Lulgjuraj

Friday, December 23, 2011


DETROIT / NEW YORK / 23 DECEMBER 2011 – THE ALBANIAN-AMERICAN DIASPORA declares its support for the upcoming demonstration in TUZ on 28 December 2011 at 2:00 p.m. local time. This protest, along with the several that are currently being arranged in Detroit, New York and Washington, DC, underscore decades of discriminatory policies against the Albanian minority in Montenegro, which specifically includes denied equal rights, access, and participation in every sphere of social, political, economic and cultural ways of life. The growing public resentment, distrust, and isolation towards the Montenegrin government has been recently exacerbated by the passage of a law that makes it a crime, punishable by imprisonment, to freely display flags, emblems and/or symbols of another nationality without first obtaining prior permission from the capital city, Podgorica. This blatant act of ethnic discrimination defies every international law, treaty, constitutional order and democratic principle conferred onto man. This is punctuated by the organizers of this demonstration who have declared that, “ethnic cleansing via non-violent means continues to be the preamble of Montenegro’s policy against Albanians.”

The general freedoms and natural rights of the autochthon Albanian population have been systematically violated by the broader programmes of Podgorica, which includes dividing and assimilating Albanians to the point where they no longer represent a majority and will ultimately have no chance to preserve their language, values, traditions, and history. Following decades of pleas and petitions for the protection of these standards, Montenegro continues to ignore such requests, hence threatening the very existence and development of a people, which is in direct violation of the Articles of the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights, European Charter for Minority Rights and other supplementary international and European laws protecting minorities.

The Organizers in TUZ have announced that, “all citizens of Malësia, regardless of religion, territory, and/or political beliefs, to raise their voices in unison on December 28th.” In full solidarity with our families, the Diaspora encourage Albanians in Montenegro to stand firm and bring to the attention of the international community the injustices perpetuated against them by the state, particularly the lack of a legal framework protecting language, national symbol, local institutions, culture, and development. This protest will also bring forth previous demands that the Montenegrin Government fully comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the Charter of Local Self-Government by means of granting the region of Malësia a full and comprehensive municipality with all the legitimate and administrative authority of a decentralized self-government. A Malësia Municipality will not solve the overreaching problem facing Albanians in Montenegro today but local self-government is a minimum pre-condition in a European democracy. Albanians must forestall the process of assimilation and the planned expulsion from their homelands and justifiably demand a political arrangement that puts political power into their own hands, where Albanians are allowed to exercise self-rule without the interference from alien obstruction.

Albanians throughout Montenegro should be forewarned that their fate and the fate of future generations rests in their own hands, that no party, state, or individual is going to grant them any relief from the discriminating circumstances they live in, they have been corrupted by self-serving politicians that are now looking to further the agenda of the Slavs, which is to (1) secure power and crush any opposition, (2) infiltrate Albanian lands and create a heterogeneous population where no majority exists, and ultimately (3) launch policies and cultural projects that will discourage expression of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes Albanian institutions, organizations, and groups.

As 2011 comes to a close, it was the year of the “Protester,” and if such declarations for human rights can begin in the most unlikely of places with the “Arab Spring,” this protest must be the beginning of the thaw for the “Albanian Spring.” Let us stand united and reverberate our voices through the halls of parliaments! This is our time! This is our future!

# # #

Monday, December 19, 2011

Protest Planned By Albanians in Tuz, Montenegro

"In Defense of National Identity"

TUZ, MALËSIA e MADHE, Monday December 19, 2011 – Recent developments in Montenegro illustrate once again that "ethnic cleansing” via non-violent means continues to be the preamble of Montenegro’s policy against Albanians. On November 2nd of this year, the Montenegrin Parliament adopted the Law on Territorial Division of Malësia leaving the fate of Malësia and Albanians in the hands of the Government of Montenegro. Hence, we know very well that any plans from the Montenegrin Government to grant an independent Municipal Status for Malësia will be the same as it has been thus far, nonexistent!

Currently, the Montenegrin government is preparing a draft law that strictly forbids the expression of national flags (symbols) by its national minorities, including those that have given their lives in the name of language, flag and identity throughout the centuries.

The discrimination of Albanians continues today through dangerous levels of unemployment, denial of the right of local government organizations (as professed in the Constitution of Montenegro and international agreements), the lack of textbooks in the Albanian language, and the refuted history of the Albanian people, just to name a few.

As such, the aforementioned have forced us to take concrete steps to achieve the natural rights bestowed to us at birth and according to international standards for human and minority rights. Therefore, on December 28th, at 2:00 p.m., in the Center of Tuz, a peaceful protest will be organized in efforts to express dissatisfaction with the current governance of the Urban Municipality of Tuz and the on-going injustices perpetuated against Albanians in Montenegro!

As the state of Montenegro aims to ascend into the European Union, it has continuously failed to respect the canons of democracy and its development.

WE DEMAND RESPECT as protected under international legal apparatuses and domestic laws which guarantee the rights of Albanians in Malësia and the whole territory of Montenegro where they live.

WHEREFORE, I invite all citizens of Malësia, regardless of religion, territory, and/or political beliefs, to raise their voices in unison on December 28th, to take back what was wrongfully taken away from us, to reclaim the right to Local Self-Government / Full Municipal Status for Malësia, where we decide our own destiny, to develop the economic sector that is just and desirable and necessary to the citizens of Malësia, and to protect our national symbols, territories, vineyards, natural resources, and the right to employment and livelihood. There can be no democracy if the cornerstones and fundamental rights and freedoms of man are not met.

Based on these accusations, we rightfully appeal to Europe and the United States that we are your members, we are your sons, and we seek to share with you the benefits of a just civilization by way of democracy. We express good will, we are eager to learn from you, and we have journeyed through the right path in pursuit of equal representation, and you will realize that if the obstacles of discrimination are torn down, Albanians will fight to free themselves from the grip of tyranny.

To the Government of Montenegro, we assert: "Grant Albanians the protection and representation EQUAL to all other citizens in Montenegro! HALT your policy of assimilation and ethnic cleansing! STOP population displacement! STOP changing the demographics of the population of Malësia! STOP the discrimination, because under our inalienable right to vote and live as citizens of the state, Montenegro must be at the service of all its citizens, equally and impartially!”

Democratic Forum for the Integration of Albanians in Montenegro

President - Anton Lulgjuraj

Friday, December 16, 2011

Law Diminishes Freedoms of Expression/Speech in Montenegro

The Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Assembly of Montenegro recently endorsed a bill outlining violations of the public order, arguing along the way the conditions for the functioning of public order.

Besides violations such as selling and buying of human organs and using firearms and explosive materials, the new bill also makes it a violation to display flags, emblems and symbols of another state without obtaining prior permission.

The CDM reported that the proposed new law on public order and safety was voted in favor by the majority of committee members, where the overwhelming numbers are Montenegrin. Simply stated, the law provides that if a citizen, "in a public place without permission uses a flag, emblem or symbol of another state, he shall be punished by a fine of €200 to €1,000, or imprisonment up to 60 days.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Montenegro Wins June Start Date for EU Talks

According to the leaked draft conclusions that the European Council will adopt on Friday, accession negotiations with Montenegro will start in June after the Commission assesses its progress in carying out reforms on rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and repressing corruption and organised crime.

Montenegrin media report that while most EU countries have supported a start to negotiations with Montenegro, France remains a problem. For setting a date for opening of the accession negotiations, all 27 members must vote unanimously.

The European Commission recommended opening talks with Montenegro in October. However, while negotiations with previous applicants began with issues such as science and culture, Brussels has announced it will now take a new approach regarding new applicants from the Balkans.

Would-be members such as Montenegro will have to open talks with the most challenging “chapters” in the accession process. These are chapters 23 and 24, dealing with the rule of law and the fight against organised crime and corruption.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gëzuar Ditën e Flamurit

Stafi nga FREE-MALESIA ju uron të gjithë bashkëatdhetarëve Ditën e Flamurit, 28 Nëntorin. Gëzuar Ditën e Flamurit kudo që të jeni në botë

Monday, November 14, 2011

Detroit Fundraiser Huge Success "For Malësia"

ROCHESTER HILLS, MI, Sunday November 13, 2011 – The Albanian-American Association “Malësia e Madhe” hosted their annual “For Malësia” fundraising dinner last night at St. Paul’s Albanian Catholic Church and Community Center. The occasion brought together Albanians from across the United States and from different sectors of the business, legal, medical, academic and political communities.

Gjergj Ivezaj, chairman of the Association, thanked everyone for supporting Malësia and the numerous projects over the years, which recently included the construction of a home for an impoverished family whose sons were tortured by Montenegrin authorities in the 2006 “Eagle’s Flight” case. The $60,000 raised for the home is just a fraction of a decade-long list of services directed to building the social, economic and political infrastructure in Malësi. Of the nearly $500,000 raised by the Association, 100% of the monies have gone directly to the Malësia cause.

On this night the Association raised an impressive $26,000, and while all the expenses at St. Paul’s were paid by the church, all of the money will go directed towards future projects aimed at helping the region defend itself from the discriminatory policies levied by the Montenegrin government.

The highlight of the evening came when the chief administrator of St. Paul’s, Father Fran Kola, gave a heart-warming speech on his support for Malësia and dedication towards helping the Association by any means necessary. Fr. Kola emphasized the urgency in aiding Malësia “Now”, and repeatedly called out the unfair treatment of Albanians in Malësia as a policy designed to eradicate an entire ethnic group from their national homeland. The crowd gave Fr. Kola a standing ovation as he concluded his remarks by stressing that, “What we need to understand, and what the international community needs to come to grips with, is that Malësia has only one path towards guaranteed freedom, liberty and justice for Albanians, and that is the road leading to unification with her natural state.“

The evening concluded in a jubilant mood, and those in attendance pledged their continued support for the future of Albanians in Malësia. The buzz throughout the evening centered on the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Albanian-American Association; preparations were already beginning for a much-anticipated gala that is expected to set a fundraising record for the 2012 “Malësia Project.” Although the details were not made public, the "Project" promises to be the most comprehensive plan to date in dealing with the discrimination fo Albanians in Montenegro.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Rochester Hills Re-elects Mayor Bryan K. Barnett for Second Term

Tuesday November 8, 2011, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett won re-election Tuesday by a landslide over Erik Ambrozaitis, 77%-23%. Barnett collected 8,398 votes to 2,440 for Ambrozaitis.

Barnett thanked all his supporters who joined him at the Concord Inn in Rochester Hills to watch as the final vote counts were officially reported. In attendance were members of the Albanian-American community who have supported Barnett’s contribution to Malësia since Rochester Hills became sister-city with Tuz in 2006.

Members of Shoqata “Malësia e Madhe” were greeted by Barnett and his City Council and recognized for their commitment for strengthening the City of Rochester Hills and several programs aimed at enriching the municipality. Albanians in Rochester Hills have played a paramount role in Barnett’s re-election campaign by hosting numerous fundraising events, promoting his vision for the city and his sister-city alliance with Tuz. Barnett repeated his aspiration to visit Malësia in the near future and encourage development in the areas of infrastructure and local government. Members of Malësia e Madhe promised to assist the Mayor in any initiative for the future of Malësia.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

United To Help Malesia

Event: Annual Fundraising Dinner for Malësia

Venue: St. Paul’s Albanian Community Center, Rochester Hills, Michigan

Date: Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time: 6:30 p.m.

The Albanian-American Association “Malësia e Madhe” invites you to attend their annual fundraising event where 100% of the proceeds go directly to families experiencing hardship in the rural areas of Malësia.

The event will include dinner and entertainment highlighting traditional music and plays reminiscent of customary Albanian folklore.

Since its inception, the annual fundraiser has procured over $500,000 in funds that have been used to better the lives of Albanian families throughout the Malësia region. The most recent project involved the allocating of $60,000 for building a home for an impoverished Berishaj family.

In efforts to realize the many goals and projects set forth for 2012, the Organization seeks your generosity in achieving these objectives by attending this weekend’s event. As Montenegro continues to discriminate against Albanians throughout Montenegro, Malësia has been especially hit hard by the government’s refusal to grant Albanians a distinct municipality that would handle so many basic needs and reverse the poverty plaguing the region.

Together we can make a difference as our unity, open hearts and love of nation cannot be deterred by any aggressor, at home or abroad.

We look forward to seeing you Sunday night.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Montenegro Proclaims, "No Municipality for Malësia"

Earlier today the Montenegrin Parliament adopted the Law on Territorial Organization, but no concessions were made to opposition parties and minority groups who were awaiting the formation of new municipalities in Montenegro.

Proposals of the opposition parties, which included pleas from ethnic Albanians to grant a municipal status to Tuzi, was turned away when it did not receive the necessary majority in the Montenegrin parliament.

The ruling coalition, which ironically includes the DPS and its appointed mayor of Tuzi, Nikollë Gegaj, argued that the initiative for the establishment of new municipalities was “unjustified and irrational at this time.”

The Law on Territorial Organization stipulates that the Government of Montenegro has the final say in the formation of new municipalities.

As one of the main obstacles to the independence of some municipalities, the Montenegrin government insists that those areas seeking independent municipalities must strengthen their economic capacity.

The Government of Montenegro considers that territorial changes cannot jeopardize economic development in a region, or the capacity of the existing municipalities to successfully perform its function.

The news came as a blow to the Albanian community in Malësia and the Diaspora. Back in 2005, then Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic assured a visiting Albanian delegation (who was accompanied by U.S. Congressman Elliot Engel) that “Tuzi would be granted a full and legal municipality in four years.” That would have been 2008.

With a population in steady decline, ethnic Albanians in Malësia are running out of time.

In 2003, the late Congressman from California, Tom Lantos, declared that what was happening to Albanians in Montenegro could be labeled as “quiet ethnic cleansing.” What Lantos might not have known is that this has been progressively happening since 1957, when Malësia was stripped of her legal municipality. And 55 years later, the aftermaths has been horrific.

There are less Albanians in Montenegro today than ever before in history.

When you ask a young adult what his dreams are, he responds, “to leave this place and go to America.”

There are no jobs, no opportunities, and no efforts for integrating Albanians, but instead a policy of assimilation and forced emigration.

What is happening with Albanians in Montenegro?

It should be no surprise why the population in Malësia has been steadily declining; over 55 years without democratic institutions (Municipality) have led to virtually no resources to: (1) identify administrative borders, (2) combat sluggish cultural development, (3) fill libraries that do not have books in the mother tongue, (4) support public fairs/festivals, (5) setting national holidays and/or street names, (6) contest the dissipating infrastructure – no adequate and safe water supply / sewage disposal / waste treatment facilities, no facilities for primary health care, public transportation is nonexistent, and maintenance of parks is absent, (7) reverse weak political participation – that has led to no municipal offices to handle the most basic needs of the local population, election offices /Register of Deeds centered in Podgorica, language barriers hindering development, government is centralized and very intimidating.

What has been the result?

The 2011 Montenegrin National Census reports the lowest Albanian population in the history of the region at 4.9%;

Assimilation & Emigration at unprecedented rates;

Albanians alienated from political process;

Latest election turnout the lowest ever, thus allowing opposition parties to take power;

All decision-making authority rests in the capital city – Podgorica;

More Albanians in Michigan & NY than ever before;

More Albanians in Detroit than in Montenegro;

Diaspora Albanians reluctant to return;

Widening cleavages between ethnic groups in Montenegro;

While 93% of the citizens in Tuz voted in favor of Montenegro’s independence in 2006, today less than 1% of Albanians are employed in the public sphere.

Democracy is an idea in Montenegro, Assimilation is their domestic policy.

The battle from abroad

A call for Municipality was recently forwarded to the U.S. Government by the distribution of a comprehensive Feasibility Study performed by a group of socio-political and economic experts from Montenegro and the U.S.

The study compared the sociopolitical and economic elements in the region of Malësia with those of the other established (21) municipalities. The results were well-defined: Malësia is much richer (via natural resources, business enterprises and investment from abroad) and more economically sustainable than seven existing municipalities in Montenegro today. In other words, one-third of Montenegro’s municipalities are in worse economic shape than Malësia.

And what has been Montenegro’s position on Malesia’s municipal status? There are insufficient financial resources and poor economic capacity to grant her a sovereign commune. The 2009 feasibility study unambiguously proves otherwise.

Decentralization has been a key component in appeasing ethnic minorities in Kosova and Macedonia; minorities now have increased power in areas they occupy as a majority, much like Malësia. The Diaspora has followed these trends closely, and has maintained that, in Malësia, Albanians should be allowed to manage their own affairs at the local level.

The United States Congress has agrees with this position.

In 2003, a Congressional Hearing on the “Repression of Albanians in Montenegro”, chaired by Rep Tom Lantos, discussed that the solution to the continued discrimination against Albanians was the creation of a municipality.

In 2005, Lantos petitioned (on several occasions) former Montenegrin PM Dukanovic to establish a municipality for Malësia.

In 2006, members of “Citizens Initiative” from Tuz joined the Albanian-American Association “Malësia e Madhe” from Detroit and appealed to the State Department, and Senator Carl Levin’s office in Washington, on the growing ethnic bigotry in Malësia. In turn, Levin petitioned the State Department to pay close attention to these issues abroad.

The Albanian-American community has also been restless.

In 2008, Students for Tolerance and Albanian Rights (S.T.A.R.) petitioned Congressman Engel at the campus of Oakland University for the recognition of a Malësia Municipality.

Since early 2005, eight demonstrations from Detroit to Washington to NY have taken place to object to the ill-treatment of Albanians in Montenegro

In 2010, the Albanian-American Diaspora (four Albanian NGOs) joined together to petition the State Department, Albanian Embassy, Kosova Embassy, and Montenegrin Embassy.

In a letter forwarded to Secretary Hillary Clinton, Senator Levin and congressmen Peters and Sandy Levin firmly requested that the State Department: “ensure the equitable treatment of Albanians in Montenegro,” while at the same time expressing support in “granting a full municipality status of the Tuzi district of Podgorica,” which would alleviate the continuing problems associated with “the rights of Albanians who are subject to discrimination in their native lands…”

And in 2011, from Tuz, the desk officer of the “Commission for Human Rights and the Protection of National Minorities” requested a meeting with Members of Congress to discuss the threats to the entire Albanian ethnic minority in Montenegro.

So many pleas, petitions, and demands, but yet so little productivity.

What will it take?

What will it take for Montenegro to realize that it is violating international laws, treaties, charters, statutes, and its very own constitution by holding back an entire ethnic minority? What will it take for the European Union to realize that membership into the EU bloc requires respect, recognition and protection of your national minorities first, and thereafter Montenegro can scramble to fix her criminal empire called “Parliament”? What will it take for the United States to realize that continued aid and support to Montenegro should be contingent upon its observance of equal rights and defense of its Albanian minorities? And what will it take for Albanians in Montenegro to realize that they are becoming extinct, and for those that will somehow survive, what will it take for them to realize they are turning into Slavs?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Shqiperia Etnike? Marrëveshja Shqipëri-Kosovë rindez dyshimet e vjetra

Një marrëveshje për të bashkuar shërbimet konsullore jashtë vendeve, që do të pasohet nga veprime të ngjashme në të gjitha sektorët e tjerë, është një shqetësim për disa rreth agresionit të mundshëm territorial shqiptar.

Një marrëveshje për të shkrirë shërbimet shqiptare e kosovare konsullore jashtë vendeve ka ndezur shqetësime në pjesë të Ballkanit se marrëveshja është një hap drejt realizimit të "Shqipërisë së Madhe".

Marrëveshja u miratua nga qeveria e Kryeministrit shqiptar Sali Berisha më 20 tetor. Kjo do të përgjysmojë kostot konsullore të të dy vendeve, tha qeveria.

"Shqiptarët duhet të ndjehen njëlloj në Tiranë dhe në Prishtinë," tha Berisha, duke bërë thirrje gjithashtu për marrëveshje të ngjashme në fushat e doganave e taksave si dhe në sektorët arsimorë, shoqërorë, kulturorë e mjedisorë "dhe gjithshka tjetër".

"Duhet të forcojmë bashkëpunimin brenda të njëjtiti kuadër e praktikave ligjore, me qëllim që të zvogëojmë pengesat burokratike mes shtetasve të Shqipërisë e të Kosovës," tha ai.

Analisti kosovar Seb Bytyçi që drejton Institutin e Politikës Ballkanike me qendër në Prishtinë, u bëri jehonë argumenteve të Tiranës.

"Kosova dhe Shqipëria janë vende të vogla pa burime për të patur konsullata gjithandej," tha ai për SETimes. "Kjo marrëveshje na lejon të sigurojmë shërbime më të mira për shtetasit tanë. Marrëveshje të ngjashme janë të zakonshme edhe mes vendeve të pasura që ende ndjejnë nevojën për të shkurtuar kostot."

Ministritë e jashtme të Maqedonisë -- që nënshkruan një marrëveshje për përfaqësim të përbashkët konsullor me Slloveninë -- dhe të Malit të Zi thanë për SETimes se respektojnë të drejtën e çdo vendi për të kryer çështjet e brendshme e të jashtme të tij.

"Mirëpresim çdo nismë që synon përmirësimin e bashkëpunimit rajonal," tha ministria e jashtme maqedonase, por shtoi se "nuk do të komentojë mbi deklaratat e marrëdhëniet mes Kosovës e Shqipërisë".

"Nuk shoh se pse duhet t'a shqetësojë kjo Malin e Zi," tha për SETimes Zëvendës/Ministri i Jashtëm Ivan Miliç.

Ekpserti maqedonas i diplomacisë Lazar Lazarov këshilloi se ka më shumë në këtë lloj marrëveshjesh sesa bie në sy.

"Në fazën e parë keni afrimin, doganat e ekonominë e përbashkët, por faza e dytë në këtë prosces është zakonisht unifikimi," tha Lazarovi për SETimes. "Do të jetë e vështirë për Kosovën që të mbajë shtetin e saj në këto rrethana. Si Shqipëria, ashtu edhe Kosova duket se punojnë mbi projektin e 'Shqipërisë së Madhe,' të përmendur së pari më 1878."

Lazarovi iu referua planit të nxitur nga organizata politike shqiptare Lidhja e Prizrenit, që kishte për qëllim të unifikonte në një shtet shqiptarët e përhapur anembanë Kosovës, Serbisë, Malit të Zi, Maqedeonisë e Greqisë në shekullin e 19-të.

Kosova u zotua në deklaratën e saj të pavarësisë më 2008 për respekt të plotë për integritetin territorial të fqinjëve të saj dhe për kufijtë e caktuar në planin e Marti Ahtisaarit për një zgjidhje të çështjes së statusit të Kosovës, të miratuar nga OKB.

Jan Bankroft, bashkë-themelues i TransConflict me qendër në Beograd, argumenton se Plani Ahtisaari pohon qartë se Kosova nuk mund të kërkojë të bashkohet me ndonjë shtet tjetër, kështu që synimi i Berishës duhet të trajtohet me mjaft shqetësim.

"Nëse qeveria në Prishtinë nuk i përmbahet këtij elementi të rëndësishëm të Planit Ahtisaari, atëhere është vështirë të presësh se do të mbajë kushtet e tjera mbrojtëse të siguruara, që do të ushqejnë më tej mosbesimin mes serbëve të Kosovës e popullsive të tjera jo-shqiptare. Prandaj BE, në veçanti, duhet të jetë më e hapur në kritikën e saj ndaj hapave të tillë," tha Bankroft për SETimes.

Ai shtoi se marrëveshja i shtohet shqetësimeve ekzistuese anembanë rajonit lidhur me pohimin e identitetit etno-kombëtar shqiptar. "[Ajo] ka shtyrë, pjesërisht, bojkotin e rregjistrimit në Serbinë jugore, braktisjen e rregjistrimit të Maqedonisë e tensionet brenda Shqipërisë lidhur me pakicat etnike, që mund të provokojë mosbesim të mëtejshëm në vendet fqinjë si Mali i Zi e Greqia."

Duke këmbëngulur se Kosova është ende një protektorat i OKB-së, zëdhënësi i qeverisë serbe Milivoje Mihajloviç tha në komentet për SETimes se Beogradi nuk mund të mbështeste asnjë nismë që nuk është në përputhje me Rezolutën 1244 të Këshillit të Sigurimit të OKB-së.

Sipas Bytyçit, marrëveshja konsullore mund t'i frynte "paranojës rreth 'Shqipërisë së Madhe'", veçanërisht mes politikanëve ekstremë në vendet fqinje me Shqipërinë e Kosovën".

"Lidhur me hollësitë e tjera, mund të presim më shumë integrim si një rezultat i rritjes në bashkëpunimin tregtar e ekonomik," tha ai, duke shtuar se rruga ndaj bashkëpunimit më të fortë mes Kosovës e Shqipërisë ka të ngjarë që të jetë e vështirë.

"Në të njëjtën kohë, për shkak të mungesës së përparimit në integrimin në BE, presioni politik e shoqëror për më shumë integrim mes të dy vendeve, si dhe të tjerëve si Maqedonia e Mali i Zi, do të rritet," tha Bytyçi.

Në këtë artikull kontribuan Biljana Lajmanovska në Shkup, Nedjeljko Rudoviç në Podgoricë, Igor Jovaniçeviç në Beograd dhe Muhamet Brajshori në Prishtinë.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was Albanian …

Only two other persons have national holidays in the United States honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a giant in American history; he dedicated his life to fighting discrimination and racism in American society. During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December, 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history. Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States.

The $120 million memorial is the first in Washington DC to honor a man of hope, peace and color. The Memorial was built on a four-acre plot on the north east corner of the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial and the FDR Memorial. The 30 foot sculpture of Dr. King depicts him gazing into the horizon and concentrating on the future and his hope for humanity.

Ironically, in Malësia, a memorial was erected "honoring" Ded Gjo'Luli, an Albanian war hero who, for similar reasons, fought against discrimination and brutality against Albanians at the hands of Turks and Slavs. Unlike the King Memorial, however, Deda stands about 6 feet tall, sits on a gated area away from public access (in case the gates are open from time to time) , and thrown behind a church and banquet center (roughly a total area of 10 square feet has been dedicated to this man). Beside Deda flies the Montenegrin flag, a slap in the face for a hero that dedicated his life, and those of his army, to fight the same enemy. Imagine a flag of the Third Reich flying beside King. The King memorial was dedicated by the President of the United States and is located in the capital; the Ded Gjo' Luli memorial was never formally dedicated, never broadcast on (national) TV, nor even attended by more than a handful of people. In fact, the statue cannot even be erected in the center of Albanian-domintaed Tuz!

Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is among the most revered orations and writings in the English language. Below is a modified version of what Dr. King might have said if her were Albanian and faced with the contemporary issues facing the Albanian nation today:

"I am not unmindful that some of you have come to Malësia out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells in Spuz. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of Slavic brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Come back to Albania, come back to Tetova, come back to Presheva, come back to Malësia, come back to Chameria, come back to the slums and ghettos of your homeland villages, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my Albanians, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Albanian dream.

I have a dream that one day a “Greater Nation” will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed--we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the black mountains of Plav & Gusine the sons of Scanderbeg and the sons of Jashari will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood and remember the blood spilled in honor of country!

I have a dream that one day even the region of Malësia, a district sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom, justice, and self-determination.

I have a dream that our little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the choice of religion, language, culture, traditions, and symbols but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Chameria, with its vicious racists, with the Greeks having their lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Chameria little Cham boys and Cham girls will be able to join hands with little Kosovar boys and Kosovar girls as sisters and brothers with no borders separating them.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley of ancient Illyria shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all Albanians shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the Tirana with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our Greater Nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Albanian’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if Albania is to be a Great Nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of Tuz.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of Rugova.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Shkodra.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped mountains of Gusine.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of Vlora.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring from the raging seas of Ulqin.

Let freedom ring from valleys of Presheve.

Let freedom ring from every mountain top of Ethnic Albania, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every village and every municipality, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's Albanians, Malesor, Kosovar, Shkoltare and Katunar, Muslims and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Illyrian spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mali i Zi i kënaqur me raportin e përparimit të KE-së

Komisioni Evropian (KE) rekomandoi në raportin e tij të përparimit të mërkurën (12 tetor) që Mali i Zi të fillojë bisedimet për anëtarësimin në BE, duke thënë se vendi arriti përparim të kënaqshëm në reformat politike dhe institucionale.

KE vuri në dukje përparim në të gjitha fushat, duke bërë që Komisioneri i Zgjerimit të BE-së Stefan Fyle të njoftojë se asnjë vend anëtar i BE-së nuk do t'i shmangej miratimit të fillimit të bisedimeve me Malin e Zi.

Qeveria e Malit të Zi dhe e gjithë opozita përshëndetën rekomandimin e KE-së.

"Ky është një hap i madh drejt nxitjes kolektive dhe të unifikuar të mjedisit për reformat. U krijua së pari nga strukturat në pushtet për të forcuar pushtetin e tyre ndaj një opozite konservatore e nacionaliste, por është bërë një mjet kryesor për demokratizimin e mëtejshëm dhe luftën kundër krimit të organizuar e korrupsionit," tha Presidenti i Lëvizjes Evropiane Momçillo Raduloviç.

Vendimi i KE-së do të jetë përfundimtar nëse konfirmohet nga udhëheqësit e 27 vendeve anëtare të BE-së në dhjetor.

Pasi Kroacia të përfundojë bisedimet e saj me BE, Mali i Zi do të jetë vendi i vetëm ballkanik në fazën përfundimtare megjithatë më kërkues, të pranimit në BE.

Sipas analistëve, një status i tillë do të mbështesë reformat në vend, duke detyruar qeverinë që të trajtojë çështje në të cilat përndryshe mund të ngurrojë.

Ngurrimi veçanërisht shtrihet në shtetin e së drejtës, pavarësinë e gjyqësorit dhe luftën kundër korrupsionit e krimit të organizuar.

Ndërsa reformat e ndërmarra forcojnë arritjet në këto fusha, Mali i Zi duhet të bëjë përparim të mëtejshëm, duke përfshirë forcimin e kapacitetit të administratës e kontrollit të shtetit, si dhe lidhur me lirinë e medias.

KE i kërkoi parlamentit që të mbikqyrë më mirë punën e qeverisë, veçanërisht nëpërmjet marrjes së shpeshtë në pyetje të ministrave për të lejuar opozitën që të fillojë seanca.

Raduloviçi shpjegoi se procesi i bisedimeve i BE-së lejon gjithashtu më shumë vend për ndërhyrje nga jashtë për të trajtuar parregullsitë e sistemeve të pushtetit të Malit të Zi.

"Kjo do të hapë hapësirë shtesë për presionin demokratik e të reformave si nga institucionet e BE-së, ashtu edhe nga vendet anëtare të BE mbi strukturat dhe institucionet në pushtet në Malin e Zi për të vazhduar me përpjekje shtesë," tha Raduloviçi për SETimes.

Ai argumenton se ata që ndërpresin këtë proces të konsolidimit institucional e demokratik do të përballen me presionin e fortë vendas nga publiku i përgjithshëm dhe ekspertët, si dhe nga faktorë të ndryshëm të BE-së dhe të tjerë ndërkombëtarë.

Fyle shpjegoi se BE do të nisë një metodë të re në bisedimet e tij me Malin e Zi.

Ai do të jetë i pari që do të diskutojë mbi Kapitullin 23, që i referohet shtetit të së drejtës, pavarësisë së gjyqësorit, lirisë së shprehjes dhe rezultateve të dukshme në luftën kundër krimit e korrupsionit. Kapitulli do të jetë i pari në rendin e ditës dhe do të mbyllet i fundit.

"Rekomandimi i KE-së për Malin e Zi për datën e bisedimeve është shumë mbështetës për procesin e mëtejshëm të demokratizimit e evropianizimit të vendit," tha për SETimes përfaqësuesja e Qendrës për Edukimin Qytetar Daliborka Uljareviç.

Uljareviçi shpjegoi se metoda e Brukselit për bisedimet -- e kushtëzuar nga përparimi dhe rezultatat konkrete -- është shumë i dobishëm.

"E gjithë kjo do të bëjë komunikim intensiv me Brukselin, por do të pakësojë gjithashtu manipulimin. ... BE do të mbikqyrë nga afër qeverinë tonë, e cila do të jetë e detyruar të ndërmarrë më shumë rezultate të dukëshme e konkrete, sepse presioni i brendshëm për reformat do të mbështetetet me presionin e BE-së."

Por jo gjithkush e përqafoi raportin e KE-së. Anëtari i Këshillit Kombëtar për Integrimin Evropian Boris Raoniç tha se rekomandimi nuk është ndonjë arsye për eufori.

"Forcimi i aftësive administrative nuk do të jetë i lehtë," tha Raoniçi për SETimes.

Nga Nedjeljko Rudoviç për Southeast European Times në Podgoricë -- 14/10/11

Kjo përmbajtje është autorizuar nga

Friday, October 21, 2011

Albania and Kosova to Unify Consular Services

Albania’s government has ratified an agreement which unifies consular services and practices with Kosovo and halves costs for both countries.

Besar Likmeta, Tirana

“Albanians should feel the same in Tirana and Pristina,” Prime Minister Sali Berisha during a cabinet meeting yesterday.

He added that similar practices should be followed in other areas like customs, culture and education in order to cut down on bureaucracy and bring the two sister countries closer together.

“It’s necessary to consolidate the trend of cooperation with [a] common legal framework and common legal practices, alleviating the bureaucratic hurdles for the citizens of Albania and Kosovo,” he said.

Since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, the two governments in Tirana and Pristina have worked closely to strengthen business and cultural ties.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Congressman Engels to Visit Albanians in Detroit and support initiative for Malesia Municipality

Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Co-Chairman, Congressional Albanian Issues Caucus will be visiting the Albanian-American Community at Saint Paul's Albanian Community Center on Tuesday, October 18, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.

This event will invite supporters to engage in dialogue related to varuous issues affecting Albanian-Americans at home and abroad, most notably the absence of a Commune in the Albanian region in Malesia.

As Chairman of the Albanian Issues Caucus, Engel strives to champion several causes that are very important to both him and the rich Albanian communities of New York and Detroit. The caucus works to promote the welfare and progress in Albanian regions of the Balkans and US-Albanian relations in many profound ways.

Firstly, the Caucus promotes the bolstering of democratic institutions in Albania, Kosova, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro and other Albanian populated Balkans territories because a free and stable Balkans benefits everyone. Engel also strives to prevent human suffering of refugees and other troubled peoples in the aforementioned areas through the resurrection of human rights protections.

As chairman, Engel is also overjoyed to be part of the effort to advance the cultural evolution and social development in those territories. So, too, does the Caucus support the establishment of free-market economies and the preservation of good relations between Albanian Americans and their ancestral homeland. The Caucus works diligently to ensure that the Balkan regions with ethnic Albanian populations progress swiftly into the future with a strong partnership with the United States.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A "New" Challenge to the Status Quo in Montenegro

“Generation X” is all grown up in Malësia. Who, you ask? Simply put, if you ask this post-communist cohort of young intellectuals who Tito was, you may get a reply straight from a textbook. That is because most of these youth only know about the former Yugoslavia and her bloody wars and venomous demagogues through history books, YouTube, and Wikipedia. In other words, a new generation has emerged, and with it, a new taste for change. In the highlands of Malësia e Madhe a new group has organized under the label "Democratic Forum for Integration" (DFI). They believe that the current political representatives of Albanians work more for their personal interests than to improve the political, economic and social lives of their brethren.

As the newly appointed leader of this civic association, Anton Lulgjuraj offers the same warning that organizations preceding FDI have argued: the citizens of the predominant Albanian region of Malësia are dissatisfied with the general situation their social, economic and political lives.

The fault lies primarily on the political representatives of Albanians, who for the most part serve their own self-interests instead of the constituents they represent. Lulgjuraj cites the absence of a local municipality in Tuz/Malësia as the main culprit for this stalemate, and coupled with skyrocketing unemployment and unbalanced budget revenues have crippled the region.

The head of the Mission Club of Albanian parties in the Montenegrin Assembly, Vasel Sinishtaj, however, expressed skepticism in the objectives of the FDI.

Sinishtaj envisions an organization that will harvest all Albanian political parties into one unit and collectively engage the Montenegrin government for greater socio-political rights in Malësia and elsewhere. However, "yet another association is conceived without any real policy position or platform on real political issues." Sinishtaj is skeptical as to whether their goal is to unite Albanians or create cleavages between an already united front.

On the other hand, Political analyst Dritan Abazović supports the formation of the FDI. He asserts that any group organization that seeks alternative means of articulating their legitimate demands are rightly justified, especially if the status quo has not ushered in any change through the failure of their elected representatives.

Abazović maintains that, "It is especially important to raise awareness about the importance of participation in the social processes. Malësia has a legitimate reason to be dissatisfied and has regressed politically and economically. The political elites have failed to fulfill their requirements as elected representatives and articulate the demands of the citizens of Malësia. Therefore, it is quite logical that such an organization would take birth; it is definitely a welcoming sign, especially if the FDI is founded on democratic principles with the desire to achieve prosperity for all citizens."

Although the names of the members are being kept under tight wraps, it is expected that a press conference will soon identify the rest of the group and their roles thereafter. All we know now is that “a new group of young intellectuals will be seeking change for Albanians in the Malësia region.” A very common declaration that has been undertaken by previous groups, but with little success.

Immediate reaction to the FDI have been mixed. Some are criticizing it as an attempt to alienate the Albanian political parties and their deputies in Parliament. Others have claimed that the group is a collection of college students and young professionals that reside outside Malësia and are "out of touch" with the political process. On the other hand, the FDI is being welcomed as a potential new beginning for the future of Malësia. Many of the members are not tainted by communist-era propaganda and politics, such that have corrupted the current group serving in Parliament and in the Urban Municipality in Tuz. Numerous citizens argue that the self-serving interests of Malesia’s current and former politicians led to the embarrassing defeat of Albanian parties in 2010 that allowed the Slavic-run DPS to usher in their own puppet-masters to govern Malësia.

The FDI seeks to bring legitimacy to the political process and strengthen democratic principles while exploiting the self-serving interests of political elites. Although popularly elected, Malësia’s quasi-government is controlled by the ruling DPS in Podgorica, a strategy put in place by the Dukanovic regime in efforts to stymie any unified front from developing and politicizing. The battle is now two-fold: on one hand you have the DPS levying their political influence to maintain control in a region predominantly Albanian, and on the other hand you have corrupt Albanian officials regulating their egoism first and then the needs of their constituents second.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Montenegro's economy faces serious problems

Montenegro's economy grew at a rate of 2% in the first half of the year, but experts warn the country must immediately curb borrowing to avoid the crushing weight of a debt crisis.

"We are concerned about the pace of increasing public debt … More powerful economies in the EU have experienced major problems because of it," Central Bank Governor Radoje Zugic said.

At 1.25 billion euros, or 45% of GDP, Montenegro's projected total debt is second only to Albania in the region. Public debt rapidly increased after the government issued 380m euros in bonds around the start of the year in order to pay salaries and pensions. With interest, the bond obligation will total 524m euros when it comes due in 2016.

Meanwhile, the government took an additional World Bank loan in the amount of 59m euros earlier this month.

Central Bank data shows that the operations of one in four enterprises are blocked due to their inability to pay debts. As of June, 14,754 companies -- out of 55,602 -- with a combined debt of 302m euros were unable to function.

Similarly alarming is the data on private debt. Of 2 billion euros in total bank loans -- a quarter, or 523m euros -- will likely not be repaid.

Parliamentary Committee for Economy President Aleksandar Damjanovic warns that continually increasing the public debt has not improved the economy's performance or standard of living.

"The fact that the national debt, which in 2006 was about 700m euro, rose more than twice in five years, indicates there is a policy [at work] which can push Montenegro into debt slavery. There is a legitimate concern that we are coming into the danger zone of state bankruptcy," Damjanovic told to SETimes.

Experts agree that to avoid a worsening debt situation, foreign investment -- rather than borrowing -- should be the engine of growth.

"In Montenegro, there is stagnation when it comes to foreign direct investment. In the first seven months, compared to the same period last year, foreign direct investment decreased 38%," Zugic said.

"We believe that tourism pushed up the other sectors," he concluded. Experts say Montenegro needs 300m euros in annual foreign investment to reach a sustainable budget.

One of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) members insists that Montenegro take urgent measures, including a new law to encourage foreign investors.

"They include tax, financial and customs incentives, infrastructure and free use of land," SDP's Damir Shehovic told SETimes.

According to analyst Vasilije Kostic, Montenegro's high dependence on imports, pension fund deficit and social benefits expenditures, coupled with a large state administration, will put constant pressure on the sustainability of public finances.

"The reality is public debt will still increase due to the slowdown of the world's economic recovery, especially in the developed European economies, which affects the development of small economies like ours," Kostic told SETimes.

"It is clear that the problem of debt growth is complex and troubling. We should not forget that the credibility of a state depends largely on the ability to service its debt, especially now," Kostic said.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Eliza Dushku: "Why You Must Visit Albania"

September 2, 2011

Having the opportunity to travel the world through out my life, I've been to a number of wonderfully exciting places. After visiting 15 unique cities on my most recent trip to Albania (and acquiring dual-citizenship), I wanted to share my experience with Lonely Planet's #1 Travel Destination of 2011.

I'm an Albanian-Danish-American from Boston. Those who know me, know that I take great pride in being a Bostonian. However, I have always been curious about Albania and fascinated by my mysterious "orphan" country, one that was was hardly ever spoken of. My father, Philip, was raised in the multicultural Boston South End, by parents George and Villermini Dushku, who immigrated to America by boat from this small Balkan country in the early 1920's. I never knew these grandparents. They passed on before I was born. I never had strong feelings of attachment to Albania nor to the small city of Korce where they were from but the feelings grew with me. Here is the story.

As I began to garner attention in my acting career, Albanians quickly began to take notice that one of their own was rising in the entertainment world... rare, and I was not a Belushi! Even earlier, someone around home would look at me and say, in an accented voice, "You are Albanian!" And another time the whole family went to see the Italian-Albanian film l'Amerika. When the camera slowly panned over the deck of an old freighter crowded with Albanian immigrants I saw in the close-ups faces very much like my father's, my brother's, and myself.

My first invitation to travel to Albania came in 2004, when I was approached by a well-known Albanian-American photographer, Fadil Berisha, after he tracked me down in New York City where I was performing in an Off-Broadway play. Fadil is currently the official photographer for Rolex, Miss Universe, and Miss USA. He has shot for Elle, Vogue, Mademoiselle, etc. and is very famous amongst Albanians for his vast advocacy work. He told me that my grandparents' "Mother Land" had been calling for me, that I had become somewhat of a national heroine and that he wanted to bring me "home" for a visit. My father, two brothers and I obliged, and our first trip to Albania was both fascinating & exciting. I've seen few places as beautiful as Albania -- located across the Adriatic and Ionian Seas from the heel of Italy -- the country that Lonely Planet named the #1 travel destination for 2011 -- but is also known for its prideful isolation and two full generations of Communism in its belly.

Upon returning home to the United States, I felt something deeper than my initial curiosity. I wanted to "understand" Albania, to try in some way to capture and share the experience we had, the connection we found, with the rest of the world. The idea to make a documentary film about Albania promoting tourism & travel to the country was conceived by Fadil Berisha, my brother Nate Dushku and myself. Once we talked about the film, it had to be done. It became a labor of love. We have been calling it our "Love Letter to Albania." Little did I know, I would return home a dual-citizen of the country.

Now, looking back at the recent weeks we've spent there, I feel foolish for anticipating I could understand Albania in less than a life time, but the process has been exciting, and at the same time humbling.

I can only begin to explain the diversity I found once I tried to take in more than the fabulous beaches, the fascinating mountain villages -- each with its own hundreds of years of stories to uncover. It is an adventure that I am reveling in, realizing that I will go back many more times and still feel superficial saying that at last I understand Albanians.

One could say the same things about Italy, Greece, and Croatia, as those who have been to these richly historic, yet presently exquisite places will attest. Some might begin with a tour ship that ports at different islands, known for black sand beaches or volcanoes -- but if you linger at any place, you discover new and powerful meanings. When I was a little girl during my first trip to Greece, we woke up in a tiny village and walked across the street for breakfast not knowing that we deeply offended our host family by choosing the restaurant on the wrong corner. We unknowingly entered into a dispute going back to the interwar period between fascists and communists. When we asked how this could still matter, we found that to our friends it was as if it happened yesterday. Blind tourist? Or the beginning of a big lesson that came back to me as I sat on a rock on an Albania beach and looked up at an ancient ruin on the mountainside. I knew there were stories to be found, if I could find the right people.

Out of the gate we were determined to make our Albania documentary sleek, stylish, colorful and cinematic. The project would incorporate brazen personalities, stunning imagery and cultural touchstones such as food, music, fashion, sports and nightlife, all the while managing to touch upon Albanian customs and the environmental, socio-economic, and political issues facing the country today. My taste for adventure would set the tone for a fast-paced vacation, which indeed it was.

As we forged through town and country, basking in the sunshine of natural beauty and feeding off the energy of the Albanian people, we could relish the contemporary night spots and sexy boutiques, but we couldn't help wanting more. We stormed the vivacious capital city of Tirana and then the beach towns and islands of the Albanian Riviera, traveling up to the rugged villages of the Albanian Alps and over the border to Macedonia, and to the city of Pristina, the youth-driven capital city of the disputed country of Kosova, all inhabited primarily by Albanians. My travel companions were -- my brother Nate, my boyfriend Rick Fox, our three-man American crew, and an exuberant Albanian entourage of additional cameramen, kind guards, planners and helpers. Luckily our guide was my beloved friend Fadil Berisha, also cousin to Albania's Prime Minister Sali Berisha which helped in providing access to governmental, media, and social outlets throughout the country. We stopped in 15 cities, every spot we savored, and left hungry for more of what we had taken in.

"It gets under your skin." My "Albanian-ness" goes deeper as I spend time there. The more often I go, the more I realize there is more to the story. There are so many stories to tell -- most are full of a kind of ancient mystery that requires a wider and deeper lens. I did feel something quite different on this trip to the "Home Country." After countless conversations with open and passionate people who feel deep ties to Albania, for the first time I could imagine saying that "I know what it feels like to be Albanian." I am coming to understand the complexity of the mixture of pride and sadness over what so many have lived through, or heard repeated in their tender youthful ears by those they loved, about the triumphs and the defeats this nation has experienced -- as individuals and as a community.

Thus, when I was generously invited to become an Albanian citizen, I felt no reluctance. I felt honored and able to accept this gift. I felt even more like who I am. I retain, of course, my American citizenship. I am that, too. But it is no stretch for me to proclaim that as of August 17, 2011, I, Eliza Patricia Dushku, am an Albanian-American.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tensions build up in Montenegro's ruling party

Podgorica - Years of internal strife within the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), which has ruled Montenegro for the past two decades, may finally be exploding into the public eye, a Podgorica newspaper reported Monday.

The newspaper, Vijesti, quoted sources from the government and the DPS as saying that the party's deputy leader and one of the most powerful politicians in the country, Svetozar Marovic, had offered his resignation.

In a letter to the party leadership, Marovic reportedly said that he was ready to step down after he found out that the Montenegrin secret police had been spying on his son, Milos.

Following that, he allegedly threatened to open a full-scale conflict within the party, dominated by longtime former Montenegrin prime minister, Milo Djukanovic.

According to Vijesti, government and DPS sources confirmed that Marovic, a deputy premier until last year, had sent the letter, but refused to make statements about it.

On an inquiry by the Serbian news agency Tanjug, however, Marovic denied that he had written the letter.

Marovic was a key player in the DPS' turn away from Slobodan Milosevic's regime in Belgrade in the latter half of the 1990s and Montenegro's drive for independence from Serbia, completed in 2006.

The DPS was then torn between a wing led by Djukanovic and the former Montenegrin president Momir Bulatovic, who remained faithful to Milosevic. Djukanovic triumphed with Marovic's help.

In December Djukanovic and Marovic resigned from the government, but have continued to seek influence behind the scenes.

Both men were implicated in massive corruption - Djukanovic was investigated in Italy in connection with cigarette smuggling and Marovic was named in scandals related to army procurement while he was president of the rump Yugoslavia.

Igor Luksic, a close ally of Djukanovic, took over as prime minister, with the declared primary goal of securing a date for the start of accession negotiations with the European Union.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Official Census: Albanian population drops to 4.91% in Montenegro

According to census results released today by the Institute of Statistics (Monstat) in Montenegro, 44.98 % of the population reportedly identify themselves as Montenegrins while 28.73% claim to be Serbs. Bosnians make up 8.65% while Albanians drop to a meager 4.91% and Muslims 3.31%. The rest of the population was divided by Croats representing 0.97&, Roma 1.01%, while 4.87% of the population did not want to make a statement in regard to their national or ethnic origin. 72.07% consider themselves Orthodox, 19.11% Muslim, and 3.44% Catholic.

According to the results, Albanian populations decreased in all territories they form a majority (or once did). Bosniaks, for example, are the overwhelming majority in Rozaje now (83.91%), while Albanians form a 70.66% majority in Ulqin. These figures a troubling considering that in the 2003 census Albanians represented 72.14% in Ulqin. In all, there are 30,439 Albanians living in Montenegro today. Additionally, only 5.27% of the population speaks Albanian.

Potential biases with methods used to generate these figures will certainly be investigated upon. Distinguishing between Albanians, Bosniaks and Muslims has previously been a contentious issue and accusations of dividing these groups to maintain control over their influence will continue to be a point of interest to the minority parties.

It will be interesting to see whether the Albanians in Ulqin, Malësi and other regions protest these methods and appeal the results.

Official Results:

Montenegrins (278,865) 44.98%
Serbs (178,110) 28.73%
Bosniaks (53,605) 8.65%
Albanians (30,439) 4.91&
Muslims by nationality (20,537) 3.31%
Roma (6,251) 1.01%

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How young Serbs learn to hate

BELGRADE, Serbia ― Young men holding stones and spreading the stink of cheap liquor periodically take over the streets of this capital city. During recent protests, they broke shop windows, burned cars and overturned flower pots, all in the name of defending the patriotic interest of Serbia.

Serbia’s capital has been ransacked twice in the last eight months, in October by opponents of the gay pride parade and at the end of May after Ratko Mladic’s arrest. In response, the Serbian Constitutional Court recently banned "Nacionalni Stroj," a neo-Nazi organization that promotes the concept of race purity and hatred of non-Serbs.

Twelve years after NATO bombs rained down on Belgrade, many Serbians wish to leave nationalist tensions behind and turn Westward, with the hope of joining the European Union. Young nationalists, however, have taken up the cause. According to psychologists, social workers and political analysts, they are victims of manipulation and exploitation from powerful nationalists who work behind the scenes.

The most influential nationalist parties and groups recruit their supporters among the poor, badly educated and unemployed who are younger than 25. They include frustrated teens from working class families, young refugees from other parts of the former Yugoslavia and frenetic supporters of local and national football teams.

Mirko Jovanovic, 23, a participant in a recent protest against a NATO conference being held in Belgrade, said his anger stems from the behavior of Serbian politicians.

“They have forgotten Serbian victims. A year or two ago, they hosted the NATO pilots who bombed Serbia, and now they host the NATO conference, which gathers the biggest killers in the world,” Jovanovic said, sounding like many of the youth who have taken to public squares in 2011 to protest their countries’ leaders. Then his rhetoric took on the tinge of Serbian nationalism. “They even are not afraid of the God, and many of them already pay a terrible price, having their own sick children or they personally suffer from incurable disease. Some of them are even gays. And we know it is one of the most devastating diseases. God has punished them because they betrayed their own people, the heavenly people."

The young nationalists display their fervor by supporting indicted war criminals, such as Mladic. They stand behind stalls plastered with posters of men indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, and shout their names at anti-Hague and anti-European protests rallies. Young Serbian women wear T-shirts illustrated with a war criminals’ faces, while holding the flag of their political party or right-wing organization. While women usually do not participate in riots, they collect information about security forces to warn their male counterparts.

But the leader of one ultra-nationalist group, Mladen Obradovic of Obraz, says Serbian nationalists have an undeserved reputation.

"All those riots you saw after the gay parade and the protest rally in support of Ratko Mladic are the actions of the government and its provocateurs,” he said. Now 30, Obradovic said he became a nationalist at 19. He stresses that Serbs did not commit organized war crimes during the Balkan wars, calling the final count of 8,000 Srebrenica victims Western "propaganda lies."

“Only 2, 500 bodies have been found. Among these bodies there are no women, no children,” Obradovic insisted. “There were killed only men of military age. These are the Muslim soldiers who died during the fighting. Only a small number of them have been blindfolded with tied hands that indicate that they were military prisoners."

Explaining why young people provide support to war criminals Obradovic said that Serbs accused of war crimes are "Serbian heroes and Serbian knights that fought for survival of Serbian people. Young people appreciate that.”

One former ultra-national, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by his former comrades, said their ideology often strays from nationalism to Nazism. His group’s leaders, he said, distributed Nazi literature.

"As an unhappy, furious and angry teen ... I read Hitler's ‘Mein Kamf,’ thinking that Serbia should follow such a ‘perfect system.’ I believed that Serbs should follow the German ideology, and it spawned the hatred in me toward Slovaks, Czechs and other Slavic people,” he said. “I participated in an organized fight with Israeli basketball fans in Belgrade and I personally demolished a fast-food shop owned by Jews.”

The former ultra-nationalist said that when he became older he learned about “the dark side of Hitler's personality” and rethought his beliefs. But young people continue to join the ultra-nationalists, he said, to defy the establishment.

"They have seen for years that Serbs accused of war crimes are arrested and extradited to the Hague,” he explained. “But what's happening with notorious Bosnian war criminals such as Naser Oric who participated in killing of hundreds of Serbian civilians? They have been symbolically sentenced. It is trigger for young and angrily Serbs to be in solidarity with Serbs accused of war crimes. "

One reason such attitudes continue is that Serbia has not used schools to counter the ultra-nationalist message, said Simon Simonovic, an activist with the Serbian NGO "Europe has no alternative." “Kids grow up in that same education system as generations growing up 90s,” he said.

Schools are not the only venue in which the government seems powerless against nationalist messages. For example, it has been unsuccessful in clamping down on graffiti artists who celebrate war criminals and other law breakers.

The young graffiti artists often work under cover of darkness. To be arrested, they must be caught in the act. Those who would report them fear retaliation. So buildings in Belgrade and other cities boast art celebrating Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, Goran Hadzic and others ― such as Uros Misic, accused of attempting to kill a policeman at a football match, and Miladin Kovacevic, a Serbian basketball player studying in the United States who beat his American fellow student Bryan Steinhauer into a coma. In that case, the Serbian government helped Kovacevic flee the country and refused to return him to U.S. custody. Young Serbs have leapt to Kovacevic’s defense with a Facebook group "Do not extradite Miladin Kovacevic" promoting a different version of the incident than that prevailing in U.S. media.

While the young Serbian recruits often pay a price for their political activities, ending up in prison, hospital or the grave, their political bosses find ways to avoid legal responsibility. Some of the most radical Serbian nationalists have also changed their tune, becoming advocates of joining the European Union.

Some ex-members of the Serbian Radical Party, for example, have established an European-oriented Serbian Progressive Party that supports the arrest and extradition of war criminals. On Twitter they explained their change of heart, saying they have the right to make mistakes and correct them. But in the political race to Brussels they have left behind an army of young people poisoned by religious, racial and national hatred.

Sasa Milosevic

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Montenegro census could spur calls for change

The results may influence tax policy, infrastructure, job creation and the economic and social situation of every citizen in Montenegro.

Montenegro citizens eagerly await the new census results, especially related to national, religious and linguistic data. They are bracing themselves for large figure differences between the current census and the one from 2003.

As census data can lead to increased taxation, the new results could affect school locations, roads, utility infrastructure, shopping centers, banks, businesses and jobs.

"If it turns out that [census results] do not reflect the actual, legal and constitutional reality, the public is not required to adapt to it, but the other way around. It is the state, with all of its systems, that is required to adapt to reality," Deputy President of the New Serb Democracy Goran Danilovic said.

His party, dedicated to the protection of Serbs in Montenegro, thinks that no one would ignore the census results when it comes to national, linguistic or religious structure.

"That does not mean anything dramatic ... We must never get into a position ignoring the situation the people are in and their reality; [therefore] it is important what we put into the constitution as an expression of political will," he explained.

The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) sees the census results as relevant information for the expansion of social and development policies so they can be effectively and comprehensively applied. Spokesman and member of the DPS Executive Board Rajko Kovacevic said that at a recent party congress a conclusion was reached to strengthen the Montenegrin government and society by overcoming certain harmful divisions.

"The DPS will, with full consideration of the statistics on identity issues, continue its policy of strengthening and affirming the concept of civil society, raise the level of respect for human rights and freedoms on a daily basis," said Kovacevic.

If the census results show that people have become wealthier compared to the last census, and that there are vast differences in housing among individuals, then, Danilovic thinks, the government could change tax policy.

"Adequate taxation of excess and complete implementation of the real estate tax could bring significant resources to the state budget," said Danilovic.

The Podgorica EU delegation says that the census is strictly a statistical issue and suggests that the results will depend on how much of the EU funds will be available for the Montenegro citizens.

"At the EU level, the total population figures are used for the calculation of per capita indicators like regional GDP per inhabitant, which influence the allocation of structural funds," said the EU delegation spokesman Dragan Mugosa.

He added that the figures from the list are important for voting in EU institutions. As it is possible that this is the last census before Montenegro joins the EU, the head of the Union delegation Leopold Maurer earlier said that Brussels will apply the census data for its own policies.

In recent years, politicians mostly applied the census results related to national and linguistic changes for the promotion and implementation of political programs and goals.

Source: SETimes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Montenegro Gay Activits Target Dinosha

Angered by the recent cancellation of Montenegro's first Pride march, which police refused to protect, activist plasters ministry for minorities with gay rights posters.

"Fix your 'ministering', or do the government and society a favour by resigning," one of the posters read, referring to Ferhat Dinosa, Minister for Human and Minority Rights.

Gay rights activist Zdravko Cimbaljevic also left Council of Europe recommendations on the status of the LGBT community in the Ministry's archive.

After ten minutes of putting up posters on the ministry walls, security guards came and took him away for interrogation.

The head of Progress, an NGO, the only declared gay and lesbian organisation in Montenegro, said his action was designed to make minister Dinosa do his job.

The ethnic minority minister is well known for his dismissive attitude towards gays and lesbians, once claiming that if it was true that gays and lesbians existed in Montenegro, “then it is not good for Montenegro”.

He also expressed satisfaction that his own ethnic Albanian community in Montenegro was apparently a gay-free zone.

"This time I decided to go alone in the name of the LGBT community, because all the others frightened of the cameras," Cimbaljevic told the Podgorica daily newspaper, Vijesti, referring to his direct action.

Dinosa was reportedly in his office while Cimbaljevic was putting up his posters.

Montenegro's first Gay Pride parade, organized by Cimbaljevic's NGO, was supposed to take place on May 31. It was canceled following two attacks directed at gay people in Podgorica ahead of the parade.

Source: Tanjug

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Montenegrins Don't Want Albanians Living Next Door," poll shows

More than half of respondents in a recent poll in Montenegro say they don't want drug addicts, homosexuals, or people with AIDS living in their neighbourhood.

The poll, carried out by the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, CEDEM, showed that 76 per cent of respondents don't want neighbours who are drug addicts, 57 per cent don't want neighbours who are homosexuals, and one-fifth of interviewees said they don't want ethnic Albanian living next door.

The public opinion survey, which was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Minorities, found that Montenegrins believe that the Roma are the most discriminated against group in the country, followed by women. Fifty-six per cent of respondents believe that these groups face discrimination mainly in employment, and are least discriminated against in court proceedings.

Respondents said that Roma have the most difficulty finding employment, followed by people with disabilities, the elderly, homosexuals, minorities, and finally, women.

Montenegrins believe that Roma and people with disabilities are most discriminated against in terms of health care and access to education, the study found.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said that NGOs were considered to be the bodies that worked the hardest to protect people from discrimination, followed by the media, the government and political parties.

Institutions, meanwhile, work primarily to protect against discrimination against women, fifty-eight per cent of respondents said, followed by homosexuals, forty-eight per cent said.

Montenegro is seen as especially unfriendly towards gays and lesbians, and a planned pride parade was recently cancelled after attacks on homosexuals in the weeks before the event. While Prime Minister Igor Luksic had pledged his support for the parade, saying that Montenegro had to show it was a society that was ready to accept differences, the country's minister for minority and human rights had not welcomed the idea of a parade.

Minister Ferhat Dinosa was infamously quoted as saying that if it is true that there are gays in the country, “then it is not good for Montenegro”.

Assistant Montenegrin Minister for Minorities, Sabah Delic, said that the data gathered in the CEDEM poll will be used in reviewing and improving the government's policies toward minorities and marginalized groups.

Source: BIRN