Thursday, June 23, 2011

German Demands About Kosovo Alarm Serbia

This is just another introduction to BIRN ( which I frequently view to read the latest news about Albania and Kosova!



23 Jun 2011 / 15:42

German Demands About Kosovo Alarm Serbia

German MPs' statements that Serbia will not get a green light to join the EU unless it recognises Kosovo have shaken Belgrade, which has rushed to clarify the remarks.

Bojana BarlovacBelgrade

Serbian officials have gone into overdrive following Wednesday's remarks in Belgrade by a delegation of German parliamentarians, who said that Serbia would have to recognize Kosovo's independence as part of its EU accession talks.

If not, Germany will not approve its accession to the bloc, they said.

Following the arrest and handover of the wartime Bosnian Serb military commander, Ratko Mladic, on May 26, many EU officials said that Serbia had removed the main obstacle to its EU accession. EU ministers are supposed to discuss Serbia's candidacy on October 12.

The issue of Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and is recognised by 22 of the EU's 27 member states, has never been cited as a formal precondition for Serbia's EU integration.

But the German MPs said recognition of Kosovo, which Serbia claims as a province, would need to happen for Serbia to close negotiations on EU membership.

The promise of EU membership is a prime card in the hand of Serbia's ruling Democratic Party as it heads towards general elections expected in spring 2011.

To preserve the picture of this scenario, top officials rushed to "explain" the Germans' statements.

Bozidar Djelic, Deputy Prime Minister, said Germany wanted a solution to the Kosovo issue to be found - but was aware that Serbia will never recognise Kosovo's unilaterally declared independence.

"Germany does not in any way request Serbia's recognition of Kosovo," he maintained.

This clarification was followed by Borislav Stefanovic, head of Serbia's negotiating team with Kosovo. He said the first concrete results of the talks could be expected early next month at the next regular meeting of the two delegations in Brussels.

"Our teams talk every day and we are also in communication with the European Union, which sees the whole thing as very constructive," he explained.

Vuk Jeremic, Serbian Foreign Minister, also addressed the Kosovo issue after meeting the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele, assuring both that the EU would not set any new conditions for Serbia and that Serbia would never recognise Kosovo's independence.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Letter Asks Obama for DREAM Relief

MIRA and its members have joined a sign-on letter to the Department of Homeland Security, asking the Department to exercise its legal right to prevent or defer the removal of young people who would be eligible to benefit from the provisions of the DREAM Act and who are facing imminent removal to countries they may barely remember. To view the letter, please click here. To sign on to the letter, please email Mai Huynh at

Monday, June 6, 2011

Honoring Albanian sports figures at Anthony's Pier 4

Here's a great and unique opportunity to see, meet, or learn about famous Albanian sports figures so don't miss it!!

Anthony’s Pier 4 Restaurant, Boston, MA /June 11, 2011/ 6:00 PM
Presented by VATRA, Frosina Information Network, Cameria Human Rights, Anthony’s Pier 4 Restaurant

Tea and coffee will be served during the event.

Agron Alibali

Skifter Këlliçi, TV and commentator in Albania

Among the prominent Albanian sportsmen and sportswomen who will be presented are:

Kujtim Kasmi
Basketboll Team “17 Nëntori”, Tirana

Aleksandër Dheri
Basketboll Team “Partizani”, Tirana

Petrika Suxho
Volleyball Team “Skënderbeu”, Korça

Donald Suxho
U.S. National and Olympic Volleyball Team

Gilman Lopçi
100 Metres Tracking National Champion and Record-holder

Agron Bega
National Bicycling Champion

Anila Bega
Discus Throwing Champion

Pandi Gëllçi
Coach for Basketball Team “Skënderbeu”, Korçë

Gavrosh Levonja
Basketball Team “17 Nëntori”, Tirana

Maria Dhami
Judo, Ranked Fifth in the U.S. Juniors

Agron Balluku
Member of the Albanian National Football Team - Under Age 21

Besnik Godo
Albanian Racewalk Champion / Participant in The Boston Marathon

Famous Albanian-Americans in American sports will be remembered by Van Christo, Peter Lukas, and Rozi Theohari.

Closing Remarks
Agron Alibali

Please confirm your attendance with Ms. Edlira Joseph, at, or call 617-479-2971

Friday, June 3, 2011

Changing Albania's image!

I thought I'd pass along this interesting tidbit from BIRN ( a strong activity to change Albania's image by Albanian artists!

Artists Defend Their Take on Albania’s Battered Image
Ben Andoni

For nearly half-a-century, until the Stalinist regime of Enver Hoxha collapsed in 1991, Albania was one of the most isolated places in the world, often compared to the likes of North Korea.

The few Westerners allowed into Hoxha’s self-proclaimed “proletarian paradise,” described the regime as a brutal world in which people were constantly under the watch of the feared “Sigurimi” secret police.

Two decades on, the country has opened up to the world, has joined NATO in 2009 and is now tracing a path toward EU membership.

But although Albania no longer jams foreign TV stations and young people no longer end up in jail for listening to rock music, the transition to democracy has done little to improve its battered image.

Foreign media often describe Albania as Europe’s wild east, a land where extreme poverty, lawlessness and medieval vendettas overlap, an hour’s flight away from Western capitals.

The stark contrasts of a society in which luxury Mercedes dot pot-holed streets has been the theme of many Albanian artists, as they try to make sense of the country’s contradictions.

Many reside abroad and, apart from the international media, are the main communicators of Albania’s reality to the Western public.

But with the authorities desperate to attract more tourists and investment, their works are often criticized as not doing enough to present a rosier picture of the country.

But the artists themselves resent the idea of being used as salesmen, pointing out that such suggestions miss the whole point of what their artistic endeavour is all about.

“Although some art is a hymn to beauty, it’s more likely to portray what is ugly, fearful, violent, immoral and inhuman,” Arian Leka, a poet and publisher based in Tirana, explains.

Although Albania has always received its fair share of bad press, a 2006 travel feature in the Sunday Times by British writer A A Gill really infuriated local intellectuals and the media.

Gill mocked Albanians as "short and ferret-faced, with the unisex stumpy, slightly bowed legs of Shetland ponies."

He also described the Albanian language as "a ready-made code for criminals", adding: "There are four million Albanian citizens… three million of them live at home, the fourth quarter work abroad, and what they do is mostly illegal."

Gill escaped a reprimand from the British Press Complaints Commission, after the Sunday Times made the case for the author’s harsh words, referring to sources from Europol, Save the Children, the EU, the World Bank and the Italian public prosecutors.

But the vitriolic writer - famous for his scabrous verbal assaults on his targets - usually members of the British royal family – still received death threats by email from Albanians who felt offended and enraged by his words.

Albanian artists are themselves not above mocking their own homeland, albeit rather more gently and affectionately.

Italian-based filmmaker Edmond Budina’s latest feature film, Balkan Bazaar, takes a jibe at the region’s jumble of nationalities, drawing on the history of the village of Kosine in southern Albania.

There, Greek nationalists in 2006 unearthed what they alleged were the graves of Greek soldiers who had fallen in World War 2.

Greek nationalists have long staked a claim to southernmost Albania, calling the region Northern Epirus.

Balkan Bazaar takes a critical look at both Greek and Albanian nationalism through the eyes of two foreigners, a scheming journalist and his superstitious driver, and the script has drawn heat both from Albania and Greece.

Budina does not feel inclined to apologise. “I think we hang on to an old mentality about the image of the country,” he says. “Many think that it’s enough to draw a nice postcard and send it, and that will give Albania the place that it deserves,” he adds.

The “old mentality” that Budina describes was rooted in the xenophobic culture of Hoxha’s half-century regime.

Although the Communist authorities keenly sponsored the arts, the results had to conform to the strict rules of Social Realism, while at the same time singing the praises of the party and of Hoxha’s own provincial brand of nationalism.

Leka says that although art is no longer seen as a propaganda tool for a ruling elite or ideology, the public expectation remains that writers and painters should build up their country’s image.

“Its not the role of art or literature in general to create images about specific places,” he says. “Literature speaks to the world… and to all of humanity,” he added.

Filmmaker Budina agrees. In the art world, artists make use of the images that a country projects - not the other way around.

“Albania is a country with its good and bad sides, its beautiful and ugly images - the important thing is how you use them,” Budina maintains.

“Inspiration can be found even in what is ugly and evil, and by narrating this we can grow richer and better [human beings],” he concludes.

This article is funded under the BICCED project, supported by the Swiss Cultural Programm

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Free Tour of Franklin Park!

Here's another great opportunity to participate in a free tour of beautiful and historic Franklin Park I fondly remember as a child that we had family picnics there!

Albanian and other newcomers to Boston should make this a MUST visit!


Saturday, June 11, 2011 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Time Traveling Through Franklin Park
Discover and experience the historic features of Frederick Law Olmsted designed, Franklin Park. Join Franklin Park Coalition and author and local historian, Julie Arrison, for a walk through the crown jewel of Boston's Emerald Necklace to learn about the park's transformation through the decades.

location: One Circuit Drive, Franklin Park, Near Rear Zoo Entrance, Boston
phone: (617) 442-4141
cost: free

funded by Mass Humanities grant program