Balkan News

Albanian president refuses to fire chief prosecutor

TIRANA, Albania — President Alfred Moisiu announced on Friday (October 13th) that he would not fire chief prosecutor Theodhori Sollaku, despite government allegations that he maintained links to organised crime. “In the report presented, I have not seen any abuse of laws or the Albanian Constitution,” Moisiu said. In May, parliament called for an investigation into allegations of abuse of power and corruption on the part of Sollaku. The opposition Socialists say Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the ruling Democrats are trying to gain control over prosecutors for use against political opponents.

Serbia‘s Tadic pleads for delay in deciding future of Kosovo

HELSINKI, Finland — Serbian President Boris Tadic asked the international community on Friday (October 13th) to delay the decision on the future status of Kosovo until after Serbia holds elections. “I’m not asking to delay the process, I’m asking for rationality,” he explained. He suggested the issue could play into the hands of radical political formations in Serbia. The EU foreign ministers are to examine progress in the Kosovo talks at a two-day meeting that begins on Monday
In other news, UN officials have returned the remains of 28 Serbs murdered in the Kosovo conflict to their relatives in Serbia. While all of the victims lived in Kosovo, their families refused to have them buried there. Some 700 Serbs and 2,000 ethnic Albanians remain unaccounted for in the province.

US diplomat Polt says Serbia will have to live with outcome of status talks

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia must learn to live with the outcome of the Kosovo status talks, whatever it might be, US Ambassador to Belgrade Michael Polt said in an interview in Saturday’s (October 14th) Blic. As for defining Kosovo as part of Serbia in the new draft constitution, Polt said that Serbia had the right to make such arguments, but they would not affect the final settlement. No side can impose a solution unilaterally, he said.
Also Saturday, Serbia and the United States marked the 125th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties. Polt used the occasion to stress that a bright future for Serbia is in the interest of its people and the United States.

Macedonian parliament sacks Prcevski as public prosecutor

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Parliament on Friday (October 13th) removed Aleksandar Prcevski from the public prosecutor’s post, following a request from the government. The ruling VMRO-DPMNE had demanded his replacement, citing inefficiency and unprofessional behaviour. Deputies representing the ruling parties passed the motion unanimously, while those from opposition parties boycotted the vote. They say Prcevski had no opportunity to defend himself.

BiH Court confirms two new war crimes indictments

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) — The BiH Court confirmed on Friday (October 13th) an indictment against a former Bosniak paramilitary member, Niset Ramic, who is accused of committing war crimes against Serb civilians in the Visoko municipality in June 1992. He is currently serving a 20-year prison term for another crime. The new proceedings against him followed an open letter he wrote to the press in February, saying he wanted to confess all his actions and disclose the names of the Visoko victims.
Separately Friday, the BiH Court also confirmed an indictment against a former member of the Serbian military, Radmilo Vukovic, charged with war crimes against the civilian population in Foca — specifically, the torture and rape of a Bosniak woman in June 1992.

Turkish parliament to discuss French bill on alleged genocide

ANKARA, Turkey — Parliament convenes on Tuesday (October 17th) to discuss a controversial bill that would make it a crime to deny that genocide took place against Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. The legislation was passed by France’s lower house of parliament last week. Turkish lawmakers are expected to draft a common declaration condemning the decision by their French counterparts. Approval of the bill came despite EU concerns that it would have a negative impact on Turkish-EU relations. 

Fifth MAP cycle of Croatia‘s NATO integration process launched

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The fifth Membership Action Plan (MAP) cycle of Croatia’s NATO integration process was officially launched on Friday (October 13th), according to Zagreb’s national co-ordinator for NATO, Pjer Simunovic. He and Deputy Defence Minister Igor Pokaz presented the country’s annual action plan, as well as the related communications strategy, to the Alliance’s Senior Political Committee in Brussels. Simunovic says panel members praised the plan and reiterated the importance of strengthening Croatia’s participation in international peacekeeping missions.
In other news, US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried described relations Saturday between the United States and Croatia as at their best level ever. The comment precedes a visit to Washington this week by Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

Greece holds municipal elections Sunday

ATHENS, Greece — Voters went to the polls across Greece on Sunday (October 15th) to elect governors of 54 prefectures and mayors of 1,034 municipalities. For the first time, citizens of other EU member states who live on Greek territory were allowed to participate in the elections.

CoE Venice Commission to help draft new Montenegrin constitution

VENICE, Italy — The Council of Europe (CoE) said on Friday (October 13th) that the Venice Commission — the CoE’s legal advisory body — would help write Montenegro’s new constitution. The decision was announced after a special session of the Commission, attended by Montenegrin Parliament Speaker Ranko Krivocapic. At a news conference afterwards, Commission deputy secretary Thomas Markert said that they agreed to organise a public debate in Montenegro — with the participation of Commission experts — on the new constitution. Markert stressed that it must result from broad political and public consensus.

Skopje offers to guarantee provisional release of war crimes indictee Tarculovski

SKOPJE, Macedonia — The government decided on Friday (October 13th) to provide guarantees to the UN war crimes tribunal for the provisional release of Johan Tarculovski. The aim is get him out of detention and back on Macedonian soil until his trial begins in 2008 at the earliest. He and former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski are accused of committing atrocities against ethnic Albanian civilians during a police raid on the village of Ljuboten during the 2001 interethnic conflict. Two attempts to secure Boskovski’s provisional release have failed.



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