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Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA), 98-01-27

Albanian Telegraphic Agency Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA) Home Page at <>

Albanian Telegraphic Agency


  • [01] Press review
  • [02] Dutch foundation provides $1.2 million aid for Albanian hospitals
  • [03] Strict police control in Kline of Kosove
  • [04] Border Commission report on incident at Lin village
  • [05] CORRECTION: In the story headlined "Italian national killed in Tirane" read the second paragraph ".......when the Italian, 34, owner ......" (correcting age)
  • [06] Meidani: sister relations between municipalities, another step ahead to link our two peoples- Meidani meets Mayors of Bari and Durres-
  • [07] President Meidani plants sapling on forest day
  • [08] Majko says Belgrade interested in radicalizing situation in Kosova
  • [09] Meidani addresses formerly politically persecuted staging a hunger strike
  • [10] OSCE urges parties to give a written answer to troika statement
  • [11] Police identify killers of Italian citizen
  • [12] Serious road accident in Klos
  • [13] Islami says recordings untrue, media misinterpretation
  • [14] New chief of police commissariat named in Kavaje
  • [15] SP deputies to cooperate with those backing troika statement
  • [16] Parliament urges guard's file be submitted to prosecutor's
  • [17] Albanian Parliament not to be controlled but monitored - Gjinushi
  • [18] Car blown up in Lazarat
  • [19] Albania'speaker backs European troika statement
  • [20] Health situation of former president Ramiz Alia is improving
  • [21] EU hails policy of Albanian government, Albania - E.U. dialogue

  • [01] Press review

    TIRANE, Jan 27 (ATA)-Tuesday's newspapers report on the meeting of the Constitutional Commission held on Monday, right after the visit of the European Troika.

    Under the title "Ready for the Constitutional race," Gazeta Shqiptare reports that the parties in the commission shared the idea:"Let us set down to work". It says that the co-chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission, Sabri Godo, has underlined that the Commission will sent a letter, may be the last one, to the Union for Democracy for its full participation in the commission.

    Koha Jone, quoting Pandeli Majko as saying that "Turning the head backward would deepen the crisis", says that he has expressed the same thing like Godo, who has fully supported the Troika statement and that this should be followed also by other parties.

    Convinced that all the points of the Troika statement should be implemented, the paper says further on, the Albanian politicians have now become conscious of the indispensability that a spirit of cooperation exist among them " to be followed later by concrete results".

    According to Gazeta Shqiptare, Petrit Kalakula of the PDD has suggested that his Party and PLD be not in the commission with the status of the observer, but as a full member. Such a change can be made only by the Parliament, others, who have welcomed this, have suggested with regard to this request. Anyhow, "the participating parties have agreed that February 16 be the day when the commission resume working, first with the regulation and then with the draft of the Constitution," Gazeta Shqiptare writes.

    The meeting of the Commission for the Drafting of the Constitution is also covered by other papers, such as Zeri i Popullit under the title "Another invitation for DP" or "Dita Informacion" in the article entitled "Constitution - the first movements." While newspaper Albania writes "Godo- Imami, marking time."

    The letter coming out on Monday from the OSCE offices in Tirane through which this European organisation demands a final response from all the parties on their participation in the Constitution Drafting Commission, is the topic of many newspapers on Tuesday.

    Koha Jone says regarding this letter that the OSCE representatives have asked co-chairmen Godo and Imami to get a final response from all parties.

    Gazeta Shqiptare says that the letter asks the commitment of all the political forces to the advices given only three days ago by the delegation of the European Troika.

    It seems that finally, OSCE, writes newspaper Shekulli, following the footsteps of Troika, has decided to adopt a categorical stand towards the Albanian policy, seeking to eliminate all the possibilities through which the parties may manipulate for their purposes the declaration of Troika. According to the same paper, the Republican leader Godo considers such a request in connection with the Commission of the Constitution, which he directs.

    Koha Jone, which writes that a letter from OSCE representatives will arrive these days also in the DP headquarters to take from there an official written answer, stresses that "this time Berisha too will face a signed document to oppose or not the demands of the Europeans."

    Whereas Rilindja Demokratike, referring to the DP leader in the Monday's news conference, writes that "DP will observe the advice of the West." But Berisha has also said that "only Albanians can and must decide on the elections. Europe and its politicians cannot come and declare elections in Albania..." /

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [02] Dutch foundation provides $1.2 million aid for Albanian hospitals

    TIRANE, Jan 27 (ATA)-By K. Shehu, The Dutch foundation "People for people" has brought a $1.2 million worth of aid for the Albanian hospitals.

    This was made known at a meeting of the Minister of Health and Environment, Leonard Solis, with representatives of this foundation on Monday.

    It is for the tenth time that this foundation helps the Albanian health care. The aid brought on Saturday consists of medical equipment and various materials, to be distributed to the maternity hospitals, pediatrics and pathology departments at the University Hospital Centre and the Military Hospital in Tirane, the Psychiatric Hospital in Elbasan and the orphanage in Shkoder.

    The aid also includes three "Mercedes" auto-ambulances, equipped with first aid medical equipment.

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [03] Strict police control in Kline of Kosove

    PRISHTINE, Jan 27 (ata) - The situation in Kline of Kosove continues to be tense.

    The Commission for Information of the Democratic League of Kosova Branch (LDK) in Kline, reports that Serbian police forces have had great movements yesterday. Reinforced by armed civilians, they have started a minute control of the papers of the people in streets, in cafes, bars and everywhere, and arrested scores of people.

    Mexhit Toplana, doctor, from Kijeve village, was stopped by police together with another citizen and was sent to a police station. Also Hysni Kryeziu, owner of a bar in Kline, was taken to police station, while three youngsters from Pogragja were caught by police in the tea bar "Mimoza." /p.ta/pas/xh/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [04] Border Commission report on incident at Lin village

    TIRANE, Jan 27 (ATA)-Pogradec district Border Cooperation Commission has asked its Macedonian counterpart an emergency meeting to throw light on an incident which took place three days ago at the Lin area of this district. The meeting will be due on Wednesday.

    The incident, according to Interior Ministry sources, took place on Saturday by midday. At around 12:00, at the section of frontier post E 49 of Lin in the Pogradec district, three Macedonian nationals, one in military uniform, entered the Albanian territory at a distance of 110 meters.

    They asked fish from Albanian national Gavril Baka, but after the latter's refusal they shot and wounded him. Baka's condition is not life threatening.

    The investigating group which went to the scene, carried out the first investigations, also blocking the shell case.

    Tomorrow's meeting between the two commissions is expected to throw light on the incident. s.s/lm

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [05] CORRECTION: In the story headlined "Italian national killed in Tirane" read the second paragraph ".......when the Italian, 34, owner ......" (correcting age)

    Follows the corrected version:

    Italian national killed in Tirane

    TIRANE, Jan 27 (ATA)- By Th. Thanasi, Italian national Stefano Rosi was killed on Tuesday morning in front of the Glass factory at the Tirane Kombinat quarter.

    Initial police sources explain that the incident took place at around 10.30 on Tuesday when the Italian, 34, owner of a shoe-factory, was driving towards the factory in his "Citroen" car.

    He had withdrawn the money to pay the workers and was travelling alone, without being secured by guards, when two armed men, still unidentified, ambushed and shot him near the factory, the same sources say.

    The initial reports consider robbing as the most possible motive for this criminal act. The police are working to identify the authors and based on the first proofs they are on the criminals'

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [06] Meidani: sister relations between municipalities, another step ahead to link our two peoples- Meidani meets Mayors of Bari and Durres-

    TIRANE, Jan 27 (ATA)- "I congratulate you for what has been achieved and wish that this cooperation yields its own fruits for a comprehensive cooperation for the benefit of the two regions."

    This is what President of the Republic Rexhep Meidani told the Bari Mayor, Simeone di Cagno d' Abbrescia, and the Durres mayor, Arqile Goreja, at a meeting with them and the Bari municipality delegation on Tuesday, a day after the signing of sister-relation agreement between the two municipalities.

    Meidani considered the establishment of sister-relations a further step to link the two peoples and countries, which "are close to each other, but which will be brought closer by cooperation at local levels".

    Meidani also said that "this would enliven all aspects of a civil society, in which, we, the Albanians, are very much interested".

    He stressed the need to encourage sister-relations also at lower levels of regional cooperation. He evaluated the performance of the Durres Mayor and the Durres civilisation in attaining a political and social understanding, so necessary to encourage cooperation with abroad and foreign investments.

    The Bari Mayor considered historic his visit to Durres and its concrete results in increasing Italian investments.

    He stressed "the great attention the Italian business devotes to expanding cooperation with Albania, based on the perspective of building the eighth corridor which will link Durres with the Constantsa port in the East".

    At the end of the meeting, Meidani also pronounced himself for the Italian Television, underlining the very good bilateral relations and the need to promote them on local and national planes and internationally for the country's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [07] President Meidani plants sapling on forest day

    TIRANE, Jan 26 (ATA)-By K. Shehu, President of the Republic Rexhep Meidani on Tuesday attended a ceremony of planting a sapling in the Botanic Garden in the capital, in the context of the 75th anniversary of forestry service in Albania.

    "The planting of the sapling is a symbolic act which will encourage the whole public, especially the Albanian youth, to protect environment," said Meidani.

    Attending the ceremony were the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Lufter Xhuveli, deputies, representatives of environmental associations and others.

    "Of importance is the fact that a number of youths have undertaken activities to maintain forests, also being backed by other organisations. But these activities should also be undertaken as regards their extension," the president says.

    He underscored the fact that "the Agricultural University should set its example in this direction not only through seminars, but also in planting new saplings".

    The director of the Botanic Garden, Liri Dinga, familiarised the president with the projects of this garden with the USAID, projects which deal with the environmental education of the new generation as well as the training of farmers in forestry. s.s/lm

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [08] Majko says Belgrade interested in radicalizing situation in Kosova

    -Serb military acts stir up conflict aggravation- TIRANE, Jan 27 (ATA)-By E. Allushi, Recent Belgrade attitudes towards the Albanian population in Kosova show that it is interested in radicalizing the situation in Kosova, SP Secretary General Pandeli Majko told ATA on Tuesday.

    "The military acts of the Belgrade authorities, offer nothing but aggravation of conflict," said Majko.

    Kosova leader Rugova's statement to radio "Deutsche Welle", which says that "it is possible for the Kosova Liberation Army (UÇK) to be run by the Serb secret service, aiming at military intervention in the region," is considered by Majko "a proper positioning for the moments Kosova is being faced with".

    Rugova has asked the international community to deploy troops in Kosova, as a guarantee to avoid a conflict outbreak there.

    "An intervention by the international forces in Kosova with the aim to extinguish conflicts and resolve the Kosova issue in a peaceful way is absolutely fair," the SDP secretary for Foreign Relations, Ingrid Shuli, told ATA.

    The RP spokesman, Neritan Alibali, told ATA that "we do not know what the UÇK is", stressing that his party is against using violence, as a means to resolve the problems.

    Alibali observed that the splits among the political forces of Kosova will cause "the Kosova problems to take a long time to be resolved".

    Defending his formula on the solution to the question of Kosova through peaceful resistance, Rugova has declared that "we should not be ruined through adventure." He called on the international community to increase its presence in Kosova, proposing even that Kosova be placed under an "international protectorate."

    Albanian politicians have described as Belgrade's "strategy" the recent escalation of the Serbian violence towards Albanians of Kosova.

    "This strategy serves Serbia to keep the question of Kosova unsolved and to discourage the political action of the Kosova leadership, which is gaining an international support," was the stand of the Democratic Alliance Party Secretary General, Preç Zogaj.

    According to Zogaj, the escalation of the violence is a provocation with the aim of radicalizing the Kosova approach.

    In the mean time, the Democratic Party sees in the military actions of the Serbian state a dangerous operation which makes the situation extremely aggravated.

    Since January 22, Serbian authorities are exerting violence through Serbian police forces in a number of regions in Kosove, such as in the commune of Skenderaj, the township of Malisheva, etc.

    The present situation in Kosova is being discussed in the meeting of the European Foreign Ministers in Brussels, in which the Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo will make a detailed report of what is happening in Kosova, with its 90 per cent of the population Albanian. /s.s/lm/xh/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [09] Meidani addresses formerly politically persecuted staging a hunger strike

    TIRANE, Jan 27 (ATA) - By A Haxhiu: The interest and commitment of Albanian President, Rexhep Meidani to reach an understanding with regard to the demands of the formerly-politically persecuted, who are staging a hunger strike, was the aim of Tuesday meeting between the adviser of the President, Mentor Nazarko and the strikers.

    The amendment to the law on the Supreme Council of Justice and the failure to abrogate the law on the verification of official figures were the demands that the strikers had previously presented to Mr Meidani.

    The President's letter to the strikers was an institutional but also humane response to the questions raised by the strikers. "In this sense, by valuating the sufferings of the formerly-politically persecuted, the letter explained the content of the law on the organization of the judiciaries, a law which as a result of the mediation of the President, sanctions as the only criterion for someone's discharge from the job his incapability or stains in the moral identity of the lawyer and not his knowledge from school," Nazarko told ATA.

    "As for the second request of the strikers, always in the institutional spirit, the letter suggested to them to conduct meetings with different parliamentary forces and heads of parliamentary commissions or with the chairman of the Commission for the Scrutiny of Figures, Nafiz Bezhani, to familiarize with the content of the law, Nazarko told ATA.

    The chairman of the hunger strike commission of the formerly- politically persecuted, Agim Bakalli, although hailing the letter of President Meidani, he told ATA that "in this letter the President does not pay proper attention to our demands. We asked Mr Meidani not to decree the law on the scrutiny of the figures, hoping he will do this." /s.s/pas/xh/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [10] OSCE urges parties to give a written answer to troika statement

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - By Eva Allushi: The OSCE has sent letters to Albanian Speaker Skender Gjinushi, prime minister Fatos Nano and leaders of the Albanian political parties saying that it urges their reaction on the statement of the European troika, issued in Tirana last Friday, on Albania's situation.

    The OSCE sources in Tirana said that making the stands public "will help promote process of political constructive dialogue", and precede "any possible misunderstanding."

    "We have asked for a written answer from Gjinushi, Nano, Berisha and other leaders of the political parties," the same sources said.

    The OSCE has asked Gjinushi to reply on the proposals of the statement concerning the monitoring of parliamentarian practices; Godo and Imami on setting up an international consultative group, which will work with the parliamentarian commission and the prime minister Nano on specific proposals on the constitutional process, justice, media and civil service.

    The sources said that the OSCE has asked the Democratic Party and the Unity for Democracy grouping to give a written response on that point of the statement regarding an end to boycott of parliament and constructive participation in the parliamentary commission to draw out a constitution.

    Based on the responses, the OSCE in cooperation with the three European parliaments will adopt the appropriate measures. These measures will be considered as a concrete expression of the interest of international institutions on the development of fragile democracy in Albania. s.s/pas/ak/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [11] Police identify killers of Italian citizen

    TIRANA, Jan. 27 (ATA) - By S. Spahiu: The Albanian police identified the culprits of murder of the Italian citizen, Stefano Rosi, killed Tuesday at 10:30 in the Kombinat neighbourhood in Tirana.

    Sources from the Interior Ministry reported to ATA that the killers of the Italian citizens are the brothers Nazmi Avdillari, 26, and Ilir Avdillari, 30, inhabitants of Yzberisht, sentenced several times. Both have been declared wanted by police, accused of murder and robbery.

    Stefano Rosi, president of the "Niki Shoe" company for the production of parts of shoes, was turning back from the Italian-Albanian Bank to his enterprise with some 20 million liras to give the wages to his workers.

    The perpetrators, according to the police, were in an ambush some 100 m far from the enterprise, and after shooting with machine gun against the Italian citizen, grabbed him the bag with 20 million liras and left for Yzberisht.

    Due to the rapid operations and the information, the police identified the culprits and blocked on the spot an automatic rifle, 5 grenades, used by the killers.

    Meanwhile, police have surrounded the area and are working to detain the perpetrators. /s.s/mt/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [12] Serious road accident in Klos

    BURREL, Jan. 27 (ATA) - By H. Ruspi: Two persons died and eight others were injured due to a road accident, which occurred Tuesday at 9:30 in the town of Klos, district of Mat.

    Local police sources reported to ATA that the vehicle went off the road and fell down from a bridge. Due to this, the citizen Shefqet Hoxha, 38, and Nafije Dedja, 35, both inhabitants of Klos, died. The injured were immediately transported to the hospital of Burrel.

    Sources from the hospital report that three from the injured are out of danger.

    The investigation group went to the spot and is working to throw light on this grave accident, which is preliminary thought to have been caused from to the icy road. /

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [13] Islami says recordings untrue, media misinterpretation

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - By K.Shehu: Minister of State at the Council of Ministers Kastriot Islami said on Tuesday to ATA that "everything on recorded conversations of Albert Brojka and Tritan Shehu is untrue and media misinterpretation."

    The Tirana Mayor Brojka said on Tuesday that "if my conversation has been recorded, it represents a penal offence," under the penal code, article 121 on unfair interference in private life, with the section 4 of the article says clearly where the talks can be eavesdropped and article 222 of this section shows modalities on carrying out recordings or eavesdropping.

    "Politicians should not prevent me by slandering and creating untrue situation, to fulfil my obligations towards Tirana citizens because I have and will openly declare my stands as a politician in respective party structures and to journalists," Brojka said. ak/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [14] New chief of police commissariat named in Kavaje

    KAVAJE, Jan. 27 (ATA) - By G. Kabashi: Zaim Keqi was named Tuesday new chief of police commissariat in Kavaje, Middle Albania. Keqi has worked for several months in the police directorate of Shkoder and replaced in Kavaje Dilaver Shima.

    Five police chiefs have been changed over the last eight months in the commissariat of Kavaje. /

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [15] SP deputies to cooperate with those backing troika statement

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - By Aurel Simoni: The parliamentary group of the Socialist party welcomed on Tuesday the evaluations and recommendations of the outcome of the European troika and the U.S. State Department.

    "The Socialist parliamentary group sees as positive the stands of those political forces, which hailed the troika statements and is ready to cooperate with them in the spirit of recommendations presented in this statement," said the press release of the parliamentary group.

    "The SP parliamentary group says that the political situation in Albania is going towards positive developments in the direction acceptable for the Albanian people," the press release said.

    The latest proofs were the assessments of the European troika delegations and the U.S. Department, which reconfirmed the legitimacy of June 29 elections and parliament, it said, adding that the SP and its parliamentary group shared the same views.

    "Fulfilment of the objective, which aims at drawing out a constitution for Albania within 1998 is urging speeded up efforts to this end not to loose time in drafting a fundamental state document. Thus, the SP group will totally commit itself in all processes to prepare and approve the constitution. It should be open to cooperation with all political forces which will contribute to this end," the deputies said.

    "We reiterate our call on deputies of the Democratic parliamentary group to respond positively and practically to recommendations of the European institutions to participate in parliamentary actions and process of (drawing up) constitution and its approval, by distancing themselves from destabilizing factors and policies, which lead the Democratic party, itself, to total inner and outer isolation." ak/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [16] Parliament urges guard's file be submitted to prosecutor's

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - Keida Kostreci: The parliamentary commission of Order and SHIK asked on Tuesday the command of the Guard of the Republic to find out violations, abuse taking place during January-June 1997 and adopt follow-up legal measures against those responsible.

    "The guard command has analyzed everything and the materials were submitted to Attorney General, but so far no clear-cut response was given on files," Luan Hajdaraga, head of the Order and SHIK commission, after a meeting of the commission with Haki Liçaj, the commander of the Guard of the Republic.

    Liçaj presented a complete report on the situation in the Guard of the Republic during January-June and measures to restructure the command.

    The commission urged that the law on organisation need a necessary amendment to consider the guard a special unit with special privileges. So far this unit has been considered a usual military one.

    Hajdaraga spoke of a possible treatment of this unit in the state budget, what is not foreseen so far. ak/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [17] Albanian Parliament not to be controlled but monitored - Gjinushi

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - By Keida Kostreci: The representatives of the European troika will come to Parliament to be well-informed about its proceedings and not to control it.

    Albania's Parliament Speaker Skender Gjinushi told ATA on Tuesday that Europe has been monitoring the Albanian policy and the first success of this monitoring was Vranitzky mission.

    "Berisha and Pollo have said that Europe will control the Albanian parliament, but it is not a matter of tutelage against it. We are much more interested than DP to have a third witness in Parliament, and we agreed with the troika delegation for this," said Gjinushi.

    Gjinushi added that even the OSCE ambassador in Albania, Daan Everts, explained Tuesday in a meeting with him that it is a matter of monitoring the parliament.

    The tripartite delegation (OSCE, Council of Europe and the European Parliament), proposed that parliamentary practices be monitored by international observers. /

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [18] Car blown up in Lazarat

    GJIROKASTER, Jan. 27 (ATA) - By H. Cani: Another explosion rocked the Lazarat village in the district of Gjirokaster on Monday evening. A Benz car, property of the national Kudret Hiri, was blown up.

    Initial police sources reported that the vehicle was shot by anti- tank missile and the house where it was parked was slightly damaged. Inhabitants of the village said that explosive was planted for revenge motives.

    Yesterday's explosion is the fifth that has rocked this village recently. No victims are available from other explosions in private objects. /

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [19] Albania'speaker backs European troika statement

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - By Keida Kostreci: Albania's Speaker Skender Gjinushi responding to the OSCE request said on Tuesday that he fully supported the statement of the European troika on the situation in Albania.

    "My response was positive; there were no divergences on any point of the statement," Gjinushi said to ATA after a meeting with Daan Everts, the OSCE ambassador to Tirana, referring to the Troika refusal on new elections, constitution, law on judiciary organisation and constitutional court.

    Concerning the law on judiciary restructuring, Gjinushi said that he guarantees independence of judicial system and clearly defines only the professional criteria of labour in judiciary.

    "The meeting said that this law is a compromise for the judges who finished a six-month legal education. Judges, who are on strike reject the compromise," the Albanian speaker said.

    Focusing on the law on scrutiny of the figure of officials and civil service, Gjinushi said that these laws will first function and carry out free of party interests.

    "So far the law on scrutiny of figures is used by the previous majority only for political aims to dismiss political opposing figures from the democratic process," Gjinushi said.

    The OSCE has asked the prime minister Fatos Nano and leaders of the Albanian political parties to present their stands on statements of the troika delegation.

    The OSCE sources in Tirana said that making the stands public "will help promote process of political constructive dialogue" and "precede any possible misunderstanding." ake/ak/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [20] Health situation of former president Ramiz Alia is improving

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - Albania's former president Ramiz Alia has been hospitalized recently folowing a heart attack, today's press reports.

    The above sources said that his health situation was critical and rumours were spread that he was dead.

    "This is the third day that the former president Alia is under treatment in the intensive care unit of the cardiology ward and is undergoing routine examination. He will soon be dismissed from the hospital because his health state is improving," hospital sources said to ATA on Tuesday.

    The same sources said that though he has always been treated for the heart disease, the doctors are trying to define the exact dose of medicaments to help him recover and continue treatment in family. ak/

    Albanian Telegraphic Agency

    [21] EU hails policy of Albanian government, Albania - E.U. dialogue

    TIRANA, Jan 27 (ATA) - A political dialogue between Albania and the European Union was held later on Tuesday in the European Union Council of Ministers headquarters in Brussels.

    The Albanian delegation, headed by the Foreign minister Paskal Milo, includes head of the parliamentary Foreign commission Sabri Godo, Secretary of State for the Euroatlantic Integration, Maqo Lakrori, diplomatic adviser of the prime minister Pavli Zeri and others.

    Robin Cook, Foreign minister of United Kingdom and present head of the E.U. Council of Ministers opened the debate. "The political dialogue we started today is organised to give an impetus to Albania - European Union relations," Cook said, adding "we hail the efforts of the Albanian government to emerge from the crisis and reconstruct Albania."

    "Our aim and wish is to find ways to help Albania. However, it is important to see what is it doing to help itself in such priority fields such as the establishment of order and law, implementation of economic reforms and accords with such specialised financing organisations as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and others," he said.

    "The opposition should be totally committed in democratic process in Albania because it has its important place in these processes," Cook said.

    Referring to security in Albania, Cook said "it is necessary to attract foreign investments and concretely those of the E.U., which is engaged in releasing already defined credits for Albania."

    In his speech, Albania's Foreign Minister Paskal Milo made a brief report on the political and economic situation in Albania, on the regional policy Albania is following with the neighbours, as well as on the current level and the prospective of relations between Albania and the European Union.

    With regard to the political-economic situation in the country, Milo focused on the policy followed by the coalition government for the quick recovery of Albania through restoration of order and state institutions, the efforts for the creation of a climate of dialogue between the political forces and the establishment of an atmosphere of national reconciliation, promotion of integrating processes into Euro-Atlantic structures, and others. Milo thanked the European Union, USA, OSCE, the Council of Europe, which helped Albania overcome the crisis.

    Minister Milo spoke of the role played by the opposition parties in Albania in the context of respecting the democratic processes in the country.

    Then, the Commissioner for the Foreign Policy in the European Union, Van den Brook, greeted the improvements made in Albania during the second part of 1997. "There is an obvious process which we all know, he said. We also hail the signals coming from Tirana for the participation of the Democratic Party in Parliament and in the process of drafting a new constitution, as the fundamental basis of a democratic society."

    Van den Brook talked later on about the financial contribution of the European Union, both for the period of emergency and the other mid-term period, stressing that "The European Union respects the stages of delivering the aid and credits to Albania." He also focused on cuts to be made in the Albanian state administration, which are closely connected with the budget reductions and the credit policies, followed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. "But these curbs will be made by respecting the professionalism in the administration," he underlined.

    Van den Brook greeted the Albanian government for the results reached in the macroeconomic field, as well as the work done for closing pyramid investment schemes and stressed that the transparency process should be accelerated, in order to tell the truth to the people on the money lost in these schemes.

    Van den Brook confirmed once again the engagement of the European Union to help Albania.

    Referring to the regional policy followed by Albania, Robin Cook praised the Albanian foreign policy saying "we back your consistent policy and your contribution in the region and want that this policy continues."

    He said the Crete summit is a very important step in the region and praised the contacts already established with Skopje.

    "We want that a dialogue be carried on even with Belgrade, the same way as in Skopje," he said. "We know that the Kosova issue is important and should be handled seriously. I like to confirm that Kosova is present in the agenda of the European Union."

    He added: "We have made clear to Belgrade that he should offer a wide autonomy to Kosova."

    Milo, the Albanian foreign minister, explained the directions of the Albanian policy in the Balkans and its aims to this end.

    "We have backed without reserves the policy of cooperation and good neighbourhood, being always aware that the progress depends much on the ongoing of relations between the Balkan states," he said.

    Milo reiterated Tirana's initiative to host a Balkan conference on projects of cooperation in transport, energy, including Italy, which will help this policy.

    He also spoke of the efforts Tirana has undertaken to establish normal relations with Belgrade taking into consideration the respect of human and national rights of the Albanians in Kosova.

    Minister Milo urged a greater commitment on the part of the E.U. by respecting and putting into practice such initiatives as that of French- German, Group of Contact and others.

    After this presentation, the Greek Foreign Minister, Teodoros Pangalos, took the floor. He pointed out the achievements of Albania in the field of regional cooperation. He mentioned the Crete Summit, as a meeting which opened "the green light" to regional cooperation and as a meeting which influenced on the establishment of the mutual confidence. In this framework, Pangalos talked about the meeting Nano-Milosevic, as the first meeting of this rank held after several years, and from which "we could not expect putting an end to extremist statements," he said.

    Further on, Pangalos talked about the contribution of Greece in receiving and legalizing the Albanian emigrants in Greece, as well as the assistance that Greece continues to offer to Albania in all fields.

    Also, the Italian deputy Foreign Minister, Pierro Fassino, speaking on behalf of the Italian government, greeted the Albanian delegation and the government, saying that "our engagement for Albania is another contribution in the stabilization of the situation in Albania and in the Balkans, as a whole."

    "We are pleased from DP stand to join parliament and to take active part in the democratic processes in the country, because both, we and the Albanians, should help democratic institutions in Albania," said Fassino.

    "We support Albania's regional policy and the engagement of the European Union for Kosova," continued Fassino.

    "We want Albania to be active in all its initiatives with international character, also including the economic ones, such as the 8th corridor which will bring positive results in all fields. We think it is high time to think and define a strategy to start talks for the association agreement with Albania," stated the Italian deputy Foreign Minister.

    Even the German representative in this meeting backed the fact that "Albania is moving forward to the way of the European Union," and stressed that "the current government should not repeat all those msitakes made in the past. It should provide the independence of the judiciary, state institutions and the rules of the democratic game."

    Sabri Godo, head of the parliamentary foreign commission, spoke of a low standard of living in Albania "where 70 percent of the population is in very difficult economic conditions."

    He urged the E.U. to help Albania in this direction.

    Godo pointed out the wide range of criminality in Albania, despite the efforts of the Albanian government to prevent it.

    Godo criticised the Albanian government, with a Socialist majority, which is bringing back former communists to the state administration and has not managed yet to apply the independence of the judiciary.

    In the second part of the dialogue the Albanian delegation presented Albania's request to create possibilities of participating in important activities organised by the E.U.

    In response to this, Cook said that "we back Albania's wish to adhere in the E.U. The E.U. is committed to promote dialogue with Albania through different accords, which enable Albania's membership in the E.U."

    "Positive developments in Albania shorten the time needed to increase the level of cooperation. Nevertheless, we have much to walk together," Cook said.

    Later, Cook and Milo held a joint news conference. s.s/ake/ak/mt/

    From the Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA) Home Page at

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