Mejdani at Skopje informal summit
In a speech made to the informal summit meeting of Southeast European nations' heads of state and government, in Skopje (Shkup), President Rexhep Mejdani declared that the results of the latest Serbian elections should be considered a vote against isolation and the first step towards a positive future.
"The presence of the old structures is still evident in Serbia, which complicates the situation," said Mejdani, expressing his scepticism about the prospects for the Yugoslav Federation and reaffirming his prediction that two new entities—Montenegro and Kosovo—will be integrated separately into the European Union (EU).
About the Kosovo situation, Mejdani said that the first democratic local elections, to be held on 28 October 2000, and next year's general elections will be decisive in determining Kosovo's path towards self-administration and self-determination.
"A definitive and stable political solution for Kosovo would be in accord with the will of the Kosovar people and the international covenant of a sovereign entity founded with a view to European integration," said Mejdani.
The President said the Albanian state is ready to play a decisive role in implementing regional programs and politics. According to Mejdani, the Stability Pact provides a good foundation for fulfilling short-term projects that can be used as the kernels of more ambitious long-term projects.
"The establishment of free trade zones, a gradual process of common legislation and the unification of customs would contribute towards increased trade within the region and would help bring about the integration of the Balkan countries with the rest of Europe," the President stated.
NATO's Jamie Shea honoured in Tirana
At a ceremony organised by the Office of the President, Rexhep Mejdani presented Albania's Golden Eagle medal to Jamie Shea, NATO's current director of information and press and its spokesman during the Kosovo war.
"For distinguished contributions to the solution of the Kosovo crisis and to the defence of humanitarian values and democracy, freedom and human rights, this honour is bestowed by the Albanian people and nation on a central figure in a historic humanitarian battle that ended in victory," declared Mejdani in awarding the medal.
In February 1994, Albania acceded to NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) and, at the end of 1996, embarked on an individual plan for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In reference to this, Jamie Shea told reporters that an American liaison unit and planning cell is focused to Albania, demonstrating NATO's interest in restructuring an Albanian standing army and showing that Albania has active prospects for NATO membership.
"I'm very satisfied with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's comments regarding recent political developments in the Balkans as being positive for both NATO and US foreign policy. I hope the Americans will stay in the region," said Shea in Tirana.
"The US has deployed 11,600 troops in Kosovo and Bosnia-Hercegovina," he added. "Any US president would know that this is a very good investment in stability for the region. Balkan stability is a vital interest for the US, and 11,600 troops is not a high price to pay for securing this stability," Shea continued in a veiled reference to US presidential candidate George W Bush's announced intent to pull US ground troops out of the Balkans.
CofE reps in Himara
On Wednesday 18 October, Council of Europe (CofE) representatives paid a visit to Viktor Mato, newly elected mayor of the city of Himara. Mato reported to the CofE's representatives on the second-round electoral process of 15 October, stating that "this victory came about as a result of a fair Socialist [Party] electoral campaign and because of the full support all the other political parties gave to the SP candidate in the face of a challenge from a candidate backed by the Union of Human Rights Party."
The Council representatives also met with representatives of other Albanian political parties and with Tare Hamo, prefect of the city of Vlora.
Parliament on relations with Greece
The presence of Greek parliamentary officials at polling stations in Himara city and in Greece's Çamëria properties has provoked the Parliamentary Foreign Policy Commission (PFPC) to propose a strong resolution regarding Greek actions.
"One country's economic transition difficulties should not be used as an instrument of pressure by another country but should, instead, be a basis for increased cooperation in developing mutual respect and partnership," states the resolution.
Recommendations were also made to work earnestly on solving traditional problems between the two countries, including repealing the Greek declaration of a state of war with Albania, returning expropriated Greek-Albanian Çamëria properties, legalising Albanian economic immigrants in Greece and ending all forms of discrimination against these immigrants.
"The mutual interests of Albania and Greece demand the involvement of respective parliamentarians and other state officials in supporting common European and Euro-Atlantic perspectives," reads part of the declaration.
The resolution had been slated for approval this week by the PFPC but, for technical reasons, it will instead come up for approval next week.
Relations with Montenegro
The foreign ministers of Albania and Montenegro, Paskal Milo and Branko Vukovac, held a one-on-one meeting this week in the southern Albanian city of Shkodra. The private discussion was followed by a meeting of the ministers' respective delegations, at which it was declared that Albania and Montenegro will increase bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
After the meetings, Milo and Vukovac made a joint statement to the press, saying that the new situation in Serbia had been carefully analyzed by both delegations and that cooperation between their two countries and Serbia will also be increased.
Radicals win vote at UN
According the Tirana office of the Transnational Radical Party (TRP), a vote taken on 18 October at the United Nations on a draft to suspend the consultative status of the TRP, an international nongovernmental organisation (NGO), represents a very important victory in the history of NGO participation in the United Nations.
23 UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) member states voted against the Russian proposition to suspend the TRP's general consultative status, 20 voted in favour, and nine states abstained, defeating the Russian resolution.
TRP representatives have dedicated this political victory to the memory of Antonio Russo, a Radical Radio reporter killed in Tbilisi, Georgia, three days before the ECOSOC vote. Russo had spent the last year in Tbilisi covering the Chechnya crisis for Radical Radio. He was preparing to leave Georgia and return to Italy at the time of his kidnapping and murder by unknown culprits. Russo's laptop computer, video camera and satellite phone are still missing.
Russo had documented evidence of atrocities committed by Russian troops in Chechnya and claimed to have been called as a Hague Tribunal (ICTY) witness of Serbian war crimes in Kosovo.
Artur Nura, 28 October 2000
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