Macedonian conflict distresses government
A spokesperson for the Albanian government has responded to journalists' questions on the latest offensive of the Macedonian Army by expressing deep concern about the murder and wounding of innocent people.
"Such events seriously harm the political dialogue and co-existence between the various nationalities in Macedonia," said the spokesperson, stressing that according to the government, there is no pretext that can justify the killing of innocent people.
The government has reiterated its call for an immediate cessation of armed conflict and for launching a political dialogue that will lead to the establishment of a broad-base coalition government in Macedonia.
Opposition opens electoral campaign
On 24 May, the opposition coalition "Union for Victory" began its campaign for the general elections of 24 June with a rally in Tirana's Skenderbej Square. The Union for Victory—made up of the Democratic Party (DP), Republican Party (RP), Movement of Legality (ML), the Democrat Liberal Union (DLU), and the National Front (NF)—has declared that it will conduct a contemporary and unique campaign, using alternative methods to announce its electoral platform.
Sali Berisha, the primary leader of the Union for Victory, announced in a speech the priorities the coalition will have once in office. These include the solution of violent conflicts in the region by means of peaceful dialogue; the independence of Kosovo and Albanian self-determination; faster construction of the transportation infrastructure that will link Durrës with Priština (Prishtinë), or Albania with Kosovo, as well as Albania with Macedonia and Montenegro; the abolition of visas between the countries in question; and improved public order and an end to corruption.
An electoral staff made up of experts in public relations will lead the electoral campaign. "For a new start" is the main slogan that will accompany the electoral campaign.
Socialist Party's campaign launch
Also on 24 May, the ruling Socialist Party (SP) began its electoral campaign with a rally at Madre Theresa Square in Tirana. Top party leaders were present and addressed the large gathering. The SP's campaign slogan is "Together in a good way."
Fatos Nano, leader of the SP, opened the rally with a speech that appraised the Socialist government's accomplishments since June 1997. He promised to follow the same path that has been developed toward an Albanian-Euro-Atlantic alliance. In his speech, Nano harshly criticized the leader of the opposition, Sali Berisha.
Supporters of both parties celebrated the two political rallies with contemporary music and dance. Nevertheless, the extremely different approaches of the ruling Socialist and Opposition Democratic parties was noticeable from the outset, as Sali Berisha and Fatos Nano exchanged personal accusations. The other, smaller political parties are expected to begin their electoral campaigns much more modestly.
OSCE's Ahrens: "We will help but not guarantee"
Geert Ahrens, Tirana ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), declared at a press conference last week that the OSCE will give assistance in the June electoral process, but said that alone cannot guarantee a successful outcome. At the same time, Ahrens said that all political parties are to be congratulated for the improved electoral climate they appear to be creating.
Tirana police take security measures
Tirana police sources say that nearly 200 members of the Tirana police force supervised the two political rallies held on Thursday, 24 May. The director of the Tirana Prefecture, Colonel Ilirjan Zylyftari, told the Albanian Telegraphic Agency on Wednesday that the police would be concentrated in Madre Theresa Square, where the Socialist Party rally was to be held, and in Skenderbej Square, where the right-wing coalition "Union for Victory" was to open its electoral campaign. These "chains" of police forces attended the two rallies, and no incidents were reported.
Albanian film honored at Cannes
Albanian director Gjergj Xhuvani's film Slogans, with a screenplay by Ylljet Aliçka and produced by Didie Ranz, was awarded the Junior Prize in competition at the Cannes International Film Festival. This is the first time an Albanian film has been entered at Cannes, and the result was an encouraging prize. The Albanian media enthusiastically covered the event, publishing interviews with the film's actors Luiza Xhuvani, Artur Gorishti, and others.
The Scorpions to play Tirana
On 4 and 5 June, Albanians are looking forward to a live concert in Tirana by German rock band the Scorpions. The City of Tirana and Open Hearts, an Albanian NGO, are organizing the concert, which will be held in Tirana's main stadium, Selman Stermazi. The Scorpions' repertoire includes the hits "Holiday," "Still Loving You," "Wind of Change," and other popular favorites.
Miss Shqipëria 2001
The private company Deliart is organizing this year's Miss Shqipëria (Albania) 2001 pageant. According to organizers, the contest will be held in the Rozafa castle of the northern city of Shkodër. Rozafa castle is the locale of a well-known Albanian legend, which tells of a heroic girl who gave her life to save the building, which was needed to defend the city from the Turks. Petri Bozo, the pageant's director, has told reporters he wants to integrate the ancient story with the modern celebration of this annual spectacle.
The golden garland to be bestowed upon the young woman who wins the title of Miss Albania 2001 is said to be valued at about USD 100,000. The Miss Shqipëria 2000 pageant, which Deliart also organized, was held in the coastal city of Saranda.
Artur Nura, 25 May 2001
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