Milo speaks out on foreign policy
During opening ceremonies for the newly renovated offices of the Foreign Ministry, Paskal Milo promised continued commitment to long-standing foreign policy issues.
"We want to send the message that, in accordance with the best traditions of the Albanian state since its founding, our foreign policy will continue to respect all those who have supported Albania and Albanians," Foreign Minister Milo told reporters. Various Albanian analysts say that the minister wants to make clear that his government rejects the old political approach, prevalent under Communist rule, that "history starts when we come to power," and that even while respecting tradition the Milo government wants to pursue more open policies.
Milo's declaration was made just as the debate about restoring diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia is being raised in the political arena and the public media. "We emphasise that the Kosovo issue must be resolved by Kosovo Albanians out of their own free will," Milo said. According to Milo, Albanian authorities have contacted Kosovo Albanians and explained that "reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Albania and Yugoslavia will not damage Kosovo Albanian interests, but rather should bring some advantages."
Referring to the Albanian Government's positive response towards Yugoslavia's offer to resume diplomatic relations, Milo told reporters that his Government has been in consultation with US and EU representatives. These discussions cover regional issues that can be resolved by collaboration among international institutions and regional parties and in which Albania plays an important role.
Albania and Turkey forge diplomatic alliance
The Turkish Embassy in Tirana has announced that Albania and Turkey will engage in biannual diplomatic consultations. According to an embassy source, the decision was made by representatives of the Turkish and Albanian foreign ministries meeting in Tirana on 10 January. Pellumb Xhufi, Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister, Yigit Aplogan, Deputy Secretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and Turkish Ambassador Murrat Oguz led the meeting. Bilateral political, economic, military and cultural issues were the focus of discussions, although regional issues were also touched upon.
Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies signed
Prime Minister Ilir Meta, Financial Minister Anastas Angjeli and Albanian Bank Governor Shkëlqim Cani last Friday signed a Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies. The document implements a three-year agreement under the Economic Development Program to fight poverty in Albania. The Memorandum, which outlines financial policies for the first half of 2001, is expected to be reviewed by the International Monetary Fund Board of Directors on 25 January.
Ambassadors Limprecht and Ahrens back at work
Following their Christmas holidays, US Ambassador Joseph Limprecht and OSCE Ambassador Gert Ahrens have held a meeting in the OSCE Mission offices in Tirana. The two senior diplomats discussed expected plans to provide assistance to local authorities on electoral preparations.
Limprecht and Ahrens have headed international assistance efforts since the first roundtable of local political parties during the last elections. Ambassador Ahrens seems to bear most of the responsibility for the elections aid, whereas Ambassador Limprecht was believed to have requested a briefing on the steps taken so far. The OSCE and Ahrens appear to be holding to an earlier statement that they will take no steps, unless asked to by the local parties. According to Ahrens, Albanian political parties should make their own decision on whether or not they need assistance by the OSCE and other international agencies.
Berisha ignores Pollo on Berlin flight
As the old proverb says, "silence is golden," and this seems to have been the leitmotif of a trip recently taken by Democratic Party President Sali Berisha and Genc Pollo, Berisha's former collaborator and leader of the Democratic Party Reform Group.
According to Albanian media sources, the two politicians did not exchange a single word while on board a Malév flight from Tirana via Budapest to Berlin for a European Democratic Union meeting, despite the fact that they were seated close by one another. Instead, they are reported to have read materials related to the upcoming meeting, glanced now and then at their watches and made a show of interest in the magazines and other reading materials offered by the airline.
The Reform Group of the Democratic Party (DP), made up largely of intellectuals, academics and former founders and senior leaders of the DP, are preparing to announce of a new political movement at the end of January, based on the DP membership. Any attempt to establish a dialogue between the opposing factions seems fruitless, as exemplified by Berisha's attitude during this joint trip to Berlin.
No sign of depleted uranium in Albania
The Albania National Agency of Environment (AKM) stated publicly that there has been no sign of depleted uranium that would indicate the presence of such radiation in Albanian territories. According to press sources, AKM experts have said that the risk of such radiation is present in areas where NATO troops used depleted uranium, and that they will be studying these areas further.
Artur Nura, 15 January 2001
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