Electoral campaign in full swing
The electoral campaign for the 24 June elections, which started on 24 May, has already reached gargantuan proportions. The process has been extensively covered from the very beginning and more than 60 per cent of the air time dedicated to information programs is currently taken by electoral rallies and the immense electoral promises made by the political parties involved.
The candidates have begun visiting their respective electoral zones to meet people and discuss their programs, but public surveys organised by the media showed most of the common people believed the electoral promises could be best considered as something of little or no relevance outside the electoral race.
Reactions to an academic surprise
The Macedonian Arts and Science Academy (MASA) has launched a public proposal articulating what it believes to be the solution for the conflict in Macedonia. According to this proposal, Macedonia should agree to hand over the western Macedonian s cities of Big Dibra and Tetovo, as well as parts of Gostivar, to Albania, in exchange for the Albanian Pogradeci city and the neighbouring lake; Albania would also get Prespa lake in return. (The current border runs through the two aforementioned lakes.) The project also predefines an exchange of population.
The Albanian mass media, surprised by such unexpected academic pursuits, have covered the issue in great detail. Ylli Popa, rector of the Albanian Science Academy (ASA), told reporters that he had been informed formally by his Macedonian colleagues about the project while having coffee in Skopje during an academic meeting last week. Popa made public his personal opposition to the project and said that the division of Macedonia is unfeasible and can bring more conflict instead.
Pellumb Xhufi, vice foreign minister, told reporters that we are no longer living in the 19th century but in the 21st, a century dominated by projects of coexistence and not by those of division. He also deemed the academic project unacceptable.
While the opposition Parties representatives rejected the project in question, the Socialist Party declared in a press release that the time has come to fuse the borders instead of changing them.
Praise in Budapest
According to sources from the Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Ministers of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council praised, during the meeting of Atlantic Partnership Foreign Ministers held in Budapest, the role that Albania has played and is currently playing towards regional cooperation and the increase of credibility regarding therelations with its neighbours.
According to the same resources, Dutch Foreign Minister Van Artsen expressed "the highest compliments to the Albanian Government in its efforts to normalize the situation in Macedonia and its moderated attitude in these events, clearly highlighting the fact that the Netherlands will strongly support Albania on its route towards integration into Euro-Atlantic structures."
Meanwhile, US State Secretary Colin Powell has also praised the commitment of all countries in the process of realizing the Action Plan for Membership, stressing that the US will closely cooperate with all countries of this group on their difficult and challenging route towards adherence.
Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, speaking of the situation in Macedonia, has said that the Albanian government backs the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Macedonia.
Meta meets Ellis
According to Premier Office sources, Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta met with Admiral James O Ellis, Commander of American Marine Troops in Europe last week. Meta thanked Admiral Ellis for the assistance his organization has offered to the Albanian Government in the implementation of the reform process in the area of defense.
The same sources said that Admiral Ellis has assessed the role Albania played in the context of achieving peace and stability in the region; he added that the international community and the Alliance have backed the efforts of the Albanian Government in its attempt to solve the crisis in Macedonia.
And in other news...
- According to an annual report of the American Bank of Albania, the bank has granted credits worth about USD 10.1 Million in 2000. This figure is 2.3 times higher than that of the previous year. The American Bank of Albania is owned completely by the Albanian-American Fund of Enterprises (AAFE), which is a private corporation registered in Delaware and founded pursuant to the Act of Democracy of the East European Countries of 1989. The US Government has granted the capital for the AAFE fund.
- The Central Film Archives and the US Embassy in Tirana are planning a US Film Festival to take place between 15 and 30 June; it will give Albanian art lovers the chance to see classic US films for the first time. According to the media, among the films to be shown are: Cassablanca by Michael Curtiz, Chinatown by Roman Polanski, Philadelphia Story by Georges Cukor, On the Waterfront by Elia Kazan and Carmen Johns by Otto Preminger and Harry Belafonte.
- The German government, in cooperation with Elbasan Townhall, will help rebuild the identity the "Kala" quarter, (castle quarter), one of the most characteristic and traditional quarters of this town. Muhamet Aliçka, the coordinator of the project at Elbasan Townhall, told the Albanian Telegraphic Agency that the quarter's infrastructure will respect the historical characteristics of the time it was first built. This quarter, created hundreds of years ago, has been declared an archaeological park and is protected by the state.
Artur Nura, 1 June 2001
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