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Two stories from BIRN: Andi Beli, the previous director of KESH who was sacked in March of this year (I think) is under attack by the Office of State Control, a financial watchdog. According to BIRN the OSC is calling on the State Prosecutor to start proceedings against Beli.

BIRN also reports that Lulzim Basha, the Foreign Minister, has invited Crown Prince Leka II to become an advisor on foreign affairs. I have to confess that I did not know that there was a Crown Prince. A brief search uncovered an entry on wikipedia, and a video from Vision Plus.

The Jewish Advocate carries a story about Bujar Veselaj, whose father, Refik, rescued Albanian Jews during the war and later founded the Albania-Israel Friendship Association. The son has been granted asylum in the US after expert testimony backed his claim that Muslim fundamentalists had threatened his life.

I'm not sure what to make of this story. On the one hand I think many Albanians - and outside observers - are complacent about the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism. The Saudis and the Iranians are both active here spreading their unpleasant brand of religion. Young men, the future leaders of the Muslim community, are being educated - indoctrinated - overseas.

On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that the threat is as advanced at this stage as Veselaj's claims and those of his witnesses suggest. If threatening letters and broken windows were the criteria for asylum, there would be long queues outside every embassy in every country in the world.

There is a great story from the BBC about a project in Korca to collect and recycle rubbish, run mostly by the local Roma population. Along the way the reporter, Kieran Cook, meets Agron Deliu, a chemist trying to assess the toxicity of the piles of rubbish. Agron grew up with a love of philosophy but only had access to the 'philosophical' works of Hoxha - the same ones that now lie mouldering on the waste ground by the lake.

Now he relaxes in the evening by translating Bertrand Russell in to Albanian. This impressed me greatly. I once tried reading some of Bertrand Russell's stuff and it was incomprehensible to me even in English. So good luck Agron

Finally, two other stories appeared in which Albania gets a mention. The Scotsman is one of many newspapers that carried a AP story on the importance of remittances. The Wall Street Journal has a report on a group of select individuals who travel the world looking for new holiday destinations. One of these is John Stoll of Crystal Cruises.

As a result, in 2008, passengers on the company's Greek God's & Gondolas cruise and their Mediterranean Masterpiece cruise will be stopping off in Sarande. So, people of Saranda, get ready for lots of wealthy Americans coming your way on 10 June and 23 July. The 10 June visit - part of the Greek Gods & Gondolas cruise - is being marketed as the first ever visit by the cruise line, so this could be your opportunity to get in there and make some money.


Anonymous said…
About the "royal family":
To me the only Royals of Albania are the Kastriotis, and then the Toptanis, Balshas, etc, all the families that supported Scanderbeg. My family was not communist, our lands were confiscated during communism, but we went with the flow and weren't persecuted. My grandmother is a veteran, and my great grandfather was shot during WWII. No one in my family has to say anything good about the "king" and the "balli kombetar" party of the time.
We don't need a royal family to complicate Albanian politics. Do you people remember 1997? I remember the "king" marching down the main boulevard with his militants with WEAPONS and military dress. The Zogs are only troublemakers. We need calm. No matter how well and eloquently he speaks Albanian that moment in history showd again that his family is not deign to represent us. In those moments we needed guiding and patience and they showed what kind of people they are, powerhungry trying to find the right time to usurpe any kind of government we have so painfully tried to build. Plus the young Prince Leka was babtized by king Badouin of Belgium. Oh my God! I have read only bad things and so many conspiracy theories about him. I mean who are these people who want to control us, rule us? Why do they want to impose themselves on us? I am really concerned about us. Everyone is inflitrating us and trying to change us or steal our country. We are not Belgium, a country with no identity. Watch this gaffe, the Belgian primeminister to be sings the Marseillaise instead of his country's nation anthem. Survey's also say that only 2% of Belgians actually know the lyrics of their anthem!
I watch the news on RTBF everyday:

What a shame!

and in English

Obvicously, these foreigners take us for fools!
What does the young Prince Leka have more than my cousin who was born in 1982 as well? Why should he be "above" other people? He wasn't even born in ALbania, he can't speak Albanian well. To me, the only divine prince above others is Jesus!
Scanderbeg was from a richer tribe, but he also was intelligent, brave and dedicated his life to the Albanians. Such a figure deserves to be our king, but these Zogs are nothing compared to that. My family has done far more for Albania than them. Didn't they steal all the treasury and flew the country during WWII? Traitors!

"At the time of his birth, the South African government declared his maternity ward temporarily Albanian territory to ensure that Leka was born on Albanian soil.[1] He was named in honor of Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat, his grandfather King Zog, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran, and Baudouin I, King of the Belgians (his godfather)."

Is he Christian with all these Muslim and Zulu names? What is this?

If young Prince Leka wants to actually help his nation, he could do it on his own by publicity for us, without interfering too much.
Albania will stay a republic!

On the issue of fundamentalism, I totally agree with our man, and I am very concerned. If numerically speaking Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia plus those muslims in Albania become the majority in an ethnically(not politically) united Albania, will the muslims rule us? I don't see my Albanian identity connected to Islam. If that happens, that is not an Albania, that is some ugly creation ....
Salih said…
i just read this anonymous comenttator,and the only question i have is are you albanian? because you will not find find a true albanian that jugjes someone else only on his name,be it christian or muslim!

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And now the end is near
and so i face nanananana...

Never did like that crappy song.

But it's true nevertheless.

Tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will be heading for the airport for the last time. I suppose it was too much to expect that I could have kept this going while getting ready to leave. So apologies for the lack of postings over the last weeks. This is post number 380 something so I suppose one post every two days is not a bad average.

There were probably 380 more in my head or scribbled down on scraps of paper, but many of them are perhaps best left there.

I suppose I should be penning - or typing - my final thoughts and reflections on two years in Tirana, but right now I don't have any. Maybe in a month or two though I might come back with something.

Thanks to all of you who have read this blog - especially those of you who have become regulars. Thanks also for linking and thanks to all who left comments.

As for the other stars of the blog, Bella now has her own …


Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Miss Globe 2007

On Saturday, we were at the Rogner meeting with an expat friend who was leaving Tirana. It was breakfast time, and as our friend was finishing his tea the breakfast room started to fill up with over-dressed (or under-dressed) young women wearing blue sashes. These were the contestants for the Miss Globe 2007 beauty pageant being held in Tirana tonight at the Palace of Congresses. High heel boots and mini-skirts - or in a couple of cases micro-skirts, or possibly just belts - have never struck me as obvious breakfast attire, but the girls seemed happy enough tottering and wobbling around with their tea and toast. I'm not sure why they were wearing their sashes - perhaps in case they forgot which country they came from.
As we were leaving they were boarding a large coach which I had seen a number of times around the city in the last few days for their next trip. I'm not sure how some of them made it up the steps, or how they managed to sit down, but perhaps these are the kinds o…