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Showing posts from January, 2007

More Election Posters

A new face appeared on the posters recently. Apparently, this is Nard Ndoka , head of the Christian Democrat Party (PDK), which is more than I knew before some good folks left some comments identifying him. He is not a candidate for mayor, nor does his poster name any other candidate, so I'm not sure what his message is. Thanks to Kim I also now know that he looks like Stephen Harper , the Canadian Prime Minister. I thought I had found another new candidate when I spotted the poster below from a distance, but up close it turned out to be another poster for Olldashi except that he was being presented as the candidate of the Partia Republikane, one of the Democratic Party's allies in government. Thanks to Adela and Radu for identifying the gentleman in the picture as Fatmir Mediu , leader of PR and Minister of Defence. Olldashi's campaign has gone mobile. After seeing the Rama bus on Monday, today I spotted at least one Olldashi bus. I also saw at least three mobile hoarding

Dy Rame Per Tirane

I was watching Top Channel last night, first the news, then Fiks Fare. According to them Tirana's citizens now have a choice not only between Rama and Olldashi, but also between Rama and Rama. A minor right-wing faction, Parti 'Balli Kombetar' , submitted papers to the election authorities registering their candidate, Akile Rama. The people on Fiks Fare got hold of the papers and sent a reporter and camera team to the address listed for Mr A Rama. After much ringing of the bell the gate was reluctantly opened by a middle-aged woman who refused to speak to the reporter and tried to close the gate on her. Back in the studio Saimiri and Doctori - the two presenters of Fiks Fare - revealed that Mr Akile Rama was 73 years old, in hospital, and did not know he was now a candidate for mayor. They also compared two documents - the papers submitted on his behalf, and a genuine document he had signed. The signatures were not even remotely similar. There was an interview with the lea


Albania and the Environment

Thanks once more to Drita who provided some more links to sites dealing with environmental issues in Albania. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has a section on Albania , including a page of Albanian environmental stories and images . Fatmir Terziu is an Albanian journalist and film-maker who has produced a documentary film, Clouds of Smoke , about climate change and its impact on Abania.

A Different View on Greater Albania

Responding to the article in the Economist I mentioned in a previous post , someone left a comment referring me to the report of the International Commission on the Balkans . The Commission's research suggested that Albanians in both Albania and Kosovo are much more open to the possibility of unity than the Economist article claims. Below are the Commission's conclusions in written and graphical form. According to the survey, the breakdown of Macedonia and the establishment of a Greater Albania are two developments that could destabilise the region. The results of the survey show a relatively high acceptance of the idea of a "Greater Albania" among the Albanian populations of both Kosovo and Albania. As a whole, they differ from other groups in the region in their view that a future unification of Kosovo and Albania is both desirable and possible (figure 6). This suggests that the process of nation-building among Albanian communities in the Balkans is still in progre


Last Sunday we took a trip with some friends to Apollonia and Ardenica. It was a beautiful day - warm and sunny with a clear blue sky. At Ardenica we visited the Orthodox monastery. The church that stands at the centre of the monastery complex dates from the 18th century, though there has been a monastery on this site since the 13th Century. This was one of the few major religious sites in Albania to survive the anti-religious onslaught of the communists. It was, instead, confiscated from the church and used as a tourist resort. The monastery was returned to the church after the end of the communist regime. We visited Ardenica in the late afternoon with a beautiful warming light shining on the buildings. There are some more pictures of the monastery on Flickr . Photographs from Apollonia are still to come.

Some More Articles

With its piles of garbage, diesel fumes and cement dust, Tirana is hardly an environmentally friendly city. According to a recent report from the BBC though, the environment is starting to become a political issue: "This is not only a problem of flowers or birds or plants," says Dzemal Mato. "The environment can be a big cost economically. The government and people now realise that getting it wrong means they have to pay." Journal Chretien , a French religious journal, carries the story of Fatmir Kaloshi , a thug and gun runner who became a Christian. The Guardian reported on the recognition of an Albanian family by the Anti-Defamation League for their rescue of Jews during the Second World War. The league posthumously honored a Muslim Albanian man and his son for protecting six Jewish families during the war. The organization presented its Courage to Care Award to three relatives of the late Mefail Bicaku and his son Njazi. The two led the six families - a to

Election Posters

As well as the bigger posters on advertising sites I showed yesterday, the campaign workers have also been out flyposting on any available flat surface. Again, Olldashi's people have been the more active. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have explained to them the number one rule of of political campaigning - don't put a poster of your candidate anywhere near an image of Mickey Mouse. It's not just the leading candidates who are posting. In the last few days I have seen a large number of posters for Dr Edmund Stojku - presumably a candidate for that particular district. While some have been putting posters up, others have been tearing them down. Dr Stojku's supporters used tape to attach theirs, which makes them very easy to pull down. Mr Olldashi's used paste - it takes more effort to get these off the wall, but someone out there seems to think it is worth the effort. The two defaced Olldashi posters below were part of a line of more than fifty pasted to the wall o

Who Wants to be Tirana's Mayor? They Do.

Now that the disputes over the elections have been resolved, the campaigning has begun. Over the weekend election posters began appearing in the city for both Rama and Olldashi. Olldashi's workers appear to be busier - his posters are far more common than those for Rama in the areas of the city that I have visited recently. On the bus shelter below you can see two of them, but they were on every one of the six available spaces. In contrast, this was the only advertising site carrying Rama's poster I passed this morning, though I have seen others over the weekend in other parts of town.

More Articles

Thanks to Drita and Rachele who drew my attention to this recent article on Albania and Kosovo in the Economist. According to the Economist, Kosovar Albanians have developed their own distinct identity and have no desire for a political union of all Albanians. The same is true for Albanians spread across the other states in the region. Instead, A Macedonian Albanian, Teuta Arifi, argues that Albanians should emulate German-speakers, who have built separate identities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria while continuing to belong to the same German culture. Drita also sent me a link to an article from Balkan Insight summarising recent political developments regarding the elections next month.


During this morning's walk in the park I came across this scrum of journalists. Somewhere in the middle was - I think - the DP candidate for mayor, Sokol Olldashi. I assume he was discussing his plans for the development of the park area. The picture was taken with a camera phone which is why the image quality isn't up to the usual standard.

An Oligarch of Albanian Politics

Don't ask me what's going on with Albanian politics. I have no idea. If anyone out there can explain in fewer than 250 words let me know. In the absence of any profound - or even superficial - analysis from me, here is a report from Albanian Economy News offering its take on the recent meeting between new best friends, Fatos Nano and Sali Berisha.

Moon Over Tirana

Morning in the Park

'God Helped Him Score'

Albanian Salihi has his prayers answered The power of prayer has paid off for Albanian League side KF Tirana striker Hamdi Salihi. The marksman had gone a month without hitting the net when club owner Refik Halili decided to take action and drafted in 30 Muslim priests to pray for the end of his barren spell. Just 41 minutes into their next match with FK Partizani, Salihi found the target in a 3-2 win. 'Salihi is a born striker and the fact he had not scored for four weeks had blocked him mentally,' Halili said. 'I think I lived up to my duty. God helped him score and Tirana to win.'

Albania and Guantanamo

The BBC carried a couple of reports yesterday by Neil Arun on inmates from Guantanamo who have been granted asylum in Albania. The first, Guantanamo Uighers' Strange Odyssey , focuses on three of the five men who arrived last summer. The men were initially unsettled by the prospect of settling in Albania. "We were scared because we thought Albania would be like China - we heard it had gone through 50 years of communism," Abu Bakr says. But they say they were pleasantly surprised. "We've received a lot of help here," Adil says. "Albanian people are very welcoming and there are many Muslim brothers here." "Albania is a poor country," Abu Bakr says. "But it showed itself to be strong in standing up to the Chinese." The men plan to learn the Albanian language and eventually find work here. Locals talk of hiring them in the security industry. Others say they could cash in on their "celebrity" by establishing Albania's

Shtepia e Kafese

Every time we visit IKEA I come back with a bag full of coffee. The strong dark Skanerost is my favourite, with the milder Mellanmork offering a little variety. The Scandinavians know a thing or two about coffee - so black you can't see the bottom of the cup; so thick you could trot a mouse across it. Here in Albania, though, filter coffee - or, as it is sometimes known for no good reason, 'American coffee' - is very definitely the poor relation. Albanians prefer their coffee the Italian or, to a lesser extent, the Turkish way. And many places certainly do a very good espresso. Inevitably, my coffee drinking habits have changed. Now, when I am out, I regularly drink espresso - something I never did before. For me, the thought of putting sugar in coffee was shocking. While at home, I have my supply of Skanerost to keep me satisfied. Yet when my supplies run low, the thought of a seven or eight hour drive to Thessaloniki to restock is hardly appealing. So, I was intrigued whe