Δευτέρα, 28 Φεβρουαρίου 2011

Finally, Turkey Looks East

ny times

Op-Ed Contributor

Published: February 22, 2011

I STARTED reading the fiction of the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz with a delay that embarrasses me, not until my early 30s. In the Turkey of my formative years, he was not well-known. His famous “Cairo Trilogy,” published in the 1950s, wasn’t widely available in Turkish until 2008.
We were far more interested in Russian literature — Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Chekhov and Tolstoy — and European literature — Balzac, Hugo, Maupassant and Dickens — than in Arab literature. Western classics had been widely translated into Turkish since the late 19th century. A number of them were even published as supplements in children’s magazines, and I remember devouring them eagerly.
Paris, London and Moscow seemed closer in spirit to Istanbul than Cairo was. We saw our own writing as part of European literature, even as our country waited and waited to become a full member of the European Union.
So Mahfouz, the Nobel Prize-winning author of dozens of novels, remained at the periphery of our vision — despite the strong historical, cultural and religious ties between Turkey and Egypt. There is a saying that “the Koran is revealed in Mecca, recited in Cairo and written in Istanbul.”
Recently, however, the Turkish elite has started paying much more attention to Egypt. A few years ago the governments of Turkey and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding to endorse cooperation and broaden military relations.
And today Turks are closely watching what is happening in Cairo. At the height of the protests, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech that was broadcast live to the protesters in Tahrir Square. “No government can remain oblivious to the democratic demands of its people,” he said. “There isn’t a government in history that has survived through oppression.”
When Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down, there was widespread celebration in Turkey. It’s a topsy-turvy world. The Europe we loved and admired for so long has looked down on Turkey, but the Middle East we ignored is suddenly looking up to us as a force to be reckoned with. Now there is much talk of Turkey serving as a model for a new Egypt.
Considering all this, it has been rather disconcerting to hear politicians and talking heads in the United States speak about Turkey as if it is in thrall to radical Islamists. Even President Obama has described our country as an “Islamic” democracy. But what does it mean to be an Islamic democracy?
Turkey defies clichés. Turkish society is a debating society, with some people passionately in favor of the governing Justice and Development Party and some passionately against it. At a recent event I heard an academic applaud the government for curtailing the power of the military, while a journalist criticized it for conducting groundless trials against army officers and restricting the press.
Whenever I have a book signing in Istanbul, I cannot help but notice the diversity of the people. Professional women wearing modern clothes stand in line next to women in head scarves and young men with long hair or piercings. The crowds include leftists, liberals, feminists, Kurds, conservative Muslims, non-Muslims, religious minorities like Alevis, Sufi mystics and so on. But it is not only the variety of people that is striking; it is the extent to which they intermingle. While Turkey’s political system is polarized and male-dominated, the society is, thankfully, far more hybrid. It is this complexity that outsiders fail to recognize, perhaps because they are too busy watching the leading political actors to see the people.
A society with a multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious empire under its belt and 80 years of experience as a constitutional republic, Turkey has managed to create its own passage to democracy, however flawed.
Around the same time as Mahfouz was writing his Cairo trilogy, a Turkish novelist, literary critic and poet named Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar was probing the way Turkey straddled an uneasy gap between East and West. “Our most important question is where and how we are going to connect with our past,” he wrote. In other words, how could we blend Islamic and Eastern elements with a modern, democratic, secular regime?
His question is as vital today as it was yesterday — for Egypt, Tunisia and many other countries in the Arab world — but Turkey has already provided many answers.
Elif Shafak is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Forty Rules of Love.”

read more: ny times

Milosevic police chief jailed for 27 years over Kosovo massacres

the independent

By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Belgrade

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The former head of Serbia's police force was jailed for 27 years yesterday for war crimes, crimes against humanity and the murders of at least 724 civilians in Kosovo 12 years ago. Dressed in dark blue suit and white shirt, Vlastimir Djordjevic remained emotionless as the presiding judge, Kevin Parker, passed sentence at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
The court was told that Djordjevic had "participated in the joint criminal enterprise" led by the then Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, and his closest aides. Judge Parker added that the ex-police chief, 62, intended to "change the ethnic balance of Kosovo and ensure Serbian dominance in the territory".
Djordjevic, who also served the Milosevic government as the assistant internal affairs minister, was tried for the deportation in March 1999 of more than 200,000 ethnic Albanians by Serbian police, which coincided with the start of the Nato bombing campaign against Serbia.
"The true number [of expelled] might never be known," the judge said, adding that Djordjevic did nothing to prevent the deportations of mostly civilians to neighbouring Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. The expulsions were followed by looting, burning of villages and the killings of women, children and the elderly, the court found.
In one massacre, two days after the Nato campaign began, Serb forces herded 114 men and boys into a barn, including a disabled man whose wheelchair was used to block one of the exits. Serb forces then riddled the barn with bullets from automatic weapons before setting it alight.
In another case, 45 members of the same family were killed after they tried to hide in a café. "Police threw hand grenades inside the cafe and then opened fire on them [as they tried to escape]," Judge Parker said in his verdict.
"In the large majority of cases, the victims, including many women and children, were civilians who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict."
Djordjevic was also found guilty of playing a central role in trying to conceal war crimes and atrocities perpetrated against civilians by Serb forces.
In one incident, he ordered almost 900 corpses to be moved 400km in refrigerated trucks.
The bodies were then reburied at a police training centre in Batajnica, near Belgrade, in an attempt to hide them from Western observers. The dead were unearthed and identified in 2001 after the Milosevic regime collaped.
Djordjevic evaded justice for eight years. When arrested in Montenegro in 2007 he had grown long hair and was posing as a construction worker.

the independent

The Art of Witness and Peace in Bosnia

ari rusila

In the close to 20 years since the beginning of the Bosnian War, much has happened. Thousands have been massacred, international forces have intervened, peace agreements have been negotiated, individuals have been tried for war crimes, refugees have fled. Yet, in the midst of this difficult story, it is inspiring to know that people have resisted against the brokenness and destruction that consumed the conflict. Here are two examples of how human spirit and creativity have used art to remember and reconcile the war from its very first year until today.
Witnesses to Evidence
The seige of Sarajevo began in April 1992. Six months later, in the shelled and rundown Sujetska Cinema, a gallery director and eight artists gathered to create something as a witness to the conflict. From that October to April 1993, the artists collaborated on a series of works inside the hidden hallways of the cinema, where Sarajevans frequently passed through to escape snipers outside. The gallery director, Mirsad Purivatra, and the eight artists – Nusret Paši, Zoran Bogdanovi, Ante Juri, Petar Waldegg, Mustafa Skopljak, Edin Numankadi, Sanjin Juki, and Radoslav Tadi- created a living testimony to the war they themselves were living.
The exhibit was themed around and subsequently named Witnesses to Evidence, after Nusret Paši’s piece. The exhibit was invited to represent Bosniz-Herzegovina at the 45th Venice Biennale, but because of the wartime blockade, the artists and their works were unable to travel. However, later in the spring of 1994, they could finally leave. Witnesses was brought to exhibit at the Kunsthalle in New York, and the schedule was ideal. At the time, international audiences were gathering in New York to discuss the aftermath of the Bosnian conflict. More attention was being given to the consequences of the war.
What many found compelling about Witnesses was not so much its representation of the war, but more so the sense of obligation it passed on to its viewers to act as witnesses to history. After he saw the exhibit in New York, Johannes H. Biringer, an artistic director and the author of Performance on the Edge: Transformations of Culture, wrote a commentary about what the artists had done:
“They build meaningful compositions of the human spirit and intelligence in midst of the war’s insanity,” Birringer stated, “Thus they become also witnesses of our indifference; their irony and resiliency shame us. Their work also proves that it is neither impossible nor frivolous to make art in the time of war; perhaps making art in such a time is as necessary as finding food and shelter and healing the wounded.”
Most Mira
A little over a decade after Witnesses exhibited in New York, Bosnian-born Kemal Pervani and social researcher Lea Esterhuizen founded Most Mira, a charity organization based in Britain and Bosnia. Most Mira means ‘Bridge of Peace’ and fittingly, the organization’s mission is to build understanding and tolerance among youth in Northwest Bosnia by means of creative community arts.
Imagine this: 500 Bosnian, Serb, Croat, and Roma kids frolicking around for a week dancing, playing games, playing music, painting, writing, and singing. It’s a picture in stark contrast to war. That picture is of the Youth Festival that Most Mira has organized since 2009. And now, the charity’s energetic and innovative Trustees and Action Team are in preparation to launch this year’s festival scheduled for May 16-20, five days of workshops in art, drama, circus skills, dance, music, media, and performance. With May approaching, they’re in the last leg of the hunt to recruit volunteers, the ones who really make the festivals possible. Though, the point of it all reaches far beyond the fun and games. In a fragmented society shadowed by the war’s aftermath, what Most Mira and these volunteers do is help continue the work of remembrance and reconciliation that began in Sarajevo all those years ago.

read more: ari rusila

Romania to Evacuate Citizens from Libya in Special Flight

balkan analysis

February 23, 2011
By Chris Deliso in Skopje
Note: Due to last-minute operational changes, some of the below information is incorrect. Thus, in the end a Romanian military, and not civil aircraft was required. It reached Tripoli yesterday at 6PM. Another military plane is expected to be sent today.
A Boeing 737 aircraft will depart from Bucharest at 11AM Thursday morning in order to recover several hundred Romanian citizens stranded in Libya, and will return by 3:30PM, Balkanalysis.com can report.
With the longtime rule of Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi appearing to be close to a violent end, world governments have switched into high gear to launch cooperative evacuation plans for their citizens. Balkan nations have taken the initiative themselves, and in some cases are benefiting from the goodwill of other nations.
With the east of Libya apparently out of the legendary dictator’s control, and pro-Qaddafi supporters trying to stamp out protests, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has warned that “death squads” loyal to Qaddafi are responsible for perhaps over 1,000 dead. Frattini also warned that the upheaval could well lead to an Islamist breakaway state in the east and a flood of refugees into Western Europe.
Citizens of foreign countries are fleeing Libya apparently even faster than they did Egypt, where civil unrest towards the Mubarak regime several weeks ago led to an exodus. Balkan countries have relatively small numbers of citizens in Libya at the time with the exception of Turkey, which has about 25,000 nationals in the North African state, most of them involved in the construction industry.
According to Reuters, approximately 3,000 Turks were evacuated from Beghazi on two ferries early on Wednesday. Further, reported the news agency, a Bosnian plane with “the first group of up to 1,500 Bosnian citizens” to be evacuated was awaiting a permit from authorities in Tripoli, stated assistant foreign minister Zoran Perkovic. Macedonia has stated it will work together with Bosnia to evacuate its citizens, cost being cited as a factor in the Macedonian media.
Also, a Bulgaria Air plane arrived in Sofia from Tripoli early Wednesday carrying 110 Bulgarians and six Romanians, and another plane sent by the Bulgarian government aircraft will also be carrying 70 Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian citizens, among others. Further, Reuters cited Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic in reporting that 145 Croatian citizens working in Libya had been evacuated. Meanwhile, a Greek cargo ship was dispatched to collect some of the 330 Greeks living in Libya.
According to Reuters, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi said on Wednesday that “around 450 Romanians are still in Libya and around 80 have already been repatriated.”
Balkanalysis.com has learned further information about the Bucharest government’s evacuation plan. The Thursday morning flight finally agreed upon was the final result of a hectic process involving officials in several countries, with the timing changing several times. According to one official involved with planning the rescue, “there was some uncertainty- it could have been either earlier today, tonight, or later, but first the overflight rights had to be agreed.”
As is the case with other evacuating countries, coordination of movements has to happen with protocol requests for movements across national airspaces for these unexpected flights. The Romanian officials had to liaise with the foreign ministries of several countries in order to get their 737 plane on track for tomorrow morning.
Therefore, Romanian diplomats were putting efforts in throughout Wednesday in overflight permission requests from the foreign ministries of the countries involved. These countries are those which will be used for the flight path of the Romanian plane- Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Italy and Malta, according to the official.
Malta, situated across from Libya in the Mediterranean Sea, is on full alert now. Security forces deployed to physically prevent a plane believed to be carrying Col. Qaddafi’s daughter from landing at Valetta Airport two hours ago.
This follows the defection of two Libyan Air Force pilots who landed in the usually quiet island on Monday after claiming to have disobeyed orders to bomb civilian protesters....more


Spy Book Reveals Operational Details of 1998 CIA Balkan Counter-Terrorism Operation


February 4, 2011
A Special Report by Balkanalysis.com Director Chris Deliso in Skopje
Buried deep within a comprehensive history of the CIA’s technical wizardry from the Cold War through to today’s war on terrorism are some intriguing, but overlooked disclosures: previously unknown details regarding a sensitive CIA clandestine operation against Islamic terrorists in the Balkans.
Although the country’s name is not specified in the book, an analysis of available data within the larger historical context indicates beyond doubt that the operation occurred in Tirana, Albania in October 1998, in a joint effort with a CIA station in Western Europe, and probably the one in Rome.
The story becomes even more pertinent today considering the ongoing upheaval in Egypt against the longtime government of President Mubarak, and mass escapes of Islamists imprisoned by him. The prominent CIA role in some of those detainments could conceivably provide a motivating factor for future terrorism against American interests. In any case, the implosion of the Mubarak regime means that decades of sensitive intelligence cooperation could be undone, should the country’s security services be infiltrated by hostile parties.
During the 1990s, Albania became a safe-haven for members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda. Their members – some of them fugitives wanted by the Mubarak regime – were drawn to Albania for its proximity to Europe, weak institutions, and the existing presence of a large Islamic charity network which could provide them with “legitimate cover.” Albania thus represented a place of perceived escape; however, the CIA also came to have concerns that American interests in the country were about to be targeted as well- hence the need for an urgent operation.

This CIA Balkan operation is recounted in a fascinating and highly-recommended recent book, Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs, from Communism to Al Qaeda (Plume, 2009). It details for the first time how the obscure but effective Office of Technical Services evolved, becoming a vital part of the US intelligence apparatus, with its ever-expanding array of unorthodox spy gear, technology and reconnaissance teams. For the authors, former OTS director Robert Wallace and noted intelligence historian H. Keith Melton, it took several years and much administrative wrangling in order to get permission from the agency to publish this insider’s account of what went on behind the scenes.
While the vast majority of Spycraft is devoted to other matters, the anecdotes concerning Albania make fascinating supplementary reading for those interested in the Balkans, counter-terrorism and understanding the covert tactics of terrorist organizations. The following analysis discusses the revelations that come from the book in both historical context and in terms of the value that can be derived, for pure intelligence understanding, from the episode. Finally, a chronology of key events happening before and after the CIA operation is provided....more...

balkan analysis

Bosnia’s Citizens: Getting More Cooperative in Administrative Matters, but still strongly Opposed in Soccer

balkan analysis
January 30, 2011
By Nina Brankovic in Sarajevo
Does nationality and nationalism still prevail within everyday life in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
It may well be that political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina should learn some lessons from the administrations of the country’s smaller entities, in order to find successful ways of cooperation in leading the country as a whole.
It also seems that Bosnia’s citizens are expressing more affection and trust in ethnic groups different than their own compared to what they felt in previous years. However, the views of ethnic groups, and their loyalties and support strongly differ when it comes to some topics: cohabitation, identity and even support for the national sports teams!

Administrative Know-How
A month ago, during one training session for public officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina, representatives of one FBiH (Bosnian Federation) Ministry initiated, by their own volition, an idea for sending their law proposal to their colleagues in the Republic of Srpska, so to get their opinion and suggestions, before the law would be sent to the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It was a touching moment to see that the administrations in two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina could cooperate better behind the back of their divisive political leaders. While politicians are still struggling to form the government after the October 2010 elections by finding excuses in ethnic antagonisms of the past, it seems that executive government is slowly finding ways to overcome political nationalistic agendas for the sake of better government functioning.
In this light, it would be interesting to learn the following: what do ordinary citizen on the street of Bosnia and Herzegovina say about this issue?...more...

*Nina Brankovic is a policy analyst who has consulted for Bosnian ministries. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Kings College, London.


Fortress Europe: Greece bids to stem migrant surge from Turkey with guns, wire and a 'wall'


Greece is now on the frontline of Fortress Europe, as non-EU refugees pour in across the Turkish border

Helena Smith in Orestiada

The Observer, Sunday 6 February 2011

The border between Greece and Turkey amounts, on land at least, to two parallel roads and a ditch. On both sides of this weed-infested chasm, conscripts face each other down the barrel of a gun, some perched on observation towers, others striding, rifles at the ready, past mud-churned fields along the road.
Depending on the prevailing mood between Athens and Ankara, the soldiers may acknowledge each other and even nod. Pleasantries have been in short supply of late. Thanks to a tidal wave of men, women and children who have worked out that this is the easiest backdoor entrance into the European Union, the mood is brittle and tense.
The edginess doesn't seem to bother Police Sergeant Frank Reh. Fresh from serving on an anti-riot unit in Berlin, this burly German member of Frontex, the EU's border control agency, relishes his new beat defending Fortress Europe.
"Ah," he says, his broad face gleaming in the cold, crows swooping over the fields around him. "I think it is important to support the Greeks. This is Europe's border, after all."
Woolly hat pulled low over his forehead, a pistol in his holster and all manner of technological back-up, Reh is part of a 175-strong rapid border intervention team deployed to the area by the EU last November. But for the increasingly concerned Greek government, such reinforcements are deemed insufficient. The socialist government has recently announced that it plans to build a razor-wire fence along the border. It will, say officials, be equipped with sonar systems and thermal sensors and be modelled along the lines of similar "walls" in Spain, Lithuania and France.
"If we could have it up tomorrow, we would," said Christos Papoutsis, the country's minister for citizen protection. "Greece is not a paradise… it is in the midst of economic crisis, wages are going down, unemployment is surging and there is not enough work for our own people or the migrants who are already here. Our hope is that this fence will send a message."
Athens has reached the end of its tether as the volume of immigrants streaming across the border continues to grow. With Greece undergoing its worst recession since the second world war, social tensions, xenophobia and political extremism are on the rise, with a worrying spate of attacks on migrant communities in the capital.
Bracing for another possible influx following the turmoil in Egypt, patrols were stepped up last week. In 2009 some 3,600 migrants managed to slip across the frontier not far from this market town; in 2010 that number shot up to 36,000, helping explain why Greece has become the favoured port of entry for 90% of illegals pouring into the EU.
"They come at all hours of the night and day," said Orestiada's police chief, Giorgos Salamangas, in his icon-bedecked office. "And they're coming not just from the Middle East and Asia but all of Africa, places I have never heard of before. The other day we even had a batch in from the Dominican Republic. I had to look up where that was."
Only two years ago, when the wider Evros region was better known for its wetlands than refugees, migrants were besieging the Greek isles along the Turkish coast. Before that, they had focused on the western Mediterranean, beginning with Spain, France and then Italy.
But as patrols were increased and Rome moved to stem the wave by signing a repatriation pact with Libya, traffickers changed tack. Targeting Europe's eastern edge, they went for Greece's newly de-mined, north-eastern flank.
Salamangas blames the porous border Greece shares with Turkey. Most of the frontier is delineated by the treacherously fast-flowing Evros river. Last year 22 people drowned trying to cross it, with the police chief often plucking them from its depths.
But the strip of land that separates the two neighbours is much easier to cross. When its sunflowers and corn shoots are in full bloom, migrants often play a cat-and-mouse game with patrol units before making a dash across the buffer zone for the border.
"This little bit of land is the source of the problem," Salamangas laments. "There is no natural or technical obstacle to prevent them, and that's what they exploit. Until very recently we've had no co-operation from Turkey," he continues. "A lot of these people fly into Constantinople [Istanbul] on cheap flights, and then with the help of smugglers make the short journey to Adrianopolis [Edirne]. Just like that, so easy. Some days we've had 300 pour in. It's an uncontrollable wave, and the only way to stop it is to erect a fence.
"Traffickers deprive migrants of every form of identification, which makes it much easier for Turkey to refuse them and almost impossible to prove where they are from," Salamangas said.
Numbers have dropped since the arrival of Frontex. But the signs of migrants are everywhere: in the old clothes scattered across the hillsides, shoes found at the bottom of ravines, blankets thrown onto rubbish heaps.
The influx has shattered the rhythm of life in one of Greece's most isolated regions. Farmers in the main, the locals speak of the fear they have felt at suddenly encountering thousands of bedraggled men, women and children from the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq, Algeria and Morocco, India, Palestine, Congo and Somalia.
"It's been an unbelievable caravan of humanity. I must have seen at least 10,000 of them pass," said Giorgos Liakides, who runs a little mini-market in Nea Vissa, the first village after the border. "You wake up and find them on your doorstep, and at night when you go to water the fields you find them hiding in the bushes. We understand their plight, we are human as well. But we're afraid. None of us ever used to lock our doors before; now we worry all the time."
Mostly economic migrants, those who do get in readily hand themselves over to Greek police, eager to elicit the documents that will allow them to stay for up to 30 days in the EU member state.
In theory, they are meant to be deported after that, but in practice many just blend into the back streets of Athens before attempting to sneak into another European country by train, boat or bus.
In Orestiada, immigrants are screened in a detention centre outside the town. From inside the dour building, detainees can often be heard screaming "freedom, freedom".
Athens has increasingly found itself the butt of criticism by human rights groups, who deplore conditions in camps and the lassitude with which Greek authorities handle asylum cases. Last month several EU countries, including Britain, refused to repatriate migrants to Greece, citing its degrading conditions.
Officials accept that the wall is unlikely to be a panacea. Traffickers will find another route. "The problem is a bit like water. If stopped, it will always flow another way," says Salamangas.
On Greece's northern frontier, Europe is under siege. Fence or no fence, the tension, desperation and deadly games of hide-and-seek have only just begun.


Srebrenica general's attackers get life for revenge stabbing in prison


Three Muslim inmates attacked former Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic, 62, at Wakefield prison

guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 February 2011 17.09 GMT

Three convicted killers have been given concurrent life sentences for a revenge attack on a former Bosnian Serb general in a British high-security jail.
Led by an Albanian Muslim, the trio stabbed and slashed 62-year-old Radislav Krstic in his cell at Wakefield prison in West Yorkshire, where he was serving a 35-year sentence for his part in genocide at Srebrenica.
Krstic, who has an artificial leg, survived the attack in May but was left with serious injuries including a deep wound to his neck. He was transferred to Wakefield from the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague in 2004 under the UK's treaty obligations to the United Nations.
Indrit Krasniqi, 23, Iliyas Khalid, formerly known as Christopher Braithwaite, 24, and Quam Ogumbiyi, were cleared of attempting to murder Krstic by a jury after a two-week trial at Leeds crown court. But they were convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and returned for sentencing.
Each is already serving life for murder. Krasniqi, who was born and grew up in Albania, was given a minimum of 23 years for the kidnap and killing of 16-year-old Mary-Ann Leneghan in 2005 in Reading, and the attempted murder of one of the teenager's friends.
Khalid was sentenced to a minimum of 28 years and six months for the sexual assault and murder of 23-year-old Stacey Westbury in Fulham in 2007. Ogumbiyi was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years before parole for stabbing a man to death in Hackney in 2003.
The trial heard that the three men planned the attack after learning of Krstic's arrival and his part in the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. The murders, the worst massacre in Europe since the second world war, followed the capture of the town by a Bosnian Serb force which disarmed Dutch soldiers serving under UN command.
Mr Justice Henriques, passing sentence, told the men, who stood expressionless in the dock: "You had full knowledge of the crimes of Krstic and although that makes it possible to understand your motivation, it does not mitigate it.
"All three of you are practising Muslims. I have no doubt what you intended was an act of revenge, and crimes for the purpose of advancing a religious or racial cause or crimes which are religiously or racially motivated attract significantly higher sentences of imprisonment.
"This was also a crime of exceptional gravity. Each of you are convicted murderers serving a life sentence of imprisonment. You planned an attack upon a defenceless man with an artificial leg, aged 62."
The judge said he would have liked to extend the minimum terms of the men's existing life sentences, but the law did not give him that option. However, their time in prison would be extended because the parole board would automatically turn down their first requests.
"Each of you must expect, having committed such a grave offence in custody, that your first application to the parole board will fail. You and the public must appreciate that you will be adversely affected by the jury's finding of guilt in this case."
The judge sentenced Krasniqi to life with a specified term of 12 years, Khalid to life with a 10-year term and Ogumbiyi, who played a smaller part in the attack than the other two, to life with a six-year term.
The sentences will all run concurrently with the men's existing terms.
Krstic, a general-major in the Bosnian Serb army in the 1990s, was sentenced initially to 46 years in jail at The Hague. His conviction was reduced on appeal to aiding and abetting genocide and his prison term cut to 35 years.
A professional soldier in the former Yugoslav army, he played a prominent part in the series of wars which marked the break-up of the state. He lost his leg in 1994 after stepping on a landmine. Radio intercepts during a series of prisoner executions after Srebrenica recorded him telling a subordinate: "Kill them all Goddamit. Not a single one must be left alive."
Krstic was the first person to be convicted of genocide after the Bosnian tragedy, following his arrest by SAS troops who ambushed his car. He denied involvement and put the blame on the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, who is still on the run.
• This article was amended on 25 February 2011. The original said that Radislav Krstic was transferred to Wakefield from the international criminal court at the Hague in 2004. This has been corrected.


Bulgarian newspaper bombed


A bomb exploded outside the headquarters of the Bulgarian weekly newspaper Galeria early today.
The newspaper has carried reports critical of the Bulgarian government with allegations of corruption among high-ranking officials.
Last month, it published transcripts of taped phone conversations between senior government officials and the chief of the country's customs office about protecting certain companies from tax investigations.
Sources: IPI/SEEMO


Top Gear on the offensive again – now it's Albania's turn


Jeremy Clarkson and co-presenters using an episode filmed mostly in the country to 'joke' that it is a nest of mafia car thieves

The Guardian, Monday 7 February 2011

After Mexico's ambassador's to the UK won a BBC apology for the characterisation of his country as "lazy and feckless" you might think Top Gear would go easy on the national stereotypes, at least for a week. Not a bit of it.
True to form – and to the admittedly grudging BBC apology, which claimed such generalisations were a "playful" part of British humour – it was Albania's turn to receive the Top Gear treatment, with Jeremy Clarkson and co-presenters using an episode filmed mostly in the country to give extensive mileage to the "joke" that it is a nest of mafia car thieves.
"Apparently, what happens is Albanians go to England, get a job, buy a car and then bring it back with them," Clarkson said in one segment of the programme, in which the three presenters had gone ostensibly to road-test cars for a mafia boss.
"And it is quite traditional when you bring a car back like that, that you drive it around with the door locks pulled out and sometimes little marks along the back of the door," chimed Richard Hammond, amid clumsily mocked surprise that some of the imported cars might be stolen.
Luckily for the BBC, it seems that Albanian diplomats take such slurs more phlegmatically than their Mexican counterparts.
While sources at the Albanian embassy admitted last night that the mafia stereotype could be a trying one, they noted that the ambassador himself had opted to accept the insults without complaint. His view was sought after two embassy staff attended the filming of the show's studio segments and one was understood to have become angry at the tone.
The previous show, which included Hammond's assertion that a Mexican car would be "lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus", provoked a storm of protest. Comedian Steve Coogan weighed in with an Observer article calling Top Gear's humour lazy and its presenters "three rich, middle-aged men laughing at poor Mexicans".
While there was some outraged reaction to last night's show on Twitter, others claimed the programme had inspired them to visit Albania, a country whose scenic beauty Clarkson acknowledged – but only after drawing laughs from the studio audience with stories of how an Albanian government minister had been embarrassed after his car was found to be stolen at a Greek police checkpoint.
The BBC said it had no comment to make last night when contacted by the Guardian.


Kosovo: New Leader Had Ties to Russia

ny times

World Briefing Europe

Published: February 22, 2011
Kosovo’s Parliament elected Behgjet Pacolli, a businessman with a history of ties to Moscow, president on Tuesday under a power-sharing deal with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci after elections in December. The main opposition parties boycotted the session, citing those ties. Mr. Pacolli remains unpopular among the two million Kosovo Albanians, largely because of his ties with Moscow, which opposes Kosovo’s 2008 secession from Serbia, a Russian ally.
read more: ny times
*from wikipedia
Behgjet Isa Pacolli[a] (born 30 August 1951; Albanian pronunciation: [ˈbɛhˈdʑɛt pɐˈt͡so:ɫɪ][1]) is an Albanian, Kosovar and Swiss entrepreneur, and is the President of the Republic of Kosovo[b].
He was the President and CEO of Mabetex Group, a Swiss-based construction and civil-engineering company. Pacolli was also the President of the tenth biggest political party in Kosovo the New Kosovo Alliance.[2] For the past four years, he has been involved in Kosovar politics. He is believed to be the world's richest Albanian.[3]
Behgjet was the second of a family of 10 children who grew up, like most in Kosovo at the time, without electricity or running water. Behgjet was strongly influenced by his father and especially his grandfather Osman in his eventual goals to make a career in industrial and civil construction. Pacolli was a star pupil at the local primary school, getting a modest scholarship to help him attend secondary school in Pristina. There, he spent four years sleeping in a wood storage hut, kindly given to him by a Turkish family, and trudging the 80 kilometre round-trip home twice a week to pick up provisions. On graduation, his proud father wanted him to become the village's teacher but his mother intervened to help him get to Hamburg, Germany. The 17-year-old Pacolli arrived in Hamburg train station penniless and soon hungry. To pay his way, Pacolli worked on the docks, learning enough of every language to ensure that he was always picked for the work ahead of other dockers. After three years he returned to Kosovo more or less fluent in six languages and with a degree.
During his military service, Pacolli contacted companies throughout Austria and Germany seeking work and, soon after his release, he joined an Austrian company, where he worked as a sales representative for Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia. Two years later, he moved to Switzerland and joined a Swiss company he had gotten to know in Moscow.[3]...more...