N E W S – 1998

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N E W S – August 1998

German Group to Build Cement Factory

SHKODRA – August 3. 1998
Germany’s Space lip Engineering intends to work in the construction of a cement factory in the district, which would be the largest in Albania. The company is discussing the option to build the factory in the village of Mes, six kilometers north of the city, with the local government authorities. The investment would be around $125m. 700 people will be employed to build the factory in 18 months, which will produce an amount of cement equal to the production of the cement factories of Vlora, Elbasan, Fushe-Kruje and Shkoder, before 1990. The resources in rocks are enough on the region for a 50 years work of the factory.

100 Kosova people arrived in Shkodra

SHKODRA – August 12, 1998
The number of Kosova people who have arrived in Shkodra city recently is 100. Town hall secretary Bardhosh Shaqiri said that 40 of them, including women, children and elderly people from villages of Peja, were settled in families of Shkodra residents. The Italian Caritas has set up a center with 200 beds near the Catholic Church to accommodate other possible refugees. The Albanian Red Cross is continuing to distribute aid for the first 60 people such as cooking oil, sugar, rice, detergent, mattresses and blankets. Shaqiri said that an office welcoming persons coming from Kosova was opened by the town hall.

Explosion Damages Orthodox Church

SHKODRA – August 19, 1998
An explosion seriously damaged the cathedral Orthodox church in the northern town Wednesday, but did not cause any casualties, official and religious sources said. The blast, thought to be a criminal attack, occurred at 2:30 a.m. and destroyed part of the rear of the church in the town center, Artan Bizhga said. It damaged the altar and the eastern part of the wooden building that would serve for the believers until the new church would be built. The church serves the tiny Serbian and Montenegrin community that lives in the town as well as the Orthodox Christians from the South who have moved in the city during communism. ‘This is a very vicious act that aims at freezing the relations with the other communities,’ said Kristo Qurkulla, a church member. ‘And we can pinpoint on nobody who had done it. God only may punish them.’ The headquarters of the Orthodox Church in Tirana said in a press release it was ‘astonished and worried about the grave, unprecedented act, which wanted to demolish a place where well-understanding and peace were preached.’ The tiny Orthodox community in Shkodra is sandwiched between Catholic and Moslem communities, which make more 90 percent of the population. With the collapse of communism, there have been reports of strains between the two largest communities, but with no incidents.


N E W S – September 1998

Explosion in Showman

SHKODRA – Sep. 1, 1998
The Shkoder police arrested earlier Monday two persons, identified as authors of placing explosive substance at the district’s micro-biological laboratory. On Sunday at around 21.45, some 200 gram of TNT was placed at the steps of the micro-biological lab, near the SP headquarters in Shkoder, which smashed the windows of the lab, but there were no other damages. At around 24.00, the spokesman said, the same persons attempted to torch the SP headquarters but failed to do so, as the nearby inhabitants came out from their houses. Monday, at around 05.00, the police arrested citizens Ferdinant Luigj Gavoci and Rudolf Mark Morana, twice convicted of theft, as they are identified as authors of placing the explosive and attempted to burn the Shkoder SP headquarters. They carried a TT pistol with five cartridges, which they illegally possessed.

Yugoslav patrol shot dead Albanian trying to cross border

TIRANA, Sep. 8, 1998
Albanian border authorities have protested against a delayed report on an incident taking place on Saturday in the border and the distortion of facts by the Montenegrin side. A spokesman of the Public Order Ministry said on Tuesday that a Yugoslav military patrol had shot and killed on Saturday the Albanian citizen Gjeto Qosaj, 20, after he crossed the border at B5/15 border post in Lepushe, Malesia e Madhe district. The Montenegrin authorities’ account say that three Albanian citizens have crossed the border on Saturday at 15.00. p.m. in B 5/15 border post in Lepushe, the spokesman said. They claimed that the patrol fired at them wounding Qosaj who died on his way to hospital when the above persons had refused to stop. The Yugoslav side had called a meeting on the event 48 hours later and had destroyed facts on the site of the incident, what could not allow the Albanian side to judge on it. The victim and the other two Albanians are still in the Yugoslav territory.

700 new students in Shkoder university

SHKODRA Sep. 21, 1998
Some seven hundred students have been enrolled for the new academic year at the “Luigj Gurakuqi” University following a contest. “Some 700 students, who passed the contest two weeks ago, are going to follow lessons in 12 faculties of the university,” Artan Haxhi, deputy rector of the university said on Monday. The Italian chair is opened for the first time in the university, he added. Preparations are under way for this new academic year and the enrollment of new students has started. Measures have been taken to equip the dormitory with a fund worth 7 million leks accorded by the state. The university library has 200 new titles particularly for economy and business as well as German language from the University of Gratz, Austria, Haxhi said.

UNHCR to help accommodate Kosova refugees in Shkoder

SHKODRA Sep. 23, 1998
The long term accommodation of the Kosova refugees in the Shkodra city was at the centre of attention of a meeting on Wednesday between the local government bodies and representatives of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Shkodra’s governor Ali Lacaj told ATA. The UNHCR representative, Ahmet Mubashi, said that the section of this organisation in Shkoder will help rehabilitate three refugee reception centres in Shkoder, through a special fund provided by the Italian government.
“Most of the 4 500 Kosova refugees in the Shkodra city have been accommodated in families, dormitories of the “Luigj Gurakuqi” university and the refugee reception centre, financed by the catholic Church,” said Lacaj.

One million dollars for Kosovars’ accommodation

SHKODRA Sep. 24, 1998
World Bank provided 1 million dollars for the accommodation of the people coming from Kosova in Shkodra district. Ali Lacaj, Shkodra Governor had a meeting on Thursday with representatives of the World Bank to discuss the reconstruction of some buildings for the accommodation of 4 600 people who have come from Kosova in the past weeks, through the border crossing of Vermosh in Malesia e Madhe. Governor Lacaj said that some 12 buildings are planned for the accommodation of the refugees, in cooperation with UNHCR. The work for the reconstruction of some beach houses in Velipoje and of the dormitory of “Prenk Jakova” school began. Soon the other buildings will be reconstructed as well. World Bank representatives urged that the reconstructions should be over as soon as possible because the winter is approaching.


N E W S – November 1998

North Albanian Town Tense after Sporadic Gunfire

SHKODRA – Nov. 11, 1998 (Reuters)
Gunmen fired into the air in the northern Albanian town of Shkoder on Wednesday and demanded the immediate release of a man who was arrested on Tuesday, officials said. The unrest followed a standoff between police and a group of some 30 armed men in Shkoder on Tuesday after the arrest of three men whose release the gunmen demanded. Two of the men were later released. Government officials said the gunfire was a minor incident and police were in control.
“Shkoder was calm overnight and police forces took control of the town,” Information Minister Musa Ulqini told Reuters. “This morning there was some sporadic shooting from the same group but everything is under control.” An interior ministry spokesman said special police forces from Tirana were sent to Shkoder late on Tuesday and armoured police cars were patrolling the streets.
A Reuters reporter in Shkoder said the town was subdued but tense. Schools and shops were open but the streets were quiet. Masked policemen checked cars entering town and at checkpoints within the town. The ministry spokesman said the arrested man, Marian Gryka, was a former bodyguard of senior opposition Democratic Party member Azem Hajdari, whose murder in Tirana in September sparked an uprising against the Socialist-led government. He said Gryka had been arrested on a charge of theft and was being held in a Tirana prison.
A group of local political activists, representing the gunmen, met local officials and repeated their demand for Gryka’s immediate release. The activists also asked for the dismissal of all Shkoder officials nominated “from Tirana’s illegitimate power.”
Ulqini said political motives lay behind the unrest. The Democrats have called on Albanians to boycott a referendum on a new constitution to be held on November 22, dismissing the draft as “anti-Albanian, anti-democratic and anti-nationalistic.”
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a pan-European security watchdog which will monitor the referendum, said its office in Shkoder had been attacked during the unrest on Tuesday.

OSCE’s officce was looted in Shkodra

TIRANA – Nov. 11, 1998 (AP)
A crowd fired shots in the air in an Albanian city Tuesday and looted a building during a protest of several arrests, the state news agency ATA reported.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said its office in Shkodra, 50 miles north of Tirana, had been looted of computers and other equipment. No one was hurt, the OSCE said. By late Tuesday, some armed men had gained entry into the main local government building, state television said.
The situation grew calmer later, and the protesters cleared the streets and vacated the government building. The unrest began after three men were arrested after reportedly walking toward President Rexhep Mejdani a week earlier carrying weapons. A police source originally said the men were charged with trying to assassinate Mejdani. But the interior ministry later said the men had been arrested on suspicion of theft. Two were later released, but a third remained in custody late Tuesday. Protesters said they would take to the streets again if the third man wasn’t released.
Shkodra is a stronghold of former President Sali Berisha, who was voted out of office after months of turmoil last year. He now leads the opposition party in Europe’s poorest country. In Tirana late Tuesday, an explosion in front of a cafe owned by a Kosova Albanian damaged a nearby car and shattered windows. There were no injuries in the explosion, which was unrelated to the events in Shkodra.

Albanian City Returns to Normal after Unrest

TIRANA – Nov. 11, 1998 (Xinhua)
Albania’s northern city of Shkoder returned to normal on Wednesday after a one-day unrest triggered off by the arrest of a wanted fugitive.
According to the Albanian Telegraphic Agency, Shkoder police Tuesday arrested wanted criminal Marjan Gryka and two other accomplices.
Dozens of gunmen reacted to the arrests by blocking the city road to provincial government, shooting into the air and setting fire to the office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the city.
Meanwhile, the city’s anti-communists association said in a televised statement that the arrests were politically motivated and asked for the release of the three fugitives. To prevent things from turning worse, the government sent special forces to the city. As a result, police regained the control of the city in the evening.
Later in the day, provincial leaders explained to some organization representatives that the suspects were arrested not out of political reasons but for the serious crimes they had committed.


N E W S – December 1998

Majko’s great challenge with the students
The hall of the hunger strike is being prepared
The Central Strike Commission: 100 students to embark on hunger strike

Dec. 10, 1998 (Albania)
According to the striking students, there exists an unfavorable climate that some media and even different political parties try to misinterpret. Their requests are totally economic and there is no space for politicizing their strike. Therefore, we consider reasonable to re-make known their requests for those that probably are not informed. Here is what the students request:
1. The students strike is legitimate, therefore all the absentees are invalid.
2. Seeing that the leadership of the universities have become property of political parties, we demand the establishment of the institution of free democratic elections as the first step towards the university autonomy and the democratic freedom.
3. We want the immediate solution of all the requests of the students of the “Luigj Gurakuqi” University of Shkodra.
4. We demand the status of the Students’ Town as an indispensability of the time.
5. We demand the improvement of the student’s status.
6. We demand to be provided with scholarship for all the students that fulfill the criteria as well as its increase up to 50 percent.
7. We demand the subvention of teaching books.
8. We demand the function and modernization of the libraries in the students’ premises and in universities.
9. We demand the establishment of the national symbol in all institutions and the students’ centers.
10. We demand a bus line for the students of the Kamza university and the Faculty of the Natural Sciences.
11. We demand the free travel, the regulation of the train time-tables as well as the improvement of the traveling conditions of the students from Durresi.
12. We demand lecture classes to be facultative.
13. We demand the creation of optimal conditions for different cultural, artistic and sports’ activities.
14. We support the requests of the University Level Education Trade Union for the increase of salaries to 50 percent.
The students expressed yesterday their indignation for the indifference of the government to their requests, they denounced the police violence in the university premises against the students. They students have asked PM Majko to meet with them. In case he fails to do so the students will increase their protest. According to them it is very probable that they will embark a hunger strike and they seem quite determined to do so. The heads of the striking commission declared that there is no democracy if stu dents are not listened to and are not allowed to ask for their rights.

Vllaznia – winner of Albanian Cup in basketball

SHKODER, Dec 13 (ATA)
Vllaznia team (for men) was declared winner of the Albanian Cup in basketball for 1998. The Cup’s finals, held at “Q.Dervishi” sports hall in Shkoder, included four teams: Vllaznia, Dinamo, Tirana and Studenti. Vllaznia and Dinamo played in the final. The first match ended with the result 30:23 for Vllaznia ( Shkoder team ), which secured their victory only in the last minutes, closing the match with the result 68:58. This is the 12th time the Vllaznia team is declared winner of the Albanian Cup.

Shkoder will be again surrounded by woods

SHKODER, Dec.17 (ATA)
The city of Shkoder will have again woods round it. Work for the afforestation of the hills of Tebe and Renc has started in an area of 15 hectares, the director of the district forest service, Hilmi Hysaj told ATA. Hysaj added that so far about 1 000 saplings of forest trees have been planted. During the first stage, nearly 5 000 saplings will be sown, while in the second stage 5 000 others will be added.
The project, which will be completed by the end of 1999, is being funded by the state budget and USAID, said Hysaj. Previously there were more than 10 000 forest trees planted round Shkoder, in the hills of Tebe and Renc, which besides beauty for the city, they helped protect it from erosion. But after 1992, some people cut those woods leaving the place barely. The new project also covers the improvement of forest in village Velipoje, about 30 km, from the city of Shkoder.

Food and clothes for Kosovars in Shkoder

SHKODER, Dec.17 (ATA)
An assistance of food items and clothes by the humanitarian association El Reliev is being delivered for the Kosovars settled in Shkoder. The coordinator of the association, centered in Shkoder, Saib Del Hamit, said to ATA that the value of the aid amounts to 130 thousand USD. They are being distributed not only for the Kosovars in some Shkodra families but also for the 3 100 kosovars who have come to this city. For the Kosovars in Shkoder, other associations too have offered assistance, such as the Albanian Red Cross, the Dutch Red Cross, the Italian Caritas, the Association Dardania centered in Germany and the British association Evangelical Fraternity.

Football: Saturday’s matches of 15-th National Championship
Tirane and Bylis keep leading after 14-th week

TIRANE, Dec. 18, (ATA)
15-th week matches of the 60-th National Football Championship, to be played on Saturday afternoon, are expected with too much interest, because they are the last matches of the first phase. Mathces and referees for this week:
Skenderbeu – Partizani Ilir Kristo (Tirane) Dinamo – Bylis Alban Janku (Tirane) Shkumbini – Laçi Bujar Pregja (Tirane) Teuta – Apolonia Astrit Isufi (Shkoder) Tomori – Flamurtari Ylvi Kollari (Tirane) Vllaznia – Lushnja Luan Zylfo (Tirane) Besa – Elbasani Llesh Malota (Lezhe) Burreli – Tirana Myrteza Allkja (Elbasan) Standing following the 14-th week: 29 pike Tirana, Bylis 28 ” Lushnja 24 ” Vllaznia 23 ” Partizani 22 ” Dinamo 19 ” Tomori, Shkumbini 18 ” Elbasani, Laçi 16 ” Besa, Apolonia 15 ” Skenderbeu 14 ” Flamurtari 13 ” Burreli, Teuta.

Students’ Independent Union holds rally

SHKODER, Dec. 18 (ATA)
The Independent Union of Students, the parties of the political grouping “Union for Democracy” and the anti-communist associations, held Friday a peaceful rally in front of the University “Luigj Gurakuqi” in the town of Shkoder. The leaders of this Union, who spoke in this rally, supported the hunger strike of students in Tirana and asked the resignation of the government and Premier Majko. They said that the twelve economic requests, presented by them two months ago, have not been met by the government yet.
The rally was also greeted by the representatives of the Democratic Front Party, the Legality Movement, as well as the Democratic Woman, who expressed their solidarity with the hunger strike of students in Tirana.

Anti contraband forces seize 40 tons of flour

KOPLIK, Dec 20 (ATA)
Anti-contraband forces seized on Sunday 40 tons of smuggled flour in Malesia e Madhe, police sources said. They said that anti contraband group operating in the area seized the cargo, smuggled via Shkodra lake, at 05.00 a.m. in Grizhe village 4 km from Koplik city. The vehicles with Malesia e Madhe number plates were blocked for failing to present relevant documentation for the cargo. Four days earlier, these forces seized four other lorries carrying flour, smuggled via Shkodra lake, too, in Pjetroshan village. Some 10 lorries carrying flour, four with bananas and a considerable quantity of beer were seized during the last three months. Four Montenegrins, who tried to smuggled goods via lake to Montenegro, have been detained.

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Arben Çokaj - Teacher in Physics & Informatics :: Freelance Journalist & Political Analyst :: Author of Books

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