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Albanians Vote in Key Test of Transition
Associated Press via Yahoo! News ^ | 2005 Jul 3

Posted on 07/03/2005 12:48:51 PM PDT by Wiz

TIRANA, Albania - Albanians chose a new parliament on Sunday in elections that mark a crucial step in the tiny Balkan country's push for closer ties with Europe, but local observers raised concerns over voting procedures in rural areas.

Previous elections in Albania, which was sealed off from the world during decades of communist rule that ended in 1990, have been plagued by fraud and irregularities. Sunday's voting is being watched as a test of the impoverished nation's ability to hold a fair election.

Both NATO and the European Union have warned Albanian authorities that only free and fair elections will further its bid for membership in the organizations. The United States has said the poll will be a major milestone in Albania's transformation into a fully democratic European country.

"This is an opportunity we should seize because we have lost much time ... to show we are part of Europe," Albanian President Alfred Moisiu said after casting his ballot.

Local monitors said they were investigating reports of voting without identification documents, mainly in rural areas, as well as multiple voting and voting in groups, monitor Pjerin Marku said.

Moisiu appealed to political parties to exercise restraint and avoid making any announcements before polls close.

"That could damage the counting process and consequently the elections' final result," Moisiu said in a statement.

The observers appealed to political parties not to raise tensions.

The vote is being monitored by about 500 international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and a European network of non-governmental organizations. About 4,000 local monitors are also taking part.

The main contenders — Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano and his rival, Sali Berisha, a former president and leader of the Democratic Party — have stressed the election is a chance to show the world how far Albania's democracy has come. Pre-election polls show the two parties in a tight race.

Both the Socialists and Democrats back close ties with Washington and Albanian troop deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia. Integration in NATO and the EU is supported by both as well.

A key difference is the Democratic Party's proposal to cut taxes in half to promote investment, an idea the Socialists reject.

Some 2.8 million Albanians were eligible to vote, choosing from 22 political parties and coalitions running for the 140-seat parliament.

Official results were not expected until late Monday.

Television station TV Klan was expected to release the only exit poll — the first such survey for elections in Albania.

The poll will be conducted by the Kosovo-based Gani Bobi organization, which in the past has conducted media monitoring, surveys and other research, but not exit polls. Gani Bobi said the poll will be based on 8,000 interviews in 450 polling stations.

Albanian police chief Bajram Ibraj said 6,350 police officers have been deployed throughout the country to prevent clashes between rival supporters and protect ballot boxes.

Dasantila Bejko, a 35-year-old economist, was among the first to vote in a downtown polling station in the capital, Tirana. She said she hoped the vote would help ease poverty in a country fighting double-digit unemployment.

"This vote will not bring about any great difference to my life," Bejko said. "But it ought to make a difference for the poor, no matter who comes to power."


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: albania; allies; balkans; democraticparty; fatosnano; ganibobi; kosovo; saliberisha; socialistparty; tirana

1 posted on 07/03/2005 12:48:51 PM PDT by Wiz
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To: anonymoussierra; Grzegorz 246; lizol; Lukasz

ping


2 posted on 07/03/2005 12:49:13 PM PDT by Wiz
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To: Wiz
First EU Muslim Country?

Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10% (CIA Fact Book)

3 posted on 07/03/2005 12:57:06 PM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Das Outsider; tarator; andie74; GrannyML; Tazlo; speekinout; j24; vox_PL; IdahoNative; ...
Eastern European ping list


FRmail me to be added or removed from this Eastern European ping list ping list.

4 posted on 07/03/2005 12:58:36 PM PDT by Lukasz
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To: ncountylee

I think Turkey will be the first, but it is possible that both countries will join together.


5 posted on 07/03/2005 1:07:56 PM PDT by Lukasz
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To: ncountylee
The figures are somewhat deceptive. The country is Muslim primarily by heritage, not by practice. Albania was ruled by Enver Xohxa for 25 years. During this time it was an officially atheist state. Buildings for worship were destroyed and religion was outlawed. Much of the population today is a-religious, with a significant atheist segment.

There are a lot of evangelistic efforts ongoing in Albania, both from the Christian and Islamic worlds. In many ways it is the front line between those two cultures.

Albania is staunchly pro-American, by the way. Its officials have publicly stated that it is the most pro-American country in Europe (which, given the current state of European affairs, might well be true).

With regard to the election and the political parties, another article today said this:

Both the Socialists and Democrats back close ties with Washington and Albanian troop deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.
6 posted on 07/03/2005 1:08:53 PM PDT by Engraved-on-His-hands
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To: Engraved-on-His-hands

Well, that last quote was from this article. My bad.


7 posted on 07/03/2005 1:14:24 PM PDT by Engraved-on-His-hands
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To: Engraved-on-His-hands
Muslim primarily by heritage, not by practice.

I was aware of the Pro-American stance but not the heritage aspect. - Thank you

8 posted on 07/03/2005 1:15:32 PM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Engraved-on-His-hands; ncountylee; All

Actually, I believe that the "70% Moslem" statistics date from the 1930s. A LOT has happened since then. In fact, I believe that Moslems are nowadays more around the 30% or so range. Also, the only reason why Albania has a Moslem heritage, was the Ottoman Turks invaded and conquered it. I don't know if ALbania really is the most pro-US state in Europe, what with Poland and most of the rest of Eastern Europe in general.


9 posted on 07/03/2005 1:43:36 PM PDT by Jacob Kell (Regan 3:16: He whooped Communism's ass!)
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To: Jacob Kell

I'd say that given that is where Saint Theresa of Calcutta came from, that Catholics are closer to the majority of the population (whether by heritage or practice)...


10 posted on 07/03/2005 3:13:15 PM PDT by Schwaeky ("Today a day that will live in Infamy, the Canadians have bombed the Baldwins" Thanks Canada!)
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To: Schwaeky

Originally, I believe that about half of Albanians are-at least originally-of Catholic heritage, and the other half Orthodox. About half of Albanian Albanians are Ghegs, which Mother Teresa was,and who were Catholic, and the other half are Tosks, who were Orthodox.


11 posted on 07/03/2005 4:48:52 PM PDT by Jacob Kell (Regan 3:16: He whooped Communism's ass!)
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To: Engraved-on-His-hands; Jacob Kell
According to this story on a Gallup International Poll of 60 countries:

"The countries that register the highest percentage in support to the U.S. are Albania with 95%, Kosovo with 89%, Israel with 84% and Afghanistan with 80%."

12 posted on 07/05/2005 8:47:21 PM PDT by mark502inf
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To: Wiz
"Bin Laden had visited Albania himself. His was one of several fundamentalist groups that had sent units to fight in Kosovo.... Bin Laden is believed to have established an operation in Albania in 1994.... Albanian sources say Sali Berisha, who was then president, had links with some groups that later proved to be extreme fundamentalists."

Chris Steven, "Bin Laden opens European terror base in Albania," Sunday Times (London), Nov. 15, 1998

"Socially organized in extended families bound together in clan alliances, Kosovar Albanians dominate the Albanian mafia in the southern Balkans. Other than Kosovo, the Albanian mafia is also active in northern Albania and western Macedonia. In this context, the so-called 'Balkan Medellin' is made up of a number of geographically connected border towns . . . . If left unchecked, this growing Albanian narco-terrorism could lead to a Colombian syndrome in the southern Balkans, or the emergence of a situation in which the Albanian mafia becomes powerful enough to control one or more states in the region. In practical terms, this will involve either Albania or Macedonia, or both. Politically, this is now being done by channelling growing foreign exchange (forex) profits from narco-terrorism into local governments and political parties. In Albania, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) led by President Sali Berisha is now widely suspected of tacitly tolerating and even directly profiting from drug-trafficking for wider politico-economic reasons, namely the financing of secessionist political parties and other groupings in Kosovo and Macedonia."

"The Balkan Medellin," Jane's 3/1/95; Albanian then-president Berisha lost power in 1997 and is now a known KLA patron in northern Albania.

http://www.senate.gov/~rpc/releases/1999/fr033199.htm

Nice friends...!!!!...Don't ya think...???

13 posted on 07/05/2005 11:16:56 PM PDT by dj_animal_2000
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To: mark502inf
Mark's "Friends"...:

The International Criminal Police Organization - INTERPOL - Written Testimony of Ralf Mutschke - Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate International Criminal Police Organization - Interpol: "The Threat Posed by the Convergence of Organized Crime, Drugs Trafficking and Terrorism"

14 posted on 07/05/2005 11:24:35 PM PDT by dj_animal_2000
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To: dj_animal_2000

What are you? Supporter of the Socialist Party?


15 posted on 07/06/2005 3:02:46 AM PDT by Wiz
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To: dj_animal_2000

Do you also believe that Russia was funding the Al Qaida with Iran?


16 posted on 07/06/2005 3:03:25 AM PDT by Wiz
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To: Wiz
Wiz, dj is a Serb nationalist. He goes into paroxysms of posting the same tangentially relevant old articles anytime something good is posted about Albania.

However, late at night, when none of his Serb cousins are around, he clicks onto Condi Rice's State Department site and mutters to himself as he reads excerpts like these:

Albania has been a steadfast supporter of U.S. policy in Iraq, and one of only four nations to contribute troops to the combat phase of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Albania enjoys friendly and cooperative bilateral relations with the U.S. Pro-U.S. sentiment is widespread among the population.

Albania has wholeheartedly supported the U.S. in the global war on terrorism, by freezing terrorist assets, shutting down suspect Islamic NGOs, expelling Islamic extremists, and providing military and diplomatic support for the U.S.-led actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

.. Albanian peacekeepers are part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan

[Albania] has played a constructive role in resolving several of the inter-ethnic conflicts in south central Europe, promoting peaceful dispute resolution and discouraging ethnic-Albanian extremists.

17 posted on 07/06/2005 3:39:51 AM PDT by mark502inf
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To: Wiz
Here's Secretary Rumsfeld in Tirana shaking hands with the Albanian Prime Minister to thank him for Albania's support in Iraq.


18 posted on 07/06/2005 3:48:03 AM PDT by mark502inf
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To: Wiz
Here's Secretary Powell walking down the main boulevard in Tirana and shaking hands with the estimated 25-40,000 Albanian citizens who came out to stand by the road just to cheer the American Secretary of State.

dj animal, don't disappoint me--post that Rumsfeld picture you like to show.

19 posted on 07/06/2005 3:58:47 AM PDT by mark502inf
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To: Wiz
What are you? Supporter of the Socialist Party?

Never was and never will be....!!!!...I see myself as "Independent" in Serbia...Here in the USA I voted for the "Republicans"....

20 posted on 07/06/2005 9:16:19 AM PDT by dj_animal_2000
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To: mark502inf; Wiz
Wiz, dj is a Serb nationalist. He goes into paroxysms of posting the same tangentially relevant old articles anytime something good is posted about Albania.

DJ is a Serb patriot....and Mark loves posting threads from George Soros and he knows how to copy/paste his propaganda effectively on FR....

Child Trafficking in Albania

Albanians are a problem for Europe just because of their history of crime...

21 posted on 07/06/2005 9:33:57 AM PDT by dj_animal_2000
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To: mark502inf

That explains it all.


22 posted on 07/06/2005 9:47:44 AM PDT by Wiz
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To: Wiz

Yep...explains your ignorance...you're right...!!!


23 posted on 07/06/2005 10:50:48 AM PDT by dj_animal_2000
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To: Jacob Kell; Schwaeky

Albania is currently about 70% muslim, and muslim they will probably remain for a very long time. I was there last year visiting, and while there were some christians, the vast majority identify themselves as muslim. Even though the younger generations were raised with no religion at all, they generally identify themselves as muslim. However, they're a different kind of muslim than Iran or Iraq. They drink, party, dance endlessly... Albania was a great time. Beautiful untouched beaches in the south, good food and drink in Tirana, Berat was beautiful, and the hole trip was cheap, cheap, cheap... after the plane ticket.


24 posted on 07/08/2005 2:54:01 PM PDT by crail (Better lives have been lost on the gallows than have ever been enshrined in the halls of palaces.)
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To: crail

How do you know that "the vast majority" identified theselves as Moslem? Or was it just the vast majority of those you talked to? After all, could anyone ask all Albanians?


25 posted on 07/08/2005 3:27:05 PM PDT by Jacob Kell (Regan 3:16: He whooped Communism's ass!)
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To: Jacob Kell
Well the ones who live there said 70% was the approximately number, and they seemed to know a little bit about the country they were born in, and lived their entire lives in. I know there were far more mosques than churches in the cities I visited, which was most of the major ones, south to north and then back again. I know the people who lived there showed me how the smaller cities were divided into muslim and catholic (north) or orthodox (south) "burroughs," and it was pretty clear the muslim burrough was larger. I know I could always here the speakers on the mosques in the morning. And lastly, I know my wife, who was born and raised in Albania, says that most Albanians are muslims, but she went to school with a few catholics (north) too.
26 posted on 07/08/2005 4:40:12 PM PDT by crail (Better lives have been lost on the gallows than have ever been enshrined in the halls of palaces.)
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To: crail; All

"Well the ones who live there said 70% was the approximately number, and they seemed to know a little bit about the country they were born in"

True enough, but do they really know the current statistics or are they basically just repeating old and historic ones.

"I know there were far more mosques than churches in the cities I visited"

Yes, but they were probably, at least for the most part, old mosques. Also I meant that the 70% figure was the historic statistic and that times might well have changed.

"And lastly, I know my wife, who was born and raised in Albania, says that most Albanians are muslims"

Yes, most ALbanians have historically been Mohammedans, but as I said times might well change. After all, I beleive that since the fall of communism, more people are starting to become interested in Christianity, even those who were of more or less Moslem background, or so I have heard.

BTW, just out of curiosity, is you wife a Moslem or non-Moslem? I'm just curious.


27 posted on 07/08/2005 5:11:11 PM PDT by Jacob Kell (Regan 3:16: He whooped Communism's ass!)
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To: Jacob Kell
True enough, but do they really know the current statistics...
They seemed too. My wife actually looked at some stats when we were there and couldn't believe that the nonreligious number was so large (it was something tiny, like 5%).

Yes, but they were probably, at least for the most part, old mosques.
And there were lots of new mosques too. There are lots of christians from America evangelizing there, (which may be were you heard Albanians were becoming christian en masse.) But there are lots of muslims from muslim countries doing the same, (they probably say Albanians are re-becoming muslims en masse.) For the most part, they go to the countryside where people are totally isolated, and very, very poor (it took us 5 hours to *drive* about 85 miles... The folk who live there have no car). In the cities, foreign evangelists mostly limit themselves to building/funding new churches, and building/funding mosques, rather than the wave the book on the street corner style of evangelism.

I don't think evangelism will work though the way they think it will though. They had a saying... The religion of Albanians is Albanism, which means they make their own stuff up from a mix of everything, add a dash of national pride, and get along just fine. I heard that saying many times... they're proud of their religious uniqueness.

...more people are starting to become interested in Christianity...
Since the fall of communism, religion has become kind of fashionable among some of the younger generation, but they roughly seem to get back in touch with the religion of the grandparents. Funny thing is, it seems to be most prevalent among the Albanians outside Albania.

By the way...
My wife has a Muslim surname. By practice, she's agnostic. Much of her generation and the one before her fits that mold... she grew up in the dying years of the communist regime.
28 posted on 07/09/2005 5:41:46 AM PDT by crail (Better lives have been lost on the gallows than have ever been enshrined in the halls of palaces.)
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To: crail

Take a look at the following site. It's pretty interesting, IMHO:

http://members.aol.com/Plaku/religio.htm

This site says that about 60% of Albanians may be Moslem, 25%+ Orthodox, and 15% Catholic.

http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/Wh_9.html

The following site gives another estimate of religious affiliation:

http://www.landmarkbaptisttemple.com/ra/EEE%20Brochure%202000.pdf

Muslim 40% Orthodox 11% Athiest 42% All other 8%

With all the various statistics, who can say what the exact figures are. I don't know if even God Himself know! :-)


29 posted on 07/09/2005 10:18:38 AM PDT by Jacob Kell (Regan 3:16: He whooped Communism's ass!)
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