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Albania: Bulldozers demolish restaurant after owner attacks Spanish tourists

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Albanian officials bulldozed a beachfront restaurant whose owner was caught on camera attacking a car rented by Spanish tourists. The incident, filmed by the victims’ tour guide from inside their vehicle, took place last weekend in Porto-Palermo on the Ionian coast in southern Albania, a popular tourist spot.

The restaurant, whose owner made it to the front page chasing tourists on the hood of their car last weekend, is being demolished due to lack of license and tax evasion.

The viral video shows the restaurateur punching through the windshield of the vehicle and ripping the glass while he clings to the bonnet for several minutes as the tourists drive away.

The restaurant owner, 51-year-old Mihal Kokedhima, was arrested and faces trial for “verbally assaulting a group of Spanish tourists for futile reasons”, damaging their car and causing minor injuries, police said.

According to local media reports, the tourists were not happy with the service at the restaurant and left after the owner became aggressive.

Kokedhima told the court the Spaniards had tried to leave without paying.

During their probe, officials found that his restaurant “Panorma” had been built without an official permit three years ago and that no taxes were ever paid. On Wednesday, a demolition team bulldozed the restaurant.

Albanian officials apologised to the Spanish tourists while Prime Minister Edi Rama condemned “the barbarian who attacked our Spanish friends and violated the sacred code of Albanian hospitality”.

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V4 leaders call on EU to speed up Western Balkans’ accession

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The Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary urged the European Union on Thursday to accelerate the Western Balkans’ integration into the bloc.

Leaders from the so-called Visegrad Four (V4) group pressed ahead for the EU’s Western Balkan enlargement following a summit with their counterparts from five Western Balkan countries.

In a joint statement, issued on Thursday, the V4 are demanding accession talks open this year with North Macedonia and Albania.

“We welcome the possibility in October to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, while we hope to accelerate negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro so that all these countries could become EU members before the end of 2027,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.

“The Visegrad Four group wants to welcome new EU members and it fully endorses the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania this year,” Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini told reporters at the V4+Western Balkan summit in Prague.

Similar statements were made by Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, but who then framed the need for Western Balkan accession as way to prevent migrants from entering the EU.

The V4 is also seeking an acceleration of negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro under the incoming European Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen.

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Kosovo skips V4+Western Balkan Prague summit over Zeman remarks

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Kosovo has cancelled its planned participation in the Visegrad Four and Western Balkans summit in Prague September 12, the Czech News Agency quotes diplomats as saying.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has skipped out on his attendance in the meeting of Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group (V4) members (The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) and partners from the Western Balkan in reaction to Czech President Milos Zeman’s remarks in Serbia earlier this week, hinting at the possibility to reverse Czech recognition of Kosovo independence at his next meeting with Czech top officials. He said Kosovo was ruled by “war criminals”.

Czech News Agency sources say that there are currently no confirmed guests from Kosovo for the Thursday meeting of prime ministers. However, discussions are still ongoing about whether the country will be represented on some level at least.

The Czech Republic has maintained diplomatic relations with Kosovo since 2008.

According to AFP, Kosovo’s Ramush Haradinaj cancelled his participation in the regional summit in Prague following the statement by Czech President Milos Zeman, calling the leaders of the former Serbian province “war criminals”.

“Kosovo forwarded a diplomatic note, apologizing for the absence after previously confirming attendance,” Jana Adamcova, a spokesperson for Czech government, has told AFP.

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Bulgaria charges former MP with spying for Russia

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Nikolai Malinov, a former parliamentary deputy from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) who now heads a pro-Russian nongovernmental organization, has been formally charged in Sofia with spying and laundering money for Russian organizations.

Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov announced the charges against Malinov on September 10, saying Malinov could face a prison sentence of five to 15 years if convicted.

Malinov was released from custody on September 10 after posting bail of 25,000 euros ($27,600). He has been banned from leaving Bulgaria, Tsatsarov said.

Malinov is accused of accepting payments for transferring Bulgarian state secrets to two Russian organizations — the Double-Headed Eagle Society and the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.

Tsatsarov said the information Malinov was accused of delivering to the Russian groups directly affected Bulgaria’s national security and was part of an attempt to exert influence on the Bulgarian government’s foreign policy toward Russia and the West.

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