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Albania scraps work permit requirement for Albanians in North Macedonia, Montenegro

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Ethnic Albanians who live in North Macedonia and Montenegro no longer need to apply for permits to get a job in Albania, as part of the Tirana-based government initiative to boost ties between Albanians in the region.

Starting this week, ethnic Albanians from North Macedonia and Montenegro will have the same access to jobs in Albania as locals, according to a decision made by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s cabinet.

“Albanians from Montenegro and North Macedonia will enjoy the right to employment, just as Albanian citizens do, except when employment is specifically related to Albanian citizenship, in accordance with applicable legislation,” the Ministry of Finance and Economy said in a statement.

According to Montenegrin daily Vijesti, Edi Rama’s government decided to allow the neighboring ethnic-Albanians get a job without work permit at a session held on 10 May.

Earlier, Albanian government scrapped work permit requirement for Albanians in Kosovo, southern and central Serbia.

Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj described the move as good opportunity for ethnic-compatriots in the region enter Albania’s labor market.

“Although it may look like a move without immediate impact or sounds like a completely symbolic initiative, this is a necessary step towards increasing ties with Albanians in neighboring countries without differentiation on grounds of citizenship,” Cakaj said.

He added that the decision was part of a wider package of measures that Albania has planned in a bid to bring ethnic Albanians in the region closer together.

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Skiathos island authorities charging up to EUR1.000 fine for taking rare beach pebbles

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Tourists could be fined up to 1.000 euros for taking pebbles as souvenirs from a Greek beach.

Lalaria Beach on the island of Skiathos, accessible only by boat, is extremely popular with holidaymakers, who have been known to fill their pockets with unique pebbles as free souvenirs.

But officials on the Greek island are worried that too many of the stones have been taken leading to a dramatic change in the landscape of the shoreline in the past 10 years.

And now the port authorities have introduced fines of between EUR400 and EUR1.000 for people who take pebbles without permission.

Signs have been placed around the Lalaria beach telling tourists: ‘Take pictures, not pebbles.’ Posters have also been given to boat operators and fishermen in the area so the message can be spread across Greece.

In cooperation with the port authorities, the Cultural Association of Skiathos launched a campaign entitled:  “Take a Picture, not a Pebble – Save Lalaria Beach!”

“The alteration of the landscape has been noticeable in the last ten years and is up to a certain degree irreversible,” the cultural association says on its website. The protection of the beach is necessary to maintain at least the present condition without further deterioration, the association said.

The beach in the north-east of Skiathos is accessible only by boat.

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Panagiotopoulos: Honoring Prespa accord will bring better future

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Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said on Wednesday the mutual respect for the Prespa Agreement without concessions would yield positive result and contribute to a better future.

Earlier in the day, Panagiotopoulos told the Economist Conference in Athens that he does not challenge the intent of the agreement. We are all aware of the concept of good faith, the purpose of the agreement is to strengthen the stability in the region and geopolitical foundations.

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Greek Foreign Minister meets U.S. State Secretary

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Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington July 17. The two will discuss topics of bilateral, regional and international interest.

During his two-day stay in Washington, Dendias will meet with White House national security advisor John Bolton, Senator Bob Menendez, and will participate in ministerial meeting on religious freedom.

Secretary Pompeo will host the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, in Washington on July 16-18. The Ministerial will reaffirm international commitments to promote religious freedom for all and focus on concrete outcomes that produce durable, positive change. A broad range of stakeholders, including senior government representatives, international organization representatives, religious leaders, and civil society activists will convene to discuss challenges, identify concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for freedom of religion or belief.

This year’s Ministerial seeks to further conversations from last year’s event and recent regional conferences. Representatives of up to 1000 civil society and religious community from every corner of the world are exected to participate.

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