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Albania’s president calls off local elections, citing political tension

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Albanian President Ilir Meta has called off local elections set for June 30, while the government, led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, has accused him of breaking the law and urged  his removal from office.

The prime minister was quoted by Reuters as saying nothing could stop his ruling Socialist party from going ahead with the elections. He announced plans to impeach the president later this week.

Opposition parties plan to boycott the elections, claiming that Rama’s government won an election in 2017 by buying votes with the help of criminal gangs. Opposition parties walked out of the country’s parliament in mid-February and have yet to retake their seats.

The opposition parties held a series of anti-government protests in recent months, calling for a new general election. The latest protest in Tirana, June 8, was broken up by police using water cannons and tear gas.

Meta said that he cancelled the election because holding a vote without the opposition parties would cause further social conflict and could damage Albania’s ambitions to join the EU. 

At the EU June summit, the Council is to decide whether to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.

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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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Serbian president makes unannounced visit to New York

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is heading to New York for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the UN headquarters.

The main topic for discussion at the meeting, slated for Tuesday, is the situation in Kosovo.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will address the UN Security Council on Tuesday in a speech that will focus on Iran after the recent tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz. The US diplomat will speak during a council meeting about challenges to peace and security in the Middle East.

Pompeo’s trip to the UN comes after skirmishes in the Gulf over the summer that have heightened the prospect of US military action against Tehran. The Secretary will also meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the event.

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Bulgarian police seize 120.000 fake euros and Macedonian denars

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Bulgarian police have reportedly seized 122.000 euros in fake banknotes and arrested a group of suspected distributors of counterfeit currency.

Six people were taken into custody on Friday after officers raided an apartment and found counterfeit currency. The cash included banknotes of 200 euros – adding up to a total face of 122.000, Bgnews agency said on Friday.

During the raid, officers also seized mobile phones, copies of checks from a Turkish bank, US dollars, Macedonian denars.

According to investigation findings, the group of counterfeiters was set up in 2018. They are accused of taking part in crime group, possession and distribution of counterfeit euro banknotes on the territory of Bulgaria.

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