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New Bild wiretaps implicate Albanian PM Rama in vote rigging, he threatens to sue German journalist

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A new series of wiretaps published by German newspaper Bild show the extent of vote-buying activities of the Socialist Party during the early elections in the municipality of Dibra on September 11, 2016, which involved not only criminal groups, but also state officials, members of parliament, ministers, and Prime Minister Edi Rama himself.

The wiretaps include recordings of Rama discussing vote buying efforts during early local elections in Dibra County in 2016.

Earlier this month, Bild released wiretaps revealing vote-buying scheme during the 2017 parliamentary elections. The 15 recordings released lately come from a different dossier, which has been held under wraps by the Prosecution Office for the last three years.

Wiretaps reveal vote buying tactics with cash money, directly or through intermediaries, using teachers to exert pressure on families to vote for the Socialists.  Public servants were blackmailed to vote for the Socialists in exchange for keeping their job.

Albanian PM Rama threatened to sue German journalist Peter Tiede. “I decided to sue this journalist in German courts and in that blessed country, where justice is not a game of investigation secrets and the dignity of people and states is respected as a value no one can undermine, let see who’s right and who’s wrong in this story of injustice!”, Rama said on Twitter.

The German journalist replied on social networks by saying that Rama will sue him in Germany because the Courts in Albania are not functional.

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Vucic insists on EU membership guarantee as part of Kosovo deal

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he will seek a guarantee that his country would join the European Union in 2025 as part of any deal with Kosovo which would pave the way for both countries to enter the bloc.

Serbia and its former province Kosovo committed to an EU-mediated dialogue to improve relations and resolve all disputes between them in 2013, but little progress has been made since then.

“If we ever reach an agreement with Pristina, Serbia would need to get a clear guarantee that it would become EU member in 2025,” Vucic told The Standard in an interview.

Vucic and Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci abruptly called off a tete-a-tete meeting in Brussels last Friday, where the two sides were expected to discuss a land swap plan for the first time.

Vucic said it could take up to 10 years for Belgrade and Pristina to reach an agreement due to many differences of opinion.

“Sometimes I smile when I hear how people simplify things and say that the deal comes down to a line – I will give you three villages and I will get six villages in return,” he said.

“If we were ever to reach a deal

[with Pristina]

it would have to be an overall deal that would include not only relations between us and the Albanians in Kosovo, but it would also have to include a resolution of our EU path and further economic progress,” he said.

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120 Albanian nationals seeking asylum in France return to Albania

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“Deportation from EU countries is accompanied by additional measures, including a ban on travel to the Schengen area for up to several years, Perparim Dema, the Head of the Rinas Police Commissariat warned.

At the Rinas airport, 120 Albanian nationals, asylum seekers in France, have voluntarily returned, avoiding thus possible penalties stemming from the failure to comply with the Schengen area residence permits.

This was one of the largest voluntary repatriation operations. According to the Head of the Rinas Police Commissariat, Perparim Dema, this operation is important as their return was voluntary – an auxiliary element in preventing irregular movement in the Schengen area.

Appealing to Albanian citizens to respect the rules of movement, Dema said “I want to appeal to all Albanian citizens not to abuse the freedom of movement. Albania is a safe country and it is considered by EU countries. There is no chance to have asylum applications approved.”

Albanian citizens, who agreed to return voluntarily from France, avoided possible penalties from the failure to comply with the regulation of Schengen areas. “Deportation from European Union (EU) countries is accompanied by additional measures, including a ban on travel to the Schengen areas for several years,” a press release said.

Perparim Dema, Director of Rinas Police Station, called on Albanian citizens to respect the rules of movement in Schengen areas.

According to Eurostat official data, 5,035 Albanian citizens applied for asylum in EU countries in the second quarter of 2019.

Another 100 Albanian citizens were repatriated on Wednesday from France, Belgium and Germany for violating the rules of movement in Schengen area.

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Earthquake jolts Albania

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A 3.1-magnitude earthquake hit Albania last night, with tremor felt in western parts of North Macedonia, the Seismological Observatory at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics said on Monday.

The quake struck at 23:15, the epicenter was 115 kilometers southwest of Skopje.

The quake, with a magnitude of 3.1 on the Richter, was felt in the western parts of our country with an intensity of III on the European macro-seismic scale.

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