Invasive blue crabs pinch pockets of Albanian fishermen | AFP

The blue crab’s colourful claws are pretty – but dangerous: ripping up fishing nets and upsetting ecosystems off Albania’s coast, the invasive species is a source of daily anguish for Balkan fishermen struggling to make ends meet. The crab “takes our daily bread and even the fish in the nets… there is nothing to sell,” says Besmir Hoxha, 44, pulling one crab’s blue pincers off a small fish crushed in his net.

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Albania’s beaches and hotels reopen, slowly but surely | AFP

Tourists from the region trickle back to Albanian beaches, helping soften the blow of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Balkan state’s land borders and beaches have recently reopened as the tourist industry faces a deeply uncertain future. The country has so far held off an explosive outbreak with only 37 known deaths from the virus and around 1,600 infections.

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In Kosovo, an unlikely friendship between a Serb grandmother and her Albanian ‘brother’ | AFP

An improbable friendship has blossomed between a 92-year-old Serb woman, the only person left in her abandoned Kosovo village, and an ethnic Albanian grocer who has been bringing her food several days a week. Fadil Rama, the 48-year-old shopkeeper who lives several kilometres away in an Albanian-majority village, has continued his trips to visit Vladica Dicic throughout the coronavirus crisis, bringing groceries, news and companionship. The friendship marks a rare bridge between Kosovo’s Serb and Albanian communities, whose relations are still defined by lingering mistrust from the former province’s 1990s independence war from Serbia.

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Here are the top stories for Sunday, May 17th: Netanyahu swears in new government; Bill De Blasio explains decision to close NY area beaches; Albanian police clash with opposition supporters; Health care workers take Zumba class in Nairobi. (May 17)

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Albanian anchovy sales boom as lockdowns promote tinned food | AFP

Businesses worldwide have gone dark under coronavirus shutdowns, but in Albania, the anchovy trade is booming as demand for the tinned delicacy surges among European households.

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In Albania, a film follows communism’s star-crossed lovers | AFP

Inside the stone walls of a 12th century castle, Albanian and Russian actors are trying to make some movie magic as they reenact a little-known chapter of their shared history for the big screen. The historical drama is the first joint production between the two countries in more than 50 years and was co-written by Russian screenwriter Yuri Arabov and none other than Albania’s most acclaimed novelist, Ismail Kadare. Tentatively named “Gjirokastra” after the southern Albanian city it is based in, the love story is the first feature film to delve into the tragic fate of mixed couples who were persecuted by the communist regime. The trouble started after Tirana severed ties with Moscow in 1961, a diplomatic break-up that turned young Albanians with Soviet-born wives into suspected traitors overnight.

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Search for victims of 6.4 magnitude quake continues in Albania | AFP

People and soldiers are searching through the rubble of a collapsed building in the Albanian city of Thumanë, in search of victims. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Albania early on Tuesday, killing at least nine people and injuring hundreds. This is the most powerful earthquake recorded in the Balkan country in several decades. IMAGES

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Soldiers join search for possible earthquake victims in Albania | AFP

Albanian soldiers and rescuers dig through rubble in search of survivors after the strongest earthquake in decades levelled buildings and trapped victims under the debris, claiming at least eight lives and injuring more than 100 people. IMAGES

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Former Kosovo PM Haradinaj arrives at special war crimes court | AFP

Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned as Kosovo’s Prime Minister, arrives at the Kosovo special court in The Hague to be questioned on suspicions of war crimes. Jakup Krasniqi, former president of Parliament and former spokesman for the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), is also appearing at the tribunal. The EU-backed special war crimes court for Kosovo was established in 2015 to try war crimes allegedly committed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas against minority Serbs and Roma and local Albanian political opponents during and immediately after the 1998-1999 independence war against Serbia. IMAGES

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Former home of Albanian author Kadare becomes a museum | AFP

Ismail Kadare draws the curtain to bring a shaft of light into the Tirana apartment where he wrote furiously during the dark days of communism — a space visitors can now explore first-hand after his former home was turned into a museum. During that time, the windows were covered with heavy drapes to shield their home from the paranoid eye of the communist regime led by former dictator Enver Hoxha, who painfully isolated Albania during his 40-year-reign.

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In hidden mountain air base, Albania stores MiGs for sale

On a barren hillside in northern Albania lies a portal to the country’s communist past: a massive steel door creaks open to reveal a hidden former air base burrowed into the heart of the mountain. Made up of 600 metres of tunnels that once teemed with military life, the secret Gjader air base is now a tomb for dozens of hulking communist-era fighter jets collecting dust in the darkness. Three decades after shedding communism, Albanian is trying to sell off the Soviet and Chinese-made MIG fighter jets, drawing interest from museums and collectors.

Basketball beats ethnic divisions in Serbia’s Presevo Valley

On the court, they are not Serb, Albanian or Roma. The lanky teenage boys are all members of ‘Play 017’, a basketball team that is bridging ethnic divides in southern Serbia. The team is based in Bujanovac, an Albanian-majority town near the border with Kosovo where different communities live side-by-side but lead largely segregated lives.

In Albania, a sole Jewish history museum on the brink

The first and only Jewish history museum in Muslim-majority Albania is at risk of disappearing after the death of its elderly founder, Simon Vrusho, who passed away following a heart attack in February at age 75. At the centre of his ‘Solomon Museum’ in Berat is the extraordinary story of how Albanian families sheltered thousands of Jews fleeing persecution during the Holocaust.

Albanian youth dream of a future elsewhere

Albania is not at war, ruled by an authoritarian regime or battered by natural disasters, but its young people are leaving in droves, chiefly for economic reasons. Frustration with the lack of opportunities at home bubbled over in mass student protests that started in December, calling for an overhaul to the education system.

RAW: Albanian opposition attempts to storm PM’s residence

Albanian police fired tear gas & stun grenades at protesters who attempted to storm their way into the government building in Tirana on Saturday, as thousands of opposition supporters flooded the streets of the capital to call for Prime Minister Edi Rama’s resignation. READ MORE:



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Albanian MP throws ink at Prime Minister in Parliament

An Albanian opposition lawmaker throws ink on socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama during a parliamentary debate. The incident took place two days after a protest organised by the opposition Democratic Party seeking Rama’s departure and early parliamentary elections.