NEWS

Albania is to double police along border

TIRANA (Combined reports) – Albanian officials yesterday reassured the Greek defense minister that they would do all they can to help their neighbor host secure Olympic Games. «We are using all our resources to cooperate with you and the other countries in the region to guarantee security during this event, which is important for the whole region,» Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano told Greek Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos. Spiliotopoulos, who was on a one-day official visit to Albania, said the neighbors’ relations ahead of the Olympics were «a model of cooperation,» according to a news release from Nano’s office. Albania is implementing special security measures to prevent threats to the Olympic Games in neighboring Greece, including deploying extra police along the border, Public Order Minister Igli Toska said. Albania has spent two million euros ($2.47 million) on extra measures including doubling the number of officers deployed in the south to more than 6,000, using movable observation points as well as sniffer dogs, he said. «We will double our police personnel not only at the border… but also in the interior to filter in the best way possible all citizens,» Toska told Reuters in an interview this week. «If we have 3,000 policemen in the south of Albania, this number will be doubled and they will be on a higher alert than the rest of the country,» he added. «Adopting special measures, the investment we are making for these Olympics and our efforts to secure the border during the Games will show that at least no harm came to Greece from our territory,» Toska said. To reward Albania’s efforts, Greece allowed Albanian immigrants holding expired residence permits to return home for holidays and come back. Albanians in Greece account for much of the $700 million Albania receives in remittances annually. During his eight months in office, Toska has shown a determination to purge the police force of corrupt officers, with around 160 so far indicted for various offenses. Many of them were involved in trafficking of drugs, he said, adding that police in the last four months had seized a record 137 kg of heroin, making life more difficult for smugglers. «We have started to clean our house,» he said. «There can be no trafficking or organized crime at such a scale without police officers being involved in it.» (Reuters, AP)