Rights of ethnic Greeks in Albania in dispute, again


Albania on Saturday reportedly withdrew a decision published in the online version of its government gazette calling for the seizure of properties belonging to members of the ethnic Greek minority in the town of Himara.

According to diplomatic sources, Tirana’s decision came in the wake of a stern warning by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Albania on Friday to respect the rights of ethnic Greeks and their property.

Speaking in Bucharest on Friday, Tsipras said Tirana’s aspiration to join the European Union will be dashed if it moves ahead with property seizures.

“It is an unfortunate fact that at this moment we are not optimistic about the European perspective of this country, which is facing major challenges which it must address,” Tsipras said.

He said that if Albania intends on moving in the direction of property seizures then preconditions for EU accession “do not exist.”

Diplomatic sources said on Saturday that it remains to be seen if the Albanian government’s decision to withdraw the call for property seizures from its online gazette is the first step toward the complete withdrawal of its unacceptable demands on ethnic Greek property.

Otherwise, the sources repeated Tsipras’s warning that Albania’s prospects to join the EU will be seriously undermined.

“The precondition of this prospect [Albania’s EU accession] is the respect of the rights of all minorities living in Albania,” the sources said.

In an announcement late Friday, the Omonoia organization representing the Greek minority appealed to Greek authorities to defend its legal rights so that their properties in Himara are not seized.