President to visit Albania

An official visit to Albania on October 18 by President Costis Stephanopoulos will take place in the wake of violent clashes between Greeks and Albanians following a soccer match between the two national teams. Stephanopoulos’s trip was arranged before an Albanian win over Greece in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday led to several Albanians being attacked by Greeks, some thought to be members of right-wing organizations. The clashes led to an Albanian man losing his life in Zakynthos and several more being injured in other parts of Greece. A tense climate has since developed in Albania, where general elections are due in March, and Stephanopoulos is likely to step into the eye of an anti-Greek storm when he arrives in Tirana next month. Fatos Nano, the Albanian prime minister, has been trying to lower the angry tone of reaction in his homeland, emphasizing the strategic importance of good relations between the two countries. Nano told Greek state TV channel ET3 yesterday he did not consider Greek society racist and viewed the recent events as isolated incidents.

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