Hellenizing Greeks

On what basis should we examine the demand by Albania’s 300,000-strong ethnic Greek minority for Greek citizenship in addition to retaining Albanian nationality? Are they asking on the basis of humanitarian reasons, short-term needs, long-term perspectives, the preservation or abolition of ethnicity? There are many different reasons, but one cannot be sure of the priorities. No doubt, the ethnic Greeks of Albania who live and work here should be granted more rights so as to enjoy better living standards and working conditions. However, their demand for dual citizenship risks sending them into permanent exile and losing all their age-old rights in the region. The government in Tirana has provided no guarantees that it will not respond to any Greek concession with a one-nationality-only policy, a demand that would push ethnic Greeks to avoid their «Albanization.» Such a development would harm national interests as much as it would harm the ethnic Greeks themselves. Greece must allow its ethnic peers to stand on their feet by empowering their economic, social and educational status. This would give them an advantage when they return home, where their treatment by the Albanian State is also expected to improve. Tirana is looking to join the European Union, but it will go nowhere fast until it pushes for democratic reform. A strong and secure ethnic Greek minority could play a significant role in the formation of a new Albania, and place Athens’s bilateral ties with Tirana in a new context. P.S. We have deliberately omitted the possibility of the authorities wanting to grant the ethnic Greeks’ request for politically expedient reasons (elections are in eight months time). If that were the case, petty politics would equal betrayal of the nation.

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