President with a view

Ending the diplomatic spat with Tirana caused by the cutting short of a visit by President Karolos Papoulias to Albania will take time. Everything seems to indicate that the behavior of the Albanian president does not reflect the stand of the Berisha government which, contrary to the 1990s, now wants to build a partnership with Greece. Prime Minister Sali Berisha was probably taken aback by developments. Besides, it’s an open secret that his relations with President Alfred Moisiu are far from ideal. The old anti-Greek hysteria was absent this time, and the government made efforts to ease the tension. That happened even though the claims of Albanian Cams have been adopted by the Albanian government since the early 1990s. It should be remembered that the Albanian Cams fled to Albania in 1944 not only because they collaborated with the occupation forces and formed their own government in the Thesprotia region but also because their armed groups committed mass killings to wipe out Greeks from the region. That was why the court in Ioannina found them guilty in absentia and their properties were seized by the Greek state. The Berisha government urged Athens not to make too much of the incident or cancel Costas Karamanlis’s planned visit. Greece said it considers the affair closed. In any case, the message has been sent. Moisiu’s refusal to remove the protesters or transfer the meeting left Papoulias with no choice but to cancel the visit – particularly in light of reports that Albanian Cams were planning to catch international attention by staging an attack in front of the media. The incident showed that Papoulias wants to have a say in foreign policy. His intention has been underscored by past remarks on Cyprus, Greek-Turkish ties and the FYROM name dispute. Meanwhile, the government watches him warily.

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