Embarrassment at the borders

What has been happening at the border crossings at Kakavia in Ioannina and Krystallopigi in Florina as thousands of legally documented Albanian migrants return from their summer vacation does no credit to Greece as a European country. During the busiest times, people exhausted by waiting as long as two days sleep in their cars or seek a little shade under a tree or shrub while waiting for the ordeal of passport control to end. This column has noted the problem, due mainly to a lack of organization and infrastructure, before. And it has castigated the almost racist treatment of legal migrants by customs and police officials. Unfortunately, most of the Tirana media and political elite see the long lines and inconvenience as yet another Greek conspiracy against the Albanians. They say that Greeks are deliberately discouraging Albanians from taking their summer holidays in Albania and boosting their country’s economy, forcing them instead to spend their euros at Greek tourist destinations. This kindles latent anti-Greek feelings in Albania’s volatile public opinion and it maintains a climate of suspicion. Albania is a typical Balkan country where conspiracy theories are the prime mode of interpreting events and situations, especially with regard to Greece. The uprising in March 1997, for instance, in which thousands of Albanians took up arms when they lost their money in pyramid schemes, was seen by then president Sali Berisha as a conspiracy by Athens. Archbishop Anastassios, the best ambassador for Albania, is seen by some ideologically fixated or hostile people not as a religious leader, but as the Greeks’ Trojan Horse. Naturally, none of this justifies the continuation of disgraceful scenes at our border crossings.

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