Losing the minority

Albania’s new electoral system, which is to come into force in the June parliamentary elections, will shut out the smaller parties. The system has been designed to prompt the latter to cooperate with the two mainstream parties, the Socialists and the Democrats. The Unity for Human Rights Party (KEAD), which is supported by the Greek minority, is facing a dilemma. According to projections, if the party runs on its own it would win one parliamentary seat, while if it joined a coalition it would win at least three out of the 140 seats. The cooperation between Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the party of Albanian Cams, which has made claims on Greek territory, prompted KEAD to join hands with the Socialist Party of Albania instead. KEAD has in the past participated in Socialist and Democratic-led governments without relinquishing its independence. However, Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis has asked KEAD chief Vangjel Dule not to cooperate with the Socialists. His demand came only a few days after the Greek prime minister urged Dule to decide based on his own criteria. Like a bull in a china shop, Kassimis violated the code of ethics. KEAD is a party of the Albanian parliament and not a Greek expat organization; worse, he damaged national interest. If KEAD has managed to survive so far it’s because it has resisted Greek and Albanian partisanship. With his actions, Kassimis caused cracks in the unity of the Greek minority. Kassimis’s inexperience on the matter may explain some mistakes but not his attitude. Some explained his reaction saying that he tried to back Berisha. Others blamed it on his dislike for Dule whom, according to sources, he sees as an obstacle in his attempt to control the minority. After all, the Greeks of southern Albania (northern Epirus) are a key factor in Kassimis’s tough constituency. Now it’s too late to change anything. Whether he knew it or not, Kassimis has destroyed years of efforts on a very sensitive matter.

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