Rama pushing it with Athens over Beleri

Rama pushing it with Athens over Beleri

The Court of Appeal of Tirana on Tuesday upheld the two-year jail sentence issued by the court of first instance against Fredi Beleri, the elected ethnic Greek mayor of Himare in southern Albania, and now MEP for ruling New Democracy.

The ruling means Beleri won’t be able to attend the first plenary session of the European Parliament from July 16 to 19 in Strasbourg.

Based on the way jail days count in Albania (starting in May 2023 each day has counted as roughly one and a half), he won’t be released before October. 

Until then, between July and October, it is estimated that Edi Rama’s government will call elections in the Municipality of Himare to ensure that a person of the ruling party’s liking is elected. As there is no swearing-in procedure in the European Parliament, Beleri will receive his parliamentary compensation and will be considered elected.

Albanian authorities claim that they were not officially informed about Beleri’s election. According to Protocol 7, which not only concerns MEPs, but all EU officials, Albania has every obligation to facilitate Beleri in the performance of his duties.

The decision in the case, which has strained Greek-Albanian relations, essentially constitutes an indirect statement of Rama’s intention not to back down, as any retreat would be perceived in Albania as a compromise.

Beleri stated that he has already started the appeal procedures at the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg.

“Those who harbored illusions that Rama will behave as a leader of a country that wants to become a member of the European family and not as another authoritarian leader were disproved.” 

The ambassador of Greece in Tirana, Konstantina Kamitsi, referred to the “violation of the presumption of innocence, the non-granting of the opportunity to swear in a mayor, the prolonged pre-trial detention, and the excessive sentence in relation to the alleged crime.”

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