Albania PM reiterates Cham community claims
In a bid to take the sting out of a string of incendiary remarks, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has denied his country is following an irredentist foreign policy with its insistence on discussing the issue of claims made by the Cham community to the property they left behind when they were expelled from Greece during World War II.
“I don’t think that is irredentist to tell people, to tell our kids where Albanians lived and I don’t think it is irredentist to tell people that it was an area that was named Tsamouria,” he said in an interview on Skai TV yesterday, adding that the Cham community’s claims are a “human rights issue,” and calling for its inclusion in negotiations that would tackle all outstanding bilateral issues. Greece has dismissed their claims, saying they were Nazi collaborators.
Rama also rejected claims his country was pursuing a Greater Albania. “We have Albania, we have Kosovo, we have Albanian people live in south of Serbia, living in Macedonia, living in Montenegro. So what? There is no plan, there is no foreseeable one, to collect all these in one natural or Greater Albania,” he said.
His interview came after a diplomatic spat with Tirana over the decision by local authorities in the town of Himara to demolish the homes of 19 ethnic Greek families. However, Rama was adamant that the demolitions are part of a wide-reaching urban renewal program.
He also reiterated the theory that the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis was saved from destruction in the 17th century due to the efforts of an “Albanian” archbishop.
Earlier yesterday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras used stern language in a phone conversation with Rama, stressing that the protection of the rights of minority ethnic Greeks was an obligation for Albania as a European Union candidate state, and called on Tirana to scale back nationalist rhetoric “to restore a climate of trust."