Al­ba­nia PM re­it­er­ates Cham com­mu­nity claims

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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."

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