Greece responds harshly to irredentist claims by Albania

27 June 2017
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The Greek Foreign Ministry issued a harsh statement condemning the actions of Albanian authorities to showcase rocks from neighbouring countries in the capital of Tirana as part of the redevelopment plan of the city square. Just one day after the victory of socialist Edi Rama in Sunday’s elections in Albania, instead of issuing a congratulatory letter, the Greek Foreign Ministry released a strong statement effectively accusing Albania of stoking the flames of nationalism. The statement called on Albania to respect neighbourly relations and warned of the implications such actions could have on its prospects of entering the EU. Within the framework of the redevelopment of the central square in Tirana, a provocative move saw the country’s government transport rocks from bordering Balkan nations, including the Greek area of Filiates, to symbolise what Albania considers regions of Albania under foreign occupation that need to be liberated. The Greek government refrained from making any remonstrations to respect the integrity of the Albanian election campaign, but once the elections were over issued a damning statement against the neighbouring nation.

Foreign Ministry statement in full:

We condemn the placement, in Tirana’s redeveloped central square, of stones from various regions of the Balkans, including from the Greek region of Filiates. These stones, on which their regions of origin are inscribed, constitute a work that symbolizes the “unity of Albanian territories” and is clearly a state action that cultivates and conceals irredentism.
It is yet another provocation from the Albanian government, which is openly undermining good neighbourly relations. This is tangible proof of the central support for irredentist tendencies against the countries bordering Albania, given that the names of regions of various Balkan states are literally etched in stone.
The Foreign Ministry has proceeded and is proceeding to all of the necessary representations, notifying friends, partners and international organizations with regard to the matter. Respecting the election process in our neighbouring country, we have not, until today, issued any public announcement that might be misinterpreted as or distorted into interference in the pre-election process.
This in no way means that we will tolerate conduct that is inconsistent with the European spirit of peaceful coexistence and cooperation and that flagrantly violates the fundamental principle of maintaining good neighbourly relations, which is one of the key prerequisites for Tirana’s European course. Even today, unfortunately, dangerous and obsolete mindsets of the previous century are undermining the region’s progress and prosperity, creating a stone obstacle to Albania’s European future.

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