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Violation of minority rights a ‘minefield’ for Albania’s European course, Athens warns

By   /   01/11/2016  /   Comments Off on Violation of minority rights a ‘minefield’ for Albania’s European course, Athens warns

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Reacting to the planned demolition of 19 homes belonging to ethnic Greeks in Albania’s Himara region, the Greek foreign ministry on Tuesday again warned that proceeding with such actions will jeopardise Albania’s European perspective.

“Official Albanian agencies cannot claim urbi et orbi that minority rights are respected throughout Albanian territory at the same time as they are being violated in practice, creating a minefield for the country’s European course,” a Greek foreign ministry announcement said.

Albania’s leadership was confusing its own mistaken understanding of history with Albania’s commitments arising from international law and the body of European laws concerning the protection of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania, which was native and had established rights, the foreign ministry said.

The actions of Albanian authorities pointed to the existence of an organised plan to violate the rights of the Greek minority, “with the events speaking for themselves,” the ministry claimed. It noted, among others, that demolition notices as part of a plan for the redevelopment of Himara were all sent to individuals of ethnic Greek origin.

“Yesterday’s statements by Albanian officials smack of an outdated logic that directly conflicts with current standards for the protection of minority rights in modern, democratic and European countries,” the announcement continued.

The ministry was responding to an Albanian foreign ministry announcement on Monday, which said that there was no discrimination with respect to the law and that the legal procedures followed by the Himara municipality were all “transparent and in accordance with current legislation.”

Greece had urged Albanian authorities on Sunday to cancel the demolition order giving residents five days to quit their homes and begin meaningful consultations with the owners concerning Himara’s redevelopment plans.

“If Albania sincerely wishes to join the European Union, it should demonstrate in practice that it functions according to the principles of the rule of law, protecting the rights of all its residents regardless of their nationality and origin, against abuses and illegal acts,” the Greek foreign ministry had added./IBNA

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