News 18 Jan 13

Albania Asks Greece to Declare War Finally Over

Albanian Foreign Minister Edmond Panariti on Thursday urged Greece to scrap a World War Two-era law that has left Greece technically in a state of war with Albania.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Albania foreing minister Edmond Panariti meeting with Greek Ambasador Leonidas Rokanas

“The abolition of the war law, an old and absurd law, would push the relationship between the two countries to a new level,” Panariti told the Greek Ambassador to Tirana, Leonidas Rokanas.

The law declaring a state of war between the two states, passed by Greece after Italian forces in Albania attacked Greece in October 1940, has never been abolished by the Greek parliament.

Ironically, both Albania and Greece today are members of NATO, and Greece is a supporter of Albania’s EU integration process.

The relationship between the two countries has been often fraught and difficult, however.

For decades after the Second World War, the border between Greece and Albabia was closed, marking an ideological and military frontier border between NATO and the Communist bloc.

More recently, the presence of large numbers of Albanians working in Greece has been a cause of friction.

Recently, the Greek foreign minister boycotted recent festivities marking 100 years of Albania's independence in 2012 after Albania's Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, referred to towns now in Greece as, historically, "Albanian lands".

On Thursday, Greek borders guards denied entry to nearly three dozen Albanian families who reside in Greece, over a row over use of toponyms in Albanian documents.

The Greek authorities want Albania to start writing Greek toponyms in Albanian passports in Greek. The measure affects a number of children of Albanian emigrants who were born in Greece but have Albanian citizenship.

Panariti called on Athens to extend a moratorium to allow Albanians entry with their current travel documents until a deal that is being negotiated is finalized.

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