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09 Feb 11

Greek Consul Statement Angers Albanian MPs

Albanian MPs have called for the removal of Greek Consul Theodhorus Ikonomus, who reportedly called on Albanians and Aromanians in the city of Korca to register as Greeks in the upcoming national census.

Besar Likmeta
Tirana

MP Gazmend Oketa, a member of the ruling Democratic Party, called on the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take action against the consul and declare him “persona non grata” in Albania.

Oketa’s remarks came during a meeting of the foreign affairs commission in parliament on Wednesday, which was called to discuss Ikonomus’ statements.

According to local media, the Greek consul made the statement during a reception celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Greek minority organisation Omonia.

“Greeks should not be afraid to register their own nationality and for those in doubt they should look deep inside and discover that they are Greek,” said Ikonomus, according to daily newspaper Gazeta Shqiptare.

“Go to the cemetery and see the tombstones of your forefathers and you will see that they are written in Greek [because] this is Northern Epirus,” Ikonomos added.

During his speech, Ikonomos also called the Aromanian minority Greek and asked them to register as such in the upcoming census.         

Northern Epirus is a term used mostly by Greeks and is associated with territorial claims by Athens for large swathes of southern Albania.

Albania is due to hold a nationwide census in 2011, which includes a controversial question that asks for the voluntary declaration of nationality.

On Tuesday, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Greek ambassador in Tirana, Nicolas Pazios, to ask for an explanation of the consul’s remarks.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made clear its position on the statement, calling it unnecessary and not representative of the Greek-Albanian relationship,” the Ministry said in a statement.

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