News 29 Nov 12

Greeks Snub Albania Centennial Over PM's Words

Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos has cancelled a visit to Tirana after Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha called a Greek town 'Albanian'. 

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Prime Minister Sali Berisha

The Greek foreign ministry explained the cancellation by saying that the Albanian leader's words “do not contribute towards the creation of a climate of friendship, trust and good neighbourly relations between the two countries”.

Avramopoulos had been expected to join several others heads of state and foreign dignitaries at celebrations marking the 100th year of Albania’s declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire.  

Prime Minister Sali Berisha on Tuesday recalled that the declaration of independence in 1912 had applied to all majority Albanian areas in the region, stretching from Preveza in Greece to Presevo in Serbia, and from the Macedonian capital of Skopje to the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica.

The comments were also inscribed on a parchment that will be displayed at a museum in the city of Vlora, the town where Albanian independence was proclaimed.

In a statement on Wednesday the Prime Minister's spokesperson, Erla Mehilli, described Berisha’s words about Preveza as referring to historical events.

“They refer to the historical context of 100 years ago and do not express any territorial claims to our neighbours to the south, north or east,” Mehilli said.

The existence of a large Albanian diaspora outside Albania's borders dates back to the circumstances of the Balkan wars of 1912/13, when Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria overran most of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, dividing it up among themselves.

Albania proclaimed independence at the same time, but its state borders were drawn conservatively, reflecting the Albanians' relative weakness at the time. A large percentage of Albanians in the Balkans were left outside its frontiers. Those placed inside [former] Yugoslavia now live in three separate states, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro.

Albania's relations with Greece have been aditionally complicated by a longstanding Greek claim to the south of Albania, which Greek nationalists call Northern Epirus.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

croatian-president-s-gives-controversial-statements-on-refugees-01-17-2017
17 Jan 17

Croatian President Says ‘Wrong Refugees’ Arrived from Syria

President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic said that able-bodied men, rather than women and children who really need help, had made their way to Europe from the Middle East.

17 Jan 17

Dodik’s Secession Talk Keeps Bosnia on Edge

17 Jan 17

Young Albanians Strike Gold in the Emirates

16 Jan 17

Serbia Accused of Provoking Kosovo Over Train

16 Jan 17

Multi-ethnic States Have Failed in the Balkans

Premium Selection

dodik-s-secession-talk-keeps-bosnia-on-edge-01-17-2017
17 Jan 17

Dodik’s Secession Talk Keeps Bosnia on Edge

The Bosnian Serb leader may be bluffing when he talks about holding a ‘historic’ referendum this year – but either way, he is pushing the country towards ever-greater instability.

commissioner-fears-slovenia-aliens-act-may-influence-balkans-01-16-2017
17 Jan 17

Balkan States ‘Could Emulate Slovenian Law Curbing Refugees’

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, warns that Slovenia’s proposed new Aliens Act will likely cause an unwelcome 'domino effect' along the Balkan refugee route.

13 Jan 17

NATO Ignoring Balkan Tensions, Experts Warn