Albania: EU accession, Greek minority, and rule of law
Greece has formally declined to be part of a joint letter to open the first stages of negotiations for Albania’s accession to the European Union. With this decision, Greece has made clear that Albania’s persecution of its sizable Greek minority will not go unpunished. Greece’s relations with Albania have remained “good overall” per the EU’s most recent accession report from this month. However, the report also notes minority rights of ethnic Greeks in Albania are a subject of tension between the two nations. Greece’s denial of accession talks sends a clear message.
What to watch
Himara’s mayor-elect Fredi Beleri, an ethnic Greek, has been jailed for the past six months and awaits trial under charges of buying eight votes in an election he won by 19 votes. Of 31 cases of accused bribery across multiple candidates, Beleri was the only candidate to go to prison. His next court session is scheduled for November 22nd, and his requests for special leave to be sworn in as mayor have been denied. The Beleri case, a clear and ongoing violation of individual rights, may represent a tipping point for the Greek minority in Albania as we await its verdict.
“Athens may reconsider its stance if Tirana takes steps to suggest that there is room for discussion.” Vassilis Nedos, eKathimerini
The bottom line
No country that does not respect the rule of law should be allowed to join the E.U., full stop. Under PM Edi Rama, Albania has demonstrated a commitment to abusing its Greek minority, and Greece should accept nothing less than guaranteed protections for its diaspora before voting for Albania’s accession.