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Tirana in Tirade Against Greece After Latest Albanian Death

Foreign Ministry calls on Athens to curtail ultra-nationalists, condemn hate speech aimed at the Albanian minority.

6 December 2018

The Albanian Foreign Ministry has condemned the killings of four Albanians in Greece over the past month amid what it says is an atmosphere of “extremism and hate language.”

 

Relations with Greece have been strained in the six weeks since an Albanian-born ethnic Greek was shot by Albanian police during a ceremony at a cemetery for Greek soldiers killed in Albania during World War II.

 

An 18-year-old man, Marios Isak, who was found dead in Kavala, northern Greece, on Tuesday, was the latest Albanian killed in Greece. After an Albanian emigrant was found dead on Corfu last week, Albanian media said the man Greek police arrested as a suspect was linked to the extremist Golden Dawn movement, Balkan Insight reports.

 

A third Albanian was shot dead by Greek police as he allegedly tried to cross the border with illegal drugs, and an Albanian prisoner died in suspicious circumstances.

 

Police said Wednesday that a Greek-Albanian teenager had confessed to accidentally shooting Isak, Ekathimerini reports.

 

In the Corfu killing, Greek media reported that 63-year-old Petrit Zifle was found dead a day after he got into an argument with a man who ran as a Golden Dawn candidate in the latest elections, according to the Tirana Times.

 

In its statement, the Foreign Ministry statement said it "calls upon Greek authorities to condemn and stop any attempt by Golden Dawn or other extremist segments to violate the security and dignity of Albanians that work and contribute to this neighboring country.”

 

Around half a million Albanians live permanently in Greece. Most of them originally came to the latter country as migrants seeking better opportunities than Albania’s feeble economy could provide.

 

After the funeral of Konstantinos Katsifas, the Greek nationalist killed by Albanian police in October, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama last month urged his compatriots not to engage in verbal attacks on the Greek minority or Greece itself, “a nation that has given so much to humanity.”

 

“[Greece] has never been and can never be our enemy,” and has provided shelter to
Albanians in times of need, Rama said, according to Greek Reporter.

 

 

  • On Monday, the day before the Foreign Ministry’s statement, Rama praised relations with Athens, saying, “Greeks love Albania, Albanians love Greeks. The rest is just politics.” He confirmed plans to hold more talks on bilateral issues, the Tirana Times says.

 

  • Despite disagreements over the status of the Greek and Albanian minorities in their respective countries, Tirana and Athens have made progress on other bilateral issues such as demarcating a disputed sea border and exhuming the bodies of thousands of Greek soldiers who died in Albania during World War II.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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