The Albanian ultra-nationalist movement Djempes e Laberias- “Boys of Laberia” today tried to hold a protest in front of the Greek consulate in Argyrokastro (Αργυρόκαστρο, Albanian: Gjirokastër), in the historically Greek region of Northern Epirus, today’s Albania.
Unfortunately for the protesters, they failed.
A dozen people were also arrested by Albanian police, who with a force of only a few men, prevented the protesters from approaching the Greek diplomatic mission.
One protester said, “We are not here to denounce Greece, but the Greek consul. Albanians and Greeks are brotherly peoples,” according to Albanian TV channel Ora News.
Two weeks ago ago, Djempes e Laberias- “Boys of Laberia” burnt the Northern Epirote flag at the Greek military cemetery in Kleisoura (Κλεισοῦραι, Albanian: Këlcyra), where Greek martyrs of the Italo-Greek War of World War II are resting, as reported by Greek City Times.
According to the Albanian TV channel OraNews, today the group changed its stance and stated that it is against the burning of flags and believe in the “brotherhood” of Albanian and Greek people.
Greek autonomy should exist in Northern Epirus under the Albanian state because of the Corfu Protocol signed on May 17, 1914, between the representatives of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Greeks of Northern Epirus, headed by Georgios Christakis-Zografos who was representing about 250,000 people, and the newly formed Albanian state headed by Prince William of Wied.
This was done with the mediation of the International Commission of the six Great Powers even though Greece liberated the region from Ottoman rule during the Balkan Wars. The Greek Army liberated the Greek-majority area, but the Great Powers decided to award the region to the newly formed Albanian state.
The Great Powers after World War 2 again handed over the region to Albania even though Greece liberated it again during the Italo-Greek War, and Albania was an ally to the Axis Powers, in which Greece fought against.
To this day, Greeks in Northern Epirus are discriminated against by journalists and politicians, as reported by Greek City Times. The Greeks also continue to have their properties confiscated without compensation, bilingual signs removed, and harassment from police and Albanian ultra-nationalists.
Perhaps the implementation of the Corfu Protocol needs to be re-explored for the approximately 120,000 Greeks still living in Northern Epirus so that they can better protect themselves from not only state harassment, but from ultra-nationalists who defile areas where Greek martyrs are buried.