Dendias blasts Tirana’s attempts to raise “Cham Albanian” issue

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendia Albania's Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka May 23, 2022.

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias blasted Albania’s attempts to revise history and claim Greece violated the rights of Nazi-collaborating Albanian Chams during World War II.

The Greek foreign minister said that revisionist forces should be prevented from trying to destabilise the broader region, speaking after meeting with Albania’s Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka at Tirana on Monday.

Answering her immediately and calmly about such a Cham issue, Dendias said that “Greece is ready to discuss only issues that it considers to exist,” clarifying that for the Greek side “there is no such issue”.

In fact, he said that “any attempt to create and discuss non-existent issues” could raise issues related to Albania’s accession process.

Armed Cham collaborator units actively participated in Nazi operations that resulted in the murder of more than 1,200 Greek villagers between July and September 1943, and, in January 1944, in the murder of 600 people on the Albanian side of the border.

Collaboration with the Axis fueled resentment by the Greek side and in the aftermath of World War II, most of the Muslim Cham community had to flee to Albania to escape persecution for collaborationism.

In 1945-1946, a special collaborator’s court in Greece condemned a total of 2,109 Cham Albanians in absentia for collaboration with the Axis powers and war crimes.

According to Himara, the Albanian Foreign Minister stated: “We hope that our willingness to find a mutually agreed solution to an issue as difficult as maritime space can serve as a constructive approach through which our friendly countries can to start discussions on other issues as difficult as we have inherited from the history of the tragic period of World War II, such as the need to repeal the law of war or issues of property rights or human rights of the Cham community.

He added that “we agreed on how to speed up the completion of the technical part, so that we can submit the joint statement to the International Court of Justice in The Hague,” which he visited last week.

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendia Albania's Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka May 23, 2022.

Dendias was talking about Greece and Albania referring their issue of the delimitation of the EEZ and the continental shelf to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

The completion of this process is of great importance for Greece, he noted, and he pointed out that “the two countries want to resolve our differences on the basis of International Law and in particular the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS.”

Dendias stressed that beyond this issue being significant for Greece and Albania, “it sends a very important message to all countries: that this is the only appropriate way to resolve differences.”

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendia Albania's Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka May 23, 2022.

The city of Tirana is the first stop in Dendias’ visit to the Western Balkans in view of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) summit that will be held in Thessaloniki in a couple of weeks.

In this context, he expressed the belief that the European perspective of the Western Balkans is “a one-way street for the region, especially in the current situation, where attention to Ukraine allows revisionist forces to try to destabilize the broader region.”

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendia Albania's Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka May 23, 2022.

He also stressed the need “to work to prevent this” and “to be able to build a European future of peace, stability, prosperity and cooperation in our region.”

The Greek minister also reiterated that Greece fully supports the immediate start of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

Greece, he noted, is fully prepared to continue to provide technical assistance and “to make every effort to remove the impasse that exists in the negotiations,” which, he underlined, “it is well known that it is not a concern of Albania.”

Dendias also met with His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durrës & All Albania, with whom he said he had a long conversation.

Concluding his visit to Albania on Monday, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias Albania' Edi Rama

The talks focused on the bilateral relations, Albania’s EU perspective and on the regional developments, the Greek Foreign Ministry posted on Twitter.

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