Mitsotakis to Greek Minority in Heimarra: "It is Albania's obligation to respect your rights"

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Heimerra, Northern Epirus, Albania - December 22, 2022.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in Heimarra where he visited the Greek school Homeros. The prime minister received a warm welcome, with Greek flags and chants. Girls in traditional costumes gave him flowers and thanked him for visiting the Greek school.

Afterwards, the prime minister had a meeting with members and representatives of the Greek National Minority in Albania.

The next stops of the Greek Prime Minister's visit are Livadeia (Λιβαδειά, Albanian: Livadhe) and Dervitsani (Δερβιτσάνη, Albanian: Derviçan).

On behalf of the Albanian government, the Prime Minister will be welcomed in Dervitsani by his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama, while in Livadia the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Mirela Kumbaro.

Speaking to those gathered, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: "A special moment for me and Hellenism everywhere. I remember Mitsotakis' visit to these lands in 1991. I feel very honoured to be the first Greek prime minister to visit Heimarra.

"Thank you for keeping the flame of Hellenism and Orthodoxy alive in very difficult years, especially the older ones. In me, the Greek national minority will have a friend and supporter in your just demands.

"You who chose to stay here, you are a bridge of friendship and cooperation between Greece and Albania, know that I personally was, am and will remain a supporter of Albania's European perspective.

"Albania's obligation is to fully respect your own rights, whether we are referring to the right to self-determination, or the right for your children and grandchildren to learn the Greek language at all levels, or whether we are referring to the critical issue of your property rights."

The Prime Minister went on to say, that “as we resolve the issues of the uninsured overages and your pensions, the government will always be there for you as they have all been.

"This is what we must do and this is what we will do. I also want to tell you that our Greece is now a stronger and developing country and the better it goes the better things will be for you.

"We will all walk the path we have set for a strong Greece in Europe.

"I saw the young children from kindergarten to high school learning Greek. It is the next generation that needs to stay put. As long as Albania is struggling, so will these children. And we will contribute to this.

"Greece is growing and getting stronger. I have the great pleasure of being accompanied by one of your people, who lifted the whole of Greece on his back, we all cried with his successes and I am sure that he feels a special emotion that he returned to his place and damaged the raised flags.

"Pyrros, thank you for what you did for Greece and for your fellow citizens."

The visit was of the prime minister originally scheduled to take place on December 7 but had to be postponed.

The Prime Minister's arrival

In April 1939, Northern Epirus, today's Souther Albania, was occupied by Mussolini's Fascist Italy following its invasion of Albania.

In 1940, during the Greco-Italian War, the Hellenic Army entered Northern Epirus. The Hellenic Army stayed for five months before capitulating to Nazi Germany in April 1941 and returning the liberated Greek territories Italian command.

Northern Epirus was eventually given to Albania again in 1944, despite the region only having an Albanian minority and a Greek majority, and twice liberated by the Greek Army from foreign forces.

During the years of communist rule, any form of organisation by minorities was prohibited. In 1991, when the communist regime collapsed, the political organisation Omonoia (Greek: Ομόνοια) was founded, in the town of Dervitsani by representatives of the Greek minority.

The organisation has four affiliates and three sub-sections. Its leading forum is the General Council consisting of 45 members, which is elected by the General Conference held every two years

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