EU’s Schinas rails against continued imprisonment of ethnic-Greek mayor in Albania

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European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas has expressed “serious concern” over the continued incarceration by the Albanian authorities of an ethnic-Greek official who was elected mayor of Himare in May.

In a letter to the commissioner for EU enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, Schinas said that Albania, which is seeking entry into the EU, needs to face consequences if mayor-elect Fredi Beleri continues to be prevented from taking office after being democratically elected.

His incarceration, he said, is a violation of due process and can be construed as an attempt to intimidate voters.

The European Union, he said, cannot stand by and allow such violations to take place without reacting.

What happened to Dionysis-Fredi Beleri ?

In the days leading up to the mayoral elections of Albania on May 14, Dionysis-Fredi Beleri, an ethnic Greek candidate running for Mayor of the southern municipality of Himara, found himself in a difficult situation. On May 12, he was arrested by Albanian special forces on charges of allegedly "buying votes."

Despite his arrest, Beleri managed to secure victory in the election while behind bars. He is now the duly elected mayor of Himara, a town with a significant Greek community presence. Beleri ran as a representative of the Unity for Human Rights Party (KEAD), which represents the ethnic Greek minority and received support from the opposition coalition.

Albania's Greek minority comprises the largest ethnic minority in the country and is recognized as a national minority. The Omonia organization, the Union for Human Rights Party (KEAD), and the National Greek Minority for the Future Party (MEGA) are the prominent representatives of Albania's Greek community. Beleri also holds the position of president in Omonia's local branch.

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