FREDI BELERI: Mitsotakis sends final warning to Rama ahead of European Union meeting

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Edi Rama

Asserting that the start of Albania's accession negotiations with the European Union depends on the resolution of the pre-arrested mayor of Himara (Χειμάρρα, Albanian: Himarë), Fredi Beleri, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met on Monday in Tirana with his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama.

The meeting took place in the framework of the Berlin Conference lunch, held in the Albanian capital ahead of the European Commission's regular progress reports on the progress of candidate countries and the debate on EU Enlargement.

According to Proto Thema, Mitsotakis did not leave room for Rama to question the Greek positions and the attitude of Athens, in view of the European Council in December - which will judge the accession ambitions of Tirana.

Reportedly, the Greek prime minister insisted on the swearing-in of the democratically elected mayor of Himara, even if he remained remanded in custody.

In this context, it seems that a solution is being sought to the impasse that has been created, due to the methods of the Albanian government against Beleri and the will of the people of Himara as expressed in the municipal elections of last May.

Earlier, and attending the work of the session, the prime minister clarified publicly - in his statements to the media - that for Greece, the resolution of the Beleri issue is a necessary condition, in order to start the accession negotiations of Albania with the EU.

After pointing out that Albania has made "unfortunately significant setbacks" in respect for the rule of law, Mitsotakis noted that: "I emphasise my respect for the independence of the Albanian judiciary, it is not my job to interfere in its work, but I want to emphasise that Fredi Beleri has the right to swear an oath even in pre-trial detention and this is foreseen by the Albanian legal order".

As he pointed out: "It is important that the Mayor of Himara be sworn in so that the significant shadow that affects Greek-Albanian relations goes away," he said, hoping that the problem will be resolved "in a spirit of good cooperation without affecting the relations of the two states."

The prime minister said that Greece firmly and unwaveringly supports the accession perspective of the countries of the Western Balkans, underlining that "this road is difficult and requires these countries to make significant adjustments to the European acquis."

In this context, he made special reference to "a principle that is non-negotiable and that is respect for the rule of law. A respect that must be expressed in all aspects of the organized state of all countries."

The bust of Konstantinos Mitsotakis in Dervitsani

On the eve of the National Anniversary of October 28, 1940, the unveiling of the bust of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister in the period 1990-1993, has been planned in the central square of the minority village of Dervitsani in Northern Epirus.

Although the Greek Prime Minister has been invited by the Albanian government, sources say that Mitsotakis will not attend due to the Beleri case which casts heavy shadows on bilateral relations.

Besides, "Oxi Day" is also connected with the sad event of the murder of Konstantinos Katsifas in 2018, which instead of serious answers from the Albanian authorities, a controversial conclusion emerged that presents the victim as committing suicide.

The Beleri trial continues

Today Tuesday continues at the Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime (GJKKO) in Tirana, the trial of Himara mayor Fredi Beleri and his partner Pantelis Kokavesi, who are accused of "active corruption in elections" by buying votes two days before last May's municipal elections.

The trial began last Thursday and is expected to last until mid-November.

However, as long as Tirana insists on the "hard line" against Beleri, the impasse will continue until the case is finalised and leads to his removal from the office of mayor - something Rama seeks, preventing by all means the swearing-in of Beleri as mayor of Himara.

Earlier the Court of First Instance of Durrës had rejected the expatriate mayor's request for permission to be officially sworn in - something that has not been allowed to him until today through various strategies of the Albanian government.

The prosecutor considered the court to be incompetent to hear the case, a suggestion which the trial judge accepted and as a result the case was referred to the supreme court.

During the first day of the hearing in the SPAK courtroom, with Pantelis Kokavesis represented by his lawyer, Fredi Beleri's lawyers asked for the exception of judge Etleva Doda, because at an earlier stage of the proceedings she had rejected his request, while they asked from the headquarters not to take into account surveillance products before the date of approval by the Avlonas (Αυλώνας, Albanian: Vlorë) prosecutor's office.

The Greek ambassador to Tirana, Konstantina Kamitsi, is also watching the process.

READ MORE: Mitsotakis and Erdogan discuss Israel-Hamas war.


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