Greece's Hardened Stance on Albania's Accession Negotiations Escalates Due to Rights Violation Case

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Greece's decision to refuse to support a joint letter from the 27 European Union member-states to Albania regarding the start of accession negotiations represents a significant escalation in their tough stance towards Tirana. This decision is motivated by the ongoing violation of the rights of Fredi Beleri, an ethnic Greek who was imprisoned shortly before being elected mayor of Himare in the local elections of Albania.

While a solution was found to move forward with negotiations on this matter with North Macedonia, as Bulgaria agreed to the proposed compromise by the Spanish presidency, the same does not apply to Albania.
Apart from the negative impact caused by the stance of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama's government in the Beleri case on Greek-Albanian relations, this development effectively separates the two campaigns of North Macedonia and Albania, which had until now been linked.

The first set of crucial issues that each candidate country must address are covered in five chapters, which include topics such as judicial authority and fundamental rights, judiciary, freedom and security, public procurement, statistics, and financial control.

The recent progress report on EU candidate countries made reference to the complications in Greek-Albanian relations caused by the Beleri case, although indirectly but clearly.

Athens might reconsider its position if Tirana takes steps suggesting a willingness to engage in discussion. Greece has called for Beleri to be given the opportunity to be officially sworn in as mayor of Himare at all possible levels, but this request has been rejected by the Albanian courts thus far. The next hearing for Beleri's trial on vote-buying charges will take place on November 22, but before that, a new hearing is expected to be scheduled regarding his request for special leave to be sworn in.

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