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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-01

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek president cancels meeting with Albanian counterpart due to protests

  • [01] Greek president cancels meeting with Albanian counterpart due to protests

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias' scheduled meeting with Albanian President Alfred Moisiu on Tuesday in the southern Albanian town of Sarande was cancelled after the Greek head of state remained waiting for two hours at Greece's consulate in nearby Gjirokaster due to the presence of protestors outside a hotel in the former.

    By early afternoon, Papoulias had already returned to Greece.

    In a later reaction, the Greek foreign ministry said the country's ambassador to Tirana had been instructed to lodge a demarche with the neighboring country because Albanian authorities failed to "take the necessary precautions so that the meeting between the Greek and Albanian Presidents could take place without hindrance."

    The foreign ministry announcement also adds that Albanian authorities did not "take the necessary measures to discourage certain familiar extremist elements which, in their effort to obstruct the normal development of bilateral relations, continue to promote unacceptable and non-existent issues, at the very moment when Albania is attempting to proceed with steps fulfilling its European ambitions".

    According to press reports, around 200 so-called "Chams" ringed a hotel in the coastal town of Sarande to press with their long-standing demands against Greece, claims that date from the end of World War II.

    The Chams, usually identified as a Muslim, Albanian-speaking group, collaborated with the fascist and Nazi occupation forces in extreme northwest Greece -- mostly in the Thesprotia border prefecture -- during the Second World War before fleeing the country for neighbouring Albania after Greece's liberation. Members of the group have at various times raised claims against the Greek government for property abandoned or confiscated because of wartime collaboration and war crimes, among others.

    Athens, moreover, dismisses the "Chams matter" as a non-existent issue.

    Despite the spectre of a WWII-era "thorn", Greece nevertheless hosts more than half a million Albanian guest workers on its territory and also serves as one of the biggest investors in the Balkan country to its northwest.

    Caption: A file photo shows Papoulias, left, and Moisiu meeting in the northwest Greek city of Ioannina late last March. Tuesday's meeting was a follow-up to the two presidents' earlier contacts. ANA / P. Pappa.

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