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Greece complains about Albania to the European Commission

20 August 2013 / 18:08:58  GRReporter
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A diplomatic row between Greece and Albania broke after Orthodox Albanian citizens refused to obey a private security firm and refused to leave the church "Assumption of the Virgin Mary" in the town of Permet. The results of the consequent clashes between citizens and private security guards were that the two ethnic Greeks were admitted to hospital with minor injuries and an unknown person threw a rock at the Greek consulate in Gjirokastra.

On this occasion, MP of the European Parliament of New Democracy George Koumoutsakos sent a request to the European Commission asking it to investigate the case and request official information from both Albanian authorities and the Albanian Orthodox Church. Koumoutzakos also insisted that the results of this investigation should be included in the annual report on Albania's progress as a candidate country for EU membership.

The Greek Foreign Ministry submitted the protest note to Albanian Ambassador in Athens Ermira Brahe a day before. Today, the Albanian diplomatic office in turn officially recommended calm and restrained behaviour regarding the investigation of the case. According to him, the Greek consulate in the city of Gjirokastra has discovered just a stone which, besides, was so small, that it could have been raised by a passing nearby car. Regarding the two injured ethnic Greeks, according to the Albanian Foreign Ministry, they refused to testify before investigating authorities.

Again according to the same source, both priests and believers are to blame for the clashes, since they tore the enclosure of the private security firm Aoulona and raided the church, although it belongs to the municipality in Permet and has been turned into a cultural centre. A day after the riots private security guards and local officials again took possession of the church and took out both priests and Christians.

The whole quarrel began with a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Albania, which returned the building of the church into the possession of the municipality and the local Orthodox community opposed this decision. According to the Albanian Orthodox Church, however, the building was confiscated from the church by a decision of the communist regime in 1968 and was submitted to the municipality, which made it a cultural centre, because this was the practice at the time. In 2010, various religious communities in Albania reached an agreement with the then government for the return of all religious buildings that were seized in this way.

The Supreme Court essentially cancelled this agreement and this led to clashes between believers and authorities.

Tags: diplomatic scandal Albania Greece Permet Gjirokastra protest note Orthodox Albanians of Greek origin
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