Bolanos Bile (Greece - Albania)
By Dean Kalimniou
Australian Macedonian Advisory Council
June 03, 2009
His Honour, the Mayor of Cheimarra Vasilis Bolanos, is currently languishing in prison. Some people have called him a criminal. I on the other hand, believe that he is the most stalwart Hellene I have ever had the privilege to meet. A cursory glance of any given year's batch of Diatribes will reveal as least one or two references to him. Vasilis Bolanos is the mayor of a historically Greek region that successive Albanian governments have deemed fit to keep out of the recognized "Greek minority zone."
As a result, the Greek character of the majority of the inhabitants of the region is denied to them and they cannot enjoy the basic privilege of education in their mother tongue, or even the basic human right of being able to determine their own ethnic identity. Despite this non-recognition, successive Albanian governments have had to deal with the election of an ethnic Greek mayor over successive elections. This is somewhat embarrassing as it is difficult to explain why an ethnic Greek would be continuously re-elected in a region that is supposed to be non-Greek.
Over the years, various Albanian groups have: beaten up and stabbed voters, stolen ballot boxes, engaged in blackmail and resorted to the Courts in order to have elections that Vasilis Bolanos had won, invalid. Despite all this, Vasilis Bolanos gets re-elected every time.I will never forget driving with him through the village of Shen Vasilj, (Άγιος Βασίλειος), formerly inhabited exclusively by ethnic Greeks. As we struggled to negotiate the tortuous, pot-holed road, we came upon a desolate square, bordered all around by drab yellowing stone walls.
On the far wall, in red ink, this slogan slashed its way across the brick-work: «ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ ΣΤΟΥΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ.» I looked at the ruddy complexioned Bolanos out of the corner of his eye. His jaw had tightened, his lips had pursed so that I could see small rivulets of veins appearing at the corners of his mouth. Then with a twinkle of this eyes, he quipped: "Yeah, well now I think you know what these people's attitude is to Greek package tours.".................continues......
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