Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ms. Bibe: Mr. Spokesman, I think you will have learned of the statements of the Greek Consul in Korce. I would like to learn whether Athens agrees with these statements are not. What has been done to defuse this crisis?

Mr. Delavekouras: Essentially, we have monitored a very large debate in the Albanian press regarding certain statements. Because I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings, and we need to be clear on this and Greece is clear on this: we see the Greek national minority in Albania as a bridge of friendship between the two peoples. Full respect for their rights and the implementation of the relevant commitments and obligations of the Albanian side are a barometer in our bilateral relations as well as a criterion for Albania’s European course.

The issues being faced by the Greek national minority are dealt with by our country in modern terms of the protection of minority rights and based on the relevant international obligations and commitments of Albania – particularly within the framework of Albania’s European course. This includes respect for and protection of the rights of the minority throughout Albanian territory and not exclusively in areas that have been designated as minority zones.

We see the census that is scheduled to be carried out this year in Albania as a tool, first of all, for the Albanian state itself; an invaluable tool. The census needs to be carried out in accordance with international standards, both as regards the drawing up of the questionnaire as well as how the census itself is carried out, as a necessary step towards comprehensive political protection of the rights of minorities. In parallel, I repeat, it is also an obligation Albania has to the European Union, on its European course.

Greek-Albanian relations are of strategic importance to us. They are relations in which we have proved that we will stand by Albania as it takes steps towards the European Union, towards this vital aspiration of the Albanian people that Greece supports. We shouldn’t look for opportunities to blow situations out of proportion in order to create an impression. Our cooperation is ongoing. The talks, the meetings and the dialogue is ongoing, and that is how it should be seen. It is important that the Albanian side, too, perceive the Greek national minority as the bridge of friendship and cooperation that I mentioned.

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