Wednesday, December 19, 2007

State Departament: Importance of Minority Rights and Religious Freedom in Albania (Northern Epirus)

Daily Press BriefingTom Casey, Deputy SpokesmanWashington, DCDecember 18, 2007

Mr. Lambros Papantoniou?

Q: On Albania, Mr. Casey, what is the U.S. policy vis-a-vis to the Greek minority of Northern Epirus in Albania, since in the most recent days the entire Himare area is under attack by Albanian mob,destroying 35 Greek churches and terrorizing the Greeks?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, I don't have anything new to offer you in terms of the issues related to the territorial integrity of any ofthe countries in the region.

Certainly we believe it's important for all the countries in the Balkans to ensure protection of minority rights and religious freedoms. That's a general principle that we certainly adhere to and promote. I don't have anything specific for you, though, on any of these individual incidents.

Q: One more, on Kosovo. Tomorrow is the discussion at the
U.N. on the final status of Kosovo, and I'm wondering, Mr. Casey, if you'd care to make any statement.

MR. CASEY: Well, Mr. Lambros, you know our position on Kosovo, and I fully expect that you will hear that from Ambassador Khalilzad and other officials there. Certainly we all believe that the time has come to deal with the final status of Kosovo. And as you know, we strongly believe that the way forward lies with implementation of the basic outlines of the Ahtisaari plan, including, in the short term,supervised independence for Kosovo.

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