Albanian Premier Rama Sets Meeting with Greek PM Tsipras

FILE - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama Greek Premier and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 17, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Oleg Popov)

After defending the killing of a Greek man in a clash with police, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said he expects to soon meet with Greek Premier and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to discuss that and other issues of contention between the countries.

“It’s expected that we will meet soon. I don’t know whether it will be in Tirana or Athens but it’s expected soon,” Rama told the Athens-Macedonia news agency on the sidelines of a conference in Tirana on news agencies and fake news.

“We are in middle of a very intensive dialogue on many issues, some that have existed for years and others that have never been addressed with full intention and decisiveness for a solution,” he said. “I think we are close to solving all those [issues] and that would be great.”

Rama described as “historic and traditional” bilateral ties, which were tested recently after Albanian police shot dead Konstantinos Katsifas, an ethnic Greek resident of a village in southern Albania, who was celebrating the Oct. 28 Oxi Day marking when Greece refused an Italian ultimatum to surrender at the start of WWII and battles pushed Italian troops through Albania.

“As always happens with neighbors, things don’t always go well,” said Rama, without noting he had backed Albanian police for killing Katsifas but now saying that he was “very eager to improve this relationship.”

“Now [the relationship] is good and the most important thing is for there not to be hostility between peoples,” he said. “Greeks love Albania, Albanians love Greece. The rest is just politics,” he added.
He ignored that Albania’s Interior Ministry banned 52 Greeks from entering the country again for what it says were anti-Albanian activities at a funeral, the Associated Press reported earlier.

Despite what Rama said, tensions between the countries remain high with Albania disputing maritime borders and after earlier this year he said Greece should built a monument to Albanian Chams expelled from the Epirus region in World War II, and that community said Greece should apologize for what it called a genocide against them and let them return.

The push came as Greece and Albania were trying to build better relations after Rama said his country has no territorial claims in Greece but that it wanted recognition for the Chams and what happened to them.

Talks between the countries have included the borders and a State of War law still active in Greece since Italy used Albania in an attempted invasion of Greece in WWII before the Greek Army pushed the Italians out rapidly, leading Germany to lead a successful invasion and occupation.

Addressing a rally of a few thousand Chams at the gate of the compound where the Greek Embassy is located, Shpetim Idrizi, the leader of the Cham party, said they wanted first “an apology for thousands of Chams killed at home, not in the battlefront,” the news agency Reuters reported.

“We Albanians of Chameria do not want a revenge, we do not want a change of borders, we want an apology so we can be able to forgive and the two peoples can live peacefully and we can return to live in our homes. We are peaceful,” Idrizi said.