After Visit, Greek EU Lawmaker Decries Jailing Ethnic Greek Mayor in Albania

ATHENS – New Democracy Member of the European Parliament Manolis Kefalogiannis said the continued false imprisonment of ethnic Greek Fredi Beleri, the rightfully elected mayor of the Albanian seaside town of Himare was “flimsy and baseless.”

That came after he visited Beleri, who said he was the victim of a political imprisonment by Prime Minister Edi Rama, accusing Albania’s leader of wanting to help business associates develop the area into a tourist attraction and get Beleri out of the way.

Kefalogiannis is Chairman of the EU-Albania Joint Parliamentary Stabilization and Association Committee and became the latest to denounce the jailing of Beleri, with Greece threatening to block Albania’s hopes of joining the European Union.

“Fredi Beleri continues his proud fight for the Greek-ethnic minority, for Himare’s residents. He has been a prisoner for a year now, on a flimsy and baseless charge, an unfair decision keeping him in jail illegally,” he said.

Kefalogiannis also warned the incarceration of Beleri – whom New Democracy put on its ticket for European Parliament elections in June – would hold back Albania’s chance of joining the bloc.

“Albania’s accession course depends on respect for the fundamental rights of the Greek-ethnic minority, on resolving the property issue in ‘northern Epirus,’ on respect for good neighborly relations, on the immediate release of Fredi Beleri and on his swearing-in as Himare Mayor,” he said.

It was his fourth visit to the prison in the central Albanian city of Fier where Beleri is being held after being found guilty earlier this year of vote-buying in the May 2023 local elections, which he and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said was a ruse.


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