NEW YORK – With signs emblazoned with slogans such as “Epirus is Albanian,” “Chamouria is Albanian,” and “Greece, Admit and Apologize,” about 30 Albanians participated in a demonstration outside the Consulate General of Greece in New York on June 27, organized by the Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra.
The gathering, which was announced only recently, was part of a more general mobilization of Albanians in New York on the 75th anniversary of the alleged “Genocide” against the Cham Albanians. The gathered reiterated their request to the Greek government “to recognize the genocide of the Cham Albanians and to apologize, in order to proceed further.”
On the other side, a small counter- demonstration by Greek expatriates took place in the presence of members of the Federation of Associated Laconian Societies and Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York President Cleanthis Meimaroglou, who responded to the slogans of the Albanian protesters.
Indeed, the Albanian side was disturbed by the existence of a Greek counter-demonstration, while some of them approached the Greek group, displaying their own signs that spoke of “Genocide,” with irredentist messages. At that time, one of the police officers who monitored the demonstration intervened, asking Albanian protesters to confine themselves to the area that had been enclosed by the Police, in front of the entrance to the Consulate General of Greece in New York.
Generally speaking, apart from some shouted accusations, the situation did not escalate with the demonstration ending peacefully after an hour.
“Nazi Collaborator Napoleon Zervas”
Albanian-American Mark Kebi spoke with The National Herald and insisted that “the demonstration was peaceful” and that “the Greek government should finally recognize the Genocide and apologize.”
“We are here to remember the victims of the Genocide, we have survivors here, and all we ask for is the Greek government to recognize the Genocide and to apologize. We do not want hatred, we do not want something bad, we just want respect, an apology, and for some people who were exiled to go back to their homes,” he told TNH.
For his part, Federation of Hellenic Societies President Cleanthis Meimaroglou, expressed his deep dissatisfaction with the subject of the protest, but also with its slogan.
“We are here to protest because these Albanians have distorted Greek history. Generally, for what they call Chamouria, they were Greek people who lived there, and the Cham Albanians with the Germans and the Italians took them out of their homes and hanged them. That’s why we came to protest against these lies that these people are demonstrating about. They killed Greeks, raped Greeks, and worked with the Germans and Italians,” Meimaroglou said.
Albanian protesters held flags and signs at the protest in front of the Consulate General of Greece in New York. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej
Federation of Associated Laconian Societies President Timoleon Kakouros echoed a similar sentiment in his statement.
“We are demonstrating against this Albanian protest with which they are attempting to destroy history. During the Second World War, some Albanians from Chamouria collaborated with fascism and Nazism and made a lot of mistakes. Those who collaborated with the enemies of Hellenism should be ashamed,” said Kakouros.
In reply, Mr. Kebi said that “it is not true that they were German collaborators. This is Greek propaganda. But we have evidence that the Greek government has collaborated with the Nazis, such as Napoleon Zervas who was their collaborator.”
The Albanians concluded at the Permanent Mission of Albania to the UN and expressed the intention of contacting both the U.S. State Department and Congress.
A counter-protest was led by the Federation of Associated Laconian Societies and Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York President Cleanthis Meimaroglou. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej