Albanian Premier Digs in Heels Over Detained Ethnic Greek Mayor Case

TIRANA – Defying Greece and the European Union, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the prosecution of a detained ethnic Greek Mayor-elect of the seaside town of Himare will go on even though it’s blocking his country’s European Union hopes.

Fredi Beleri is in pre-trial detention while facing charges of buying votes, which he denied and said were fabricated to get him out of the way so that business associates could get land in the town that’s a growing tourist area.

Rama said it’s a case for the courts to decide although critics said the judiciary is in his sway and Beleri it’s corrupt and designed to favor the political and business elite and hold down ethnic Greek rights in the town,

In an interview with A2CNN television station, Rama denied there’s been any political pressure on the courts but while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said it’s a legal matter that Greece will veto Albania’s EU hopes.

Greece is said to believe there is wrongdoing in the continued holding of Belerik the case straining relations between the countries to the breaking point, but Rama said to believe the United States will get Greece to back down, wanting further expansion in the Balkans and Albania also being a NATO member.

“Greece is not correct on the Beleri issue,” he said, adding that Albania has a unified justice system for all its citizens, regardless of their ethnic background despite Greek claims Belere is being persecuted for his heritage.

Rama also resisted pressure from EU officials who want the showdown to end with Greece putting up a roadblock and Albania long facing a reputation of beig corrupt and unjust.

“Even if the European Council is turned upside down, we will negotiate nothing beyond the strategic interest of Albania, which is the implementation of judicial reform and ensuring the independence of judicial institutions,” he said.


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