Following in the footsteps of his late father Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Kyriakos Mitsotakis made one of the most meaningful acts of his prime ministership so far.
On December 22, he visited the Hellenism of Northern Epirus, specifically the martyred and heroic Heimarra with its large Greek population.
It is an act of great personal sensitivity and high national responsibility.
After the collapse of Hoxha’s communist regime, many Greeks from Northern Epirus left for Greece. Thus, those who remained constitute a percentage of its original population. However, they are not few. But even if there were few, and even if there was one, he or she still deserved the warmth of the Greek state.
Indicative of the feelings prevailing among our expatriates there were the slogans heard by the Prime Minister: “Greece, Greece don’t forget us” and “Help us” said by the head of the Heimarra branch of ‘Omonoia’, Freddy Beleris. These are voices of anguish, which I am sure did not go unnoticed by the Prime Minister.
Mitsotakis, visibly moved, emphasized that “I want you to know that in my person the Greek National Minority of Albania will always have not just a friend, but a firm supporter in your just demands.”
I completely understand his emotion. I will forever carry with me the emotion I felt when, as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs responsible for Hellenism Abroad, representing the Prime Minister, I visited the village of Vouliarates’ cemetery and the grave of Konstantinos Katsifas, the young man who was murdered by the Albanians because he raised the Greek flag during the anniversary of October 28th.
The Prime Minister also thanked the expatriates who keep “the flame of Hellenism and Orthodoxy burning in your heart.”
This is, of course, true for the expatriates of Northern Epirus and Heimarra in particular, but also for all Greeks living abroad, who struggle every day to achieve this – although the conditions differ from country to country.
I don’t think that the Greeks of Northern Epirus are asking anything unreasonable from Greece. They feel her, it seems, so close to them, yet so far away. So they need the warmth, the embrace, the interest of Greece – as evidenced by this visit of the Prime Minister. However, they still need Greece’s more dynamic mediation in the rights they have and the injustices done to them – e.g. with property – and many other issues from the Albanian government.
They need a more forceful exercise of diplomacy from Greece towards the Albanian authorities. Turkey should not be allowed to bully Albania and pressure it to ostracize the Greek minority that has lived in these parts for thousands of years.
The Prime Minister opened his arms and embraced our Greeks in Northern Epirus. And this will keep them, inspire them, and accompany them for many years. If the practical part of their “help” also follows, it will be ideal.
This visit is not only a proper personal act. It is a nationally correct act.