Amid growing tensions between the countries, Albania asserted it had the right to seize properties of ethnic Greeks and sell them to develop tourism, after Prime Minister Edi Rama had defended police for shooting dead a Greek living there.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said the confiscations and sales should have been cancelled, calling it a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) but the call was ignored by Albania.
Albania’s Foreign Ministry expressed regret over Athens’s reaction, saying it was triggered by “distorted facts,” without citing them.
“Albania, as a European state and a member of the European Convention of Human Rights, recognizes the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg-based court and enforces its rulings,” it said, while ignoring the court at the same time.
“Citizens who feel that their property rights are being violated have the right to resort to the competent European courts,” it said.
The confiscated properties were swiftly sold off, partly to help tourism development in the area, upsetting the Greek Foreign Ministry – with the resignation of Nikos Kotzias, it is now headed by Tsipras technically.
“Such actions are not consistent with the declared European aspirations of Albania and are contrary to its relevant obligations,” the statement said, noting that Albania wants to the join the European Union.
The Omonoia organization, which is representing the ethnic Greeks in the region, said that it would move to protect the rights and interests of the minority by using all legal means at its disposal, reported Kathimerini.
“Both the decision and the relevant proposed bill of law amount to a flagrant violation of human rights, including the rights of ownership of the Greek indigenous national minority in Albania. Such actions are not consistent with the declared European aspirations of Albania and are contrary to its relevant obligations,” the Greek response said.
“We call upon the government of Albania to rescind this decision and reconsider the law, ensuring that ownership deeds be immediately granted to all lawful owners without exception,” it added.
New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis also condemned Albania’s action and said he had sent a letter to the European Commission chief in charge of enlargement and opening accession talks, Johannes Hahn, to protest the “unacceptable” decision by Rama.
“The decision constitutes a direct violation of the Greek national minority’s human rights, and contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights,” Mitsotakis said.