Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis holds a painting as his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama, left, shakes hands with residents during their visit to ethnic Greek minority regions, in Dervican village, southern Albania, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. Relations between Greece and post-communist Albania have been at times uneasy but have improved in recent years, largely over minority rights. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)
HIMARE, Albania – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived on Thursday in Himare, Albania, where members of the Greek ethnic minority welcomed him at the seafront in the town.
Mitsotakis, clearly moved, stated that it was a great honour to be the first Greek prime minister to visit Himare.
“The Greek ethnic minority of Albania will have in me a steadfast supporter of your just claims. You are the bridge of friendship between Greece and Albania. I am and will remain a supporter of Albania’s European path and it is Albania’s duty to fully respect your rights on the issue of self-identification, the issue of language and in the matter of your property rights,” Mitsotakis said, while insisting and offering his personal guarantee that, with a spirit of cooperation, all these issues will be resolved.
Mitsotakis also noted that Greece has “put the adventures behind it” and is now stronger.
Olympic gold medallist Pyrros Dimas accompanied Mitsotakis on his visit to the villages of the Greek minority, calling it a historic day and stressing: “I would have come from the other side of the world, I would not miss it for anything”.
The next stops in Mitsotakis’ visit are Livadhja, where he will be met by Environment and Tourism Minister Mirela Kumbaro, and Dervician, where he is to be welcomed by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
PM Mitsotakis visits Greek ethnic minority at Derviçan, welcomed by PM Rama
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to do whatever he can to resolve issues of the Greek ethnic minority in Albania while visiting Derviçan on Thursday.
In a scheduled one-day visit to southern Albania and the ethnic minority there, the Greek PM said that he had a very close collaboration with Albanian PM Edi Rama – who welcomed him at the city’s sports field – and appeared optimistic that the outstanding issues would be resolved.
In addition, he reiterated his support for Albania’s future accession to the European Union. “Albania deserves to be in the EU, and as Albania prospers, so will our ethnic minority,” Mitsotakis said, adding there are extensive opportunities for improving bilateral relations in the economy and in infrastructure.
Prior to Derviçan, Mitsotakis had visited the minorities of Himare and Livadhja.
This is the first visit of a Greek prime minister to the Greek ethnic minority of the area since his father’s visit as prime minister in 1991.
Mitsotakis had paid a visit to Tirana for the EU-Western Balkans summit, where he and Rama met on the sidelines, while Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias was on an official visit to Albania on Wednesday and attended a luncheon in his honor by Rama. PM Mitsotakis in Livadhja
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived in Livadhja and delivered a brief address to over 300 members of the ethnic Greek minority that gathered in the yard of the high school “Lefteris Stalios”.
In his address, Mitsotakis appeared optimistic over the signing of an agreement on referring the delimitation of the EEZ with Albania to arbitration and insisted that this was the right way to resolve differences between civilised countries.
Greece Unhappy Albania Makes Deal to Buy War Drones from Turkey
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Dec. 22 was in Albania to visit southern villages on Greece’s border to meet leaders of the Greek ethnic minority, after Albania signed a deal to buy three drones from Turkey.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama – whose government blocked a 2009 maritime borders deal by taking it to court – was to welcome Mitsotakis at Dervician and Envrironment and Tourism Minister Mirela Kumbaro in Livadhja, said Greece’ state-run Athens Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA.
Before that, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece was upset over the drone deal and Albania buying them as Turkey is increasing tensions and provocations and threatening to invade Greece and fire missiles at Athens.
Speaking at a press conference in Tirana with Albania’s Foreign Minister Olta Xhaçka, Dendias emphasized the presence of revisionist forces that “want us to return to other times and perceptions and to influence the Western Balkans,” reported EURACTIV.
“Their aim is not only of cooperation, but to create zones of influence, which are not even consistent with the European acquis, neither with the European perspective nor with European values,” Dendias said.
Rama – who earlier said he prefers Mitsotakis over Greece’s major opposition SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras – earlier praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the deal to acquire Bayraktar drones, which are widely used in the war in Ukraine.
“We signed an export contract with Albania, a country where we have walked for centuries and share strong historical, cultural and humanitarian ties,” the CEO of the Turkish drones company said in a statement.
Dendias’ visit to Tirana coincided with a statement made to EURACTIV by former prime minister Sali Berisha, who said Turkey “intervened” to cancel the 2009 Greece-Albania maritime deal.
“Turkey is no doubt a friend, a partner, but with a doctrine of neo-Ottomanism that I will not accept,” Berisha said, referring to some 600 years of Turkish Ottoman rule in the region.
Mitsotakis is also expected to be accompanied by Rama for some of the meetings which were originally scheduled for the day after the European Union-Western Balkan meeting, Albania wanting Greece’s support for an EU entry bid.
Rama had stirred the diplomatic pot even more previously when he said that Greece “cheated” to get into the EU which led him to apologize after complaints from Greece’s government over it.
DRAMA - The funeral of fallen airman Captain Efstathios Tsitlakidis was held on Friday in Granitis, Drama in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
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