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Politics

Jailed Ethnic Greek in Albania on New Democracy European Parliament Ballot

ATHENS – Greece’s ruling New Democracy party, which said it would veto Albania’s hopes of joining the European Union over the jailing of Fredi Beleri, the elected Mayor of Himare, put him on its list of candidates for the European Parliament.

His brother Leonardos represented him at the ballot announcement in Athens, the Conservatives also listing current European lawmakers, journalists Giorgos Aftias and Eleonora Meleti, and former Olympic weightlifter champion Pyrros Dimas.

Beleri won election in the seaside town and said charges against him of buying votes were concocted by the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama to benefit friends who want to develop properties there, Albania rising in tourist interest.

Beleri was sentenced to two years in jail over the protests of Greece and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, but no complaints from the European Union with speculation that Greece would cave to pressure, including from the United States, to admit Albania and take it out of the sphere of Russian interest.

In a message transmitted through his brother, Beleri thanked Mitsotakis, who has stood by him during his ordeal and added that, “The battle I am fighting is not personal. It is a battle for the rule of law and democracy, the rules of which must be respected by all.”

He added that, “It is a battle for the most suffering and unjust part of Hellenism, the Greek minority of Albania. My brothers who, after decades of oppression, want and have the right to live freely and peacefully, without fear, in a country that respects their rights, honor and their property.”

Mitsotakis is reaching out for voter support for the party with the EU elections seen as a litmus test of his administration that has brought an economic recovery but criticized for a phone bugging scandal and accusations of covering up the reasons for a February, 2023 head-on train crash that killed 57 people.

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