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Edi Rama to expropriate land belonging to Greek minority in Albania

Albanian prime minister Edi Rama plans to expropriate properties belonging to members of the Greek minority in Himara, Agioi Saranta and Avlona and utilize the coastal area in South Albania area for touristic purposes. The relevant decision was published in the official Gazette as well as online on Friday and triggered an outrage among the Greek minority and strong reactions in the government in Athens.

The decision of Prime Minister Edi Rama to proceed with his plans took the minority, the government in Athens but also the international community by surprise as it was understood during recent negotiations that he had given up his plans.

According to the official decision, those with ownership titles would receive a compensation between €0.6 and €1.5 per square meter, a relative very low price if one considers the prominent areas where these lands are located.

 

Maps posted together with Decision 708 on Albanian Official Gazette

All the map at himara.gr

What outrages the Greek minority is not only the ridiculous compensation price and Rama’s force.

It is among among others that “citizens will not be able to register their properties after the decision is published in the Official Gazette.” Many property owners still struggle at the Albanian courts to have their property recognized as such, noted himara.gr. “They have been  owners of these properties long before the Albanian state was founded,” the members of minority claim, hinting at the difficulties they face as minority in an authoritarian state.

According to Greek minority political party Omonia, its lawyers investigate the legal validity of such a decision and stress “we will not stop our struggle until each Himara resident has a property title for the land of his forefathers. We will not stop the fight until these titles are registered in the land registry.”

Strong are the reaction in Athens, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to say “this is a very negative development regarding the rights the the protection of the Greek minority in Albania.” He implied to block the European perspective and the accession negotiation of the neighboring country.

Deputy Public Order Minister, Katerina Papakosta, said that Greece would veto the EU accession “if Tirana won’t stop the illegal actions against the officially recognized Greek minority.”

SYRIZA MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament, Dimitris Papadimoulis, with an urgent question to the European Commission asked what exact measures the Commission plans to undertake regarding the legal framework for property registry, expropriation and compensation and the protection of minorities.”

Saturday morning, Decision 708 had disappeared from the website of Albania’s Official Gazette with many now wondering whether it was just a tactic move or whether Rama will indeed proceed with his plans even if kind of modified.

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