Bomb Blast at the Home of Chimara's Greek Mayor:
Continuous Challenges for the Minority Greeks of Albania

At midnight on May 23, another act of violence added to the long list of persecutions suffered by Greeks in Albania: an explosive device blew up at the entrance of the house of the mayor and chairman of the Himara minority organization DEEEM "Omonia,” Vasilis Bollanos. Fortunately there were no victims, only damage to the house itself, nearby residences, and parked cars. But this was not surprising to the Greeks of the area. Such an act was not unexpected, given the climate created recently by Albanian groups.

At a meeting of the Albanian Parliament on December23, Cham legislators attacked the President of CyNet (Party of Union for Human Rights), Vangelis Dule. After a vulgar verbal attack by Mr Intrizi, a friend of the Chams, Mr. Tahiri moved threateningly against the president of CyNet who was compelled to take defensive action. Threats in parliament and threatening phone calls occurred on the days following the attack.

A few weeks ago the "Front for Albanian National Integration," with participating Albanians from Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania, met in Himara and adopted a resolution in favor of "Greater Albania" at a meeting held by armed men who provoked residents of Himara by displaying weapons and writing slogans.

Home of Himara's mayor, Vasilis Bollanos,
after the bomb blast.

Very often Cham organizations make claims against Greece at events which are attended by the Albanian parliament and are well covered by Albanian media. Politically, the anti-Hellenic fury is maintained and promoted by the political leadership of both the government and opposition. Issues such as the agreements on maritime borders with Greece, on the burial of fallen Greek soldiers in 1940, the demands of the Chams, and the "inhuman" conditions faced by Albanian immigrants in Greece, are constantly in the news. Every Albanian politician tries to exploit them using the appropriate nationalist rhetoric.

This climate, coupled with the indifferent attitude of Greece, despite the efforts and protests of [the minority Greeks of] Northern Epirus, encourages actions such as the ones taking place yesterday, actions that are in stark contrast to the vision of European integration in the country and efforts to maintain good relations between Greece and Albania. We expect the Greek political leadership to rise to the occasion and take appropriate initiatives. The Albanian government should contemplate their responsibilities to protect minority rights as specified in signed treaties. We, the Union Cheimarrioton [Union of Greek Residents of Himara], constant witnesses to developments in our hometown during the last 20 years, will not remain passive to these challenges.

(Posting date 30 May 2010)

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