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Understanding Albanian-Greek Relations: Deconstructing Paradoxes and Myths

Two main issues have dominated Albanian-Greek relations during the last over-one hundred years, also coinciding with the modern history of the Albanian state: the issue of territorial/border disputes and the issue of ethnic minorities – both typical for two neighboring nations and states.

ALBERT RAKIPI, PhD

Territorial, border and minority issues have historically been, and continue to be, the main source of tension in bilateral relations. They have fed a cyclical relation of crises with frequent ups and downs, interrupted by periods of cooperation only to return to a state of tension but never leading to conflict, in the classical sense of the word.

At first glance, territorial/border and ethnic disputes seem to be a mediocre story between two neighboring nations, the states of which were established in context of the vacuum created from the withdrawal or fall of empires, as was the case of the Ottoman Empire’s withdrawal from the Balkans.

In the following paper, I will discuss how and why territorial/border disputes and minority issues going back as far as the beginning of the twentieth century still serve as the main source of tension and instability. Another element to be discussed which makes the case of Albania and Greece unique, as much as paradoxical, is simultaneously being at war and in peace for territory/borders and minorities for which neither Greece nor Albania is currently contesting.

Revisiting history

Three main historical periods have defined the nature and problematic of Albanian-Greek relations during the last century. First, it was the period of national movements in the Balkans, and the withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire in the turn of the nineteenth century, and until the start of the twentieth century. These national movements led to the establishment of Balkan states, the territories and borders of which did not necessarily comply with ethnic lines. Albania’s case, in particular, was the most critical and significant. The creation and recognition by European powers of an Albanian state led to the fraction of Albanian territories among its neighbors, including Greece. Thus, the political map of the Balkans was finally complete, but the territories which, according to this map, were recognized as states and the borders that separated them would become the main source of future conflicts and tensions. The two Balkan Wars and World War I questioned, in the worst case, the future of an Albanian state and, in the best case, Albanian territories not only in the country’s north, but also in its south, due to Greek claims.

Secondly, it was World War II, at the start of which Albania and Greece, accidentally in fact, were in opposing fronts due to third countries’ commitments. Italy attacked Greece in October 1940 using Albanian territory, which it had invaded since April, 1939. Two of the most important issues of Albanian-Greek relations are tied to this period, issues that are intertwined and still present on the negotiations’ table even after seventy years: the law on the state of  war, which is paradoxically still in power, and the Cham issue. Through a royal decree on November 10, 1940, Albania was declared an enemy state, along Italy. As paradoxical as this law may seem, it remains in power to this day. In addition, although the trajectory of the Cham issue began in 1913[1], with the end of the Balkan Wars and the placement of the Cham population under Greek jurisdiction, due to the dramatic developments of World War II the Cham issue is relevant to this day and part of the negotiations’ historical problems.

Similarly, Albanian intervention in the Greek Civil War during and immediately after the end of World War II not only created tension in bilateral relations, but also threatened Albania’s territorial integrity and influenced relations for a long period to come.

Thirdly, the Cold War, with its East-West divide, placed the old Balkan neighbors in opposing blocks again. Albanian-Greek relations were highly influenced by the Cold War climate during the long period it lasted and, at least until 1970, the only relation between the two countries was a state of conflict and almost frozen relations.

Although Greece was one of the few Western states with which the Albanian communist regime managed to establish, other than diplomatic relations, a very modest economic cooperation, the two countries remained overall isolated from each other for decades. Communication between the two populations, which are the oldest neighbors in the Balkans, was interrupted immediately after World War II. State relations remained tense especially until the beginning of the seventies. In addition to the ideological divide that belonged to opposing blocks, the permanent political tensions between the countries were mainly fed by a historically conflicting heritage and historically founded disputes, stemming from the process of state creation and independence and, more specifically, directly related with the establishment of an independent Albanian state at the beginning of the twentieth century.

With the end of the Cold War and fall of the communist regime in Albania, another factor influenced, and continues to do so, Albanian-Greek relations: Albanian emigrants or, the emigration of Albanians to Greece.[2] The massive migration of Albanians to Greece served to establish a lively and intense communication between the two societies. This massive presence of Albanians in Greece revolutionized political, economic and social relations between two people who were separated for a long time due to the Cold War and Albania’s extreme self-isolation during the communist regime.

The migration of more than one sixth of the Albanian population to Greece simultaneously created other problems related to the integration of Albanian emigrants, their economic and social status and their human rights.

The nature of the international system and the nature of regimes which governed both states during this century have been two important factors to influence the unique dynamic of Albanian-Greek relations, but in any case, it has not yet been possible for both states to conclusively reach final agreements on the contested issues.

Last but not least, the populist approaches used by both administrations have mined the opportunity to solve the disputes mainly created during the first half of the twentieth century.

The big paradox: Two states at war living in peace

Paradoxes and myths in Albanian-Greek relations, like in the history of other nations, are tied generally to the past, and exclusively  to times of war, but in the case of Albania and Greece the degree of influence paradoxes and myths have in contemporary bilateral relations is unique.

In 1996, Albania and Greece signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation – the most wholesome diplomatic tool possible to formalizing a state of peace and full cooperation between the two countries. But in the most paradoxical way possible, the State of War Law between the two states persists, approved by the Greek parliament in 1940.

Albania and Greece have been united by their common NATO membership since 2009. However, despite their membership to an alliance where member states have agreed to engage in a common defense in case of an attack by a third party[3], Greece withholds its 1940 royal decree.

Here lies the paradox of all paradoxes: in 1949, Greece supersedes the respective law that makes Italy an enemy state, but leaves the same War Law with Albania in power, thus officially continuing to regard Albania an enemy state although it was Italy that attacked Greece using Albanian territory, also invaded by Italians.

After almost two centuries, the “Northern Epirus” narrative, which in geographical terms consists of half of modern day Albania, has actually ended up being a myth, just like the Big Idea (Megali Idea) itself. On the other hand, the Cham issue, which constitutes the biggest problem in Albanian-Greek relations for 70 percent of Albanians[4], continues to feed the political narrative of political parties’ institutions, the media and specific groups in Albania without anyone daring, as it usually happens in the case of myths, to crack the myth and see what lies inside it.

But paradoxes and myths are not just tied to history: Greece is Albania’s main economic partner and during the last 25 years, since the fall of communism, at least 700 thousand Albanians have migrated and are currently living and working in Albania. Also from a strategic point of view, the majority of Albanians believe that Greece is an important country for Albania and that the government should pay great attention to bilateral relations between the countries. [5]

Paradoxically enough, the majority of Albanians who believe the country is  under  a foreign threat also think this threat  comes from Greece, and that Greece represents the biggest threat to  Albania’s national security.[6]

Albania and Greece, although are NATO members, differ in addition in their various foreign policy orientations in the Balkans. Greek traditional alliances have been historically regarded with doubt and distrust in Albania. This particularly happened with the alteration of the Balkan political map, after the creation and recognition of a new state, the state of Kosovo. Greece is one of the two Balkan states, and one of the five European states, which has not recognized Kosovo as an independent state. The degree to which not recognizing Kosovo has affected bilateral Albanian-Greek relations is debatable but, at the end of the day, it is a factor which, if not affecting the real sphere of relations, definitely affects the virtual sphere of relations, which remains a prisoner of myth and paradoxes.

Territorial/border disputes and the issue of continuity

When student Eleftherios Venizelos gathered his friend around a map and imagined Greek borders, he sought half of today’s modern day Albania and a big part of modern day Turkey[7], while Albania did not yet exist as an independent state. But only a few decades later, in 1919, excellent former law student Venizelos, now holding the Prime Minister’s mandate in Greece, presented on behalf of the Greek delegation at the Paris Peace Conference all the arguments why Greece should have Southern Albania, or “Northern Epirus,” as he liked to call it.[8]

Although the Paris Peace Conference did not recognize Greek claims in “Northern Epirus,” the Council of Foreign Ministers of the four big powers – the USA, Great Britain, the USSR and France – was anyway introduced to the Greek request and arguments concerning its claims in South Albania in 1946.

During the Cold War, territorial claims were a factor of tension between the two countries and an unspoken public barrier in establishing diplomatic relations for at least a few decades since the end of World War II. The reasons why the two countries did not escalate towards conflict can be explained with the Cold War and the rivalry between big powers, as well as Balkan rivalries, which have been historically present when it came to accepting an independent Albanian state and its territories.

With the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1971, a positive step was made in eliminating one of the biggest sources of tension between the two countries, the “Greek territorial claims, per the Northern Epirus platform. A gradual withdrawal from the Greek side is noticed since then, but also an effort from official Tirana not to identify Greek official policy with the so-called Northern Epirus thesis, supported “by reactionary Greek circles, including the Greek Church, which through chauvinist points of view seek to hamper the approximation of Greece with Albania.”[9]

It can be said without hesitation that, with the end of the Cold War and fall of the communist regime, the territorial claims according to the Northern Epirus ideological platform were finally archived. Further developments such as the mutual signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and Albania’s NATO[10] membership finally ultimately concluded every territorial claim created and carried throughout history.

Despite this new reality, peripheral segments within Greece, and especially those belonging to the Greek Diaspora, continue to feed the born and dead Northern Epirus thesis and keep the populist-fed discourse of the virtual sphere alive.

Parallel to territorial disputes, issues of defining borders between the two states – the same international borders recognized by the Big Powers – have been a source of tension.

In 2010, Albania’s Constitutional Court devalued the continental shelf agreement. After several years of negotiations and the eventual acceptance of a maritime border agreement – the only border left undetermined – it seemed like Albania and Greece were on the track of closing the open chapter of border disputes. However, Albania’s Constitutional Court devalued this agreement because it “stepped on constitutional principles and did not respect international right principles in determining maritime borders.”[11]

The failure to approve a maritime border agreement, for which negotiations had begun immediately after World War II ended, prove another constant characteristic of Albanian-Greek relations: border issues and disputes surrounding it continue to be an essential source of political tension, no matter the democratic changes, common membership in the North-Atlantic Alliance and the consistent Greek support towards Albania’s EU integration. The issues of defining the borders between Albania and Greece appeared immediately after European powers recognized the Albanian state. Initially, more than an issue of defining the countries’ borders, it was related with the territorial claims towards Southern Albania or Northern Epirus. Although the Conference of Ambassadors of the European powers did not recognize Greek claims that wanted to include Albanian territories, these claims persisted to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.[12] In 1921, the Ambassadors Conference, which immediately followed the Peace Conference, recognized the borders of 1913. From this period on, border disputes can be regarded separately from territorial disputes. For several decades during the Cold War, the issue of defining borders was one of the obstacles to establishing diplomatic relations.[13] Actually even after the establishment of diplomatic relations, occasional tensions arising were tied to undefined borders and to the Greek hesitation to define its land border.

However, it is important to state that more than the minority issues per se, the way the governments of both countries accommodated and behaved towards the Greek minority was a source of tension. Primarily, the presence of the Greek minority and dispute concerning its numbers has served to feed territorial claims and, later, border claims, but – gradually – the policies followed by Tirana and Athens towards the Greek minority were a source of tension on their own. During the Cold War, including the period diplomatic relations were established, the issue of the Greek minority in Albania was a constant source of tension which persisted even after the fall of communism.

The populist account: Don’t open the box

One of the most disputed issues in Albanian-Greek relations, in fact also related to other historical disputes, is the Cham issue.

After the Balkan Wars, the Cham population was placed under Greek jurisdiction while with the Firenze Protocol of 1913 the territories in North-West Greece, inhabited by Cham population, remained outside Albanian borders. Nonetheless, the beginning of 1923 marks the origin of the Cham issue, when Greece and Turkey started negotiations on population exchange. Greece announced it did not intend to include the Cham population in the population exchange convention with Turkey. Although the exchange programs were to only include the region’s Muslims, without touching the Cham population, at least 500,000 Chams were involved in these programs.[14] The Albanian government did not regard the expulsion of the Cham population in the exchange programs as a privilege.

Either way, the biggest part of the Cham population remained expelled from the Greek-Turkish 1923 Treaty of Lausanne’s population exchange and was thus supposed to enjoy the same status as Greek citizens.

However, regardless of official policies announced by the Greek government, the Cham population did not enjoy equal rights with Greek citizens during the period between two wars. The social and economic heritage gained during the Ottoman Empire’s rule started eroding under local and central policies backed by the government and, in an increasingly hostile political and social environment, the first clashes between the Cham and Greek populations began. The situation for the Cham population got even harder under the Ioannis Metaxas dictatorship of 1936. In addition to the arbitrary use of violence, the Metaxas government prohibited both the use of the Albanian language in both the public and private spheres of life and the publication of Albanian language books and newspapers.

Yet, it was the developments of War World II that were really decisive for the Cham population’s future. Italy, at first, and Germany, after Italy capitulated, announced the national union of Albanians, including, among others, the Cham population living in Greece. It seems the Chams sought the return of the economic and social status, and their future in general, in cooperating with the Italians first and the Germans later. During Fascist occupation, the communities were involved in a cycle of violence that took bigger dimensions once Germany withdrew from Greece in 1944. The Greek resistance forces, in particular, under the command of General Zervas, undertook hostile operations towards the Cham population, causing many victims.[15]

Collective violence and massacres persisted with the massive movement of the Cham population to Albania.[16] In 1940, in the Chameria region, precisely at the South of the Albanian-Greek border, 25,000 Chams were gathered.[17] A decade later, during the Greek population census of 1951, only 127 Albanian-speaking Muslims were registered in the entire country.[18]

The Cham issue, which both countries interpret differently, was the first clash and dispute between Albania and Greece.

The most essential question is how the historical trajectory of the Chams, which, in the words of Stathis N. Kalyvas “couldn’t be more emblematic of the dark continent – the European 20th century,” has influenced and continues to influence Albanian-Greek relations.

The Cham issue has been source of tension between the two countries since the Greek-Turkish population exchange of 1926.

Other than the demarches undertaken directly towards official Athens, the Albanian government expressed its worries concerning the population’s situation at the League of Nations.  During this time, Athens was also closely following the deepening of Albanian-Italian relations, also in the context of the Cham population within its territory, worrying Albanians might have the support of a power like Italy in their claims and potential shares of their brothers in Greece.[19]

Until the start of World War II, Albania was engaged with the Cham issue in one way or another. Developments during the war were dramatic for the Cham population in Greece. At first Italy, and then Germany, announced the creation of Greater Albania, which included Northern territories on the border with Kosovo as well as those in the South, also with the Chameri region, in addition to Albania according to the 1913 borders.

With Albania’s liberation and the establishment of the communist regime in Albania, the Hoxha communist government was attentive to the Cham issue at first.

Hoxha presented the Cham issue at the Paris Peace Conference of 1946. The Communist government asked for the repatriation of Chams in Greece and the restitution of their assets.[20] This was the period when relations between the two countries worsened due to official Greek requests on territorial claims at Northern Epirus.[21] Meanwhile, the ideological positioning and division among the big powers – the USSR on the one hand and the USA and Great Britain on the other – also influenced relations. Along the interstate disputes of the Balkans, clashes between global superpowers had their impact on a considerable scale.

Similarly, the Albanian communist regime, although not directly and openly, supported the efforts of the Cham population placed in Albania to internationalize their case. Two Cham congresses were organized in Albania in 1945 and 1947 and a series of efforts were undertaken by European powers and the United Nations.

During the Greek Civil War, the Cham issue starts to resurface: the Greek communists saw Chams placed in Albania as a good way to strengthen the Democratic Party. Greek communist leaders asked Tirana, the Albanian communist leadership, help in recruiting them in the army.[22]

This was the last time the Albanian government engaged with the Cham issue, and that was entirely in an ideological context, as it aimed to help the Greek communists in the civil war.

Finally, the communist regime put a lid on the Cham issue in 1953, when it gave the Cham population Albanian citizenship through a special decree.

During the entire Cold War and until the fall of the communist regime the Cham issue was not part of the frequently tense and troubled relations. The Cold War and division in two opposing blocks are not enough to explain why the Cham issue was no longer a concern of the government. Regardless of Albania’s isolation, a closed border with Greece, the lack of diplomatic relations for three decades and despite the fact both countries belonged to opposing military and ideological blocs, Albania and Greece had tense relations, but it was never due to the Cham issue. The Hoxha government had also given up the requests presented at the Paris Peace Conference of 1946 and, until the end of the Cold War and the fall of the communist regime, kept quite regarding the Cham issue. The Chaim issue was not even part of the negotiations during the re-establishment of diplomatic relations at the beginning of the 1970s.[23]

The complete silence regarding the Cham issue becomes even less understandable if we compare it to the communist government’s attention towards the Greek minority in Albania. The regime consecutively tried to point out the Greek minority in Albania, “a smart, hard-working and patriotic people,”[24] “enjoyed the same rights as every citizen of the republic.” The government took care and propagandized how the minority had its own newspaper; a lively militant tribune to the Greek minority’s working masses. The Populist Republic’s Constitution ensures them the same rights as all other citizens of the republic. [25]

The only comparison between the Cham issue and that of the Greek minority in Albania is that of 1945, when Enver Hoxha himself tried to stress a big difference between Greek reactionaries,

Greek chauvinists and his regime. “We don’t act on the minority,” Hoxha writes, “like the bands of Zervas and Plastiras do with the Cham population, which they’ve massacred and violently killed. Our stand towards the Greek minority is one of the most progressive. The Greek minority in Albania enjoys all rights, it has its schools, its teachers, its press and its representatives in power and the military.”[26]

The finalization of the Cold War and the fall of the communist regime in Albania marked the return of the Cham issue. Since 1991, the Cham community created its own political organization and, later on, its own political party, which achieved parliamentary representation. The organization initially made its claims public – claims that were not so different from those presented to the UN, foreign missions to Tirana and the Greek government only half a century ago. Like in the post-World War II memorandums, the organization sought the repatriation of the Chams to their lands, the restitution of their properties and wealth, compensation of income and respect towards their human rights. The Cameria Organization, the second political organization founded after 1991, when the first opposition party was also established in Albania, hoped to have the non-communist government’s support in solving the Cham issue and believed the Cham issue should re-enter the Albanian-Greek relations agenda. The Cham population in Albania and their political organization put its hopes in the Democratic Party – Albania’s first non-communist government. During the communist regime, the Cham population was regarded with disbelief and no rights for assembly were granted to them, while the idea that the regime had betrayed the Cham issue was quite popular. This not only explained the Chams’ big hopes after the fall of communism, but also a sort of mistrust towards the Socialist Party (and its allies), which, at least during the first decade, was seen as the Communist Party’s heir, responsible for the long silence towards the Cham issue. Starting from 1991 and onwards, the Cham issue would be a permanent part of Albanian-Greek relations. From 1992, the requests of the Albanian side were related to the financial compensation of confiscated properties and the repatriation of expelled Chams in their land. It seemed that the Greek government accepted the return of the Cham issue in the countries’ bilateral relations agenda.[27] Despite this acceptance, further stands of the Greek government have ranged from completely refusing to recognize a Cham issue to refusing to discuss compensation for the confiscated properties, arguing the Cham population cooperated with the occupants and court orders had declared its people war criminals,[28] although they had principally agreed to the request since 1992. The stand of Albanian governments, similarly, since the return of the Cham issue in 1991, has marked a dynamic of ups and downs. The 1994-1995 crisis of Albanian-Greek relations radicalized the Albanian government’s stand towards the Cham issue. On the other hand, the 1997 crisis, which had the country close to anarchy, left the Cham issue aside.

The reason behind this radical stand is related to the weak, almost failed, state of the government due to the crisis, but also to the fact the socialists came into power, for which the popular conception remains that they “support the national Albanian issue a little or not at all,” and have reflected weak policies in relations with Greece and a level of dependence towards Athens.[29] Meanwhile, the Cham issue becomes increasingly part of the internal conflict between Albanian political parties.[30] The drift towards a totalitarian narrative becomes apparent at the end of the 1990s and a myth begins surrounding the Cham issue. It is no longer spoken of the specific requests that make up the Cham issue – requests that were clearly articulated after the end of World War II, the Cold War and the fall of communism. Although it is being increasingly discussed, the political parties and other (not necessarily political) groups’ narrative speaks more of a myth rather than of the elements that make the Cham issue and the ways to solve it. The Cham issue narrative, at least since the 1997 crisis, is similar to the narrative of myths. The creation of the Party for Justice and Unity, its dissolution and creation of the Party for Justice, Integration and Unity (PDIU) was not a small influence towards the totalitarian rhetoric of the Cham issue and creation of its myth, as it almost privatized the Cham issue and its myth.

The PDIU declares itself “Party of the national causes, of the Cham issue, the inclusion of patriotism in the country’s governance,”[31] claiming exclusiveness of the national issue. The Cham issue is nothing more but “part of the unresolved national issue.” [32]

Liberation from paradoxes and myths

Albanian-Greek relations, after the end of the Cold War, the fall of communism and Albania’s re-exposure to the West, develop in two different spheres: one is the sphere of peace, in which actual relations develop in the fields of economy, trade, investments, parallel to exchanges in the social aspect – the communications of the two societies in the fields of art and culture; while the other sphere is the “sphere of war,” which is in fact virtual: it operates the political discourse, the political elites, the media and different interest groups. Within this sphere the discourse is almost totalitarian and centers on mainly contested issues stemming from history, such as the Cham issue, the so-called “North Epirus issue” and the minorities’ issue. The first is the real sphere, the second is fictive.

Although it seems these two spheres develop and function parallel and simultaneously, there is a degree of influence and interdependence between them. The almost cyclical crises in the Greek-Albanian relations after the end of the Cold War have been defined by the interdependence of these two spheres. The first is a real world that is related to economic interests, communication and societal cooperation, while the second was built and functions on myths and paradoxes, creating in fact one big paradox which, in the best case scenario, maintains the status quo in these relations without allowing their development and strengthening and, in the worst case scenario, produces cyclical crises which have damaged, or have the potential to damage the future of these relations.

It is not possible to explain Albanian-Greek relations in the post-Cold War context without understanding and explaining the paradoxes and myths created by history. Undoubtedly, the strengthening of these relations is not possible without liberation from these myths and paradoxes.

[1] For a detailed understanding of the Cham issue, see Eleftheria K. Manta, Muslim Albanians in Greece, the Cham Epirus (1923-2000), Institute for Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki 2008.

[2] Since 1991, several hundred thousand Albanians have migrated to and settled in Greece. The big migration wave that followed shortly after the reopening of Albania’s borders, was directed towards Greece as a destination country. Although exact data is lacking, comparable to the case of Italy where 540,000 Albanian emigrants were registered, it is reckoned that at least 700,000 Albanians have settled in Greece in the last 25 years.

[3] Article 5 of the NATO Treaty

[4] See Greece and Albania, Albanian Institute for International Studies, Tirana, 2013

[5]  Twenty years later: People on state and democracy, AIIS 2011.

[6] See European Perspective for Albania, Albanian Institute for International Studies, Tirana, 2016. Also see Twenty Years After: People on State and Democracy, AIIS, Tirana, 2014.

[7] Margaret  Macmillan Paris, 1919, Six Months that Changed the World, Random House, p. 348

[8] Ibid, 351

[9] Enver Hoxha, Dy Popuj Miq, Tirana, 1985, Publishing House 8 Nentori, pg 415.

[10] Albanian got invited to become a NATO member at the Bucharest Summit of 2008 and, a year later, in 2009 it became a full member of the Alliance

[11] See Constitutional Court ruling, 15 April 2010 

[12] See The Albanian Problem in the Paris Peace Conference, AIIS, Tirana, 2018

[13] See Enver Hoxha, Dy Popuj, Dy Miq

[14] The UN Commission, unable to determine the Muslim origins of the Chams, decided to compromise by applying the Chams free will to go to Turkey. According to Greek authorities, out of the 10,000 that wanted to leave, only 5,000 were accepted by Turkey. See Eleftheria K. Manta, Albanian Muslims in Greece, the Chams of Epirus (1923-2000), The Institute of Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki, 2008

[15] The most violent massacre of Muslim Albanians was made by Greek soldiers who did not belong in military formations, on June 27,1944, in the Paramithis area, where the forces of the Republican Greek League (EDES) of General Zervas entered the city and killed about 600 Muslim Albanians, men, women, and children – many of whom were raped and tortured before death. According to eyewitnesses, the following day, another EDES battalion entered Parga, where 52 other Albanians were killed. On September 23, 1944, Spatar was robbed and 157 people were killed. Young women and girls were raped and those men who remained alive were gat27/06/18hered and sent to the Aegean islands.

[16] For an objective account of the Cham issue, see Miranda Vickers, James Pettifer, The Cham Issue: the Next Stage, Naimi publishing house, 2014

[17] Within the controversial Cham issue, the numbers are also disputed.

[18] Stathis  N.Kalyvas at Eleftheria K. Manta Muslim  Albanians in Greece, The Cham Epirus ( 1923- 2000), Institute  for Ballkan Studies, Thessaloniki 2008

[19] Miranda Vickers

[20] See Beqir Meta, Greek-Albanian Tension, 1939-1949, The Cham Tragedy, 111-167, Academy of Science of Albania, Tirana, 2006.

[21] Ibid, Meta.

[22] Out of approximately 2000 Chams that Greek leaders aimed to recruit among Cham communists based in Greece, they only managed to recruit 150.

[23] One possible explanation is the fact that the Cold War and the East-West ideological clash served, among other things, as a backbone to maintain national issues and nationalist ideas all over the world, including the Balkans, frozen.

[24] See Enver Hoxha, Dy Popuj, Dy Miq  8 Nentori ,Tirana, 1985

[25] Ibid

[26] Ibid

[27] During a visit to Albania in 1991, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias said the demands for property restitution and financial compensation,  “should be resolved by a bilateral commission.” See Miranda Vicker. Likewise, at the first meeting of the two prime ministers Simitis-Berisha in 1992, concerning the two requests presented by the Albanian side: financial compensation for confiscated property and return of their land to the Chams, Greek authorities expressed a willingness concerning financial compensation. “For the properties that were seized from Chams who were not denounced as conspirators of the Axis’ invading forces but who had fled from fear, abandoning their property.” See Eleftheria K.Manda, Muslim Albanians in Greece, The Cham Epirus (1923-2000), Institute for Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki, 2008.

[28] Ibid, pg. 232

[29] In November 1997, Prime Minister Fatos Nano met Milosevic in Cretes, giving Prishtina a mediating role in solving the Kosovo problem, while ignoring the Cham issue which was no longer part of the bilateral agenda.

[30] Ordinary debates when an Albanian minister visits Greece or when a Greek minister visits Tirana are summed up in the questions “Did he mention the Cham issue?” “Why was the Cham issue left out of the talks?” “Who is betraying it and why?”

[31] See PDIU’s mission, Official website

[32] See Sh. Idrizi Speech, 27-year-anniversary of the Chameria Organization founding, January 2018

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