March 1, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Greece under pressure from Brussels regarding Albania

IN EU Intensive consultations are ongoing to obtain Greece’s consent to send a letter on behalf of the European Council to Tirana. Albania will then be able to begin negotiations on the first package of sections needed to join the European Union.

How reports Ekathimerini, a corresponding discussion was planned to be held at the meeting of the Permanent Representatives to the EU (Coreper) on Wednesday, since last Friday Albania successfully completed the first phase of negotiations on accession to the European Union (screening) after 14 months of consultations.

Athens has come under pressure to join the EU, with European diplomatic sources reporting: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said through diplomatic channels that the accession process should not be a bilateral issue. Moreover, according to him, the Spanish presidency of the EU also seems irritated by the position of the Greek side.

According to diplomatic sources, against this backdrop, Greece cannot continue to block the relevant letter for a long time after the completion of Albania’s screening process. Therefore, and also in the event that it does decide to send the above-mentioned letter from the European Council, Athens is exploring the possibility of “blocking” the next stage of the relevant process, which involves the preparation of a report describing all the criteria that have already been or should have been met by Tirana, and also the convening of an appropriate intergovernmental conference.

Greece is vowing to block Tirana’s European integration aspirations until the issue of Albania’s elected mayor, ethnic Greek Fredi Beleri, is resolved, stressing that the rights of a man imprisoned since May are being violated. State Minister Stavros Papastavrou, in response to accusations against Greece that it is making this issue bilateral, stressed that Athens’ position is to defend European principles:

“The Beleri issue is deeply European, it is not bilateral. It is about respect for the rule of law.”

Let us recall that Dionysios Alfred Beleri, a representative of the Greek minority, was provisionally elected mayor of the coastal Albanian city of Himara in May. Shortly before the vote, he was detained, allegedly on charges of bribing voters. Even then, the Greek Foreign Ministry demanded the immediate release of Beleri, hinting that this case could negatively affect Albania’s application to join the EU.

The European Union formally began negotiations on Albania’s accession in July last year, and the country is currently undergoing a screening process – a preparatory stage for actual negotiations.

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