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[ALBSA-Info] Kathimerini on Albanian electionsaalibali at law.harvard.edu aalibali at law.harvard.edu
Fri Jun 8 08:17:26 EDT 2001
Kathimerini Commentary Greek minority pains By Stavros Lygeros Sixteen days ahead of the Albanian elections, everything seems to point to the ruling Socialist Party prevailing. This time, however, the margin dividing it from the Democratic Party is likely to be much smaller than in 1997. It is worth noting that the two main parties are attempting, through apparently legal machinations, to turn the electoral system into a majority vote system. The ethnic Greek Omonoia party is waging its own battle in a highly unfavorable political landscape. The fact that the Socialist Party needs Greece does not seem to prevent it from resorting to extremes in order to eliminate Omonoia and, by extension, also the core of the Greek minority. In the local elections last year, it resorted to extensive vote-rigging to sabotage the Omonoia candidate in Heimarra. Once again its tactics are anything but fair. In Dromopolis the entire state mechanism has been mobilized for this purpose. The tax office, customs, the police and the secret services make lavish promises, blackmail and threaten the Greek minority, pressuring it to vote for the socialist candidate or, at least, not vote for Omonoia candidate Vangelis Doulis. In the Vourkos district in the Sarande municipality, the ruling party does not have the power to contest the seat, hence it has chosen to back - with similar tactics - Konstantina Betziani. Betziani actually failed to be named candidate in Omonoia's primaries and now is now running independently with support from her partner, an escaped convict. What is interesting is that in her election campaign Betziani received indirect support from Nicholas Gage-Gatzoyiannis who, a week ago, visited her constituency along with Joseph Librecht, the US ambassador to Tirana. It is no coincidence that the well-known visitors ate together and wandered in the village of Livadia together with Betziani while they avoided meeting the official Omonoia candidate Andreas Mitsis. Unfortunately, Athens - at least for the time being - has not paid sufficient attention to the sufferings of ethnic Greeks while Tirana continues its fixed policy of destroying the Greek minority through indirect means.
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