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[ALBSA-Info] Kathimerini on Albanian elections

aalibali at aalibali at
Fri Jun 8 08:17:26 EDT 2001

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 

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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