Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has condemned a protest held in the southern Albanian town of Himara in support of an ethnic Greek man who was elected as the town’s mayor two days after his arrest on suspicion of vote-buying.
The mayors of Athens and Thessaloniki joined supporters of Fredi Beleri in Himara on Monday to protest against his arrest on May 12, under a banner that read, ‘Tyranny will not pass’.
Though he was in custody, Beleri won the May 14 mayoral election in the predominantly ethnic Greek area, defeating incumbent Jorgo Goro of Rama’s Socialist Party.
A number of senior Greek government officials have called for Beleri’s release. In a lengthy Facebook post, Rama bristled at the intervention of Athens.
“In my memory, there is no other case when the elected officials of a democratic state organise a protest in another democratic state, against the authorities of this state,” he wrote.
“Not only that, but where they appear as protesters against the decisions of the respective courts of the state in which they are protesting, absolutising the ethnic affiliation of the subject of the protest over any legal norm, legal standard and democratic logic.”
“Does the Greek nationality give the Albanian citizen accused by SPAK [Special Prosecution Against Corruption and Organised Crime] and kept in custody by the country’s courts a different status from 48 other Albanian citizens with Albanian nationality, including some mayors of my party, who today are detained under the charges of the same body, with identical decisions of the same courts?!” Rama wrote.
The Albanian leader stressed his continued respect for his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, calling him a “modern European leader and admirable person” who had helped to melt the “Balkan ice” in Albanian-Greek relations.
Source : Balkan Insight