Greece will not support EU accession talks with Albania until it shows “tangible” results in its treatment of the Greek ethnic minority, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated today, Kathimerini reported in a tweet.
The statement marks a change in the Greek foreign policy toward Albania’s opening of negotiations with the EU, after the center-right government of Mitsotakis replaced the socialist government of Alexis Tsipras two months ago.
Mitsotakis signaled a possible Greek veto on Albania’s next step toward EU integration while speaking at the Thessaloniki International Fair 2019.
When he was in opposition, the New Democracy Party leader had warned about a potential conditioning of Albania’s progress toward the EU with an improvement in the rule of law and minority rights.
Back in March, he reportedly said he wanted to send a “clear message to the Albanian government, […] that it is not possible to start the process of Albania’s EU accession when there is absolutely no respect for the rights of the Greek ethnic minority,” adding that “this is not an issue that concerns only Greece, it concerns Europe, it concerns the European acquis, it concerns the European rule of law.”
His comment came following reports that the Albanian government had allegedly prepared a draft-law that would allow for the expropriation of land from owners, to be used for strategic investments. This would have also affected the residents in the south of Albania where most of the Greek minority lives. It comprises about 2% of the Albanian population.