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Φώτο: Giorgos Zachos / SOOC

Gerapetritis sends stern message to Albania over Beleri's continued detention

Foreign Minister said he had personally made clear that Albania's accession cannot progress when there is such disregard for the rule of law, the presumption of innocence and respect of civil rights.

Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis sent a stern message to neighbouring Albania on Tuesday that it was "shooting itself in the foot" by continuing to detain elected Himare mayor Fredi Beleri on remand, calling Beleri's pre-trial detention "unlawful".

Speaking on an ERT television programme, Gerapetritis warned that the Albanian authorities' failure to take the necessary measures for Beleri's release or to swear him in, creating a risk of him being removed from office, will cause a serious deterioration in Albania's bilateral relations with Greece.

Gerapetritis noted that the Greek government took very important steps from the outset to deal with an issue that has been creating tension between the two countries. In contacts with EU officials associated with Albania's EU accession negotiations process and with NATO, Gerapetritis said he had personally made clear that Albania's accession cannot progress when there is such disregard for the rule of law, the presumption of innocence and respect of civil rights.

The minister reported two "difficult phone conversations" with his Albanian counterpart on this issue with no result, and for this reason said that he had sent a particularly stern letter to his EU counterparts and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell the previous week outlining the Greek positions and the obstacles to Albania's continued progress to joining the EU.

He also warned that the tension being created was not at all beneficial, especially for Albania and its EU prospects.
Gerapetritis also replied to questions regarding relations with Turkiye, repeating Greece's position that there is one sole difference relating to maritime zones that could be resolved through international arbitration.

He stressed that there was absolutely no possibility of discussing any issues that relate to national sovereignty, which cannot be on the agenda for talks, such as demilitarisation of the islands, territorial waters and others.

Gerapetritis said Greece and Turkiye were currently going through a calmer period in their relations, which enabled the two sides to hold talks and discuss issues, saying it was important to secure a more long-term calm in the region, while reporting a "good personal relationship and frequent contact" with his Turkish counterpart.

On the Cyprus issue, finally, he made it clear that Athens will not agree to the division of the island as this would be contrary to international law and UNSC resolutions for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

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