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Greek National Minority in Albania
The Greek National Minority (GNM) is numerically the largest minority in Albania. It is an indigenous minority, recognized by Albania as a national minority. The “Omonoia” organizations and the “Union for Human Rights Party” are the main representatives of the GNM in Albania.
Greek foreign policy’s top priority with regard to Albania is to monitor the situation of all the members of the Greek minority throughout the country, and not just in the areas arbitrarily recognized by the Albanian state as “minority” areas. Full respect for the rights of the minority and implementation of the relevant commitments and obligations of the Albanian side are criteria that Albania needs to meet on its European course, and are a barometer in Greek-Albanian bilateral relations.
Greece raises GNM issues consistently on a bilateral level as well as within the frameworks of the EU, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. As a result of these efforts, respect for minority rights throughout Albania is consistently among the criteria set by the European Commission in its annual progress reports on Albania’s EU accession course. At the same time, the Greek state takes practical steps to support the GNM in Albania, assisting towards the resolution of priority matters bearing on their situation in general.
The main issues of concern to the GNM are education in the mother tongue; the option to use the Greek language in public life; the absence of GNM members from public services, despite their consistent parliamentary representation; and respect for their property rights.
It needs to be noted that the right to provide free public education to members of the minority in their mother tongue is a basic obligation of every modern state. Unfortunately, the Albanian government’s policy of implementing minority rights exclusively within the so-called “minority zones” limits the breadth of these protections, with the result that many GNM members living outside these zones are deprived of the right to free public education in their mother tongue.