Letter: Minority rights in sovereign Albania

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The Independent Online
Sir: In his article of 17 August, John Torode said there are as many as 400,000 ethnic Greeks in Albania. In fact, in the last census, held in the early 1980s, the Greek minority numbered only 54,000. In the first free elections held in Albania, the party of the Greek minority won 22,000 votes; in the second elections, on 22 March 1992, the vote for that party was 49,000 - against 1,826,000 total votes cast.

The Greek minority in Albania enjoys freedom of expression (there are three Greek-language newspapers); teaching in its mother tongue (there are 81 Greek-language schools, with 4,545 pupils, as well as a teacher-training college); freedom of movement to and from Albania without visas; the right to private property; and freedom of conscience and religion. Albanian radio also carries Greek-language programmes. In addition, the Greek minority is represented at all levels of local government, as well as in the Albanian parliament.

The rising tension between neighbouring countries in the Balkans is very dangerous to the whole region. The government of Albania has called on all governments in the region, and on the United Nations, the Conference on Security and Co- operation in Europe, the European Community, the Council of Europe, Nato and the Commonwealth of Independent States to exert their influence to stop all acts that fuel tensions in the Balkans.

The Albanian government has repeatedly declared that it abides by the principles of defending its country's sovereignty and of respecting borders in the region. It opposes violent changes in those borders, and it adheres to a policy of co-operation and understanding with its neighbours.

Yours faithfully,

PAVLI QESKU

Ambassador

Albanian Embassy

London, SW1

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