Greece is leveraging all its influence in the EU, engaging in contacts with top European officials to secure the temporary release from prison of newly-elected MEP Fredi Beleri for the swearing-in ceremony in Strasbourg scheduled for July 16.

The head of the Greek EP group in the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), MEP Eliza Vozemberg briefed the President of the EPP Manfred Weber about the matter, following the recent ruling by an Albanian court denying an appeal by Fredi Beleri, who has been in prison on charges of fraud in local elections since October 2023.

The ND MEP told the EPP members about the gravity of the matter and the need to find a solution for an elected Greek MEP to be physically present at the first plenary session of the European Parliament, as well as the first vote for the presidency of the Commission.

On his part, Manfred Weber reportedly assured her of his support for the Greek initiative to grant Beleiris a permit adding he would assist in the effort in every way possible.

Sources familiar with the ongoing and intense negotiations behind the scenes between Greece, Albania, and the European Union for the granting of a temporary prison leave to Beleri, claim pressure has been exerted on the Albanian Prime Minister to agree before the first vote for the Commission presidency (where every vote is expected to be crucial).

“The important thing is for him to participate in the inaugural session in person,” the same sources say, clarifying, however, that the fact that discussions are taking place does not mean they will yield results.

Meanwhile, according to other reports earlier in the week Albania was pressured by European quarters which urged its authorities to grant the necessary permit to the ND MEP to assume his duties along with all the other elected members of the European Parliament.

On a bilateral level, Athens has made its stance clear to Tirana at the highest level via the Greek Foreign Minister, George Gerapetritis, who emphasized that he expects “the obvious,” which is for Beleiri to be allowed to participate in all European Parliament proceedings. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has also made it clear in strict terms that if Beleiri is prevented from taking up his duties, Albania’s path to European integration would become even more difficult.