The decision by the Albanian authorities on Friday to officially remove Fredi Beleri from his position as mayor-designate of Himare prompted a swift response by the ministry of foreign affairs in Athens.

In the statement issued a few hours after the development, Greece called the decision unprecedented, expressing concerns about the legal procedures being followed.

The Greek ministry also reminded Albanian authorities of their obligation to immediately allow the incarcerated politician, who was elected as a member of the European Parliament in the June 9 election and is serving a 2-year prison sentence on charges of electoral fraud in 2023, to attend the European Parliament’s sessions, starting with the plenary session on July 16.

The detailed statement from the ministry of foreign affairs reads:

“Today’s decision by the Central Election Commission of Albania to remove Fredi Beleri from office before he was even sworn in as Mayor of Himare constitutes an unprecedented practice and the predetermined conclusion of a process that raises many questions regarding fundamental principles of the rule of law.

Greece had expressed its concern about denying the presumption of innocence, the integrity of the evidentiary process, the prohibition of the swearing-in, and the disproportionate penalty imposed. Additionally, there was concern about the fact that the Municipality of Himare has been governed for a year by unauthorized individuals.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates the Albanian authorities’ obligation to immediately allow Mr. Beleri, now an elected member of the European Parliament, to attend its sessions, starting with the plenary session on July 16 in Strasbourg.”