A coming visit to Athens by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama continues to face “obstacles”, albeit not diplomatic “hurdles”, as one would suspect in the wake of the ongoing Beleri case that’s souring bilateral relations, but due to “organizational” reasons.

According to Wednesday’s “Mikropolitikos” column in the Athens daily “Ta Nea”, the organizers of a rally for ethnic Albanians residing in the Greek capital, where Rama will be the keynote speaker, hasn’t officially booked a venue yet, or at least that’s what sources are reporting.

A large theater in the Galatsi district of north-central Athens was original slated to host the rally. However, its owner backed away from an agreement last week, citing “technical problems”.

Nevertheless, organizers insist that the rally will be held in Galatsi, billed as the “inaugural” event on Rama’s campaign “European tour”.

Finding a venue, especially at the last minute, that can accommodate some 5,000 people and can also host a musical performance isn’t deemed as an easy task. One possible alternative is Galatsi municipal stadium, which as the name implies, will need approval by the relevant municipality.

Still other source had the Albanian organizers interested at a hall that’s part of the Peace & Friendship indoor stadium in southern coastal Athens, with the latter’s management replying in the positive. When a later request for the actual indoor stadium was made – the venue hosts the home games of the Olympiacos basketball team – the venue’s management requested a written application, something that was never conveyed.

At last glance, organizers communicated with the Athens mayor’s office to request the use of a major square in the Greek capital, with no new information available since then.

Mitsotakis: Rama visit ‘unnecessary’ at this point

In a related development, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis himself was asked about the Rama visit to Athens on Monday, during a wide-ranging interview with protothema.gr

Asked about the prospect of the Albanian prime minister arriving in Athens on Monday while he’s on an official visit to Ankara the same day, Mitsotakis said:

“…first off, he’s not coming as a guest of the Greek government. It isn’t a visit…with bilateral characteristics. He (Edi Rama) comes, as I understand, to speak to fellow (Albanian) citizens. He has a right to do so. Beyond this, I think that this is an option that, at the present time in view of the European elections, seems rather unnecessary to me,” the Greek premier said, adding:

“The Greek government cannot, as we are a democracy, prohibit the right of assembly, which is constitutionally guaranteed, so I do not attach so much importance to this (event). That’s why, as I said, it’s an unnecessary choice. We have (outstanding) issues in Greek-Albanian relations, but no we won’t ban this gathering.

“However, it’s certainly not something that we have any particular reason to facilitate. As such, we will neither prohibit nor facilitate (the event).”