Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis heads to Brussels on Wednesday for a closely watched EU-Western Balkans summit, given that Athens has clearly signaled over the recent period that it will not acquiescence to neighboring Albania’s EU accession course as long as the Beleri case remains unresolved.
The obstacle, according to the Greek government, is the continued pre-trial remand of Fredi Beleri, the ethnic Greek mayor-elect of the southern Albania coastal resort of Himare. The latter remains jailed without bail since late April on charges of attempted vote-buying, but with no trial date set. Even worse, the Albanian judiciary has refused to allow Beleri out of jail for even one day in order to be sworn-in.
An EU Council meeting will also take place in Brussels over the next two days.
Government sources on Tuesday in Athens reiterated Greece’s standing support for all western Balkan states’ EU prospects, while adding however, that the Greek side will not consent to further steps in Tirana’s application if there is no progress in the Beleri case.
At the same time sources reminded that all candidate-states must fulfill conditions set by the Commission and related reforms.
An imperative condition, as they stated, is respect for fundamental European values and reforms that deal with the rule of law, especially human rights – and including minority rights.
Mitsotakis himself, the Greek foreign ministry and the government spokesman said this message has been made crystal clear to the Albanian side.
Earlier, Greek representatives had acquiesced to the dispatch of a letter by the EU to the Albanian government, a next step in the accession process, but under the condition that a reciprocal development is taken by Tirana in the Beleri case.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Sholtz this week expressed a position on the matter in opposition to Athens, saying Albania’s accession course should proceed, with a vote taken with a “special majority”. He also referred to “significant reforms” taken by the Rama government.
He spoke in the Bundestag during debate on the draft federal budget.