Albania PM Calls Cham Community’s Land Claims a ‘Human Rights Issue’ Not Irredentist



TIRANA, ALBANIA - DECEMBER 18: Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama speaks during a meeting with Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci (unseen) within Zeybekci's official visit in Tirana, Albania on December 18, 2014. (Photo by Olsi Shehu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

On Tuesday during an interview with Skai TV, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama downplayed claims recently made by the Cham community concerning their outcries of their rights to property they left behind after being expelled from Greece in World War II, mimicking what sounded to many as an irredentist foreign policy stance as nothing more than a “human rights issue.”

“I don’t think that is irredentist to tell people, to tell our kids where Albanians lived and I don’t think it is irredentist to tell people there was an area that was named Tsamouria,” he said, adding that “We have Albania, we have Kosovo, we have Albanian people live in south of Serbia, living in [Former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia, living in Montenegro. So what? There is no plan, there is no foreseeable one, to collect all these in one natural or Greater Albania.”

He continued to deny that the demolitions of 19 ethnic Greek homes in the town of the predominately Greek Himara were ethnically motivated and instead part of a wide-reaching urban renewal program.

Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras is reported to have had stern words with Rama in a telephone conversation earlier on Tuesday where the Prime Minister reiterated the importance of protecting the minority ethnic Greeks in Albania, warning the nationalist rhetoric coming from Tirana needs to stop in order to “restore a climate of trust which is necessary to foster bilateral relations.”