27.3.2004   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 78/610


(2004/C 78 E/0644)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-3608/03

by Marco Pannella (NI), Maurizio Turco (NI), Marco Cappato (NI), Gianfranco Dell'Alba (NI), Benedetto Della Vedova (NI) and Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission

(5 December 2003)

Subject:   Violation of the rights of the Çam minority

In June 1944, 44 000 Albanians of Muslim origin were forcibly driven out of Çameria after being accused of collaborating with the Nazi occupying forces. This was the final stage in a process of genocide against these people, whose movable and immovable property was also confiscated (land, houses, livestock and household equipment).

The Çam population belonging to the Orthodox faith who remained in Çameria do not enjoy the rights recognised by the European Union, in particular the rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities and the right to learn Albanian in Albanian schools, which are banned by the Greek government.

Only if these two minorities are granted political and legal equality in Greece and Albania can relations of sincere and stable friendship be established between the different peoples and countries.

Can the Commission say what steps it will take to ensure that the Albanian population of Muslim origin forcibly removed from Çameria may return to their land of origin and be entitled to reacquire their property and be compensated for damage to their assets?

And can it say what steps it will take to ensure that the Albanian population belonging to the Orthodox faith remaining in Çameria are allowed to use the Albanian language in official transactions and to enjoy full civil rights in Greece, in the same way as the Greek minority in Albania?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(3 February 2004)

The Commission is aware of the claims of a part of Albanian population that their rights are not fully respected in Greece, notably as regards the properties confiscated at the end of World War II.

The Commission considers that this issue is mainly a bilateral issue between Albania and Greece. Nonetheless, the Commission would like to point out that some positive developments have been observed during 2003. High level meetings (i.e. between Prime Minister Nano and Prime Minister Simitis) have taken place with the objective, amongst others, of addressing issues such as the validity of the so-called ‘Law of War’ (established by Greece and allegedly applied to Albanians), the access of the Albania population to Greek Courts to claim their rights, and the response of these Courts. The Commission noted that Mr Nano, during a session of the Albanian Parliament (15/05/03), has stated that the Albanian government considers that the ‘State of War’ does not exist anymore since the two countries have signed on 21 March 1996 a Friendship and Co-operation Agreement. The ‘State of War’ belongs to the past, concluded Mr Nano. At the same time the Chief of the Democratic Party, Mr Sali Berisha (main opposition Party) has also declared that actually there is no ‘State of War’ between Greece and Albania. While the matter of confiscated properties remains controversial, this can be considered progress in the right direction.

The Commission will continue to monitor the situation and to encourage further dialogue between Athens and Tirana with the aim of achieving a fair resolution of pending issues …