Greece on minority in Albania (1990)

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Greek-Turkish Negotiations and Crises 1983-2003 Dataset , Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/Greek-TurkishNegotiationsandCrises1983-2003/#d.en.173636

A crisis erupts in 1990 over the treatment of the Greek minority in Albania. Greece claims the existence of up to 400,000 Greeks in Albania who are not allowed to move freely, to practice religion, or to study Greek in school. Four Greeks are allegedly tortured to death after an effort to seek refuge in Greece.[i] Despite Albania’s inaccessibility to foreign journalists, a full text search for keywords “Albania” and “Greece” and “minority,” in Lexis/ Nexis produces 25 results for the period 12/25/1989- 1/25/1990 (under category European News Sources).                   

Case Study Features:

Offensive vs. Defensive Signals Indistinguishable: 1

Minority issues often contain this element of indistinguishability. Policies aiming to defend the minority can be perceived as threatening to the other side, especially if the minority issues have been used in the past for other geopolitical games, including shaping the Greek-Albanian border. More confusion is added by the fact that there is very little knowledge of what is actually taking place in Albania, as the country is closed to foreign journalists. And finally, political unrest among rival Albanian groups required some measure of control (e.g. to prevent riots). Such measures to prevent social and political unrest were easily perceived as measures targeting the Greek minority.[ii] 

Effectiveness of offensive policies :  1

Greece is militarily superior to Albania. The latter has no allies during the Cold War, with the notable exception of China.

Domestic Challenge: 1

Greece is facing successive elections. At that time Greek political parties created a provisional government under the leadership of Xenophon Zolotas, 23 November 1989-11 April 1990.

Enduring Ethnic Rivalries: 1

Relations have been strained since the incorporation of Northern Epirus into Albania in 1916. Greece was denied Northern Epirus by its allies in the aftermath of WWI and WWII. During WWII, Italy invaded Greece through Albania, but Greek military forces defeated Italy and captured northern Epirus. Until 1987, the two countries were officially (but only in theory) in a state of war.[iii]

Confrontational Policies: 0

Greece does not make a war threat and does not introduce any type of embargo against Albania. Both the security dilemma and the diversionary theory, which predict confrontational policies, are disconfirmed. 


[i] Nikos Konstandaras, “10,000 Condemn Abuses in Albania; Report: State of Emergency Imposed”, The Associated Press, January 11, 1990.

[ii] , “Albania 'declares state of emergency'”, The Independent January 13, 1990, p. 1. 

[iii] New York Times, Greece at Peace with Albania, August 29, 1987.