Greece on minority in Albania (1994)

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)

Another crisis erupts in August 1994 over the treatment of the Greek minority in Albania. Members of the Greek minority group Omonia are accused of treason; if found guilty, they will receive the death penalty.[i] In a full text search for keywords “Albania” and “Greece” and “minority,” Lexis/ Nexis produces 168 results for the period 8/15/1994- 9/15/1994 (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 has been used in the past as an argument for changing the boundaries between the two states. Articles in the international press reflect this ambiguity in the motives of the two sides.[ii] The trial of ethnic Greeks is provoked by commando attacks leading to the death of two Albanian conscripts. Albania charges Greece with involvement, but Athens vigorously denies the charge, suggesting the armed men are probably members of an underground group.[iii]

Effectiveness of offensive policies :  1

Greece is militarily superior to Albania. In addition, it is in a position to expel illegal Albanian immigrants from Greece, as well as to block trade and EU aid to Albania. [iv]

Domestic Challenge: 1

There is fear of imminent elections, due to the weak health of both PM Andreas Papandreou and President Karamanlis. Both are hospitalized, and if either dies, new party or national elections will have to take place. [v]

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 entered Northern Epirus. Until 1987, the two countries are in a state of war.

Confrontational Policies: 1

Confrontational measures take the form of massive human rights violations. Greece expels indiscriminately around 30,000 Albanian immigrants.[vi] The case study confirms the security dilemma.

[i] Helena Smith, “Greece turns on Illegal Albanians”, Guardian , August 19, 1994, p. 7

[ii] “Greece v Albania; Elsewhere in the Balkans”, Economist,  September 17, 1994, p. 59

[iii] Ralph Joseph, “Greece deports 20,000 Albanians”, United Press International, August 26, 1994.

[iv] , “Greece clamps down after spy convictions”, Agence France Presse September 08, 1994.

[v] Philip Jacobson, “Is Mimi the woman now running Europe? As the Greek socialist government prepares to take over the presidency o an increasingly fragile EC,” Daily Mail, January 3, 1994, p.8; Kerin Hope, “Fear in Athens for health of the nation: Illness has become an obstacle to government”,  Financial Times, March 4, 1994,  p.2.

[vi] “Greece v Albania; Elsewhere in the Balkans”, Economist, September 17, 1994, p. 59.