SPECIAL REPORT/ “Himara”, Greek Foreign Ministry: It seems that for Tirana, the violation of the rights of minorities is more important than EU integration

SPECIAL REPORT/ “Himara”, Greek Foreign Ministry: It seems that for Tirana, the violation of the rights of minorities is more important than EU integration

The Greek Foreign Ministry slams Albanian authorities: You must work for EU integration and not violate the rights of the Greek minority. The head of UHRP denounces police siege. President of the Association for the Protection of Traders and Market of Albania says that properties are being occupied. IBNA discovers details on the report of the High State Audit, the urban plan is being applied without a decision by the municipality. The Municipality Council convenes , not in Himara, but in Kuç, 140 km away (!) Residents react, this is what’s happening with our properties

Tirana-Himara-31 August 2017  Greek diplomacy issues a direct warning for Tirana, while saying that Albanian authorities are more interested on violating the rights of a minority rather than be committed for the integration of the country in the European Union.

The spokesman of the Greek Foreign Ministry, Alexandros Gennimatas issued a reaction today by answering to the journalists’ question in relation to the decision of local authorities in Himara to occupy the lands and destroy several properties belonging to the residents, as part of a new urban planning which was approved by Himara Municipality Council.

“It seems that Albanian authorities are more interested on violating the rights of the Greek minority, rather than the country’s European path”, Mr. Gennimatas declared.

Business community very concerned, accusations against the media

The reaction of the Greek Foreign Ministry follows the concerns recently expressed by citizens of Himara on what they consider to be a flagrant violation of the rights of land owners and property owners in Himara.

Nikollaq Neranxi, President of the Association for the Protection of Traders and Market of Albania, former MP of the Socialist Movement for Integration, warns that what’s happening in Himara is a clear occupation of their properties.

“The people of Himara, these wise people who never claimed the things that belong to others and who have sweated to earn every penny that they have. History shows that this community has fought against sea pirates to defend the land and their identity. We are not moving from our land”, Mr. Neranxi says.

The former MP of the Socialist Movement for Integration, renowned businessman of dried fruits and spices, is also critical against some media in Albania, which according to him, are attacking people of Himara who have properties. According to Neranxi, this is being done by journalists who are paid by the government and who want to benefit properties in Himara.

“Some journalists have been put at the service of those who are occupying the properties of the people of Himara, making up all sorts of dirty things. My credible sources tell me that they have been promised parts of the construction that will be made in Himara, once we are robbed of our properties and once we are evicted from our land. They are only dreaming in broad daylight about this”, Mr. Neranxi says.

The delayed meeting is displaced 140 km away

The meeting of the Municipality Council was held in a bar in Himara five days ago and not in the offices of the Municipality of Himara. A number of residents went to that bar to participate in the meeting, but they were not allowed by police forces.

Under these circumstances, the meeting failed. But, it was held yesterday (30.08) in the village of Kuç, in Vlora, around 140 km away from Himara (!)

Several resident of Himara managed to go there, but they were not allowed by police. The meeting ended with the approval of the new urban planning.

Unity for Human Rights Party said that this meeting was being held under siege. “Himara Municipality Council convenes in circumstances of a police state”, said the leader of this party and MP, Vangjel Dule.

HSA identifies criminal violations

Several months ago, an inspection made by High State Audit identified several violations such as the procedure of the approval of the new urban planning. HSA found that works had started with the new promenade, but without having any decision of Himara Municipality Council. This was a criminal violation, HSA found.

Even yesterday’s meeting was held to adjust, despite the delay, the violation identified by HSA. The new urban planning, as never before, was voted by all three main opposing political forces, SP, DP and SMI.

Some say that  the approval of this plan gives way to investments amounting to millions of euros by Albanian and foreign businessmen, who have ties with these political forces.

Why has this situation been created?

IBNA’s and Albanian Free Press’ correspondent in Himara, reports following the testimonies collected from the residents of the area. They explain why some of them risk facing illegal action.

Residents say that some of them live in homes inherited for 200 years. They also have lands inherited from the same period. But, unfortunately, the majority of these properties have no ownership title. And they are not to blame for this. Many years ago, the Property Register Office in Delvina, where the documents relating to the properties of Himara were, was entirely burned.

This led to many properties to remain without a certificate.

According to residents, this situation is being exploited by central and local authorities in the country. They are implementing a master plan which doesn’t require compensation of many families who may be affected by the new urban planning, as they have no property titles.

Hector, 48 years of age from Himara comments the situation as follows: “If we refer to the ones who have built in the past 27 years, then that’s fine. They have built on state owned lands. But to consider us illegal, us, who have been in these lands for the past 200 years and have inherited them generation after generation and have no certificates, for which we are not to blame as the offices were burned, it’s absurd and unacceptable”.

Vasili, another man from Himara, around 63 years of age, is desperate in this situation. He warns that the state must be careful because what is happening may precipitate.

“We have been in these lands for centuries. They are ours. They can forget about evicting us and building here in our lands”. /ibna/