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I vjetėr 9.10.2006, 21:15   1

Shkrim i cituar 2006: Greece must recognize genocide against Albanians


Originally published on 8/1/2006 by Shekulli in Albanian

Report by Denion Ndrenika: "Chams: Athens Should Recognize Genocide Against Us"

The European Union must request Greece to recognize the genocide that has taken place against the Chams, ethnic Albanians living in Greece. This request was addressed by the Party for Justice and Integration [PDI] to EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. PDI Secretary General Amos Dojaka told a Shekulli correspondent yesterday that the letter was filed by Rehn's office, and now they are waiting for a response, all the more so as Olli Rehn was informed of the Cham issue and confirmed its existence. Dojaka said that "we believe that there can be no durable peace without justice" and that "just as Turkey has been requested to recognize the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians for it to make progress toward its EU membership, the same must also be done with Greece."

"Reminding Mr. Rehn that just as the PDI backs EU initiatives requesting Ankara to recognize the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians in 1915-1918 as a precondition for its access to the EU, it holds that Athens too must be requested to recognize the genocide perpetrated by the Greeeks against the innocent and defenseless Cham population in the years 1944-1945," the letter addressed to EU Commissioner Rehn said.

"The genocide against the Chams, ethnic Albanians living in Greece, started as early as 1876, as Greek troops occupied Arta, the main city of the ethnic Albanian region of Chameria. The PDI refers to what it calls a 'strategy' for the elimination of the Cham population in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, in 1915-1918, exactly at the same time as the genocide of the Armenians, which was recognized by the France's National Assembly in the 1990s, was being perpetrated. Informing the European Commission that the strategy for the elimination of the Cham population started in the same years as those of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians and that the painful events the Chams had to go through and their dimension coincide with the European Commission's definition of genocide, the PDI asks for a rational response on the part of the Commission," the letter continued.

The PDI also recalls what happened in the years 1944-1945 which was the last stage of the Greek genocide against the Cham population, a crime which, on 30 June 1944, the Assembly of Albania formally decided to commemorate as the Day of Greek Genocide, which reached its culmination point with the Paramithia massacres of 27 June 1944 (see Presidential Decree, No. 885, dated 12.07.1994).

Dojaka explained that this request was based on international law and the rights of peoples that have been victims of genocide.

At the request of Hillary Clinton, in September 2002 a hearing session took place at the US Helsinki Commission in the presence of the representative of the Greek Helsinki Committee, Panayiotis Dhimitras who was questioned by Counselor Chadwick Gore about the Cham issue.

According to Dojaka, the PDI addresses its request to the European Commission in order to make Greece recognize the genocide as a sign of respect for the victims of chauvinist violence and for the restoration of justice.

The PDI says that it believes that the European Commission entertains no political preconceptions about nationalities, religions, or states, but that, on the contrary, it acts in respect of the universal principles of justice. So, according to Dojaka, "the PDI is waiting for a response from the Albanian and Greek governments, and the European Commission in the spirit of respect for the fundamental human rights of the Cham population."

Tirana Shekulli in Albanian -- major independent daily

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