Sunday, March 11, 2007

NEWS:Daily Press Briefing,Washington, DC

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 8, 2007





QUESTION: On Northern Epirus issue in Albania. Mr. McCormack, regarding my pending questions I raised March 7th for the Greeks of Northern Epirus and Albania when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented to us the Annual Report on Human Rights, I got yesterday the formal answers from your press officer Kurtis Cooper: "There are no reliable statistics on the exact population of the Greeks minority in Albania. The last census was taken in 2001. However, Greeks are the largest national minority. Estimates range from 3 to 10 percent, depending on the source. In general, the Albanian Government is allowing the Greek language schools to be open. The Albanian Government granted an operating license to two schools outside the "Greek zone," one in Korca and one in Himare. During a September visit by the Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha to Greece, the Albanian Government agreed to cooperate in the building of a Greek-language university in Gjirokaster to be refunded -- to be funded by the Greek Government."

MR. MCCORMACK: Are you going to wrap this up here?

QUESTION: And in conclusion, "In addition several members of the Greek minority serve on both that 140-seat people's assembly and the executive branch in ministerial and subministerial positions." Do you agree with this response?

MR. MCCORMACK: Kurtis -- (laughter) -- Kurtis is -- as opposed to the unreliability of the statistics that you're asking about, Kurtis Cooper is very reliable and that's a good answer and that is the State Department's answer for you, Lambros.

QUESTION: But the response, however, about the size of the Greek minority in Albania, Mr. McCormack, stated there's "no reliable statistics" about its size, that the last census was taken in 2001, according to the statement.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, right.

QUESTION: I must note that the absence of reliable statistics in the results of the Albanians Government decision to exclude ethnic identity from the census questionnaire, is there any thought given by the Department of State to request that such a choice be allowed in the next Albanian census?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any move in that regard, but we'll have Kurtis get back to you with an answer to that question. (Laughter.) It's proven reliable in the past.

QUESTION: One more on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Lambros, come on. You took up your time for today as well as next week reading out the answer to that. (Laughter.)

Yeah, go ahead, Samir.

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