Friday, June 20, 2014

Unwillingness of Albanian leaders to enact a framework law " on the protection of minority rights"- by N. Gage

sent by Demetrios Koutoulas
Προς father Kosmas Karavellas, and

I hope you are all well. I would like to share something with all of you.
I spoke to Nick Gage, and I asked him to discuss our issues concerning Himara and the region. He met with leaders Vasilios Bollanos, Vangeli Doules, and Konstantina Beziani. In Greece he met with Pyrro Dimas, and Mr Samaras.

I believe we are all united on these issues, I along with the board of the POA will continue to fight for the rights of Himara .

Attached is a letter from President Nick Gage.

Dear Compatriots,
On my recent trip to Greece and Albania, I met with leaders of both countries and moved to promote he issues of most concern to the Greek minority in Albania with the help of Vice President Menelaos Tzelios, who was with me in Tirana. We went to the Albanian capitol for the consecration of the magnificent new cathedral, the Ressurection of Christ. We were invited because POA was instrumental in persuading the Albanian government to give land in the main square of Tirana for the cathedral and we seized the opportunity to meet with Albanian and Greek minority leaders who were also in attendance. In conversations with Vasilis Bolanos, the president of Omonia, and Vangelis Doules, the president of the Human Rights Party and vice president of the Albanian Parliament, and Konstantina Beziani, who heads the office for minorities, we learned that the two most important issues for the Greek minority are the efforts of Tirana to join the region of Chimara dominated by ethnic Greeks with an adjacent predominatly Moslem region so that ethnic Greeks would never be able to elect officials in the area in upcoming elections and the unwillingness of Albanian leaders to enact a framework law "on the protection of minority rights" as other European governments have done that will greatly improve the lives of ethnic Greeks and all other minorities in Albania. (Albanian newspapers published pictures of me standing next to  Bolanos in the cathedral and wrote lurid front page articles with big, bold headlines about my presence in Tirana. The articles bore no resemblance to reality but showed how much Albanian nationalists fear the effectiveness of POA).

In our talks with the minority leaders we agreed to work together and speak with one voice on these two crucial issues, Bolanos, Doules and Beziani focusing on Albania and we focusing on Washington and Brussels through the World Council of Epirotes Abroad (WCEA). On Greece, we agreed to divide our efforts with Mr. Doules pressing the issues with Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and me informing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, which I did. I also talked with Pyrros Dimas, who is a leading member of the Greek Parliament, and he agreed to meet with his party's leader, FM Venizelos, to urge him to take up the two issues with Albanian leaders.

Last night, I met with Chris Dimou, the WCEA president, and he promised to press the issues with key figures in the European Union. As the WCEA includes Epirotes living in Europe, it has the right to bring issues before the European Union, which POA cannot do as an American organization.

As you can see we are operating on all fronts with POA leading the charge in the U.S. I have already made one visit to Washington and will go again next Monday to see Congressmen and State Department officials. If anyone from the board wants to join me, please let me know and please inform me, George Nanis, Jimmy Koutoulas, or Chris Dimou if you plan to attend the WCEA convention in Ioannina from July 24 to 27.

Have a great summer and I hope to see you all in Ioannina.

Warmest regards,
Nicholas Gage
POA President

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