The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Sunday, responding to Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and Foreign Affairs Minister Dimir Bushati regarding a “Cham issue”.

The statements regarding a Cham issue came a few days ahead of the official visit of Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Kotzias to further develop bilateral relations. Aside from updating the Friendship, Cooperation, Good Neighborliness and Security Agreement from 1996, Greece is aiming for an agreement on maritime borders.

The Chams are a group of ethnic Albanians who collaborated with the Axis Occupation Forces in Greece during WWII. Following the retreat of the Axis forces from Greece the Chams left Epirus, on their own initiative according to the Greek government. Albanian officials however claim they were forcibly expelled. The full statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is as follows:

Albania needs to realize that its European course depends on the faithful implementation of the European Union’s five principles, among which is respect for justice and rule of law. This presupposes that it will respect court rulings, especially when they concern war crimes, and, instead of raising non-existent issues, implement the prerequisites and its commitments with regard to protection of the rights of the indigenous Greek National Minority.

The necessary political culture among neighbours presupposes seriousness, respect for the accurate facts of history, and a vision for relations that will not be impacted, of course, by the blatant distortion, deliberate or unwitting, of historical reality, but will be based on building – on strong foundations – a future that ensures substantial progress in bilateral relations and contributes to security and stability in the wider region.