‘Beleri Case’ Poses Stress Test for Greek-Albanian Relations


The claims and counter-claims made about the reasons for the arrest of an ethnic Greek mayor-elect in Albania threaten to undo the work done in repairing Greek-Albanian ties and slow Albania’s EU path.

Around midnight on May 12, in Himara, a seaside resort on the “Albanian Riviera”, three men met in a café. One was Fredi Beleri, an ethnic Greek candidate for mayor in the area. Two days later, there were municipal elections in the country.

The other two were Pandeli Kokaveshi, a Beleri associate, and an Albanian citizen who revealed the alleged vote-buying to the authorities and agreed to be the infiltrator of the prosecutor’s office.

In a short time, the Albanian police arrested Beleri and his associate, Kokaveshi, on charges of vote buying. Two days after his arrest, Beleri became the first mayor in Albania to be elected while in custody.

Beleri’s pre-detention provoked the intervention of Greek foreign minister Giorgos Gerapetritis and the Greek vice-president of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas, who demanded Beleri’s release, putting Albania’s EU accession in question.

However, Albanian authorities insist on accusing Beleri of vote buying and denying releasing him even under strict restrictions.

Source : Balkaninsight