First signs of tension between Albania and Greece

As the fighting in the north of Macedonia continues, there are the first signs of an Albanian question flaring up in Greece. The latest flashpoint was at the secondary school at Tsotylios, northern Greece, where 50 Albanian students were studying as part of a programme to reduce ethnic tensions in the area. After a football match between the Greek and Albanian students, a violent fight broke out. Such was the violence used by the Albanians that the Greek students refused to go back to school unless the Albanians were expelled. The authorities had to step in to calm the tension and persuaded the local students to allow the Albanians to stay. However, the damage has been done. The situation is particularly tense between Greece and Albania since there are hundreds of thousands of Albanians living in Greece and there is a large Greek community in southern Albania. It is common practice for pregnant Albanian women to cross over frontiers to have their children so as to gain future citizenship for them. This practice puts fuel on the fire when there are periods of ethnic tension. As the shock waves of the post-Kosovo period ripple through the Balkans, it remains to be seen whether or not the waters will calm or whether a tidal wave of violence will sweep through the whole area. Calling people to use common sense and to be calm in such an area is totally inappropriate. The delicate balance which the Balkans people knew how to live with has been destabilised by outsiders, foreigners wishing to interfere. NATO’s intrusive policy again reaps the benefits of its arrogance.

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON