US embassy cable - 06TIRANA696

CHAM PROTESTS MARK 62ND ANNIVERSARY OF LEAVING GREECE

Identifier: 06TIRANA696
Wikileaks: View 06TIRANA696 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tirana
Created: 2006-07-05 16:34:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREF PREL PHUM PGOV AL GR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0023
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTI #0696 1861634
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051634Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY TIRANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4500
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 2942
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2175
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
C O N F I D E N T I A L TIRANA 000696 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/SCE (BENEDICT), EUR/SE 
ATHENS FOR GRISSETTE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/2016 
TAGS: PREF, PREL, PHUM, PGOV, AL, GR 
SUBJECT: CHAM PROTESTS MARK 62ND ANNIVERSARY OF LEAVING 
GREECE 
 
REF: 05 TIRANA 1676 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARCIE B. RIES FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (SBU) Several hundred Chams gathered at a rally in Saranda 
on June 23 to mark the 62nd anniversary of the Chams' 
expulsion from Greece to Albania.  The rally was organized by 
the "Chameria" association and the Cham-founded Party for 
Democracy and Integration (PDI).  The following day, 
protesters traveled to Qafe-Bot, a crossing point with 
Greece, where Chams passed into Albanian territory in 1944 
during the exodus from Greece.  Press reports estimated the 
number of participants as high as 10,000, but the actual 
number was likely much lower. 
 
2. (SBU) The protesters laid wreaths on a grave, where 
reportedly dozens of deported Chams who did not survive the 
journey to Albania were buried.  Participants called for the 
granting of Greek citizenship and restitution of their 
confiscated properties.  PDI Chair Tahir Muhedini said at 
Qafe-Bot the issue was not only between Albania and Greece 
and called for EU and U.S. intervention.  SP MP Shpetim 
Idrizi, of Cham origin, was the only mainstream politician 
participating in the visit to Qafe-Bot. 
 
3. (SBU) On June 25, press reported on a letter from the 
European Commission, responding to an earlier letter from the 
PDI to the Commission.  The Commission's reply stated it was 
aware of the Cham issue, in particular the issue of Cham 
property rights in Greece; however, the Commission believed 
it was a bilateral matter between Greece and Albania, and 
urged dialogue between the two to find a solution.  Media 
reported on July 5 that the Chams have sent a letter to 
Archbishop Janullatos, the Greek-born head of the Albanian 
Orthodox Church, calling for recognition of the Chams as an 
ethnic minority in Greece.  We are now seeking a copy of this 
letter. 
 
BACKGROUND ON CHAMS 
 
4. (SBU) Chams are ethnic Albanians who lived in northwestern 
Greece.  Near the end of World War II, between 20,000 and 
40,000 Chams were expelled as "fascist collaborators" and 
resettled in Albania.  Chams and their descendants in Albania 
have organized protests to demand Greek citizenship and 
compensation for the loss of property.  Protests have 
occurred in conjunction with visits of Greek leaders to 
Albania; in November 2005, Greek President Papoulias cut 
short a visit to Albania and canceled a meeting with his 
Albanian counterpart, citing security concerns arising from 
Cham protests (see reftel). 
 
5. (C) COMMENT: Chams are eager to involve the U.S. and EU in 
their attempt to gain Greek citizeNship and compensation for 
lost property, particularLy since the GoA, for fear of 
straining delicaTe relAtions with Greece, has been unwilling 
to gomuch beyond Prerident Moisiu's October 2004 call foR AQ 
bilateRal experts' dialogue to resolve the icsUeQ whIcH hirQQ 
then-Greek counterpart StdfanmpmulOsbahQad "cloSed."  While 
Embassy OffiCerc meetdRiE TiMato Time with AmCit Chams to 
he@bdhel mEtQ OqQ Qcl`Bqar to avoid becoming involvaDQQpolItIaAhLyi Q`hseatter 
which remains highlY ReLcidhFEQ 
hOrQ Q``20 years on.  END COMMENT.Q 
RIES 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04