Saturday’s decision by an Albanian court in Vlore (Avlona), “is scandalous if the evidence is not fully substantiated,” the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry said on the detention of the ethnic Greek candidate Dionysis-Fredi Beleri, who is running for mayor of Himare.
The MFA added in a statement that “the arrest of a candidate mayor two days before the elections does not constitute a rule of law. The decision to detain the candidate mayor overturns all rules of equality in municipal elections in Himare, a very important center of the Greek ethnic minority in Albania.”
The Greek ministry warned that the decision will affect Albania’s relations with the European Union, as the country needs to ensure the prerequisites of European rules and the principles of the rule of law for accession.
“Decisions like the one today that violate these principles practically mean that Albania does not follow the European path,” it concluded.
Beleri was detained and released on Friday, before a court ordered his transfer to a Tirana jail on Saturday. He is accused of voter bribery. The initial arrest brought protests from the Greek prime minister and the foreign affairs minister, while on Saturday Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis reiterated that protecting the Greek ethnic minority’s rights in Albania is part of the prerequisites for Greece’s support in accession to the EU.