There is an American saying: ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’.This time, in the name of brotherly love for their fellow Greeks in Albania,the Greeks have devised a clever device to count their ethnic Greeks.
The Greek minority in Albania has been counted many times and by many interested parties. Evidently, so far the Greeks have failed to provide a credible version of their count of 300,000 or 400,000 or even 600,000 ethnic Greeks in Albania. Mr. Nicolas Gage supports the last figure.
I would call an ethnic Greek that citizen of Albania who prior to 1990 knew to be an ethnic Greek by virtue of his/her parents. The reference to 1990 has to do with the demise of the Communist regime in Albania and the Greek cultural and political incursions in Albania. On the cultural side they have installed two Greek bishops to lead the Albanian Autocephallous Orthodox Church: As the head of the Church Archbishop Anastasios Yanoullatos and Bishop Ignatios as the Metropolitan of Berat. On the political side they
seem to be thinking clever ways and devise new ploys to artificially increase the ethnic Greek population in Albania. This paper deals with the proposal to establish a dual citizenship for the ethnic Greeks: Albanian and Greek.
In a study published in NATIONALITIES PAPERS, vol. 22, No 2, 1994,it is concluded that at the very most the number of ethnic Greeks in Albania is 70,000. Mind you, many Albanians protest this figure as being too high.
With the proposal to accord dual citizenship to the Greek minority in Albania the Greeks have found a very clever way to recount the ethnic Greeks in Albania. Simply issue a Greek passport to any Albanian that needs or wants one for his/her own personal reasons independently of whether he/she is a true ethnic Greek or not.
Thus an Albanian Moslem could change his name into an Orthodox name and claim a Greek passport. An Albanian Catholic could do the same. And an Albanian Orthodox with a religious name would simply claim to be an ethnic Greek from Albania.
I happen to know an Albanian Orthodox, a medical doctor practicing in Tirana, who possesses a Greek passport that he uses to travel abroad, especially Europe, without the headaches associated with an Albanian passport.
Given the dire economic conditions in Albania the number of Albanians wanting a Greek passport could be very large. That seems to be the target of the Greek leaders advocating dual citizenship for the ethnic Greeks in Albania. Greek officials discussing the subject of dual citizenship talk about a minimum of 300,000 Greek passports to be issued to ethnic Greeks from Albania. All of a sudden, for the cost of printing a passport, the Greek government can announce to the world the following claim: ‘We have issued, say, 300 000 Greek passports to people from Albania.
Therefore, there are 300 000 ethnic Greeks in Albania. If the Greeks were genuine members of the European community, free from any chauvinistic aims against Albania they could record in the Greek passport the Albanian ethnic background of all those Albanians who are getting the Greek passport simply for convenience.
Instead, to make matters worse, the Albanians who have migrated to Greece in large numbers are not assisted by the Greek government or any other public or private entity to cultivate and maintain their original Albanian ethnic background. Given the ruthless assimilation of the Arvanitas, ethnic Albanians who migrated to Greece in the early middle ages, it is too much to expect the Greek leaders to accord a different fate to the present Albanian migration.
Also, along the way, the Greek government might consider issuing a Greek passport to the Çams, ethnic Albanians expelled from Greece at the end of WW2, currently living in Albania.
Dual citizenship, in a modern, peaceful and unified Europe, is a wonderful concept as it offers the opportunity to ameliorate the life of ethnic groups in their host countries. Leaders of Albania, regardless of their political beliefs, their political parties, their various social or religious groupings, including leaders of the true Greek minority in Albania, should rise in unison to denounce this Greek travesty, this Greek Trojan horse, as a dishonest and dangerous undertaking by the Greek government. The leaders
of Albania should make sure that their government is not a party to this Greek scheme. Albania should not guarantee the Albanian citizenship to all those Albanians who receive a Greek passport under false pretenses, pretending to be ethnic Greeks. On the other hand, the Albanian government should make every effort to protect the Albanian citizenship of the true ethnic Greeks of Albania who also hold a Greek passport.
Clearly, this issue can be resolved between Greece and Albania by simply counting together the true ethnic Greeks in Albania and providing them with the dual citizenship passports. In counting the ethnic Greeks in Albania it should be possible to agree on some simple criteria for such a status. For example: Those citizens of Albania who regularly have spoken the Greek language at home believing fully that they were ethnic Greeks. Or, the ethnic Greeks who have migrated to other parts of Albania from the well known ethnic Greek communities in the Dropulli valley and the area near Saranda. (See op. cit.)
Barring a genuine understanding with Greece about the true number of ethnic
Greeks in Albania, the Albanian government would record meticulously all those citizens who deserve the dual citizenship status as true ethnic Greeks. All the others, the false pretenders, should be made aware that they might forfeit their Albanian citizenship by acquiring a Greek passport.
July 22, 2003