Albania: Omonoia’s Notice on Greek Language

greece-albaniaThe Democratic Union of the Greek Minority, Omonoia, appealed to the Albanian government to pass the law on minorities which will clearly provide for the use of each minority’s mother tongue.

The organization made an official notice on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, where it stressed that even though the Albanian state had committed by signing international conventions on the protection of minority languages, the use of minorities’ mother tongues does not conform to the conventions but in several occasions it is prosecuted directly or via the state’s connivance. In fact Omonoia stated that the persecution peaked with the tragic incident of August 12, 2010 when Greek minority member Aristotelis Goumas was murdered in Himare.

Greek shopkeeper Aristotelis Goumas was hit by a car driven by three Albanian men from Vlore. According to eyewitnesses the death occurred after an altercation in Goumas’ store, when the three men demanded that Goumas not speak to them in Greek in his own store, which Goumas refused. The suspects reportedly drove over the victim at least twice to make sure he was dead.

The death sent shockwaves through the ethnic Greek community of Albania, and demonstrators blocked the main highway from Vlore to Sarande, which passes through the region. The event was reported by all major news outlets in both countries, and was strongly condemned by both the Greek and Albanian governments.

Omonoia also noted in its notice that Greek language teaching is very limited in Greek minority education, while it is almost non-existent in the country’s public administration. The few public signs in Greek have been painted or smudged for years “to remind us of the wild environment in which they survive,” concluded the statement.