The Greek minority in Albania reside close to the border of their mothercountry (spread over an area roughly 5000 km2) in northern Epirus. Greeks have lived in Epirus (by the Adriatic sea) for over two millenia. There are no reliable figures on the number of Greeks in Albania. Many drift back and forth across the border or have left Albania for good (-alex).
The Romans subjugated the area in 167BC. After the waning of Roman power various barbarian tribes rampaged through Epirus. In 1453, the Ottoman empire annexed the territory and began a centuries long occupation. They attempted to convert the populace to Islam, often employing brutal methods. However, an Orthodox Christian population remains to this day.
In 1912, Albanian autonomy was recognised by the great powers and Epirus was divided in two, the northern half going to Albania. The Protocol of Corfu in 1917 addressed the worries of the Greek minority by recommending that the region should be granted a level of autonomy within Albania and that the rights of minorities should be respected. Autonomy has never been granted and, according to human rights groups, the Greek minority have been subject to violations of their rights by successive Albanian administrations (both communist and democratic).
At the end of World War II, the Greeks hoped to regain Northern Epirus, but to no avail. In 1995 a friendship treaty was signed between the two nations in effort to diffuse tensions at the border. Greek language schools have recently begun to open within Albania. The organisation representing the Greek minority, OMONIA have asked that the Albanian government
- recognise the Greek minority
- allow unrestricted travel to and from Greece
- allow the promotion of Greek culture
See also: the Albanian minority in Greece.