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Little Chiefs of the Balkans

October 20, 2012

By Stavros Tzimas, Kathimerini, 12.10.2012 [Translated from the Greek Original by B.S.]

The episode occurred last week on the border station of Kipoi and it took on diplomatic proportions. The Albanian driver of a car with fYROM licence-plates, returning from Turkey, attempted to cross into Greece to continue his journey, without however possessing an international driver’s licence. The police officers pointed out this irregularity and explained to him the self-evident: that, in other words, without the legal documents he could not cross the Greek border. The “high ranking passanger” of the car got involved in the discussion, who was none other than the leader of the Albanian opposition in Skopje, member of the [fYROM] parliament and leader of the DUI party [Albanian coalition partner in the Gruevski government], Menduh Thaçi,who, in a peremptory style, demanded that the Greek state stand aside and let him pass. The police officer dug his heels in and thus Thaçi was obliged to return to Tetovo via

Bulgaria.

Menduh Thaçi

The first issue is who was right. The answer on this: both of them. Says that everyday hundreds – and in summer thousands – citizens of fYROM and Albania come to Greece and not all of them posses an International Driver Licence

Similar episodes are frequent on the borders, the most recent being that of an official of the Turkish government who was accompanying a high-ranking member of the government to Thrace and the police officer did not permit him to cross the border, despite the interventions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because there was some irregularity in his passport. Usually however these cases are worked out with the good will of the two sides and of course not with menaces as happened in the case of the Albanian politician. The episode would be unworthy of mention if Thaçi did not take it further with a delirious tirade against the [Greek] Prime Minister mr Samaras and against Greece in general. Using an unbefitting style, in a “letter” he sent to the media, he gave the Greek Prime Minister a forty-eight hour deadline to apologise (!) and when the deadline expired he published a second one, using language befitting to a fruit market, declaring that he holds “no respect” for mr Samaras and the Greek government (sic) and threatening, in the name of “all Albanians” ! The answer came from the [Greek] diplomatic mission in Skopje which in a statement noted that Greece is a state where laws are respected and that is where the matter ended for the Greek side.

Little Chiefs – and not only Albanians – with a similar or even worse profile in flammable regions of the Balkans where led by chance to succeed emblematic personalities with a huge political weight and wisdom, as where Gligorov, Rugova, Jafferi and others; and they decide on complicated and boiling matters that are yet unsolved either within their house, but also in their yards. Unfortunately.

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