A foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday commented on the pending population census to be conducted in neighbouring Albania, noting that Athens views the ethnic Greek minority in Albania as a "bridge of friendship", a view that should be shared by Tirana as well.

“Full respect of its rights (ethnic Greek minority) by the Albanian side constitutes a barometre for bilateral relations and a criterion for the country’s European course,” spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras added.

He added that respect of the ethnic Greek minority's rights is included amongst the country's international obligations, and especially within the framework of Albania's European course, “... and not only in regions defined as minority zones”.

Delavekouras reminded that Greek-Albanian relations are of strategic importance for Athens and that “we will stand by Albania in the steps it will take toward the EU. Cooperation and dialogue are continuous and we should not look for reasons to blow situations out of proportion and create impressions”.