The removal of designations of a holder's ethnic origin from new certificates issued by Albania was a decision that raised questions regarding its motives, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stressed on Thursday.
The spokesman pointed out that the decision reversed the practice of decades and he also noted delays in completing a census of Albania's population due to pressures from nationalist circles opposed to the inclusion of questions on ethnic origin, language and religion.
Combined, these two developments gave the impression that Albanian government decisions were slowly falling in with the dictates of extremist nationalist elements that disputed the existence of ethnic minorities in the neighbouring country and systematically undermined bilateral relations between Albania and Greece, Delavekouras said.
He added that Greece would continue to monitor developments in Albania carefully, using as a guideline the need to respect the rights of the Greek minority in the neighbouring country. He also urged Albania's government to hold constructive talks with representatives of the Greek minority that have voiced strong objections to the decision, in order to find solutions that address their concerns.
The spokesman said that Greece will inform the appropriate EU entities about this issue and repeated Greece's support for Albanian European prospects but stressed that Athens expected Albania to fully comply with the specific obligations and conditions that its accession to the EU depended upon. These included respect for human rights, minorities rights and European standards, he emphasised.