Albania accuses 52 Greek nationals of participating in 'extremist events'

Albania has labeled 52 Greek nationals who attended the funeral on Thursday of an ethnic Greek who was fatally shot in a gun battle with Albanian police last month personae non gratae and has banned them from entering the country.

A statement on Friday by Albania’s Foreign Ministry alleged that the 52, who were not identified by name, participated in “extremist events” against Albania and made public statements challenging the country’s constitution, national security and public order.

“No one should mistake our prudence as weakness and no foreign national can violate the law, traditions and hospitality of this country without consequences,” the ministry said in its statement.

The funeral of 35-year-old Konstantinos Katsifas was attended by hundreds of Greek nationals – many of them holding Greek flags – who traveled on buses to the village of Bularat in southern Albania from Greece.

Earlier on Friday, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a Facebook post that Albania is “not at war with funeral caskets or provocateurs at funerals.”

“Those who came to provoke put their own flag to shame,” he said.

New Democracy’s shadow foreign minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos denounced the remarks by Rama as “unacceptable and provocative,” and accused the Greek government of “encouraging” the Albanian leader with its “silence.”

In a related development, 12 Greek nationals who had been detained by Albanian authorities after the funeral on Thursday on suspicion of instigating “racist violence” were released early on Friday morning.