Ethnic Greek minority leaders in Albania have urged Greece not to scrap their pensions as part of the austerity drive imposed by the IMF and the EU.“We understand the difficulties that our fatherland is passing through and support the efforts of the Greek government and its people to strengthen the economy,” the Greek minority organization, Omonia, said in a statement.
“But we call on the Greek government to make sure that these financial implications do not extend to Northern Epirus,” it added.
Greek nationalists have long viewed southern Albania as “terra irredenta”, and usually call it “Northern Epirus” in order to stress its allegedly Greek identity.
Nearly 18,000 members of the Greek minority in Albania receive a €330 per month pension from Athens, costing a total of €71.2 million every year.
The pensions are controversial in Albania, with many believing that hundreds if not thousands of people have declared themselves Greek in order to benefit from Athens’ generosity.
The pensions are an important economic lifeline in southern Albania, which has seen massive emigration in the past two decades.
According to last year’s census, the Greek minority accounts for 0.87 per cent of Albania’s population of 2.8 million population.