On the morning of Sunday 11 February 2018, hundreds of Greeks honored the 104th anniversary of the proclamation of the Independence of Northern Epirus, with events organized by the Association of Northern Epirus at the Holy Church of St. George Karytsi, in downtown Athens.
In her address, the Secretary-General of the Association of Northern Epirus, Eleni Dimou, referred to the crucial times we live in and stressed the need for unity of all Greeks.
The chairman of the Association of Northern Epirus, Charalambos Karathanos, read out the key points of a resolution that was later handed over to the Greek Parliament, in which there are the answers to certain demands-warnings of Albania towards Greece.
Regarding the Albanian demand for recognition by Greece of the Florence Protocol, which recognizes the current Greek-Albanian borders, Greece should -according to the resolution- ask in return the implementation by the Albanian government of the Corfu Protocol which essentially grants Autonomy to Northern Epirus.
Also, regarding the “warning” by the Albanian Prime Minister Eddie Rama that if his country does not join the European Union, it will proceed to the annexation of Kosovo, the resolution clarifies that should something like that takes place, then Greece should ask in turn the annexation of North Epirus, as the two cases are almost identical.
A march followed under the sounds of the Philharmonic of the City of Athens, to Syntagma Square, which ended at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, outside the Hellenic Parliament, where a wreath was laid.
The chronicle of the Northern Epirus Struggle
During the Balkan wars (1912-1913), the Greek Army defeated the Ottoman Turks and liberated among other areas the Greek cities and villages of Epirus. However, with the Florence Protocol (17-12-1913), the Great Powers of the time (Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Italy) granted the areas of Argyrokastro, Koritsa, Delvino, Agioi Saranda, Himara etc. in the newly established Albanian state, regardless of the a fact that their population was almost entirely Greek. These areas in the southern part of Albania have since been named “Northern Epirus” since the geographical region of Epirus has been divided between Greece and Albania.
The Greeks of Northern Epirus reacted by forming their own government and armed groups. On February 17, 1914, they declared the Independence of Northern Epirus in Argyrokastro. The victories of the people of Northern Epirus against the Albanians forced the Great Powers as well as the Albanian government to sign on May 17, 1914, the Corfu Protocol recognizing Autonomy for Northern Epirus. But the provisions of this Treaty were honored for only a few months due to the start of the First World War.
Each year, the Northern Epirots honor the anniversary of their Independence as a reminder of Greece’s historical obligations towards the indigenous Greeks of Northern Epirus.