Greek officials on Wednesday accused Albania of encouraging the recent influx of refugees into Greece that has stretched the Athens government's ability to house and feed them.
Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis held an emergency meeting late Tuesday and set up a special committee to deal with the problem. He appealed to ethnic Greeks in Albania to stay home but pledged not to close the border to those who wished to enter.The government said more than 3,330 refugees from Albania, mainly ethnic Greeks, crossed the border into Greece since Christmas, including about 2,000 since Monday, and were posing problems for the government to house and feed them. Ethnic Greeks make up a minority of some 400,000 people in Albania, living mainly in the southern region.
Government spokesman Byron Polydoras accused the Albanian authorities of encouraging ethnic Greeks to cross the border.
Among the ploys, Polydoras said, was "letting it be known that the borders were about to be closed, so as to accelerate the exodus," and another was "spreading it around that land, apartments, cars and televisions sets are being given away in Greece."
Polydoras accused the Albanian government of using these and other means to empty southern Albania of the ethnic Greek community. He said Greek officials were sent to Tirana, the Albanian capital, to ask the government to stop encouraging ethnic Greeks to leave their homes.