(Ependytis, June 9, 2001)
[ ] The elections in Bulgaria on June 17th of the month and in Albania on June 24th are an aspect of general developments in the Balkans which calls for particularly close attention, hence the inclusion of the Chief of the Greek Information Service in the latest round of talks at the Greek Foreign Ministry. Turkey is showing interest in the Bulgarian elections because of the presence of a strong Muslim minority, which, according to opinion polls, totals 3,9%, the minimum requirement for participation in parliament being 4%. Ankara is protesting against attempts on the part of Bulgarian authorities, through revision of existing laws, to deprive those Muslim Bulgarian citizens who reside in Turkey of their nationality. Over 100,000 of them have, however, managed to obtain the new passports which give them the right to vote in the elections. Symeon IIs candidature in the elections and rumours of attempts to re-instate the monarchy, the edge that opinion polls give to his party and fears expressed in some circles in Bulgaria about the possible political exploitation of the Muslim minority by third parties, all make the Bulgarian scene obscure. The elections in Albania two weeks later are particularly interesting because of the continuation of Albanian rebel activity in adjacent countries, but also because of the Greek minoritys participation with its own political coalition. Sources reveal that high ranking Greek officials who went to Tirana recently, requested assurances from the Albanian government that there would be no obstacles to Greek minority participation in the elections, and also asked for guarantees that in the event of the situation in Skopje getting out of control and there being mass movements of population, the minority would not be placed in jeopardy.