The remains of 193 Greek soldiers who died in Albania during the Greek-Italian war in 1940-41 were given a Greek Orthodox burial on Tuesday at the military cemetery of Kelcyre (known as Kleisoura in Greek), in the Albanian region of Premet, the Greek Foreign Ministry said.
Metropolitan Demetrios of Gjirokaster conducted the memorial service, which was attended by Greek Ambassador to Tirana Sofia Filippidou, head of the joint Greek-Albanian experts committee for the search and identification of Greek soldiers’ remains, Air Chief Marshal Constantine Agos, and Greek and Albanian members of the committee, local government officials and members of the Greek minority in Albania.
Of a total of 8,500 Greek soldiers who died in the Greek-Italian war in Albania, the greatest number died at the bloody battles of Kelcyre and Premet, nearby.
The soldiers’ bones, many of which were collected from nearby hills and ravines at the town and mountain pass of Kelcyre, were covered with the Greek flag and placed in separate ossuaries.
The event observes a bilateral agreement of 2009 on seeking, disinterring, identifying and burying Greek soldiers which went into effect in January 2018. Since the implementation of the agreement, the number of remains of Greek soldiers at the two officially recognized Greek military cemeteries in Albania has reached 1,050. Of these, 950 are at the Kelcyre cemetery and 100 at the Bularat village, where Greek minority members live.
Expressing its satisfaction that nearly 70 years after their sacrifices, the souls of Greek fallen soldiers will be able to rest in peace, the Foreign Affairs ministry welcomed the collaboration with the Albanian side on this sensitive and humanitarian issue.