“An important step is being taken today towards laying to rest the souls of the Greek soldiers who fell in the Greek-Italian war of 1940-1941. The last unburied fallen of the Second World War.”
This statement, issued by Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, marks the end of a long-pending issue that had affected relations between Greece and Albania: the building of new cemeteries for the fallen of the Albanian front.
Thousands of Greek soldiers fought heroically against Mussolini’s fascist troops between November 1940 and April 1941 and it is estimated that 6,800 out of 8,000 bodies are buried in mass graves in the mountainous area of Korytsa.
Now these heroes are heading to their final resting place.
As provisioned by the bilateral agreement signed by Greece and Albania, forensic experts of the two countries are already working in the area, where the Albanian government is exhuming the remains of the Greek soldiers. Digging is to take place in locations around Dragodi, following directions by old italian military maps, while locals have also provided information about the whereabouts of the graves. After exhumation, the bones will be transferred to new cemetaries, purposely built in Vouliarates and Kleisoura.
“We welcome the Albanian government’s response on this historically just request, which shows that dialogue and cooperation in a constructive and open-minded spirit can lead to the resolution of differences and the creation of positive prospects in the relations between the region’s countries and peoples,” reads the Greek Ministry’s statement.