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2004-08-23

Emigrants: Departure for Greece Pushing the Cars  

(translated from Koha Jone [AL])

Kapshtica – The metallic barrier of the Albanian customs in Kapshtica cannot be passed these days unless you subject yourself to the consecutive procedures of inspection, ranging from documents, luggage and cars to travel bags. Before the barrier, at least 50 cars are waiting in line, and next to them a coach with travellers. An employee of the border police inside of a kiosk type cabin validates the passports of each Albanian citizen by computer, and in the adjacent cabin the customs stamp is fetched. The lined up cars proceed slowly, meter after meter, until the first of the caravan of small cars manages to complete all procedures, and after the final inspection it darts away, breathing in with relief, towards the Greek customs. As if they were exercising an absurd discipline of sports, almost all the drivers get out of their cars and push their vehicles along slowly, advancing immediately as a car passes the barrier. A driver who is overpowered by sleep, with his head supported on the open window of the car, is woken up by the honk of the following car, whose driver seems to wait impatiently to move. The emigrants start like this on their long journey to Greece pushing their cars, most of them with destinations in the neighbouring country, towards those cabins and windows that perform the task of the control point at the border.

The lines created during these last three days in Kapshtica only on the Albanian side have their reason both in the number of emigrants returning to Greece and in the new procedures for their verification, procedures which are dictated also by the security measures of the Olympic Games. “For the first time, the registration and data capture by computer of all the data of the Albanian citizens who enter Greece is accomplished”, explains one of the officers of the border police in Kapshtica. He emphasises that the emigrants have to wait not more than half an hour for completing the procedures and for being controlled entirely. The functioning of the computer system at the customs, the time which is needed for the entry of all data on the identity of the emigrant, and the not-so-quick operation of it by the employees who are not yet as skilled as they should be, has brought some delays for the departures to Greece. … More than 2,000 Albanian citizens have passed the border every 24 hours for the last three days in the direction of Greece, whereas since the beginning of August 27,000 persons of different age groups have returned to Greece in almost 6,500 vehicles. Also the Greek police continues the repatriation of persons caught without documents or residence permit on its territory. During this month, 884 Albanian citizens have been returned, but none of them has ended up mistreated.

The Olympic Games in Greece have brought previously unseen control measures at the customs of Kapshtica. The border police with reinforced numbers, the customs, anti-contraband forces, anti-terror forces, secret service, the CAM mission Albania etc. reportedly all control on their own account the entries and exits of people, vehicles, and of goods at the customs of Kapshtica. The reinforcement of the inspections is said to have forced a part of the criminal elements to try until recently to enter Greece at the customs of Tre Urat. There are reports that one of the police officers at that border control was fired because it was believed that he favoured or did not stop the move of people with criminal records towards Greece. The authorities of the border police in Devoll seem like they want to avoid such an accusation by all means, and they present themselves in a rough manner to every Albanian who leaves for Greece. … The border police of both countries continue to have permanent contacts for coordination of the security measures and for the prevention of any act or deed that would threaten the normality of the Olympic Games.


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