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31 August, 1998
A border zone on the Greek-Albanian frontier will be introduced next year, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos announced yesterday during a visit to the southeastern Albanian town of Korce, where he inaugurated a new Greek consulate.
Greeks and Albanians living within the zone - the depth of which will be decided later - will be allowed free movement on either side of the borders inside the zone, and will have a special common identification card, Mr.Pangalos explained.
The card, issued jointly by Greece and Albania, will enable residents inside the zone to live in one country and work across the border in the other country within the designated zone. Restrictions for the other parts of the country will remain in place.
Mr. Pangalos clarified that the issue is still under discussion "and that within the year its final form will be announced." He also stressed that "the border zone will be transformed from a zone of underdevelopment into a zone of development."
In addition, the minister said the Greek consulate in Korce and a new Albanian consulate in Thessaloniki "is a step forward so as to gain several steps backward we made in the past," while he reiterated that Athens will help Tirana with further cooperation on the sectors of tourism, economy and science.
On his part, Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo stressed that the "Albanian government is resolved to forge ahead...with closer relations with Greece, through specific and bigger steps, since this is the will of the Albanian people."
The Greek consulate in Korce closed its doors in 1937, while the last consul was Nobel laureate poet Georgios Seferis.
The opening of the consulate in Korce and its Albanian counterpart in Thessaloniki is based on a 1996 bilateral agreement.
Source: Athens News Agency