The remains of 573 Greek soldiers that fell during the Greek-Italian war in 1940-41 were interred on Friday during a solemn religious ceremony at a military cemetery near the small southern Albanian village of Dragot.
The village is close to the Këlcyrë Gorge (Kleisoura Pass), where a bloody battle was fought in January 1941.
Burying the remains of Greek servicemen who died during the WWII conflict in designated military cemeteries close to the battlefields where they fell has been a pressing demand by Athens towards Albanian authorities for several decades. A more-or-less comprehensive agreement was recently reached by the two countries' foreign ministers.
Excavation and identification efforts began at the Kleisoura Pass vicinity last January, with the remains of roughly 700 soldiers discovered in hastily dug battlefield graves, practically all without markings.
The remains of another 100 fallen Greek soldiers on Albanian soil were interred last July at a military cemetery in the village of Vouliarates.
Friday's memorial service was officiated by the Orthodox Metropolitan of Gjirokastër, Demetrios, and was attended by Greece's ambassador to Tirana, Eleni Sourani, local political leaders and members of the excavation team.