Speaking at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on January 29, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said his country will not change its position on hosting the members of Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO).
In his speech Rama stressed that Albania's decision to host MKO, an Iranian opposition group, was not an act against the Islamic Republic. Rama declared that his country is "proud of granting asylum to thousands of people whose lives were threatened by the Iranian government".
Albania has been hosting more than 2,000 members of the MKO since 2009 when their camps were closed down in Iraq.
"This is part of what we are. It is part of our tradition. We were the only country after World War II that had more Jewish people than before," Rama, who is also the Chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said.
Since 2018 Albania has expelled an Iranian ambassador and several diplomats for activities against the MKO and others.
"We expelled the [Iranian] ambassador first and later others who engaged in activities outside the regular activities of diplomatic missions were expelled," Rama said.
On January 15 Albanian Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj announced on Facebook that two Iranian diplomats, Mohammad Ali Arzpeima Nemati and Ahmad Hosseini Alast, had been declared persona non grata and asked to leave Albania "immediately".
The Albanian police have said that they discovered an Iranian military network, plotting to conduct a series of terrorist attacks against the members of the exiled MKO.
According to the Albanian police the cell was run by the Qods (Quds) Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard which is responsible for extraterritorial military operations.
The terrorist cell had also planned an operation against the Bektashi, a Sufi group, in the Albanian capital Tirana but the plan was foiled in March 2018, the Albanian police have said.
In recent months diplomatic tensions have been high between Iran and several European countries over security and intelligence issues. Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden have all accused Iran of using its diplomats to conspire against Iranian dissidents living in their countries.