VIENNA — The Albanian Foreign Ministry on Thursday promised to grant passports to the hundreds of Albanians who have sought refuge in foreign embassies in the Albania capital of Tirana in a desperate attempt to flee their Communist homeland.
Hundreds of additional would-be refugees gathered outside at least 12 foreign embassies on Thursday, raising the number of asylum-seekers to about 600, diplomats said.
In a statement carried by the official Albanian news agency ATA, the Foreign Ministry also appeared to deny a report that Albanians will no longer be able to apply for visas at embassies of the countries they wish to visit.
"The Albanian authorities . . . are ready to grant passports, even to those citizens who are still in the foreign embassies and who shall ask for such a thing," the ministry statement said.
The Austria Press Agency reported earlier that authorities had revoked new regulations allowing passport-holding Albanians to apply directly at foreign embassies for visas to travel abroad. It said that 1,400 passports have been issued over the last 10 days.
French diplomatic sources said that about 100 Albanians had entered the French Embassy by Thursday, and that several hundred others had flocked to the West German mission and more were on the way. Refugees were also streaming into the Italian and Czechoslovak embassies but exact figures were not available.