Albania: President Stalls On Greek Sea Border Deal


By Gjergj Erebara

Albania’s President on Friday signaled continuing reluctance to give the government the authority to negotiate a sensitive maritime border agreement with Greece – despite fears that delays could affect the country’s EU membership prospects.

Albania President Ilir Meta on Friday met parliament’s foreign affairs committee, seeking more talks on the government’s request for authorization to negotiate a new maritime border deal with Greece.

A press release after the meeting said the President had “informed MPs of his stance on this issue, emphasizing that achieving a fair and sustainable agreement requires the collaboration and seriousness of all institutions”.

Earlier, his spokesperson denied that by refusing to grant the government authority to negotiate a deal, the President was attempting to disrupt negotiations between the two sides.

Albania’s Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati, and his Greek counterpart held two preparatory meetings last year on resolving relations between two countries, some of which are decades old and very sensitive, including the maritime border and the property rights of ethnic Albanians, known as Chams, expelled from Greece at the end of the Second World War.

On February 14, Bushati asked Meta for authorization to negotiate the sea border. After holding consultations with former presidents, however, Meta requested further clarification on February 20.

The government said it had met this request this week, but the President is still holding out.

The opposition centre-right Democratic Party wants the country to go to an international court to resolve the issue and is already accusing the government of planning a sell-out on the sea border.

The government sees resolving the matter as urgent, however, as the European Council is expected to discuss relations with Balkans later this month, and the outcome of the talks with EU member Greece could affect a possible decision to open EU membership negotiations.

Meta was elected President last year by the votes of the Socialist Party. However, his party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, now led by his wife, Monika Kryemadhi, went into opposition in last year’s elections.

Relations between Meta and the Socialist-led government remain difficult. He has refused to appointment a new head for the secret services since the previous head resigned last October, for example.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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