Greece, Albania agree that maritime zones issues should be settled at The Hague

Greece and Albania decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana on Tuesday.

“Having examined the issue thoroughly, we agreed that Greece and Albania would jointly take recourse to international justice, the International Court at The Hague, on the issue,” Dendias said following a meeting with Rama. “This agreement is based on the consistent adherence by both countries to international legality and the principle of resolving differences peacefully,” he added.

Dendias noted that the two countries “also referred to the Greece-Albania agreement of 1996 and we agreed that this treaty requires deepening and strengthening. We [decided] to proceed jointly to a new strategic collaboration agreement between the two countries and to set up a G2G meeting and mechanism between the two friendly countries.”

The two officials also discussed the issue of an outstanding state of war, on paper, which Dendias called “an anachronism” and said would be resolved. They also discussed the issue of minorities and the spirit that should underpin good neighborhood relations.

The Greek FM said no more time should be lost between the two countries and he welcomed the progress Albania has made in issues related to the Greek community there. The accession of Albania to the European Union is a joint goal of both countries, he underlined, noting Greece’s consistent support of accession for West Balkan countries.

Turkey, on the other hand, Dendias said, Turkey “is moving in the opposite direction (…) continuing to violate fundamental EU accession criteria – both political and economic – on a daily basis.”

Edi Rama: Greece a strategic partner

A very positive chapter has opened in Greece-Albania relations, Rama said after his meeting with Dendias in Tirana.

Rama referred to Greece as Albania’s strategic partner, and stressed that Greece never stood in the way of Albania’s EU accession process. He also mentioned Greece’s crucial input at the EU’s Coronavirus Global Response Pledging Conference held earlier in the year, and called Minister Dendias a friend of Albania and all Albanians, particularly after Greece’s aid when a devastating earthquake struck his country.

Speaking on the rights of the Greek minority in Albania, he said his country intends to move forward with the completion of the necessary legislation for the full implementation of the law on minorities in Albania.

Dendias meetings

Dendias wrapped up his visit to Tirana on Tuesday with meetings with Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres and All Albania and with members of the Greek business community in Albania.

Following his meeting with Rama, Dendias also met separately with acting Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gent Cakaj, President of Albania Ilir Meta, and President of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha.

EU welcomes agreement

Hailing the agreement, the European Commission’s Enlargement, Neighbourhood & International Partnerships spokesperson Ana Pisonero wrote on Twitter:

“EU welcomes announcement by Albanian and Greek governments on the way forward on their maritime dispute. Issues related to delimitation of borders are indeed best addressed through dialogue, in accordance with International Law and in pursuit of the principle of good neighborly relations.”