As Albania, Greece get closer to sea border deal, concerns over transparency grow

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 6, 2018 10:33

Story Highlights

  • Previously a reason for popular protests, there is still a prevailing lack of transparency concerning the objective and substance of these negotiations, while the main source of information on how the delimitation of the maritime border will take place has become Greek media.

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Negotiations to reach a new agreement began in 2017, but were called consultations due to lack of president’s authorization (photo: Facebook)

TIRANA, July 5 – Three rounds of negotiations have concluded over the last month between Albania and Greece to reach a new maritime border agreement that will finally divide the naval space shared by the countries.  

The latest meeting between the Albanian and Greek negotiation groups happened in Athens, on June 23, and was followed by a short notice by the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

The ministry, like in previous instances, sufficed by announcing that “the meeting was constructive and it developed in a positive, friendly and cooperative climate,” while adding that the “negotiation groups will continue working to find a sustainable solution that is of interest to both parties.”

The announcement for the development of the third round of negotiations was made by Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati a few days in advance; according to Bushati, negotiations have reached a point where all possibilities to strike a mutually satisfying deal exist.

Actually, negotiations to reach a new agreement, after the Constitutional Court rejected the one reached in 2010 between the then governing Democratic Party and Greek government, already intensively began during 2017, but were called “consultations,” as President Ilir Meta’s authorization to begin negotiating was missing.

Previously a reason for popular protests, there is still a prevailing lack of transparency concerning the objective and substance of these negotiations, while the main source of information on how the delimitation of the maritime border will take place has become Greek media.

Similarly, the Socialist-led government has completely excluded the possibility of consulting with the opposition, much like its predecessor, the DP. For context, the SP doesn’t need the opposition in numbers to go on negotiating.

Meanwhile, the Albanian government has been much more open in declaring as “wins” issues included in the “package of negotiations,” such as the recognition of Albanian driving licenses and apostille stamps, as well as the removal of the Law on the State of War.

Although these are agreements that will benefit a number of Albanians living in Greece, foreign policy experts have said it is wrong to include them in the same package of negotiations as the maritime border agreement, as their benefits to citizens will only be peripheral.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Sali Berisha has said several times the agreement was imposed to the Albanian team without proper negotiations and that it has the power to ignite old flames between the two Balkan countries.

Berisha’s own 2010 agreement was rendered useless by Albania’s Constitutional Court for violating the country’s interests and the constitution. However, presently, Albania’s Constitutional Court is frozen due to lack of judges under the judicial reform, thus placing a great question mark on who will speak against the latest deal, if the words of political experts and former politicians are true and the 2010 scenario repeats itself.  

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 6, 2018 10:33