Greece working towards Exclusive Economic Zone deal with Albania

Greece working towards Exclusive Economic Zone deal with Albania 1

The Greek government is speeding up an Exclusive Economic Zone delimitation agreement with Albania, continuing the diplomatic counterattack that has already led to the establishment of Greece’s maritime zones with Italy and Egypt.

According to sources cited by In.gr, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will soon visit Tirana for talks, but no date has been set yet. The channels with the Albanian government, however, are open and most likely the visit to Tirana that will launch developments will take place with the return of Nikos Dendias from New York, where on Friday he is scheduled to meet with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.

In the recent debate in Parliament on the ratification of the agreements on the maritime zones with Italy and Egypt, both Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Foreign Minister informed the national delegation that Athens plans to resume talks with the Albanian government for a final settlement on the demarcation of maritime zones.

Dendias already had a telephone conversation with the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, with whom it was agreed to repeat “the talks soon, after the expansion of Greek territorial waters in the Ionian Sea, to resolve the issue of our maritime zones with Albania.”

Indicative of the climate that is being formed and the positive reaction of the Albanian Foreign Minister to the prior announcement of Mitsotakis for the extension of the territorial waters in the Ionian Sea  from 6 to 12 miles, it is expected the talks will advance quickly.

As a matter of fact, due to the Greek-Turkish crisis, but also because the agreements with Italy and Egypt had priority and had not been ratified by the Parliament, the talks between Athens and Albania could not start in August.

However, the aim of the Greek government is not to delay the dialogue with Albania on the issue of the Exclusive Economic Zone, aiming at two directions: On the one hand, to complete the consultations with Tirana soon and to sign the relevant agreement, in the context of the most outstanding settlement concern sovereign rights of Greece. And on the other hand, because at a time when Turkey is provoking and violating international law, Athens wants to send the message to Ankara that it is discussing and coming to agreements with neighboring countries, based on the United Nations Charter Law of the Sea.

But of course it is not just that. In recent years, Turkey has been trying to exert influence in the Balkans – and in Albania – and consequently, Greece’s chronic differences and problems with neighboring countries served Turkish policy.

It should also not be forgotten that at the beginning of the summer, retired Turkish Admiral Cihat Yaycı, the so-called mastermind of the “Blue Homeland,” had claimed in an interview that Turkey was the one who had “torpedoed” the 2009 Athens-Tirana agreement on the demarcation of the sea zones. In other words, Yaycı essentially revealed that Turkey intervened, warning the Albanians that Greece was deceiving them, with the result that the agreement was canceled.

Based on the 2009 agreement. Greece and Albania had signed an agreement on the delimitation of maritime zones in April 2009, with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The signatures were entered, but in the summer of the same year the agreement was canceled. The then Albanian opposition, ironically Edi Rama’s party, had sent the agreement to the Albanian Constitutional Court, where it was eventually annulled. Now, however, the climate is completely different.

It is estimated that the talks between the two sides may take some time, but now they will not start from scratch as the basis for the new talks is the 2009 agreement.

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