Albania Downplays Risks of New Greek Border Talks

Albania’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday played down the risks of trying to renegotiate a maritime border deal with Greece, which Albania’s Constitutional Court has deemed unlawful.“There are no reports or secret scripts regarding the issue of the maritime border between Greece and Albania,” the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry, Gazmend Turdiu, said.“We want to assure the public that the issue is being treated with the outmost transparency in accordance with Albania’s national interest, constitution and international law,” he added.

Albania’s Constitutional Court annulled a territorial agreement signed with Greece in January 2010. The deal delineated the continental shelf between the two countries in the Ionian Sea, but the court then argued that it had serious legal flaws.

The agreement, signed by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis in April 2009 in Tirana, created controversy in Albania, drawing claims that Albania was giving away 225 square kilometers of territorial waters to its neighbour.

In a document presented on Wednesday in parliament by Foreign Minister Edmond Panariti, experts warned that renegotiation of the agreement spelled several dangers for the relationship between the two countries and for Albania’s EU accession hopes.

The document warned that there was little chance of Greece agreeing to renegotiate the agreement because of the political climate in Athens.

Foreign Ministry experts believe that Athens might opt to unilaterally apply the maritime line based on the now defunct treaty, which could worsen the relationship between the two countries.

Athens could also use the issue to block Albania’s EU integration bid, experts believe.

If Greece will not accept new negotiations with Albania, the Foreign Ministry suggests that Tirana should bring the issue before the International Court of Justice, or seek international arbitration.

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