Greece’s hopes of agreeing an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Ionian Sea with Albania have been dealt another blow after the prosecutor’s office in Tirana launched an investigation into the agreement between the two countries.
The two countries signed an agreement in 2009 creating an EEZ but also settling maritime borders and delineating the continental shelf. However, Albania’s Constitutional Court annulled the deal following action by then opposition leader and current Prime Minister Edi Rama (photo).
In May, Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati called on the public prosecutor to investigate the 2009 pact, claiming that there was evidence Albanian officials had broken the law. The Foreign Ministry then sent the evidence it had to the prosecutor’s office. The man who signed the agreement five years ago is Lulzim Basha, who was foreign minister then but is now the leader of the Democratic Party, the main opposition to Rama’s government. This has led many commentators to conclude that the investigation is politically motivated.
Diplomatic sources in Athens told Kathimerini that the launch of the probe was a major setback to moving forward with the agreement and that relations between Greece and Albania are becoming increasingly strained.
“We have the will to look to the future and discuss the issue on the basis of the fundamental principles of international law and on the basis of mutual interest,” Bushati said when questioned about the EEZ agreement during a visit to Athens in February.