The road map agreed last June between Albania and Greece to improve bilateral ties appears to be foundering, according to diplomatic sources in Athens, which warn that if talks do not get under way soon, the plan may unravel.
The main issues dividing the two nations include Albania’s treatment of its ethnic Greek minority, an unresolved maritime dispute and Tirana’s demand for compensation for members of the Cham community who were expelled from Greece in World War II. Greece has long dismissed the demand, claiming that the Chams living in the country were Nazi collaborators.
Diplomatic sources attribute the standstill in talks in part to problems on the domestic front but mainly to the nationalist rhetoric emanating from the government of Edi Rama in Tirana, which has created fresh tensions with both Greece and Serbia.
Friction has also arisen with Turkey over its demand for the closure of Muslim schools linked to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara claims was behind the failed coup attempt in July.
Authorities in Greece are concerned that Rama’s cooperation with the PDIU Cham party will hamper normalization efforts, especially as Albania is to hold general elections next summer.