NEWS

Greek-Albanian issues are put on back burner

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

The acrimonious aftermath of the Macedonia name deal has prompted the government to defer efforts to resolve bilateral differences with Albania. According to reports, the Prime Minister’s Office is reportedly waiting for the name deal’s ratification in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece before it tackles the Albanian issues.

Nevertheless, negotiations between Athens and Tirana will continue – in particular, between the committees dealing with the demarcation of the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of both countries, which had recently embarked on an effort to resolve all pending issues. The effort to demarcate the EEZs of both countries has stumbled in the past due to political disagreements within Albania. The country’s president, Ilir Meta, has appeared reluctant to ratify an EEZ deal while Prime Minister Edi Rama is far more willing.

Apart from abolishing the status of war that has remained in effect since World War II, Greece also wants to secure the rights of ethnic Greeks in Albania. According to past statements by the Greek Foreign Ministry, progress has been made on the issue of the Greek minority.

The Greek government has categorically denied that the thorny issue of the Chams, which Tirana has pushed intensely, is among the issues to be negotiated.
Chams claim rights to the property they left in Greece when they were expelled during WWII. Greece dismisses the claims, saying that the Chams were Nazi collaborators.

So far both sides have made progress on so-called low-priority issues such as the scrapping of consular fees for Albanians in Greece and the recognition of Albanian driving licenses. Moreover, Albania has already begun the process to exhume the remains of Greek soldiers who fell in southern Albania during the Greek-Italian war in 1940-41.

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