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News 22 Mar 16

Albania, Greece Agree to End Forgotten 'War'

Albania and Greece have agreed to end the formal state of war that has existed between them since World War II - although several other hot issues remain unresolved.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati and his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias on Monday in Athens | Photo: Albania MFA

Albania and Greece are going to work together to abolish the technical state of war that has existed between them since World War Two.

Greece passed a law declaring a state of war between the two states after Italian occupation forces in Albania attacked Greece in October 1940.

The Greek parliament has yet to abolish it even though the two countries signed a friendship agreement in the early 1990s.

Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati met his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, and President Prokopios Pavlopoulos in Athens on Monday and discussed closing World War Two issues between the two countries.

"There is an understanding about the need to abolish the war law, including the formal terminology from the Greece part, although still we are waiting for them to take the final step," Bushati told Top Channel TV after the meeting in Athens.

Discussing the problems that divide the two countries, two ministers spoke during their joint press conference about finalizing a mechanism that will result in a package agreement.

Beyond an agreement on ending the formal state of war, Albania and Greece have yet to reach a consensus on other issues stemming from War World Two, such as the fate of the ethnic Albanian Cham exiles.

The Cham community is a sub-group of Albanians who were expelled from northern Greece after the war when the Greek authorities accused them of collaborating with the German occupation.

"For the moment, there is no an understanding about the way how we see and want to treat this issue," Bushati said.

Bushati's visit to Athens also failed to resolve another recent issue, the maritime border dispute.

Since January 2010, when Albania's Constitutional Court annulled an earlier maritime border deal signed by former Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis in 2009, the two countries have not found a new agreement.

The two ministers said in their joint press conference that they hope to handle the issue in accordance with international best practice although a solution would take time.

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