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News 16 Jul 15

No Quick Fix to Albania-Greece Maritime Dispute, Minister

Despite anticipation of a speedy deal between Athens and Tirana on their maritime borders in the Ionian, Albania’s Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati, warned on Wednesday that negotiations could take some time.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, left, shakes hands with Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati prior to their meeting in Tirana, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Photo by :AP Photo/Hektor Pustina

Bushati told a press conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in Tirana on Wednesday that the maritime border dispute was one of the issues they had discussed - but both sides still had different solutions on how to resolve it.

“A solution that would be acceptable to us has to be based entirely on international law,” the Albanian Foreign Minister said, adding that both countries had formed groups of experts that were discussing the delimitation of maritime shelf and their respective exclusive economic zones.

“If the hard work of the group of experts does not arrive at a conclusion which is acceptable to both sides, international law orients us toward mechanisms and instruments that can create trust among the parties and give a definitive solution,” he added, hinting at a possible court case between the two neighbours.

Responding to reports in both Greece and Albania that Kotzias's visit might result in a solution, the Albanian minister recalled that it took seven years for Albania and Italy to reach a maritime border deal in the early Nineties.   

Albania's Constitutional Court in January 2010 annulled an earlier maritime border deal signed by former Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis in April 2009 in Tirana. The court argued that it had serious legal flaws.

Berisha’s deal caused controversy in Albania, drawing claims that Albania was giving away 225 square kilometers of territorial waters.

After the deal was struck, both countries went back to the negotiating table to hammer out a new agreement.

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