The Albanian Foreign Minister, Olta Xhacka, and her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias pledged to resolve decades-long maritime disputes before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The two ministers met in Tirana earlier this week, with Albania’s Xhacka announcing that the countries would work together to resolve common issues in the interests of both countries and their citizens.
“Another issue discussed is the delimitation of maritime areas, which is of particular interest to our two countries as it relates to the exercise of territorial sovereignty and sovereign rights in the respective maritime areas,” Xhacka said during the joint conference.
““We have reaffirmed our willingness to seek a compromise, to refer the matter to a third party, such as the International Court of Justice,” she continued.
Both Albania and Greece agreed to send their ongoing maritime disputes to the ICJ in 2020, following years of failed negotiations between the two countries.
That year, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama called the renewed diplomacy efforts “a new chapter” of relations with Greece, as the two countries agreed to resolve their maritime disputes regarding the delimitation of the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
During this week’s meeting, both countries agreed to speed up that process and finalize technical matters, so that a compromise could be submitted to the ICJ.
Greece’s Dendias said the procedure has ““special importance for us…and sends a very important message to all countries; that this is the right, the only, and the appropriate way to resolve disputes.”
“Our bilateral relations have developed to such an extent that the maintenance of the ‘law of war is an anachronism and should be deleted,” he continued, “In this, too, I think we have agreed that we need to work on completing the internal procedures for its abolition as soon as possible.”
Albania and Greece have formally been at war since the end of World War II.
In 2009, Albania and Greece reached a deal on the delimitation of the continental shelf between the two countries. Rama, then in the opposition party, challenged the agreement in Albania’s Constitutional Court.
According to Rama, the deal gave Greece 225 square kilometers of Albanian territorial waters and was unconstitutional. Albania’s Constitutional Court agreed with Rama’s challenge in 2010, souring relations between the two countries.
According to US diplomatic cables leaked in 2011, the Greek government allegedly blackmailed Albania to accept the original deal using the veto power that Greece holds over Albania’s bid to join the EU.
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