Is Greece still in a state of war with Albania?

Written by Davis Tsaka

Greece has declared Albania, alongside Italy, as a hostile country back in 1940 with a royal decree. The Greek – Italian Treaty of friendship in 1947 withdraw the state of war among those two countries. As for Albania, Greece supports that this has happened as well, but Albania has a different opinion.

As already mentioned, the two neighbor countries were in a state of war since 10 November of 1940. In 1947 Greece concluded a Friendship Treaty with Italy setting an end to their war state. The same has never happened with Albania.

In 1971 Greece and Albania concluded diplomatic relations setting an end to the past period. Nevertheless, this action does not automatically mean that the state of war has been de jure withdrawn since this happened with the reservation that no issues that might complicate the improvement of their bilateral relations will be discussed. As a fact, the Greek minister of foreign affairs stated back then that “the existing situation has not changed at all”.

In 1987 the Greek ministerial council proceeded to a deed poll of national law (governmental decision) by which was declassifying Albania as a hostile country considering that the state of war among them was coming to an end. This declaration, although seems to lack legal efficiency, since is against the law to refer to hostile countries according to decree law of 1138/1949. The particular law stipulates that the declassification of a country as hostile requires the adoption either of another statutory instrument either of the issuance of a new law.

There are partisans who believe that by those acts or at least by one of them Greece has terminated the state of war with Albania. The truth seems to be in between. Regarding the act of 1971, the prevailing view of International Law accepts that it cannot happen for two states to be in a state of war at the same time they establish diplomatic relations. Additionally, the act of 1987 might be a national legal act but produces legal consequences as well at an international level.

On the other side, we might say as for 1971 that the statement of the Greek minister stand on its own as an argument for those who claim that the state of war is still on. Moreover, the act of 1987 was first of all against the Greek national legislation so it is not possible for it to produce any legal results. Greek legislation, according the emergency law 2326/194 and the decree law 1138/1949, defines that it is obligatory a common decision made by the President of Democracy and the ministers of foreign affairs, economy and justice to end the state of war with any country. It is also necessary to publish the decision on the Governmental Newspaper.

In 1996 Albania and Greece signed a Friendship, Cooperation, Good Neighborliness and Security Agreement without any mentioning to the state of war. The whole situation has been characterized by the Albanian Prime minister on 2016 as a perfect ‘Balkan Paradox’. Edi Rama believes that the state of war is still active and calls the Greek government to withdraw it.

Of this opinion seems to be as well the Greek ex Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias, who admitted that the state of war is still active and declared that the solution of this problem was in the Agreement that him along with the Albanian ex Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati, have reached but never signed since summer 2018. This Agreement was never propelled because of the non-existence of the Albanian Institutional Court. Several months later the Agreement seems to be forgotten since its pioneers have been removed from their portfolios.

In conclusion, it seems that Greece and Albania are not de facto in a state of war. The thing is that the same cannot be said replacing the phrase de facto by the phrase de jure. This is because the Decision of 1987 never turned into a Greek law. The whole ‘state of war’ issue could be used as a tool that will ameliorate the bilateral relations of Greece and Albania.


*Davis Tsaka holds a Bachelors degree at International, European and Area Studies from Panteion University, Greece and a Masters degree at International Law and Diplomatic Studies with a specialization at the Greek-Albanian relations from Panteion University. He has concluded internships at the Greek Embassy in London, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is currently a volunteer intern at the Greek Council for Refugees.


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