Particular circles attempt to stir up relations between Albania and Greece by spreading fake news
Who is trying to prevent Albania’s EU integration, at a time when we all know that good neighboring relations are a prerequisite for accession in the European Union?
On the day when Prime Minister Edi Rama and Alexis Tsipras were in Brussels for the NATO Summit and were meeting for the first time since 2015 in the US, some Albania media spread the “news” that the Greek government was giving the “Albanian sea” out for exploitation.
During their meeting, Rama and Tsipras underlined the special role of the Albanian community in Greece and praised the important steps undertaken for the social and economic integration of the Albanians in Greece.
The two prime ministers underlined the nature and strategic importance of the Albanian-Greek relations, and the role of friendship between the two peoples as a bridge of peace and stability in the prosperity of the Euro-Atlantic integration of the region.
They expressed their support for the incentive of the two Foreign Ministers, Ditmir Bushati and Nikos Kotzias, or a mechanism of intense consultations with the aim of finding solutions to the problems inherited from the past, as well as for promoting further these relations.
Prime Minister Rama emphasised the need to progress towards finding solutions to existing disagreements between the two countries while respecting the best European and international law practices. “Greece has supported us, and we want it to continue to be a strong supporter of Albania’s EU membership process”, Mr Rama said.
Prime Minister Tsipras expressed Greece’s strong support for Albania’s state-consolidation reforms, and the importance he gives to the respect of the rights of the Greek minority in our country.
The parties agreed that only by finding concrete solutions with a direct impact on the welfare of both peoples, the two states will be able to strengthen mutual trust and part from the conflicting rhetoric and stalemates of the past.
The pre-election period and the election campaign in Albania doesn’t offer any opportunity to the sides for further negotiations. The Greek government is waiting for the elections to continue the talks. Meanwhile, the echo that this meeting saw in the Albanian media was not that big. Some of them spread “fake news”, by launching the “alarm” that Greece is taking Albania’s sea. They referred to the publication on Greek media of information concerning multi-national companies which have applied to start drillings in the Ionian Sea next year. Such information had been part of official publications of the Greek Ministry of Energy for months, and like the Albanian side, it had requested specialised companies to conduct drillings for oil and gas on the sea.
Meanwhile, the echo that this meeting saw in the Albanian media was not that big. Some of them spread “fake news”, by launching the “alarm” that Greece is taking Albania’s sea. They referred to the publication on Greek media of information concerning multi-national companies which have applied to start drillings in the Ionian Sea next year. Such information had been part of official publications of the Greek Ministry of Energy for months, and like the Albanian side, it had requested specialised companies to conduct drillings for oil and gas on the sea.
They referred to the publication on Greek media of information concerning multi-national companies which have applied to start drillings in the Ionian Sea next year. Such information had been part of official publications of the Greek Ministry of Energy for months, and like the Albanian side, it had requested specialised companies to conduct drillings for oil and gas on the sea.
Greek media reported that the documents submitted by three foreign companies which have expressed an interest for drillings in Ionian 2 and Ionian 10 water zones are being verified.
The map that you see on the side explains the division that has been made to the sea areas around Greece, 10 of them in total. Ionian 2 is located after Ionian 1 in the territory after Corfu.
Currently, zone 1 is being negotiated between the Albanian and Greek sides. For other zones, such as Ionian 2 and 3 up to 11, the Albanian side has no claims.
Ionian 1 is the only sea zone for which there are consultations between the sides.
An agreement signed years ago by the Albanian Foreign Minister, Lulzim Basha and his counterpart, Dora Bakoyanis, for the demarcation of maritime borders, which includes Ionian 1 zone, was quashed by the Albanian Constitutional Court. After this, Albania and Greece agreed that a solution was to be found based on international law, in order to serve the interests of both countries.
And while the situation is like it was described above, the creation and publication of suspicious news lead to another “dosage” of hate from one side to the other.
This stirs up the important relations that exist between Albania and Greece and leads to a situation which doesn’t serve the best interests of both countries. The attempt of these circles to spark debate based on the fake news can harm Albania’s European perspective and its relations with neighbouring Greece, a country which is considered by almost all the political forces in Albania as a strategic partner.
Commenting these developments, the Albanian Ministry of Energy says that the media is making up an issue which doesn’t exist.
Dardan Malaj, media advisor and spokesman of minister Damian Gjiknuri, told Albanian Free Press that in the zone known as Ionian 2, near the island of Corfu, discussed in the framework of the agreements of the demarcation of waters between Albania and Greece, there has been no official division of water borders between the two countries. And this because the agreement in question has been quashed by the Albanian Constitutional Court. As a result, that border has not been legally divided.
“In practice, there is no division of borders, because the agreement that was made was quashed by the Constitutional Court and the border has not been divided legally. It was a company what had concessionary relations with the Albanian state years ago and the Greek side, on its part, has its own share of the sea”, Mr Malaj says.
In practical terms, there doesn’t exist an exclusive sea territory belonging to only one country, therefore, each country is entitled to conduct oil drillings through third parties.
“The claim or the media’s idea is that the sea was divided at that time through an agreement and the state was accused of giving out a part of the territory which should belong to it, although the agreement was quashed. The media is exaggerating this because they’re alluding that it can continue the drilling based on the agreement. But that agreement no longer exists, which means that there’s no division line”, Mr. Malaj explains.
“The Albanian authorities have had a concessionary agreement for the same purpose for years in the zone in question, the same way as Greece has applied.
the concessionary agreement by the Albanian side has specified that the border that will apply to the drillings that company will make will be defined in accordance with the border agreement between the two countries for as long as there hasn’t been any agreements”, Mr Malaj says.
Because it is a fact that the sea is not divided and given that it is not divided, both sides can claim a given territory while drillings for oil continue.
“The sea is not divided. In reality, both sides have divided the border and the question is, what is the perimeter that will be used by both sides while drilling, because these drills may take place in a territory which is claimed by both sides, for instance. But today there doesn’t exist a line, first of all”, the official of the Albanian Ministry of Energy adds.
On the other hand, a very important fact is not pointed out. The colossal investments spreading over a long period of time. This means that they are not applied for the time being. In this case, once the drillings in search of oil start, the maritime agreement between Albania and Greece may have been finalised and as a result, things will be clearer and borders will be established.