Transparent and cut attitude, in defense of Albanian territorial integrity!
Yesterday, on August 26, Greece’s prime minister, Qirjakos Micotaqis, declared in his country’s parliament that Greece is expanding in the Ionian Sea with 12 miles. It is not the first time such statements have been made by the Greek side. These statements are never irrelevant, random, spontaneous. These statements as orders are unacceptable, and this should be officially said. Being the Ionian Sea’s sovereign interest of three states, Albania, Italy and Greece, such a statement cannot help causing concerns for Albanian citizens.
Greece’s decision to expand its maritime space in Ionian cannot happen automatically. Greece’s agreement with Italy is not enough either. In the case of that agreement, the non-consultation of Albania should be considered as a sign of underestimation that does not help good neighbourhood, as part of Albania’s sovereignty and the rights to economic exploitation of our country in the northern part of the Ionian Sea. The passivity of Albanian diplomacy cannot be read otherwise except as a failure.
Micotaqis’s statement on the expansion of Greece in Ionian paves the way for the allegation that there is either a draft unpublished agreement between Albania and Greece, or Greece is acting unilaterally, violating the integrity of Albanian territory and the rights belonging to Albania in the Exclusive Economic Area (ZEE) in the Jon Sea.
Prime Minister of Foreign Minister Rama, but yesterday he publicly advised citizens that before expressing themselves on this issue they should follow the following order “… sit read, stay listen, be informed and then express…”. It seems he thinks citizens are not Albania, but the OSCE, and see the Greek declaration from afar, as neutral. The turn of the actions Edi Rama proposes is impossible to pursue, without once making transparency on negotiations and on this issue.
Negotiations on this issue have resumed with Greece since 2018, and until today the public has been left in full informative darkness. The resumption of negotiations is good when they correct the mistakes made in the past and not when they repeat them. An official of Rama’s diplomacy, at the same time a member of Albania’s Negotiating Group, Gledin Dervishi, also declared yesterday irresponsible that ′′ The possible expansion of Greece with 12 miles in the Jon Sea, nothing new for Albania “. Even this, like Micotaqis and Rama, says nothing about the main dispute, the issue of Greek islands, inhabited and uninhabited, in front of Albania’s continental land intervening in the space of Albanian maritime territory.
For example, Albania faces an almost uninhabited island like Otoni, which if it takes full power for territorial waters by expanding them to 12 miles risks, on the one hand, overlay in the northeast with Albanian territorial waters, and, from The other side, with expansion towards Italy, negatively affects the exclusive economic area that belongs to Albania in the north of the Ionian Sea, giving Greece access to the Otranto Channel, which has until today been treated between Albania and Italy. It must be clarified publicly and officially, among others, what is the right line of the Albanian coast with which the Albanian side has entered into negotiations and what is Saranda’s breast status in these negotiations, so that we do not end again losing territory like in the 2009. agreement. Therefore, the statement like those of Dervish, claiming that the expansion of territorial waters to 12 miles that Greece requires does not need negotiations with Albania, are both false and harmful.
The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEPJ) in its statement yesterday has made it understand that the Greece-Italy agreement on the Ionian Sea does not bother her even though there can be a precendent that risks having consequences on Albanian territorial integrity during negotiations with Greece as well as for the ZEE belonging to Albania in the northern part of the Ionian Sea. At the same time MEPJ continues to do no transparency regarding negotiations with Greece.
In 2010, the Constitutional Court of Albania declared the 2009 Albania-Greece agreement unconstitutional, which through serious deficiencies in content and non-implementation of the basic principles of international law, passed part of Albania’s territorial waters as and part of the exclusive economic area that belongs to Albania. Everyone is clear that this topic is now being reactivated by the Greek side due to military tension Greece-Turkey created in the Aegean Sea for the definition of maritime borders and rights of economic areas. In such a situation, the following steps should be followed:
1. The government of Albania must implement the guide defined by the 2010 Constitutional Court decision, and not to act contrary to this decision. Even better not act at all, in the absence of a functional Constitutional Court.
2. The government of Albania should explain the international opinion that Albania’s interests in the Ionian Sea will not be affected, despite Greek statements and whatever the reasons for those statements. At the same time, any draft agreement agreed during the negotiations with Albania-Greece that have resumed since 2018. should make transparent.
3. Taking into account tensions in the Aegean Sea over Greece-Turkey maritime borders, Albania’s government should not rush for a new agreement with Greece, taking over the cost of conflict between Greece and Turkey. An agreement rushed into an international conflict situation would be read, uselessly, as a line up on one side or another.
We call on Albania’s government to take a correct national attitude on this issue, to give up evasive and intensive communication. We also call on all experts who have spoken against the 2009 agreement not to be silent today, but to insist on the truth, to demask any possible violations and to defend Albania’s territorial integrity.
Tirana, August 27, 2020
Center in Albania