There has been an ongoing dispute between Greece and Albania over the maritime jurisdiction areas for years. In this regard, although the negotiations between the two countries have been going on for many years, no consensus has been reached until today. As a matter of fact, the issue of maritime jurisdictions, which was neglected during the communist regime in Albania (1944-1991), was raised after the fall of the regime and the process of official negotiations was initiated.
In 2009, the agreement on the “delimitation of the continental shelf and other maritime areas of the relevant areas of the parties in line with international law” was signed between the governments of Albania headed by Sali Berisha and Greece headed by Kostas Karamanlis, in the capital of Albania, Tirana.
The mentioned agreement was objected to by the Socialist Party (PS) which was led by the current Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, who was in the opposition at that time. PS appealed to the Constitutional Court of Albania, arguing that approximately 225 square kilometres of Albanian waters were granted to Greece, and therefore the agreement is unconstitutional. So much so that, following examinations in 2010, the Albanian Constitutional Court pronounced the pact “unconstitutional” and invalidated it. After the negotiations held since 2010 failed to produce any results, Albania decided to move the issue to The Hague in 2021.
Especially with Prime Minister Rama’s coming to power in 2013, the negotiation process was blocked, and a tensions were experienced with Greece. Therefore, diplomatic contacts have gained momentum in 2022 in order to resolve this problem, which has caused the formation of a negative atmosphere in bilateral relations. In this context, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Rama, who finally met in Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, on 6 October 2022 within the scope of the European Political Community Summit, held a discussion to resolve the issue. However, there was no positive result from these negotiations and Rama reaffirmed that he would take the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Rama stated that he would defend the rights of his country by using the following words:
“This is a legal process, there are a number of rules, there are a number of procedures, and we will respect the procedures from the beginning to the end because we have to make our position very clear, we have to make it very clear what we intend in this process and that unified attitude required of this court as to what one side intends and what the other side intends, requires its own time. So, we do not have a consensus between the parties.”
In 2011, allegations were made in news reports in the United States (USA) that Greece was “blackmailing” Albania into accepting a negative deal by using its veto over EU enlargement. Again, similar claims have been widely discussed in connection with the Chameria Issue, another unresolved problem between Greece and Albania.
As a matter of fact, although there was no veto decision by the Athens administration on Albania’s membership, which started negotiations with the EU in July 2022, it is known that such a situation existed until 2009. Because Greece has vetoed Albania’s membership in both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU. For this reason, the Tirana Government of the time had to sign the maritime jurisdiction agreement in order to get rid of Greece’s veto. However, some initiatives have been taken by Greece in the current process to solve this problem, which has been going on for many years.
In December 2022, when diplomatic contacts increased, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his counterpart Olta Xhacka in Athens. In the said meeting, there was no positive result from the discussions to resolve the issue without going to the Hague. Therefore, one week after the meeting of the two ministers, Mitsotakis went to Albania to consensus on the Exclusive Economic Zone (MEB). Mitsotakis’ explanation in the form of “I believe we are close to seeing progress and resolution of the delimitation issue of the maritime zones between us.” is considered an important signal for the solution to the problem.
Based on all these developments, it is understood that Greece wants to solve the maritime border problem with Albania without going to the Hague. At a time when there is a possibility of escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the reason for these initiatives of the Athens administration can also be considered as its aim to conclude strategic agreements in the region. However, there is a possibility that different obstacles may arise again in the process of solving the problem. Because Greece adopts a very strict attitude on the issue of Chameria, which is another problem between the two countries. Therefore, Albania may want to solve this problem by taking advantage of the positive atmosphere in the relations between the two countries. This may lead to the emergence of new obstacles in the solution of the problem of maritime borders. Therefore, it is also possible that the issue will be brought to the Hague.
 “Greece, Albania Fail to Agree on Maritime Border Issue in Prague”, Euroactiv, https://www.euractiv.com/section/all/short_news/greece-albania-fail-to-agree-on-maritime-border-issue-in-prague/, (Date of Accession: 09.12.2022)
 “Greek PM Mitsotakis Meets with Albanian PM Rama in Tirana, on Sidelines of Summit”, iefimerida, https://www.iefimerida.gr/english/greek-pm-mitsotakis-meets-albanian-pm-rama-tirana-sidelines-summit, (Date of Accession: 09.12.2022).