The Albanian Prime-Minister and his Greek counterpart have agreed to speed-up negotiations regarding a long-running maritime dispute between the two states. In October 2020, Tirana and Athens jointly announced that they would submit the long-running dispute to the International Court of Justice for a resolution. The dispute should be formally submitted to the ICJ at the end of the negotiation proceedings. The Albanian Prime-Minister has previously stated that the submission of the dispute to the ECJ would ensure a mutually beneficial and impartial resolution to a highly contentious matter.
The Albanian and Greek Governments had previously signed an agreement regarding the maritime border dispute in 2009. At the time, the Socialist Party contested the legal validity of the agreement which it saw as unduly advancing Greek interests at the expense of the interests of the Albanian Government. Shortly thereafter the agreement was declared legally void by the Albanian Constitutional Court.
In 2009, the Socialist Party repeatedly attacked the Government in light of the lack of transparency regarding the negotiation process which led to the 2009 agreement and the lack of publicly available information relating to the position of the Albanian Government in this matter. Today, the Socialist Party has been subject to the same kind of criticism by political commentators and members of the DP and SMI.
The referral to the ICJ of what is in essence a highly complex maritime dispute is a much-welcomed move. The Albanian Government should however be fully transparent when it comes to the position it intends to represent in the submissions to the ICJ, so that the public may judge whether the long-term interests of the Albanian state are being properly represented. In the long run, a lack of transparency may serve to increase tension between Greece and Albania, especially if the Greek or Albanian people feel that the Resolution of the ICJ will produce a result that unduly favors the interests of the other side.(T T)