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Albania and Greece break the ice

Albania and Greece break the ice
The three day talks between the Albanian Foreign Minister with his Greek counterpart, were finalized amid great optimism. The next meeting will soon be held in Tirana. The Albanian and Greek media have described the negotiations as positive, while the nationalist tones and the tones of hatred, which were often present in social networks, calmed down. The sides come up with a joint statement. Ditmir Bushati: Issues will be solved in the European spirit and based on international law. Nikos Kotzias: We want Albania to become a member of the European Union. The images show the ministers dancing to the Greek rhythms and returning together by plane

By Edison Kurani

The three day talks held in Crete between the Albanian Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, were concluded with the conviction that the talks are on the right path on all problems that concern both countries.

The atmosphere that accompanied these days of talks between the two sides, was positive and unprecedented. Media in Albania and Greece were optimistic about these talks, which give way to collaboration and a solution to problems. This has enabled the two countries to break the ice. This development comes a while after the Albanian and Greek media and social networks too, were filled with negative comments by politicians, analysts and common people. This brought to life a very damaging atmosphere of hate between the two countries.

THE TALKS FOLLOWED THE JOINT STANCE

During these three days, the two ministers tried to avoid media appearances as much as possible. Bushati and Kotzias only made a brief appearance for the media of Tirana and Athens, without stopping to provide any concrete details.

At the end of these talks, we saw something that was never seen before, the Albanian and Greek foreign ministries came out with a joint press statement:

The statement says: The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Greece and Albania, Nikos Kotzias and Ditmir Bushati, held talks in Crete on 10-12 November, 2017, focusing on open bilateral issues.

Substantial work was carried out during the talks, which were conducted in a friendly and constructive atmosphere.

Both sides acknowledged the importance of dialogue in resolving outstanding issues and agreed on further steps that need to be taken in order to reach positive outcomes on the basis of European values and norms, to the benefit of the two countries and their peoples.

The talks amounted to an important step forward and efforts to find viable solutions to longstanding problems will continue. In that light, it was agreed that the Ministers will meet again in the coming period, in Albania, in order to evaluate the progress achieved and decide on further concrete steps forward”, the joint statement concluded.

As we can see, the statement provides no information as to what was discussed during the talks and if an agreement was reached about any of the points, such as the maritime agreement, which was quashed in Albania in 2009, the remains of the Greek soldiers, the demands of the Cham community for the return of their properties, the Apostille stamps for Albanians, school text books, etc.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, media in Tirana reported important developments regarding several points. According to the media, a new agreement for the sea borders is soon expected to be reached between the sides. The sides have once again engaged for a solution based on international law.

Athens is requesting a solution of the issue regarding the cemeteries of Greek soldiers killed in the period 1940-’41 during the Italian-Greek war.

“As far as the Cham properties are concerned, the Greek side asked for this issue to be discussed at a later date, as the sides agreed on finding a more positive approach and for this issue to be more acceptable for the Greek public opinion”, TCH quotes sources from the Crete meeting. Meanwhile, the ministers talked about the school texts and the removal of elements which could lead to negative feelings. Athens is demanding parts which refer to the area of Chameri to be removed. Kotzias has also demanded the rights of the Greek minority in Albania to be respected, while Bushati raised the question of the abolition of the war law, which, like he said, is an obstacle for the properties of Albanian citizens and Albanian minorities in the Greek territory.

For this, the sides agreed that there exists a legal formula, but this is up to the Greek side, which pledged that there will soon be an answer for this.

After the talks, the two ministers agreed that they will soon meet in Albania.

From Crete, the ministers flew together toward Rinas. Bushati and Kotzias had lunch together in the airport and then, the Greek chief of diplomacy departed for Brussels, where at the beginning of the week, he will participate in the meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers.

BUSHATI: A SOLUTION IN THE EUROPEAN SPIRIT

From Crete, where for three days in a row, he negotiated with his Hellenic counterpart for the solution of Albanian-Greek contests, Bushati said that the talks are in the right path. At the same time, he said that the issues at hand are difficult ones, because they’ve been lasting for decades.

“This is not an easy file. The issues which are part of this file are more than 70 years old and as a result, it needs time and the necessary instruments for a solution in the European spirit and based on international law”, Bushati told Top Channel.

He said that the Albanian side came in this meeting with a package, “where the issues have been selected based on a chronology and logic”. But, “for as long as we will continue intensive talks with the Greek side, I would like to be more reserved and more mature with my statements”, Bushati added.

KOTZIAS: WE WANT ALBANIA TO BECOME AN EU MEMBER COUNTRY

“We want Albania to become an EU member country”, declared for the media the Greek Foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias in Crete, during the talks with his Albanian counterpart, Bushati. “Discussions with my colleague the Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati, began yesterday morning. We will continue the discussions tomorrow, before flying to Brussels, where the EU Foreign Affairs Council will be meeting.

We are discussing open issues, as we want to resolve them today so that we can develop prospects for tomorrow. In parallel to this very intensive and continuous work, we decided to visit the site where Zeus was born and to where he abducted the beautiful Europa.

It is in Europe’s birthplace, essentially, that my colleague the Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and I are working. We want Albania, too, to become a member state of the EU”, Kotzias said.

Not only talks, the ministers also dance to Greek rhythms

During his visit in Crete, Bushati has stayed in a hotel in Hersonisos, where the talks were held. He has also visited the historical area, where according to legends, Zeus was born. Furthermore, the Albanian Foreign Minister and his Greek counterpart have danced to the rhythm of local music, in the company of the mayor.

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