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Albanian Foreign Minister Bushati comments the Crete meeting with his counterpart Kotzias

Albanian Foreign Minister Bushati comments the Crete meeting with his counterpart Kotzias
“We have entered a more delicate phase, because a good job has been done. I hope that goodwill will enable a number of issues will move forward”

Today, the Albanian Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati commented from Tirana the meeting that is expected to be held in Hersonisos, Crete, with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, IBNA reports.

This meeting in question involves an intensive round of talks for which Bushati and Kotzias have agreed to hold in the course of two days in Crete, with the aim of addressing pending issues between the two countries.

Bushati said that efforts are being made to address all pending issues with Greece and according to him, the sides have now entered in a more delicate phase. Bushati said that dialogue with neighboring Greece “has its own difficulties, but the government will be committed to continue it”.

The Foreign Minister said that there are a number of issues which are still considered to be hot issues which need time to be addressed.

“This dialogue has its own difficulties. The viewpoints are clear. There are issues which we are on the verge of solving. This is a format of discussions that the world knows and applies, it is not a negotiation. The Albanian government is committed in this process to be more open with Greece”.

Bushati said that these issues have been made public several times, by him and Kotzias alike, while adding that: “This is why we decided to hold this dialogue. A part of these issues are still considered to be hot issues. They relate to consular issues, the rights of minorities, the role of Albanians who live and contribute in Greece. We are willing to find the best possible solution”.

Bushati said that this will not be a short dialogue and stressed that “I would like to express my readiness to continue this dialogue with Greece”.

Here, he confirmed that the talks have entered a more delicate phase: “Now we have entered a more delicate phase, because a good job has been done. I hope that we will find the good will to advance with a number of issues”.

Full Q&A:

What issues will you be discussing during the Crete meeting with your counterpart Kotzias?

Bushati: From the moment we created the bilateral mechanism on a technical level until now, all topics will also be discussed on a more political level. Of course, this dialogue has its own difficulties. The sides are clear about their viewpoints. There are issues known to be difficult ones and we’re close to finding a solution. But there are also issues which appear to me harder to solve. I would like to assure you on two things: First, this is a format of discussions that the world knows and applies. It’s well structured, more intensive and it’s held between ministers and respective teams. It is not a negotiation; let me be clear on this. The second thing which I would like to point out is the stance of the Albanian government to be more committed in this process to address all pending issues with Greece, from the past and the present, while the citizens are suffering their consequences.

Why did they complicate them? Tell us something more.

Bushati: I think that these issues have been made public several times, by my and by my Greek counterpart. These were the reasons that pushed us to establish this mechanism of dialogue, by holding several rounds of talks and consultations. There are also several joint commissions between Albania and Greece. Of course, a part of these topics are still considered to be hot topics, starting with topics from the Second World War, which have not been addressed and continuing with current topics which relate to consular services, rights of minorities, role of Albanians who live and contribute in Greece, but, let me reiterate it one more time that we are fully committed in this process. Of course, diplomacy and democracy equal consensus and we want to find the best solutions that uphold not only the best interests of the sides, but above all, respect international law and the solution which will be found on them will be in the European spirit. I don’t think it will be a short dialogue and I would like to express my readiness on behalf of the Albanian government and Prime Minister Edi Rama to continue this dialogue with Greece.

Minister, you said that it will not be a short dialogue. Will there be a second round in Albania? What issues are closer to finding a solution in this dialogue which is held in Crete?

Bushati: There are issues which are simply unilateral and need consensus between the sides, but there are also issues which need time to be addressed properly. We have tried to follow a subject based approach to address issues that we believe are related to each other, be them issues belonging to World War II, be them current issues and be them issues which relate to borders, and here, I’m not only referring to the sea, but also to land borders. Now we have entered a more delicate phase, because a good job has been done beforehand. Several options have been examined and I hope that a good part of these issues will advance. I said that we are committed for constant dialogue, given that a part of these issues require more time and a mandate to negotiate on a more technical level.

***

Mr. Bushati’s declarations were issued after he went to Parliament to defend the 2018 budget draft for the ministry that he chairs.

The debate on this budget was held at the European Integration Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

During his presentation, Mr. Bushati said that the Foreign Ministry’s budget amounts to 2.9 billion lek and compared to 2017, it’s 0.74% higher.

Bushati said that the main priority of the government and the institution that he chairs is the launch of accession talks with the European Union.

The committees voted in principle the 2018 draft budget of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. /ibna/

 

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