A few facts on the maritime agreements

A few facts on the maritime agreements

By Plator Nesturi

The declaration made by the Greek Foreign minister, Kotzias sparked a media and political row in Albania. The guarantee according to which, the two countries have agreed on getting 12 miles of maritime space each, reawakened the accusations for treason in the increasingly heated environment of names that we give to each-other for as long as these names can be used to damage the political opponent. This has already happened before and it was bound to happen again. However, in the absolute lack of transparency over the talks held in Crete and Korça, such thing was expected. No details are known about the talks or the issues that have been discussed. So far, the declarations have been surrounded by mystery. They are discussing 70 year old issues, but we’re not yet clear as to the number of issues and the position of the sides regarding the problems that are put forward. All we know is that the talks are still under way, waiting to be finalized and that in spring, the two prime ministers may sign a strategic agreement between Albania and Greece.

In this blurry situation where we see no written document based on which we can draw conclusions, then we can simply make assumptions based on the declarations made by a minister. But even declarations cannot be considered as the whole truth, unless we want to exploit it for ulterior motives which are only related to the internal political debates. Let us consider for a moment the declaration issued by minister Kotzias that Greece will extend its sovereignty in 12 miles. On the border between the two countries, such significant length is impossible, because in Ksamil, the area measures 4 miles by 6 miles, gradually expanding toward the north. Thus, it is impossible to think that one of the sides has appropriated 12 miles, because this way, the border would penetrate into land. In these cases, it’s just a matter of equidistance. Further north, where there’s the last island of the Greek archipelago and in front of Dhermi, the dividing space between the two countries is 25 miles. This space is further expanded going toward the Cape of Karaburun. Under these circumstances, if we consider the declaration issued by the Greek minister concerning the 12 nautical mile sovereignty to be true, then both Greece and Albania are able to divide their space which will be considered as the 12 mile sovereignty space, equally. However, in this 12 mile equidistance, we will have a water triangle which will belong to no one.

If we recall the agreement that Berisha reached, the deal also included the division of this water triangle between the two countries. At that time, the debate was triggered by the fact that Greece had taken more than Albania from this triangle. This was the basis of the accusations that the sea was being given away or being sold. Based on this, the new agreement between the two countries for the division of the maritime borders is not based on the division of the space that exists between us, but merely the equidistance and equality in the area that the two countries get, although in this case, both countries lose something on which they could exert their sovereignty. Based on this logic, both today’s majority and Berisha may claim that they have been successful in the deals that they’ve made. First, former PM Berisha may claim that despite the way the maritime area was divided, with that deal, Albania had more territorial water under its sovereignty as opposed to the new deal. Meanwhile, today’s majority may claim that it has not allowed the Greek side to benefit more than us, that we have obtained the same water area that our neighbors have obtained and that it has not allowed disproportion, despite the cost of obtaining less than before. The triangle which is formed in the water space becomes property of nobody and remains as international waters.

But, let us not forget something. For decades, the area of the water triangle is an area where there’s lots of trafficking going one, first the traffic of illegal emigrants and now, the traffic of drugs toward Italy. The creation of this triangle where nobody exerts sovereignty, would be a heaven for drug smugglers, because there’s no obligation to monitor this area with radars, neither by the Greek side, nor the Albanian side. This way, this space could be considered as “duty free” for all traffickers.

Nonetheless, the last word can be said once the documents and signed agreements are made public. All the rest are words, which, when used for political purposes, they have a temporary effect. The fact that this debate has been accompanied with patriotic folklore, both yesterday and today, makes us more ridiculous, because we our objective is not to build a state, but to play each other.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect IBNA’s editorial policy