Overcoming a gridlock or entering strategic relations

Overcoming a gridlock or entering strategic relations

By Plator Nesturi

The meeting held in Davos between prime ministers Rama and Tsipras was attracted lots of attention due to long intensive talks held between the foreign ministers of both countries. What’s more, the head of the government, Rama has previously announced that after the talks held in Crete and Korça, the agreements about the talks would become more concrete after the meeting with the Greek prime minister. In fact, after a meeting lasting for an hour between Rama and Tsipras, the topics that were discussed were numerous and the atmosphere in which the declarations were made was filled with optimism. Both sides expressed their commitment to pave the way for the full normalization and the advancement of bilateral issues. Greece and Albania are ready for a strategic agreement, which would address many critical problems between them and would promote accession talks between Albania and the European Union. Meanwhile, according to sources, in spring of this year, there will be a visit by Prime Minister Tsipras in Tirana. This visit will discuss the final details of this agreement.

Beyond the optimism expressed by both sides, the details of the talks between the heads of the two governments in Davos are as discreet as the details of the talks between the two foreign ministers. Nonetheless, beyond the tendency to relate this to transparency, it looks like the reason why many of the details are not becoming public has to do with an accentuated tendency in both countries to analyze every discussion or agreement that takes place between the two countries through a nationalist point of view. Given that the issues are still under discussion, both sides are being cautious not to make the details public in order not to provoke nationalist rhetoric which would trigger domestic pressure. Nonetheless, something is learned through those lines published on Twitter. The fact that the sides admit that the talks aim at normalizing relations, clearly shows that the relations between the two countries have been in a gridlock. The aim to sign an agreement of strategic cooperation in spring, also shows that  the declaration of strategic relations between the two countries had not been previously envisaged and this is also proven by the fact that this sort of strategic agreement does not appear in the platform of the Albanian government on foreign policies with the neighboring countries. It is not known what this agreement of strategic relations could include. Will it merely include the problems that the two countries have on different issues? The abolition of the war law, the confirmation of maritime or land borders, issues regarding properties, the minority, etc, could simply be part of an ordinary agreement between two neighboring countries. The fact that the sides claim that the agreement includes strategic relations, assumes that the sides will go beyond normal relations and discuss problems in all levels and not only issues concerning citizens or even economic relations and important investments in vital sectors. Strategic agreements usually include joint stances of foreign policy concerning particular issues and often include military agreements too. And in a region such as Balkans, where there’s a clash of interests between neighboring countries and world powers, this means a lot.

However, unless we know something concrete, we can only hypothesize, given that the key word “strategic” goes beyond an ordinary agreement between the two countries. Thus, we either have a hyperbolism on what the sides will sign, or they’re up to something which goes beyond relations between neighboring countries.  Up until now, the two countries have had different stances on particular issues such as Macedonia. Or even issues concerning preferential relations with other countries such as Turkey or Serbia, who have often displayed antagonism against Albania and Greece. So far, relations between our two countries have mostly been regulated by the framework established by the EU and the Treaty of Friendship which is soon expiring. The efforts to amend and improve what used to be a gridlock, remains, without any doubt, a positive thing. But what we cannot yet understand is whether the negotiations will overcome the old and new obstacles which have emerged or will these relations enter a new phase of strategic relations?/ΙΒΝΑ

This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.afp.al

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