Tension in relations between Albania and Greece due to oil searches in the Ionian sea

Tension in relations between Albania and Greece due to oil searches in the Ionian sea

Tirana, 11 May 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

Diplomatic tension between Greece and Albania due to searches for oil in the Ionian sea, in circumstances when water borders between the two countries have not yet been defined.

Greek Foreign Ministry issued a note of protest against Tirana, where it expresses its concern about what it considers as lack of transparency by Albanian authorities for the maps of the sea border and oil searches, in an area which is being disputed by the two countries, referring to the agreement signed between the two countries.

This note of protest sparked the reaction of the Albanian side. Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati has sent to his Greek counterpart a protest note, where he demands from Greece to suspend the search program at sea and the revision of the plan for the concession of searching oil and gas in the Ionian sea, without first solving the issue of the water border with Albania.

The issue in question relates to quadrant Ionian 5, the coordinates of which coincide with a part of quadrant 20, which Athens wants to grant a concession on it during the auction that it has announced.

In the note of protest, the Albanian Foreign Ministry demands the Greek authorities not to grant the concession without first deciding on the status of the area through a new maritime agreement with Greece.

This agreement is necessary after the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Albania, which quashed the agreement that was signed in the recent years.

The Constitutional Court argued that the agreement negotiated by “Berisha” government with “Karamanlis” government, damaged Albania’s national interests.

Greek authorities claim that it was a good agreement based on international laws.

Albanian Foreign Ministry says that it’s been six months that that Athens has been asked not to make the search coordinates in the borders of Sector Ionian 5 or differently known as the fourth block of searches, available.

It says that the Greek side has only provided the maps for block 3. For the Albanian Foreign Ministry, this shows “lack of transparency for searches in the water border between the two countries”. The Foreign Ministry goes even further with its suspicions, when it says that “this lack of transparency confirms that the search for oil and gas by Greece, in the best scenario, affect the cross border area and in the worst scenario, they enter in the Albanian waters”.

International law forces states to sit down together and agree on the tenders for search on sea. Currently, the situation becomes even harder, in circumstances of a water borders agreement between Albania and Greece.

The clashes with protest notes between the two foreign ministries have been accompanied with further diplomatic tension.

Albanian Foreign Ministry declared that the ambassador in Athens, Dashnor Dervishi had a reception by the Greek Foreign Minister cancelled. The Foreign Ministry said that this meeting had been scheduled a while ago and that this had no connection with the note of protest. “The meeting was scheduled to take place in the framework of entering contacts with the new authorities in Greece and to discuss the expected activity of SEECP which will be held in Tirana in a few days”, said the Albanian Foreign Ministry. Meanwhile, there’s still no confirmation by the Greek PM Aleksis Tsipras for participation in this summit, where the prime ministers of the countries of the region are invited to participate. /ibna/