Greece and Albania reached an agreement to refer the issue of their maritime zones (ΕΕΖ) to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias announced on Tuesday. The agreement was achieved during his visit to Tirana, where his met with his counterpart Gent Cakaj and prime minister Edi Rama.
After meeting with Rama, Dendias said that “after having thoroughly examined the matter, we agreed to jointly have recourse to international justice, to the International Court in The Hague.”
Με τον Πρωθυπουργό της Αλβανίας, E.Rama, στα Τίρανα. Συζητήσαμε για διμερή θέματα, τις περιφερειακές εξελίξεις και την ευρωπαϊκή προοπτική των Δυτικών Βαλκανίων – I met with #Albania PM @ediramaal. Bilateral issues, regional developments & #WesternBalkans #EU perspective in focus pic.twitter.com/DeRmrZc1Kp
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) October 20, 2020
“This agreement is based on the two countries’ firm commitment to international legitimacy and the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said.
“We also referred to the agreement between Greece and Albania in 1996 and agreed that this agreement needs to be deepened and strengthened. To jointly proceed to a new strategic cooperation agreement between the two countries and to organize a G2G meeting and mechanism between the two friendly countries “.
In April 2009, then-Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis signed an agreement in Albania on the EEZ and maritime borders.
Under the agreement, the continental shelf and the other sea zones, to which the two countries are entitled, were demarcated, in accordance with the provisions of International Law. The leaders of the two countries stated that the agreement was based on the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and on the principle of the so-called “middle line”.
The two countries had reached three years of intensive negotiations between Greece and Albania before reaching an agreement. Two months after the election in the neighboring country, the opposition sent the agreement to the Albanian Constitutional Court, which annulled it, claiming it was not balanced
In May 2017, at a time when the tender for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Ionian Sea was in progress, Albania, discovered “grey zones” in the map of the maritime zones and the plots the Ionian Sea.
With a verbal notification to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albania challenged the delimitation of the EEZ at Greece’s maritime borders. Tirana even asked not to allow search in plot 1, claiming that it occupies part of the Albanian continental shelf.
Subsequently, under the ministry of Nikos Kotzias, negotiations continued at an intensive pace and the two countries came very close to an agreement.