Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New crash between Athens and Tirana

The case of Himara the new "thorns" of Greek-Albanian relations

The threat of deterioration of demographic and thus balance of power in the streams in the planned reform that promote self-governing of Tirana, has recently added another issue to the already overcrowded agenda of Greek-Albanian relations, Himara.

Reportedly, Athens has stepped to the Government of Edi Rama, asking him to respect the views of the Greek minority and the inhabitants of Himara. At present, however, there are clear indications that there will be understanding to those requests, and Wednesday, July 23 is expected to be finalized and introduced for debate in the Albanian parliament the proposal to change the administrative boundaries within the 'Albanian Muslyms". According to estimates, the purpose is related to decisions taken by the end of July.

The problem with Himara Issue, started at the initiative of Tirana restructuring of a self map of the country. With the new system there will now only municipalities, as the provinces were to be incorporated in them. Before about two months especially, the government of Rama presented five proposals for the new map includes 61 municipalities.

As pointed out in the "Step" sources familiar with the details of the matter, the phrase "number 5" was satisfied that the Greek minority and respecting the current status quo. Provided uniting five provinces in the Municipality of Saranda and three provinces in the municipality of Gjirokastra - both basic and recognized minority areas inhabited by Greek populations.

In what respect is in Himara, which noted, is not recognized as a minority area of the Albanian government (despite international decisions), provided the combination with the province of Loukovo. It was a historically and geographically common area that will not disturb the demographic balance.

However, the government seems to prefer Rama finally 'Proposal No. 4, "which has caused strong reactions. According to the details of the proposal along with Himara and Loukovo proposed to include the province Vranitsa (with approximately 3,500 registered residents). As highlighted, this area has no relation to Himara Region, located at a great distance from it (pp. essentially on the other side of the mountain) and thanks to the demographic composition will alter the current balance both ethnically and religiously.

All these suggest the shooting element of the functionality of this combination explain diplomatic circles. It is characteristic that organizations of Chameria Party arrived in point to request changes to government proposals even for regions of Saranda and Gjirokastra which, fortunately it seems, will not thrive.

As mentioned earlier, Athens intervened in Tirana. However, irrespective of the effectiveness of this intervention, it is clear that the thorns in bilateral relations remain. This is despite the clear support to Albania from Greece, during our country performed the first half of 2014 the Presidency of the EU Council, in order to elicit status of candidate country.

Diplomatic sources estimate that the movement of this Greek side will allow Athens to maintain a leverage on issues plaguing bilateral relations. However, it is clear that despite persistent (perhaps stoic) efforts of Foreign Minister Mr. Ev. Venizelos to find solutions that will enable and unblock the question of the compatibility of the maritime zones, the government does not appear ready Rama for reciprocal steps.

A positive development could be considered the agreement on the issue of place names. In all other respects, however (like military cemeteries or status of belligerents), Albanians stalling. If indeed true information that Tirana has connected the "unfreezing" of the Agreement on maritime zones with the issue of property sequestrated (pp. going to the fortunes of Albanian nationals designated "enemy" after the outbreak of the Greek-Italian war), then developments should not rather be expected immediately.

The government seems not to Rama supplies and climate nationalism in Albanian media. This was demonstrated by the recent press after the announcement of land for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons from Athens, to which reference was made in respect of the non-maritime boundaries Greece. This course does not apply and it is characteristic that caused discomfort and the Greek ambassador in Tirana, who allegedly had intense dialogue with the Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Busatti.

Angel Athanasopoulos  / tovima.gr

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