Albania and Greece have restarted negotiations to delineate maritime borders in the Ionian Sea, sources said. The two countries' foreign ministries said in statements Monday that the first round of talks was held in Tirana in a “constructive and cooperative climate.”
The talks are needed because Albania’s Constitutional Court nullified a 2009 agreement on the country’s respective territorial claims to the sea’s continental shelf and waters, which was signed by the conservative Democratic Party government ruling at the time.
The Socialists, then in opposition but governing Albania now, challenged the agreement in court, claiming it cost the country 225 sq. kilometers (86 sq. miles) of territorial waters. Relations between Greece and post-communist Albania have remained uneasy, and the striking down of the Ionian Sea agreement was another area of tension.
Since January 2010, when Albania's Constitutional Court annulled an earlier maritime border deal signed by former Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis in 2009, the two countries have not found a new agreement.
In 2016, Albania and Greece agreed to end the formal state of war that has existed between them since World War II - although several other hot issues remain unresolved. Greece passed a law declaring a state of war between the two states after Italian occupation forces in Albania attacked Greece in October 1940.
Back then, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati met his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, and President Prokopios Pavlopoulos in Athens and discussed closing World War Two issues between the two countries.
Beyond an agreement sealed two years ago on ending the formal state of war, Albania and Greece have yet to reach a consensus on other issues stemming including the maritime borders.