London, 11 July | Tirana Echo – A meeting of prime ministers of Greece and Albania at the Western Balkans Summit in London this week has confirmed the two neighboring countries are nowhere near a possible deal in signing a strategic partnership agreement which would solve a series of bilateral issues.
The meeting comes days after Tirana Echo voiced concerns that ongoing negotiations between the two Balkan neighbors are blocked by the sensitive Cham issue of over 20,000 ethnic Albanian Greeks expelled from their homes in Greece who lived in the northern region of Chameria (now renamed by the Greeks to Thesprotia) during the second world war. Greece maintains there’s nothing to discuss as those expelled were judged as Nazi collaborators during the second world war by Greek courts.
After the meeting of Edi Rama and Alexis Tsipras in London, the Albanian Government’s website published a statement saying the two government heads discussed on bilateral relations and ongoing negotiations between the two countries on a large number of issues which are being led by the respective foreign ministers. The two praised the progress of the negotiations and the accomplishments to date.
“Though there are still issues to be discussed by negotiating teams, Prime Ministers Rama and Tsipras voiced confidence that a positive solution could be achieved soon.” – says the statement, suggesting that the deal which was initially expected to be signed during Easter time, is being stalled.
Diplomatic sources are hinting that although Tsipras and Rama agree on most things already negotiated, the Cham issue could blow up the entire deal between the two neighboring countries, as the agreement would allegedly wipe out the term ‘Chameria’ from all Albanian text books, which would be totally unacceptable to its 300,000 Cham population as well as the majority of Albanian public opinion.
The historic strategic deal which would solve an unmarked maritime border between the two countries, it would lift Greece’s state-of-war law against Albania, it would reinforce rights of mutual ethnic communities in both countries and it would sanction the building of several Greek-Italian war cemeteries on Albanian territory in addition to a revision of historical text books in both countries.
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