The awakening of Albania
During and after the visit of Serbian PM Aleksander Vucic on 27th of April in Tirana, that marked undoubtedly a step forward in the relations between Albania and Serbia, the fragile relationships between our country and the two neighbor states, Macedonia and Greece, continued to be the main topic of the foreign policy agenda.
Meanwhile, if towards the first one the tones are softened after the armed fightings in the Albanian neighborhood “Trimat” in Kumanove, where casualties from both ethnicities were marked, we can’t say the same in regard of the Hellenic tension.
Towards Macedonia, from attitutes that sounded like a veto of Albania for Macedonia’s NATO membership if the Ohrid agreement is not implemented and inquiries for an international investigation for what happened in Kumanovo, only the first request stands, while the second has seemingly dropped. In fact, during the attitudes held by minister Bushati during June, differently from April, the word international has been removed from the rhetoric of the Albnian diplomacy while the word ‘’transparent investigation’’ has remained’’. This softer attitude comes at a moment when in Macedonia the situation seems to be calmer and the EU is mediating in finding solution between political actors. Since Albania is an external factor and pressure actor in the Macedonian case, the pragmatic attitude and reactions of our MFA are to be congratulated depending upon the tensioning and calming of the situation.
Whereas in the case of Greece, tensions have increased, with the hellenics you can notice a hierarchy of priorities that our foreign policy wanted to give to the two sensitive regional issues. For example, meanwhile for the Greek problem, PM Rama himself took an official position for Albania, for the Macedonian subject it was Minister Bushati that mostly took care. Based on statesmen positions, you can easily tell which case matters the most at the moment. Of course, in the Greek friction’s situation, it is about sovereignty and the whole Albanian territory, as well as the economic vital interests of our country. It is the Ionian Sea zone 5 that we are talking about, where both states claim to do hydrocarbons research. Seems like Greece considers hers that part of the sea based on the 2009’s maritime agreement signed with Albania, approved by both countries’ parliaments. But based on the international right it is not in force, because countries haven’t exchanged the ratification instrument, that is the clear expression of state willpower for a valid agreement.
It has been identified that Greece has choosen to underestimate the Albanian PM, since all reaction towards Albanian attitude were done by simple spokesmen of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or at the most by the Hellenic Minister of Interior. Greek MFA almost explicitly threatened Albania that it could block the EU integration, in case our country wouldn’t return to logics and agrrements based on international law. The absence of Greek PM Tsipras on April 28th in Tirana for the Vienna Economic Forum shows one more time the fragile relations between the two countries.
There’s no place for critics towards Albania. Used to a total inferior and sluggish position from the Albanian foreign policies during the last 23 years, internal and foreign actors can show astonishment or skepticism in front of this Albanian awakening. However, this new role of Albania in the region is much more appreciated, since it is not destructive and expresses the existence and real weight of the country in the region and wider.
Neighbors will begin to get used to this new reality (they initially will show some kind of shaking, somehow used to different form of comfortable “gifts”), at the moment that they will understand that inferiority time for Albania has long gone to leave the scene to mutual correct relations, based on international law.
Greek MFA Minister’s visit in Tirana that is expected to happen in mid July, will be a further opportunity for Albania to reestablish the relationship with Greece based on reciprocity principles and good neighboring, and not on inferiority harming the smaller country or in exchange of not-blocking the Albanian European itinerary. Sovranity and national interests cannot be exchanged with the removal of the war law, recognition of Kosovo, or any other promise for the Greek party.
Ministri në fushatë
This month, differently from previous months, we would have congratulated the minister, if he wouldn’t leave his office during official time work and on an official day went out and support the electoral campaign of the governmental majority and its candidate for Major of Tirana. In fact, the minister posted on his Facebook profile on June 4th, at 12:25 a photo album written: “… The vote on June 21st for #ErionVeliaj nr. 6 and for #SocialistParty nr. 23 is crucial to solve past problems and build a European Tirana”
The album posting time on the minister’s Facebook profile leaves place for speculations like, he must have been at an electoral meeting moments before the post and during an official working day. It remains to him to prove otherwise, if he has the will to do so.
Conclusions show that the minister left his office, where he gets payed from Albanian taxpayers, to support a small part of them on an electoral show.
Non-efficient lobbying strategy in the EU
It is pitiful, because just two days before the minister did a great job during his official visit in Sweeden, asking the EU member country for a specific priorities’ agenda for Albania so the negotiation doors for EU membership can be opened.
In fact, such request was done in all the European capitals that he visisted this year, it just difficult to say that his request did get a positive feedback. We are not aware of any case that this continuous lobbing has produced results, or has taken in exchange a promise that EU institutions will review the request. At this point a question must be asked: Is it worth it to continue with this strategy, given no results yet, or should we use another one? An idea could be for example that the MFA should submit a formal request during the official visits of the ministers towards member countries and EU institutions, so they would design a concrete list of priorities to be fulfilled for the opening of negotiations.
1- Gazeta Mapo, 27 Prill 2015, http://www.mapo.al/2015/05/rama-kulacin-maqedonise-kerbacin-greqise
2- Gazeta Shqip, 02 Qershor 2015, http://gazeta-shqip.com/lajme/2015/06/02/pakti-detar-greqia-kercenon-me-veto-ne-be/
3- Ministria e Punëve të Jashtme, 26 Prill 2015, http://www.punetejashtme.gov.al/al/zyra-e-shtypit/lajme/ministri-bushati-pret-sekretarin-e-pergjithshem-te-osbe-se-lamberto-zannier&page=1
4- Ministria e Punëve të Jashtme, 2 Qershor 2015, http://www.punetejashtme.gov.al/al/zyra-e-shtypit/lajme/ministri-bushati-zhvillon-vizite-pune-ne-mbreterine-e-suedise&page=1
5- Gazeta Mapo, 4 Qershor 2015, http://www.mapo.al/2015/06/ministri-braktis-zyren-per-te-bere-fushate
6- Gazeta Tema, 31 Gusht 2013, http://www.gazetatema.net/web/2013/08/31/nje-pakt-i-ri-historik-per-marredheniet-shqiperi-greqi/
7- Televizioni Ora News, 11 Qershor 2015, http://www.oranews.tv/vendi/greqia-do-propozoje-pakete-zgjidhjesh-per-shqiperine/