Greece, Albania Sign Continental Shelf Pact

TIRANA (ANA-MPA / S. Tzimas) -- Greece and Albania on Monday signed an agreement to delineate the continental shelf and maritime borders in the Ionian Sea, where the two neighbouring countries' frontiers converge, during a high-profile meeting here between visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Albanian counterpart, Sali Berisha.

The agreement, based on provisions of the International Law of the Sea, was signed by the foreign ministers of Albania and Greece, Lulzim Basha and Dora Bakoyannis, respectively.

Both Berisha and Karamanlis later termed the agreement as particularly significant, while again terming bilateral relations between the now NATO Alliance partners as "excellent".

The Greek prime minister is also scheduled to address Albanian MPs in the country's Parliament on Monday afternoon.

"Both countries have taken important steps to create a climate of understanding and trust, and within this spirit, the ethnic Greek minority in Albania comprises a powerful and vital link between our two countries," Karamanlis added.

The Greek premier, who arrived in Tirana earlier on Monday, congratulated Berisha over Albania's recent NATO membership, while the Albania premier, on his part, thanked Athens for its support of Albania's course towards NATO and for Tirana's quest to join the European Union.

"We support and encourage Albania's and all of the western Balkan states' European prospects. With Mr. Berisha we discussed the commitments undertaken by Albania towards the EU. Implementation of criteria and prerequisites, based on European values, will facilitate its approach towards the European family. The holding of elections based on international models, a state of law, combating corruption, respect for human rights and minority rights are all significant steps towards this direction," Karamanlis reiterated after the half-hour meeting.

On his part, the veteran Albanian leader referred to ethnic Greek community located in the country's south, saying that his government will aid in the improvement of living conditions for the community, something he said will contribute to the further strengthening of bilateral ties.

Karamanlis later met with the President of the Albanian parliament, Josephina Topali, and was received by President of the Republic Bamir Topi. He is also scheduled to meet later in the evening with Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios as well as Greek minority community leaders.

(Posting date 23 June 2009)

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