Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ doorstep statement upon his arrival at the EU – Western Balkans Summit, in Tirana

I would like to express my satisfaction over the fact that the EU – Western Balkans Summit is taking place for the first time in a country that is a candidate for membership in the European family, here in Tirana. I would like to remind you that the process for the convergence of the Western Balkans with the European Union started in Thessaloniki, in 2013.

It has been a long time since that moment, but lately there has been significant progress and Greece continues to support the European perspective of all the countries of the Western Balkans, obviously including Albania. I am very satisfied with the fact that the European family has treated, with the appropriate geopolitical significance, the issue of the convergence of the Western Balkans to Europe.

I am, also, particularly satisfied with the fact that after the Summit, I will have bilateral meetings with the state and political leadership of our friend Albania. This is the first visit of a Greek Prime Minister to Albania since 2009 and this signals the will of the Hellenic government and the Albanian government to place our bilateral relations at a new orbit of even further convergence.

I will have the opportunity to discuss with my friend the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, the issue of the delimitation of our Maritime Zones. Progress has been reported recently at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I believe that we are close to signing the relevant document to take the matter to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Greece has proven that it can resolve such outstanding issues based, solely, on International Law. And this is what we will seek to do with Albania.

Finally, let me express my regret that due to the weather forecast tomorrow, I will not be able to fly by helicopter and visit the villages of the Greek National Minority, but I will rearrange this visit. I want to meet and visit our expatriates as soon as possible and I believe that we will be able to reschedule this visit as soon as possible.

Thank you very much.

Journalist: Mr. Prime Minister, just one question. Is the contest between Greece and Albania regarding the sea a major issue in improving the relations between the two countries?

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Well, I was just referring to this issue. Of course, we intend to delimitate our maritime zones. And as you know, this is an ongoing discussion between our two countries with lots of legal complexities. But I think we’ve made good progress over the past months. And I think there is a common understanding between myself and the Prime Minister that we do want to resolve this issue based on international law and that we can find an agreement for the signing of a document that will allow us to take this issue to the International Court. So I’m reasonably optimistic. Also, the Albanian side will do its part in order to reach that stage at the earliest possible point. Thank you.
Journalist: One more question. Regarding the situation between Serbia and Kosovo. How significant is finding a quick solution between these two countries in terms of security and stability for the Western Balkans and for the entire European Union as such ?

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: We’ve always encouraged the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina which has to take place in good faith for both sides. We understand the complexity of the issue, but we are also fully aware of the fact that unless this issue is resolved -in order for it to be resolved, I think both sides need to take a step back- it will be difficult to make the necessary progress regarding the complete integration of the Western Balkans in our European family.