Regional Cooperation
#ALGREE: 2nd MORE Media Report

2nd More
© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Greece & Cyprus

INTRO: Media Observatory Report (MORE)

The 2nd issue of MORE is published in a period of renewed bilateral tensions following the arrest and detention of the ethnic Greek Mayor elect of Himare, Freddy Beleris, last May. This new crisis, which remains unresolved and threatens to derail the improving bilateral relations, will be analysed in the 3rd issue of MORE.

The present issue is a testament to the volatility of bilateral relations. That is because the period covered (December 2022 – February 2023), the visits to Albania undertaken in that period by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, and the media work we monitored, all demonstrate the willingness of the two governments to turn a page in their bilateral relations. At the time, the two governments seemed to be on the same wavelength, with only the media, with their often stereotypical or prejudicial reporting, remaining as obstacles to rapid improvements in bilateral relations. A few months later, the political climate seems less favourable.

There will be more on how things turned sour in the next issue of MORE. For now, let us focus on the high-level visits to Albania and how the media on both sides failed to understand the political atmosphere between the two governments. As we will see in this issue, in contrast to the attitudes of the political leaderships, the Greek media tended to rely on stereotypes to discredit Albania’s leadership, rather than attempting to understand the complex sociopolitical trends in the neighbouring nation. For their part, the Albanian media often published unsubstantiated analyses of the ‘real intentions’ of the other side, depicting Greece as a “blackmailer” with total control over Albania’s EU perspectives and subsequent prosperity.

Our analysis aims once again to provide food for thought about how media in both countries, unable still to see the wood for the trees, recycle misconceptions and ultimately fail to reflect the new realities, both in bilateral relations and in the wider context of the Balkan region and the EU.

Inside the stories

The second issue of MORE is the fruit of media monitoring which took place between December 2022 and February 2023. We have selected three key stories to analyse from this period.

For each story, the Media Observatory Report provides:

a. a short background;

b. a short qualitative analysis of certain media stories (striking examples, news headlines, narratives);

c. the description of the actual events which were reported on incorrectly;

d. an assessment of the political significance of the media choices made, their impact on public perceptions, and primarily the opportunities the media missed to play a constructive role in creating a more healthy political discourse;

e. key takeaways about the political impact of the media coverage.

This 2nd MORE focuses on:

  1. Mitsotakis’ first visit to Albania: Unfortunate statements, apologies, and the bad weather
  2. Dendias in Tirana once again: Turkey as a third factor in Greece - Albania relations
  3. Mitsotakis’ historic visit to the Greek minority in Albania: The minority as a “bridge of friendship”