MORE REPORT: I. Dendias΄ visit to Tirana in May 2022
Official visits between the two countries attract plentiful media attention.
On the Greek side, it is perhaps one of the rare occasions when media feature stories focusing on Albania. In contrast, in Albania, stories about Greece are more frequent; still, the rare official visits still tend to attract plenty of media coverage, while expectations of the outcome of such visits are typically high.
For Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, the visit to Tirana on 23 May 2022 was the third time he was visiting Albania in that capacity. It was the first meeting with his new counterpart, Olta Xhacka. Dendias’ visit was part of a tour of the Western Balkans intended “to remind the importance of the region for the EU” (TA NEA, 23 May 2022), ahead of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit planned for Thessaloniki in June 2022.
Greek Foreign Minister’s Visit to Tirana has been used as the 1st case study to examine how Greek and Albanian media cover a bilateral event. More precisely, the emphasis on Greek Media was on the “Cham Issue” raised by the Albanian Foreign Minister and the response of her Greek counterpart, rather than highlighting on the general positive bilateral climate, and the settlement of the maritime border issue.
The researchers have also highlighted the use of toxic and negative words in media coverage and presentation of the visit.
On the other side of the coin, Albanian Media covered extensively the visit of the Greek Foreign Minister. Arguably, the “Cham issue” overshadowed the political developments and the significance of the visit. Moreover, Dendias has been criticized for his “tone” and toughness towards Albania, and presented by specific Media as a “threat” to the country.
Nonetheless, positive coverage was found across the entire Albanian media spectrum, for issues such as the abrogation of the law of war, Albania’s EU integration path, international cooperation (such as Albania supporting Greece’s candidacy at the UNSC), and deepening bilateral cooperation (energy crisis, Greek minority, recognition of Albanians’ pensions in Greece), but received low coverage in comparison with the rest of the topics.
The general message highlighted here was that the Media in both countries missed the reason and the significance of Dendia’s visit to Tirana. To an extent, this example shows how media fail to contribute to the positive bilateral climate and share it with broader audiences.
- Greece and Albania are making serious efforts to improve bilateral relations and to focus on the gradual settlement of their various disputes and problems.
- Thorny issues and disagreements continue to exist. Media on both sides tend to focus far more on controversies and sensitive issues than the actual state of official relations between the two sides should warrant.
- Also, by focusing almost exclusively on disagreements and on priorities that are perceived to be different, the media is failing to accurately report convergences of opinion and cooperation as well as the consensus displayed by the two countries’ vis-a-vis the region’s geopolitical orientation, which is crucial in the context of the war in Europe.
- Media on both sides are thus throwing away an opportunity to accurately present the degree to which relations have improved and to which good will has been demonstrated by both governments. The public in both countries continue to be fed a misrepresented view of actual Greek-Albanian bilateral relations by their media.
This executive summary of "Dendias΄ visit to Tirana in May 2022" is part of the 1st Media Observatory Report (MORE). MORE is part of ALGREE project and aims to highlight through recent case studies how media, which influence and shape public opinion attitudes, fail to provide accurate information and a good understanding of the improved bilateral relations at the level of official politics and the societal bonds that exist and remain at the context of misconceptions and prejudices.