MORE REPORT: III. Turkey - Albania relations
For many years, the Greek media nurtured the narrative that Turkey was behind Edi Rama’s decision to legally challenge the 2009 maritime borders agreement.
This narrative was fed by sporadic statements by members of the Albanian Opposition, controversial statements by Turkish public figures (but not officials), and nationalistic voices in Greece. There is no proof whatsoever that Rama’s decision was dictated in any way by Ankara.
Additionally, the Greek media are typically suspicious of bilateral meetings and military agreements between Albania and Turkey. In general, they tend to portray Tirana as a proxy for Turkish interests in the region and its “malign” aims vis-à-vis Athens.
For this reason, the presentation of Albania-Turkey relations by the Greek and Albanian media was chosen as another case study.
During the monitoring period of the Albanian media, as far as Albania-Turkey relations are concerned, the relevant articles focused on bilateral issues, without mentioning that the issue of maritime zones with Greece is an issue either on the agenda or in Rama's relationship with Erdogan. In fact, there were also some criticisms of the Albanian government by part of the press for following Erdogan’s explicit request.
It is worth mentioning that often Albanian media cover the Greek-Turkish issues, but without commenting in favor of one or the other side.
On the contrary, the Greek media seem particularly "concerned" about Rama-Erdogan’s relationship and by extension the bilateral relations of the two neighboring countries. In regular instances, there are reports of the meetings, talks, and joint appearances of Albanian and Turkish counterparts. There are not a few publications that use phrases like "love affair" or "brotherly meeting" to describe the contact between the two heads of states. The aim is to demonstrate that these friendly relations can influence our Albanian partners and create friction in the already open issues with Turkey's intervention.
In the MORE Report you can find alternative proposals from the researchers for the coverage of respective issues by the media and journalists.
- Albania and Turkey maintain friendly relations. These relations have their own dynamics and logic which can be understood, analyzed, and explained, but are not necessarily—or, indeed, are not typically—impacted on relations between Athens and Tirana, or for that matter, the turbulent relationship between Athens and Ankara.
- The fact that there is nothing extraordinary or unique in Albania- Turkey relationship is also corroborated by Albanian opinion poll findings.
- However, Greek media tend to over-emphasize the bond between Tirana and Ankara and completely misrepresent Albania as a proxy of Turkey in the region. In turn, such narratives tend to undermine any efforts made to build trust between Greece and Albania and recycle anti-Albanian prejudices and negative stereotyping.
- The governments in Albania and Greece are also partly responsible, given their failure both to offer each other reassurances about their intentions and to provide sufficient support to efforts seeking to build trust between the two societies.
- There is a dire need for political and media initiatives to reverse prejudices in foreign policy thinking and media reporting.
This executive summary of "Turkey - Albania relations" 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.