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MORE REPORT: IV. Albania’s EU Integration

Media on both sides missing the political significance of the issue
© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Greece & Cyprus

Short Background

Following numerous postponements, Albania and North Macedonia finally began their EU accession talks on 18 July. The news was warmly welcomed by Athens as a significant development for its foreign policy, which has been supportive of the Western Balkans’ EU integration since 2003.

The Greek Alternate Minister for European Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, attending the first Intergovernmental EU Conference with Albania and North Macedonia, spoke of an important day for both Europe and Greece. However, he also stressed that negotiations should speed up “in order to provide substance and completion for key national demands, namely the faithful implementation of the Prespa Agreement and the protection of both the national and property rights of the Greek national minority in Albania.”

The Albania media reported and welcomed Athens’ support for Tirana’s EU integration process. However, there were articles that viewed Greece with suspicion and advised the Albanian government to take care of the EU negotiating framework, because Greece could add bilateral issues to it.

Media Coverage

Albania's accession process is an interesting topic for the Media both in Greece and of course in Albania.

Depending on the developments, the Greek side informs the public about Albania's steps towards its accession, most of the time in correlation with North Macedonia. Reports, however, are limited to the narrow national interests of this development and its significance for Greece and the country's foreign policy. In fact, the analysis is connected with the "open" Greek-Albanian issues, such as the fate of the Greek minority.

Correspondingly, the Albanian media reproduces the support of Greece and the statements of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister in favor of the country's accession process.

In the MORE Report you can find alternative proposals from the researchers for the coverage of respective issues by the media and journalists.

Key Takeaways

  • Greece and Albania are in full agreement about their own and the region’s geopolitical orientation. Greece is also a strong supporter of EU membership for Albania and the entire Western Balkans.
  • This alignment offers an excellent opportunity for the two countries to base their future partnership on the solid foundations of European integration.
  • But media coverage remains narrow in perspective on both sides and primarily focuses on the national interest. It fails to report and/or analyze the benefits which European integration could be expected to bring for Albanian society, bilateral relations, and the Western Balkans as a whole.
  • This is reflected in public opinion, where attitudes are more ambiguous than the actual shared vision of EU membership warrants.

This executive summary of "Albania’s EU Integration" 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.

Read the report here!