This report refers to the findings of a significant survey of the Albanian public opinion, coordinated by the Open Society Foundation for Albania and implemented by Data Centrum. The ELIAMEP team proceeded to a further statistical analysis of the research data and to draw additional conclusions. The purpose of this research is to present in a concise but systematic way some of the findings of the Albanian research, which have a special political interest for the Greek-Albanian relations and the Greek foreign policy. The report also attempts to draw some indicative political conclusions about the image and impact of Greece in Albania, as well as the socio-economic framework for the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, at least as reflected in the views of Albanian public opinion.
Key takeaways of the present study:
- A clear and strong pro-Western and pro-European orientation of Albania emerges from the Albanian public perceptions.
- When asked who is “Albania’s best friend”, Greece is in 5th place, while Turkey is not among the main answers provided by respondents.
- According to Albanian public opinion, the issue of defining maritime zones is at the top of the list of bilateral problems between Greece and Albania.
- According to Albanian public opinion, the Greek minority in Albania and the Albanian immigrants in Greece are important bridges that bring the two peoples closer. At the same time, however, there are issues that create problems in the relations between the two sides and need to be studied further and measures taken to improve the situation.
- The majority of Albanian public opinion, 61% or six out of ten respondents, have a positive or very positive view of Greece. Negative views for Greece do not exceed 12%.
- Turkey has a positive image in the Albanian public opinion, but the Albanian citizens do not feel any special connection, like the one we see with some Western countries, such as the USA, Germany and Italy.
- The identification of Albania with Turkey or Turkish interests, as is often the portrayal in Greek media, is not corroborated by the findings of studies on Albanian public opinion.
- These Albanian public opinion findings highlight the great importance of Greek support in the European perspective of Albania, but also the key importance of public diplomacy for the image and impact of Greece.
- The rhetorical emphasis by Greece on harsh conditions for supporting the European perspective of Albania can have negative consequences for the image and impact of Greece in Albania.
- The most dynamic strata of Albania have a less positive opinions of Greece compared to the rest of the population. The most positive attitudes for Greece appear among the elderly, the less educated and the financially weaker.
- Based on the data of the Albanian public opinion, one can safely predict that the positive image and impact of Greece in Albania will decrease in the future, if there are no corrective moves.
You may read here (in Greek) the Policy Paper by Dr. Ioannis Armakolas, Senior Research Fellow, Head, of ELIAMEP’s South-East Europe Programme; Assistant Professor at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia and Dr. George Siakas, Research Director at the Public Opinion Research Unit, University of Macedonia.