Greece is understood to be under pressure from fellow EU leaders including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz not to block the start of EU accession talks with its neighbour Albania.
Athens recently declined to sign a joint letter from the 27 European Union member states on the opening of negotiations on the first package of EU accession chapters.
Greece’s objections centre around the ongoing case concerning elected Fredi Beleri, an ethnic Greek Albanian elected as mayor of the city of Himara, despite being arrested ahead of the May 14 local elections after being accused of buying votes. The detention of the ethnic Greek mayor has sparked strong criticism from Athens and soured relations between Greece and Albania.
Ahead of the meeting of the permanent representatives to the EU (Coreper) in December, Ekathimerini reports that Scholz has stressed through diplomatic channels that the accession process should not be treated as a bilateral matter.
The Spanish EU presidency has also reportedly expressed unhappiness with Greece's stance.
According to diplomatic sources consulted by Ekathimerini, Greece cannot afford to indefinitely block the letter after the completion of Albania's screening process, and Athens is considering approving it while looking at options to continue to exert pressure on Tirana to release Beleri.
Athens has repeatedly appealed for Beleri to be granted the opportunity to take the oath as the mayor of Himara, with officials threatening to block Albania’s EU accession process. Prime Minister Edi Rama was left off the invitation list for an informal summit of regional leaders hosted by Greece as a result.
In September, the EU-wide European People’s Party (EPP) also approved an urgent resolution put forward by Greece's New Democracy party calling for Beleri’s release.
However, Albanian politicians including Rama insist justice must take its course through the court system.
Prior to Beleri’s arrest Albania and Greece enjoyed relatively good relations thanks to their historic and cultural links, and shared membership of Nato and other international institutions.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of six Southeast European countries, including Greece, have united to advocate for the start of the EU accession negotiations with Bosnia & Herzegovina by the end of this year. The joint statement, issued after the Nato ministerial meeting in Brussels, underscored the political necessity of initiating accession negotiations with Bosnia. Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said that in the current geopolitical context, any delay in the initiation of negotiations could heighten instability in the region and undermine positive momentum.